The same day Eveline, who had been making inquiries, learned that Viscount Clena had nothing but debts, lived on money given him by an elderly lady, and promoted the sale of the latest models of a motor-car manufacturer. They separated with common accord and Eveline began again disdainfully to serve tea to her mother's guests.
In Madame Clarence's drawing-room the conversation turned upon love, and many charming things were said about it.
"Love is a sacrifice," sighed Madame Cremeur.
"I agree with you," replied M. Boutourle with animation.
But Professor Haddock soon displayed his fastidious insolence.
"It seems to me," said he, "that the Penguin ladies have made a great fuss since, through St. Mael's agency, they became viviparous. But there is nothing to be particularly proud of in that, for it is a state they share in common with cows and pigs, and even with orange and lemon trees, for the seeds of these plants germinate in the pericarp."
"The self-importance which the Penguin ladies give themselves does not go so far back as that," answered M. Boutourle. "It dates from the day when the holy apostle gave them clothes. But this self-importance was long kept in restraint, and displayed itself fully only with increased luxury of dress and in a small section of society. For go only two leagues from Alca into the country at harvest time, and you will see whether women are over-precise or self-important."
On that day M. Hippolyte Ceres paid his first call. He was a Deputy of Alca, and one of the youngest members of the House. His father was said to have kept a dram shop, but he himself was a lawyer of robust physique, a good though prolix speaker, with a self-important air and a reputation for ability.
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