Adrienne laid her hand on another chair.
“Nor that either; the back is quite loose,” again exclaimed Rose-Pompon. And she spoke the truth; for the chair-back, which was made in the form of a lyre, remained in the hands of Mdlle. de Cardoville, who said, as she replaced it discreetly in its former position: “I think, miss, that we can very well talk standing.”
“As you please, madame,” replied Rose-Pompon, steadying herself the more bravely the more uneasy she felt. And the interview of the lady and the grisette began in this fashion.
After a minute’s hesitation, Rose-Pompon said to Adrienne, whose heart was beating violently: “I will tell you directly, madame, what I have on my mind. I should not have gone out of my way to seek you, but, as I happen to fall in with you, it is very natural I should take advantage of it.”
“But, miss,” said Adrienne, mildly, “may I at least know the subject of the conversation we are to have together?”
“Yes, madame,” replied Rose-Pompon, affecting an air of still more decided confidence; “first of all, you must not suppose I am unhappy, or going to make a scene of jealousy, or cry like a forsaken damsel. Do not flatter yourself! Thank heaven, I have no reason to complain of Prince Charming—that is the pet name I gave him—on the contrary, he has made me very happy. If I left him, it was against his will, and because I chose.”
So saying, Rose-Pompon, whose heart was swelling in spite of her fine airs, could not repress a sigh.
“Yes, madame,” she resumed, “I left him because I chose—for he quite doted on me. If I had liked, he would have married me—yes, madame, married me—so much the worse, if that gives you pain. Though, when I say ‘so much the worse,’ it is true that I meant to pain you. To be sure I did—but then, just now when I saw you so kind to poor Mother Bunch, though I was certainly in the right, still I felt something. However, to cut matters short, it is clear that I detest you, and that you deserve it,” added Rose-Pompon, stamping her foot.
From all this it resulted, even for a person much less sagacious than Adrienne, and much less interested in discovering the truth, that Rose Pompon, notwithstanding her triumphant airs in speaking of him whom she represented as so much attached to her, and even anxious to wed her, was in reality completely disappointed, and was now taking refuge in a deliberate falsehood. It was evident that she was not loved, and that nothing but violent jealousy had induced her to desire this interview with Mdlle. de Cardoville, in order to make what is vulgarly called a scene, considering Adrienne (the reason will be explained presently) as her successful rival. But Rose-Pompon, having recovered her good-nature, found it very difficult to continue the scene in question, particularly as, for many reasons, she felt overawed by Adrienne.