One evening M. Castanado sat reading to his wife from a fresh number of the weekly Courier des Etats-Unis.
It was not long after the incident last mentioned. Chester had become accustomed to his new lift in fortune, but as yet no further word as to the manuscript had reached him; he had only just written a second letter of inquiry after it. Also that summons to the two aunts, from the archbishop, of which the pair were so sure, was still unheard; no need had arisen for Aline to take any counter-step. We could name the exact date, for it was the day of the week on which the Courier always came, and the week was the last in which a Canal Street movie-show beautifully presented the matchless Bernhardt as a widowed shopkeeper—like Mme. Alexandre, but with a son, not daughter, in love.
The door-bell rang. Castanado went down to the street. There, letting in a visitor, he spoke with such animation that madame, listening from her special seat, guessed, and before the two were half up-stairs knew, who it was. It was Melanie Alexandre.
No one answered her mother’s bell, she said, kissing madame lingeringly, twice on the forehead and once on either vast cheek. She was short and square, with such serene kindness of face and voice as to be the last you would ever pick out to fall into a mistake of passion, however exalted. Of course, that serenity may have come since the mistake. Both Castanados seemed to take note of it as if it had come since, and she to be willing they should note it.
“No,” they said, “Mme. Alexandre had gone with Dubroca and his wife to that movie of Sarah.”
“And also with M. Beloiseau?” asked Melanie, with a lurking smile, as she sat down so fondly close to madame as to leave both her small hands in one of her friend’s.
“Ah, now,” madame exclaimed, “there is nothing in that! You ought to be rijoice’ if there was.”
The new look warmed in Melanie’s eyes. “I’ll be very glad if that time ever comes,” she said.
“Then you billieve in the second love?”
“Ah, in a case like that! Indeed, yes. In their first love they both were happy; the second would be in praise of the first.”
“And to separate them there is only the street,” Castanado suggested, “and Royal Street, street of their birth and chilehood, and so narrow, it have the effect to join, not separate. But!”—he made a wary motion—“kip quite, eize they will not go into the net, those old bird’, hah!”
There was a smiling silence, and then—“Well,” madame said, “they are all to stop here as they riturn. Waiting here, you’ll see them all.”
“Yes, and beside’, I have some good news for you; news anyhow to me.”
The pair smiled brightly: “You ’ave another letter from Dubroca!”
“Yes. He’s again wounded and in hospital.”