Ladt Dollt ought to have been perfectly happy. She had every¬
thing that can constitute the joys of a woman of her epoch.
She was at Trouville. She had won heaps of money at play.
She had made a correct book on the races. She had seen her chief
rival looking bilious in an unbecoming gown. She had had a letter
from her husband to say he was going away to Java or Jupiter or
somewhere indefinitely. She wore a costume which had cost a
great tailor twenty hours of anxious and continuous reflection.
Nothing but haptiste indeed 1 but baptisie sublimised and apotheo-
sised by niello buttons, old lace, and genius. She had her adorers
and slaves grouped about her. She had found her dearest friend
out in cheating at cards. She had dined the night before at the
Maison Persanne and would dine this night at the Maison Nor-
mande. She had been told a state secret by a minister which she
knew it was shameful of him to have been coaxed and chaffed into
revealing. She had had a new comedy read to her in manuscript-
form three months before it would be given in Paris, and had
screamed at all its indecencies in the choice company of a Serene
Princess and two ambassadresses as they all took their chocolate in
their dressing-gowns. Above all, she was at Trouville, having left
half a million of debts behind her strewn about in all directions, and
standing free as air in gossamer garments on the planks in the
summer sunshine. There was a charming blue sea beside her; a
balmy fluttering breeze around her, a crowd of the most fashionable
sunshades of Europe before her, like a bed of full-blown anemones.
She had floated and bobbed and swum and splashed semi-nude,
with all the other mermaids a la mode, and had shown that she
must still be a pretty woman, pretty even in daylight, or the men
would not have looked at her so: and yet with all this she was not
It was very hard.
The yachts came and went, the sands glittered, the music
sounded, men and women in bright-coloured stripes took headers