I was very angry, and my tremors had all vanished now.
’No, not for you, dear cheaile; I was thinking to miladi Knollys, who, without cause, is my enemy. Every one has enemy; you will learn all that so soon as you are little older, and without cause she is mine. Come, Maud, speak a the truth—was it not miladi Knollys who sent you here doucement, doucement, so quaite to my door—is it not so, little rogue?’
Madame had confronted me again, and we were now standing in the middle of her floor.
I indignantly repelled the charge, and searching me for a moment with her oddly-shaped, cunning eyes, she said—
’That is good cheaile, you speak a so direct—I like that, and am glad to hear; but, my dear Maud, that woman——’
‘Lady Knollys is papa’s cousin,’ I interposed a little gravely.
’She does hate a me so, you av no idea. She as tryed to injure me several times, and would employ the most innocent person, unconsciously you know, my dear, to assist her malice.’
Here Madame wept a little. I had already discovered that she could shed tears whenever she pleased. I have heard of such persons, but I never met another before or since.
Madame was unusually frank—no one ever knew better when to be candid. At present I suppose she concluded that Lady Knollys would certainly relate whatever she knew concerning her before she left Knowl; and so Madame’s reserves, whatever they might be, were dissolving, and she growing childlike and confiding.
‘Et comment va monsieur votre pere aujourd’hui?’
‘Very well,’ I thanked her.
‘And how long miladi Knollys her visit is likely to be?’
‘I could not say exactly, but for some days.’
’Eh bien, my dear cheaile, I find myself better this morning, and we must return to our lessons. Je veux m’habiller, ma chere Maud; you will wait me in the school-room.’
By this time Madame, who, though lazy, could make an effort, and was capable of getting into a sudden hurry, had placed herself before her dressing-table, and was ogling her discoloured and bony countenance in the glass.
’Wat horror! I am so pale. Quel ennui! wat bore! Ow weak av I grow in two three days!’
And she practised some plaintive, invalid glances into the mirror. But on a sudden there came a little sharp inquisitive frown as she looked over the frame of the glass, upon the terrace beneath. It was only a glance, and she sat down languidly in her arm-chair to prepare, I suppose, for the fatigues of the toilet.
My curiosity was sufficiently aroused to induce me to ask—
‘But why, Madame, do you fancy that Lady Knollys dislikes you?’
’’Tis not fancy, my dear Maud. Ah ha, no! Mais c’est toute une histoire—too tedious to tell now—some time maybe—and you will learn when you are little older, the most violent hatreds often they are the most without cause. But, my dear cheaile, the hours they are running from us, and I must dress. Vite, vite! so you run away to the school-room, and I will come after.’