« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Tell me, what is it you dared to say about my pies ? what is it I make them of, eh? Here, Madame Rivage, you are my witness; repeat what he said, for it was to you he spoke.”
Madame was not a little astonished to find herself so suddenly called upon as a witness. “Why-yes-yes—" she stuttered, “but it is hardly worth repeating—besides, I just recollect that I must go shopping "
“Stop a moment, madame," said Monsieur Dumenil ; " you appear to have been doubly busy here ; for it was yourself, if you recollect, who warned me against those pies, because they contained cats' meat."
“Good Heavens! Is that true, madame ? Did you do that ?” exclaimed the pieman.
“I tell you I know nothing about it; nothing! Therefore, do n't ask me anything about it. I have nothing to say—I never said anything !" cried madame, hurriedly.
“I will not detain you any longer, madame,” observed Monsieur Dumenil. “I have only to request, as I have this morning purchased the house here in which you live, that within a month from this time you will remove to another dwelling.”
At this announcement, the old lady, between shame and surprise, could scarcely tell how she felt. What! Monsieur Dumenil have a house like this! Involuntarily even the baker took off his cap, for he venerated nothing so much as riches. But to his no little surprise and mortification, in return, Monsieur Dumenil said, calmly, to him likewise—“ I give you, sir, also warning to quit this house within a month !" and taking our happy Savoyard by the hand he quitted the shop, leaving behind him two individuals, a prey to the most bitter
feelings of rage and wonder at this unexpected change of things.
“ And now, Seppi,” said his benevolent guide, “ let us go and select a suit of clothes for you, for henceforward I will provide you with everything, and teach you what you stand in need of. Thus you see, my good boy, God has now placed you in a position to enable you to assist your mother in her old age; and I hope, Seppi, you will be grateful to God, and never forget the love He has shewn you.”
The poor Savoyard's feelings were so overcome, that he could not find words to thank his protector ; but his filled eyes proclaimed more than language could have expressed.
The fact is, that Monsieur Dumenil had unexpectedly come into the possession of considerable property but a few days before this event, and he was now anxious to devote it to useful purposes. Accordingly, he had at once purchased the house he lodged in—it being for sale—and had resolved to convert it into a manufactory, which he intended to establish, for the purpose of giving employment to poor people.
Seppi and his philanthropic friend had not proceeded far on their way to the tailor's shop, when they unexpectedly met several policemen, having charge of a person dressed in the height of fashion. Seppi, at sight of him, uttered a loud cry of astonishment; for in him he, once again, immediately recognised the individual from whom he had received the base money to exchange, and whom he had left standing near his Marie. Monsieur Dumenil rushed forward, and, overtaking the constables, begged them to stop a moment, whilst he questioned the man upon the subject. This they did instantly, saying, they had him in custody for coining false money.
Monsieur Dumenil then asked him if he knew anything about the sister of that lad, whom, of course, he must recollect as the one he had sent, on a certain evening, to get a gold piece changed.
“Not I, indeed! - I took no notice of the little girl," replied the man; and persisting in his ignorance, Monsieur Dumenil was of course obliged to give it up, and the party resumed their progress with their prisoner. Thus poor Seppi was again left in painful doubt and anxiety.
It is now, however, full time that we should seek around for little Marie, and ascertain what has been her fate since her separation from her brother.
In vain did she continue to await the return of Seppi ; and after sitting on the step in the most anxious and painful expectation, she at length rose, and proceeded across to the shop, to inquire about him: they, however, only told her, that they had left him in one of the streets some distance off, and, as it was so dark, they supposed he must have missed his way. Alas, poor Marie !—what was she to do? Tired, and almost fainting with hunger, she could hardly drag her legs along, loaded as she was with the hurdy-gurdy and the marmot, sobbing her poor little heart out. She walked on, as well as she could, down one street and then another, but all in vain, nowhere could she find Seppi. Some boys happening to pass, she asked them if they had perhaps seen a little Savoyard boy about ; and one of the young rascals replied, “Yes, he was sure he had seen him in a street a little way off.” She then said : “Oh, will you just take care of my hurdy-gurdy and the marmot, while I run after him, for you see I can scarcely walk with such a load ?”
“Oh, yes,” says one, kindly, “ I will take care of them till you return. But you must make haste after him, for he was walking very fast.”
The unsuspecting girl lost not a moment, but, giving both to the boy's care, hastened, as fast as possible, in the direction given ; and, when there, looked everywhere around, calling out, “ Seppi! Seppi!” but she received no answer. Poor Marie, finding it in vain to wait any longer, slowly returned to where she had left the boy with the hurdy-gurdy and the marmot; but, on coming there, looked in vain for him. Her eyes searched everywhere around, but it was useless, for boy, hurdygurdy, and marmot, had vanished. And now, this last blow was too much for Marie. She had lost her brother, and now she had lost what was to procure her food in that great, strange city! Ah, what tears of sorrow and lamentation the poor afflicted girl shed, when she thought of her wretched, forlorn state!
· It grew later and later ; and casting her tearful eyes once more around her, in despair, she caught sight of a lady, who had just stopped before the door of a large house, and rang the bell. She was attended by a female servant, or companion, who held in her arms, carefully wrapped up like an infant, a little lap-dog. Marie rushed towards the lady, and exclaimed, beseechingly: “Ah, for Heaven's sake! dear, dear lady, pray, pray take pity on me; do take me in with you, and give me a crust of bread, and a night's shelter in any corner of your house. I am trembling all over from fatigue and hunger. I have lost my brother Seppi, and only arrived in Paris this evening!"
The lady turned round, and said, ill-naturedly: “Go about
your business, do, you low creature; do n't disturb my sweet Bijou's sleep with your noise."
“Ah, good lady, do not, pray do not leave me to sleep in the streets all night; do take me with you, I will not, depend upon it, disturb any one.”
“ Take pity upon her, madam,” said her companion with the dog : “she would just suit you, for you want just such a little girl as her, to take care of and wait upon Bijou, and amuse him."
Madame Bertin cast a contemptuous look at Marie, saying, “ I am only afraid such a creature would be too coarse and rough for my tender Bijou !-However, you may come in; I will make a trial of you."
The door was now opened; the lady entered, followed by her servant, carrying the snoring dog, and by the poor little Savoyard girl.
When they entered the drawing-room, the first most important business was to get ready the soft bed of the treasured lap-dog, and to carefully cover him over with the embroidered quilt. This being done, its mistress turned her eyes towards Marie, and exclaimed, in great contempt: “ What a dusty, dirty object that is ! Mind, Therese, she must not approach my Bijou too closely in that pickle. Do pray take her away, and give her some straw to sleep upon, and do n't let me see her again before she is washed and made more decent. Have you, then, no other clothes, girl, but those you have on? Why, they are nothing but rags."
Poor Marie ! what were her feelings when so addressed ! But she made no reply, and followed Therese, who shewed her into a room, in the corner of which she made her a bed