Mrs. Boykin, from the corner of an intensely modern Gobelin sofa, studied her cousin as he balanced himself insecurely on one of the small gilt chairs which always look surprised at being sat in.
“Fanny de Malrive? Oh, of course: I remember you were all very intimate with the Frisbees when they lived in West Thirty-third Street. But she has dropped all her American friends since her marriage. The excuse was that de Malrive didn’t like them; but as she’s been separated for five or six years, I can’t see—. You say she’s been very nice to your mother and the girls? Well, I daresay she is beginning to feel the need of friends she can really trust; for as for her French relations—! That Malrive set is the worst in the Faubourg. Of course you know what he is; even the family, for decency’s sake, had to back her up, and urge her to get a separation. And Christiane de Treymes—”
Durham seized his opportunity. “Is she so very reprehensible too?”
Mrs. Boykin pursed up her small colourless mouth. “I can’t speak from personal experience. I know Madame de Treymes slightly—I have met her at Fanny’s—but she never remembers the fact except when she wants me to go to one of her ventes de charite. They all remember us then; and some American women are silly enough to ruin themselves at the smart bazaars, and fancy they will get invitations in return. They say Mrs. Addison G. Pack followed Madame d’Alglade around for a whole winter, and spent a hundred thousand francs at her stalls; and at the end of the season Madame d’Alglade asked her to tea, and when she got there she found that was for a charity too, and she had to pay a hundred francs to get in.”
Mrs. Boykin paused with a smile of compassion. “That is not my way,” she continued. “Personally I have no desire to thrust myself into French society—I can’t see how any American woman can do so without loss of self-respect. But any one can tell you about Madame de Treymes.”
“I wish you would, then,” Durham suggested.
“Well, I think Elmer had better,” said his wife mysteriously, as Mr. Boykin, at this point, advanced across the wide expanse of Aubusson on which his wife and Durham were islanded in a state of propinquity without privacy.
“What’s that, Bessy? Hah, Durham, how are you? Didn’t see you at Auteuil this afternoon. You don’t race? Busy sight-seeing, I suppose? What was that my wife was telling you? Oh, about Madame de Treymes.”
He stroked his pepper-and-salt moustache with a gesture intended rather to indicate than conceal the smile of experience beneath it. “Well, Madame de Treymes has not been like a happy country—she’s had a history: several of ’em. Some one said she constituted the feuilleton of the Faubourg daily news. La suite au prochain numero—you see the point? Not that I speak from personal knowledge. Bessy and I have never cared to force