"Why? Ask me rather why, even on his oath, believe him!"
The impetuous disdain that burned through the retort had scathing satire in it. He looked at her with an admiration that was the more vivid because he thought her intentionally deceiving him, and thought also the deception so magnificently wrought out.
"Ah, ma belle Comtesse," he murmured, in his liquid flowing French, that both habitually used. "That you should have to feel this; that you should have to give such passion of contempt, to one so near to you! It is 'Athene to a Satyr.' How is it that, with such an inspiration as you beside him, Conrad has never——"
She interrupted him; and with the ironical cold nonchalance of her common tone resumed,
"Count Phaulcon is at least your friend, monsieur; let that suffice to dismiss his name. I suspected him; I do still suspect him. Did I think that he had been on the Turkish shore last night, I should have certainty in lieu of suspicion; but in saying this to you I say no more than I have done, or shall do, to him himself."
"And to —— Monsieur Erceldoune?"
"No." The answer was rapid and peremptory.