"No, but I am sure. We walked together from the boats. I told her she was an enchantress of the sea, the spirit of the wave--I told her!"
He spread out his hands, rejoicing in the remembrance of his graceful compliments.
"The Signorina was delighted, but she could not stay long. She had a slight headache and was a little tired after the storm. But she would have liked to ask me to the house. She was longing to. I could see that."
"She turned her head away, trying to conceal from me her desire, but--"
"Le donne! Le donne!" he happily exclaimed.
Artois found himself wondering why, until Doro had made the acquaintance of the dwellers on the island, he had never wished to smack his smooth, complacent cheeks.
They turned from the sea into the broad walk of the Villa, and walked towards the kiosk. Near it, on the small, green chairs, were some ladies swathed in gigantic floating-veils, talking to two or three very smart young men in white suits and straw hats, who leaned forward eying them steadily with a determined yet rather vacuous boldness that did not disconcert them. One of the ladies, dressed in black-and-white check, was immensely stout. She seemed to lead the conversation, which was carried on with extreme vivacity in very loud and not melodious voices.
"Ecco the gathering of the geese!" said the Marchesino, touching Artois on the arm. "And that"--he pointed to the stout lady, who at this moment tossed her head till her veil swung loose like a sail suddenly deserted by the wind--"is the goose-mother. Buona sera, Marchesa! Buona sera--molto piacere. Carlo, buona sera--a rivederci, Contessa! A questa sera."