« ElőzőTovább »
“Tell poor Marcelline what grieves thee, little one. Hast thou hurt thyself ?”
“He is gone," moaned the poor child piteously.
“He? But who, then ?" uttered Mar. celline, feeling terribly guilty all the while.
“The Englishman—the handsome Sir Guy, and I shall never see him any more."
“Does he say so ?" asked Marcelline, glancing at the letter Dolores crushed in her hand. “But you know, little one, he must have gone some time, and before your Mamma returned-he had already stayed too long."
"If he had only come to say good-bye to me! Oh, he is cruel to leave like that, when I counted the hours until he should come again.”
“Bah! Men are all cruel—they care only for themselves," said Marcellinė, at a loss how to console her.
“He is not cruel !" cried Dolores, with the pettish contradiction of a spoilt child. “He was obliged to go away suddenly—to Paris.”
“ He will come again, perhaps," uttered Marcelline in a soothing voice. “Paris is not so far.”
“How far ?"
“ Two hours and half by the grande vitesse; Madame Lescaut told me last week.”
And then there was silence again, only broken by the child's intermittent sobs, coming like the last thunder-claps in a storm.
"Hush, little one,” said Marcelline at last, putting her finger to her lips as steps were heard along the gravel walk, “here comes Jeanneton, and she is curious, like all the deaf. Do not let her see you, I pray.”
Dolores rose with a bound, and ran up the side avenue of nut-trees that led to the
back of the house, while Marcelline unlocked the gate.
“Was that Mademoiselle I saw lying on the grass ?" asked Jeanneton.
“Yes,” responded the other, somewhat fiercely. “What then ?”
Jeanneton shook her head.
“Ah! it was like that I became deaf, lying on the damp grass in the Spring.”
“But the grass isn't damp to-day.”
“One never knows. And there were drops of rain on the kitchen windows."
“Bah! that was when I watered the flowers. Good night, Jeanneton. Come early to-morrow," and Marcelline shut the gate with an angry click, feeling remorseful about her charge.
“ The little one will get over it,” she said to herself, tapping the bars with the key ; "in a month, a week, perhaps, she will have forgotten him. Ah! I remember
when I was seventeen, how I grieved after the beau Caporal who went off to the wars; but I forgot him in a few weeks, for Defaux, the butcher, who was short and fat, and had no waist at all-only I don't know where Mademoiselle is to get another lover, since Madame will not let a man have his nose inside the gate. Mon Dieu ! if she finds out about this Englishman, and the little one is entêtée enough to tell her, then I may pack my clothes and go. Well, I should have only the regret of leaving the child."
The days went on, but Dolores showed no symptoms of forgetting. The poor child had all the more power of suffering impatient pain and desolation because she had no resources in her own mind. It was that impotent, unbearable anger of pain that makes the new prisoned bird maim his wings and beat his life out against fast-locked bars.
"I cannot bear it !—I cannot bear it! Oh! if I could only die!" she repeated ceaselessly to herself, burying her poor tear-stained face in the sofa cushions, and stamping her weary little feet on the wooden floor.
It was the third day since she had seen him, and she had scarcely touched food or slept. A sudden thought came to her, and she jumped up, her face all aflame, her hands clasped.
“I will go to him !” and her heart beat wildly. “He will not send me away–he will let me be his servant, perhaps-anything, only to be near him, to see his kind smile sometimes. If he will not have me, I will drown myself.”
The poor ignorant, wilful child began to lay her plans. To-morrow Marcelline would be gone out, it was her marketingday; she would be absent at least two