However, with the man waiting there in the passage, and Véronique fussing in and out of my bedroom, besides the waiters bringing up my dinner, I could not go tearing up sheets and writing others, it looked so flurried, so it was put into an envelope. Then, in one of the seconds I was alone, I nipped off a violet from a bunch on the table and pushed it in, too.
I am sure had Cleopatra been dragged to Rome in Augustus's triumph she would not have walked with more pride and contempt than I through the hall of Vavasour House. The old servant was waiting for me, and Véronique, and the brougham. "Call a hansom, if you please," I said, and stood there like a statue while one of the footmen had to run into St. James's Street for it.
"Stay here for another three days; the two beauties there will make the time seem short." "It's exactly for that reason that I want to go tomorrow. I am afraid of Veronique." "I shouldn't have thought that you would have allowed any woman to frighten you." "I am afraid she has cast her fatal nets around me, and when the time comes she will be strictly moral. Rosalie is my only love."
I behaved in the same way at dinner; and the general high spirits which M. de Grimaldi found prevailing in the evening, made him think, doubtless, that we were getting on well, and he congratulated us. Veronique behaved exactly as if the marquis had guessed the truth, and I felt sure of having her after supper, and in the ecstasy of the thought I promised to stay for four days longer.
This dislike to loneliness made me give orders that the table should be laid for two, and indeed, after supping with the marquis and myself, Veronique had some right to expect as much, to say nothing of those rights which her wit and beauty gave her. I only saw Costa, and asked him what had become of Le Duc. He said he was ill.
No solitary that ever lived in the dry and arid deserts of Africa was ever more master of his senses than was Veronique in her magnificent chateau, among the soft, voluptuous scenery of that opulent land, beneath the protecting mantle of that rich forest, whence science, the heir of Moses' wand, had called forth plenty, prosperity, and happiness for a whole region.
Veronique sat down on the bench of the chalet, amid this beauteous scene of the starry night. The murmur of two voices and the footfall of two persons still at a distance on the sandy shore were brought by the water, which sometimes, when all is still, reproduces sounds as faithfully as it reflects objects on the surface.
Since these great undertakings were begun, Veronique had been called "Madame" throughout the whole neighborhood. When the rains ceased in June, 1833, they tried the irrigating channels through the planted fields, and the young verdure thus nourished soon showed the superior qualities of the marciti of Italy and the meadows of Switzerland.
The vast expanse before her was lighted by a pale November sun. Already a few gray clouds chased by a chilly wind were hurrying from the west. It was then three o'clock. Veronique had taken more than four hours to reach the summit, but, like all others who are harrowed by an inward misery, she paid no heed to external circumstances.
This active benevolence, carried on with strict attention to religious duties, was hidden in the deepest secrecy and directed by the various rectors in the town, with whom Veronique had a full understanding in all her charitable deeds, so as not to suffer the money so needed for unmerited misfortunes to fall into the hands of vice.