Newman kept his promise, or his menace, of going often to the Rue de l’Universite, and during the next six weeks he saw Madame de Cintre more times than he could have numbered. He flattered himself that he was not in love, but his biographer may be supposed to know better. He claimed, at least, none of the exemptions and emoluments of the romantic passion. Love, he believed, made a fool of a man, and his present emotion was not folly but wisdom; wisdom sound, serene, well-directed. What he felt was an intense, all-consuming tenderness, which had for its object an extraordinarily graceful and delicate, and at the same time impressive, woman who lived in a large gray house on the left bank of the Seine. This tenderness turned very often into a positive heart-ache; a sign in which, certainly, Newman ought to have read the appellation which science has conferred upon his sentiment. When the heart has a heavy weight upon it, it hardly matters whether the weight be of gold or of lead; when, at any rate, happiness passes into that place in which it becomes identical with pain, a man may admit that the reign of wisdom is temporarily suspended. Newman wished Madame de Cintre so well that nothing he could think of doing for her in the future rose to the high standard which his present mood had set itself. She seemed to him so felicitous a product of nature and circumstance that his invention, musing on future combinations, was constantly catching its breath with the fear of stumbling into some brutal compression or mutilation of her beautiful personal harmony. This is what I mean by Newman’s tenderness: Madame de Cintre pleased him so, exactly as she was, that his desire to interpose between her and the troubles of life had the quality of a young mother’s eagerness to protect the sleep of her first-born child. Newman was simply charmed, and he handled his charm as if it were a music-box which would stop if one shook it. There can be no better proof of the hankering epicure that is hidden in every man’s temperament, waiting for a signal from some divine confederate that he may safely peep out. Newman at last was enjoying, purely, freely, deeply. Certain of Madame de Cintre’s personal qualities — the luminous sweetness of her eyes, the delicate mobility of her face, the deep liquidity of her voice — filled all his consciousness. A rose-crowned Greek of old, gazing at a marble goddess with his whole bright intellect resting satisfied in the act, could not have been a more complete embodiment of the wisdom that loses itself in the enjoyment of quiet harmonies.
He made no violent love to her — no sentimental speeches. He never trespassed on what she had made him understand was for the present forbidden ground. But he had, nevertheless, a comfortable sense that she knew better from day to day how much he admired her. Though in general he was no great talker, he talked much, and he succeeded perfectly in making her say many things. He was not afraid of boring her, either by his discourse or by his silence; and whether or no he did occasionally bore her, it is probable that on the whole she liked him only the better for his absense of embarrassed scruples. Her visitors, coming in often while Newman sat there, found a tall, lean, silent man in a half-lounging attitude, who laughed out sometimes when no one had meant to be droll, and remained grave in the presence of calculated witticisms, for appreciation of which he had apparently not the proper culture.
It must be confessed that the number of subjects upon which Newman had no ideas was extremely large, and it must be added that as regards those subjects upon which he was without ideas he was also perfectly without words. He had little of the small change of conversation, and his stock of ready-made formulas and phrases was the scantiest. On the other hand he had plenty of attention to bestow, and his estimate of the importance of a topic did not depend upon the number of clever things he could say about it. He himself was almost never bored, and there was no man with whom it would have been a greater mistake to suppose that silence meant displeasure. What it was that entertained him during some of his speechless sessions I must, however, confess myself unable to determine. We know in a general way that a great many things which were old stories to a great many people had the charm of novelty to him, but a complete list of his new impressions would probably contain a number of surprises for us. He told Madame de Cintre a hundred long stories; he explained to her, in talking of the United States, the working of various local institutions and mercantile customs. Judging by the sequel she was interested, but one would not have been sure of it beforehand. As regards her own talk, Newman was very sure himself that she herself enjoyed it: this was as a sort of amendment to the portrait that Mrs. Tristram had drawn of her. He discovered that she had naturally an abundance of gayety. He had been right at first in saying she was shy; her shyness, in a woman whose circumstances and tranquil beauty afforded every facility for well-mannered hardihood, was only a charm the more. For Newman it had lasted some time, and even when it went it left something behind it which for a while performed the same office. Was this the tearful secret of which Mrs. Tristram had had a glimpse, and of which, as of her friend’s reserve, her high-breeding, and her profundity, she had given a sketch of which the outlines were, perhaps, rather too heavy? Newman supposed so, but he found himself wondering less every day what Madame de Cintre’s secrets might be, and more convinced that secrets were, in themselves, hateful things to her. She was a woman for the light, not for the shade; and her natural line was not picturesque reserve and mysterious melancholy, but frank, joyous, brilliant action, with just so much meditation as was necessary, and not a grain more. To this, apparently, he had succeeded in bringing her back. He felt, himself, that he was an antidote to oppressive secrets; what he offered her was, in fact, above all things a vast, sunny immunity from the need of having any.
