act in the future as I have in the past, in accordance，
Was Madame de Fondege going to plead her son's cause? Mademoiselle Marguerite almost believed it--but the lady was too shrewd for that. She took good care not to mention as much as Lieutenant Gustave's name.
"The season will certainly be unusually brilliant," she said, "and it will begin very early. On the fifth of November, the Countess de Commarin will give a superb fete; all Paris will be there. On the seventh, there will be a ball at the house of the Viscountess de Bois d'Ardon. On the eleventh, there will be a concert, followed by a ball, at the superb mansion of the Baroness Trigault--you know--the wife of that strange man who spends all his time in playing cards."
"This is the first time I ever heard the name mentioned."
"Really! and you have been living in Paris for years. It seems incomprehensible. You must know then, my dear little ignoramus, that the Baroness Trigault is one of the most distinguished ladies in Paris, and certainly the best dressed. I am sure her bill at Van Klopen's is not less than a hundred thousand francs a year-- and that is saying enough, is it not?" And with genuine pride, she added: "The baroness is my friend. I will introduce you to her."
Having once started on this theme, Madame de Fondege was not easily silenced. It was evidently her ambition to be considered a woman of the world, and to be acquainted with all the leaders of fashionable society; and, in fact, if one listened to her conversation for an hour one could learn all the gossip of the day. Though she was unable to interest herself in this tittle- tattle, Marguerite was pretending to listen to it with profound attention when the drawing-room door suddenly opened and Evariste appeared with an impudent smile on his face. "Madame Landoire, the milliner, is here, and desires to speak with Madame la Comtesse," he said.
On hearing this name, Madame de Fondege started as if she had been stung by a viper. "Let her wait," she said quickly. "I will see her in a moment."
The order was useless, for the visitor was already on the threshold. She was a tall, dark-haired, ill-mannered woman. "Ah! I've found you at last," she said, rudely, "and I'm not sorry. This is the fourth time I've come here with my bill."
Madame de Fondege pointed to Mademoiselle Marguerite, and exclaimed: "Wait, at least, until I am alone before you speak to me on business."
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