“Mr. Grandissime,” exclaimed Frowenfeld, “if you have any design in view founded on the high principles which I know to be the foundations of all your feelings, and can make use of the aid of a disgraced man, use me.”
“You are very generous,” said the Creole, and both were silent. Honore dropped his eyes from Frowenfeld’s to the floor, rubbed his knee with his palm, and suddenly looked up.
“You are innocent of wrong?”
“I feel sure of it. Tell me in a few words all about it. I ought to be able to extricate you. Let me hear it.”
Frowenfeld again told as much as he thought he could, consistently with his pledges to Palmyre, touching with extreme lightness upon the part taken by Clotilde.
“Turn around,” said M. Grandissime at the close; “let me see the back of your head. And it is that that is giving you this fever, eh?”
“Partly,” replied Frowenfeld; “but how shall I vindicate my innocence? I think I ought to go back openly to this woman’s house and get my hat. I was about to do that when I got your note; yet it seems a feeble—even if possible—expedient.”
“My friend,” said Honore, “leave it to me. I see your whole case, both what you tell and what you conceal. I guess it with ease. Knowing Palmyre so well, and knowing (what you do not) that all the voudous in town think you a sorcerer, I know just what she would drop down and beg you for—a ouangan, ha, ha! You see? Leave it all to me—and your hat with Palmyre, take a febrifuge and a nap, and await word from me.”
“And may I offer you no help in your difficulty?” asked the apothecary, as the two rose and grasped hands.
“Oh!” said the Creole, with a little shrug, “you may do anything you can—which will be nothing.”
TESTS OF FRIENDSHIP
Frowenfeld turned away from the closing door, caught his head between his hands and tried to comprehend the new wildness of the tumult within. Honore Grandissime avowedly in love with one of them—which one? Doctor Keene visibly in love with one of them—which one? And he! What meant this bounding joy that, like one gorgeous moth among innumerable bats, flashed to and fro among the wild distresses and dismays swarming in and out of his distempered imagination? He did not answer the question; he only knew the confusion in his brain was dreadful. Both hands could not hold back the throbbing of his temples; the table did not steady the trembling of his hands; his thoughts went hither and thither, heedless of his call. Sit down as he might, rise up, pace the room, stand, lean his forehead against the wall—nothing could quiet the fearful disorder, until at length he recalled Honore’s neglected advice and resolutely lay down and sought sleep; and, long before he had hoped to secure it, it came.