Three days after his introduction to the family of Madame de Cintre, Newman, coming in toward evening, found upon his table the card of the Marquis d_ellegarde. On the following day he received a note informing him that th_arquise de Bellegarde would be grateful for the honor of his company a_inner.
He went, of course, though he had to break another engagement to do it. He wa_shered into the room in which Madame de Bellegarde had received him before, and here he found his venerable hostess, surrounded by her entire family. Th_oom was lighted only by the crackling fire, which illuminated the very smal_ink slippers of a lady who, seated in a low chair, was stretching out he_oes before it. This lady was the younger Madame de Bellegarde. Madame d_intre was seated at the other end of the room, holding a little girl agains_er knee, the child of her brother Urbain, to whom she was apparently relatin_ wonderful story. Valentin was sitting on a puff, close to his sister-in-law, into whose ear he was certainly distilling the finest nonsense. The marqui_as stationed before the fire, with his head erect and his hands behind him, in an attitude of formal expectancy.
Old Madame de Bellegarde stood up to give Newman her greeting, and there wa_hat in the way she did so which seemed to measure narrowly the extent of he_ondescension. "We are all alone, you see, we have asked no one else," sh_aid, austerely.
"I am very glad you didn't; this is much more sociable," said Newman. "Goo_vening, sir," and he offered his hand to the marquis.
M. de Bellegarde was affable, but in spite of his dignity he was restless. H_egan to pace up and down the room, he looked out of the long windows, he too_p books and laid them down again. Young Madame de Bellegarde gave Newman he_and without moving and without looking at him.
"You may think that is coldness," exclaimed Valentin; "but it is not, it i_armth. It shows she is treating you as an intimate. Now she detests me, an_et she is always looking at me."
"No wonder I detest you if I am always looking at you!" cried the lady. "I_r. Newman does not like my way of shaking hands, I will do it again."
But this charming privilege was lost upon our hero, who was already making hi_ay across the room to Madame de Cintre. She looked at him as she shook hands, but she went on with the story she was telling her little niece. She had onl_wo or three phrases to add, but they were apparently of great moment. Sh_eepened her voice, smiling as she did so, and the little girl gazed at he_ith round eyes.
"But in the end the young prince married the beautiful Florabella," sai_adame de Cintre, "and carried her off to live with him in the Land of th_ink Sky. There she was so happy that she forgot all her troubles, and wen_ut to drive every day of her life in an ivory coach drawn by five hundre_hite mice. Poor Florabella," she exclaimed to Newman, "had suffere_erribly."
"She had had nothing to eat for six months," said little Blanche.
"Yes, but when the six months were over, she had a plum-cake as big as tha_ttoman," said Madame de Cintre. "That quite set her up again."
"What a checkered career!" said Newman. "Are you very fond of children?" H_as certain that she was, but he wished to make her say it.
"I like to talk with them," she answered; "we can talk with them so much mor_eriously than with grown persons. That is great nonsense that I have bee_elling Blanche, but it is a great deal more serious than most of what we sa_n society."
"I wish you would talk to me, then, as if I were Blanche's age," said Newman, laughing. "Were you happy at your ball, the other night?"
"Now you are talking the nonsense that we talk in society," said Newman. "_on't believe that."
"It was my own fault if I was not happy. The ball was very pretty, and ever_ne very amiable."
"It was on your conscience," said Newman, "that you had annoyed your mothe_nd your brother."
Madame de Cintre looked at him a moment without answering. "That is true," sh_eplied at last. "I had undertaken more than I could carry out. I have ver_ittle courage; I am not a heroine." She said this with a certain sof_mphasis; but then, changing her tone, "I could never have gone through th_ufferings of the beautiful Florabella," she added, not even for he_rospective rewards.
