Chrysler’s glances took in with curiosity the tiny window up in the gable, the quaint-cut iron bars of the cellar openings, the small-paned sashes of the four front windows.
Above the door, was the rude-cut inscription:
A DIEU LA GLOIRE
The fiddler drew his attention particularly, however, to the people on the gallery. There was one at least whom he had seen before. A cavalier of much shirt-front and large mouth, and on whose make-up, Nature had printed “BAR-TENDER” in capitals—in short the “Spoon” of Zotique’s reception—was sitting on the balustrade of the little gallery, making courtship over the shoulder of a dark-eyed maid, whose mother—a square-waisted archetype of her—stood in the door. Paterfamilias sat on the top step with his back to Chrysler, barring the stair rather awkwardly with his legs. A second young man slender, and dressed in a frock coat of black broad-cloth, and silk hat, and with face pale, but of undiscourageable obserfulness, though without doubt repulsed by the father’s attitude from a front attack on the position, was taking the three steps in the garden necessary to bring him alongside the gallery. And, unobserved, down beside her dress, the maiden’s fair hand was dropping him a sprig of lilac.
Within, the grandfather bent crooked over his violin.
Our traveller halted, there was a whisper, and the music stopped.
“Salut, Monsieur,” cried the householder, stumbling down the steps and hurrying half-way across the garden, where he took up a position, “Monsieur is tired. Will he honour my roof? All here is yours, and I and my family are at your service. Enter, Monsieur.”
A dramatic gesture of humility recalled at once the man in blue homespun, who had addressed the crowd at Zotique’s.
“Good evening, Mr. Benoit,” the Ontarian said, opening the gate and mustering his French, “I shall be charmed.”
The air immediately bustled with hospitality.
“Come in, sir, come in,” feebly rasped the voice of the old man from the door. “Josephte, bring a chair for Monsieur.” “I will fetch one!” cried the good-wife. The girl Josephte, rose from her seat and followed her mother quickly into the house; the pale young man in the garden doubled his cheerful smile; and only the bar-tender endued himself in an aggressive grin of independence.
“I assure you, monsieur,” pronounced Jean Benoit, with his full armory of oratorical gestures, “that a friend of Monseigneur Chamilly will always have our best. Ascend, sir.—Josephte, place Monsieur the chair.”
Never was there a greater occasion of state.
Their guest raised his hat to the young lady and her mother, who threw into her carriage all the dignity and suavity she could command. Then he ascended and sat gratefully down, for he was fatigued.
The grandfather had laid his instrument on a spinning-wheel within the door, and slowly lit a pipe with both hands. The bar-tender jumped from his perch and stood with a familiar leer, of which when Benoit said “Mr. Cuiller, monsieur,” Chrysler took trifling notice. On the other hand the pale lover remained modestly down the steps, and his cheerfulness redoubled when Chrysler nodded to him, passingly introduced as “Le Brun.”