Katharine Sarah Macquoid.

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looked searchingly into my face.

'' Mademoiselle should have been more
wise. It is possible I never could like that
Amy should kiss me ; she is greedy and ugly,
and she has such — oh, so untidy hands,
with cuts, and scratches^ and long nails !
Ah ! " Mimi shrugged her little shoulders
with disgust. "But,'' she put her head on
one side reflectively, " if she had kissed
me for love, hon ! I would still have let
her do it, but it is quite difi*erent for amuse-
ment."

*' But, Mimi," I argued, '' how can you
know whether people kiss you for love or
not ? "

** But — ^yes — yes — yes. Mademoiselle, it is



THE FRENCH DOLL. 75

not possible to mistake. Mademoiselle, her-
self, is not very tall, and how would she like
that a big fat woman should take her up and
carry her like a doll, and kiss her hard at
pleasure ? I cannot — I will not,'' she said,
impetuously; '*I will tell Mrs. Smith that
I go home to-morrow.''

" You dear little thing." I stooped down
and kissed the hot, flushed cheek, and the
little soft creature nestled herself into my
arms at once, and let me hug her like a
baby. *' You don't understand English girls,
darling," I said ; '"^ they are full of love and
affection, but they are rough in showing it.
Let them love you in their own way, Mimi,
and you will soon be happy."

" No — no." Mimi gave another quivering
sob, and nestled still closer in my arms.

At the sound of voices on the lawn she sat
up and clung to me.

'' It is only Mrs. Smith, dear."

" Then I will go to her." Mimi slid down
to the ground, and walked away ^\ith the
most charming little self-possessed air. I
followed her. I wanted to see how it would
all end.



76 THE FRENCH DOLL.

" Madame/' the child curtsied, " if you
please I wish to be sent to mamma to-morrow.
I do not wish to learn English."

Mrs. Smith looked at Miss Pearson, the
head governess, and smiled ; then she stroked
Mimi's hair.

*^ My dear, your mamma would be dis-
pleased if you w^ent back to her. What has
been happening, Miss Tyrrel ? "

I told Mimi's story as well as I could, and
I was surprised at Mrs. Smith's troubled face ;
but probably her experience had taught her
what would be the end of Mimi's school life.

It was vain to remonstrate with Kose, and
Amy, and the rest. They said it was all
nonsense ; they were not going to alter ways
which had no harm in them, to suit the
Frenchified whims of a little doll like Mimi ;
still for a day or tw^o the child was left in
peace, and then Amy's restraint gave way,
and she treated Mimi like a baby again. The
child seldom resisted, but there was a heart-
sick impatience on her face, very painful to
see, and I noticed that she grew pale and had
little appetite for her meals.

Mrs. Smith wrote to Madame de Champ-



THE FRENCH DOLL. yj

Louis, but the answer was that Mimi must
learn English, and that the more she was left
to her playfellows the sooner this would be
accomplished. Till this letter came I had
encouraged Mimi to spend the play-hours
with me, but just at the same time I was
summoned home to be bridesmaid to my
eldest sister.

I stayed away a week. I shall never forget
my first sight of Mimi when I went back to
Mrs. Smith's. She stood waiting for me at the
gate, so pale and thin ; her eyes looked larger
than ever, with great hollows under them.

^' I am so, so glad you are come"- — she put
both arms round my neck when I kissed her
little white face — " but I am going home."
I looked surprised. '^ Come in," she said in
her little old-fashioned courteous way; ''sit
do^\Ti, Mademoiselle, and I will tell you. Yes,
I am going ; the doctor says I am to go, and
he says I have a hard heart not to love my
schoolfellows. Mademoiselle, do you think I
have a so hard heart ? I love you, and I
love them too, if they would leave me; but
I cannot love to be their plaything, and to
make them alv/ays laugh."



78 THE FRENCH DOLL.

The little creature quivered from head to
foot. There was no use in reasoning with
Mimi, in endeavouring to show her that if
she would try to learn endurance, Eose and
Amy, and the rest might in turn learn for-
bearance. She was too ill to be lectured.
It was as impossible for her highly wrought
nature to understand that real feeling and
tenderness may lie hidden under a rough
manner, as it was for Eose and Amy to under-
stand her sensitiveness.

She went home next day, and when the
girls saw how she cried and clung to me at
parting, I think they believed that Mimi was
not quite the doll they had so persistently
called her.



THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF
MADAME EOrPION.



THE DISAPPOINTMENT OP
.MADAME POUPION.

CHAPTEE I.