Dinner was announced, and Newman betook himself to the side of the old Madam_e Bellegarde. The dining-room, at the end of a cold corridor, was vast an_ombre; the dinner was simple and delicately excellent. Newman wondere_hether Madame de Cintre had had something to do with ordering the repast an_reatly hoped she had. Once seated at table, with the various members of th_ncient house of Bellegarde around him, he asked himself the meaning of hi_osition. Was the old lady responding to his advances? Did the fact that h_as a solitary guest augment his credit or diminish it? Were they ashamed t_how him to other people, or did they wish to give him a sign of sudde_doption into their last reserve of favor? Newman was on his guard; he wa_atchful and conjectural; and yet at the same time he was vaguely indifferent.
Whether they gave him a long rope or a short one he was there now, and Madam_e Cintre was opposite to him. She had a tall candlestick on each side of her; she would sit there for the next hour, and that was enough. The dinner wa_xtremely solemn and measured; he wondered whether this was always the stat_f things in "old families." Madame de Bellegarde held her head very high, an_ixed her eyes, which looked peculiarly sharp in her little, finely-wrinkle_hite face, very intently upon the table-service. The marquis appeared to hav_ecided that the fine arts offered a safe subject of conversation, as no_eading to startling personal revelations. Every now and then, having learne_rom Newman that he had been through the museums of Europe, he uttered som_olished aphorism upon the flesh-tints of Rubens and the good taste o_ansovino. His manners seemed to indicate a fine, nervous dread that somethin_isagreeable might happen if the atmosphere were not purified by allusions o_ thoroughly superior cast. "What under the sun is the man afraid of?" Newma_sked himself. "Does he think I am going to offer to swap jack-knives wit_im?" It was useless to shut his eyes to the fact that the marquis wa_rofoundly disagreeable to him. He had never been a man of strong persona_versions; his nerves had not been at the mercy of the mystical qualities o_is neighbors. But here was a man towards whom he was irresistibly i_pposition; a man of forms and phrases and postures; a man full of possibl_mpertinences and treacheries. M. de Bellegarde made him feel as if he wer_tanding bare-footed on a marble floor; and yet, to gain his desire, Newma_elt perfectly able to stand. He wondered what Madame de Cintre thought of hi_eing accepted, if accepted it was. There was no judging from her face, whic_xpressed simply the desire to be gracious in a manner which should require a_ittle explicit recognition as possible. Young Madame de Bellegarde had alway_he same manners; she was always preoccupied, distracted, listening t_verything and hearing nothing, looking at her dress, her rings, her finger- nails, seeming rather bored, and yet puzzling you to decide what was her idea_f social diversion. Newman was enlightened on this point later. Even Valenti_id not quite seem master of his wits; his vivacity was fitful and forced, ye_ewman observed that in the lapses of his talk he appeared excited. His eye_ad an intenser spark than usual. The effect of all this was that Newman, fo_he first time in his life, was not himself; that he measured his movements, and counted his words, and resolved that if the occasion demanded that h_hould appear to have swallowed a ramrod, he would meet the emergency.
After dinner M. de Bellegarde proposed to his guest that they should go int_he smoking-room, and he led the way toward a small, somewhat musty apartment, the walls of which were ornamented with old hangings of stamped leather an_rophies of rusty arms. Newman refused a cigar, but he established himsel_pon one of the divans, while the marquis puffed his own weed before the fire- place, and Valentin sat looking through the light fumes of a cigarette fro_ne to the other.
"I can't keep quiet any longer," said Valentin, at last. "I must tell you th_ews and congratulate you. My brother seems unable to come to the point; h_evolves around his announcement like the priest around the altar. You ar_ccepted as a candidate for the hand of our sister."
"Valentin, be a little proper!" murmured the marquis, with a look of the mos_elicate irritation contracting the bridge of his high nose.
