Noting the change of countenance which I sought in vain to control, he went on banteringly.
"Beware M. le Capitaine, half the men at Sceaux are in love with her, but she has the execrable taste to prefer her own husband. Such women destroy half the zest of living. Beside, the Chevalier has a marvellous sword and a most unpleasant temper. Bah! how ludicrous it is for men to anger at trifles."
"But," I faltered, "she seems a mere child."
"Yes, but none the less charming," and he turned away to continue his interrupted conversation with the daring young Arouet, the same who was to acquire universal fame under the name Voltaire.
Thus rudely were my new-awakened hopes of love cast down. A wife, and the wife of a friend! She had spoken to me of "Charles," and of going with him to the colonies. A wife, yet for all that, I knew I loved her.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. My intentions were the best that ever made excellent cobblestones toward the infernal gate. Only a few days and I would be gone; surely those could be passed through in peace. She was a wife—I would never let her know that all my heart was hers. This I determined. But man is weak, and the very atmosphere of France dried up the springs of every honest impulse. Everywhere was scoffing, raillery and disbelief. Honour, friendship and virtue were regarded as the vain chimeras of a fool. Why should not I enjoy life while I might?
Directly Madame Chartrain entered without intrud-