“Poor little girl!” cried the old man.
He laid Ursula’s hand upon his arm, tapping it gently, and took her to the terraces beside the river, where no one could hear them.
“Why do you say, ’Poor little girl’?”
“Don’t you see how they fear you?”
“My next of kin are very uneasy about my conversion. They no doubt attribute it to your influence over me; they fancy I deprive them of their inheritance to enrich you.”
“But you won’t do that?” said Ursula naively, looking up at him.
“Oh, divine consolation of my old age!” said the doctor, taking his godchild in his arms and kissing her on both cheeks. “It was for her and not for myself, oh God! that I besought thee just now to let me live until the day I give her to some good being who is worthy of her! —You will see comedies, my little angel, comedies which the Minorets and Cremieres and Massins will come and play here. You want to brighten and prolong my life; they are longing for my death.”
“God forbids us to hate any one, but if that is— Ah! I despise them!” exclaimed Ursula.
“Dinner is ready!” called La Bougival from the portico, which, on the garden side, was at the end of the corridor.
A first confidence
Ursula and her godfather were sitting at dessert in the pretty dining-room decorated with Chinese designs in black and gold lacquer (the folly of Levrault-Levrault) when the justice of peace arrived. The doctor offered him (and this was a great mark of intimacy) a cup of his coffee, a mixture of Mocha with Bourbon and Martinique, roasted, ground, and made by himself in a silver apparatus called a Chaptal.
“Well,” said Bongrand, pushing up his glasses and looking slyly at the old man, “the town is in commotion; your appearance in church has put your relatives beside themselves. You have left your fortune to the priests, to the poor. You have roused the families, and they are bestirring themselves. Ha! ha! I saw their first irruption into the square; they were as busy as ants who have lost their eggs.”
“What did I tell you, Ursula?” cried the doctor. “At the risk of grieving you, my child, I must teach you to know the world and put you on your guard against undeserved enmity.”
“I should like to say a word to you on this subject,” said Bongrand, seizing the occasion to speak to his old friend of Ursula’s future.
The doctor put a black velvet cap on his white head, the justice of peace wore his hat to protect him from the night air, and they walked up and down the terrace discussing the means of securing to Ursula what her godfather intended to bequeath her. Bongrand knew Dionis’s opinion as to the invalidity of a will made by the doctor in favor of Ursula; for Nemours was so preoccupied with the Minoret affairs that the