“Shall you go to the opera also?” asked the Duchess of her brother.
“Yes, but later. I shall dine in town.”
A WOMAN’S INSTINCT
The General had been more favorably impressed with Zibeline’s appearance than he cared to show. The generous action of this beautiful girl, her frankness, her ease of manner, her cleverness in repartee, were likely to attract the attention of a man of his character. He reproached himself already for having allowed himself to be influenced by the rancorous hostility of the Desvanneaux, and, as always happens with just natures, the sudden change of his mind was the more favorable as his first opinion had been unjust.
Such was the theme of his reflections on the route from the Hotel de Montgeron to that of Eugenic Gontie’s, with whom he was engaged to dine with some of her friends, invited to celebrate her success of the evening before.
On entering her dining-room Eugenie took the arm of Lenaieff, placed Henri de Prerolles on her left and Samoreau opposite her—in his character of senior member, so that no one could mistake his transitory function with that of an accredited master of the house.
The four other guests were distinguished writers or artists, including the painter Edmond Delorme, and, like him, all were intimate friends of the mistress of the house.
Naturally the conversation turned upon the representation of Adrienne, and on the applause of the fashionable audience, usually rather undemonstrative.
“Never have I received so many flowers as were given to me last night,” said Eugenic, displaying an enormous beribboned basket which ornamented the table. “But that which particularly flattered me,” she added, “was the spontaneous tribute from that pretty foreigner who sought me in the greenroom expressly to offer me her bouquet.”
“The young lady in the proscenium box, I will wager,” said Lenaieff.
“Precisely. I know that they call her Zibeline, but I did not catch her real name.”
“It is Mademoiselle de Vermont,” said Edmond Delorme. “She is, in my opinion, the most dashing of all the Amazons in the Bois de Boulogne. The Chevalier de Sainte-Foy brought her to visit my studio last autumn, and I am making a life-size portrait of her on her famous horse, Seaman, the winner of the great steeplechase at Liverpool, in 1882.”
“What were you pencilling on the back of your menu while you were talking?” asked the actress, curiously.
“The profile of General de Prerolles,” the painter replied. “I think that his mare Aida would make a capital companion picture for Seaman, and that he himself would be an appropriate figure to adorn a canvas hung on the line opposite her at the next Salon!”
“Pardon me, dear master!” interrupted the General. “Spare me, I pray, the honor of figuring in this equestrian contradance. I have not the means to bequeath to posterity that your fair model possesses—”