“Oh! you were listening, Paul Pry!” said Rose gayly, as she entered the adjoining room with her sister, and both affectionately embraced the soldier.
“To be sure, I was listening; and I only regretted not to have ears as large as Spoil-sport’s! Brave, good girls! that’s how I like to see you—bold as brass, and saying to care and sorrow: ’Right about face! march! go to the devil!’”
“He will want to make us swear, now,” said Rose to her sister, laughing with all her might.
“Well! now and then, it does no harm,” said the soldier; “it relieves and calms one, when if one could not swear by five hundred thousand de—”
“That’s enough!” said Rose, covering with her pretty hand the gray moustache, so as to stop Dagobert in his speech. “If Madame Augustine heard you—”
“Our poor governess! so mild and timid,” resumed Blanche. “How you would frighten her!”
“Yes,” said Dagobert, as he tried to conceal his rising embarrassment; “but she does not hear us. She is gone into the country.”
“Good, worthy woman!” replied Blanche, with interest. “She said something of you, which shows her excellent heart.”
“Certainly,” resumed Rose; “for she said to us, in speaking of you, ’Ah, young ladies! my affection must appear very little, compared with M. Dagobert’s. But I feel that I also have the right to devote myself to you.’”
“No doubt, no doubt! she has a heart of gold,” answered Dagobert. Then he added to himself, “It’s as if they did it on purpose, to bring the conversation back to this poor woman.”
“Father made a good choice,” continued Rose. “She is the widow of an old officer, who was with him in the wars.”
“When we were out of spirits,” said Blanche, “you should have seen her uneasiness and grief, and how earnestly she set about consoling us.”
“I have seen the tears in her eyes when she looked at us,” resumed Rose. “Oh! she loves us tenderly, and we return her affection. With regard to that, Dagobert, we have a plan as soon as our father comes back.”
“Be quiet, sister!” said Blanche, laughing. “Dagobert will not keep our secret.”
“Will you keep it for us, Dagobert?”
“I tell you what,” said the soldier, more and more embarrassed; “you had better not tell it to me.”
“What! can you keep nothing from Madame Augustine?”
“Ah, Dagobert! Dagobert!” said Blanche, gayly holding up her finger at the soldier; “I suspect you very much of paying court to our governess.”
“I pay court?” said the soldier—and the expression of his face was so rueful, as he pronounced these words, that the two sisters burst out laughing.
Their hilarity was at its height when the door opened and Loony advanced into room announcing, with a loud voice, “M. Rodin!” In fact, the Jesuit glided almost imperceptibly into the apartment, as if to take possession of the ground. Once there, he thought the game his own, and his reptile eyes sparkled with joy. It would be difficult to paint the surprise of the two sisters, and the anger of the soldier, at this unexpected visit.