It was a long meal of many courses. Martin, aided by the plongeur, acquitted himself heroically. Manners professional and individual, and also the strain of service prevented him from attending to the conversation. But what he could not avoid overhearing did not impress him with its brilliance. It was a self-conscious little company. It threw about statistics as to the state of the truffle crop; it listened to Lucien鈥檚 modest anecdotes of his military career; it decided that Parisians were greatly to be pitied in that fate compelled them to live in Paris instead of Brant?me. Even the flush of good cheer failed to inspire it with heartiness. For this perhaps the scared unresponsiveness of one of the chief personages was responsible. Martin, who had started to his feet, in order to save Corinna from the grip of the intoxicated Polydore, but had been anticipated by the impetuous rush of Bigourdin, gazed for a moment or two at his host and then gasped, as his vision pierced into the huge man鈥檚 soul. This perfervid declaration was not the good innkeeper鈥檚 apology for a waiter鈥檚 disgusting behaviour. It was the blazing indignation of a real man at the desecration inflicted by another on the body of the woman he loved. A shiver of comprehension of things he had never comprehended before swept through Martin from head to foot. He knew with absolute knowledge that should she rise and, with a nod of her head, invite Bigourdin to follow her to the verandah, she could be mistress absolute of Bigourdin鈥檚 destiny. He held his breath, for the first time in his dull life conscious of the meaning of love of women, conscious of eternal drama. He looked at Corinna smiling with ironic curl of lip up at the impassioned man. And he had an almost physical feeling within him as though his heart sank like a stone. But a week ago she had declared, with a vulgarity of which he had not thought her capable, that she had had the flirtation of her life with Bigourdin. She must have known then, she must know now that the man was in soul-strung earnest. What was her attitude to the major things of Life? His brain worked swiftly. If, in her middle-class English snobbery, she despised the French innkeeper, why did she admit him to her social plane on which alone flirtation鈥攈e had a sensitive gentleman鈥檚 horror of the word鈥攚as possible? If she accepted him as a social equal, recognising in him, as he, Martin, recognised, all that was vital in modern France鈥攊f she accepted him, woman accepting man, why that infernal smile on her pretty face? I must give you to understand that Martin knew nothing whatever about women. His ignorance placed him in this dilemma. He watched Corinna鈥檚 lips eager to hear what words would issue from them. She nodded assent. I offended with your husband? Oh dear no! Why on earth should I be? You ought not to have said that, Castalia. And her extravagance, and running him into debt as she has done鈥攊t seems to point to some mental aberration, does it not, Belinda? "The Chief proceeded to throw the tobacco into the Chaudiere." 色婷亚洲五月 Rhoda looked up at him in genuine surprise; but her eyes fell before the answering look they encountered, and she blushed from brow to chin. Did he, indeed? Well, I really am glad to hear it. I scarcely gave Algy鈥擬r. Errington鈥攃redit for so much鈥攑rudence! I'm afraid Uncle Val must be ill! exclaimed Castalia, opening the letter with a trembling hand. She was so weak and nervous now that the most trifling agitation made her heart beat painfully. My lady's epistle was not long, and, as a knowledge of its contents is essential to the due comprehension of this story, it is given in full, with her ladyship's own phraseology and orthography:鈥? 鈥淪he is not going to leave us again!鈥?cried Bigourdin, swooping down on her and carrying her off.