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   Chapter 5 MADAME AND HER FRIEND CHAT BY THE FIRESIDE

Monsieur, Madame, and Bebe -- C By Gustave Droz Characters: 8624

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


Madam-(moving her slender fingers)-It is ruched, ruched, ruched, loves of ruches, edged all around with blond.

Her Friend-That is good style, dear.

Madame-Yes, I think it will be the style, and over this snowlike foam fall the skirts of blue silk like the bodice; but a lovely blue, something like-a little less pronounced than skyblue, you know, like-my husband calls it a subdued blue.

Her Friend-Splendid. He is very happy in his choice of terms.

Madame-Is he not? One understands at once-a subdued blue. It describes it exactly.

Her Friend-But apropos of this, you know that Ernestine has not forgiven him his pleasantry of the other evening.

Madame-How, of my husband? What pleasantry? The other evening when the Abbe Gelon and the Abbe Brice were there?

Her Friend-And his son, who was there also.

Madame-What! the Abbe's son? (Both break into laughter.)

Her Friend-But-ha! ha! ha!-what are you saying, ha! ha! you little goose?

Madame-I said the Abbe Gelon and the Abbe Brice, and you add, 'And his son.' It is your fault, dear. He must be a choir-boy, that cherub. (More laughter.)

Her Friend-(placing her hand over hey mouth)-Be quiet, be quiet; it is too bad; and in Lent, too!

Madame-Well, but of whose son are you speaking?

Her Friend-Of Ernestine's son, don't you know, Albert, a picture of innocence. He heard your husband's pleasantry, and his mother was vexed.

Madame-My dear, I really don't know to what you refer. Please tell me all about it.

Hey Friend-Well, on entering the drawing-room, and perceiving the candelabra lit up, and the two Abbe's standing at that moment in the middle of the room, your husband appeared as if looking for something, and when Ernestine asked him what it was, he said aloud: "I am looking for the holy-water; please, dear neighbor, excuse me for coming in the middle of the service."

Madame-Is it possible? (Laughing.) The fact is, he can not get out of it; he has met the two Abbes, twice running, at Ernestine's. Her drawing-room is a perfect sacristy.

Hey Friend (dryly)-A sacristy! How regardless you are getting in your language since your marriage, dear.

Madame-Not more than before. I never cared to meet priests elsewhere than at church.

Her Friend-Come, you are frivolous, and if I did not know you better-but do you not like to meet the Abbe Gelon?

Madame-Ah! the Abbe Gelon, that is quite different. He is charming.

Her Friend-(briskly)-His manners are so distingue.

Madame-And respectful. His white hair is such an admirable frame for his pale face, which is so full of unction.

Her Friend-Oh! yes, he has unction, and his looks-those sweetly softened looks! The other day, when he was speaking on the mediation of Christ, he was divine. At one moment he wiped away a tear; he was no longer master of his emotions; but he grew calm almost immediately-his power of self-command is marvellous; then he went on quietly, but the emotion in turn had overpowered us. It was electrifying. The Countess de S., who was near me, was bubbling like a spring, under her yellow bonnet.

Madame-Ah! yes, I have seen that yellow bonnet. What a sight that Madame de S. is!

Her Friend-The truth is, she is always dressed like an applewoman. A bishopric has been offered these messieurs, I know, on good authority; my husband had it from De l'Euvre. Well-

Madame-(interrupting her)-A bishopric offered to Madame de S. It was wrong to do so.

Her Friend-You make fun of everything, my dear; there are, however, some subjects which should be revered. I tell you that the mitre and the ring have been offered to the Abby Gelon. Well, he refused them. God knows, however, that the pastoral ring would well become his hand.

Madame-Oh! yes, he has a lovely hand.

Her Friend-He has a white, slender, and aristocratic hand. Perhaps it is a wrong for us to dwell on these worldly details, but after all his hand is really beautiful. Do you know (enthusiastically) I find that the Abbe Gelon compels love of religion? Were you ever present at his lectures?

