There had been good times in the old Ciseaux house also, once, and two little brothers and a sister had played in that very room; but they had grown up long ago, and the ogre of selfishness and misunderstanding had stolen in and killed all their happiness. Ah, well, there was much that the world would never know about that misunderstanding. There was much to forgive and forget on both sides.
Joyce had a different story for each visit. To-day she had just finished telling Jules the fairy tale of which he never tired, the tale of the giant scissors.
“I never look at those scissors over the gate without thinking of you,” said Jules, “and the night when you played that I was the Prince, and you came to rescue me.”
“I wish I could play scissors again, and rescue somebody else that I know,” answered Joyce. “I’d take poor old Number Thirty-one away from the home of the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
“What’s Number Thirty-one?” asked Jules. “You never told me about that.”
“Didn’t I?” asked Joyce, in surprise. “She is a lonely old woman that the sisters take care of. I have talked about her so often, and written home so much, that I thought I had told everybody. I can hardly keep from crying whenever I think of her. Marie and I stop every day we go into town and take her flowers. I have been there four times since my first visit with madame. Sometimes she tells me things that happened when she was a little girl here in France, but she talks to me oftenest in English about the time when she lived in America. I can hardly imagine that she was ever as young as I am, and that she romped with her brothers as I did with Jack.”
“Tell some of the things that she told you,” urged Jules; so Joyce began repeating all that she knew about Number Thirty-one.
It was a pathetic little tale that brought tears to Jules’s eyes, and a dull pain to the heart of the old man who listened in the next room. “I wish I were rich,” exclaimed Joyce, impulsively, as she finished. “I wish I had a beautiful big home, and I would adopt her for my grandmother. She should have a great lovely room, where the sun shines in all day long, and it should be furnished in rose-color like the one that she had when she was a girl. I’d dress her in gray satin and soft white lace. She has the prettiest silvery hair, and beautiful dark eyes. She would make a lovely grandmother. And I would have a maid to wait on her, and there’d be mignonette always growing in boxes on the window-sill. Every time I came back from town, I’d bring her a present just for a nice little surprise; and I’d read to her, and sing to her, and make her feel that she belonged to somebody, so that she’d be happy all the rest of her days.
“Yesterday while I was there she was holding a little cut glass vinaigrette. It had a big D engraved on the silver top. She said that it was the only thing that she had left except her wedding ring, and that it was to be Sister Denisa’s when she was gone. The D stands for both their names. Hers is Desire. She said the vinaigrette was too precious to part with as long as she lives, because her oldest brother gave it to her on her twelfth birthday, when she was exactly as old as I am. Isn’t Desire a pretty name?”