Amuse him! How could he be amused by so great an insult? What! thank her for giving him over even in thought to Giselle or to anybody? Oh, how wicked, how ungrateful, how unworthy!
The six pages of foreign-post paper were crumpled up by his angry fingers. Fred tore them with his teeth, and finally made them into a ball which he flung into the sea, hating himself for having been so foolish as to let himself be caught by the first lines, as a foolish fish snaps at the bait, when, apropos to the church in which she would like to be married, she had added “But we should have to be content with Saint-Augustin.”
Those words had delighted him as if they had really been meant for himself and Jacqueline. This promise for the future, that seemed to escape involuntarily from her pen, had made him find all the rest of her letter piquant and amusing. As he read, his mind had reverted to that little phrase which he now found he had interpreted wrongly. What a fall! How his hopes now crumbled under his feet! She must have done it on purpose—but no, he need not blacken her! She had written without thought, without purpose, in high spirits; she wanted to be witty, to be droll, to write gossip without any reference to him to whom her letter was addressed. That we who some day would make a triumphal entry into St. Augustin would be herself and some other man—some man with whom her acquaintance had been short, since she did not seem to feel in that matter like Giselle. Some one she did not yet know? Was that sure? She might know her future husband already, even now she might have made her choice—Marcel d’Etaples, perhaps, who looked so well in uniform, or that M. de Cymier, who led the cotillon so divinely. Yes! No doubt it was he—the last-comer. And once more Fred suffered all the pangs of jealousy. It seemed to him that in his loneliness, between sky and sea, those pangs were more acute than he had ever known them. His comrades teased him about his melancholy looks, and made him the butt of all their jokes in the cockpit. He resolved, however, to get over it, and at the next port they put into, Jacqueline’s letter was the cause of his entering for the first time some discreditable scenes of dissipation.
At Bermuda he received another letter, dated from Paris, where Jacqueline had rejoined her parents, who had returned from Italy. She sent him a commission. Would he buy her a riding-whip? Bermuda was renowned for its horsewhips, and her father had decided that she must go regularly to the riding-school. They seemed anxious now to give her, as preliminary to her introduction into society, not only such pleasures as horseback exercise, but intellectual enjoyment also. She had been taken to the Institute to hear M. Legouve, and what was better still, in December her stepmother would give a little party every fortnight and would let her sit up till eleven o’clock. She was also to be taken to make some calls. In