Her breast was well shaped and not too large. Fashion and custom made her shew half of it as innocently as she shewed her plump white hand, or her cheeks, whereon the lily and the rose were wedded. I looked at her features to see if I might hope at all; but I was completely puzzled, and could come to no conclusion. She gave no sign which made me hope, but on the other hand she did nothing to make me despair. She was so natural and so reserved that my sagacity was completely at fault. Nevertheless, a liberty which I took at supper gave me a gleam of hope. Her napkin fell down, and in returning it to her I pressed her thigh amorously, and could not detect the slightest displeasure on her features. Content with so much I begged everybody to come to dinner with me next day, telling Madame Morin that I should not be going out, and that I was therefore delighted to put my carriage at her service.
When I had taken Valenglard home, I went to my lodging building castles in Spain as to the conquest of Mdlle. Roman.
I warned my landlord that we should be six at dinner and supper the following day, and then I went to bed. As Le Duc was undressing me he said,
"Sir, you are punishing me, but what makes me sorry you are punishing yourself in depriving yourself of the services of those pretty girls."
"You are a rogue."
"I know it, but I serve you with all my heart, and I love your pleasure as well as my own."
"You plead well for yourself; I am afraid I have spoilt you."
"Shall I do your hair to-morrow?"
"No; you may go out every day till dinner-time."
"I shall be certain to catch it."
"Then I shall send you to the hospital."
"That is a fine prospect, 'por Dios'."
He was impudent, sly, profligate, and a rascally fellow; but also obedient, devoted, discreet, and faithful, and his good qualities made me overlook his defects.
Next morning, when Rose brought my chocolate, she told me with a laugh that my man had sent for a carriage, and after dressing himself in the height of fashion he had gone off with his sword at his side, to pay calls, as he said.
"We laughed at him."
"You were quite right, my dear Rose."
As I spoke, Manon came in under some pretext or other. I saw that the two sisters had an understanding never to be alone with me; I was displeased, but pretended not to notice anything. I got up, and I had scarcely put on my dressing-gown when the cousin came in with a packet under her arm.
"I am delighted to see you, and above all to look at your smiling face, for I thought you much too serious yesterday."
"That's because M. le Duc is a greater gentleman than you are; I should not have presumed to laugh in his presence; but I had my reward in seeing him start off this morning in his gilded coach."
"Did he see you laughing at him?"
"Yes, unless he is blind."
"He will be vexed."
"All the better."
"You are really very charming. What have you got in that parcel?"
"Some goods of our own manufacture. Look; they are embroidered gloves."
"They are beautiful; the embroidery is exquisitely done. How much for the lot?"
"Are you a good hand at a bargain."
"Then we must take that into account."
After some whisperings together the cousin took a pen, put down the numbers of gloves, added up and said,
"The lot will cost you two hundred and ten francs."
"There are nine louis; give me six francs change."
"But you told us you would make a bargain."
"You were wrong to believe it."
She blushed and gave me the six francs. Rose and Manon shaved me and did my hair, giving me a kiss with the best grace imaginable; and when I offered my cheek to the cousin she kissed me on the mouth in a manner that told me she would be wholly mine on the first opportunity.
"Shall we have the pleasure of waiting on you at the table?" said Rose.
"I wish you would."
"But we should like to know who is coming to dinner first; as if it is officers from the garrison we dare not come; they make so free."
"My guests are Madame Morin, her husband, and her niece."
The cousin said,