“Oh! As to her dot—what do I care for her dot?” cried the young man. “I have enough for two, if she would only be satisfied to live quietly at Lizerolles!”
“Yes,” said the judicious little matron, nodding her head, “but who would like to marry a midshipman? Make haste and be a lieutenant, or an ensign.”
She smiled at herself for having made the reward depend upon exertion, with a sort of maternal instinct. It was the same instinct that would lead her in the future to promise Enguerrand a sugar-plum if he said his lesson. “Nobody will steal your Jacqueline till you are ready to carry her off. Besides, if there were any danger I could give you timely warning.”
“Ah! Giselle, if she only had your kind heart—your good sense.”
“Do you think I am better and more reasonable than other people? In what way? I have done as so many other girls do; I have married without knowing well what I was doing.”
She stopped short, fearing she might have said too much, and indeed Fred looked at her anxiously.
“You don’t regret it, do you?”
“You must ask Monsieur de Talbrun if he regrets it,” she said, with a laugh. “It must be hard on him to have a sick wife, who knows little of what is passing outside of her own chamber, who is living on her reserve fund of resources—a very poor little reserve fund it is, too!”
Then, as if she thought that Fred had been with her long enough, she said: “I would ask you to stay and see Monsieur de Talbrun, but he won’t be in, he dines at his club. He is going to see a new play tonight which they say promises to be very good.”
“What! Will he leave you alone all the evening?”
“Oh! I am very glad he should find amusement. Just think how long it is that I have been pinned down here! Poor Oscar!”
The arrival of the expected Enguerrand hindered Giselle from pleading Fred’s cause as soon as she could have wished. Her life for twenty-four hours was in great danger, and when the crisis was past, which M. de Talbrun treated very indifferently, as a matter of course, her first cry was “My baby!” uttered in a tone of tender eagerness such as had never been heard from her lips before.