“I’ll swear, now, you have some of the fried potatoes and bacon I’m so fond of.”
“Being Saturday, of course!” said Frances, in a tone of mild reproach.
“True,” rejoined Agricola, exchanging a smile of innocent cunning with Mother Bunch; “but, talking of Saturday, mother, here are my wages.”
“Thank ye, child; put the money in the cupboard.”
“Oh, dear!” cried the young sempstress, just as Agricola was about to put away the money, “what a handsome flower you have in your hand, Agricola. I never saw a finer. In winter, too! Do look at it, Mrs. Baudoin.”
“See there, mother,” said Agricola, taking the flower to her; “look at it, admire it, and especially smell it. You can’t have a sweeter perfume; a blending of vanilla and orange blossom.”
“Indeed, it does smell nice, child. Goodness! how handsome!” said Frances, admiringly; “where did you find it?”
“Find it, my good mother!” repeated Agricola, smilingly: “do you think folks pick up such things between the Barriere du Maine and the Rue Brise-Miche?”
“How did you get it then?” inquired the sewing girl, sharing in Frances’s curiosity.
“Oh! you would like to know? Well, I’ll satisfy you, and explain why I came home so late; for something else detained me. It has been an evening of adventures, I promise you. I was hurrying home, when I heard a low, gentle barking at the corner of the Rue de Babylone; it was just about dusk, and I could see a very pretty little dog, scarce bigger than my fist, black and tan, with long, silky hair, and ears that covered its paws.”
“Lost, poor thing, I warrant,” said Frances.
“You’ve hit it. I took up the poor thing, and it began to lick my hands. Round its neck was a red satin ribbon, tied in a large bow; but as that did not bear the master’s name, I looked beneath it, and saw a small collar, made of a gold plate and small gold chains. So I took a Lucifer match from my ’bacco-box, and striking a light, I read, ’frisky belongs to Hon. Miss Adrienne de Cardoville, No. 7, Rue de Babylone.’”
“Why, you were just in the street,” said Mother Bunch.
“Just so. Taking the little animal under my arm, I looked about me till I came to a long garden wall, which seemed to have no end, and found a small door of a summer-house, belonging no doubt to the large mansion at the other end of the park; for this garden looked just like a park. So, looking up I saw ‘No. 7,’ newly painted over a little door with a grated slide. I rang; and in a few minutes, spent, no doubt, in observing me through the bars (for I am sure I saw a pair of eyes peeping through), the gate opened. And now, you’ll not believe a word I have to say.”
“Why not, my child?”
“Because it seems like a fairy tale.”
“A fairy tale?” said Mother Bunch, as if she was really her namesake of elfish history.