other respects needs considerable polish. Do you know what，
This was the first time since she had been engaged by the Count de Chalusse, that the estimable "companion" had ever made any direct allusion to her relatives, and what is more, to relatives residing in Paris. She had previously only spoken of them in general terms, giving people to understand that her relatives had not been unfortunate like herself--that they still retained their exalted rank, though she had fallen, and that she found it difficult to decline the favors they longed to heap upon her.
However, Mademoiselle Marguerite evinced no surprise. "Go at once and inform your relatives, my dear Leon," she said, without a shade of sarcasm in her manner. "I hope they won't be offended by your devotion to me." But in her secret heart, she thought: "This hypocrite is going to report to the Marquis de Valorsay, and these relatives of hers will furnish her with excuses for future visits to him."
The General went off, the servants began to clear the table, and Mademoiselle Marguerite followed her hostess to the drawing-room. It was a lofty and spacious apartment, lighted by three windows, and even more sumptuous in its appointments than the dining-room. Furniture, carpets, and hangings, were all in rather poor taste, perhaps, but costly, very costly. As the evening was a cold one, Madame de Fondege ordered the fire to be lighted. She seated herself on a sofa near the mantelpiece, and when Mademoiselle Marguerite had taken a chair opposite her, she began, "Now, my dear child, let us have a quiet talk."
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."
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