The Gurrages are to have a large party—some cousins and friends. I am sure they will not be interesting. They asked us to dine and go on with them, but grandmamma said that would be too fatiguing for her, and we are going straight from the cottage, I do not quite know what has happened. A few days ago, after lunch, grandmamma had a kind of fainting fit. It frightened me terribly, and the under-servant ran for the doctor. She had revived when he came, and she sent me out of the room at once, and saw him alone without even Hephzibah. He stayed a very long time, and when he came down he looked at me strangely and said:
“Your grandmother is all right now and you can go to her. I think she wishes to send a telegram, which I will take.”
He then asked to see Hephzibah, and I ran quickly to grandmamma. She was sitting perfectly upright as usual, and, except for the slight bluish look round her mouth, seemed quite herself. She made me get her the foreign telegram forms, and wrote a long telegram, thinking between the words, but never altering one. She folded it and told me to get some money from Hephzibah and take it to the doctor. Her eyes looked prouder than ever, but her hand shook a little. A vague feeling of fear came over me which has never left me since. Even when I am excited thinking of my dress, I seem to feel some shadow in the background.
Yesterday grandmamma received a telegram and told me we might expect the Marquis de Rochermont by the usual train in the evening, and at six he arrived. He greeted me with even extra courtesy and made me compliment. I cannot understand it all—he has never before come so early in the year (this is May). What can it mean? Grandmamma sent me out of the room directly, and we did not have dinner until eight o’clock. I could hear their voices from my room, and they seemed talking very earnestly, and not so gayly as usual.
At dinner the Marquis, for the first time, addressed his conversation to me. He prefers to speak in English—to show what a linguist he is, I suppose. He made me many compliments, and said how very like I was growing to my ancestress, Ambrosine Eustasie de Calincourt, and he told me again the old story of the guillotine. Grandmamma seemed watching me.
“Ambrosine is a true daughter of the race,” she said. “I think I could promise you that under the same circumstances she would behave in the same manner.”
How proud I felt!
How changed all the world can become in one short day! Now I know why the Marquis came, and what all the mystery was about. This morning after breakfast grandmamma sent for me into the drawing-room. The Marquis was standing beside the fireplace, and they both looked rather grave.
“Sit down, my child.” said grandmamma; “we have something to say to you.”
I sat down.
“I said you were a true daughter of the race—therefore I shall expect you to obey me without flinching.”