Caught In The Net
8. Mademoiselle De Mussidan
Paul had not been the only watcher; for at the sound of the carriage wheels the
ancient portress took up her position in the doorway, with her eyes fixed on the
face of the young lady. When the two women had ascended the stairs, a sudden
inspiration seized her, and she went out and spoke to the cabman.
"Nasty night," remarked she; "I don't envy you in such weather as this."
"You may well say that," replied the driver; "my feet are like lumps of ice."
"Have you come far?"
"Rather; I picked them up in the Champs Elysees, near the Avenue de
"That is a distance."
"Yes; and only five sous for drink money. Hang your respectable women!"
"Oh! they are respectable, are they?"
"I'll answer for that. The other lot are far more open-handed. I know both of
And with these words and a knowing wink, he touched up his horse and drove
away; and the portress, only half satisfied, went back to her lodge.
"Why that is the quarter where all the swells live," murmured she. "I'll tip the maid
next time, and she'll let out everything."
After Paul's departure, Andre could not remain quiet; for it appeared to him as if
each second was a century. He had thrown open the door of his studio, and ran
to the head of the stairs at every sound.
At last their footsteps really sounded on the steps. The sweetest music in the
world is the rustle of the beloved one's dress. Leaning over the banisters, he
gazed fondly down. Soon she appeared, and in a short time had gained the open
door of the studio.
"You see, Andre," said she, extending her hand, "you see that I am true to my
Pale, and trembling with emotion, Andre pressed the little hand to his lips.
"Ah! Mademoiselle Sabine, how kind you are! Thanks, a thousand thanks."
Yes, it was indeed Sabine, the scion of the lordly house of Mussidan, who had
come to visit the poor foundling of the Hotel de Vendome in his studio, and who
thus risked all that was most precious to her in the world, her honor and her
reputation. Yes, regardless of the conventionalities among which she had been
reared, dared to cross that social abyss which separates the Avenue de
Matignon from the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne. Cold reason finds no excuse for
such a step, but the heart can easily solve this seeming riddle. Sabine and Andre
had been lovers for more than two years. Their first acquaintance had
commenced at the Chateau de Mussidan. At the end of the summer of 1865,
Andre, whose constant application to work had told upon his health, determined
to take a change, when his master, Jean Lanier, called him, and said,--
"If you wish for a change, and at the same time to earn three or four hundred
francs, now is your time. An architect has written to me, asking me for a skilled