“Your purpose, Madame, is nothing; mine is everything.” He bowed and departed, the heron feather in his hat showing boldly.
It was almost a complete victory, for he had taken with him her woman’s prerogative, the final word. He strode resolutely along, never once turning his head . . . not having the courage. But, had he turned, certain it is that he must have stopped.
For madame had fallen back upon that one prerogative which man shall never take from woman . . . tears!
Look back, Monsieur, while there is yet time.
BROTHER JACQUES TELLS THE STORY OP HIAWATHA
At the noon meal madame’s chair at the table was vacant, and Anne, who had left madame outside the convent gate and had not seen her since, went up to the room to ascertain the cause of the absence. She found the truant asleep, the last vestige of her recent violent tears fringing her lashes. Silently Anne contemplated the fall and rise of the lovely bosom, eyed thoughtfully the golden thread which encircled the white throat; and wondered. Had this poor victim of conspiracy, this puppet in the cruel game of politics, left behind in France some unhappy love affair? What was this locket which madame hid so jealously? She bent and pressed a kiss upon the blooming cheek, lightly and lovingly. And light as the touch of her lips was, it was sufficient to arouse the sleeper.
“What is it?” madame said, sitting up. “Oh, it is you, Anne. I am glad you awoke me. Such a frightful dream! I dreamt that I had married the Chevalier du Cevennes! What is the hour?”
“It is the noon meal, dear. You have been weeping.”
“Yes, for France, beloved France, with all its Mazarins and its cabals. Anne, dear, I must confess. I can not remain here. I am afraid, afraid of D’Herouville, the vicomte. I am going to return on the Henri IV. I can bear it here no longer. I shall find a hiding place beyond the reach of Mazarin.”
“As you think best. But why not enter the Ursulines with me? There is peace in the House of God.”
“Is there not peace wherever the peaceful heart is? Walls will not give me peace.”
“You should have known your heart before you left France,” shrewdly.
“Anne, does any one know the human heart? Do you know yours?”
Anne’s eyes closed, for the briefest moment. Know her heart? Alas!
“Come, Gabrielle; they are waiting for us at the table.”
“I will go with you, but I have no appetite.”
“We will go upon the water after four. It will pass away the time. You are certain that you wish to return to France; from passive danger into active?”
“I will inform his Excellency, for it is no more than right that he should be acquainted with your plans.”
“How serious you have become, Anne,” wistfully. “I am sure that I should be livelier and more contented if you were not always at prayer. I am lonely at times.”