“And tha’z the manner she was not al-lone?”
“Yas’m, dass all.” The little fellow dropped to his knees, clutched a knee of either questioner, and wept and sobbed.
M. Beloiseau reached across his workbench and hung up his hammer and tongs. The varied notes of two or three remote steam-whistles told him that the hour, of the day after the holiday, was five.
He glanced behind him, through his shop to the street door, where some one paused awaiting his welcome. He thought of Chester but it was Landry, with an old broad book under his elbow.
“Ah, come in, Ovide.”
As he laid aside his apron he handed the visitor the piece of metal he had been making beautiful, and waved him to the drawing whose lines it was taking.
“But those whistles,” the bookman said, “they stop the handworkman too.”
“Yes. In the days of my father, the days of handwork, they meant only steamboat’, coming, going; but now swarm’ of men and women, boys, and girl’, coming, going, living by machinery the machine-made life.”
“’Sieur Beloiseau,” Landry good-naturedly, said, “you’re too just to condemn a gift of the good God for the misuse men make of it.”
Scipion glared and smiled at the same time: “Then let that gift of the good God be not so hideouzly misuse’.”
But Ovide amiably persisted: “Without machinery—plenty of it—I should not have this book for you, nor I, nor you, ever have been born.”
Chester, entering, found Beloiseau looking eagerly into the volume. “All the same, Landry,” the newcomer said, “you’re no more a machine product than Mr. Beloiseau himself.”
The bookman smiled his thanks while he followed the craftsman’s scrutiny of the pages. “’Tis what you want?” he asked, and Chester saw that it was full of designs of ironwork, French and Spanish.
Scipion beamed: “Ah, you’ve foun’ me that at the lazt, and just when I’m wanting it furiouzly.”
“Mr. Beloiseau,” said Chester, “has a beautiful commission from the new Pan-American Steamship Company.”
“Thanks to Mr. Chezter,” said Beloiseau, “who got me the job. Hence for this book spot cash.” He turned aside to a locked closet and drawer.
“You had a pleasant holiday yesterday,” said Landry to Chester.
“Who told you?”
“Mesdemoiselles, the two sisters Chapdelaine. I chanced to meet them just now at the house of the archbishop, on the steps, they coming out, I going in. I had a book also for him.”
“Why! What’s taking them to the archbishop?” Chester put away a frown: “Did they reflect the pleasure of the holiday?”
“Mr. Chester, no.” There was an exchange of gazes, but Scipion returned, counting and tendering the price of the book.
“Well, good evening,” Landry said, willing to linger; but “good evening,” said both the others.