"There has been a family council," the young man continued; "my mother an_rbain have put their heads together, and even my testimony has not bee_ltogether excluded. My mother and the marquis sat at a table covered wit_reen cloth; my sister-in-law and I were on a bench against the wall. It wa_ike a committee at the Corps Legislatif. We were called up, one after th_ther, to testify. We spoke of you very handsomely. Madame de Bellegarde sai_hat if she had not been told who you were, she would have taken you for _uke—an American duke, the Duke of California. I said that I could warrant yo_rateful for the smallest favors—modest, humble, unassuming. I was sure tha_ou would know your own place, always, and never give us occasion to remin_ou of certain differences. After all, you couldn't help it if you were not _uke. There were none in your country; but if there had been, it was certai_hat, smart and active as you are, you would have got the pick of the titles.
At this point I was ordered to sit down, but I think I made an impression i_our favor."
M. de Bellegarde looked at his brother with dangerous coldness, and gave _mile as thin as the edge of a knife. Then he removed a spark of cigar-as_rom the sleeve of his coat; he fixed his eyes for a while on the cornice o_he room, and at last he inserted one of his white hands into the breast o_is waistcoat. "I must apologize to you for the deplorable levity of m_rother," he said, "and I must notify you that this is probably not the las_ime that his want of tact will cause you serious embarrassment."
"No, I confess I have no tact," said Valentin. "Is your embarrassment reall_ainful, Newman? The marquis will put you right again; his own touch i_eliciously delicate."
"Valentin, I am sorry to say," the marquis continued, "has never possessed th_one, the manner, that belongs to a young man in his position. It has been _reat affliction to his mother, who is very fond of the old traditions. Bu_ou must remember that he speaks for no one but himself."
"Oh, I don't mind him, sir," said Newman, good-humoredly. "I know what h_mounts to."
"In the good old times," said Valentin, "marquises and counts used to hav_heir appointed fools and jesters, to crack jokes for them. Nowadays we see _reat strapping democrat keeping a count about him to play the fool. It's _ood situation, but I certainly am very degenerate."
M. de Bellegarde fixed his eyes for some time on the floor. "My mothe_nformed me," he said presently, "of the announcement that you made to her th_ther evening."
"That I desired to marry your sister?" said Newman.
"That you wished to arrange a marriage," said the marquis, slowly, "with m_ister, the Comtesse de Cintre. The proposal was serious, and required, on m_other's part, a great deal of reflection. She naturally took me into he_ounsels, and I gave my most zealous attention to the subject. There was _reat deal to be considered; more than you appear to imagine. We have viewe_he question on all its faces, we have weighed one thing against another. Ou_onclusion has been that we favor your suit. My mother has desired me t_nform you of our decision. She will have the honor of saying a few words t_ou on the subject, herself. Meanwhile, by us, the heads of the family, yo_re accepted."
Newman got up and came nearer to the marquis. "You will do nothing to hinde_e, and all you can to help me, eh?"
"I will recommend my sister to accept you."
Newman passed his hand over his face, and pressed it for a moment upon hi_yes. This promise had a great sound, and yet the pleasure he took in it wa_mbittered by his having to stand there so and receive his passport from M. d_ellegarde. The idea of having this gentleman mixed up with his wooing an_edding was more and more disagreeable to him. But Newman had resolved to g_hrough the mill, as he imagined it, and he would not cry out at the firs_urn of the wheel. He was silent a while, and then he said, with a certai_ryness which Valentin told him afterwards had a very grand air, "I am muc_bliged to you."
"I take note of the promise," said Valentin, "I register the vow."
M. de Bellegarde began to gaze at the cornice again; he apparently ha_omething more to say. "I must do my mother the justice," he resumed, "I mus_o myself the justice, to say that our decision was not easy. Such a_rrangement was not what we had expected. The idea that my sister should marr_ gentleman—ah—in business was something of a novelty."
"So I told you, you know," said Valentin raising his finger at Newman.
"The novelty has not quite worn away, I confess," the marquis went on;
"perhaps it never will, entirely. But possibly that is not altogether to b_egretted," and he gave his thin smile again. "It may be that the time ha_ome when we should make some concession to novelty. There had been n_ovelties in our house for a great many years. I made the observation to m_other, and she did me the honor to admit that it was worthy of attention."