He often passed his evenings, when Madame de Cintre had so appointed it, at the chilly fireside of Madame de Bellegarde, contenting himself with looking across the room, through narrowed eyelids, at his mistress, who always made a point, before her family, of talking to some one else. Madame de Bellegarde sat by the fire conversing neatly and coldly with whomsoever approached her, and glancing round the room with her slowly-restless eye, the effect of which, when it lighted upon him, was to Newman’s sense identical with that of a sudden spurt of damp air. When he shook hands with her he always asked her with a laugh whether she could “stand him” another evening, and she replied, without a laugh, that thank God she had always been able to do her duty. Newman, talking once of the marquise to Mrs. Tristram, said that after all it was very easy to get on with her; it always was easy to get on with out-and-out rascals.
“And is it by that elegant term,” said Mrs. Tristram, “that you designate the Marquise de Bellegarde?”
“Well,” said Newman, “she is wicked, she is an old sinner.”
“What is her crime?” asked Mrs. Tristram.
“I shouldn’t wonder if she had murdered some one — all from a sense of duty, of course.”
“How can you be so dreadful?” sighed Mrs. Tristram.
“I am not dreadful. I am speaking of her favorably.”
“Pray what will you say when you want to be severe?”
“I shall keep my severity for some one else — for the marquis. There’s a man I can’t swallow, mix the drink as I will.”
“And what has HE done?”
“I can’t quite make out; it is something dreadfully bad, something mean and underhand, and not redeemed by audacity, as his mother’s misdemeanors may have been. If he has never committed murder, he has at least turned his back and looked the other way while some one else was committing it.”
In spite of this invidious hypothesis, which must be taken for nothing more than an example of the capricious play of “American humor,” Newman did his best to maintain an easy and friendly style of communication with M. de Bellegarde. So long as he was in personal contact with people he disliked extremely to have anything to forgive them, and he was capable of a good deal of unsuspected imaginative effort (for the sake of his own personal comfort) to assume for the time that they were good fellows. He did his best to treat the marquis as one; he believed honestly, moreover, that he could not, in reason, be such a confounded fool as he seemed. Newman’s familiarity was never importunate; his sense of human equality was not an aggressive taste or an aesthetic theory, but something as natural and organic as a physical appetite which had never been put on a scanty allowance and consequently was innocent of ungraceful eagerness. His tranquil unsuspectingness of the relativity of his own place in the social scale was probably irritating to M. de Bellegarde, who saw himself reflected in the mind of his potential brother-in-law in a crude and colorless form, unpleasantly dissimilar to the impressive image projected upon his own intellectual mirror. He never forgot himself for an instant, and replied to what he must have considered Newman’s “advances” with mechanical politeness. Newman, who was constantly forgetting himself, and indulging in an unlimited amount of irresponsible inquiry and conjecture, now and then found himself confronted by the conscious, ironical smile of his host. What the deuce M. de Bellegarde was smiling at he was at a loss to divine. M. de Bellegarde’s smile may be supposed to have been, for himself, a compromise between a great many emotions. So long as he smiled he was polite, and it was proper he should be polite. A smile, moreover, committed him to nothing more than politeness, and left the degree of politeness agreeably vague. A smile, too, was neither dissent — which was too serious — nor agreement, which might have brought on terrible complications. And then a smile covered his own personal dignity, which in this critical situation he was resolved to keep immaculate; it was quite enough that the glory of his house should pass into eclipse. Between him and Newman, his whole manner seemed to declare there could be no interchange of opinion; he was holding his breath so as not to inhale the odor of democracy. Newman was far from being versed in European politics, but he liked to have a general idea