Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/238

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" You cannot imagine. But the most moving thing — a thing that really transformed this emotion into a painful laceration of our souls — was when Frederic-Ossian Pinggleton sang the poem of the betrothal of his wife and his friend. I know nothing more tragically, more superhumanly beautiful."

" Oh! I beg of you," implored the Countess Fergus, " repeat this prodigious poem for our benefit, Kimberly."

" The poem, alas! I cannot. I can give you only its essence."

" That's it, that's it! The essence."

In spite of his morals, in which they cut no figure, Kimberly filled women with mad enthusiasm, for his specialty was subtle stories of transgres- sion and of extraordinary sensations. Suddenly a thrill ran round the table, and the flowers them- selves, and the jewels on their beds of flesh, and the glasses on the table-cloth, took attitudes in harmony with the state of souls. Charrigaud felt his reason departing. He thought that he had suddenly fallen into a mad-house. Yet, by force of will, he was still able to smile, and say:

' ' Why, certainly ... certainly. ' '

The butlers finished passing something that re- sembled a ham, from which, in a flood of yellow cream, cherries poured like red larvas. As for the Countess Fergus, half swooning, she had already started for extra-terrest