‘I do not like such gaiety,’ said Albinia. ’What, they wished to make you confess your secret?’
’Yes. They had learnt by some means that I keep one of my drawers locked, and they had figured to themselves that in it was some relic of my Huguenot ancestors. They thought it was some instrument of death, and they said that unless I would tell them the whole, the Admiral had the right of search, and, oh! it was foolish of me to believe them for a moment, but I only thought that the fright would, kill my grandmother. Oh, you were so good, Madame, I shall never forget; no, not to the end of my life, how you rescued me!’
‘We did not bring you here to be teased,’ said Albinia, caressing her. ’I should like to ask your pardon for what they have made you undergo.’
‘Ah, Madame!’ said Genevieve, smiling, ’it is nothing. I am well used to the like, and I heed it little, except when it falls on such subjects as these.’
She was easily drawn into telling the full history of her treasure, as she had learnt from her father’s lips, the Huguenot shot down by the persecutors, and the son who had fled into the mountains and returned to bury the corpse, and take the prized, blood-stained Bible from the breast; the escapes and dangers of the two next generations; the few succeeding days of peace; and, finally, the Dragonnade, when the children had been snatched from the Durant family, and the father and mother had been driven at length to fly in utter destitution, and had made their way to England in a wretched, unprovisioned open boat. The child for whose sake they fled, was the only one rescued from the hands of these enemies, and the tradition of their sufferings had been handed on with the faithfully preserved relic, down to the slender girl, their sole descendant, and who in early childhood had drunk in the tale from the lips of her father. The child of the persecutors and of the persecuted, Genevieve Durant did indeed represent strangely the history of her ancestral country; and as Albinia said to her, surely it might be hoped that the faith in which she had been bred up, united what was true and sound in the religion of both Reformed and Romanist.
The words made the brown cheek glow. ’Ah, Madame, did I not say I could talk with you? You, who do not think me a heretic, as my dear grandmother’s friends do, and who yet can respect my grandmother’s Church.’
Assuredly little Genevieve was one of the most interesting and engaging persons that Albinia had ever met, and she listened earnestly to her artless history, and pretty enthusiasms, and the story which she could not tell without tears, of her father’s care, when the reward of her good behaviour had been the reading one verse in the quaint black letter of the old French Bible.