“What! are you going already!” Valentine then exclaimed. “Well, I dare not detain you if you feel tired.” However, when Marianne begged her to kiss the children for her, she added: “Why, yes, it’s true you have not seen them. Wait a moment, pray; I want you to kiss them yourself.”
But when Celeste appeared in answer to the bell, she announced that Monsieur Gaston and Mademoiselle Lucie had gone out with their governess. And this made Seguin explode once more. All his rancor against his wife revived. The house was going to rack and ruin. She spent her days lying on a sofa. Since when had the governess taken leave to go out with the children without saying anything? One could not even see the children now in order to kiss them. It was a nice state of things. They were left to the servants; in fact, it was the servants now who controlled the house.
Thereupon Valentine began to cry.
“Mon Dieu!” said Marianne to her husband, when she found herself out of doors, able to breathe, and happy once more now that she was leaning on his arm; “why, they are quite mad, the people in that house.”
“Yes,” Mathieu responded, “they are mad, no doubt; but we must pity them, for they know not what happiness is.”
ABOUT nine o’clock one fine cold morning, a few days afterwards, as Mathieu, bound for his office, a little late through having lingered near his wife, was striding hastily across the garden which separated the pavilion from the factory yard, he met Constance and Maurice, who, clad in furs, were going out for a walk in the sharp air. Beauchene, who was accompanying them as far as the gate, bareheaded and ever sturdy and victorious, gayly exclaimed to his wife:
“Give the youngster a good spin on his legs! Let him take in all the fresh air he can. There’s nothing like that and good food to make a man.”
Mathieu, on hearing this, stopped short. “Has Maurice been poorly again?” he inquired.
“Oh, no!” hastily replied the boy’s mother, with an appearance of great gayety, assumed perhaps from an unconscious desire to hide certain covert fears. “Only the doctor wants him to take exercise, and it is so fine this morning that we are going off on quite an expedition.”
“Don’t go along the quays,” said Beauchene again. “Go up towards the Invalides. He’ll have much stiffer marching to do when he’s a soldier.”