“We also have something to tell, Dagobert,” resumed Rose, after exchanging glances with her sister.
“A secret to tell you.”
“Yes, to be sure.”
“Ah, and a very great secret!” added Rose, quite seriously.
“A secret which concerns us both,” resumed Blanche.
“Faith! I should think so. What concerns the one always concerns the other. Are you not always, as the saying goes, ’two faces under one hood?’”
“Truly, how can it be otherwise, when you put our heads under the great hood of your pelisse?” said Rose, laughing.
“There they are again, mocking-birds! One never has the last word with them. Come, ladies, your secret, since a secret there is.”
“Speak, sister,” said Rose.
“No, miss, it is for you to speak. You are to-day on duty, as eldest, and such an important thing as telling a secret like that you talk of belongs of right to the elder sister. Come, I am listening to you,” added the soldier, as he forced a smile, the better to conceal from the maidens how much he still felt the unpunished affronts of the brute tamer.
It was Rose (who, as Dagobert said, was doing duty as eldest) that spoke for herself and for her sister.
“First of all, good Dagobert,” said Rose, in a gracefully caressing manner, “as we are going to tell our secret—you must promise not to scold us.”
“You will not scold your darlings, will you?” added Blanche, in a no less coaxing voice.
“Granted!” replied Dagobert gravely; “particularly as I should not well know how to set about it—but why should I scold you.”
“Because we ought perhaps to have told you sooner what we are going to tell you.”
“Listen, my children,” said Dagobert sententiously, after reflecting a moment on this case of conscience; “one of two things must be. Either you were right, or else you were wrong, to hide this from me. If you were right, very well; if you were wrong, it is done: so let’s say no more about it. Go on—I am all attention.”
Completely reassured by this luminous decision, Rose resumed, while she exchanged a smile with her sister.
“Only think, Dagobert; for two successive nights we have had a visitor.”
“A visitor!” cried the soldier, drawing himself up suddenly in his chair.
“Yes, a charming visitor—he is so very fair.”
“Fair—the devil!” cried Dagobert, with a start.
“Yes, fair—and with blue eyes,” added Blanche.
“Blue eyes—blue devils!” and Dagobert again bounded on his seat.
“Yes, blue eyes—as long as that,” resumed Rose, placing the tip of one forefinger about the middle of the other.
“Zounds! they might be as long as that,” said the veteran, indicating the whole length of his term from the elbow, “they might be as long as that, and it would have nothing to do with it. Fair, and with blue eyes. Pray what may this mean, young ladies?” and Dagobert rose from his seat with a severe and painfully unquiet look.