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plied with sudden gravity. “All the rules are broken in the case of a woman of fashion and of rank and of very great wealth. These people do not live for themselves—they are part of the State. But I will tell you one thing, Monsieur High-Muck, though you may not believe it, and that is that Madame la Marquise de la Caux was never so contented as she is at the present moment. She is free now to do as she pleases. Did you hear what Monsieur Le Blanc said last night about the way the work is being pressed? The old marquis would have been a year deciding on a plan; madame will have that villa on its legs and as good as new in a month. You know, of course, that she is coming down this afternoon?”

I knew nothing of the kind, and told him so.

“Yes; she sent me word last night by a mysterious messenger, who left the note and disappeared before I could see him—Leà brought it to me. You see, madame is most anxious about her flowers for next year, and this afternoon I am going with her to a nursery and to a great garden overlooking the market-place to help her pick them out.” Here he caressed his pet again. “No, Monsieur Coco, you will not