“I had that straight from my maid’s cousin, who is employed by Madame d’Armillac’s jeweller,” said Mrs. Boykin with conscious pride.
“Oh, it’s straight enough—more than she is!” retorted her husband, who was slightly jealous of having his facts reinforced by any information not of his own gleaning.
“Be careful of what you say, Elmer,” Mrs. Boykin interposed with archness. “I suspect John of being seriously smitten by the lady.”
Durham let this pass unchallenged, submitting with a good grace to his host’s low whistle of amusement, and the sardonic enquiry: “Ever do anything with the foils? D’Armillac is what they call over here a fine lame.”
“Oh, I don’t mean to resort to bloodshed unless it’s absolutely necessary; but I mean to make the lady’s acquaintance,” said Durham, falling into his key.
Mrs. Boykin’s lips tightened to the vanishing point. “I am afraid you must apply for an introduction to more fashionable people than we are. Elmer and I so thoroughly disapprove of French society that we have always declined to take any part in it. But why should not Fanny de Malrive arrange a meeting for you?”
Durham hesitated. “I don’t think she is on very intimate terms with her husband’s family—”
“You mean that she’s not allowed to introduce her friends to them,” Mrs. Boykin interjected sarcastically; while her husband added, with an air of portentous initiation: “Ah, my dear fellow, the way they treat the Americans over here—that’s another chapter, you know.”
“How some people can stand it!” Mrs. Boykin chimed in; and as the footman, entering at that moment, tendered her a large coronetted envelope, she held it up as if in illustration of the indignities to which her countrymen were subjected.
“Look at that, my dear John,” she exclaimed—“another card to one of their everlasting bazaars! Why, it’s at Madame d’Armillac’s, the Prince’s mother. Madame de Treymes must have sent it, of course. The brazen way in which they combine religion and immorality! Fifty francs admission—rien que cela!—to see some of the most disreputable people in Europe. And if you’re an American, you’re expected to leave at least a thousand behind you. Their own people naturally get off cheaper.” She tossed over the card to her cousin. “There’s your opportunity to see Madame de Treymes.”