"My dear brother," interrupted Valentin, "is not your memory just here leadin_ou the least bit astray? Our mother is, I may say, distinguished for he_mall respect of abstract reasoning. Are you very sure that she replied t_our striking proposition in the gracious manner you describe? You know ho_erribly incisive she is sometimes. Didn't she, rather, do you the honor t_ay, 'A fiddlestick for your phrases! There are better reasons than that'?"
"Other reasons were discussed," said the marquis, without looking at Valentin, but with an audible tremor in his voice; "some of them possibly were better.
We are conservative, Mr. Newman, but we are not also bigots. We judged th_atter liberally. We have no doubt that everything will be comfortable."
Newman had stood listening to these remarks with his arms folded and his eye_astened upon M. de Bellegarde, "Comfortable?" he said, with a sort of gri_latness of intonation. "Why shouldn't we be comfortable? If you are not, i_ill be your own fault; I have everything to make ME so."
"My brother means that with the lapse of time you may get used to th_hange"—and Valentin paused, to light another cigarette.
"What change?" asked Newman in the same tone.
"Urbain," said Valentin, very gravely, "I am afraid that Mr. Newman does no_uite realize the change. We ought to insist upon that."
"My brother goes too far," said M. de Bellegarde. "It is his fatal want o_act again. It is my mother's wish, and mine, that no such allusions should b_ade. Pray never make them yourself. We prefer to assume that the perso_ccepted as the possible husband of my sister is one of ourselves, and that h_hould have no explanations to make. With a little discretion on both sides, everything, I think, will be easy. That is exactly what I wished to say—tha_e quite understand what we have undertaken, and that you may depend upon ou_dhering to our resolution."
Valentin shook his hands in the air and then buried his face in them. "I hav_ess tact than I might have, no doubt; but oh, my brother, if you knew wha_ou yourself were saying!" And he went off into a long laugh.
M. de Bellegarde's face flushed a little, but he held his head higher, as i_o repudiate this concession to vulgar perturbability. "I am sure yo_nderstand me," he said to Newman.
"Oh no, I don't understand you at all," said Newman. "But you needn't min_hat. I don't care. In fact, I think I had better not understand you. I migh_ot like it. That wouldn't suit me at all, you know. I want to marry you_ister, that's all; to do it as quickly as possible, and to find fault wit_othing. I don't care how I do it. I am not marrying you, you know, sir. _ave got my leave, and that is all I want."
"You had better receive the last word from my mother," said the marquis.
"Very good; I will go and get it," said Newman; and he prepared to return t_he drawing-room.
M. de Bellegarde made a motion for him to pass first, and when Newman had gon_ut he shut himself into the room with Valentin. Newman had been a trifl_ewildered by the audacious irony of the younger brother, and he had no_eeded its aid to point the moral of M. de Bellegarde's transcenden_atronage. He had wit enough to appreciate the force of that civility whic_onsists in calling your attention to the impertinences it spares you. But h_ad felt warmly the delicate sympathy with himself that underlay Valentin'_raternal irreverence, and he was most unwilling that his friend should pay _ax upon it. He paused a moment in the corridor, after he had gone a fe_teps, expecting to hear the resonance of M. de Bellegarde's displeasure; bu_e detected only a perfect stillness. The stillness itself seemed a trifl_ortentous; he reflected however that he had no right to stand listening, an_e made his way back to the salon. In his absence several persons had come in.
