“I nevva know dad, Madame Carraze. She’s a lill small gal?”
Mothers forget their daughters’ stature. Madame Delphine said:
“Yez.” For a few moments neither spoke, and then Monsieur Vignevielle said:
“I will do dad.”
“Lag she been you’ h-own?” asked the mother, suffering from her own boldness.
“She’s a good lill’ chile, eh?”
“Miche, she’s a lill’ hangel!” exclaimed Madame Delphine, with a look of distress.
“Yez; I teg kyah ’v ’er, lag my h-own. I mague you dad promise.”
“But”—There was something still in the way, Madame Delphine seemed to think.
The banker waited in silence.
“I suppose you will want to see my lill’ girl?”
He smiled; for she looked at him as if she would implore him to decline.
“Oh, I tek you’ word fo’ hall dad, Madame Carraze. It mague no differend wad she loog lag; I don’ wan’ see ’er.”
Madame Delphine’s parting smile—she went very shortly—was gratitude beyond speech.
Monsieur Vignevielle returned to the seat he had left, and resumed a newspaper,—the Louisiana Gazette in all probability,—which he had laid down upon Madame Delphine’s entrance. His eyes fell upon a paragraph which had previously escaped his notice. There they rested. Either he read it over and over unwearyingly, or he was lost in thought. Jean Thompson entered.
“Now,” said Mr. Thompson, in a suppressed tone bending a little across the table, and laying one palm upon a package of papers which lay in the other, “it is completed. You could retire, from your business any day inside of six hours without loss to anybody.” (Both here and elsewhere, let it be understood that where good English is given the words were spoken in good French.)
Monsieur Vignevielle raised his eyes and extended the newspaper to the attorney, who received it and read the paragraph. Its substance was that a certain vessel of the navy had returned from a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida, where she had done valuable service against the pirates—having, for instance, destroyed in one fortnight in January last twelve pirate vessels afloat, two on the stocks, and three establishments ashore.
“United States brig Porpoise” repeated Jean Thompson. “Do you know her?”
“We are acquainted,” said Monsieur Vignevielle.
A quiet footstep, a grave new presence on financial sidewalks, a neat garb slightly out of date, a gently strong and kindly pensive face, a silent bow, a new sign in the Rue Toulouse, a lone figure with a cane, walking in meditation in the evening light under the willows of Canal Marigny, a long-darkened window re-lighted in the Rue Conti—these were all; a fall of dew would scarce have been more quiet than was the return of Ursin Lemaitre-Vignevielle to the precincts of his birth and early life.