of what was going on about him, and he accordingly asked M. de Bellegarde several times what he thought of public affairs. M. de Bellegarde answered with suave concision that he thought as ill of them as possible, that they were going from bad to worse, and that the age was rotten to its core. This gave Newman, for the moment, an almost kindly feeling for the marquis; he pitied a man for whom the world was so cheerless a place, and the next time he saw M. de Bellegarde he attempted to call his attention to some of the brilliant features of the time. The marquis presently replied that he had but a single political conviction, which was enough for him: he believed in the divine right of Henry of Bourbon, Fifth of his name, to the throne of France. Newman stared, and after this he ceased to talk politics with M. de Bellegarde. He was not horrified nor scandalized, he was not even amused; he felt as he should have felt if he had discovered in M. de Bellegarde a taste for certain oddities of diet; an appetite, for instance, for fishbones or nutshells. Under these circumstances, of course, he would never have broached dietary questions with him.
One afternoon, on his calling on Madame de Cintre, Newman was requested by the servant to wait a few moments, as his hostess was not at liberty. He walked about the room a while, taking up her books, smelling her flowers, and looking at her prints and photographs (which he thought prodigiously pretty), and at last he heard the opening of a door to which his back was turned. On the threshold stood an old woman whom he remembered to have met several times in entering and leaving the house. She was tall and straight and dressed in black, and she wore a cap which, if Newman had been initiated into such mysteries, would have been a sufficient assurance that she was not a Frenchwoman; a cap of pure British composition. She had a pale, decent, depressed-looking face, and a clear, dull, English eye. She looked at Newman a moment, both intently and timidly, and then she dropped a short, straight English curtsey.
“Madame de Cintre begs you will kindly wait,” she said. “She has just come in; she will soon have finished dressing.”
“Oh, I will wait as long as she wants,” said Newman. “Pray tell her not to hurry.”
“Thank you, sir,” said the woman, softly; and then, instead of retiring with her message, she advanced into the room. She looked about her for a moment, and presently went to a table and began to arrange certain books and knick-knacks. Newman was struck with the high respectability of her appearance; he was afraid to address her as a servant. She busied herself for some moments with putting the table in order and pulling the curtains straight, while Newman walked slowly to and fro. He perceived at last from her reflection in the mirror, as he was passing that her hands were idle and that she was looking at him intently. She evidently wished to say something, and Newman, perceiving it, helped her to begin.
“You are English?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, please,” she answered, quickly and softly; “I was born in Wiltshire.”
“And what do you think of Paris?”
“Oh, I don’t think of Paris, sir,” she said in the same tone. “It is so long since I have been here.”
“Ah, you have been here very long?”
“It is more than forty years, sir. I came over with Lady Emmeline.”
“You mean with old Madame de Bellegarde?”
“Yes, sir. I came with her when she was married. I was my lady’s own woman.”
“And you have been with her ever since?”
“I have been in the house ever since. My lady has taken a younger person. You see I am very old. I do nothing regular now. But I keep about.”
“You look very strong and well,” said Newman, observing the erectness of her figure, and a certain venerable rosiness in her cheek.
“Thank God I am not ill, sir; I hope I know my duty too well to go panting and coughing about the house. But I am an old woman, sir, and it is as an old woman that I venture to speak to you.”
“Oh, speak out,” said Newman, curiously. “You needn’t be afraid of me.”
“Yes, sir. I think you are kind. I have seen you before.”
“On the stairs, you mean?”
“Yes, sir. When you have been coming to see the countess. I have taken the liberty of noticing that you come often.”
“Oh yes; I come very often,” said Newman, laughing. “You need not have been wide-awake to notice that.”
