“But”—they dried their eyes—“there’s another thing also bisside’. We are, all three, the authorezz’ of a story that we are prettie sure tha’z accept’ by the publisher’; an’ of co’ze if tha’z accept’—and if those publisher’ they don’ swin’le us, like so oftten—we don’t need to be orphan’ never any mo’, and we’ll maybe move up-town and juz’ keep that proprity here for a souvenir of our in-fancy. But that be two-three days yet biffo’ we can be sure ab-oud that. Maybe ad the laz’ we’ll ’ave to join the asylum, but tha’z our hope, to move up town into the quartier nouveau and that beautiful ‘garden diztric’.’ But we’ll always con-tinue to love the old ’ouse here. ’Tis a very genuine ancient relique, that ‘ouse. You see those wall’? Solid plank of two inch’ and from Kentucky!” They went through the whole story—the house, the relics of their childhood—“Go you, Yvonne, fedge them!”
The meek religieuses did their best to be both interested and sincere, but somehow found diplomacy to escape the “li’l’ lake” and its goldfish, and even took the piety of the cat with a dampening absence of mind. Their departure was almost hurried. There was nothing to do on either side, the four agreed, but to wait the turn of events.
The two gray robes and white bonnets had but just got away when the bell rang again and Mlle. Yvonne let in Mme. De l’Isle and Mrs. Chester.
But these calls were in mid-afternoon. The evening previous—“Show Mr. Chester to three-thirty-three,” the hotel clerk had said, and presently Mrs. Chester was all but perishing in the arms of her son.
“Geoffry! Geoffry! you needn’t be ferocious!”
They took seats facing each other, low seats that touched; but when they joined hands a second time he dropped to his knees, asking many questions already answered in her regular and frequent letters. News is so different by word of mouth when the mouth’s the sweetest, sacredest ever kissed. “And how’s father?”
As if he didn’t know to the last detail!
All at once—“Why didn’t you say you were coming?” he savagely demanded.
“No matter,” his mother replied, “I’m glad I didn’t, things have happened so pleasantly. I’ve seen your whole Royal Street coterie, except, of course——”
“Yes, of course.”
The mother told her evening’s experience.
“And you like my friends?”
“Why, Geoffry, you’re right to love them. But, now, how came you back so soon from St. What’s-his-name?”
“Opposing counsel compromised the case without trial. Mother, it’s the greatest professional victory I’ve ever won.”
“Oh, how fine! Geoffry, how are you getting on, professionally, anyhow?”
“Better than my best hope, dear; far better. I’ve shot right up!”
“Then why do you look so weary and care-worn?”
“I don’t. I’m older, that’s all, dear.”