T^HE floor was as clean as recent scrubbing
could make it, the low, heavy-beamed
ceiling had been freshly whitewashed, the
small diamond panes in the lattice window
glistened with brightness, and so did the
round walnut-wood table in the midst of the
room, on which stood an ancient -looking blue-
and-white jug filled with china aster blos-
soms.

There was not a trace of ironing on the long,
narrow side table, and Madame Poupion sat
upright in one of the dark wooden chairs with
idle hands, but with a face full of expectation.
It was not either a Sunday or a festival, and
yet plainly it was a holiday with Madame
Poupion.

Something in her bright old wrinkled face,

VOL. III. G



82 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

in her cheery dark eyes, and her small erect
figure, told that she was not used to sitting
with her hands in her lap, and that they
would not long remain at rest.

She had on a black stuff gown and a cap of
embroidered muslin, with purple bows, and
soon, first one hand stole up to the white cap
strings and fidgeted with them, and then the
other twitched at her black silk apron in
irrepressible longing to be at work.

She folded the hands together again, and
replaced them in her lap with a sigh of
weariness.

" I must have patience, but how late he is
in coming," she muttered ; ^' he should have
been here long ago."

She rose up and opened the black door on
the right of the window, and then went up
the dark tiled passage that led into the street.

The street was full of old houses as quaint
as this dwelling of Madame Poupion ; heavy
oak beams, supported by grotesquely-carved
brackets, divided the stories which projected
one over another ; the space between the
oak^n uprights was filled with plaster or
time-stained bricks, and in some cases with



MADAME POUPION. 83

rows of overlapping slates. Nearly all of the
houses were topped by gables with a lattice
window set in the midst, peering forward
curiously as if to look at the passers-by in the
street below, or at the river Seine, seen through
the old gateway which shut in the end of the
street from the quay. Madame Poupion's
ground-floor window was gay with scarlet
geraniums and white fuchsias, but the opposite
house, instead of a window, had an open shop
front, revealing rows on rows of barrels in all
stages of progress ; the walls were garnished
with coils of hoops of all sizes, and in the
centre of the open space, hammering away at
a cask, was the head workman, Auguste Sorel.

*' Good day. Monsieur Auguste.'' Madame
Poupion crossed the narrow street and spoke
in a low voice, as if she did not want to
gossip.

It seemed hardly possible that Monsieur
Auguste heard her, and yet he turned round
in an instant, and came forward with his cap
in his hand.

*' Good day, madame, and is Monsieur
Jules not yet arrived ? ''

Madame pinched her lips together to keep



84 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

them from trembling, and blinked her eyelids
rapidly as they filled with sudden tears.

*' Well, my friend'' — she had contrived to
smile by this time — *' what will you ? The
train has perhaps delayed at starting or in
arriving; in any case, it is certainly not the fault
of my son Jules. It is possible, also, that I
have begun to expect him too soon — but you
must excuse me for this. See, then, it is more
than six years sincel have seen my boy ; he was
but seventeen when he started for Bordeaux
— only think what a fine man he must have
grown." She looked eagerly up the street.

** You are right, madame ; I believe that all
is well,'* said Auguste ; '* there is no use in
meeting evil half way."

'^ You think he will come, then ? " Madame
spoke as if her life hung on his answer.
Auguste Sorel saw how excited and nervous
she was.

** Yes, yes, madame," he said, soothingly.
** Monsieur Jules will come by the next train."

'' Thank you, my friend," and Madame
Poupion goes back into her parlour, and an
hour or two passes in waiting.

Auguste Sorel goes back to his work ; he



MADAME POUPION. 85

is young, but not handsome, and there is much
sadness on his square, sensible face — a face so
ordinary in its features that you might pass it
over and over again without recognition, and
yet it is remarkable in its expression of stead-
fastness.

As the time is tolled by the great clock of
Notre Dame, Auguste Sorel puts away his
tools, takes off his blouse, and exchanges it
for a coat which has been hanging on a peg
in the wall, gives a look round the shop, and
then tells a rough-headed boy who suddenly
comes in from the yard behind to put up the
shutters and lock the door. Sorel then goes
down the old street towards the Seine.

He walks along with his eyes fixed on the
ground, and starts at being jostled suddenly
and pushed against the wall.

Instinctively he raises his hat, and asks par-
don of a tall man, who also asks pardon, but
in an offensive tone of rebuke. The offender
is tall and very handsome, but there is inso-
lence in his fine blue eyes, and his moustaches
even seem to swagger, as his red upper lip
cmwes up from his dazzling white teeth.
^' You should look where you are going,"



86 777^ DISAPPOINTMENT OF

he says with a sneer ; *^ you might have sent
my hat into the gutter ; and if you had, I
should have sent you after it."