“I have noticed it with pleasure, sir,” said the ancient tire-woman, gravely. And she stood looking at Newman with a strange expression of face. The old instinct of deference and humility was there; the habit of decent self-effacement and knowledge of her “own place.” But there mingled with it a certain mild audacity, born of the occasion and of a sense, probably, of Newman’s unprecedented approachableness, and, beyond this, a vague indifference to the old proprieties; as if my lady’s own woman had at last begun to reflect that, since my lady had taken another person, she had a slight reversionary property in herself.
“You take a great interest in the family?” said Newman.
“A deep interest, sir. Especially in the countess.”
“I am glad of that,” said Newman. And in a moment he added, smiling, “So do I!”
“So I suppose, sir. We can’t help noticing these things and having our ideas; can we, sir?”
“You mean as a servant?” said Newman.
“Ah, there it is, sir. I am afraid that when I let my thoughts meddle with such matters I am no longer a servant. But I am so devoted to the countess; if she were my own child I couldn’t love her more. That is how I come to be so bold, sir. They say you want to marry her.”
Newman eyed his interlocutress and satisfied himself that she was not a gossip, but a zealot; she looked anxious, appealing, discreet. “It is quite true,” he said. “I want to marry Madame de Cintre.”
“And to take her away to America?”
“I will take her wherever she wants to go.”
“The farther away the better, sir!” exclaimed the old woman, with sudden intensity. But she checked herself, and, taking up a paper-weight in mosaic, began to polish it with her black apron. “I don’t mean anything against the house or the family, sir. But I think a great change would do the poor countess good. It is very sad here.”
“Yes, it’s not very lively,” said Newman. “But Madame de Cintre is gay herself.”
“She is everything that is good. You will not be vexed to hear that she has been gayer for a couple of months past than she had been in many a day before.”
Newman was delighted to gather this testimony to the prosperity of his suit, but he repressed all violent marks of elation. “Has Madame de Cintre been in bad spirits before this?” he asked.
“Poor lady, she had good reason. M. de Cintre was no husband for a sweet young lady like that. And then, as I say, it has been a sad house. It is better, in my humble opinion, that she were out of it. So, if you will excuse me for saying so, I hope she will marry you.”
“I hope she will!” said Newman.
“But you must not lose courage, sir, if she doesn’t make up her mind at once. That is what I wanted to beg of you, sir. Don’t give it up, sir. You will not take it ill if I say it’s a great risk for any lady at any time; all the more when she has got rid of one bad bargain. But if she can marry a good, kind, respectable gentleman, I think she had better make up her mind to it. They speak very well of you, sir, in the house, and, if you will allow me to say so, I like your face. You have a very different appearance from the late count, he wasn’t five feet high. And they say your fortune is beyond everything. There’s no harm in that. So I beseech you to be patient, sir,, and bide your time. If I don’t say this to you, sir, perhaps no one will. Of course it is not for me to make any promises. I can answer for nothing. But I think your chance is not so bad, sir. I am nothing but a weary old woman in my quiet corner, but one woman understands another, and I think I make out the countess. I received her in my arms when she came into the world and her first wedding day was the saddest of my life. She owes it to me to show me another and a brighter one. If you will hold firm, sir — and you look as if you would — I think we may see it.”
“I am much obliged to you for your encouragement,” said Newman, heartily. “One can’t have too much. I mean to hold firm. And if Madame de Cintre marries me you must come and live with her.”
The old woman looked at him strangely, with her soft, lifeless eyes. “It may seem a heartless thing to say, sir, when one has been forty years in a house, but I may tell you that I should like to leave this place.”
“Why, it’s just the time to say it,” said Newman, fervently. “After forty years one wants a change.”
“You are very kind, sir;” and this faithful servant dropped another curtsey and seemed disposed to retire. But she lingered a moment and gave a timid, joyless smile. Newman was disappointed, and his fingers stole half shyly half irritably into his waistcoat-pocket. His informant noticed the movement. “Thank God I am not a Frenchwoman,” she said. “If I were, I would tell you with a brazen simper, old as I am, that if you please, monsieur, my information is worth something. Let me tell you so in my own decent English way. It IS worth something.”
