"I presume that that one whom I had failed to kill, would，
Mademoiselle Marguerite expected some important communication, so that she was not a little surprised when Madame de Fondege resumed: "Have you thought about your mourning?"
"Yes. I mean, have you decided what dresses you will purchase? It is an important matter, my dear--more important than you suppose. They are making costumes entirely of crepe now, puffed and plaited, and extremely stylish. I saw one that would suit you well. You may think that a costume for deep mourning made with puffs would be a trifle LOUD, but that depends upon tastes. The Duchess de Veljo wore one only eleven days after her husband's death; and she allowed some of her hair, which is superb, to fall over her shoulders, a la pleureuse, and the effect was extremely touching." Was Madame de Fondege speaking sincerely? There could be no doubt of it. Her features, which had been distorted with anger when the General took it into his head to order the bottle of Bordeaux, had regained their usual placidity of expression, and had even brightened a little. "I am entirely at your service, my dear, if you wish any shopping done," she continued. "And if you are not quite pleased with your dressmaker, I will take you to mine, who works like an angel. But how absurd I am. You will of course employ Van Klopen. I go to him occasionally myself, but only on great occasions. Between you and me, I think him a trifle too high in his charges."
Mademoiselle Marguerite could scarcely repress a smile. "I must confess, madame, that from my infancy I have been in the habit of making almost all my dresses myself."
The General's wife raised her eyes to Heaven in real or feigned astonishment. "Yourself!" she repeated four or five times, as if to make sure that she had heard aright. "Yourself! That is incomprehensible! You, the daughter of a man who possessed an income of five or six hundred thousand francs a year! Still I know that poor M. de Chalusse, though unquestionably a very worthy and excellent man, was peculiar in some of his ideas."
"Excuse me, madame. What I did, I did for my own pleasure."
But this assertion exceeded Madame de Fondege's powers of comprehension. "Impossible!" she murmured, "impossible! But, my poor child, what did you do for fashions--for patterns?"
The immense importance she attached to the matter was so manifest that Marguerite could not refrain from smiling. "I was probably not a very close follower of the fashions," she replied. "The dress that I am wearing now----."
"Is very pretty, my child, and it becomes you extremely; that's the truth. Only, to be frank, I must confess that this style is no longer worn--no--not at all. You must have your new dresses made in quite a different way."
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