The visitors simply reported that they had found the old lady, and that she was imbecile; mind completely gone under stress of poverty and old age. Their opinion was that she should be interdicted.
“But what does this extraordinary display of light mean?” ejaculated my aunt, the moment she entered the parlor from the dining-room. “It looks like the kingdom of heaven in here! Jules! Jules!” she called, “come and put out some of the light!”
Jules was at the front door letting in the usual Wednesday-evening visitor, but now he came running in immediately with his own invention in the way of a gas-stick,—a piece of broom-handle notched at the end,—and began turning one tap after the other, until the room was reduced to complete darkness.
“But what do you mean now, Jules?” screamed the old lady again.
“Pardon, madame,” answered Jules, with dignity; “it is an accident. I thought there was one still lighted.”
“An accident! An accident! Do you think I hire you to perform accidents for me? You are just through telling me that it was accident made you give me both soup and gumbo for dinner today.”
“But accidents can always happen, madame,” persisted Jules, adhering to his position.
The chandelier, a design of originality in its day, gave light by what purported to be wax candles standing each in a circlet of pendent crystals. The usual smile of ecstatic admiration spread over Jules’s features as he touched the match to the simulated wicks, and lighted into life the rainbows in the prisms underneath. It was a smile that did not heighten the intelligence of his features, revealing as it did the toothless condition of his gums.
“What will madame have for her dinner tomorrow,” looking benignantly at his mistress, and still standing under his aureole.
“Do I ever give orders for one dinner, with the other one still on my lips?”
“I only asked madame; there is no harm in asking.” He walked away, his long stiff white apron rattling like a petticoat about him. Catching sight of the visitor still standing at the threshold: “Oh, madame, here is Mr. Horace. Shall I let him in?”
“Idiot! Every Wednesday you ask me that question, and every Wednesday I answer the same way. Don’t you think I could tell you when not to let him in without your asking?”
“Oh, well, madame, one never knows; it is always safe to ask.”
The appearance of the gentleman started a fresh subject of excitement.
“Jules! Jules! You have left that front door unlocked again!”
“Excuse me,” said Mr. Horace; “Jules did not leave the front door unlocked. It was locked when I rang, and he locked it again most carefully after letting me in. I have been standing outside all the while the gas was being extinguished and relighted.”