After a short time he returned to Andre.
“I cannot stay longer,” said he; “I am not feeling well; I will be here to-morrow;” and he went away with his head bent down on his chest.
The workmen noticed his strange and unusual manner.
“He does not look very bright,” remarked one to his comrade. “Since his illness he has not been the same man. I think he must have had some terrible shock.”
AN ARTFUL TRICK.
Andre had removed his coat and donned his blouse, the sleeves of which were rolled up to his shoulders. “I must get to business,” murmured he, “to make up for lost time.” He set to work with great vigor, but had hardly got into the swing, when a lad came actively up the ladder and told him that a gentleman wished to see him, “and a real swell, too,” added the boy. Andre was a good deal put out at being disturbed, but when he reached the street and saw that it was M. de Breulh-Faverlay who was waiting for him, his ill-humor disappeared like chaff before the wind.
“Ah, this is really kind of you,” cried he; for he could never forget the debt of gratitude he owed to the gentleman. “A thousand thanks for remembering me. Excuse my not shaking hands, but see;” and he exhibited his palms all white with plaster. As he did so the smile died away on his lips, for he caught sight of his friend’s face.
“What is the matter?” exclaimed he, anxiously. “Is Sabine worse? Has she had a relapse?”
De Breulh shook his head, but the expression of his face clearly said,—
“Would to heavens it were only that!”
But the news that Sabine was not worse relieved Andre at once, and he patiently waited for his friend to explain.
“I have seen her twice for you,” answered De Breulh; “but it is absolutely necessary that you should come to a prompt decision on an important affair.”
“I am quite at your service,” returned Andre a good deal surprised and troubled.
“Then come with me at once, I did not drive here, but we shall not be more than a quarter of an hour in reaching my house.”
“I will follow you almost immediately. I only ask five minutes’ grace to go up to the scaffold again.”
“Have you any orders to give?”
“No, I have none.”
“Why should you go, then?”
“To make myself a little more presentable.”
“Is it an annoyance or inconvenience for you to go out in that dress?”
“Not a bit, I am thoroughly used to it; but it was for your sake.”
“If that is all, come along.”
“But people will stare at seeing you in company with a common workman.”
“Let them stare.” And drawing Andre’s arm through his, M. de Breulh set off.
Andre was right; many persons did turn round to look at the fashionably dressed gentleman walking arm in arm with a mason in his working attire, but De Breulh took but little heed, and to all Andre’s questions simply said, “Wait till we reach my house.”