“Why, what’s become of me? Isn’t there a room here for you and for him; and a table for you too? Only, my good mother, since we are talking of domestic affairs,” added the blacksmith, imparting increased tenderness to his tone, that he might not shock his mother, “when he and Gabriel come home, you won’t want to have any more masses said, and tapers burned for them, will you? Well, that saving will enable father to have tobacco to smoke, and his bottle of wine every day. Then, on Sundays, we will take a nice dinner at the eating-house.”
A knocking at the door disturbed Agricola.
“Come in,” said he. Instead of doing so, some one half-opened the door, and, thrusting in an arm of a pea-green color, made signs to the blacksmith.
“’Tis old Loriot, the pattern of dyers,” said Agricola; “come in, Daddy, no ceremony.”
“Impossible, my lad; I am dripping with dye from head to foot; I should cover missus’s floor with green.”
“So much the better. It will remind me of the fields I like so much.”
“Without joking, Agricola, I must speak to you immediately.”
“About the spy, eh? Oh, be easy; what’s he to us?”
“No; I think he’s gone; at any rate, the fog is so thick I can’t see him. But that’s not it—come, come quickly! It is very important,” said the dyer, with a mysterious look; “and only concerns you.”
“Me, only?” said Agricola, with surprise. “What can it be.
“Go and see, my child,” said Frances.
“Yes, mother; but the deuce take me if I can make it out.”
And the blacksmith left the room, leaving his mother with Mother Bunch.
In five minutes Agricola returned; his face was pale and agitated—his eyes glistened with tears, and his hands trembled; but his countenance expressed extraordinary happiness and emotion. He stood at the door for a moment, as if too much affected to accost his mother.
Frances’s sight was so bad that she did not immediately perceive the change her son’s countenance had undergone.
“Well, my child—what is it?” she inquired.
Before the blacksmith could reply, Mother Bunch, who had more discernment, exclaimed: “Goodness, Agricola—how pale you are! Whatever is the matter?”
“Mother,” said the artisan, hastening to Frances, without replying to the sempstress,—“mother, expect news that will astonish you; but promise me you will be calm.”
“What do you mean? How you tremble! Look at me! Mother Bunch was right—you are quite pale.”
“My kind mother!” and Agricola, kneeling before Frances, took both her hands in his—“you must—you do not know,—but—”
The blacksmith could not go on. Tears of joy interrupted his speech.
“You weep, my dear child! Your tears alarm me. ’What is the matter?—you terrify me!”