THE PORTER'S SON
General's ; a costume ball at the house of one of the princes. Masks were also allowed.
The General went as Rubens, in a Spanish costume with a little ruff, a sword and stately bearing ; her ladyship as Madame Rubens, in black velvet, high-necked, frightfully warm, with a mill-stone round her nectar—that is to say, a huge ruff, quite in accordance with a Dutch painting which the General possessed, and in which the hands in particular were much admired—they were quite like her ladyship's. Emily was Psyche in muslin and lace. She was like a floating tuft of swan's-down: she had no need of wings, she only wore them as a sign of Psyche. There was splendour, magnificence, lights, and flowers, richness, and taste ; there was so much to see, that no one noticed Madame Rubens's beautiful hands.
A black domino, with acacia-blossoms in the hat, danced with Psyche.
1 Who is he ? ' asked her ladyship.
1 His Royal Highness ! ' said the General; ' I am quite sure of it, I knew him at once by his hand-shake/
Her ladyship doubted.
General Rubens had no doubts ; he approached the black domino, and wrote royal initials on his hand ; they were denied, but a hint was given ;—' The motto of the saddle ! One whom the General does not know ! '
' But I do know you, then !' said the General. ' You have sent me the saddle.'
The domino lifted his hand, and disappeared amongst the others.
' Who is the black domino you were dancing with, Emily ?' asked the General's wife.
' I have not asked his name,' she answered.
' Because you knew it! It is the Professor ! Your Professor is here, Count,' she continued, turning to the Count, who stood close by. ' Black domino, with acacia-blossom !'
I Very possibly, my dear madam,' answered he ; ' but one of the princes is also wearing the same costume.'
II know the hand-shake ! ' said the General. ' The Prince sent me the saddle. I am so certain of it, that I shall invite him to dinner.'