“How much, please?” said Newman.
“Simply this: a promise not to hint to the countess that I have said these things.”
“If that is all, you have it,” said Newman.
“That is all, sir. Thank you, sir. Good day, sir.” And having once more slid down telescope-wise into her scanty petticoats, the old woman departed. At the same moment Madame de Cintre came in by an opposite door. She noticed the movement of the other portiere and asked Newman who had been entertaining him.
“The British female!” said Newman. “An old lady in a black dress and a cap, who curtsies up and down, and expresses herself ever so well.”
“An old lady who curtsies and expresses herself?. . . . Ah, you mean poor Mrs. Bread. I happen to know that you have made a conquest of her.”
“Mrs. Cake, she ought to be called,” said Newman. “She is very sweet. She is a delicious old woman.”
Madame de Cintre looked at him a moment. “What can she have said to you? She is an excellent creature, but we think her rather dismal.”
“I suppose,” Newman answered presently, “that I like her because she has lived near you so long. Since your birth, she told me.”
“Yes,” said Madame de Cintre, simply; “she is very faithful; I can trust her.”
Newman had never made any reflections to this lady upon her mother and her brother Urbain; had given no hint of the impression they made upon him. But, as if she had guessed his thoughts, she seemed careful to avoid all occasion for making him speak of them. She never alluded to her mother’s domestic decrees; she never quoted the opinions of the marquis. They had talked, however, of Valentin, and she had made no secret of her extreme affection for her younger brother. Newman listened sometimes with a certain harmless jealousy; he would have liked to divert some of her tender allusions to his own credit. Once Madame de Cintre told him with a little air of triumph about something that Valentin had done which she thought very much to his honor. It was a service he had rendered to an old friend of the family; something more “serious” than Valentin was usually supposed capable of being. Newman said he was glad to hear of it, and then began to talk about something which lay upon his own heart. Madame de Cintre listened, but after a while she said, “I don’t like the way you speak of my brother Valentin.” Hereupon Newman, surprised, said that he had never spoken of him but kindly.
“It is too kindly,” said Madame de Cintre. “It is a kindness that costs nothing; it is the kindness you show to a child. It is as if you didn’t respect him.”
“Respect him? Why I think I do.”
“You think? If you are not sure, it is no respect.”
“Do you respect him?” said Newman. “If you do, I do.”
“If one loves a person, that is a question one is not bound to answer,” said Madame de Cintre.
“You should not have asked it of me, then. I am very fond of your brother.”
“He amuses you. But you would not like to resemble him.”
“I shouldn’t like to resemble any one. It is hard enough work resembling one’s self.”
“What do you mean,” asked Madame de Cintre, “by resembling one’s self?”
“Why, doing what is expected of one. Doing one’s duty.”
“But that is only when one is very good.”
“Well, a great many people are good,” said Newman. “Valentin is quite good enough for me.”
Madame de Cintre was silent for a short time. “He is not good enough for me,” she said at last. “I wish he would do something.”
“What can he do?” asked Newman.
“Nothing. Yet he is very clever.”
“It is a proof of cleverness,” said Newman, “to be happy without doing anything.”
“I don’t think Valentin is happy, in reality. He is clever, generous, brave; but what is there to show for it? To me there is something sad in his life, and sometimes I have a sort of foreboding about him. I don’t know why, but I fancy he will have some great trouble — perhaps an unhappy end.”
“Oh, leave him to me,” said Newman, jovially. “I will watch over him and keep harm away.”
One evening, in Madame de Bellegarde’s salon, the conversation had flagged most sensibly. The marquis walked up and down in silence, like a sentinel at the door of some smooth-fronted citadel of the proprieties; his mother sat staring at the fire; young Madame de Bellegarde worked at an enormous band of tapestry. Usually there were three or four visitors, but on this occasion a violent storm sufficiently accounted for the absence of even the most devoted habitues. In the long silences the howling of the wind and the beating of the rain were distinctly audible. Newman sat perfectly still, watching the clock, determined to stay till the stroke of eleven, but not a moment longer. Madame de Cintre had turned her back to the circle, and had been standing for some time within the uplifted curtain of a window, with her forehead against the pane, gazing out into the deluged darkness. Suddenly she turned round toward her sister-in-law.
