“Why, I have not failed at all!” said she. “Have I not cared for and brought up this Jeanne, and is there not a baby of Jeanne, a baby whom she has named for me?”
Carlisle, mute and unnoticed, indeed, as he felt almost forgotten, was relieved when there came a knock at the door. A messenger bearing a card entered. She turned toward him gravely, and he could only read dismissal now. Mute and unhappy, he hurried from the room. He did not, however, pass from the stage of activity he had chosen. He later fought for his convictions, and saw accomplished, before, with so many other brave men, he fell upon the field of battle—accomplished at vast cost of blood and tears—that work which he had been inspired to undertake in a more futile form.
“You may say to this gentleman that I shall join him presently, in the parlor at the right of the stair,” said Josephine St. Auban after a moment to the messenger.
As she entered the room, there rose to meet her a tall gentleman, who stood gravely regarding her. At sight of him she paused, embarrassed. No figure was more familiar in Washington, yet none was less to be expected here. There was no mistaking the large frame, the high brow, the dark and piercing eye, the costume—that of another day. Involuntarily, although her first impression (based upon other meetings with distinguished men) was one more of apprehension than of pleasure, she swept him a deep curtsy. With the grace of a courtier he extended a hand and led her to a chair.
“You know me, Madam?” he demanded, in a deep and bell-like voice. “I know you, as well. I am delighted, I am honored, to announce that I come to you as a messenger.”
“It is an honor that you come in any capacity, Sir. To what may I attribute so kind a visit, to one so unimportant?”
“No, no, my dear Countess. We rate you very high. It is the wish of a certain gentleman to have you attend a little meeting which will not welcome many out of all this city. It is informal and unofficial, my dear lady, but all those who will be there will be glad to have your attendance. It was thought well for me to drop in to interrogate your pleasure in the matter.”
“It is a command, Sir! Very well, at what time, then?”
“If it should please you, it would delight me to accompany you at once, my dear lady! My carriage is waiting now.”
Josephine St. Auban did not lack decision upon her own part. Something told her that no danger this time lurked for her.
“Pardon me for just one moment then, Sir,” she answered. A few moments later she returned, better prepared for the occasion with just a touch to her toilet; and with a paper or two which with some instinct she hastily snatched up from her desk. These latter she hurriedly crowded into her little reticule. They took the carriage and soon were passing through the streets toward the most public portion of the city of Washington.