‘Have you found it so?’ I asked.
‘At any rate, it is better than the doses Mademoiselle gives me,’ she said.
‘You shall try my remedy this time,’ I said; and I set out for the little village church, which stood at the garden-gate, with a fixed determination that this state of things—slow torture and murder, as it seemed to me—should not go on. If one work bequeathed to me by my dear Philippe was to take care of his uncle, another surely was to save and protect his sister.
Marguerite to the rescue.
It was in my favour that M. de Nidemerle had conceived a very high opinion of me, far above my deserts. My dear husband’s letters had been full of enthusiasm for me. I found them all among the Marquis’s papers; and his tenderness and gratitude, together with the circumstances of my return, had invested me with a kind of halo, which made me a sort of heroine in his eyes.
Besides, I did my best to make the old man’s life more cheerful. I read him the Gazette that came once a week, I played at cards with him all the evening, and I sometimes even wrote or copied his letters on business; and, when I sat at my embroidery, he liked to come and sit near me, sometimes talking, playing with Gaspard, or dozing. He was passionately fond of Gaspard, and let the child domineer over him in a way that sometimes shocked me.
Thus he was ready to believe what I told him of his niece, and assured me I might keep her with me as long as I wished, if the Countess, her mother-in-law, would consent. The first thing we did together was that I took her to see her children. The boy was at a farm not very far off; he was seven months old, and a fine healthy infant, though not as clean as I could have wished; but then Tryphena and I had been looked on as barbarians, who would certainly be the death of Gaspard, because we washed him all over every evening, and let him use his legs and arms. Cecile was enchanted; she saw an extraordinary resemblance between her son and his father; and hugged the little form like one who had been famished.
Our search for the little Armantine was less prosperous. Cecile could not ride, nor could even walk a quarter of a mile without nearly dying of fatigue; nay, the jolting of the coach as we drove along the road would have been insupportable to her but for her longing to see her little one. We drove till it was impossible to get the coach any farther, and still the farm was only just in sight.