“He is a professor of chimistry,” said the old man.
“I am nothing, as yet, but a student,” said Joseph, as the three returned into the shop; “certainly not a scholar, and still less a professor.” He spoke with a new quietness of manner that made the younger Creole turn upon him a pleasant look.
“H-my young friend,” said the patriarch, turning toward Joseph with a tremendous frown, “when I, Agricola Fusilier, pronounce you a professor, you are a professor. Louisiana will not look to you for your credentials; she will look to me!”
He stumbled upon some slight impediment under foot. There were times when it took but little to make Agricola stumble.
Looking to see what it was, Joseph picked up a silken purse. There was a name embroidered on it.
SUDDEN FLASHES OF LIGHT
The day was nearly gone. The company that had been chatting at the front door, and which in warmer weather would have tarried until bedtime, had wandered off; however, by stepping toward the light the young merchant could decipher the letters on the purse. Citizen Fusilier drew out a pair of spectacles, looked over his junior’s shoulder, read aloud, “Aurore De G. Nanca—,” and uttered an imprecation.
“Do not speak to me!” he thundered; “do not approach me! she did it maliciously!”
“Sir!” began Frowenfeld.
But the old man uttered another tremendous malediction and hurried into the street and away.
“Let him pass,” said the other Creole calmly.
“What is the matter with him?” asked Frowenfeld.
“He is getting old.” The Creole extended the purse carelessly to the apothecary. “Has it anything inside?”
“But a single pistareen.”
“That is why she wanted the basilic, eh?”
“I do not understand you, sir.”
“Do you not know what she was going to do with it?”
“With the basil? No sir.”
“May be she was going to make a little tisane, eh?” said the Creole, forcing down a smile.
But a portion of the smile would come when Frowenfeld answered, with unnecessary resentment:
“She was going to make some proper use of it, which need not concern me.”
The Creole quietly walked a step or two forward and back and looked idly into the glass case. “Is this young man in love with her?” he asked himself. He turned around.
“Do you know those ladies, Mr. Frowenfeld? Do you visit them at home?”
He drew out his porte-monnaie.
“I will pay you for the repair of this instrument; have you change for—”
“I will see,” said the apothecary.
As he spoke he laid the purse on a stool, till he should light his shop, and then went to his till without again taking it.