“Ah,” chanted Mlle. Yvonne, “how many time’ Corinne and me, we want’ to live there and furnizh, ourseff, that romanz’!”
The five rose. Mrs. Chester “would be delighted to have the three Chapdelaines call. I’m leaving the hotel, you know; I’ve taken a room next Geoffry’s. But that’s nearer you, is it not?”
“A li’l’, yes,” the sisters replied, but Aline’s smiling silence said: “No, a little farther off.”
The aunts thanked Mme. De l’Isle for bringing Mrs. Chester and kissed her cheeks. They walked beside her to the gate, led by Cupid with the key, and by Marie Madeleine crooking the end of her tail like a floor-walker’s finger. Mrs. Chester and Aline came last. The sisters ventured out to the sidewalk to finish an apology for a significant fault in Marie Madeleine’s figure, and Mrs. Chester and Aline found themselves alone.
“Au revoir,” they said, clasping hands. Cupid, under a sudden inspiration, half-closed the gate, the pair stood an eloquent moment gazing eye to eye, and then——
What happened the mother told her son that evening as they sat alone on a moonlit veranda.
“Yes,” she said, “and on the lips.”
Beginning at dawn, an all-day rain rested the travel-wearied lady. But the night cleared and in the forenoon that followed she shopped—for things, she wrote her husband, not to be found elsewhere in the forty-eight States.
The afternoon she gave to two or three callers, notably to Mrs. Thorndyke-Smith, who was very pleasing every way, but in nothing more than in her praises of the Royal Street coterie. Next morning, in a hired car, she had Castanado and Mme. Dubroca, Beloiseau and Mme. Alexandre, not merely show but, as the ironworker said, pinching forefinger and thumb together in the air, “elucidate” to her, for hours, the vieux carre. The day’s latter half brought Mlles. Corinne and Yvonne; but Aline—no.
“She was coming till the laz’ moment,” the pair said, “and then she’s so bewzy she ‘ave to sen’ us word, by ’Ector, ‘tis impossib’ to come—till maybe later. Go h-on, juz’ we two.”
They sat and talked, and rose and talked, and—sweetly importuned—resumed seats and talked, of infant days and the old New Orleans they loved so well, unembarrassed by a maze of innocent anachronisms, and growingly sure that Aline would come.
When at sunset they took leave Mrs. Chester, to their delight, followed to the sidewalk, drifted on by a corner or two, and even turned up Rampart Street, though without saying that it was by Rampart Street her son daily came—walked—from his office. It had two paved ways for general traffic, with a broad space between, where once, the sisters explained, had been the rampart’s moat but now ran the electric cars! “You know what that is, rampart? Tha’z in the ‘Star-Spangle’ Banner’ ab-oud that. And this high wall where we’re passing, tha’z the Carmelite convent, and—ah! ad the last! Aline! Aline!” Also there was Cupid.