Madame du Trouffle refused. "You are not properly dressed, and besides, I have important business with the count."
Camilla turned her back scornfully, and her mother left the room; Camilla returned to the sofa and Madame du Trouffle entered the saloon. In the levity and frivolity of their hearts they had both forgotten this sad scene in the drama of a demoralized family life; such scenes had been too often repeated to make any lasting impression.
Madame du Trouffle found Count Ranuzi awaiting her. He came forward with such a joyous greeting, that she was flattered, and gave him her hand with a gracious smile. She said triumphantly to herself that the power of her charms was not subdued, since the handsome and much admired Ranuzi was surely captivated by them.
The count had pleaded yesterday for an interview, and he had done this with so mysterious and melancholy a mien, that the gay and sportive Louise had called him the Knight of Toggenberg, and had asked him plaintively if he was coming to die at her feet.
"Possibly," he answered, with grave earnestness--"possibly, if you are cruel enough to refuse the request I prefer."
These words had occupied the thoughts of this vain coquette during the whole night; she was convinced that Ranuzi, ravished by her beauty, wished to make her a declaration, and she had been hesitating whether to reject or encourage him. As he advanced so gracefully and smilingly to meet her, she resolved to encourage him and make him forget the mockery of yesterday.
Possibly Ranuzi read this in her glance, but he did not regard it; he had attained his aim--the interview which he desired. "Madame," said he, "I come to make honorable amends, and to plead at your feet for pardon." He bowed on one knee, and looked up beseechingly.
Louise found that his languishing and at the same time glowing eyes were very beautiful, and she was entirely ready to be gracious, although she did not know the offence. "Stand up, count," said she, "and let us talk reasonably together. What have you done, and for what must I forgive you?"