Here she dropped two francs and two sous into Joyce’s hand. It was more than she had dared to hope for. Now there would be at least a little picture-book apiece for the children at home.
This time Joyce saw the grin on the satyr’s face when they passed the fountain. She was smiling herself when they entered the house, where monsieur was waiting to escort them politely in to dinner.
Joyce plays ghost.
Monsieur Ciseaux was coming home to live. Gabriel brought the news when he came back from market. He had met Henri on the road and heard it from him. Monsieur was coming home. That was all they knew; as to the day or the hour, no one could guess. That was the way with monsieur, Henri said. He was so peculiar one never knew what to expect.
Although the work of opening the great house was begun immediately, and a thorough cleaning was in progress from garret to cellar, Brossard did not believe that his master would really be at home before the end of the week. He made his own plans accordingly, although he hurried Henri relentlessly with the cleaning.
As soon as Joyce heard the news she made an excuse to slip away, and ran down to the field to Jules. She found him paler than usual, and there was a swollen look about his eyes that made her think that maybe he had been crying.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Aren’t you glad that your uncle is coming home?”
Jules gave a cautious glance over his shoulder towards the house, and then looked up at Joyce. Heretofore, some inward monitor of pride had closed his lips about himself whenever he had been with her, but, since the Thanksgiving Day that had made them such firm friends, he had wished every hour that he could tell her of his troubles. He felt that she was the only person in the world who took any interest in him. Although she was only three years older than himself, she had that motherly little way with her that eldest daughters are apt to acquire when there is a whole brood of little brothers and sisters constantly claiming attention.
So when Joyce asked again, “What’s the matter, Jules?” with so much anxious sympathy in her face and voice, the child found himself blurting out the truth.
“Brossard beat me again last night,” he exclaimed. Then, in response to her indignant exclamation, he poured out the whole story of his ill-treatment. “See here!” he cried, in conclusion, unbuttoning his blouse and baring his thin little shoulders. Great red welts lay across them, and one arm was blue with a big mottled bruise.
Joyce shivered and closed her eyes an instant to shut out the sight that brought the quick tears of sympathy.
“Oh, you poor little thing!” she cried. “I’m going to tell madame.”
“No, don’t!” begged Jules. “If Brossard ever found out that I had told anybody, I believe that he would half kill me. He punishes me for the least thing. I had no breakfast this morning because I dropped an old plate and broke it.”