“Would you think well to go and inquire?”
“Ah, listen! Go and what? No, Mademoiselle, I think not.”
“Well, send Alphonsina.”
“What? And let him know that I am anxious about him? Let me tell you, my little girl, I shall not drag upon myself the responsibility of increasing the self-conceit of any of that sex.”
“Well, then, send to buy a picayune’s worth of something.”
“Ah, ha, ha! An emetic, for instance. Tell him we are poisoned on mushrooms, ha, ha, ha!”
Clotilde laughed too.
“Ah, no,” she said. “Send for something he does not sell.”
Aurora was laughing while Clotilde spoke; but as she caught these words she stopped with open-mouthed astonishment, and, as Clotilde blushed, laughed again.
“Oh, Clotilde, Clotilde, Clotilde!”—she leaned forward over the table, her face beaming with love and laughter—“you rowdy! you rascal! You are just as bad as your mother, whom you think so wicked! I accept your advice. Alphonsina!”
The answer came from the kitchen.
“Come go—or, rather,—vini ’ci courri dans boutique de l’apothecaire. Clotilde,” she continued, in better French, holding up the coin to view, “look!”
“The last picayune we have in the world—ha, ha, ha!”
HONORE MAKES SOME CONFESSIONS
“Comment ca va, Raoul?” said Honore Grandissime; he had come to the shop according to the proposal contained in his note. “Where is Mr. Frowenfeld?”
He found the apothecary in the rear room, dressed, but just rising from the bed at sound of his voice. He closed the door after him; they shook hands and took chairs.
“You have fever,” said the merchant. “I have been troubled that way myself, some, lately.” He rubbed his face all over, hard, with one hand,’ and looked at the ceiling. “Loss of sleep, I suppose, in both of us; in your case voluntary—in pursuit of study, most likely; in my case—effect of anxiety.” He smiled a moment and then suddenly sobered as after a pause he said:
“But I hear you are in trouble; may I ask—”
Frowenfeld had interrupted him with almost the same words:
“May I venture to ask, Mr. Grandissime, what—”
And both were silent for a moment.
“Oh,” said Honore, with a gesture. “My trouble—I did not mean to mention it; ’t is an old matter—in part. You know, Mr. Frowenfeld, there is a kind of tree not dreamed of in botany, that lets fall its fruit every day in the year—you know? We call it—with reverence—’our dead father’s mistakes.’ I have had to eat much of that fruit; a man who has to do that must expect to have now and then a little fever.”
“I have heard,” replied Frowenfeld, “that some of the titles under which your relatives hold their lands are found to be of the kind which the State’s authorities are pronouncing worthless. I hope this is not the case.”