“Pray, Messieurs, come in and be seated.” He spoke in the Creole French of the gutters. “Come in. M. Frowenfeld is dressing, and desires that you will have a little patience. Come in. Take chairs. You will not come in? No? Nor you, Monsieur? No? I will set some chairs outside, eh? No?”
They moved by twos and threes away, and Raoul, retiring, gave his employer such momentary aid as was required. When Joseph, in changed dress, once more appeared, only a child or two lingered to see him, and he had nothing to do but sit down and, as far as he felt at liberty to do so, answer his assistant’s questions.
During the recital, Raoul was obliged to exercise the severest self-restraint to avoid laughing,—a feeling which was modified by the desire to assure his employer that he understood this sort of thing perfectly, had run the same risks himself, and thought no less of a man, providing he was a gentleman, because of an unlucky retributive knock on the head. But he feared laughter would overclimb speech; and, indeed, with all expression of sympathy stifled, he did not succeed so completely in hiding the conflicting emotion but that Joseph did once turn his pale, grave face surprisedly, hearing a snuffling sound, suddenly stifled in a drawer of corks. Said Raoul, with an unsteady utterance, as he slammed the drawer:
“H-h-dat makes me dat I can’t ’elp to laugh w’en I t’ink of dat fool yesse’dy w’at want to buy my pigshoe for honly one ’undred dolla’—ha, ha ha, ha!”
He laughed almost indecorously.
“Raoul,” said Frowenfeld, rising and closing his eyes, “I am going back for my hat. It would make matters worse for that person to send it to me, and it would be something like a vindication for me to go back to the house and get it.”
Mr. Innerarity was about to make strenuous objection, when there came in one whom he recognized as an attache of his cousin Honore’s counting-room, and handed the apothecary a note. It contained Honore’s request that if Frowenfeld was in his shop he would have the goodness to wait there until the writer could call and see him.
“I will wait,” was the reply.
“FO’ WAD YOU CRYNE?”
Clotilde, a step or two from home, dismissed her attendant, and as Aurora, with anxious haste, opened to her familiar knock, appeared before her pale and trembling.
“Ah, ma fille—”
The overwrought girl dropped her head and wept without restraint upon her mother’s neck. She let herself be guided to a chair, and there, while Aurora nestled close to her side, yielded a few moments to reverie before she was called upon to speak. Then Aurora first quietly took possession of her hands, and after another tender pause asked in English, which was equivalent to whispering:
“Were you was, cherie?”