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Fair Margaret by F. Marion Crawford

But Madame Bonanni laughed herself


After being gone about half an hour, Madame Bonanni came back, her Juno-like figure clad in a very pale green tea-gown, very open at the throat, and her thick hair was smoothed in great curved surfaces which were certainly supported by cushions underneath them. Her solid arms were bare to the elbows, and the green sleeves hung almost to her feet. Her face was rouged and there were artificial shadows under her eyes. Round her neck she wore a single string of pearls as big as olives, and her fingers were covered with all sorts of rings.

'Now you may look at me,' she said, with a gay laugh.

'I see a star of the first magnitude,' Logotheti answered gravely.

Margaret bit her lip to keep from laughing, but Madame Bonanni laughed herself, very good-naturedly, though she understood.

'I detest this man!' she cried, turning to Margaret. 'I don't know why I ask him to breakfast.'

'Because you cannot live without me, I suppose,' suggested Logotheti.

'I hate Greeks!' screamed the prima donna, still laughing. 'Why are you a Greek?'

'Doubtless by a mistake of my father's, dear lady; quite unpardonable since you are displeased! If he had lived, he certainly would have rectified it to please you, but the Turks killed him when I was a baby in arms; and that was before you were born.'

'Of course it was,' answered Madame Bonanni, who must have been just about to be married at that time. 'But that is no reason why we should stand here starving to death while you chatter.'

Thereupon she put her arm through Margaret's and led her away at a brisk pace, Logotheti following at a little distance and contemplating the young girl's moving figure with the satisfaction that only an Oriental feels in youthful womanly beauty. It was long since he had seen any sight that pleased him as well, for his artistic sense was fastidious in the highest degree where the things of daily life were not concerned. He might indeed wear waistcoats that inspired terror and jewellery that dazzled the ordinary eye, but there were few men in Paris who were better judges of a picture, a statue, an intaglio, or a woman.

In a few moments the three were seated at a carved and polished table overloaded with silver and cut glass, one on each side of Madame Bonanni. Three other places were set, but no one appeared to fill them. The cheerful servant with the moustache was arrayed in a neat frock coat and a white satin tie, and he smiled perpetually.

'I adore plover's eggs!' cried Madame Bonanni, as he set a plate before her containing three tiny porcelain bowls, in each of which a little boiled plover's egg lay buried in jelly.

It was evident that she was speaking the truth, for they disappeared in an instant, and were followed by a bisque of shrimps of the most creamy composition.

'It is my passion!' she said.


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