Madame-I was at the first one. I would have gone again on Thursday, but Madame Savain came to try on my bodice and I had a protracted discussion with her about the slant of the skirts.

Her Friend-Ah! the skirts are cut slantingly.

Madame-Yes, yes, with little cross-bars, which is an idea of my own-I have not seen it anywhere else; I think it will not look badly.

Her Friend-Madame Savain told me that you had suppressed the shoulders of the corsage.

Madame-Ah! the gossip! Yes, I will have nothing on the shoulders but a ribbon, a trifle, just enough to fasten a jewel to-I was afraid that the corsage would look a little bare. Madame Savain had laid on, at intervals, some ridiculous frippery. I wanted to try something else-my plan of crossbars, there and then-and I missed the dear Abbe Gelon's lecture. He was charming, it seems.

Her Friend-Oh! charming. He spoke against bad books; there was a large crowd. He demolished all the horrible opinions of Monsieur Renan. What a monster that man is!

Madame-You have read his book?

Her Friend-Heaven forbid! Don't you know it is impossible for one to find anything more-well, it must be very bad 'Messieurs de l'OEuvre' for the Abbe Gelon, in speaking to one of these friends of my husband, uttered the word--

Madame-Well, what word?

Her Friend-I dare not tell you, for, really, if it is true it would make one shudder. He said that it was (whispering in her ear) the Antichrist! It makes one feel aghast, does it not! They sell his photograph; he has a satanic look. (Looking at the clock.) Half-past two-I must run away; I have given no orders about dinner. These three fast-days in the week are to me martyrdom. One must have a little variety; my husband is very fastidious. If we did not have water-fowl I should lose my head. How do you get on, dear?

Madame-Oh! with me it is very simple, provided I do not make my husband leaner; he eats anything. You know, Augustus is not very much-

Her Friend-Not very much! I think that he is much too spare; for, after all, if we do not in this life impose some privations upon ourselves-no, that would be too easy. I hope, indeed, that you have a dispensation?

Madame-Oh! yes, I am safe as to that.

Her Friend-I have one, of course, for butter and eggs, as vice-chancellor of the Association. The Abbe Gelon begged me to accept a complete dispensation on account of my headaches, but I refused. Yes! I refused outright. If one makes a compromise with one's principles-but then there are people who have no principles.

Madame-If you mean that to apply to my husband, you are wrong. Augustus is not a heathen-he has excellent principles.

Her Friend-Excellent principles! You make my blood boil. But there, I must go. Well, it is understood, I count upon you for Tuesday; he will preach upon authority, a magnificent subject, and we may expect allusions-Ah! I forgot to tell you; I am collecting and I expect your mite, dear. I take as low a sum as a denier (the twelfth of a penny). I have an idea of collecting with my little girl on my praying-stool. Madame de K. collected on Sunday at St. Thomas's and her baby held the alms-bag. The little Jesus had an immense success-immense!

Madame-I must go now. How will you dress?

Her Friend-Oh! for the present, quite simply and in black; you understand.

Madame-Besides, black becomes you so well.

Her Friend-Yes, everything is for the best; black does not suit me at all ill. Tuesday, then. But my dear, try to bring your husband, he likes music so much.

Madame-Well, I can not promise that.

Her Fiend-Ah! mon Dieu! they are all like that, these men; they are strong-minded, and when grace touches them, they look back on their past life with horror. When my husband speaks of his youth, the tears come into his eyes. I must tell you; that he has not always been as he is now; he was a gay boy in his youth, poor fellow. I do not detest a man because he knows life a little, do you? But I am gossiping and time passes; I have a call to make yet on Madame W. I do not know whether she has found her juvenile lead.

Madame-What for, in Heaven's name?

Her Friend-For her evening party. There are to be private theatricals at her house, but for a pious object, you may be sure, during Lent; it is so as to have a collection on behalf of the Association. I must fly. Good-by, dear.

Madame-Till Tuesday, dear; in full uniform?

Her Friend-(smiling)-In full uniform. Kind regards to your reprobate. I like him very much all the same. Good-by.

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