Madame Delphine had feared so. Olive had lived on it ever since the day it was preached. The poor mother was almost ready to repent having ever afforded her the opportunity of hearing it. Meat and drink had become of secondary value to her daughter; she fed upon the sermon.
Olive felt her mother’s thought and knew that her mother knew her own; but now that she had confessed, she would ask a question:
“Do you think, maman, that Pere Jerome knows it was I who gave that missal?”
“No,” said Madame Delphine, “I am sure he does not.”
Another question came more timidly:
“Do—do you think he knows him?”
“Yes, I do. He said in his sermon he did.”
Both remained for a long time very still, watching the moon gliding in and through among the small dark-and-white clouds. At last the daughter spoke again.
“I wish I was Pere—I wish I was as good as Pere Jerome.”
“My child,” said Madame Delphine, her tone betraying a painful summoning of strength to say what she had lacked the courage to utter,—“my child, I pray the good God you will not let your heart go after one whom you may never see in this world!”
The maiden turned her glance, and their eyes met. She cast her arms about her mother’s neck, laid her cheek upon it for a moment, and then, feeling the maternal tear, lifted her lips, and, kissing her, said:
“I will not! I will not!”
But the voice was one, not of willing consent, but of desperate resolution.
“It would be useless, anyhow,” said the mother, laying her arm around her daughter’s waist.
Olive repeated the kiss, prolonging it passionately.
“I have nobody but you,” murmured the girl; “I am a poor quadroone!”
She threw back her plaited hair for a third embrace, when a sound in the shrubbery startled them.
“Qui ci pa?” called Madame Delphine, in a frightened voice, as the two stood up, holding to each other.
“It was only the dropping of a twig,” she whispered, after a long holding of the breath. But they went into the house and barred it everywhere.
It was no longer pleasant to sit up. They retired, and in course of time, but not soon, they fell asleep, holding each other very tight, and fearing, even in their dreams, to hear another twig fall.
Monsieur Vigneville looked in at no more doors or windows; but if the disappearance of this symptom was a favorable sign, others came to notice which were especially bad,—for instance, wakefulness. At well-nigh any hour of the night, the city guard, which itself dared not patrol singly, would meet him on his slow, unmolested, sky-gazing walk.
“Seems to enjoy it,” said Jean Thompson; “the worst sort of evidence. If he showed distress of mind, it would not be so bad; but his calmness,—ugly feature.”