So this was the end of that affair. As for No. 7639, which had brought Leblanc in pursuit of Perine, it did not turn out so romantically as might have been desired, having nothing to do with the great robbery of the Rue Vivienne, which remains a mystery—to most people—to this day. But oddly enough, it set the police on the track of a smaller crime; a certain reward was handed over to the Didiers for the use of the poor girl, and no one will deny that it was her unconscious instrumentality which brought their change of fortune. Jean is almost always kind to her, but Marie treats her with a sort of reverence.
You may see them sometimes, of a summer evening, walking along the quays. The great river sweeps slowly down, the busy lights which flit about the houses or point the span of the bridges with golden dots, fling long reflections on its surface. Overhead, more peaceful lights are shining. All about us is the rush of tumult and change, men drifting here and there, struggling, weeping, jesting, passing away; but over all God watches, and His world goes on.
THE TWO OLD LADIES.
On one of the pleasant hills round Florence, a little beyond Camerata, there stands a house, so small that an Englishman would probably take it for a lodge of the great villa behind, whose garden trees at sunset cast their shadow over the cottage and its terrace on to the steep white road. But any of the country people could tell him that this, too, is Casa Signorile, spite of its smallness. It stands somewhat high above the road, a square, white house with a projecting roof, and with four green-shuttered windows overlooking the gay but narrow terrace. The beds under the windows would have fulfilled the fancy of that French poet who desired that in his garden one might, in gathering a nosegay, cull a salad, for they boasted little else than sweet basil, small and white, and some tall grey rosemary bushes. Nearer to the door an unusually large oleander faced a strong and sturdy magnolia-tree, and these, with their profusion of red and white sweetness, made amends for the dearth of garden flowers. At either end of the terrace flourished a thicket of gum-cistus, syringa, stephanotis, and geranium bushes, and the wall itself, dropping sheer down to the road, was bordered with the customary Florentine hedge of China roses and irises, now out of bloom. Great terra-cotta flower-pots, covered with devices, were placed at intervals along the wall; as it was summer, the oranges and lemons, full of wonderfully sweet white blossoms and young green fruit, were set there in the sun to ripen.
It was the 17th of June. Although it was after four o’clock, the olives on the steep hill that went down to Florence looked blindingly white, shadeless, and sharp. The air trembled round the bright green cypresses behind the house. The roof steamed. All the windows were shut, all the jalousies shut, yet it was so hot that no one could stir within. The maid slept in the kitchen; the two elderly mistresses of the house dozed upon their beds. Not a movement; not a sound.