"Farewell, madame! I believe we part friends?"
"Sire," she answered, smiling faintly, "I can only say as the soldiers do, 'I thank you for your gracious punishment!'"
She bowed and left the room hastily, that the king might not see her tears.
The king looked long after her in silence; at first with an expression of deep pity, but this soon gave place to a gay, mocking smile.
"She is not a woman to take sorrow earnestly. When mourning no longer becomes her, she will lay it aside for the rosy robes of joy. She is a coquette, nothing more. It is useless to pity her."
He now stepped upon the balcony that overlooked the saloon, and glanced furtively from behind the curtains upon the gay assembly below.
"Poor, foolish mankind! how wise you might be, if you were not so very childish--if you did not seek joy and happiness precisely where it is not to be found! But how is this?" said the king, interrupting himself, "those two giant forms at the side of the little Armenians are certainly Barons Kalkreuth and Kaphengst, and that is my brother with them. Poor Henry! you have made a bad use of your freedom, and must, therefore, soon lose it. Ah! see how searchingly he turns his head, seeking his beautiful odalisque! In vain, my brother, in vain! For to-day, at least, we have made her a repentant Magdalen; to- morrow she will be again a life-enjoying Aspasia. Ah, the prince separates himself from his followers. I have a few words to whisper in the ear of the gay Kaphengst."
The king stepped back into the room, and after resuming his mask, he descended into the saloon, accompanied by his grand chamberlain.