These artless remarks put the handsome lieutenant out of countenance: he blushed hotly, but he pressed the little hand held out to him so simply, and with such a look of frank pleasure. He stammered some excuse for not having recognised her. He bowed pleasantly to Wilhelmine's companion, Mademoiselle Berthe. Wilhelmine turned to her. "This meeting was not prearranged: it is one of pure chance."
Prince Frederick William of Prussia took compassion on the poor child. The sister had not remarked him in her paroxysm of rage; had never heard him enter. He had been a witness to Wilhelmine's ill-treatment. He now defended her, blaming her sister for her cruelty to her, and declared his intention to be her future protector.
I shall be waited for at the cemetery." Wilhelmine's candid eyes gazed at de Loubersac, who was gnawing his moustache with a preoccupied air. "What is the matter, Henri?" she asked. De Loubersac came closer to Wilhelmine, grew red as fire, and without daring to look her in the face, burst out: "Listen, Wilhelmine!
The smiling fairy of the drawing-room, was the harsh, grim mistress for her sister, whose every mistake was punished with unrelenting severity. In fact, she was made a very slave; and now, after long years, the remembrance of it even cast a gloomy shadow over Wilhelmine's face, and her eyes flashed fire.
"I cannot protect those that I love!" A ray of joy lighted up Wilhelmine's face as she listened, but it disappeared with the tears which flowed afresh. "I am a poor, unfortunate child," she sobbed, "whom every one despises, and fears not to injure, who has no one to counsel or protect her, and who is lost if God does not have compassion upon her." The prince rushed to her, seizing both hands.
"I may be able to forgive you, Monsieur, but that is all you can hope for." "Will you never be able to love me again?" begged Henri, with the humble simplicity of a boy. "No, Monsieur." Wilhelmine's voice was hard. It was all Henri could do not to burst into tears of humiliation and despair. "Wilhelmine you are cruel!... If you could only know how you are making me suffer!
Wilhelmine she she alone I love and she is to consent to unite herself to the painted picture of a Prince of Wales the colored silhouette of an Austrian Arch-Duke whom she has never seen! Ah, no, my fate rests on the Genius of Love on chance, which may be even kinder to me than I expect. Her parents are of divided minds thereby do I gain time to win Wilhelmine's heart for myself.
Wilhelmine rose from the divan on which she had been reclining. In an expressionless voice she said: "Show him in." When the young officer of cuirassiers appeared, his air was embarrassed, his head was bent. "You here, Monsieur?" Wilhelmine's voice and manner expressed indignation. But Henri de Loubersac was no longer the arrogant unbeliever of the Saint-Sulpice interview.
"Granting that we shall clear up all these mysteries, Wilhelmine's innocence, her candour, will be made manifest; that being so, Henri de Loubersac will be the first to acknowledge it, the first to beg her forgiveness!... Lovers' quarrels are not serious quarrels so!"... Juve continued his tireless promenade. Sailors seeking their fishing-boats swung past him in the growing light of day.
She wore a robe glittering with gold, with transparent wings upon her shoulders. This young girl was Wilhelmine's older sister, Sophie, who had just returned from the Italian opera, where she was employed.