Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/97

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we do not keep closer to the usages and requirements of the old régime. In my time a woman would have excited comment who did not wear her finest gown and her choicest jewels in so select a company as this; and often very extraordinary things happened when any one defied the mandate. I remember one very queer instance which I wish I could tell you about—and it resulted in all sorts of dreadful complications. I became so adept a fibber in consequence that I wasn’t able to speak the truth for months afterward—and all because this most charming girl wouldn’t wear a low gown at one of our dinners.”

Herbert beat the air with his hand. “Keep still, everybody—madame la marquise is going to tell us a story.”

“Madame la marquise is going to do nothing of the kind. She has enough sins of her own to answer for without betraying those of this poor girl.”

“Hold up your hands and swear secrecy, every one of you!” cried Louis.

“But who will absolve me from breaking the commandment? You will never have any respect for me again—you remember the rule—all liars shall have their portion—don’t you?”