FROWENFELD MAKES AN ARGUMENT
On the afternoon of the same day on which Frowenfeld visited the house of the philosophe, the weather, which had been so unfavorable to his late plans, changed; the rain ceased, the wind drew around to the south, and the barometer promised a clear sky. Wherefore he decided to leave his business, when he should have made his evening weather notes, to the care of M. Raoul Innerarity, and venture to test both Mademoiselle Clotilde’s repellent attitude and Aurora’s seeming cordiality at Number 19 rue Bienville.
Why he should go was a question which the apothecary felt himself but partially prepared to answer. What necessity called him, what good was to be effected, what was to happen next, were points he would have liked to be clear upon. That he should be going merely because he was invited to come—merely for the pleasure of breathing their atmosphere—that he should be supinely gravitating toward them—this conclusion he positively could not allow; no, no; the love of books and the fear of women alike protested.
True, they were a part of that book which is pronounced “the proper study of mankind,”—indeed, that was probably the reason which he sought: he was going to contemplate them as a frontispiece to that unwriteable volume which he had undertaken to con. Also, there was a charitable motive. Doctor Keene, months before, had expressed a deep concern regarding their lack of protection and even of daily provision; he must quietly look into that. Would some unforeseen circumstance shut him off this evening again from this very proper use of time and opportunity?
As he was sitting at the table in his back room, registering his sunset observations, and wondering what would become of him if Aurora should be out and that other in, he was startled by a loud, deep voice exclaiming, close behind him:
“Eh, bien! Monsieur le Professeur!”
Frowenfeld knew by the tone, before he looked behind him, that he would find M. Agricola Fusilier very red in the face; and when he looked, the only qualification he could make was that the citizen’s countenance was not so ruddy as the red handkerchief in which his arm was hanging.
“What have you there?” slowly continued the patriarch, taking his free hand off his fettered arm and laying it upon the page as Frowenfeld hurriedly rose, and endeavored to shut the book.
“Some private memoranda,” answered the meteorologist, managing to get one page turned backward, reddening with confusion and indignation, and noticing that Agricola’s spectacles were upside down.