To answer them properly, one requires a certain knack, and I had not had the opportunity of acquiring it; besides, the idea that I had formed of Marguerite accentuated the effects of her mockery. Nothing that dame from her was indifferent to me. I rose to my feet, saying in an altered voice, which I could not entirely control:
"If that is what you think of me, madame, I have only to ask your pardon for my indiscretion, and to take leave of you with the assurance that it shall not occur again."
Thereupon I bowed and quitted the box. I had scarcely closed the door when I heard a third peal of laughter. It would not have been well for anybody who had elbowed me at that moment.
I returned to my seat. The signal for raising the curtain was given. Ernest came back to his place beside me.
"What a way you behaved!" he said, as he sat down. "They will think you are mad."
"What did Marguerite say after I had gone?"
"She laughed, and said she had never seen any one so funny. But don't look upon it as a lost chance; only do not do these women the honour of taking them seriously. They do not know what politeness and ceremony are. It is as if you were to offer perfumes to dogs--they would think it smelled bad, and go and roll in the gutter."
"After all, what does it matter to me?" I said, affecting to speak in a nonchalant way. "I shall never see this woman again, and if I liked her before meeting her, it is quite different now that I know her."