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THEIR life in town, however it may have
proved to be dust and ashes in Veronica's
mouth, was mightily to the taste of her
husband. One great drawback to his pleasure
at first, was Veronica's perverse determination
to be discontented, as he deemed
it. What could she desire that she had not?
They were rich, young, fond of one another
he at least still loved her, although she
seemed resolved to try to cure him of his
fondness!—and surrounded by companions
who asked nothing better than to be merry
and enjoy themselves! What though this
dowager had declined to be introduced to
her; or that dowdy countess refused her
invitations; or that it had hitherto been
impossible to find a lady to present her at
court? Were not the ladies whom she did
know incomparably more lively and
amusing than these dull persons? And was it
not an incredible perversity in Veronica to
long for that which, had it been offered to
heror so Cesare thoughtshe would have
loathed? The husband and wife had many
a sharp discussion on this score.

When Veronica now told Cesare that he
did not understand this or that, he would
argue the point with vivacity. Indeed but
he did understand: quite as well as she did;
perhaps better! She was but a woman.
And if he were a foreigner in England, he
yet knew the world, it might be that he
even knew the English world, a great deal
more thoroughly than she thought for!
His friends mauvais genre? Bah! Mrs.
Douglas De Raffville was one of the most
fashionable women in London. Lord
George, who had introduced her to them,
said so! She was at any rate very handsome,
very brilliant, and very good-natured:
that they could see for themselves. Per
Bacco! These simagrées on her part were
too amusing! Did she know the history
of the withered little duchess with the
pearls, to whom she had been so civil at
Naples? Then for a day, perhaps, Veronica
would break out into wild gaiety. She
would be all ablaze with excitement, until
even the rather noisy mirth of the society
that surrounded her would grow dumb, and
its members would stare at her uneasily, or
indulge in expressive shrugs and grimaces
to each other. These fits of feverish spirits
were invariably followed by prolonged
depression and gloom; sometimes even by
attacks of illness that obliged her to keep
her bed for a day or so. But she would see
no physician. Her husband, more and more
separated from her companionship, and
absorbed in his own pursuits, gradually ceased
to disquiet himself about these strange
fluctuations of health and spirits. There
was no one at hand who cared for her.
Her father wrote rarely and briefly. Maud
was separated from her as though the
thickness of the globe were between them.

One afternoon Veronica was lying half
asleep on a couch in her boudoir. Her
Swiss maid Louise entered the darkened
room quietly, and stood listening.

"Is Madame la Princesse asleep?"

"Eh? What is it? My head aches,"
answered Veronica, in a drowsy voice.

"I should not have ventured to disturb
Madame la Princesse, but the gentleman
was so importunate that the footman begged
me to come and speak with madame."

"A gentleman? I can't see the card by
this light. Tell me the name."