“Say three souls, Monsieur l’Abbe!”
He did not ask whose was the third, nor even why she had insisted that this delicate commission must be executed that same day. He only bowed when she said again: “At four o’clock: Madame d’Argy will be prepared to see you. Thank you, Monsieur l’Abbe.” And then, as she descended the staircase, he bestowed upon her silently his most earnest benediction, before returning to the cold cutlet that was on his breakfast table.
Giselle did not breakfast much better than he. In truth, M. de Talbrun being absent, she sat looking at her son, who was eating with a good appetite, while she drank only a cup of tea; after which, she dressed herself, with more than usual care, hiding by rice-powder the trace of recent tears on her complexion, and arranging her fair hair in the way that was most becoming to her, under a charming little bonnet covered with gold net-work which corresponded with the embroidery on an entirely new costume.
When she went into the dining-room Enguerrand, who was there with his nurse finishing his dessert, cried out: “Oh! mamma, how pretty you are!” which went to her heart. She kissed him two or three times—one kiss after another.
“I try to be pretty for your sake, my darling.”
“Will you take me with you?”
“No, but I will come back for you, and take you out.”
She walked a few steps, and then turned to give him such a kiss as astonished him, for he said:
“Is it really going to be long?”
“Before you come back? You kiss me as if you were going for a long time, far away.”
“I kissed you to give myself courage.”
Enguerrand, who, when he had a hard lesson to learn, always did the same thing, appeared to understand her.
“You are going to do some thing you don’t like.”
“Yes, but I have to do it, because you see it is my duty.”
“Do grown people have duties?”
“Even more than children.”
“But it isn’t your duty to write a copy—your writing is so pretty. Oh! that’s what I hate most. And you always say it is my duty to write my copy. I’ll go and do it while you do your duty. So that will seem as if we were both together doing something we don’t like—won’t it, mamma?”
She kissed him again, even more passionately.
“We shall be always together, we two, my love!”
This word love struck the little ear of Enguerrand as having a new accent, a new meaning, and, boy-like, he tried to turn this excess of tenderness to advantage.
“Since you love me so much, will you take me to see the puppet-show?”
“Anywhere you like—when I come back. Goodby.”
A CHIVALROUS SOUL