“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—”
“Is she, then, as rich as they say?” inquired one of the guests.
“I can answer for that,” said the Baron de Samoreau. “She has a letter of credit upon me from my correspondent in New York. Last night, during an entr’acte, she gave me an order to hold a million francs at her disposal before the end of the week.”
“I know the reason why,” added Henri.
“But,” Lenaieff exclaimed, “you told me that you did not know her!”
“I have made her acquaintance since then.”
“Ah! Where?” Eugenie inquired, with interest.
“At my sister’s house, during the meeting of a charitable society.”
“Had it anything to do with the society for which Monsieur Desvanneaux asked me to appear in a kermess?”
“Well, yes. In fact, he has gone so far as to announce that he is assured of your cooperation.”
“I could not refuse him,” said Eugenie. “Under the mantle of charity, the holy man paid court to me!”
“I knew well enough that he had not yet laid down his arms forever,” said the General.
“Oh, he is not the only one. His son-in-law also honored me with an attack.”
“What, Monsieur de Thomery? Well, that is a good joke!”
“But what is funnier yet,” continued the actress, “is the fact that the first-named gentleman was on his knees, just about to make me a declaration, apparently, when the second was announced! Immediately the father-in-law jumped to his feet, entreating me not to allow them to meet. I was compelled to open for him the door leading to the servants’ stairway—”
“And what did you do with the other man?” asked Lenaieff, laughing loudly.
“I rid myself of him in the same way. At a sign from me, my maid announced the name of the father-in-law, and the alarmed son-in-law escaped by the same road! Oh, but I know them! They will come back!”