Rose-Pompon, whose presence caused such deep emotion in Mdlle. de Cardoville, was dressed in the most showy and extravagant bad taste. Her very small, narrow, rose-colored satin bonnet, placed so forward over her face as almost to touch the tip of her little nose, left uncovered behind half of her light, silky hair; her plaid dress, of an excessively broad pattern, was open in front, and the almost transparent gauze, rather too honest in its revelations, hardly covered the charms of the form beneath.
The grisette having run all the way upstairs, held in her hands the ends of her large blue shawl, which, falling from her shoulders, had slid down to her wasp-like waist, and there been stopped by the swell of the figure. If we enter into these details, it is to explain how, at the sight of this pretty creature, dressed in so impertinent and almost indecent, a fashion, Mdlle. de Cardoville, who thought she saw in her a successful rival, felt her indignation, grief, and shame redoubled.
But judge of the surprise and confusion of Adrienne, when Mdlle. Rose Pompon said to her, with the utmost freedom and pertness, “I am delighted to see you, madame. You and I must have a long talk together. Only I must begin by kissing poor Mother Bunch—with your permission, madame!”
To understand the tone and manner with which this word, “madame” was pronounced, you must have been present at some stormy discussion between two Rose-Pompons, jealous of each other; then you would be able to judge how much provoking hostility may be compressed into the word “madame,” under certain circumstances. Amazed at the impudence of Rose-Pompon, Mdlle. de Cardoville remained mute; whilst Agricola, entirely occupied with the interest he took in the workgirl, who had never withdrawn her eyes from him since he entered the room, and with the remembrance of the painful scene he had just quitted, whispered to Adrienne, without remarking the grisette’s effrontery, “Alas, lady! it is all over. Cephyse has just breathed her last sigh, without recovering her senses.”
“Unfortunate girl!” said Adrienne, with emotion; and for the moment she forgot Rose-Pompon.
“We must keep this sad news from Mother Bunch, and only let her know it hereafter, with great caution,” resumed Agricola. “Luckily, little Rose Pompon knows nothing about it.”
And he pointed to the grisette, who was now stooping down by the side of the workgirl. On hearing Agricola speak so familiarly of Rose-Pompon, Adrienne’s amazement increased. It is impossible to describe what she felt; yet, strangely enough, her sufferings grew less and less, and her anxiety diminished, as she listened to the chatter of the grisette.