Chat at table, the chat of love; it is as impossible to reproduce one as the other; the chat of love is a cloud; the chat at table is smoke.
Fameuil and Dahlia were humming. Tholomyès was drinking. Zéphine was laughing, Fantine smiling, Listolier blowing a wooden trumpet which he had purchased at Saint-Cloud.
Favourite gazed tenderly at Blachevelle and said:—
“Blachevelle, I adore you.”
This called forth a question from Blachevelle:—
“What would you do, Favourite, if I were to cease to love you?”
“I!” cried Favourite. “Ah! Do not say that even in jest! If you were to cease to love me, I would spring after you, I would scratch you, I should rend you, I would throw you into the water, I would have you arrested.”
Blachevelle smiled with the voluptuous self-conceit of a man who is tickled in his self-love. Favourite resumed:—
“Yes, I would scream to the police! Ah! I should not restrain myself, not at all! Rabble!”
Blachevelle threw himself back in his chair, in an ecstasy, and closed both eyes proudly.
Dahlia, as she ate, said in a low voice to Favourite, amid the uproar:—
“So you really idolize him deeply, that Blachevelle of yours?”
“I? I detest him,” replied Favourite in the same tone, seizing her fork again. “He is avaricious. I love the little fellow opposite me in my house. He is very nice, that young man; do you know him? One can see that he is an actor by profession. I love actors. As soon as he comes in, his mother says to him: ‘Ah! mon Dieu! my peace of mind is gone. There he goes with his shouting. But, my dear, you are splitting my head!’ So he goes up to rat-ridden garrets, to black holes, as high as he can mount, and there he sets to singing, declaiming, how do I know what? so that he can be heard downstairs! He earns twenty sous a day at an attorney’s by penning quibbles. He is the son of a former precentor of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas. Ah! he is very nice. He idolizes me so, that one day when he saw me making batter for some pancakes, he said to me: ‘Mamselle, make your gloves into fritters, and I will eat them.’ It is only artists who can say such things as that. Ah! he is very nice. I am in a fair way to go out of my head over that little fellow. Never mind; I tell Blachevelle that I adore him—how I lie! Hey! How I do lie!”
Favourite paused, and then went on:—
“I am sad, you see, Dahlia. It has done nothing but rain all summer; the wind irritates me; the wind does not abate. Blachevelle is very stingy; there are hardly any green peas in the market; one does not know what to eat. I have the spleen, as the English say, butter is so dear! and then you see it is horrible, here we are dining in a room with a bed in it, and that disgusts me with life.”