“’You dropped my flowers, Madame; will it be the same with your memory of me?’
“She looked at me, but made no reply. I loved this silence. I bowed politely to her and returned to the pavilion, while she related her adventure to her friends; but I am quite sure she did not tell all the details.
“The register for travellers who visit the Montan-Vert is a mixture of all nationalities, and no tourist refuses his tribute; modest ones write down their names only. I hoped in this way to learn the name of the young traveller, and I was not disappointed. I soon saw the corpulent Monsieur de Mauleon busily writing his name upon the register in characters worthy of Monsieur Prudhomme; the other members of the little party followed his example. The young woman was the last to write down her name. I took the book in my turn, after she had left, and with apparent composure I read upon the last line these words, written in a slender handwriting:
“Baroness Clemence de Bergenheim.”
GERFAUT ASKS A FAVOR
“The Baroness de Bergenheim!” exclaimed Marillac. “Ah! I understand it all now, and you may dispense with the remainder of your story. So this was the reason why, instead of visiting the banks of the Rhine as we agreed, you made me leave the route at Strasbourg under the pretext of walking through the picturesque sites of the Vosges. It was unworthy of you to abuse my confidence as a friend. And I allowed myself to be led by the nose to within a mile of Bergenheim!”
“Peace,” interrupted Gerfaut; “I have not finished. Smoke and listen.
“I followed Madame de Bergenheim as far as Geneva. She had gone there from here with her aunt, and had availed herself of this journey to visit Mont Blanc. She left for her home the next day without my meeting her again; but I preserved her name, and it was not unknown to me. I had heard it spoken in several houses in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and I knew that I should certainly have an opportunity of meeting her during the winter.
“So I remained at Geneva, yielding to a sensation as new as it was strange. It first acted upon my brain whose ice I felt melting away, and its sources ready to gush forth. I seized my pen with a passion not unlike an access of rage. I finished in four days two acts of a drama that I was then writing. I never had written anything more vigorous or more highly colored. My unconstrained genius throbbed in my arteries, ran through my blood, and bubbled over as if it wished to burst forth. My hand could not keep even with the course of my imagination; I was obliged to write in hieroglyphics.