She did not release it immediately however, but continued her torture and discordant laughter. At last she finally released my finger.
’So she is going to be good cheaile, and tell everything to her affectionate gouvernante. What do you cry for, little fool?’
‘You’ve hurt me very much—you have broken my finger,’ I sobbed.
’Rub it and blow it and give it a kiss, little fool! What cross girl! I will never play with you again—never. Let us go home.’
Madame was silent and morose all the way home. She would not answer my questions, and affected to be very lofty and offended.
This did not last very long, however, and she soon resumed her wonted ways. And she returned to the question of the will, but not so directly, and with more art.
Why should this dreadful woman’s thoughts be running so continually upon my father’s will? How could it concern her?
I think all the females of our household, except Mrs. Rusk, who was at open feud with her and had only room for the fiercer emotions, were more or less afraid of this inauspicious foreigner.
Mrs. Rusk would say in her confidences in my room—
’Where does she come from?—is she a French or a Swiss one, or is she a Canada woman? I remember one of them when I was a girl, and a nice limb she was, too! And who did she live with? Where was her last family? Not one of us knows nothing about her, no more than a child; except, of course, the Master—I do suppose he made enquiry. She’s always at hugger-mugger with Anne Wixted. I’ll pack that one about her business, if she doesn’t mind. Tattling and whispering eternally. It’s not about her own business she’s a-talking. Madame de la Rougepot, I call her. She does know how to paint up to the ninety-nines—she does, the old cat. I beg your pardon, Miss, but that she is—a devil, and no mistake. I found her out first by her thieving the Master’s gin, that the doctor ordered him, and filling the decanter up with water—the old villain; but she’ll be found out yet, she will; and all the maids is afraid on her. She’s not right, they think—a witch or a ghost—I should not wonder. Catherine Jones found her in her bed asleep in the morning after she sulked with you, you know, Miss, with all her clothes on, what-ever was the meaning; and I think she has frightened you, Miss and has you as nervous as anythink—I do,’ and so forth.
It was true. I was nervous, and growing rather more so; and I think this cynical woman perceived and intended it, and was pleased. I was always afraid of her concealing herself in my room, and emerging at night to scare me. She began sometimes to mingle in my dreams, too—always awfully; and this nourished, of course, the kind of ambiguous fear in which, in waking hours, I held her.