A flush comes into Auguste's pale face.

*"' The street is wide enough for two, mon-
sieur," he says, and he passes on.

The tall man looks over his shoulder and
laughs, then he goes on singing down the
street —

'' Tra, la, la — these Kouen boors have not
mended their manners in six years. Pah —
how narrow and foul the street is — surely it
was wider once — how beautiful that girl was
in the train — she haunts me — I can think of
nothing but her grand dark-brown eyes — and
what a figure ! "

He stops in front of Madame Poupion's
low-browed doorway, but as he stoops to pass
under it a pair of arms cling round him, and
a shrill, glad voice cries out —

"• Oh, my child ; oh, my Jules, and hast
thou come at last ? "

Jules returns his mother's kisses, but on
the whole he looks glad to be released.

There was but one cushioned chair in
Madame Poupion's room, and when Jules had



MADAME PGUP JON. Sy

placed himself comfortably in it, his mother
sat gazing at him to her heart's content.

*' Oh, my boy," she cried out, " how hand-
some thou hast grown, and how tall ! there is
not a finer man in the whole city of Eouen :
and to think that a little woman like me
should be the mother of so handsome a child !
Ah, but my Jules, I have wearied much for
thee in these six years. It has been a long
time for thee to serve without a holiday."

Jules looked uneasy, and fidgeted.

" Well, my mother — not altogether without
— without a holiday ; but as thou knowest,
it is a long journey from Bordeaux to Eouen,
and it costs money, too. I did think of it
more than once when I was in Paris, but
I found I could not manage the expense."

" Thou hast, then, been to Paris," she cried
out. ^' Oh, my boy, I would gladly have
paid thy journey here" — then, seeing a cloud
on her son's face, she checked herself. '* I
must not tell thee any more of my feelings or
thou wilt weary, and — ah, how forgetful I
am, thou art tired and hungry too — thy dinner
is quite ready."

He smiled more pleasantly.



88 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

" Thanks — I am not very hungry, I have
dined ah'eady at one of the restaurants on the
quai — but I will eat some more to please thee,
my mother."

She looked pained for an instant, and then
she said cheerfully —

"• Aim, I see now the cause of thy delay ;
how thoughtful thou art, thou wouldst not
arrive like a hungry w^olf at thy mother's
door, and so thou had stayed to eat on the
road.''

A flush passed over his face.

" Indeed," he said, "that was not quite
the reason, little mother. I met some good
companions in the train, and we were un-
wdlling to part on arriving ; so we dined,
and then had a game or so of dominoes
afterwards."

'' Yes — yes, my son." While he spoke,
Madame Poupion had spread a white cloth on
the little round table, and now she bustled
off to the kitchen so quickly for the soup,
that Jules could not hear the sigh caused by
his words.

While he ate his soup, his mother sat look-
ing at him with tears in her eyes.



MADAME POUPION. 89

*' How beautiful lie is," she was saying to
herself. ** He should have a better place to
come to than the Eue des Ai-pents, and what
a charming pair he and Cecile will make when
they are married ! "

Jules praised the soup and the rest of his
meal as he ate it, and responded benignly to
his mother's fluttering, disjointed talk, for her
joy and the excitement caused by her long
waiting had made Madame Poupion restless.
She could not keep either quiet or silent —
her words came without her will.

''But thou dost not ask me for anyone,
my Jules," she said, slyly, and then she
wished she had held her tongue.

Jules smiled.

' ' No — I was expecting every minute that
the little Cecile would come in — where is
she?"

He looked for a moment roused out of the
half-laughing, half- sneering manner with which
he had been answering his mother.

" She has gone to see the poor little sister
of a neighbour who is ill — thou rememberest
Augnste Sorel, dost thou not, my Jules ? "

Jules shruo-ored his shoulders.



90 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

** Thou seest, my mother '' — his calm, self-
complacent look impressed Madame Poupion
profoundly — " that in these six years, whilst
thou and such people as Auguste Sorel have
been vegetating, I have been living, and life
does not count so much by the amount of
years as by what we do in them. I have
met with so many people '' — he passed his
white hand over his smooth forehead; ''I
have gone through so many adventures, seen,
in fact, so much life, that the insignifi-
cant events and people of my youth seem
small and trifling — ah!" — he drew a long
breath — "yes — yes, voyons. I begin to
remember this Auguste — a little ugly fellow,
I think/'

A pained look glanced over Madame Pou-
pion's face, but she said to herself, " Well —
it is but natural — my son, who looks like a
count or a duke, could not possibly think as
I do of Auguste/' Aloud she said, " Cecile
will be here soon — she is so gentle, so loving
and — ah, my Jules, it is impossible to tell
you how good she is/'

Jules stretched out his arms and gave a
prodigious yawn.



