Suddenly the door flew open.
“I do not disturb you?” said a triumphant voice.
The mother, who was slightly drowsy, suddenly raised her head.
“Ah! it’s Monsieur Frantz. Pray come in, Monsieur Frantz. We’re waiting for father, as you see. These brigands of artists always stay out so late! Take a seat—you shall have supper with him.”
“Oh! no, thank you,” replied Frantz, whose lips were still pale from the emotion he had undergone, “I can’t stop. I saw a light and I just stepped in to tell you—to tell you some great news that will make you very happy, because I know that you love me—”
“Great heavens, what is it?”
“Monsieur Frantz Risler and Mademoiselle Sidonie are engaged to be married.”
“There! didn’t I say that all he needed was a good little wife,” exclaimed Mamma Delobelle, rising and throwing her arms about his neck.
Desiree’had not the strength to utter a word. She bent still lower over her work, and as Frantz’s eyes were fixed exclusively upon his happiness, as Mamma Delobelle did nothing but look at the clock to see whether her great man would return soon, no one noticed the lame girl’s emotion, nor her pallor, nor the convulsive trembling of the little bird that lay in her hands with its head thrown back, like a bird with its death-wound.
The glow-worms of Savigny
“Dear SMONIE:—We were sitting at table yesterday in the great dining-room which you remember, with the door wide open leading to the terrace, where the flowers are all in bloom. I was a little bored. Dear grandpapa had been cross all the morning, and poor mamma dared not say a word, being afraid of those frowning eyebrows which have always laid down the law for her. I was thinking what a pity it was to be so entirely alone, in the middle of the summer, in such a lovely spot, and that I should be very glad, now that I have left the convent, and am destined to pass whole seasons in the country, to have as in the old day, some one to run about the woods and paths with me.
“To be sure, Georges comes occasionally, but he always arrives very late, just in time for dinner, and is off again with my father in the morning before I am awake. And then he is a serious-minded man now, is Monsieur Georges. He works at the factory, and business cares often bring frowns to his brow.
“I had reached that point in my reflections when suddenly dear grandpapa turned abruptly to me:
“’What has become of your little friend Sidonie? I should be glad to have her here for a time.’
“You can imagine my delight. What happiness to meet again, to renew the pleasant friendship that was broken off by the fault of the events of life rather than by our own! How many things we shall have to tell each other! You, who alone had the knack of driving the frowns from my terrible grandpapa’s brow, will bring us gayety, and I assure you we need it.