Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/166

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The blood flushed Phaulcon's forehead.

"If I thought that——" Then he laughed the melodious laugh which was in harmony with the reckless poetic grace of the man's beauty. "Oh, no! She only sees through us, and has found out that our sublime statue of Liberty has very clay feet. Moitie marbre et moitie boue, as Voltaire said of the Encyclopedie."

"Why do you let her see the clay feet, then?"

"Why? Idalia is not a woman that you can blind. You have not seen her."

"Unhappily, no! I have heard men rave of her, as they never raved of anything, I think; and I know how madly they have lost their heads for her—to our advantage. Miladi's loveliness has done more for the cause than half our intrigues. She is now at Naples?"

"She was; to-night she is in Paris."

"In Paris?"

"Yes; I thought you knew it? In half an hour I am going back to take her to the Opera ball, Lilmarc is sure to be there, and she must beguile him out of his reticence and caution if she can; there is not a better place for enticing Tannhauser into the Venusberg than en domino in an opera box, while all the world is going mad below."