I knew Marguerite: this unexpected meeting must certainly have upset her. No doubt she had heard that I had gone away, and had thus been reassured as to the consequences of our rupture; but, seeing me again in Paris, finding herself face to face with me, pale as I was, she must have realized that I had not returned without purpose, and she must have asked herself what that purpose was.
If I had seen Marguerite unhappy, if, in revenging myself upon her, I could have come to her aid, I should perhaps have forgiven her, and certainly I should have never dreamt of doing her an injury. But I found her apparently happy, some one else had restored to her the luxury which I could not give her; her breaking with me seemed to assume a character of the basest self-interest; I was lowered in my own esteem as well as in my love. I resolved that she should pay for what I had suffered.
I could not be indifferent to what she did, consequently what would hurt her the most would be my indifference; it was, therefore, this sentiment which I must affect, not only in her eyes, but in the eyes of others.
I tried to put on a smiling countenance, and I went to call on Prudence. The maid announced me, and I had to wait a few minutes in the drawing-room. At last Mme. Duvernoy appeared and asked me into her boudoir; as I seated myself I heard the drawing-room door open, a light footstep made the floor creak and the front door was closed violently.
"I am disturbing you," I said to Prudence.
"Not in the least. Marguerite was there. When she heard you announced, she made her escape; it was she who has just gone out."
"No. but she is afraid that you would not wish to see her."
"But why?" I said, drawing my breath with difficulty, for I was choked with emotion. "The poor girl left me for her carriage, her furniture, and her diamonds; she did quite right, and I don't bear her any grudge. I met her to-day," I continued carelessly.