“For Heaven’s sake,” she said, with peculiar eagerness, “go to the piano and play something.”
Madame de Bellegarde held up her tapestry and pointed to a little white flower. “Don’t ask me to leave this. I am in the midst of a masterpiece. My flower is going to smell very sweet; I am putting in the smell with this gold-colored silk. I am holding my breath; I can’t leave off. Play something yourself.”
“It is absurd for me to play when you are present,” said Madame de Cintre. But the next moment she went to the piano and began to strike the keys with vehemence. She played for some time, rapidly and brilliantly; when she stopped, Newman went to the piano and asked her to begin again. She shook her head, and, on his insisting, she said, “I have not been playing for you; I have been playing for myself.” She went back to the window again and looked out, and shortly afterwards left the room. When Newman took leave, Urbain de Bellegarde accompanied him, as he always did, just three steps down the staircase. At the bottom stood a servant with his overcoat. He had just put it on when he saw Madame de Cintre coming towards him across the vestibule.
“Shall you be at home on Friday?” Newman asked.
She looked at him a moment before answering his question. “You don’t like my mother and my brother,” she said.
He hesitated a moment, and then he said softly, “No.”
She laid her hand on the balustrade and prepared to ascend the stairs, fixing her eyes on the first step.
“Yes, I shall be at home on Friday,” and she passed up the wide dusky staircase.
On the Friday, as soon as he came in, she asked him to please to tell her why he disliked her family.
“Dislike your family?” he exclaimed. “That has a horrid sound. I didn’t say so, did I? I didn’t mean it, if I did.”
“I wish you would tell me what you think of them,” said Madame de Cintre.
“I don’t think of any of them but you.”
“That is because you dislike them. Speak the truth; you can’t offend me.”
“Well, I don’t exactly love your brother,” said Newman. “I remember now. But what is the use of my saying so? I had forgotten it.”
“You are too good-natured,” said Madame de Cintre gravely. Then, as if to avoid the appearance of inviting him to speak ill of the marquis, she turned away, motioning him to sit down.
But he remained standing before her and said presently, “What is of much more importance is that they don’t like me.”
“No — they don’t,” she said.
“And don’t you think they are wrong?” Newman asked. “I don’t believe I am a man to dislike.”
“I suppose that a man who may be liked may also be disliked. And my brother — my mother,” she added, “have not made you angry?”
“You have never shown it.”
“So much the better.”
“Yes, so much the better. They think they have treated you very well.”
“I have no doubt they might have handled me much more roughly,” said Newman. “I am much obliged to them. Honestly.”
“You are generous,” said Madame de Cintre. “It’s a disagreeable position.”
“For them, you mean. Not for me.”
“For me,” said Madame de Cintre.
“Not when their sins are forgiven!” said Newman. “They don’t think I am as good as they are. I do. But we shan’t quarrel about it.”
“I can’t even agree with you without saying something that has a disagreeable sound. The presumption was against you. That you probably don’t understand.”
Newman sat down and looked at her for some time. “I don’t think I really understand it. But when you say it, I believe it.”
“That’s a poor reason,” said Madame de Cintre, smiling.
“No, it’s a very good one. You have a high spirit, a high standard; but with you it’s all natural and unaffected; you don’t seem to have stuck your head into a vise, as if you were sitting for the photograph of propriety. You think of me as a fellow who has had no idea in life but to make money and drive sharp bargains. That’s a fair description of me, but it is not the whole story. A man ought to care for something else, though I don’t know exactly what. I cared for money-making, but I never cared particularly for the money. There was nothing else to do, and it was impossible to be idle. I have been very easy to others, and to myself. I have done most of the things that people asked me — I don’t mean rascals. As regards your mother and your brother,” Newman added, “there is only one point upon which I feel that I might quarrel with them. I don’t ask them to sing my praises to you, but I ask them to let you alone. If I thought they talked ill of me to you, I should come down upon them.”
