"Oh, no; she is probably alone."
"But she must be dreadfully bored," said Gaston.
"We spend most of our evening together, or she calls to me when she comes in. She never goes to bed before two in the morning. She can't sleep before that."
"Because she suffers in the chest, and is almost always feverish."
"Hasn't she any lovers?" I asked.
"I never see any one remain after I leave; I don't say no one ever comes when I am gone. Often in the evening I meet there a certain Comte de N., who thinks he is making some headway by calling on her at eleven in the evening, and by sending her jewels to any extent; but she can't stand him. She makes a mistake; he is very rich. It is in vain that I say to her from time to time, 'My dear child, there's the man for you.' She, who generally listens to me, turns her back and replies that he is too stupid. Stupid, indeed, he is; but it would be a position for her, while this old duke might die any day. Old men are egoists; his family are always reproaching him for his affection for Marguerite; there are two reasons why he is likely to leave her nothing. I give her good advice, and she only says it will be plenty of time to take on the count when the duke is dead. It isn't all fun," continued Prudence, "to live like that. I know very well it wouldn't suit me, and I should soon send the old man about his business. He is so dull; he calls her his daughter; looks after her like a child; and is always in the way. I am sure at this very moment one of his servants is prowling about in the street to see who comes out, and especially who goes in."
"Ah, poor Marguerite!" said Gaston, sitting down to the piano and playing a waltz. "I hadn't a notion of it, but I did notice she hasn't been looking so gay lately."
"Hush," said Prudence, listening. Gaston stopped.