When Madame entered, I did not lift my head or eyes.
‘Good cheaile! reading,’ said she, as she approached briskly and reassured.
‘No,’ I answered tartly; ’not good, nor a child either; I’m not reading, I’ve been thinking.’
‘Tres-bien!’ she said, with an insufferable smile, ’thinking is very good also; but you look unhappy—very, poor cheaile. Take care you are not grow jealous for poor Madame talking sometime to your papa; you must not, little fool. It is only for a your good, my dear Maud, and I had no objection you should stay.’
‘You! Madame!’ I said loftily. I was very angry, and showed it through my dignity, to Madame’s evident satisfaction.
’No—it was your papa, Mr. Ruthyn, who weesh to speak alone; for me I do not care; there was something I weesh to tell him. I don’t care who know, but Mr. Ruthyn he is deeferent.’
I made no remark.
’Come, leetle Maud, you are not to be so cross; it will be much better you and I to be good friends together. Why should a we quarrel?—wat nonsense! Do you imagine I would anywhere undertake a the education of a young person unless I could speak with her parent?—wat folly! I would like to be your friend, however, my poor Maud, if you would allow—you and I together—wat you say?’
’People grow to be friends by liking, Madame, and liking comes of itself, not by bargain; I like every one who is kind to me.’
’And so I. You are like me in so many things, my dear Maud! Are you quaite well to-day? I think you look fateague; so I feel, too, vary tire. I think we weel put off the lessons to to-morrow. Eh? and we will come to play la grace in the garden.’
Madame was plainly in a high state of exultation. Her audience had evidently been satisfactory, and, like other people, when things went well, her soul lighted up into a sulphureous good-humour, not very genuine nor pleasant, but still it was better than other moods.
I was glad when our calisthenics were ended, and Madame had returned to her apartment, so that I had a pleasant little walk with Cousin Monica.
We women are persevering when once our curiosity is roused, but she gaily foiled mine, and, I think, had a mischievous pleasure in doing so. As we were going in to dress for dinner, however, she said, quite gravely—
’I am sorry, Maud, I allowed you to see that I have any unpleasant impressions about that governess lady. I shall be at liberty some day to explain all about it, and, indeed, it will be enough to tell your father, whom I have not been able to find all day; but really we are, perhaps, making too much of the matter, and I cannot say that I know anything against Madame that is conclusive, or—or, indeed, at all; but that there are reasons, and—you must not ask any more—no, you must not.’
That evening, while I was playing the overture to Cenerentola, for the entertainment of my cousin, there arose from the tea-table, where she and my father were sitting, a spirited and rather angry harangue from Lady Knollys’ lips; I turned my eyes from the music towards the speakers; the overture swooned away with a little hesitating babble into silence, and I listened.