2. Coming Of The Charolais
Sonia went back to her table, and once more began putting wedding- cards in their envelopes
and addressing them. Germaine moved restlessly about the room, fidgeting with the bric-a-brac
on the cabinets, shifting the pieces about, interrupting Sonia to ask whether she preferred this
arrangement or that, throwing herself into a chair to read a magazine, getting up in a couple of
minutes to straighten a picture on the wall, throwing out all the while idle questions not worth
answering. Ninety-nine human beings would have been irritated to exasperation by her
fidgeting; Sonia endured it with a perfect patience. Five times Germaine asked her whether she
should wear her heliotrope or her pink gown at a forthcoming dinner at Madame de Relzieres'.
Five times Sonia said, without the slightest variation in her tone, "I think you look better in the
pink." And all the while the pile of addressed envelopes rose steadily.
Presently the door opened, and Alfred stood on the threshold.
"Two gentlemen have called to see you, miss," he said.
"Ah, the two Du Buits," cried Germaine.
"They didn't give their names, miss."
"A gentleman in the prime of life and a younger one?" said Germaine.
"I thought so. Show them in."
"Yes, miss. And have you any orders for me to give Victoire when we get to Paris?" said
"No. Are you starting soon?"
"Yes, miss. We're all going by the seven o'clock train. It's a long way from here to Paris; we
shall only reach it at nine in the morning. That will give us just time to get the house ready for
you by the time you get there to-morrow evening," said Alfred.
"Is everything packed?"
"Yes, miss--everything. The cart has already taken the heavy luggage to the station. All you'll
have to do is to see after your bags."
"That's all right. Show M. du Buit and his brother in," said Germaine.
She moved to a chair near the window, and disposed herself in an attitude of studied, and
obviously studied, grace.
As she leant her head at a charming angle back against the tall back of the chair, her eyes fell
on the window, and they opened wide.
"Why, whatever's this?" she cried, pointing to it.
"Whatever's what?" said Sonia, without raising her eyes from the envelope she was addressing.
"Why, the window. Look! one of the panes has been taken out. It looks as if it had been cut."
"So it has--just at the level of the fastening," said Sonia. And the two girls stared at the gap.
"Haven't you noticed it before?" said Germaine.
"No; the broken glass must have fallen outside," said Sonia.
The noise of the opening of the door drew their attention from the window. Two figures were
advancing towards them--a short, round, tubby man of fifty-five, red-faced, bald, with bright
grey eyes, which seemed to be continually dancing away from meeting the eyes of any other
human being. Behind him came a slim young man, dark and grave. For all the difference in
their colouring, it was clear that they were father and son: their eyes were set so close together.