932 THE PORTER'S SON
' Do so ! if it is the Prince, he will be sure to come,' said the Count.
' And if it is the other, he will not come !' said the General, and approached the black domino, who was just then talking with the King. The General delivered a very respectful invitation,—' so that they might get to know each other.' The General smiled in full confidence and certainty of whom he was inviting ; he spoke loudly and distinctly.
The Domino raised his mask : it was George.
I Does the General repeat the invitation ?! asked he. The General drew himself an inch higher, assumed a stiffer bearing, took two steps backwards, and one step forwards, as if in a minuet; and there was gravity and expression, as much of the General as could be expressed in his aristocratic face.
II never take back my word; the Professor is invited/ and he bowed with a glance at the King, who could certainly have heard the whole.
And so there was a dinner at the General's, only the Count and his protege were invited.
' The foot under the table,' thought George, ' then the foundation-stone is laid ! ' and the foundation-stone was really laid with great solemnity, by the General and her ladyship.
The person had come, and as the General knew and recognized, had talked quite like a man of good society, had been most interesting ; the General had been obliged many times to say his ' Charming !' Her ladyship talked of her dinner-party, talked of it even to one of the court ladies ; and she, who was one of the most gifted, begged for an invitation the next time the Professor came. So he had to be invited again, and he was invited and came, and was again charming; he could even play chess.
1 He is not from the cellar !' said the General, ' he is quite certainly of a good family ! there are many of good family, and the young man is not to blame for that.'
The Professor, who was admitted to the house of the King, might well be allowed to enter the General's ; but to take root in it,—there was no talk of that, except in the whole town.