pitit Mam’zelle Zizi,
C’est l’amou, l’amou qui tourne la tete a li.”
little Mam’zelle Zizi,
’Tis love, ’tis love that turns her head.”]
And as she told the story of the ill-fated little Zizi, who was driven mad by passion, Sidonie had the appearance of a love-sick woman. With what heartrending expression, with the cry of a wounded dove, did she repeat that refrain, so melancholy and so sweet, in the childlike patois of the colonies:
“C’est l’amou, l’amou qui tourne la tete....”
It was enough to drive the unlucky judge mad as well.
But no! The siren had been unfortunate in her choice of a ballad. For, at the mere name of Mam’zelle Zizi, Frantz was suddenly transported to a gloomy chamber in the Marais, a long way from Sidonie’s salon, and his compassionate heart evoked the image of little Desiree Delobelle, who had loved him so long. Until she was fifteen, she never had been called anything but Ziree or Zizi, and she was the pauv’ pitit of the Creole ballad to the life, the ever-neglected, ever-faithful lover. In vain now did the other sing. Frantz no longer heard her or saw her. He was in that poor room, beside the great armchair, on the little low chair on which he had sat so often awaiting the father’s return. Yes, there, and there only, was his salvation. He must take refuge in that child’s love, throw himself at her feet, say to her, “Take me, save me!” And who knows? She loved him so dearly. Perhaps she would save him, would cure him of his guilty passion.
“Where are you going?” asked Risler, seeing that his brother rose hurriedly as soon as the last flourish was at an end.
“I am going back. It is late.”
“What? You are not going to sleep here? Why your room is ready for you.”
“It is all ready,” added Sidonie, with a meaning glance.
He refused resolutely. His presence in Paris was necessary for the fulfilment of certain very important commissions intrusted to him by the Company. They continued their efforts to detain him when he was in the vestibule, when he was crossing the garden in the moonlight and running to the station, amid all the divers noises of Asnieres.
When he had gone, Risler went up to his room, leaving Sidonie and Madame Dobson at the windows of the salon. The music from the neighboring Casino reached their ears, with the “Yo-ho!” of the boatmen and the footsteps of the dancers like a rhythmical, muffled drumming on the tambourine.
“There’s a kill-joy for you!” observed Madame Dobson.
“Oh, I have checkmated him,” replied Sidonie; “only I must be careful. I shall be closely watched now. He is so jealous. I am going to write to Cazaboni not to come again for some time, and you must tell Georges to-morrow morning to go to Savigny for a fortnight.”