They were scattered about the room in groups, two or three of them havin_assed into a small boudoir, next to the drawing-room, which had now bee_ighted and opened. Old Madame de Bellegarde was in her place by the fire, talking to a very old gentleman in a wig and a profuse white neck cloth of th_ashion of 1820. Madame de Cintre was bending a listening head to the histori_onfidences of an old lady who was presumably the wife of the old gentleman i_he neckcloth, an old lady in a red satin dress and an ermine cape, who wor_cross her forehead a band with a topaz set in it. Young Madame de Bellegarde, when Newman came in, left some people among whom she was sitting, and took th_lace that she had occupied before dinner. Then she gave a little push to th_uff that stood near her, and by a glance at Newman seemed to indicate tha_he had placed it in position for him. He went and took possession of it; th_arquis's wife amused and puzzled him.
"I know your secret," she said, in her bad but charming English; "you nee_ake no mystery of it. You wish to marry my sister-in-law. C'est un bea_hoix. A man like you ought to marry a tall, thin woman. You must know that _ave spoken in your favor; you owe me a famous taper!"
"You have spoken to Madame de Cintre?" said Newman.
"Oh no, not that. You may think it strange, but my sister-in-law and I are no_o intimate as that. No; I spoke to my husband and my mother-in-law; I said _as sure we could do what we chose with you."
"I am much, obliged to you," said Newman, laughing; "but you can't."
"I know that very well; I didn't believe a word of it. But I wanted you t_ome into the house; I thought we should be friends."
"I am very sure of it," said Newman.
"Don't be too sure. If you like Madame de Cintre so much, perhaps you will no_ike me. We are as different as blue and pink. But you and I have something i_ommon. I have come into this family by marriage; you want to come into it i_he same way."
"Oh no, I don't!" interrupted Newman. "I only want to take Madame de Cintr_ut of it."
"Well, to cast your nets you have to go into the water. Our positions ar_like; we shall be able to compare notes. What do you think of my husband?
It's a strange question, isn't it? But I shall ask you some stranger one_et."
"Perhaps a stranger one will be easier to answer," said Newman. "You might tr_e."
"Oh, you get off very well; the old Comte de la Rochefidele, yonder, couldn'_o it better. I told them that if we only gave you a chance you would be _erfect talon rouge. I know something about men. Besides, you and I belong t_he same camp. I am a ferocious democrat. By birth I am vieille roche; a goo_ittle bit of the history of France is the history of my family. Oh, you neve_eard of us, of course! Ce que c'est que la gloire! We are much better tha_he Bellegardes, at any rate. But I don't care a pin for my pedigree; I wan_o belong to my time. I'm a revolutionist, a radical, a child of the age! I a_ure I go beyond you. I like clever people, wherever they come from, and _ake my amusement wherever I find it. I don't pout at the Empire; here all th_orld pouts at the Empire. Of course I have to mind what I say; but I expec_o take my revenge with you." Madame de Bellegarde discoursed for some tim_onger in this sympathetic strain, with an eager abundance which seemed t_ndicate that her opportunities for revealing her esoteric philosophy wer_ndeed rare. She hoped that Newman would never be afraid of her, however h_ight be with the others, for, really, she went very far indeed. "Stron_eople"—le gens forts—were in her opinion equal, all the world over. Newma_istened to her with an attention at once beguiled and irritated. He wondere_hat the deuce she, too, was driving at, with her hope that he would not b_fraid of her and her protestations of equality. In so far as he coul_nderstand her, she was wrong; a silly, rattling woman was certainly not th_qual of a sensible man, preoccupied with an ambitious passion. Madame d_ellegarde stopped suddenly, and looked at him sharply, shaking her fan. "_ee you don't believe me," she said, "you are too much on your guard. You wil_ot form an alliance, offensive or defensive? You are very wrong; I could hel_ou."
Newman answered that he was very grateful and that he would certainly ask fo_elp; she should see. "But first of all," he said, "I must help myself." An_e went to join Madame de Cintre.
"I have been telling Madame de la Rochefidele that you are an American," sh_aid, as he came up. "It interests her greatly. Her father went over with th_rench troops to help you in your battles in the last century, and she ha_lways, in consequence, wanted greatly to see an American. But she has neve_ucceeded till to-night. You are the first—to her knowledge—that she has eve_ooked at."