MADAME POUPION, 91

** Is she pretty ? '' he said, '' and can she
cook as well as you can, my mother ? "

'' Pretty ! '' Madame jerked back her head
triumphantly. ^'Pretty is not the word, my
Jules — Cecile has the face of an angel — here
she comes/'

The door opened — Jules got up, he made
a theatrical movement forward, and first shook
hands with, and then kissed heartily on each
cheek the young girl who came in. He
stood looking at her from head to foot so
searchingly that Cecile's blue eyes drooped,
and a warm flush spread over her face. She
was tall, and had a slender, graceful figure,
but her face was rather sweet-looking than
strictly pretty ; her chief beauty lay in her
large timid blue eyes, and in her soft auburn
hair ; it was a Madonna face, of a tender,
timid type, a face which looked as if it could
express feelings which as yet slept un-
disturbed.

*' My mother said you had grown pretty,
Cecile, but I did not expect to see you as
pretty as this.'' He stooped and kissed her
hand.

Cecile blushed. It seemed to her that



92 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

Jules did not behave quite as she had thought
he would behave — but when she glanced up,
Madame Poupion was smiling, and patting
her son's shoulder with a sort of glow of
happiness in her tearful eyes, so Cecile decided
that it was she who was wrong and ignorant.

'' Still,'' she said to herself, as she went
upstairs to get an apron before she carried
away the plates and dishes into the kitchen,
''it is not as I thought it would be — Jules
is different. I thought I should feel so glad
to see him, that I should not think about his
manner — but it is no doubt natural that he
should still consider me a little girl."

Madame Poupion proposed a walk on the
Boulevard Martainville, or in the Avenue St.
Paul, but Jules laughed.

'' Bah, bah," he said, in a superior manner ;
" let us do something rather less dismal. I
am sure Cecile prefers the Cours Boieldieu. I
do, at any rate — one sees something worth
looking at there."

Madame was ready as soon as she got her
Sunday shawl — for she had already put on
her best cap to honour her son's arrival ; but
Cecile was longer than usual in arraying her-



MADAME POUPIOX. 93

self. She had not much choice ; if she had
walked out with only Madame Poupion, she
would probably have worn the cap she kept
for outdoor use, but a walk in the Cours
Boieldieu ^dth so grand-looking a person as
Jules was a matter of importance, and she
was some minutes in arranging the set of her
little black tiille bonnet.

'' At last — come, let us start.'' Jules was
impatient, he jumped up in the midst of one
of his mother's stories. He said the street
was too narrow for three, so he offered his
arm to his mother, and left Cecile to follow
alone.

"When they reached the quai there was room
enough for all, and they walked side by side,
chatting pleasantly, and returning the greeting
of numerous acquaintances, either sauntering
like themselyes, or enjoying the evening air at
the open doors of their shops. One old white-
headed man, a vendor of walking-sticks and
sweetstuff, sat between two lofty oleanders
full of rosy blossoms which stood on each
side of the opening.

"Ah, good evening, Pere Boulart," said
Madame ; *• how goes the rheumatism ?"



94 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

As Madame spoke, she felt her arm sud-
denly dropped. Jules had turned round, and
stood facing the river.

** Excuse me,'' he said to Cecile, ''I will
be back directly.''

When Madame Poupion turned round again,
Cecile was standing alone.

*' Where is Jules ? " said his mother ; but
Cecile did not know, he had so quickly passed
out of sight.



MADAME POUPION. 99



CHAPTEK II.

TT was the sight of the dark-eyed, dark-
browed beauty he had travelled with,
standing near the steamers drawn up in the
river, that had drawn Jules as if by magic
from the side of Cecile and his mother.

The face belonged to a tall, finely-formed
girl, dressed with over-studied simplicity ;
every fold, every hue, was so exactly assorted
that much time and thought had evidently
been given by the wearer, not only to the
fashioning of her garments, but also to the
harmony between them and her face ; every-
thing about her was studied, even to the set
of her hat with its drooping feather. But
Jules only saw her face, and stood entranced
as soon as he had drawn nearer to the boats,
waiting till she should see him.

