And so, shrinking and silent, and protected as far as possible by their big bonnets, the squat Madame Dépine and the skinny Madame Valière toiled up and down the dark, fusty stairs of the Hôtel des Tourterelles, often brushing against each other, yet sundered by icy infinities.
The baron de la Valiere had long been passionately in love with a young lady, who was one of the maids of honour to king James's queen: he went almost every day to St. Germains, in order to prosecute his addresses, and frequently took Horatio with him.
Eleven days later Madame Valière and Madame Dépine set out on the great expedition to the hairdresser's to try on the Wig. The "Princess's" excitement was no less tense than the fortunate winner's. Neither had slept a wink the night before, but the November morning was keen and bright, and supplied an excellent tonic.
I found it very acceptable, and his respect for you so great, and so much real kindness mixed with it, that having in my coach a picture of Caroline, which I had intended for the Duchesse de la Valiere, I desired him to accept of it, and I think he received it as well as I could for her sake have wished him to do.
"Not so soon," sighed Madame Valière. "But then it is not only one client that she cheats." "Ah! at that rate wigs fall from the skies," admitted Madame Valière. "Especially if one has not to give dowries to one's nieces," said Madame Dépine, boldly. "And if one is mean on New Year's Day," returned Madame Valière, with a shade less of mendacity.
The baron de la Valiere, whose friendship over-balanced his resentment, now gave an instance of his generosity, which, as things had stood of late between them, Horatio was far from expecting.
But if ever Madame Dépine stumbled on Madame Valière buying a section of a billet at the lottery agent's, she insisted on having her own slice cut from another number. Fortune itself would be robbed of its sweet if the "Princess" should share it.
"Merci bien," said the coiffeur, fervently, as he counted the cash. "Would that all customers' heads lent themselves so easily to artistic treatment!" "And when will my friend's wig be ready?" said the "Princess." "Madame Valière! What are you saying there? Monsieur will set to work when I bring him the fifty francs." "Mais non, madame. I commence immediately.
She wore the costume perpetuated in Collignan's full-length portrait of Mademoiselle de la Valiere. It is, as you know, not only rich, but elegant. Her hair was powdered, but one could perceive that it was naturally a dark brown. One pretty little foot appeared, and could anything be more exquisite than her hand?
Madame Dépine accepted in the same heroic spirit, and even suggested the elimination of the figs: one could lunch quite well on bread and milk, now the sunshine was here. But Madame Valière only agreed to a week's trial of this, for she had a sweet tooth among the few in her gums. The very next morning, as they walked in the Luxembourg Gardens, Madame Dépine's foot kicked against something.