However (continued Armand after a pause), while I knew myself to be still in love
with her, I felt more sure of myself, and part of my desire to speak to Marguerite
again was a wish to make her see that I was stronger than she.
How many ways does the heart take, how many reasons does it invent for itself,
in order to arrive at what it wants!
I could not remain in the corridor, and I returned to my place in the stalls, looking
hastily around to see what box she was in. She was in a ground-floor box, quite
alone. She had changed, as I have told you, and no longer wore an indifferent
smile on her lips. She had suffered; she was still suffering. Though it was April,
she was still wearing a winter costume, all wrapped up in furs.
I gazed at her so fixedly that my eyes attracted hers. She looked at me for a few
seconds, put up her opera-glass to see me better, and seemed to think she
recognised me, without being quite sure who I was, for when she put down her
glasses, a smile, that charming, feminine salutation, flitted across her lips, as if to
answer the bow which she seemed to expect; but I did not respond, so as to
have an advantage over her, as if I had forgotten, while she remembered.
Supposing herself mistaken,, she looked away.
The curtain went up. I have often seen Marguerite at the theatre. I never saw her
pay the slightest attention to what was being acted. As for me, the performance
interested me equally little, and I paid no attention to anything but her, though
doing my utmost to keep her from noticing it.
Presently I saw her glancing across at the person who was in the opposite box;
on looking, I saw a woman with whom I was quite familiar. She had once been a
kept woman, and had tried to go on the stage, had failed, and, relying on her
acquaintance with fashionable people in Paris, had gone into business and taken
a milliner's shop. I saw in her a means of meeting with Marguerite, and profited
by a moment in which she looked my way to wave my hand to her. As I
expected, she beckoned to me to come to her box.
Prudence Duvernoy (that was the milliner's auspicious name) was one of those
fat women of forty with whom one requires very little diplomacy to make them
understand what one wants to know, especially when what one wants to know is
as simple as what I had to ask of her.
I took advantage of a moment when she was smiling across at Marguerite to ask
her, "Whom are you looking at?"