“But I must see Henrietta, sir.”
“Certainly; and I have found the means for it. Instead of going to your former lodgings, go to the Hotel du Louvre. I will see to it that my sister and Miss Ville-Handry shall have taken rooms there before you reach Paris; and you may be sure, that, in less than a quarter of an hour after your arrival, you will hear news. But, heavens, how near we are! I must make haste.”
Upon Daniel’s request, the ship lay by long enough to allow Papa Ravinet and his sailor to get back again into their boat without danger. When they were safely stowed away in it, and at the moment when they cast off the man-rope, Papa Ravinet called to Daniel,—
“We shall soon see you! Rely upon me! Tonight Miss Henrietta shall have a telegram from us.”
At the same hour when Papa Ravinet, on the deck of “The Saint Louis,” was pressing Daniel’s hand, and bidding him farewell, there were in Paris two poor women, who prayed and watched with breathless anxiety,—the sister of the old dealer, Mrs. Bertolle, the widow; and Henrietta, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry. When Papa Ravinet had appeared the evening before, with his carpet-bag in his hand, his hurry had been so extraordinary, and his excitement so great, that one might have doubted his sanity. He had peremptorily asked his sister for two thousand francs; had made Henrietta write in all haste a letter of introduction to Daniel; and had rushed out again like a tempest, as he had come in, without saying more than this,—
“M. Champcey will arrive, or perhaps has already arrived, in Marseilles, on board a merchant vessel, ‘The Saint Louis.’ I have been told so at the navy department. It is all important that I should see him before anybody else. I take the express train of quarter past seven. To-morrow, I’ll send you a telegram.”
The two ladies asked for something more, a hope, a word; but no, nothing more! The old dealer had jumped into the carriage that had brought him, before they had recovered from their surprise; and they remained there, sitting before the fire, silent, their heads in their hands, each lost in conjectures. When the clock struck seven, the good widow was aroused from her grave thoughts, which seemed so different from her usual cheerful temper.
“Come, come, Miss Henrietta,” she said with somewhat forced gayety, “my brother’s departure does not condemn us, as far as I know, to starve ourselves to death.”
She had gotten up as she said this. She set the table, and then sat down opposite to Henrietta, to their modest dinner. Modest it was, indeed, and still too abundant. They were both too much overcome to be able to eat; and yet both handled knife and fork, trying to deceive one another. Their thoughts were far away, in spite of all their efforts to keep them at home, and followed the traveller.