YPala

YPala

The Baroness de Thaller appeared. As she was, immediately afterdinner, to go to the opera, and afterwards to a party given by theViscountess de Bois d'Ardon, she was in full dress. She wore adress, cut audaciously low in the neck, of very light gray satin,trimmed with bands of cherry-colored silk edged with lace. In herhair, worn high over her head, she had a bunch of fuchsias, theflexible stems of which, fastened by a large diamond star, traileddown to her very shoulders, white and smooth as marble.

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But, though she forced herself to smile, her countenance was notthat of festive days; and the glance which she cast upon herdaughter and Marius de Tregars was laden with threats. In a voiceof which she tried in vain to control the emotion,"How very kind of you, marquis," she began, "to respond so soon tomy invitation of this morning! I am really distressed to have keptyou waiting; but I was dressing. After what has happened to M. deThaller, it is absolutely indispensable that I should go out, showmyself: otherwise our enemies will be going around to-morrow, sayingeverywhere that I am in Belgium, preparing lodgings for my husband."And, suddenly changing her tone,"But what was that madcap Cesarine telling you?" she asked.

It was with a profound, surprise that M. de Traggers discovered thatthe entente cordiale which he suspected between the mother anddaughter did not exist, at least at this moment.

Veiling under a jesting tone the strange conjectures which theunexpected discovery aroused within him,"Mlle. Cesarine," he replied, "who is much to be pitied, was tellingme all her troubles."She interrupted him.

"Do not take the trouble to tell a story, M. le Marquis," she said.

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"Mamma knows it as well as yourself; for she was listening at the door.""Cesarine!" exclaimed Mme. de Thaller.

"And, if she came in so suddenly, it is because she thought it wasfully time to cut short my confidences."The face of the baroness became crimson.

"The child is mad!" she said.

The child burst out laughing.

That's my way," she went on. "You should not have sent me here bychance, and against my wish. You made me do it: don't complain.

You were sure that I had but to appear, and M. de Traggers wouldfall at my feet. I appeared, and - you saw the effect through thekeyhole, didn't you?"Her features contracted, her eyes flashing, twisting her lacehandkerchief between her fingers loaded with rings,"It is unheard of," said Mme. de Thaller. "She has certainly losther head."Dropping her mother an ironical courtesy,"Thanks for the compliment!" said the young lady. "Unfortunately,I never was more completely in possession of all the good sense Imay boast of than I am now, dear mamma. What were you telling mea moment since? 'Run, the Marquis de Tregars is coming to askyour hand: it's all settled.' And what did I answer? 'No use totrouble myself: if, instead of one million, papa were to give metwo, four millions, indeed all the millions paid by France toPrussia, M. de Traggers would not have me for a wife.'"And, looking Marius straight in the face,"Am I not right, M. le Marquis?" she asked. "And isn't it a factthat you wouldn't have me at any price? Come, now, your hand uponyour heart, answer."M. de Tregars' situation was somewhat embarrassing between thesetwo women, whose anger was equal, though it manifested itself ina different way. Evidently it was a discussion begun before, whichwas now continued in his presence.

"I think, mademoiselle," he began, "that you have been slanderingyourself gratuitously.""Oh, no! I swear it to you," she replied; "and, if mamma had nothappened in, you would have heard much more. But that was not ananswer."And, as M. de Traggers said nothing, she turned towards the baroness,"Ah, ah! you see," she said. "Who was crazy, - you, or I? Ah!

you imagine here that money is everything, that every thing is forsale, and that every thing can be bought. Well, no! There arestill men, who, for all the gold in the world, would not give theirname to Cesarine de Thaller. It is strange; but it is so, dearmamma, and we must make up our mind to it."Then turning towards Marius, and bearing upon each syllable, as ifafraid that the allusion might escape him,"The men of whom I speak," she added, "marry the girls who canstarve to death."Knowing her daughter well enough to be aware that she could notimpose silence upon her, the Baroness de Thaller had dropped upona chair. She was trying hard to appear indifferent to what herdaughter was saying; but at every moment a threatening gesture, ora hoarse exclamation, betrayed the storm that raged within her.