Silence reigned for some moments in the room. The aunt apparently read the paper very attentively. Her niece sat motionless, with her eyes fastened upon the yellow cover of the last number of ‘La Mode,’ which had chanced to fall into her hands. She aroused herself at last from her revery and carelessly turned over the leaves of the review in a manner which showed how little interest she felt in it. As she turned the first page a surprised cry escaped her, and her eyes were fastened upon the pamphlet with eager curiosity. Upon the frontispiece, where the Duchesse de Berry’s coat-of-arms is engraved, and in the middle of the shield, which was left empty at this time by the absence of the usual fleurs de lys, was sketched with a pencil a bird whose head was surmounted by a baron’s coronet.
Curious to know what could have caused her niece so much surprise, Mademoiselle de Corandeuil stretched out her neck and gazed for an instant upon the page without seeing, at first, anything extraordinary, but finally her glance rested upon the armorial bearings, and she discovered the new feature added to the royal Bourbon coat-of-arms.
“A cock!” exclaimed she, after a moment’s reflection; “a cock upon Madame’s shield! What can that mean, ‘bon Dieu’! and it is not engraved nor lithographed; it is drawn with a pencil.”
“It is not a cock, it is a crowned gerfaut,” said Madame de Bergenheim.
“A gerfaut! How do you know what a gerfaut is? At Corandeuil, in your grandfather’s time, there was a falconry, and I have seen gerfauts there, but you—I tell you it is a cock, an old French cock; ugly thing! What you take for a coronet—and it really does resemble one—is a badly drawn cock’s comb. How did this horrid creature come to be there? I should like to know if such pretty tricks are permitted at the postoffice. People protest against the ‘cabinet noir’, but it is a hundred times worse if one is permitted to outrage with impunity peaceable families in their own homes. I mean to find out who has played this trick. Will you be so kind as to ring the bell?”
“It really is very strange!” said Madame de Bergenheim, pulling the bell-rope with a vivacity which showed that she shared, if not the indignation, at least the curiosity of her aunt.
A servant in green livery appeared.
“Who went to Remiremont yesterday for the newspapers?” asked Mademoiselle de Corandeuil.
“It was Pere Rousselet, Mademoiselle,” replied the servant.
“Where is Monsieur de Bergenheim?”
“Monsieur le Baron is playing billiards with Mademoiselle Aline.”
“Send Leonard Rousselet here.”
And Mademoiselle de Corandeuil settled herself back in her chair with the dignity of a chancellor about to hold court.
A DIVIDED HOUSEHOLD