Therese said she had received a letter from Fiesole. Miss Bell announced her forthcoming marriage with Prince Eusebia Albertinelli della Spina.
The Princess laughed:
“There’s a man who will render a service to her.”
“What service?” asked Therese.
“He will disgust her with men, of course.”
Montessuy came into the parlor joyfully. He had won the game.
He sat beside Berthier-d’Eyzelles, and, taking a newspaper from the sofa, said:
“The Minister of Finance announces that he will propose, when the Chamber reassembles, his savings-bank bill.”
This bill was to give to savings-banks the authority to lend money to communes, a proceeding which would take from Montessuy’s business houses their best customers.
“Berthier,” asked the financier, “are you resolutely hostile to that bill?”
Montessuy rose, placed his hand on the Deputy’s shoulder, and said:
“My dear Berthier, I have an idea that the Cabinet will fall at the beginning of the session.”
He approached his daughter.
“I have received an odd letter from Le Menil.”
Therese rose and closed the door that separated the parlor from the billiard-room.
She was afraid of draughts, she said.
“A singular letter,” continued Montessuy. “Le Menil will not come to Joinville. He has bought the yacht Rosebud. He is on the Mediterranean, and can not live except on the water. It is a pity. He is the only one who knows how to manage a hunt.”
At this instant Dechartre came into the room with Count Martin, who, after beating him at billiards, had acquired a great affection for him and was explaining to him the dangers of a personal tax based on the number of servants one kept.
AN UNWELCOME APPARITION
A pale winter sun piercing the mists of the Seine, illuminated the dogs painted by Oudry on the doors of the dining room.
Madame Martin had at her right Garain the Deputy, formerly Chancellor, also President of the Council, and at her left Senator Loyer. At Count Martin-Belleme’s right was Monsieur Berthier-d’Eyzelles. It was an intimate and serious business gathering. In conformity with Montessuy’s prediction, the Cabinet had fallen four days before. Called to the Elysee the same morning, Garain had accepted the task of forming a cabinet. He was preparing, while taking breakfast, the combination which was to be submitted in the evening to the President. And, while they were discussing names, Therese was reviewing within herself the images of her intimate life.
She had returned to Paris with Count Martin at the opening of the parliamentary session, and since that moment had led an enchanted life.