And then she added, a little shyly, "Won't you sit down?" Again the Comte de Virieu bowed low before her, and then he sat down. "I fear you will not be allowed to go into the Club this time unless you become a member. They have to be very strict in these matters; to allow a stranger in the Club at all is a legal infraction. The Casino authorities might be fined for doing so."
The Duc d'Eglemont, that was the racing French duke who had carried off the blue riband of the British Turf the other name was harder to remember then it came to her. Count Paul de Virieu. How kind and courteous he had been to her and her friend in the Club. She remembered him very vividly. Yes, though not exactly good-looking, he had fine eyes, and a clever, if not a very happy, face.
Sylvia was sitting at a round table; behind her was the buffet, still laden with the remains of a simple meal. Her face was hidden in her hands, and she was trembling shaking as though she had the ague. But what amazed Paul de Virieu was the sight of Sylvia's hostess.
She was glad when she was at last able to leave the others for the Villa du Lac. Anna Wolsky accompanied her friend to the entrance of the Casino. The Comte de Virieu was just coming in as Sylvia went out; bowing distantly to the two ladies, he hurried through the vestibule towards the Club. Sylvia's heart sank.
Both men stopped simultaneously, but neither answered her. "Who goes there?" she repeated; and then, "I fear, Messieurs, that you have made a mistake. You have taken this villa for someone else's house!" But there was alarm as well as anger in her voice. "It is I, Paul de Virieu, Madame Wachner."
The fact that Madame Wolsky thought so ill of the Comte de Virieu made Sylvia feel uncomfortable all through dinner. But the Count, though he again bowed when the two friends came into the dining-room, did not come over and speak to them, as Sylvia had felt sure he would do this evening. After dinner he disappeared, and Sylvia took Anna out into the garden. But she did not show her the potager.
The next day, so she told herself, she would go back to England, to Market Dalling. There she must forget that such a place as Lacville existed; there she must banish Paul de Virieu from her heart and memory. Yes, there was nothing now to keep her here, in this curious place, where she had eaten, in more than one sense, of the bitter fruit of the tree of knowledge.
A noble deputy, the count de Virieu, set the example, and said: "Assembled for the constitution, let us make the constitution; let us tighten our mutual bonds; let us renew, confirm, and consecrate the glorious decrees of the 17th of June; let us join in the celebrated resolution made on the 20th of the same month.
But it was not the easy, idle, purposeless life she was now leading that brought the pretty English widow that strange, unacknowledged feeling of entire content with life. What made existence at Lacville so exciting and so exceptionally interesting to Sylvia Bailey was her friendship with Comte Paul de Virieu.
He is certainly very fond of his wife, and she is very fond of him. But would you like your husband always to prefer his vice to you?" Sylvia made no answer. "But why am I talking like that?" Anna Wolsky started up suddenly. "It is absurd of me to think it possible that you would dream of marrying the Comte de Virieu!