“I thank your ladyship; but I had rather stay where I am.”
“Because I should be a trouble to everybody over yonder. I am a person that suits only herself. I don’t know how to win the good will of other people. I don’t keep a cat or a dog, because I don’t want to love anything. Besides, I have many disagreeable habits. I use snuff, and I can’t agree with anybody. I am best left to myself, your ladyship.”
“But what will become of you when both your master and mistress are gone from the castle?”
“I shall do what I have always done, your ladyship. The Herr Count promised that I should never want for anything to cook so long as I lived.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, Lisette. I did not ask how you intended to live. What I meant was, how are you going to get on when you do not see or hear any one—when you are all alone here?”
“I am not afraid to be alone. I have no money, and I don’t think anybody would undertake to carry me off! I am never lonely. I can’t read,—for which I thank God!—so that never bothers me. I don’t like to knit; for ever since I saw those terrible women sitting around the guillotine and knitting, knitting, knitting all day long, I can’t bear to see the motion of five needles. So I just amuse myself with these cards; and I don’t need anything else.”
“But surely your heart will grow sore when you do not see your little mistress daily?”
“Daily—daily, your ladyship? This is the second time I have laid eyes on her face in six years! There was a time when I saw her daily, hourly—when she needed me all the time. Is not that so, my little mistress? Don’t you remember how I had a little son, and how he called me chere maman, and I called him mon petit garcon?”
As she spoke, she laid the cards one by one on her snowy apron. She looked intently at them for several moments, then continued:
“No; I don’t need to know anything, only that she is safe. She will always be carefully guarded from all harm, and my cards will always tell me all I need know about mon petit garcon. No, your ladyship; I shall not go with you; I cannot leave the place where my poor Henry died.”
“Poor Lisette! what a tender heart is yours!”
“Mine?” suddenly and with unusual energy interrupted Lisette. “Mine a tender heart? Ask this little lady here—who cannot tell a lie—if I am not the woman who has the hardest, the most unfeeling heart in all the world. Ask her that, your ladyship. Tell her, mon petit garcon,” she added, turning to Marie,—“tell the lady it is as I say.”
“Lisette—dear Lisette,” remonstrated Marie.
“Have you ever seen me weep?” demanded the woman.
“No, Lisette; but—”
“Did I ever sigh,” interrupted Lisette, “or moan, or grieve, that time when we spent many days and nights together in one room?”