Du Roy familiarly took the elbow of the young girl left standing beside him, and said in his caressing voice: "Listen, my dear, you believe me to be your friend?"
"You have confidence in me?"
"You remember what I said to you just now?"
"About your marriage, or rather about the man you are going to marry."
"Well, then, you will promise me one thing?"
"Yes; but what is it?"
"To consult me every time that your hand is asked for, and not to accept anyone without taking my advice."
"And to keep this a secret between us two.
Not a word of it to your father or your mother."
"Not a word."
"It is a promise, then?"
"It is a promise."
Rival came up with a bustling air.
"Mademoiselle, your papa wants you for the dance."
She said: "Come along, Pretty-boy."
But he refused, having made up his mind to leave at once, wishing to be alone in order to think.
Too many new ideas had entered his mind, and he began to look for his wife.
In a short time he saw her drinking chocolate at the buffet with two gentlemen unknown to him.
She introduced her husband without mentioning their names to him.
After a few moments, he said, "Shall we go?"
"When you like."
She took his arm, and they walked back through the reception-rooms, in which the public were growing few.
She said: "Where is Madame Walter, I should like to wish her good-bye?"
"It is better not to.
She would try to keep us for the ball, and I have had enough of this."
"That is so, you are quite right."
All the way home they were silent.
But as soon as they were in their room Madeleine said smilingly, before even taking off her veil.
"I have a surprise for you."
He growled ill-temperedly: "What is it?"
"I will make no such effort."
"Well, the day after to-morrow is the first of January."
"The time for New Year's gifts."
"Here's one for you that Laroche-Mathieu gave me just now."
She gave him a little black box resembling a jewel-case.
He opened it indifferently, and saw the cross of the Legion of Honor.
He grew somewhat pale, then smiled, and said:
"I should have preferred ten millions.
That did not cost him much."
She had expected an outburst of joy, and was irritated at this coolness.
"You are really incredible.
Nothing satisfies you now," said she.