She pointed to her father and her sisters, who were beckoning to them in the distance and hastening to come up with them.
“Well, and I myself?” answered Paul quickly. “Have I not similar duties, similar responsibilities? We are like two widowed heads of families. Will you not love mine as much as I love yours?”
“True? is it true? You will let me stay with them? I shall be Aline for you, and Bonne Maman for all our children? Oh! then,” exclaimed the dear creature, beaming with joy, “there is my portrait—I give it to you! And all my soul with it, too, and forever.”
About a week after his adventure with Moessard, that new complication in the terrible muddle of his affairs, Jansoulet, on leaving the Chamber, one Thursday, ordered his coachman to drive him to Mora’s house. He had not paid a visit there since the scuffle in the Rue Royale, and the idea of finding himself in the duke’s presence gave him, through his thick skin, something of the panic that agitates a boy on his way upstairs to see the head-master after a fight in the schoolroom. However, the embarrassment of this first interview had to be gone through. They said in the committee-rooms that Le Merquier had completed his report, a masterpiece of logic and ferocity, that it meant an invalidation, and that he was bound to carry it with a high hand unless Mora, so powerful in the Assembly, should himself intervene and give him his word of command. A serious matter, and one that made the Nabob’s cheeks flush, while in the curved mirrors of his brougham he studied his appearance, his courtier’s smiles, trying to think out a way of effecting a brilliant entry, one of those strokes of good-natured effrontery which had brought him fortune with Ahmed, and which served him likewise in his relations with the French ambassador. All this accompanied by beatings of the heart and by those shudders between the shoulder-blades which precede decisive actions, even when these are settled within a gilded chariot.
When he arrived at the mansion by the river, he was much surprised to notice that the porter on the quay, as on the days of great receptions, was sending carriages up the Rue de Lille, in order to keep a door free for those leaving. Rather anxious, he wondered, “What is there going on?” Perhaps a concert given by the duchess, a charity bazaar, some festivity from which Mora might have excluded him on account of the scandal of his last adventure. And this anxiety was augmented still further when Jansoulet, after having passed across the principal court-yard amid a din of slamming doors and a dull and continuous rumble of wheels over the sand, found himself—after ascending the steps—in the immense entrance-hall filled by a crowd which did not extend beyond any of the doors leading to the rooms; centring its anxious going and coming around the porter’s table, where all the famous names of fashionable Paris were being inscribed. It seemed as though a disastrous gust of wind had gone through the house, carrying off a little of its calm, and allowing disquiet and danger to filter into its comfort.