“Madame—” Jules interrupted his smile to interrupt her.
She was walking around the room, picking up a shawl here, a lace there; for she was always prepared against draughts.
“Madame—” continued Jules, pursuing her.
“If madame would only listen, I was going to say—but madame is too quick in her disposition—the carriage has been waiting since a long hour ago. Mr. Horace said to have it there in a half hour.”
It was then she saw for the first time that it had all been prepared by Mr. Horace. The rest was easy enough: getting into the carriage, and finding the place of which Mr. Horace had heard, as he said, only that afternoon. In it, on her bed of illness, poverty, and suffering, lay the patient, wasted form of the beautiful fair one whom men had called in her youth Myosotis.
But she did not call her Myosotis.
“Mon Amour!” The old pet name, although it had to be fetched across more than half a century of disuse, flashed like lightning from madame’s heart into the dim chamber.
“Ma Divine!” came in counter-flash from the curtained bed.
In the old days women, or at least young girls, could hazard such pet names one upon the other. These—think of it!—dated from the first communion class, the dating period of so much of friendship.
“My poor Amour!”
“My poor, poor Divine!”
The voices were together, close beside the pillow.
“I—I—” began Divine.
“It could not have happened if God had not wished it,” interrupted poor Amour, with the resignation that comes, alas! only with the last drop of the bitter cup.
And that was about all. If Mr. Horace had not slipped away, he might have noticed the curious absence of monsieur’s name, and of his own name, in the murmuring that followed. It would have given him some more ideas on the subject of woman.
At any rate, the good God must thank him for having one affair the less to arrange when the trumpet sounds out there over the old St. Louis cemetery. And he was none too premature; for the old St. Louis cemetery, as was shortly enough proved, was a near reach for all three of the old friends.
Every day, every day, it was the same overture in Madame Joubert’s room in the Institute St. Denis; the strident:
“Mesdemoiselles; a vos places! Notre Pere qui est dans le ciel—Qui a fait ce bruit?”
“It’s Pupasse, madame! It’s Pupasse!” The answer invariably was unanimous.
“But, Madame Joubert,—I assure you, Madame Joubert,—I could not help it! They know I could not help it!”
By this time the fresh new fool’s cap made from yesterday’s “Bee” would have been pinned on her head.
“Quelle injustice! Quelle injustice!”
This last apostrophe in a high, whining nasal voice, always procured Pupasse’s elevation on the tall three-legged stool in the corner.