martial was too much a man of the world, and had too much wit and acumen, to risk breaking with a woman who was in favor at court, and whom the emperor wished to see married. he counted, too, on the jealousy he intended to provoke in her as the surest means of discovering the secret of her coolness, and withdrew all the more willingly, because at this moment a new quadrille was putting everybody in motion.
with an air of making room for the dancing, the baron leaned back against the marble slab of a console, folded his arms, and stood absorbed in watching the two ladies talking. from time to time he followed the glances which both frequently directed to the stranger. then, comparing the countess with the new beauty, made so attractive by a touch of mystery, the baron fell a prey to the detestable self-interest common to adventurous lady-killers; he hesitated between a fortune within his grasp and the indulgence of his caprice. the blaze of light gave such strong relief to his anxious and sullen face, against the hangings of white silk moreen brushed by his black hair, that he might have been compared to an evil genius. even from a distance more than one observer no doubt said to himself, "there is another poor wretch who seems to be enjoying himself!"