“Marcelline is very kind,” said Hugh, fixing his soft blue eyes on the old nurse in surprise. “At home, grandmamma’s maid would have scolded me dreadfully if I had run out in the snow.”
“Yes,” said Jeanne, flinging her arms round the old nurse’s neck, and giving her a kiss first on one cheek then on the other; “she is very kind. Nice little old Marcelline.”
“Perhaps,” said Hugh, meditatively, “she remembers that when she was a little girl she liked to do things like that herself.”
“I don’t believe you ever were a little girl, were you, Marcelline?” said Jeanne. “I believe you were always a little old woman like what you are now.”
Marcelline laughed, but did not speak.
“Ask Dudu,” she said at last. “If he is a fairy, he should know.”
Jeanne pricked up her ears at this.
“Marcelline,” she said solemnly, “I believe you do know something about Dudu. Oh, do tell us, dear Marcelline.”
But nothing more was to be got out of the old nurse.
When the children were undressed, Jeanne begged leave to run into Hugh’s room with him to tuck him into bed, and make him feel at home the first night. There was no lamp in the room, but the firelight danced curiously on the quaint figures on the walls.
“You’re sure you’re not frightened, Cheri?” said little Jeanne in a motherly way, as she was leaving the room.
“Frightened! what is there to be frightened at?” said Hugh.
“The funny figures,” said Jeanne. “Those peacocks look just as if they were going to jump out at you.”
“I think they look very nice,” said Hugh. “I am sure I shall have nice dreams. I shall make the peacocks give a party some night, Jeanne, and we’ll invite Dudu and Grignan, and Houpet and the two little hens, and Nibble, of course, and we’ll make them all tell stories.”
Jeanne clapped her hands.
“Oh, what fun!” she exclaimed. “And you’ll ask me and let me hear the stories, won’t you, Cheri?”
“Of course,” said Hugh. So Jeanne skipped off in the highest spirits.
ON A MOONLIGHT NIGHT.
“O moon! in the night
I have seen you sailing,
And shining so round and low.”
“And what did you dream, Cheri?” inquired Jeanne the next morning in a confidential and mysterious tone.
“I don’t know,” he said at last. “At least——” he stopped and hesitated again.
The two children were having their “little breakfast,” consisting of two great big cups of nice hot milky coffee and two big slices of bread, with the sweet fresh butter for which the country where Jeanne’s home was is famed. They were alone in Jeanne’s room, and Marcelline had drawn a little table close to the fire for them, for this morning it seemed colder than ever; fresh snow had fallen during the night, and out in the garden nothing was to be seen but smoothly-rounded white mounds of varying sizes and heights, and up in the sky the dull blue-grey curtain of snow-cloud made one draw back shivering from the window, feeling as if the sun had gone off in a sulky fit and would never come back again.