“That does not matter at all,” the Duchess replied. “We will stop for you on our way.”
“I should not like to trouble you so much, Madame. If you will allow me, I will stop at your door at whatever hour will be agreeable to you, and my carriage shall follow yours.”
“Very well. At nine o’clock, if you please. They sing Le Prophete tonight, and we shall arrive just in time for the ballet.”
“The ‘Skaters’ Ballet,’” said the General.
This remark recalled to Mademoiselle her triumph of the evening before. “Do you bear a grudge against me?” she said, with a smile.
“Less and less of one,” the General replied.
“Then, let us make a compact of peace,” said Zibeline, holding out her hand in the English fashion.
With these words she left the room on the arm of the Duke, who claimed the honor of escorting her to her carriage.
“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.