Mrs. Grivois mounted the steep staircase with some difficulty, stopping at every landing-place to take breath, and looking about her with profound disgust. At length she reached the fourth story, and paused an instant at the door of the humble chamber, in which the two sisters and Mother Bunch then were.
The young sempstress was occupied in collecting the different articles that she was about to carry to the pawnbroker’s. Rose and Blanche seemed happier, and somewhat less uneasy about the future; for they had learned from Mother Bunch, that, when they knew how to sew, they might between them earn eight francs a week, which would at least afford some assistance to the family.
The presence of Mrs. Grivois in Baudoin’s dwelling was occasioned by a new resolution of Abbe d’Aigrigny and the Princess de Saint-Dizier; they had thought it more prudent to send Mrs. Grivois, on whom they could blindly depend, to fetch the young girls, and the confessor was charged to inform Frances that it was not to his housekeeper, but to a lady that would call on her with a note from him, that she was to deliver the orphans, to be taken to a religious establishment.
Having knocked at the door, the waiting-woman of the Princess de Saint Dizier entered the room, and asked for Frances Baudoin.
“She is not at home, madame,” said Mother Bunch timidly, not a little astonished at so unexpected a visit, and casting down her eyes before the gaze of this woman.
“Then I will wait for her, as I have important affairs to speak of,” answered Mrs. Grivois, examining with curiosity and attention the faces of the two orphans, who also cast down their eyes with an air of confusion.
So saying, Madame Grivois sat down, not without some repugnance, in the old arm-chair of Dagobert’s wife, and believing that she might now leave her favorite at liberty, she laid him carefully on the floor. Immediately, a low growl, deep and hollow, sounding from behind the armchair, made Mrs. Grivois jump from her seat, and sent the pug-dog, yelping with affright, and trembling through his fat, to take refuge close to his mistress, with all the symptoms of angry alarm.
“What! is there a dog here?” cried Mrs. Grivois, stooping precipitately to catch up My Lord, whilst, as if he wished himself to answer the question, Spoil-sport rose leisurely from his place behind the arm-chair, and appeared suddenly, yawning and stretching himself.
At sight of this powerful animal, with his double row of formidable pointed fangs, which he seemed to take delight in displaying as he opened his large jaws, Mrs. Grivois could not help giving utterance to a cry of terror. The snappish pug had at first trembled in all his limbs at the Siberian’s approach; but, finding himself in safety on the lap of his mistress, he began to growl insolently, and to throw the most provoking glances at Spoil-sport. These the worthy companion of the deceased Jovial answered disdainfully by gaping anew; after which he went smelling round Mrs. Grivois with a sort of uneasiness, turned his back upon My Lord, and stretched himself at the feet of Rose and Blanche, keeping his large, intelligent eyes fixed upon them, as if he foresaw that they were menaced with some danger.