Madame de la Rochefidele had an aged, cadaverous face, with a falling of th_ower jaw which prevented her from bringing her lips together, and reduced he_onversations to a series of impressive but inarticulate gutturals. She raise_n antique eyeglass, elaborately mounted in chased silver, and looked a_ewman from head to foot. Then she said something to which he listene_eferentially, but which he completely failed to understand.
"Madame de la Rochefidele says that she is convinced that she must have see_mericans without knowing it," Madame de Cintre explained. Newman thought i_robable she had seen a great many things without knowing it; and the ol_ady, again addressing herself to utterance, declared—as interpreted by Madam_e Cintre—that she wished she had known it.
At this moment the old gentleman who had been talking to the elder Madame d_ellegarde drew near, leading the marquise on his arm. His wife pointed ou_ewman to him, apparently explaining his remarkable origin. M. de l_ochefidele, whose old age was rosy and rotund, spoke very neatly and clearly, almost as prettily, Newman thought, as M. Nioche. When he had bee_nlightened, he turned to Newman with an inimitable elderly grace.
"Monsieur is by no means the first American that I have seen," he said.
"Almost the first person I ever saw—to notice him—was an American."
"Ah?" said Newman, sympathetically.
"The great Dr. Franklin," said M. de la Rochefidele. "Of course I was ver_oung. He was received very well in our monde."
"Not better than Mr. Newman," said Madame de Bellegarde. "I beg he will offe_is arm into the other room. I could have offered no higher privilege to Dr.
Newman, complying with Madame de Bellegarde's request, perceived that her tw_ons had returned to the drawing-room. He scanned their faces an instant fo_races of the scene that had followed his separation from them, but th_arquise seemed neither more nor less frigidly grand than usual, and Valenti_as kissing ladies' hands with at least his habitual air of self-abandonmen_o the act. Madame de Bellegarde gave a glance at her eldest son, and by th_ime she had crossed the threshold of her boudoir he was at her side. The roo_as now empty and offered a sufficient degree of privacy. The old lad_isengaged herself from Newman's arm and rested her hand on the arm of th_arquis; and in this position she stood a moment, holding her head high an_iting her small under-lip. I am afraid the picture was lost upon Newman, bu_adame de Bellegarde was, in fact, at this moment a striking image of th_ignity which—even in the case of a little time-shrunken old lady—may resid_n the habit of unquestioned authority and the absoluteness of a social theor_avorable to yourself.
"My son has spoken to you as I desired," she said, "and you understand that w_hall not interfere. The rest will lie with yourself."
"M. de Bellegarde told me several things I didn't understand," said Newman,
"but I made out that. You will leave me open field. I am much obliged."
"I wish to add a word that my son probably did not feel at liberty to say,"
the marquise rejoined. "I must say it for my own peace of mind. We ar_tretching a point; we are doing you a great favor."
"Oh, your son said it very well; didn't you?" said Newman.
"Not so well as my mother," declared the marquis.
"I can only repeat—I am much obliged."
"It is proper I should tell you," Madame de Bellegarde went on, "that I a_ery proud, and that I hold my head very high. I may be wrong, but I am to_ld to change. At least I know it, and I don't pretend to anything else. Don'_latter yourself that my daughter is not proud. She is proud in her own way—_omewhat different way from mine. You will have to make your terms with that.
Even Valentin is proud, if you touch the right spot—or the wrong one. Urbai_s proud; that you see for yourself. Sometimes I think he is a little to_roud; but I wouldn't change him. He is the best of my children; he cleaves t_is old mother. But I have said enough to show you that we are all prou_ogether. It is well that you should know the sort of people you have com_mong."
"Well," said Newman, "I can only say, in return, that I am NOT proud; I shan'_ind you! But you speak as if you intended to be very disagreeable."
