It was the seeker after basil who stood before the counter, holding in her hand, with her purse, the heavy veil whose folds had before concealed her features.
“OO DAD IS, ’SIEUR FROWENFEL’?”
Whether the removal of the veil was because of the milder light of the evening, or the result of accident, or of haste, or both, or whether, by reason of some exciting or absorbing course of thought, the wearer had withdrawn it unconsciously, was a matter that occupied the apothecary as little as did Agricola’s continued harangue. As he looked upon the fair face through the light gauze which still overhung but not obscured it, he readily perceived, despite the sprightly smile, something like distress, and as she spoke this became still more evident in her hurried undertone.
“‘Sieur Frowenfel’, I want you to sell me doze basilic.”
As she slipped the rings of her purse apart her fingers trembled.
“It is waiting for you,” said Frowenfeld; but the lady did not hear him; she was giving her attention to the loud voice of Agricola saying in the course of discussion:
“The Louisiana Creole is the noblest variety of enlightened man!”
“Oo dad is, ’Sieur Frowenfel’?” she asked, softly, but with an excited eye.
“That is Mr. Agricola Fusilier,” answered Joseph in the same tone, his heart leaping inexplicably as he met her glance. With an angry flush she looked quickly around, scrutinized the old man in an instantaneous, thorough way, and then glanced back at the apothecary again, as if asking him to fulfil her request the quicker.
He hesitated, in doubt as to her meaning.
“Wrap it yonder,” she almost whispered.
He went, and in a moment returned, with the basil only partially hid in a paper covering.
But the lady, muffled again in her manifold veil, had once more lost her eagerness for it; at least, instead of taking it, she moved aside, offering room for a masculine figure just entering. She did not look to see who it might be—plenty of time to do that by accident, by and by. There she made a mistake; for the new-comer, with a silent bow of thanks, declined the place made for him, moved across the shop, and occupied his eyes with the contents of the glass case, his back being turned to the lady and Frowenfeld. The apothecary recognized the Creole whom he had met under the live-oak.
The lady put forth her hand suddenly to receive the package. As she took it and turned to depart, another small hand was laid upon it and it was returned to the counter. Something was said in a low-pitched undertone, and the two sisters—if Frowenfeld’s guess was right—confronted each other. For a single instant only they stood so; an earnest and hurried murmur of French words passed between them, and they turned together, bowed with great suavity, and were gone.