“My—ah, yes, ’tis true. ’Tis here grand’mere——
“Turned that corner in her life where your grandpere first saw her. Al’—Aline.”
“I want this corner, from the day I first saw you turn it, to be all that to you and me. Shall it not?”
She said nothing. Priceless moments glided by, each a dancing ghost. Just there ahead in the dark was Bourbon Street, and a short way down among its huddled shadows were her board fence and batten gate. It was senseless to have taken this chance on so poor a margin of time, but what’s done’s done! “Oh, Aline Chapdelaine, say it shall be! Say it, Aline, say it!”
“Mr. Chester, it is impossible! Impossible!”
“It is not! It’s the only right thing! It shall be, Aline, it shall be!”
“No, Mr. Chester, ’tis impossible. You must not ask me why, but ’tis impossible!”
“It isn’t! Aline, and I ask no why. I see the trouble. It’s your aunts. Why, I’ll take them with you, of course! I’ll take them into my care and love as you have them in yours, and keep them there while they and I live. I can do it, I’ve got the wherewithal! Things have happened to me fast since I first saw you turn that corner behind us. I’ve inherited property, and only yesterday I was taken into one of the best law firms in the city. I’ll prove all that to you and your aunts to-morrow. Aline, unspeakable treasure, you shall not live the buried-alive life in which you are trying to believe yourself rightly placed and happy, my saint! My—adored—saint!”
“Yes, I must. What you ask is impossible.”
Long after midnight Chester had not returned to his room. He could not tolerate the confinement even of the narrow streets round about it.
Far out Esplanade Avenue, uncompanioned, he was walking mile after mile beside a belt line of trolley-cars, or more than one, while at home, in Bourbon Street, Cupid slept.
But now the child awoke, startled. Four small feet were on one of his arms, and Marie Madeleine was purring, at the top of her purr, in his ear. Drowsily he crowded her away. Purring on, she slowly walked across his stomach and dropped to the floor. But soon she leaped up again to that sensitive region and purred into his nose, not at all as if to claim attention, but as though lost in thought. When he pushed her aside she dropped again to the floor, with such a quadruple thump that he looked after her, and as she loitered across his view with tail as straight up as Cleopatra’s Needle, he observed just beyond her a condition of affairs that appalled him.
Cold from his small fingers and toes to his ample heart, he rose, stole into the next room, and stood by the bed where lay Mlles. Corinne and Yvonne as they had lain every night since their earliest childhood.