"I shall not enjoy having my daughter marry you, and I shall not pretend t_njoy it. If you don't mind that, so much the better."
"If you stick to your own side of the contract we shall not quarrel; that i_ll I ask of you," said Newman. "Keep your hands off, and give me an ope_ield. I am very much in earnest, and there is not the slightest danger of m_etting discouraged or backing out. You will have me constantly before you_yes; if you don't like it, I am sorry for you. I will do for your daughter, if she will accept me everything that a man can do for a woman. I am happy t_ell you that, as a promise—a pledge. I consider that on your side you make m_n equal pledge. You will not back out, eh?"
"I don't know what you mean by 'backing out,'" said the marquise. "It suggest_ movement of which I think no Bellegarde has ever been guilty."
"Our word is our word," said Urbain. "We have given it."
"Well, now," said Newman, "I am very glad you are so proud. It makes m_elieve that you will keep it."
The marquise was silent a moment, and then, suddenly, "I shall always b_olite to you, Mr. Newman," she declared, "but, decidedly, I shall never lik_ou."
"Don't be too sure," said Newman, laughing.
"I am so sure that I will ask you to take me back to my arm-chair without th_east fear of having my sentiments modified by the service you render me." An_adame de Bellegarde took his arm, and returned to the salon and to he_ustomary place.
M. de la Rochefidele and his wife were preparing to take their leave, an_adame de Cintre's interview with the mumbling old lady was at an end. Sh_tood looking about her, asking herself, apparently to whom she should nex_peak, when Newman came up to her.
"Your mother has given me leave—very solemnly—to come here often," he said. "_ean to come often."
"I shall be glad to see you," she answered, simply. And then, in a moment.
"You probably think it very strange that there should be such a solemnity—a_ou say—about your coming."
"Well, yes; I do, rather."
"Do you remember what my brother Valentin said, the first time you came to se_e—that we were a strange, strange family?"
"It was not the first time I came, but the second," said Newman.
"Very true. Valentin annoyed me at the time, but now I know you better, I ma_ell you he was right. If you come often, you will see!" and Madame de Cintr_urned away.
Newman watched her a while, talking with other people, and then he took hi_eave. He shook hands last with Valentin de Bellegarde, who came out with hi_o the top of the staircase. "Well, you have got your permit," said Valentin.
"I hope you liked the process."
"I like your sister, more than ever. But don't worry your brother any more fo_y sake," Newman added. "I don't mind him. I am afraid he came down on you i_he smoking-room, after I went out."
"When my brother comes down on me," said Valentin, "he falls hard. I have _eculiar way of receiving him. I must say," he continued, "that they came u_o the mark much sooner than I expected. I don't understand it, they must hav_ad to turn the screw pretty tight. It's a tribute to your millions."
"Well, it's the most precious one they have ever received," said Newman.
He was turning away when Valentin stopped him, looking at him with _rilliant, softly-cynical glance. "I should like to know whether, within a fe_ays, you have seen your venerable friend M. Nioche."
"He was yesterday at my rooms," Newman answered.
"What did he tell you?"
"You didn't see the muzzle of a pistol sticking out of his pocket?"
"What are you driving at?" Newman demanded. "I thought he seemed rathe_heerful for him."
Valentin broke into a laugh. "I am delighted to hear it! I win my bet.
Mademoiselle Noemie has thrown her cap over the mill, as we say. She has lef_he paternal domicile. She is launched! And M. Nioche is rather cheerful—FO_IM! Don't brandish your tomahawk at that rate; I have not seen her no_ommunicated with her since that day at the Louvre. Andromeda has foun_nother Perseus than I. My information is exact; on such matters it always is.
I suppose that now you will raise your protest."
"My protest be hanged!" murmured Newman, disgustedly.
But his tone found no echo in that in which Valentin, with his hand on th_oor, to return to his mother's apartment, exclaimed, "But I shall see he_ow! She is very remarkable—she is very remarkable!"