She lately informed her master, that she was “very sorry—very sorry, indeed—but it was time for her to secure her future comfort; and M. ——, the rich grocer, had proposed marriage to her, and offered a good settlement. It would be a great grief to her to leave so kind a master, especially as she knew no one to whom she could confide the care of him; but a settlement of 4000 francs a-year was not to be refused, and she might never again receive so good an offer.”
The proposal of the rich grocer, which never existed but in her own fertile brain, is rejected, and her continuance as housekeeper and nurse secured by a settlement of a similar sum made on her by her master; who congratulates himself on having accomplished so advantageous a bargain, while she is laughing with the valet at his credulity.
This same valet, finding her influence to be omnipotent with his master, determines on marrying her secretly, that they may join in plundering the valetudinarian, whose infirmities furnish a perpetual subject for the coarse pleasantries of both these ungrateful menials.
She is now giving him his daily walk on the sunny side of the Luxembourg Gardens. See how she turns abruptly down an alley, in despite of his request to continue where he was: but the truth is, her Argus eyes have discovered his niece and her beautiful children walking at a distance; and, as she has not only prevented their admission to his house, but concealed their visits, intercepted their letters, making him believe they are absent from Paris and have forgotten him, she now precludes their meeting; while to his querulous murmurs at being hurried along, she answers that the alley she has taken him to is more sheltered.
It is true the invalid sometimes half suspects, not only that he is governed, but somewhat despotically, too, by the worthy and affectionate creature, whose sole study it is to take care of his health. He considers it hard to be debarred from sending for one of his old friends to play a party at picquet, or a game at chess with him, during the long winter evenings; and he thinks it would be pleasanter to have some of his female relatives occasionally to dinner: but as the least hint on these subjects never fails to produce ill-humour on the part of the “good Jeanette,” who declares that such unreasonable indulgence would inevitably destroy the precious health of Monsieur, he submits to her will; and while wholly governed by an ignorant and artful servant, can still smile that he is free from being henpecked by a wife.
In no part of Paris are so many children to be seen us in the gardens of the Luxembourg. At every step may be encountered groups of playful creatures of every age, from the infant slumbering in its nurse’s arms, to the healthful girl holding her little brother or sister by the hand as her little charge toddles along; or the manly boy, who gives his arm to his younger sister with all the air of protection of manhood.