The dark beauty was talking to a companion
so much shorter than herself that, as Jules
stood, he could not see this other person.



96 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

Presently he was roused by gentle laughter
close beside him.

'' Very well, Monsieur Jules, and this is the
way you remember old friends ? ''

Jules turned quickly, and there beside him
was the freckled, sunburnt face of Marie
Devisme, a girl he had known all his life,
and disliked for her green, sly eyes and
manoeuvring, deceitful ways.

^^ Pardon, mademoiselle,'' he said, raising
his hat, '' but I had not seen you.''

*^No excuses," she whispered, '' you can-
not see the glowworm at full moon. Shall I
present you to my friend, who wishes to make
your acquaintance ? "

Jules flushed and bowed, and found him-
self bowing again to Mademoiselle Felicie
Devisme, the Eastern -looking owner of the
dark eyes.

Mademoiselle Devisme kept her eyes cast
down, and left her friend to do the chief part
of the conversation as they walked along the
quai ; only when Marie begged Jules to come
and see her and her old grandmother next
evening, and he demurred — the long black
lashes suddenly lifted, and one appealing



MADAME POUPION. 97

glance tied his tongue ; he hesitated, stam-
mered, and then said, with a meekness quite
foreign to him, *' I thank you. Mademoiselle
Marie, I will certainly come/'

The two girls bowed and departed ; but
Jules could not go back to his mother and
Cecile. The buzz and gaiety of the ever-
moving throng along the Cours and in front
of the crowded cafes had lost all its charm.
He kept out of sight among the bales of
merchandise between the shipping and the
promenade, and when he arrived opposite
the Douane, found his way into some of the
quiet, fast-darkening streets that lead up to
the northern Boulevard.

When at last he returned to the Eue des
Arpents, he found his mother sitting alone,
with one candle.

Madame Poupion's face was sorrowful till
Jules appeared, but when she saw him she
gave a little cry of gladness and ran up to him.

'' Ah ! my boy," she said, as he stooped
down to receive her kisses. " I could not
tell what had happened, and the poor little
Cecile, too, has been anxious, but I have sent
her to bed."

VOL. III. H



98 THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

Jules gave a sigh of relief.

*' And it is bedtime for thee too, my mother;
so good night, little mother."

" Yes, yes, my son — all in good time —
I will go, but" — she clasped both her thin,
large-veined hands on his arm — '' first I want
to know when the marriage is to be between
thee and Cecile."

** The marriage ? "

Jules looked stupefied, and so very unlike
his usual self-complacent self that his mother
felt able to speak her mind freely.

" And why not ? Thou knowest, my Jules,
that when Cecile was left an orphan, I pro-
mised she should always have a home here,
and, as thy father owed so much to her father,
a portion also, and thou thyself hast decided
that the best way was to marry Cecile, and
make her my daughter indeed."

" Promises are foolish things, my mother.
Then I suppose poor little Cecile has grown
up in this hope, and considers herself my
wife already, poor little girl — ah, that is un-
fortunate ! "

He twirled his moustache and smiled —
Madame Poupion shrugged her shoulders.



MADAME POUPION. 99

'^What else could she think? She has
no other thought ! She knows not only that
it is the most earnest wish of my heart to
see my two children united, but also that
the sum I keep adding to for her marriage
portion would be much missed by thee, my
son, if she married a stranger."

A peculiar look of keenness — a look which
seemed strange to his mother — came into
Jules's eyes.

** A marriage portion ! But, surely, my
mother, the food and clothing of so many
years may well count as a set-off against the
money which Jacques Haulleville lent to my
father."

A bright red flew into his mother's withered
face.

*^ Now shame on thee, Jules; that is an un-
worthy thought. To begin with : the sum
was far beyond any amount I have spent on
Cecile — it came, too, when thy father must
have been bankrupt without its help, and the
farm and the houses must have been sold, and
afterwards — ah ! my son, this is what I feel
sorely — that if we could have repaid Jacques,
he would have died a rich man ; he had at



TOO THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF

times more than one golden opportunity lost
through our need."

" Well, he left his child in good hands."
Jules spoke in the sullen voice of a man
crossed in his will, hut his mother's thoughts
were with her dead friend, and she went on
unchecked.

*' Ah yes, Jacques was good ; he saw me a
striving widow, and when he was dying he
said, ' Do not fret, my neighbour, do not sell
this inheritance ; God cares for the widow and
the fatherless, and he cares for you and our
little ones. I am more glad to leave my
Cecile to a kind mother than to leave her a


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