“You? How so?”
“It matters little, as long as I feel obliged to you.”
“Come, then; let us set out!”
“Bah! after all, they cannot eat me,” said Rose-Pompon, resolutely.
With a skip and a jump, she went to fetch a rose-colored cap, and, going up to a broken looking-glass, placed the cap very much cocked on one side on her bands of light hair. This left uncovered her snowy neck, with the silky roots of the hair behind, and gave to her pretty face a very mischievous, not to say licentious expression.
“My cloak!” said she to Ninny Moulin, who seemed to be relieved from a considerable amount of uneasiness, since she had accepted his offer.
“Fie! a cloak will not do,” answered her companion, feeling once more in his pocket and drawing out a fine Cashmere shawl, which he threw over Rose-Pompon’s shoulders.
“A Cashmere!” cried the young girl, trembling with pleasure and joyous surprise. Then she added, with an air of heroism: “It is settled! I will run the gauntlet.” And with a light step she descended the stairs, followed by Ninny Moulin.
The worthy greengrocer was at her post. “Good-morning, mademoiselle; you are early to-day,” said she to the young girl.
“Yes, Mother Arsene; there is my key.”
“Thank you, mademoiselle.”
“Oh! now I think of it,” said Rose Pompon, suddenly, in a whisper, as she turned towards Ninny Moulin, and withdrew further from the portress, “what is to became of Philemon?”
“If he should arrive—”
“Oh! the devil!” said Ninny Moulin, scratching his ear.
“Yes; if Philemon should arrive, what will they say to him? for I may be a long time absent.”
“Three or four months, I suppose.”
“I should think not.”
“Oh! very good!” said Rose-Pompon. Then, turning towards the greengrocer, she said to her, after a moment’s reflection: “Mother Arsene, if Philemon should come home, you will tell him I have gone out—on business.”
“And that he must not forget to feed my pigeons, which are in his study.”
“Good-bye, Mother Arsene.”
“Good-bye, mademoiselle.” And Rose-Pompon entered the carriage in triumph, along with Ninny Moulin.
“The devil take me if I know what is to come
of all this,” said Jacques
Dumoulin to himself, as the carriage drove rapidly down the Rue Clovis.
“I have repaired my error—and now I laugh at the rest.”