It was hardly an hour after Joseph and I had begun preparing for my departure,
when there was a violent ring at the door.
"Shall I go to the door?" said Joseph.
"Go," I said, asking myself who it could be at such an hour, and not daring to
believe that it was Marguerite.
"Sir," said Joseph coming back to me, "it is two ladies."
"It is we, Armand," cried a voice that I recognised as that of Prudence.
I came out of my room. Prudence was standing looking around the place;
Marguerite, seated on the sofa, was meditating. I went to her, knelt down, took
her two hands, and, deeply moved, said to her, "Pardon."
She kissed me on the forehead, and said:
"This is the third time that I have forgiven you."
"I should have gone away to-morrow."
"How can my visit change your plans? I have not come to hinder you from
leaving Paris. I have come because I had no time to answer you during the day,
and I did not wish to let you think that I was angry with you. Prudence didn't want
me to come; she said that I might be in the way."
"You in the way, Marguerite! But how?"
"Well, you might have had a woman here," said Prudence, "and it would hardly
have been amusing for her to see two more arrive."
During this remark Marguerite looked at me attentively.
"My dear Prudence," I answered, "you do not know what you are saying."
"What a nice place you've got!" Prudence went on. "May we see the bedroom?"
Prudence went into the bedroom, not so much to see it as to make up for the
foolish thing which she had just said, and to leave Marguerite and me alone.