“Very well, thank you!”
He could think of nothing else to say, and they were all silent. But at last, being ashamed of his bashfulness, and with an awkward laugh, he said:
“Do not people have any amusement in this country? I will pay for a bottle of wine.”
He had not finished his sentence when the door opened,
and in walked
Padoie dressed in a black suit.
Varajou gave a shout of joy, and rising from his seat, he rushed at his brother-in-law, put his arms round him and waltzed him round the room, shouting:
“Here is Padoie! Here is Padoie! Here is Padoie!”
Then letting go of the tax collector he exclaimed as he looked him in the face:
“Oh, oh, oh, you scamp, you scamp! You are out for a good time, too. Oh, you scamp! And my sister! Are you tired of her, say?”
As he thought of all that he might gain through this unexpected situation, the forced loan, the inevitable blackmail, he flung himself on the lounge and laughed so heartily that the piece of furniture creaked all over.
The three young ladies, rising simultaneously, made their escape, while the older woman retreated to the door looking as though she were about to faint.
And then two gentlemen appeared in evening dress, and wearing the ribbon of an order. Padoie rushed up to them.
“Oh, judge—he is crazy, he is crazy. He was sent to us as a convalescent. You can see that he is crazy.”
Varajou was sitting up now, and not being able to understand it all, he guessed that he had committed some monstrous folly. Then he rose, and turning to his brother-in-law, said:
“What house is this?”
But Padoie, becoming suddenly furious, stammered out:
“What house—what—what house is this? Wretch—scoundrel—villain—what house, indeed? The house of the judge—of the judge of the Supreme Court—of the Supreme Court—of the Supreme Court—Oh, oh—rascal! —rascal!—rascal!”
THE DIAMOND NECKLACE
The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks. She had no dowry, no expectations, no way of being known, understood, loved, married by any rich and distinguished man; so she let herself be married to a little clerk of the Ministry of Public Instruction.
She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was unhappy as if she had really fallen from a higher station; since with women there is neither caste nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth. Natural ingenuity, instinct for what is elegant, a supple mind are their sole hierarchy, and often make of women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.