She arose. A few minutes later, as she was trying to light the lamp, an approaching step on the sidewalk seemed to pause. Her heart stood still. She softly laid the phosphorus-box out of her hands. A shoe grated softly on the stone step, and Madame Delphine, her heart beating in great thuds, without waiting for a knock, opened the door, bowed low, and exclaimed in a soft perturbed voice:
He entered, hat in hand, and with that almost noiseless tread which we have noticed. She gave him a chair and closed the door; then hastened, with words of apology, back to her task of lighting the lamp. But her hands paused in their work again,—Olive’s step was on the stairs; then it came off the stairs; then it was in the next room, and then there was the whisper of soft robes, a breath of gentle perfume, and a snowy figure in the door. She was dressed for the evening.
Madame Delphine was struggling desperately with the lamp, and at that moment it responded with a tiny bead of light.
“I am here, my daughter.”
She hastened to the door, and Olive, all unaware of a third presence, lifted her white arms, laid them about her mother’s neck, and, ignoring her effort to speak, wrested a fervent kiss from her lips. The crystal of the lamp sent out a faint gleam; it grew; it spread on every side; the ceiling, the walls lighted up; the crucifix, the furniture of the room came back into shape.
“Maman!” cried Olive, with a tremor of consternation.
“It is Miche Vignevielle, my daughter”—
The gloom melted swiftly away before the eyes of the startled maiden, a dark form stood out against the farther wall, and the light, expanding to the full, shone clearly upon the unmoving figure and quiet face of Capitaine Lemaitre.
THE MOTHER BIRD.
One afternoon, some three weeks after Capitaine Lemaitre had called on Madame Delphine, the priest started to make a pastoral call and had hardly left the gate of his cottage, when a person, overtaking him, plucked his gown:
The face that met his was so changed with excitement and distress that for an instant he did not recognize it.
“Why, Madame Delphine”—
“Oh, Pere Jerome! I wan’ see you so bad, so bad! Mo oule dit quic’ose,—I godd some’ to tell you.”
The two languages might be more successful than one, she seemed to think.
“We had better go back to my parlor,” said the priest, in their native tongue.
Madame Delphine’s very step was altered,—nervous and inelastic. She swung one arm as she walked, and brandished a turkey-tail fan.
“I was glad, yass, to kedge you,” she said, as they mounted the front, outdoor stair; following her speech with a slight, unmusical laugh, and fanning herself with unconscious fury.