It was on the stroke of twelve by Monsieur l’Epine’s watch when Mr. Jefferson, gazing out of the window for the twentieth time that morning of February 3d, saw a large travelling berline turn in at the big grille and draw up under the porte-cochere in front of the porter’s lodge. In an instant he was out of the room, down the great stairway, and at the entrance of the rez-de-chaussee, just as the postilion, dismounting, opened the door of the carriage from which emerged a large, handsome man of about thirty-five or six, who moved with surprising agility considering the fact that he boasted but one good leg, the other member being merely a wooden stump. He was followed by a younger man, who sprang out and waited respectfully, but eagerly, until Mr. Jefferson had welcomed his companion.
“Mr. Morris!—my dear sir! welcome to Paris! welcome to this little spot of America!” said Mr. Jefferson, shaking the older man cordially by the hand again and again and drawing him toward the open door. And then passing quickly out upon the step to where the young man still stood looking on at this greeting, Mr. Jefferson laid a hand affectionately on his shoulder and looked into the young eyes.
“My dear boy, my dear Calvert!” he exclaimed with emotion, “I cannot tell you how welcome you are, nor how I thank you for obeying my request to come to me!”
“The kindest command I could have received, sir,” replied the young man, much moved by Mr. Jefferson’s affectionate words and manner.
Turning, and linking an arm in that of each of his guests, Mr. Jefferson led them into the house, followed by the servants carrying their travelling things.
“Ah! we will bring back Virginia days in the midst of this turbulent, mad Paris. ’Tis a wild, bad place I have brought you to, Ned,” he said, turning to the young gentleman, “but it must all end in good—surely, surely.” Mr. Jefferson’s happy mood seemed suddenly to cloud over, and he spoke absently and almost as if reassuring himself. “But come,” he added, brightening up, “I will not talk of such things before we are fairly in the house! Welcome again, Mr. Morris! Welcome, Mr. Secretary!”—he turned to Calvert—“It seems strange, but most delightful, to have you here.” Talking in such fashion, he hurried them up the great stairway as fast as Mr. Morris’s wooden leg would permit, and into his private study.
“Ha! a fire!” said Mr. Morris, sinking down luxuriously in a chair before the blazing logs. “I had almost forgot what the sight of one was like, and I was beginning to wish that this”—he looked down and tapped his sound leg, laughing a little whimsically, “were wood, too. I would have suffered less with the cold!”
“I am sure you must have had a bitter journey from Havre,” rejoined Mr. Jefferson. “’Tis the coldest winter France has known for eighty years—the hardest, cruellest winter the poor of this great city, of this great country, can remember. Would to God it were over and the spring here!”