“What—who?” said Adrienne, hastily.
“My lover; oh, the monster! he must have come upstairs on tiptoe, to take me by surprise with his crowing. Just like him!”
A second cock-a-doodle-doo, still louder than the first, was heard close to the door. “What a stupid, droll creature it is! Always the same joke, and yet it always amuses me,” said Rose-Pompon.
And drying her tears with the back of her hand, she began to laugh like one bewitched at Philemon’s jest, which, though well known to her, always seemed new and agreeable.
“Do not open the door,” whispered Adrienne, much embarrassed; “do not answer, I beg of you.”
“Though the door is bolted, the key is on the outside; Philemon can see that there is some one at home.”
“No matter—do not let him in.”
“But, madame, he lives here; the room belongs to him.”
In fact, Philemon, probably growing tired of the little effect produced by his two ornithological imitations, turned the key in the lock, and finding himself unable to open the door, said in a deep bass voice: “What, dearest puss, have you shut yourself in? Are you praying Saint Flambard for the return of Philly?” (short for Philemon.)
Adrienne, not coshing to increase, by prolonging it, the awkwardness of this ridiculous situation, went straight to the door and opened it, to the great surprise of Philemon, who recoiled two or three steps. Notwithstanding the annoyance of this incident, Mdlle. de Cardoville could not help smiling at sight of Rose-Pompon’s lover, and of the articles he carried in his hand or under his arm.
Philemon was a tall fellow, with dark hair and a very fresh color, and, being just arrived from a journey, he wore a white cap; his thick, black beard flowed down on his sky-blue waistcoat; and a short olive-colored velvet shooting-coat, with extravagantly large plaid trousers, completed his costume. As for the accessories which had provoked a smile from Adrienne, they consisted: first, of a portmanteau tucked under his arm, with the head and neck of a goose protruding from it; secondly, of a cage held in his hand, with an enormous white rabbit all alive within it.
“Oh! the darling white rabbit! what pretty red eyes!” Such, it must be confessed, was the first exclamation of Rose-Pompon, though Philemon, to whom it was not addressed, had returned after a long absence; but the student far from being shocked at seeing himself thus sacrificed to his long-earned companion, smiled complacently, rejoicing at the success of his attempt to please his mistress.
All this passed very rapidly. While Rose-Pompon, kneeling before the cage, was still occupied with her admiration of the rabbit, Philemon, struck with the lofty air of Mdlle. de Cardoville, raised his hand to his cap, and bowed respectfully as he made way for her to pass. Adrienne returned his salutation with politeness, full of grace and dignity, and, lightly descending the stairs, soon disappeared. Dazzled by her beauty, as well as impressed with her noble and lofty bearing, and curious to know how in the world Rose-Pompon had fallen in with such an acquaintance, Philemon said to her, in his amorous jargon: “Dearest puss! tell her Philly who is that fine lady?”