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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 120 pages of information about L'Abbe Constantin Complete.

THE ABBE CONSTANTIN

By LUDOVIC HALEVY

BOOK 3.

CHAPTER VII

CONFIDENCES

The next morning, on returning from drill, Jean found Paul de Lavardens waiting for him at the barracks; he scarcely allowed him time to dismount, and the moment he had him alone: 

“Quick,” said he, “describe your, dinner-party of yesterday.  I saw them myself in the morning; the little one was driving four ponies, and with an amount of audacity!  I bowed to them; did they mention me?  Did they recognize me?  When will you take me to Longueval?  Answer me.”

“Answer?  Yes.  But which question first?”

“The last.”

“When shall I take you to Longueval?”

“Yes.”

“Well, in ten days; they don’t want to see any one just now.”

“Then you are not going back to Longueval for ten days?”

“Oh, I shall go back to-day at four o’clock.  But I don’t count, you know.  Jean Reynaud, the Cure’s godson.  That is why I have penetrated so easily into the confidence of these two charming women.  I have presented myself under the patronage and with the guarantee of the Church.  And then they have discovered that I could render them little services.  I know the country very well, and they will make use of me as a guide.  In a word, I am nobody; while you, Count Paul de Lavardens, you are somebody; so fear nothing, your turn will come with the fetes and balls.  Then you will be resplendent in all your glory, and I shall return very humbly into my obscurity.”

“You may laugh at me as much as you like; it is none the less true that during those ten days you will steal a march upon me—­upon me!”

“How upon you?”

“Now, Jean, do you want to make me believe that you are not already in love with one of these two women?  Is it possible?  So much beauty, so much luxury.  Luxury to that degree upsets me.  Those black ponies with their white rosettes!  I dreamed of them last night, and that little-Bettina, is it not?”

“Yes, Bettina.”

“Bettina—­Countess Bettina de Lavardens!  Doesn’t that sound well enough! and what a perfect husband she would have in me!  To be the husband of a woman possessing boundless wealth, that is my destiny.  It is not so easy as one may suppose.  I have already run through something, and—­if my mother had not stopped me! but I am quite ready to begin again.  Oh, how happy that girl would be with me!  I would create around her the existence of a fairy queen.  In all her luxury she would feel the taste, the art, and the skill of her husband.  I would pass my life in adoring her, in displaying her beauty, in petting her, in bearing her triumphant through the world.  I would study her beauty in order to give it the frame that best suited it.  ‘If he were not there,’ she would say, ’I should not be so beautiful, so dazzling.’  I should know not only how to love her, but how to amuse her.  She would have something for her money, she would have love and pleasure.  Come, Jean, do a good action, take me to Mrs. Scott’s to-day.”

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