“Hush, you old hypocrite; I will buy all your cakes. Put them out there on the table.”
The invalid, sitting up in bed, drew a purse from behind his pillow and tossed her a large price. She tittered, courtesied and received the money.
“Well, well, Mawse Chawlie, ‘f you ain’ de funni’st gen’leman I knows, to be sho!”
“Have you seen Joseph Frowenfeld to-day?” he asked.
“He, he, he! W’at I got do wid Mawse Frowenfel’? I goes on de off side o’ sich folks—folks w’at cann’ ’have deyself no bette’n dat—he, he, he! At de same time I did happen, jis chancin’ by accident, to see ’im.”
“How is he?”
Dr. Keene made plain by his manner that any sensational account would receive his instantaneous contempt, and she answered within bounds.
“Well, now, tellin’ the simple trufe, he ain’ much hurt.”
The doctor turned slowly and cautiously in bed.
“Have you seen Honore Grandissime?”
“W’y—das funny you ass me dat. I jis now see ’im dis werry minnit.”
“Jis gwine into de house wah dat laydy live w’at ’e runned over dat ah time.”
“Now, you old hag,” cried the sick man, his weak, husky voice trembling with passion, “you know you’re telling me a lie.”
“No, Mawse Chawlie,” she protested with a coward’s frown, “I swah I tellin’ you de God’s trufe!”
“Hand me my clothes off that chair.”
“Oh! but, Mawse Chawlie—”
The little doctor cursed her. She did as she was bid, and made as if to leave the room.
“Don’t you go away.”
“But Mawse Chawlie, you’ undress’—he, he!”
She was really abashed and half frightened.
“I know that; and you have got to help me put my clothes on.”
“You gwan kill yo’se’f, Mawse Chawlie,” she said, handling a garment.
“Hold your black tongue.”
She dressed him hastily, and he went down the stairs of his lodging-house and out into the street. Clemence went in search of her master.
THE EAGLE VISITS THE DOVES IN THEIR NEST
Alphonsina—only living property of Aurora and Clotilde—was called upon to light a fire in the little parlor. Elsewhere, although the day was declining, few persons felt such a need; but in No. 19 rue Bienville there were two chilling influences combined requiring an artificial offset. One was the ground under the floor, which was only three inches distant, and permanently saturated with water; the other was despair.
Before this fire the two ladies sat down together like watchers, in that silence and vacuity of mind which come after an exhaustive struggle ending in the recognition of the inevitable; a torpor of thought, a stupefaction of feeling, a purely negative state of joylessness sequent to the positive state of anguish. They were now both hungry, but in want of some present friend acquainted with the motions of mental distress who could guess this fact and press them to eat. By their eyes it was plain they had been weeping much; by the subdued tone, too, of their short and infrequent speeches.