"Good-evening, my dear Gaston," said Marguerite to my companion. "I am very
glad to see you. Why didn't you come to see me in my box at the Varietes?"
"I was afraid it would be indiscreet."
"Friends," and Marguerite lingered over the word, as if to intimate to those who
were present that in spite of the familiar way in which she greeted him, Gaston
was not and never had been anything more than a friend, "friends are always
"Then, will you permit me to introduce M. Armand Duval?"
"I had already authorized Prudence to do so."
"As far as that goes, madame," I said, bowing, and succeeding in getting more or
less intelligible sounds out of my throat, "I have already had the honour of being
introduced to you."
Marguerite's beautiful eyes seemed to be looking back in memory, but she could
not, or seemed not to, remember.
"Madame," I continued, "I am grateful to you for having forgotten the occasion of
my first introduction, for I was very absurd and must have seemed to you very
tiresome. It was at the Opera Comique, two years ago; I was with Ernest de --."
"Ah, I remember," said Marguerite, with a smile. "It was not you who were
absurd; it was I who was mischievous, as I still am, but somewhat less. You have
And she held out her hand, which I kissed.
"It is true," she went on; "you know I have the bad habit of trying to embarrass
people the first time I meet them. It is very stupid. My doctor says it is because I
am nervous and always ill; believe my doctor."
"But you seem quite well."
"Oh! I have been very ill."
"Who told you?"