“Poor Captain! How is the lady?” Henry inquired.
“Very well, I thank you.”
“Will you permit us to drink her health?”
“Hock! hoch!” said Henri, lifting his glass.
“Hock! hoch!” responded the ex-jailer, drinking with his former prisoner.
This delicate toast began to appease the bitterness of the good man; while the memories of his escape, offering a diversion to Henri’s mind, put him in sympathetic humor with the stranger.
“‘Ah! There are mountains that we never climb but once,’” he said. “We three, meeting in Paris, can prove the truth of that proverb.”
“Not only in Paris,” said Lenaieff. “If you were in Saint Petersburg, Henri, you might, any evening, see your old flame, Fanny Dorville.”
“Does she keep a table d’hote?”
“No, indeed, my boy. She plays duenna at the Theatre Michel, as that fat Heloise used to do at the Palais-Royal. She must have died long ago, that funny old girl!”
“Not at all. She is still living, and is a pensioner of the Association of Dramatic Artists! But, pardon me, our conversation can hardly be amusing to our guest.”
“No one can keep a Frenchman and a Russian from talking about women! The habit is stronger than themselves!” said the old officer, with a hearty laugh.
“Well, and you, Captain,” said Lenaieff: “Have you not also trodden the primrose path in your time?”
“Gentlemen, I never have loved any other woman than my own wife,” replied the honest German, laying his large hand upon his heart, as if he were taking an oath. “That astonishes you Parisians, eh?” he added benevolently.
“Quite the contrary! It assures us peace of mind!” said Lenaieff. “To your health, Captain!”
“And yours, Messieurs!”
And their glasses clinked a second time.
“Apropos,” said Lenaieff to Henri, “the military governor has asked me to accompany him to-morrow to the review at Vincennes. I shall then have the pleasure of seeing you at the head of your division.”
“Teufel!” exclaimed the German officer; “it appears that the Commandant de Prerolles has lost no time since we took leave of each other.”
“Thanks to you, Monsieur! Had you not allowed me to withdraw from your society, I should certainly not have reached my present rank! To your health, Captain!”
“To yours, General!”
Succeeding bumpers finally dissipated entirely the resentment of the former jailer, and when they parted probably never to meet again—he and his prisoner had become the best friends in the world.
“Meine besten complimente der Frau Hauptmannin!” said Henri to him, in leaving him on the boulevard.
“Lieber Gott! I shall take good care not to own to her that I dined with you.”
“And why, pray?”
“Because there is one thing for which she never will forgive you.”