This cream was Pauline’s custard, and while Jean was serving Mrs. Scott:
“I have not yet finished,” she continued. “You ought to know what gave rise to these extravagant stories. A year ago, when we settled in Paris, we considered it our duty on our arrival to give a certain sum to the poor. Who was it spoke of that? None of us, certainly, but the thing was told in a newspaper, with the amount. Immediately two young reporters hastened to subject Mr. Scott to a little examination on his past history; they wished to give a sketch of our career in the—what do you call them?—society papers. Mr. Scott is sometimes a little hasty; he was so on this occasion, and dismissed these gentlemen rather brusquely, without telling them anything. So, as they did not know our real history, they invented one, and certainly displayed a very lively imagination. First they related how I had begged in the snow in New York; the next day appeared a still more sensational article, which made me a rider in a circus in Philadelphia. You have some very funny papers in France; so have we in America, for the matter of that.”
During the last five minutes, Pauline had been making desperate signs to the Cure, who persisted in not understanding them, till at last the poor woman, calling up all her courage, said:
“Monsieur le Cure, it is a quarter past seven.”
“A quarter past seven! Ladies, I must beg you to excuse me. This evening I have the special service for the month of Mary.”
“The month of Mary? And will the service begin directly?”
“And when does our train start for Paris?”
“At half past nine,” replied Jean.
“Susie, can we not go to church first?”
“Yes, we will go,” replied Mrs. Scott; “but before we separate, Monsieur le Cure, I have one favor to ask you. I should like very much, the first time I dine at Longueval, that you would dine with me, and you, too, Monsieur Jean, just us four alone like to-day. Oh! do not refuse my invitation; it is given with all my heart.”
“And accepted as heartily,” replied Jean.
“I will write and tell you the day, and it shall be as soon as possible. You call that having a housewarming, don’t you? Well, we shall have the house-warming all to ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Pauline had drawn Miss Percival into a corner of the room, and was talking to her with great animation. The conversation ended with these words:
“You will be there?” said Bettina, “and you will tell me the exact moment?”
“I will tell you, but take care. Here is Monsieur le Cure; he must not suspect anything.”
The two sisters, the Cure, and Jean left the house. To go to the church they were obliged to cross the churchyard. The evening was delicious. Slowly, silently, under the rays of the setting sun, the four walked down a long avenue.
On their way was the monument to Dr. Reynaud, very simple, but which, by its fine proportions, showed distinctly among the other tombs.