As soon as breakfast was at an end Fromont Jeune announced that he must return to Savigny. Risler did not venture to detain him, thinking that his dear Madame Chorche would pass her Sunday all alone; and so, without an opportunity to say a word to his mistress, the lover went away in the bright sunlight to take an afternoon train, still attended by the husband, who insisted upon escorting him to the station.
Madame Dobson sat for a moment with Frantz and Sidonie under a little arbor which a climbing vine studded with pink buds; then, realizing that she was in the way, she returned to the salon, and as before, while Georges was there, began to play and sing softly and with expression. In the silent garden, that muffled music, gliding between the branches, seemed like the cooing of birds before the storm.
At last they were alone. Under the lattice of the arbor, still bare and leafless, the May sun shone too bright. Sidonie shaded her eyes with her hand as she watched the people passing on the quay. Frantz likewise looked out, but in another direction; and both of them, affecting to be entirely independent of each other, turned at the same instant with the same gesture and moved by the same thought.
“I have something to say to you,” he said, just as she opened her mouth.
“And I to you,” she replied gravely; “but come in here; we shall be more comfortable.”
And they entered together a little summer-house at the foot of the garden.
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Charm of that one day’s
rest and its solemnity
Clashing knives and forks mark time
Faces taken by surprise allow their real thoughts to be seen
Make for themselves a horizon of the neighboring walls and roofs
Wiping his forehead ostentatiously
By ALPHONSE DAUDET
By slow degrees Sidonie sank to her former level, yes, even lower. From the rich, well-considered bourgeoise to which her marriage had raised her, she descended the ladder to the rank of a mere toy. By dint of travelling in railway carriages with fantastically dressed courtesans, with their hair worn over their eyes like a terrier’s, or falling over the back ‘a la Genevieve de Brabant’, she came at last to resemble them. She transformed herself into a blonde for two months, to the unbounded amazement of Rizer, who could not understand how his doll was so changed. As for Georges, all these eccentricities amused him; it seemed to him that he had ten women in one. He was the real husband, the master of the house.
To divert Sidonie’s thoughts, he had provided a simulacrum of society for her—his bachelor friends, a few fast tradesmen, almost no women, women have too sharp eyes. Madame Dobson was the only friend of Sidonie’s sex.