Lulu’s Triumph part 6

“What are you doing here, Donna Sofia Santangelo? Are you reading?”

“Yes, I was reading.”

“And you did not even care to stand on the balcony?”

“And if I had?”

“Pshaw! I had to stay upstairs, for Albina, the dressmaker, had brought my gown for this evening, and all the while I was trembling with impatience, for I wanted to be here. Yesterday evening I told Roberto to wear his gray overcoat, to have Selim harnessed to the cart, and to pass at half-past six. Who knows if he obeyed me!”

“Roberto passed here in the cart, and wearing his gray overcoat.” “Good gracious! How do you know all this? I thought you were reading?”

“I was in the window.”

“And you recognized Roberto, although you never look at him? Wonderful! Did he bow to you?”

“Yes.”

“How did he take off his hat?”

“Why—as he always does.”

“And you bowed to him?”

“Do you think me lacking in manners?”

“At least you smiled at him?”

“No—that is, I do not know.”

“You are not nice, Sofia. And yesterday evening Roberto spoke to me about you.”

“Telling you that I was not nice?”

“No, but, asking me the cause of your reserved character, so different from mine. Then I recited a fine panegyric to him; I told him that you were better, more amiable, more loving than I, that your only fault was in concealing all these good qualities. Only fancy, he listened to me with the greatest interest; finally, he asked me about your aversion to him—”

“Aversion!”

Little cordiality

That is what he said, and, do you know, he is not so entirely wrong; you treat him with so little cordiality. But even on this point I defended you; I told a fib, for I said that you liked him very much indeed, and that you esteemed him greatly—”

“Lulu!”

“I know that it is not true, but Roberto is so fond of you, is it not ungrateful of you to treat him like a stranger?”

Sofia threw her arms around her sister’s neck and kissed her; Lulu held her for an instant, and murmured in a caressing voice:

“Why do you not love Roberto a little?”

The other made a sudden abrupt movement and drew away, without saying a word.

“Oh, well!” said Lulu, shrugging her shoulders and changing the subject. “Are you really not coming with us this evening?”

“No, I have a headache; you can go with mamma.”

“As usual. I shall go just the same, because I shall have a very good time.”

“Is—Roberto going with you?”

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