“They have let me alone, as you say. They have not talked ill of you.”
“In that case,” cried Newman, “I declare they are only too good for this world!”
Madame de Cintre appeared to find something startling in his exclamation. She would, perhaps, have replied, but at this moment the door was thrown open and Urbain de Bellegarde stepped across the threshold. He appeared surprised at finding Newman, but his surprise was but a momentary shadow across the surface of an unwonted joviality. Newman had never seen the marquis so exhilarated; his pale, unlighted countenance had a sort of thin transfiguration. He held open the door for some one else to enter, and presently appeared old Madame de Bellegarde, leaning on the arm of a gentleman whom Newman had not seen before. He had already risen, and Madame de Cintre rose, as she always did before her mother. The marquis, who had greeted Newman almost genially, stood apart, slowly rubbing his hands. His mother came forward with her companion. She gave a majestic little nod at Newman, and then she released the strange gentleman, that he might make his bow to her daughter.
“My daughter,” she said, “I have brought you an unknown relative, Lord Deepmere. Lord Deepmere is our cousin, but he has done only to-day what he ought to have done long ago — come to make our acquaintance.”
Madame de Cintre smiled, and offered Lord Deepmere her hand. “It is very extraordinary,” said this noble laggard, “but this is the first time that I have ever been in Paris for more than three or four weeks.”
“And how long have you been here now?” asked Madame de Cintre.
“Oh, for the last two months,” said Lord Deepmere.
These two remarks might have constituted an impertinence; but a glance at Lord Deepmere’s face would have satisfied you, as it apparently satisfied Madame de Cintre, that they constituted only a naivete. When his companions were seated, Newman, who was out of the conversation, occupied himself with observing the newcomer. Observation, however, as regards Lord Deepmere’s person; had no great range. He was a small, meagre man, of some three and thirty years of age, with a bald head, a short nose and no front teeth in the upper jaw; he had round, candid blue eyes, and several pimples on his chin. He was evidently very shy, and he laughed a great deal, catching his breath with an odd, startling sound, as the most convenient imitation of repose. His physiognomy denoted great simplicity, a certain amount of brutality, and probable failure in the past to profit by rare educational advantages. He remarked that Paris was awfully jolly, but that for real, thorough-paced entertainment it was nothing to Dublin. He even preferred Dublin to London. Had Madame de Cintre ever been to Dublin? They must all come over there some day, and he would show them some Irish sport. He always went to Ireland for the fishing, and he came to Paris for the new Offenbach things. They always brought them out in Dublin, but he couldn’t wait. He had been nine times to hear La Pomme de Paris. Madame de Cintre, leaning back, with her arms folded, looked at Lord Deepmere with a more visibly puzzled face than she usually showed to society. Madame de Bellegarde, on the other hand, wore a fixed smile. The marquis said that among light operas his favorite was the Gazza Ladra. The marquise then began a series of inquiries about the duke and the cardinal, the old countess and Lady Barbara, after listening to which, and to Lord Deepmere’s somewhat irreverent responses, for a quarter of an hour, Newman rose to take his leave. The marquis went with him three steps into the hall.
“Is he Irish?” asked Newman, nodding in the direction of the visitor.
“His mother was the daughter of Lord Finucane,” said the marquis; “he has great Irish estates. Lady Bridget, in the complete absence of male heirs, either direct or collateral — a most extraordinary circumstance — came in for everything. But Lord Deepmere’s title is English and his English property is immense. He is a charming young man.”
Newman answered nothing, but he detained the marquis as the latter was beginning gracefully to recede. “It is a good time for me to thank you,” he said, “for sticking so punctiliously to our bargain, for doing so much to help me on with your sister.”
The marquis stared. “Really, I have done nothing that I can boast of,” he said.
“Oh don’t be modest,” Newman answered, laughing. “I can’t flatter myself that I am doing so well simply by my own merit. And thank your mother for me, too!” And he turned away, leaving M. de Bellegarde looking after him.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56