The red and wrinkled eyes of this old lady showed plainly that she had been crying during the service. She walked like a person in trouble, seemed to be expecting some one, and looked behind her from time to time. Now, the fact of Madame de Portenduere looking behind her was really as remarkable in its way as the conversion of Doctor Minoret.
“Who can Madame de Portenduere be looking for?” said Madame Massin, rejoining the other heirs, who were for the moment struck dumb by the doctor’s answer.
“For the cure,” said Dionis, the notary, suddenly striking his forehead as if some forgotten thought or memory had occurred to him. “I have an idea! I’ll save your inheritance! Let us go and breakfast gayly with Madame Minoret.”
We can well imagine the alacrity with which the heirs followed the notary to the post house. Goupil, who accompanied his friend Desire, locked arm in arm with him, whispered something in the youth’s ear with an odious smile.
“What do I care?” answered the son of the house, shrugging his shoulders. “I am madly in love with Florine, the most celestial creature in the world.”
“Florine! and who may she be?” demanded Goupil. “I’m too fond of you to let you make a goose of yourself wish such creatures.”
“Florine is the idol of the famous Nathan; my passion is wasted, I know that. She has positively refused to marry me.”
“Sometimes those girls who are fools with their bodies are wise with their heads,” responded Goupil.
“If you could but see her—only once,” said Desire, lackadaisically, “you wouldn’t say such things.”
“If I saw you throwing away your whole future for nothing better than a fancy,” said Goupil, with a warmth which might even have deceived his master, “I would break your doll as Varney served Amy Robsart in ‘Kenilworth.’ Your wife must be a d’Aiglement or a Mademoiselle du Rouvre, and get you made a deputy. My future depends on yours, and I sha’n’t let you commit any follies.”
“I am rich enough to care only for happiness,” replied Desire.
“What are you two plotting together?” cried Zelie, beckoning to the two friends, who were standing in the middle of the courtyard, to come into the house.
The doctor disappeared into the Rue des Bourgeois with the activity of a young man, and soon reached his own house, where strange events had lately taken place, the visible results of which now filled the minds of the whole community of Nemours. A few explanations are needed to make this history and the notary’s remark to the heirs perfectly intelligible to the reader.