Michel handed his cape and hat to a servant nearby and followed the Duke to the familiar sitting room. When they sat down, Michel noticed a black ribbon tied around the arm of his seat. He almost mentioned it to the Duke, but thought better of it, instead deftly removing the ribbon and hiding it in his pocket. The Duke poured each of them a drink.
They went over various matters of estate economy both were jointly involved in, mapping out future plans. Michel mostly nodded, inserting a comment here and there. Some of these comments made the Duke raise his eyebrows. The Comté de Montigny was a very energetic young man, sometimes getting carried away by the enthusiasm of his ideas, but he had a reputation for being respectful and seeing things through.
Each of the men were having inner conversations with themselves.
The Duke: I wonder when he will finally talk to me about Emilie.
Michel: I wonder if he even knows I love his daughter. I wonder if she knows.
The Duke: He must think he hides it very well.
Michel: I like him, but will he be difficult if I ask for her hand?
The Duke: I love my daughters, but if he would only ask for her hand, for God's sake.
"Well, that seems to be all, Monsieur le Comté," he said an hour later. He rose from his seat and Michel did the same. "I shall see you at the ball."
"Yes, Monsieur le Duc, thank you for your time. Until then." They shook hands, then each departed with his manservant.
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