During the three months that Joyce had been in Monsieur Greville’s home, she had watched every day to see it open; but if any one ever entered or left the place, it was certainly by some other way than this queer gate.
What lay beyond it, no one could tell. She had questioned Gabriel the coachman, and Berthe the maid, in vain. Madame Greville said that she remembered having heard, when a child, that the man who built it was named Ciseaux, and that was why the symbol of this name was hung over the gate and on the gables. He had been regarded as half crazy by his neighbors. The place was still owned by a descendant of his, who had gone to Algiers, and left it in charge of two servants.
The peddler rang the bell of the gate several times, but failing to arouse any one, shouldered his pack and went off grumbling. Then Joyce climbed down and walked slowly up the gravelled path to the house. Cousin Kate had just come back from Tours in the pony cart, and was waiting in the door to see if Gabriel had all the bundles that she had brought out with her.
Joyce followed her admiringly into the house. She wished that she could grow up to look exactly like Cousin Kate, and wondered if she would ever wear such stylish silk-lined skirts, and catch them up in such an airy, graceful way when she ran up-stairs; and if she would ever have a Paris hat with long black feathers, and always wear a bunch of sweet violets on her coat.
She looked at herself in Cousin Kate’s mirror as she passed it, and sighed. “Well, I am better-looking than when I left home,” she thought. “That’s one comfort. My face isn’t freckled now, and my hair is more becoming this way than in tight little pigtails, the way I used to wear it.”
Cousin Kate, coming up behind her, looked over her head and smiled at the attractive reflection of Joyce’s rosy cheeks and straightforward gray eyes. Then she stopped suddenly and put her arms around her, saying, “What’s the matter, dear? You have been crying.”
“Nothing,” answered Joyce, but there was a quaver in her voice, and she turned her head aside. Cousin Kate put her hand under the resolute little chin, and tilted it until she could look into the eyes that dropped under her gaze “You have been crying,” she said again, this time in English, “crying because you are homesick. I wonder if it would not be a good occupation for you to open all the bundles that I got this afternoon. There is a saucepan in one, and a big spoon in the other, and all sorts of good things in the others, so that we can make some molasses candy here in my room, over the open fire. While it cooks you can curl up in the big armchair and listen to a fairy tale in the firelight. Would you like that, little one?”
“Oh, yes!” cried Joyce, ecstatically. “That’s what they are doing at home this minute, I am sure. We always make candy every afternoon in the winter time.”
Presently the saucepan was sitting on the coals, and Joyce’s little pug nose was rapturously sniffing the odor of bubbling molasses. “I know what I’d like the story to be about,” she said, as she stirred the delicious mixture with the new spoon. “Make up something about the big gate across the road, with the scissors on it.”