"Yes, still so as much as ever.
She refuses to see you, and walks away when you are spoken of."
He did not reply.
The sudden enmity of this little girl vexed and oppressed him.
Susan seized on them as they passed through a doorway, exclaiming:
"Ah! here you are.
Well, Pretty-boy, you must remain alone.
I am going to take away Clotilde to show her my room."
The two moved rapidly away, gliding through the throng with that undulating snake-like motion women know how to adopt in a crowd.
Almost immediately a voice murmured:
It was Madame Walter, who went on in a low tone:
"Oh! how ferociously cruel you are.
How you do make me suffer without reason.
I told Susan to get your companion away in order to be able to say a word to you.
Listen, I must speak to you this evening, I must, or you don't know what I will do.
Go into the conservatory.
You will find a door on the left leading into the garden.
Follow the path in front of it.
At the end of it you will find an arbor.
Wait for me there in ten minutes' time.
If you won't, I declare to you that I will create a scene here at once."
He replied loftily: "Very well.
I will be at the spot you mention within ten minutes."
And they separated.
But Jacques Rival almost made him behindhand.
He had taken him by the arm and was telling him a lot of things in a very excited manner.
He had no doubt come from the refreshment buffet.
At length Du Roy left him in the hands of Monsieur de Marelle, whom he had come across, and bolted.
He still had to take precautions not to be seen by his wife or Laroche-Mathieu.
He succeeded, for they seemed deeply interested in something, and found himself in the garden.
The cold air struck him like an ice bath.
He thought: "Confound it, I shall catch cold," and tied his pocket-handkerchief round his neck.
Then he slowly went along the walk, seeing his way with difficulty after coming out of the bright light of the reception-rooms.
He could distinguish to the right and left leafless shrubs, the branches of which were quivering.
Light filtered through their branches, coming from the windows of the mansion.
He saw something white in the middle of the path in front of him, and Madame Walter, with bare arms and bosom, said in a quivering voice;
"Ah here you are; you want to kill me, then?"
He answered quickly: "No melodramatics, I beg of you, or I shall bolt at once."
She had seized him round the neck, and with her lips close to his, said:
"But what have I done to you?
You are behaving towards me like a wretch.
What have I done to you?"
He tried to repulse her.
"You wound your hair round every one of my buttons the last time I saw you, and it almost brought about a rupture between my wife and myself."
She was surprised for a moment, and then, shaking her head, said:
"Oh! your wife would not mind.
It was one of your mistresses who had made a scene over it."
"I have no mistresses."