When she arrived at Cormeilles, M. Moriaz was shut up in his laboratory, which he had been overjoyed to find just as he had left it. A velvet skull-cap perched on one side of his head, his sleeves turned up, a brown holland apron tied round his neck and his waist, a feather brush in his hand, he had proceeded at once to examine his precious stock in detail—his furnaces, his long-necked, big-bellied matrasses, the curved necks and the tubulures of his retorts, his cucurbits, and his alembics. Balloons, tubes, pipettes, pneumatic vats, receivers, cupels, lamps, bell-glasses, blow-pipes, and mortars, he passed in review to assure himself that during his absence nothing had been damaged. He carefully dusted his jars, examined the labels, made sure that none of his treasures were cracked, that his gauges were not out of order. He was as happy as a king who has his troops pass in review before him, and feels convinced that they bear themselves well; that they will stand fire and do honour to their master.
Agreeable as was the occupation to which for two hours he had devoted himself, M. Moriaz had not forgotten the existence of his daughter and of M. Larinski. He knew that Antoinette had repaired to Maisons Lafitte to have an explanation with Mme. de Lorcy, and this thought cast a shadow over his felicity. He hoped, however, that this interview might turn out according to his wishes; that the Pole star, which had caused him so much disquietude, might disappear forever from his horizon.
Some one knocked at the door of his laboratory. “Come in!” he cried, and turning he saw Antoinette standing upon the threshold. He gazed at her fixedly. Her eye was so animated, her countenance so beaming, so luminous, that involuntarily he dropped his arms and let fall, as he did so, a little vial he held in his hands.
“Naughty girl, to cause such havoc in her father’s laboratory!” she cried, gaily.
“The harm done is not very great,” he replied; and he began diligently brushing up the fragments of the vial. It was his way of gaining time, but he did it so awkwardly that she snatched the brush from his hands: “This is the way to sweep,” said she.
He watched her, saying to himself: “This is the reverse of the scene at Churwalden. It is now I who wear a long face, and she cannot dissemble her joy. Just requital of things here below.”
So soon as she had finished her brushing she looked around and remarked: “Well, here you are once more in your paradise—this enchanted spot, where you taste such ineffable delights.”
“Oh, yes, I am happy here—happy enough that is,” he replied, with modesty.
“Fastidious creature! It is altogether charming in your laboratory.”
“Yes, it is suitable. Nevertheless, I often reflect that there is something wanting. Do you know what my dream is? I should like to have over in yonder corner a transparent chapelle. You, perhaps, are unacquainted with a chapelle. It is a framework or basket-funnel above a chimney, for facilitating the release of volatiles and pernicious vapours, and having one side of glass. It enables the chemist to watch the process taking place within. German chemists have nearly always transparent chapelles in their laboratories.”