THE ARRIVAL OF A LADY OF QUALITY
women could sing, or should want any one else to, while Lemois, with that same dry smile which his face always wears when his mind is occupied with something that amuses him, ordered Pierre to begin at once the preparation of his most famous dish, Poulet Vallée d’Auge, spending the rest of the morning in putting a final polish on his entire George III coffee service—something he never did except for persons, as he remarked, of “exceptional quality.”
Not to be outdone in courtesy I unhooked the great iron key of the wine-cellar from its nail in Pierre’s kitchen, and swinging back the old door on its rusty hinges, drew from among the cobwebs a bottle of Chablis, our heavier Burgundies being, of course, too heating for so dainty a creature. This I carried in my own hands to the Marmouset, preserving its long-time horizontal so as not to arouse a grain of the sediment of years, tucking it at last into a crib of a basket for a short nap, only to be again awakened when my lady’s glass was ready.
When the glad hour arrived and we were drawn up to receive her—every man in his best outfit—best he had—with a rosebud in his button-hole—and she emerged from the darkness and stood in the light of the overhead can-