But without further argument it seems to me that we could safely enjoy our love, and pass many happy moments undisturbed by prejudice."
"Possibly, but one gets burnt fingers at that game, and I shudder at the very thought of it. No, no; leave me alone, there is my sister who will wonder why I am in your arms."
"Very good; I see I was mistaken, and Rosalie too."
"Why what did she think about me?"
"She wrote and told me that she thought you would be kind."
"I hope she' mayn't have to repent for having been too kind herself."
"Good bye, Veronique."
I felt vexed at having made the trial, for in these matters one always feels angry at failure. I decided I would leave her and her precepts, true or false, alone; but when I awoke in the morning and saw her coming to my bed with a pleasant smile on her face, I suddenly changed my mind. I had slept upon my anger and I was in love again. I thought she had repented, and that I should be victorious when I attacked her again. I put on a smile myself and breakfasted gaily with her and her sister. I behaved in the same way at dinner; and the general high spirits which M. de Grimaldi found prevailing in the evening, made him think, doubtless, that we were getting on well, and he congratulated us. Veronique behaved exactly as if the marquis had guessed the truth, and I felt sure of having her after supper, and in the ecstasy of the thought I promised to stay for four days longer.
"Bravo, Veronique!" said the marquis, "that's the way. You are intended by nature to rule your lovers with an absolute sway."
I thought she would say something to diminish the marquis's certainty that there was an agreement between us, but she did nothing of the sort, seeming to enjoy her triumph which made her appear more beautiful than ever; whilst I looked at her with the submissive gaze of a captive who glories in, his chain. I took her behaviour as an omen of my approaching conquest, and did not speak to M. de Grimaldi alone lest he might ask me questions which I should not care to answer. He told us before he went away that he was engaged on the morrow, and so could not come to see us till the day after.
As soon as we were alone Veronique said to me, "You see how I let people believe what they please; I had rather be thought kind, as you call it, than ridiculous, as an honest girl is termed now-a- days. Is it not so?"
"No, dear Veronique, I will never call you ridiculous, but I shall think you hate me if you make me pass another night in torture. You have inflamed me."
"Oh, pray be quiet! For pity's sake leave me alone! I will not inflame you any more. Oh! Oh!"
I had enraged her by thrusting a daring hand into the very door of the sanctuary. She repulsed me and fled. Three or four minutes later her sister came to undress me. I told her gently to go to bed as I had to write for three or four hours; but not caring that she should come on a bootless errand I opened a box and gave her a watch. She took it modestly, saying,--
"This is for my sister, I suppose?"
"No, dear Annette, it's for you."
She gave a skip of delight, and I could not prevent her kissing my hand.
I proceeded to write Rosalie a letter of four pages. I felt worried and displeased with myself and everyone else. I tore up my letter without reading it over, and making an effort to calm myself I wrote her another letter more subdued than the first, in which I said nothing of Veronique, but informed my fair recluse that I was going on the day following.
I did not go to bed till very late, feeling out of temper with the world. I considered that I had failed in my duty to Veronique, whether she loved me or not, for I loved her and I was a man of honour. I had a bad night, and when I awoke it was noon, and on ringing Costa and Annette appeared. The absence of Veronique shewed how I had offended her. When Costa had left the room I asked Annette after her sister, and she said that she was working. I wrote her a note, in which I begged her pardon, promising that I would never offend her again, and begging her to forget everything and to be just the same as before.