“Since you insist upon it. But then, when our visit is ended, shall we go to work at our drama or upon ‘The Chaste Suzannah’ opera in three acts? For, really, you neglected art terribly for the sake of your love affairs.”
“The Chaste Suzannah or the whole Sacred History we shall put into vaudeville, if you exact it. Until to-morrow, then.”
A LOVER’S RUSE
It was three o’clock in the afternoon; the drawing-room of the Chateau de Bergenheim presented its usual aspect and occupants. The fire on the hearth, lighted during the morning, was slowly dying, and a beautiful autumn sun threw its rays upon the floor through the half-opened windows. Mademoiselle de Corandeuil, stretched on the couch before the fireplace with Constance at her feet, was reading, according to her habit, the newspapers which had just arrived. Madame de Bergenheim seemed very busily occupied with a piece of tapestry in her lap; but the slow manner in which her needle moved, and the singular mistakes she made, showed that her mind was far away from the flowers she was working. She had just finished a beautiful dark lily, which contrasted strangely with its neighbors, when a servant entered.
“Madame,” said he, “there is a person here inquiring for Monsieur le Baron de Bergenheim.”
“Is Monsieur de Bergenheim not at home?” asked Mademoiselle de Corandeuil.
“Monsieur has gone to ride with Mademoiselle Aline.”
“Who is this person?”
“It is a gentleman; but I did not ask his name.”
“Let him enter.”
Clemence arose at the servant’s first words and threw her work upon a chair, making a movement as if to leave the room; but after a moment’s reflection, she resumed her seat and her work, apparently indifferent as to who might enter.
“Monsieur de Marillac,” announced the lackey, as he opened the door a second time.
Madame de Bergenheim darted a rapid glance at the individual who presented himself, and then breathed freely again.
After setting to rights his coiffure ‘a la Perinet’, the artist entered the room, throwing back his shoulders. Tightly buttoned up in his travelling redingote, and balancing with ease a small gray hat, he bowed respectfully to the two ladies and then assumed a pose a la Van Dyke.
Constance was so frightened at the sight of this imposing figure that, instead of jumping at the newcomer’s legs, as was her custom, she sheltered herself under her mistress’s chair, uttering low growls; at first glance the latter shared, if not the terror, at least the aversion of her dog. Among her numerous antipathies, Mademoiselle de Corandeuil detested a beard. This was a common sentiment with all old ladies, who barely tolerated moustaches: “Gentlemen did not wear them in 1780,” they would say.