This admonition neither made the young girl called Montalais cease to laugh nor gesticulate. She only replied: "Louise, you do not speak as you think, my dear; you know that messieurs the guards, as you call them, have only just commenced their sleep, and that a cannon would not waken them; you know that madame's bell can be heard at the bridge of Blois, and that consequently I shall hear it when my services are required by madame. What annoys you, my child, is that I laugh while you are writing; and what you are afraid of is that Madame de St. Remy, your mother, should come up here, as she does sometimes when we laugh too loud, that she should surprise us, and that she should see that enormous sheet of paper upon which, in a quarter of an hour, you have only traced the words Monsieur Raoul. Now, you are right, my dear Louise, because after these words, 'Monsieur Raoul,' others may be put so significant and so incendiary as to cause Madame de St. Remy to burst out into fire and flames! Hein! is not that true now?—say."
And Montalais redoubled her laughter and noisy provocations.
The fair girl at length became quite angry; she tore the sheet of paper on which, in fact, the words "Monsieur Raoul" were written in good characters; and, crushing the paper in her trembling hands, she threw it out of the window.
"There! there!" said Mile, de Montalais; "there is our little lamb, our gentle dove angry! Don't be afraid, Louise—Madame de St. Remy will not come; and if she should, you know I have a quick ear. Besides, what can be more permissible than to write to an old friend of twelve years' standing, particularly when the letter begins with the words 'Monsieur Raoul?' "
"It is all very well—I will not write to him at all," said the young girl.
"Ah, ah! in good sooth, Montalais is properly punished," cried the jeering brunette, still laughing. "Come, come! let us try another sheet of paper, and finish our dispatch off-hand. Good! there is the bell ringing now. By my faith, so much the worse! Madame must wait, or else do without her first maid of honor this morning."
A bell, in fact, did ring; it announced that madame had finished her toilet, and waited for Monsieur to give her his hand, and conduct her from the salon to the refectory.
This formality being accomplished with great ceremony,