“Hold still!” said Clotilde.
“But when my hand itches,” retorted Aurore in a high key, “haven’t I got to put it instantly into my pocket if I want the money to come there? Well, then!”
The daughter proposed to go to the kitchen and tell Alphonsina to put on her shoes.
“My child,” cried Aurore, “you are crazy! Do you want Alphonsina to be seized for the rent?”
“But you cannot go alone—and on foot!”
“I must go alone; and—can you lend me your carriage? Ah, you have none? Certainly I must go alone and on foot if I am to say I cannot pay the rent. It is no indiscretion of mine. If anything happens to me it is M. Grandissime who is responsible.”
Now she is ready for the adventurous errand. She darts to the mirror. The high-water marks are gone from her eyes. She wheels half around and looks over her shoulder. The flaring bonnet and loose ribbons gave her a more girlish look than ever.
“Now which is the older, little old woman?” she chirrups, and smites her daughter’s cheek softly with her palm.
“And you are not afraid to go alone?”
“No; but remember! look at that dog!”
The brute sinks apologetically to the floor. Clotilde opens the street door, hands Aurore the note, Aurore lays a frantic kiss upon her lips, pressing it on tight so as to get it again when she comes back, and—while Clotilde calls the cook to gather up the buttons and take away the broom, and while the cook, to make one trip of it, gathers the hound into her bosom and carries broom and dog out together—Aurore sallies forth, leaving Clotilde to resume her sewing and await the coming of a guitar scholar.
“It will keep her fully an hour,” thought the girl, far from imagining that Aurore had set about a little private business which she proposed to herself to accomplish before she even started in the direction of M. Grandissime’s counting-rooms.
In old times, most of the sidewalks of New Orleans not in the heart of town were only a rough, rank turf, lined on the side next the ditch with the gunwales of broken-up flatboats—ugly, narrow, slippery objects. As Aurora—it sounds so much pleasanter to anglicize her name—as Aurora gained a corner where two of these gunwales met, she stopped and looked back to make sure that Clotilde was not watching her. That others had noticed her here and there she did not care; that was something beauty would have to endure, and it only made her smile to herself.
“Everybody sees I am from the country—walking on the street without a waiting-maid.”
A boy passed, hushing his whistle, and gazing at the lone lady until his turning neck could twist no farther. She was so dewy fresh! After he had got across the street he turned to look again. Where could she have disappeared?