Jean repeated what Paul had said the evening before.
“You will have money, plenty of money, for your poor.”
“Money! money! Yes, my poor will not lose, perhaps they will even gain by it; but I must go and ask for this money, and in the salon, instead of my old and dear friend, I shall find this red-haired American. It seems that she has red hair! I will certainly go for the sake of my poor—I will go—and she will give me the money, but she will give me nothing but money; the Marquise gave me something else—her life and her heart. Every week we went together to visit the sick and the poor; she knew all the sufferings and the miseries of the country round, and when the gout nailed me to my easy-chair she made the rounds alone, and as well, or better than I.”
Pauline interrupted this conversation. She carried an immense earthenware salad-dish, on which bloomed, violent and startling, enormous red flowers.
“Here I am,” said Pauline, “I am going to cut the salad. Jean, would you like lettuce or endive?”
“Endive,” said Jean, gayly. “It is a long time since I have had any endive.”
“Well, you shall have some to-night. Stay, take the dish.”
Pauline began to cut the endive, and Jean bent down to receive the leaves in the great salad dish. The Cure looked on.
At this moment a sound of little bells was heard. A carriage was approaching; one heard the jangling and creaking of its wheels. The Cure’s little garden was only separated from the road by a low hedge, in the middle of which was a little trellised gate.
All three looked out, and saw driving down the road a hired carriage of most primitive construction, drawn by two great white horses, and driven by an old coachman in a blouse. Beside this old coachman was seated a tall footman in livery, of the most severe and correct demeanor. In the carriage were two young women, dressed both alike in very elegant, but very simple, travelling costumes.
When the carriage was opposite the gate the coachman stopped his horses, and addressing the Abbe:
“Monsieur le Cure,” said he, “these ladies wish to speak to you.”
Then, turning toward the ladies:
“This is Monsieur le Cure of Longueval.”
The Abbe Constantin approached and opened the little gate. The travellers alighted. Their looks rested, not without astonishment, on the young officer, who stood there, a little embarrassed, with his straw hat in one hand, and his salad dish, all overflowing with endive, in the other.
The visitors entered the garden, and the elder—she seemed about twenty-five—addressing the Abbe Constantin, said to him, with a little foreign accent, very original and very peculiar:
“I am obliged to introduce myself—–Mrs. Scott; I am Mrs. Scott! It was I who bought the castle and farms and all the rest here at the sale yesterday. I hope that I do not disturb you, and that you can spare me five minutes.” Then, pointing to her travelling companion, “Miss Bettina Percival, my sister; you guessed it, I am sure. We are very much alike, are we not? Ah! Bettina, we have left our bags in the carriage, and we shall want them directly.”