He recognised her at last, made a gesture of alarm, rose precipitately, and fled.
Mlle. Moriaz drew near Mme. de Lorcy, and said to her, “Well, what do you think of it?”
“I think, my dear,” she replied, “that Mme. de Lorcy is a fool, and that Count Larinski is a powerful man.”
Antoinette looked at her with a bitter smile, and touched her arm lightly. “Admit, madame,” she said, “that if he had a hundred thousand livres’ income, you would not think of doubting his sincerity.”
Mme. de Lorcy did not reply; she could not say “No,” and she was enraged to feel that she was both right and wrong. It is an accident that happens sometimes to women of the world.
On her entering her coupe to return to Cormeilles, Mlle. Moriaz was the prey of an agitation that did not calm down during the entire drive. Her whole soul was stirred by a tender, passionate sentiment for the man who had swooned away in taking farewell of her; she was filled with anger against the foolish prejudices and the petty finesse of the people of the world; filled with joy at having baffled a monstrous conspiracy against her happiness; filled with pride because she had seen clearly, because she had not mistaken in her choice, and because the man whom she loved was worthy of being loved. During several days she had suffered cruelly from anxiety, from actual agony of mind, and over and over again she had said to herself, “Perhaps they are right.” A woman’s heart believes itself to be at the mercy of error, and it is torture to it to be obliged to doubt itself and its own clairvoyance. When it is unmistakably demonstrated to it that its god is only an idol of wood or of stone, that what was once adored must henceforth be despised, it feels ready to die, and imagines that some spring must give way in the vast machine of the universe, that the sky must fall, the earth crumble away; and yet a woman’s error of judgment is not a matter of such very grave import. The sun continues to shine, the earth to revolve upon its axis, as though it had not occurred. The machine of the universe would be subject to quite too many accidents should it become unsettled every time a woman made a mistake.
“It was I who was right; they were incapable of comprehending him,” though Mlle. Moriaz, as she crossed the Seine, and she contemplated with a delighted eye the lovely blue sky, the tranquil waters, the verdant banks of the river, with their long range of poplar-trees. It seemed to her that all was going well, that order reigned everywhere, that the Great Mechanician was at his post, that the world was in good hands, and that travellers therein had no cause to fear untoward mischance.