“Le bon Dieu,” she sighed, as she settled herself in her steamer chair and took out the lace knitting. “Is it not of a goodness that I have tied in my stocking the necessary francs that we may land in that America, where all is of such a good fortune? And also by my skill we have one hundred and fifty francs above that need which must be almost an hundred of their huge and wasteful dollars. All is well with us.” And as she spoke she pulled up the collar of Pierre’s soft blue serge blouse around his pale thin face and eased the cushion behind his crooked small back.
“Is—is that all which remains of the fifteen hundred dollars we found to be in that bank, Nannette?” I asked of her with a great uncertainty. My mother’s fortune, descended from her father, the Marquis de Grez and Bye, and the income of my father from his government post, had made life easy to live in that old house by the Quay, where so many from the Faubourg St. Germaine came to hear her sing after her fortune and children took her from the Opera—and to go for the summers in the gray old Chateau de Grez—but of the investment of francs or dollars and cents I had no knowledge, in spite of my claims to be an American girl of much progress. My mother had laughed and very greatly adored my assumption of an extreme American manner, copied as nearly as possible after that of my father, and had failed to teach to me even that thrift which is a part of the dot of every French girl from the Faubourg St. Germaine to the Boulevard St. Michel. But even in my ignorance the information of Nannette as to the smallness of our fortune gave to me an alarm.
“What will you, Mademoiselle? It was necessary that I purchase the raiment needful to the young Marquis de Grez according to his state, and for the Marquise his sister also. It was not to be contemplated that we should travel except in apartments of the very best in the ship. Is not gold enough in America even for sending in great sums for relief of suffering? Have I not seen it given in the streets of Paris? Is it not there for us? Do you make me reproaches?” And Nannette began to weep into the fine lawn of her nurse’s handkerchief.
“No, no, Nannette; I know it was of a necessity to us to have the clothes, and of course we had to travel in the first class. Do not have distress. If we need more money in America I will obtain it.” I made that answer with a gesture of soothing upon her old shoulders which I could never remember as not bent in an attitude of hovering over Pierre or me.
“Eh bien!” she answered with a perfect satisfaction at my assumption of all the responsibilities of our three existences.
And as I leaned against the deck rail and looked out into a future as limitless as that water ahead of us into which the great ship was plowing, I made a remark to myself that had in it all the wisdom of those who are ignorant.
“The best of life is not to know what will happen next.”