“His reverence is first to-night!” she exclaimed. “Oh, here comes Monsieur Rambaud too!”
They were very merry at dinner. Jeanne was nearly well again now, and the two brothers, who spoiled her, were successful in procuring her permission to eat some salad, of which she was excessively fond, notwithstanding Doctor Bodin’s formal prohibition. When she was going to bed, the child in high spirits hung round her mother’s neck and pleaded:
“Oh! mamma, darling! let me go with you to-morrow to see the old woman you nurse!”
But the Abbe and Monsieur Rambaud were the first to scold her for thinking of such a thing. They would not hear of her going amongst the poor, as the sight affected her too grieviously. The last time she had been on such an expedition she had twice swooned, and for three days her eyes had been swollen with tears, that had flowed even in her sleep.
“Oh! I will be good!” she pleaded. “I won’t cry, I promise.”
“It is quite useless, my darling,” said her mother, caressing her. “The old woman is well now. I shall not go out any more; I’ll stay all day with you!”
During the following week Madame Deberle paid a return visit to Madame Grandjean, and displayed an affability that bordered on affection.
“You know what you promised me,” she said, on the threshold, as she was going off. “The first fine day we have, you must come down to the garden, and bring Jeanne with you. It is the doctor’s strict injunction.”
“Very well,” Helene answered, with a smile, “it is understood; we will avail ourselves of your kindness.”
Three days later, on a bright February afternoon, she accompanied her daughter down to the garden. The porter opened the door connecting the two houses. At the near end of the garden, in a kind of greenhouse built somewhat in the style of a Japanese pavilion, they found Madame Deberle and her sister Pauline, both idling away their time, for some embroidery, thrown on the little table, lay there neglected.
“Oh, how good of you to come!” cried Juliette. “You must sit down here. Pauline, move that table away! It is still rather cool you know to sit out of doors, but from this pavilion we can keep a watch on the children. Now, little ones, run away and play; but take care not to fall!”
The large door of the pavilion stood open, and on each side were portable mirrors, whose covers had been removed so that they allowed one to view the garden’s expanse as from the threshold of a tent. The garden, with a green sward in the centre, flanked by beds of flowers, was separated from the Rue Vineuse by a plain iron railing, but against this grew a thick green hedge, which prevented the curious from gazing in. Ivy, clematis, and woodbine clung and wound around the railings, and behind this first curtain of foliage came a second one of lilacs and laburnums.