“But why do you stay here?”
“Mamma and Emily say it is all the same. We are as safe in our cellar as we could be anywhere, and we should have to pay elsewhere.”
“Then you cannot get out of Paris?”
“Oh no, while the Prussians are all around us, and shut us in. My brothers are all in the Garde Mobile, and, you see, so is my doll. Every one must be a soldier, now. My dear Adolphe, hold yourself straight.” (And there the doll certainly showed himself perfectly drilled and disciplined.) “March—right foot forward—left foot forward.” But in this movement, as may be well supposed, little Coralie had to help her recruit a good deal.
Lucy was surprised. “So you can play even in this dreadful place?” she said.
“Oh yes! What’s the use of crying and wearying one’s self? I do not mind as long as they leave me my kitten, my dear little Minette.”
“Oh! what a pretty, long-haired kitten! But how small and thin!”
“Yes, truly, the poor Minette! The cruel people ate her mother, and there is no milk—no milk, and my poor Minette is almost starved, though I give her bits of my bread and soup; but the bread is only bran and sawdust, and she likes it no more than I.”
“Ate up her mother!”
“Yes. She was a superb Cyprus cat, all gray; but, alas! one day she took a walk in the street, and they caught her, and then indeed it was all over with her. I only hope Minette will not get out, but she is so lean that they would find little but bones and fur.”
“Ah! how I wish I could take you and her home to Uncle Joe, and give you both good bread and milk! Take my hand, and shut your eyes, and we will wish and wish very hard, and, perhaps, you will come there with me. Paris is not very far off.”
No; wishing very hard did not bring poor little French Coralie home with Lucy; but something almost as wonderful happened. Just at the time in the afternoon when Lucy used to ride off on her dream to visit some wonderful place, there came a ring at the front door; a quite real substantial ring, that did not sound at all like any of the strange noises of the strange worlds that she had lately been hearing, but had the real tinkle of Uncle Joe’s own bell.
“Well,” said Mrs. Bunker, “what can that be, coming at this time of day? It can never be the doctor coming home without sending orders! Don’t you be running out, Miss Lucy; there’ll be a draught of cold air right in.”
Lucy stood still; very anxious, and wondering whether she should see anything alive, or one of her visitors from various countries.
“There is a letter from Mr. Seaman,” said a brisk young voice, that would have been very pleasant if it had not gone a little through the nose; and past Mrs. Bunker there walked into the full light a little boy, a year or two older than Lucy, holding out one hand as he saw her and taking off his hat with the other. “Good morning,” he said, quite at ease; “is this where you live?”