“Now, look here, Monsieur l’Abbe, you are wrong to take things in this tragic manner. Stay, look at my little mare, how well she trots! what good action she has! You have not seen her before? What do you think I paid for her? Four hundred francs. I discovered her a fortnight ago, between the shafts of a market gardener’s cart. She is a treasure. I assure you she can do sixteen miles an hour, and keep one’s hands full all the time. Just see how she pulls. Come, tot-tot-tot! You are not in a hurry, Monsieur l’Abbe, I hope. Let us return through the wood; the fresh air will do you good. Oh! Monsieur l’Abbe, if you only knew what a regard I have for you, and respect, too. I did not talk too much nonsense before you just now, did I? I should be so sorry—”
“No, my child, I heard nothing.”
“Well, we will take the longest way round.”
After having turned to the left in the wood, Paul resumed his communications.
“I was saying, Monsieur l’Abbe,” he went on, “that you are wrong to take things so seriously. Shall I tell you what I think? This is a very fortunate affair.”
“Yes, very fortunate. I would rather see the Scotts at Longueval than the Gallards. Did you not hear Monsieur de Larnac reproach these Americans with spending their money foolishly. It is never foolish to spend money. The folly lies in keeping it. Your poor for I am perfectly sure that it is your poor of whom you are thinking—your poor have made a good thing of it to-day. That is my opinion. The religion? Well, they will not go to mass, and that will be a grief to you, that is only natural; but they will send you money, plenty of money, and you will take it, and you will be quite right in doing so. You will see that you will not say no. There will be gold raining over the whole place; a movement, a bustle, carriages with four horses, postilions, powdered footmen, paper chases, hunting parties, balls, fireworks, and here in this very spot I shall perhaps find Paris again before long. I shall see once more the two riders, and the two little grooms of whom I was speaking just now. If you only knew how well those two sisters look on horseback! One morning I went right round the Bois de Boulogne behind them; I fancy I can see them still. They had high hats, and little black veils drawn very tightly over their faces, and long riding-habits made in the princess form, with a single seam right down the back; and a woman must be awfully well made to wear a riding-habit like that, because you see, Monsieur l’Abbe, with a habit of that cut no deception is possible.”
For some moments the Cure had not been listening to Paul’s discourse. They had entered a long, perfectly straight avenue, and at the end of this avenue the Cure saw a horseman galloping along.
“Look,” said the Cure to Paul, “your eyes are better than mine. Is not that Jean?”
“Yes, it is jean. I know his gray mare.”