“Dear me! what is the matter?” said Frances, in a trembling voice, for she dreaded every moment some indiscretion on the part of Mrs. Grivois.
“I called just now,” resumed the other, “to speak to you on some important business; whilst I was waiting for you, a poor young woman, rather deformed, put up sundry articles in a parcel—”
“Yes,” said Frances; “it was Mother Bunch, an excellent, worthy creature.”
“I thought as much, madame; well, you shall hear what has happened. As you did not come in, I resolved to pay a visit in the neighborhood. I go out, and get as far as the Rue St. Mery, when—Oh, madame!”
“Well?” said Dagobert, “what then?”
“I see a crowd—I inquire what is the matter—I learn that a policeman has just arrested a young girl as a thief, because she had been seen carrying a bundle, composed of different articles which did not appear to belong to her—I approached—what do I behold?—the same young woman that I had met just before in this room.”
“Oh! the poor child!” exclaimed Frances, growing pale, and clasping her hands together. “What a dreadful thing!”
“Explain, then,” said Dagobert to his wife. “What was in this bundle?”
“Well, my dear—to confess the truth—I was a little short, and I asked our poor friend to take some things for me to the pawnbroker’s—”
“What! and they thought she had robbed us!” cried Dagobert; “she, the most honest girl in the world! it is dreadful—you ought to have interfered, madame; you ought to have said that you knew her.”
“I tried to do so, sir; but, unfortunately, they would not hear me. The crowd increased every moment, till the guard came up, and carried her off.”
“She might die of it, she is so sensitive and timid!” exclaimed Frances.
“Ah, good Mother Bunch! so gentle! so considerate!” said Blanche, turning with tearful eyes towards her sister.
“Not being able to help her,” resumed Mrs. Grivois “I hastened hither to inform you of this misadventure—which may, indeed, easily be repaired—as it will only be necessary to go and claim the young girl as soon as possible.”
At these words, Dagobert hastily seized his hat, and said abruptly to Mrs. Grivois: “Zounds, madame! you should have begun by telling us that. Where is the poor child? Do you know?”
“I do not, sir; but there are still so many excited people in the street that, if you will have the kindness to step out, you will be sure to learn.”
“Why the devil do you talk of kindness? It is my duty, madame. Poor child!” repeated Dagobert. “Taken up as a thief!—it is really horrible. I will go to the guard-house, and to the commissary of police for this neighborhood, and, by hook or crook, I will find her, and have her out, and bring her home with me.”
So saying, Dagobert hastily departed. Frances, now that she felt more tranquil as to the fate of Mother Bunch, thanked the Lord that this circumstance had obliged her husband to go out, for his presence at this juncture caused her a terrible embarrassment.