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Bijou   By: (1849-1932)

Bijou by Unknown

First Page:







MADAME DE BRACIEUX was working for her poor people. She poked her thick, light, tortoise shell crochet needle into the ball of coarse wool, and putting that down on her lap, lifted her head and looked across at her great nephew, Jean de Blaye.

"Jean," she said, "what are you gazing at that is so interesting? You stand there with your nose flattened against the window pane, just exactly as you did when you were a little boy, and were so insufferable."

Jean de Blaye lifted his head abruptly. He had been leaning his forehead against the glass of the bay window.

"I?" he answered, hesitating slightly. "Oh, nothing, aunt nothing at all!"

"Nothing at all? Oh, well, I must say that you seem to be looking at nothing at all with a great deal of attention."

"Do not believe him, grandmamma!" said Madame de Rueille in her beautiful, grave, expressive voice; "he is hoping all the time to see a cab appear round the bend of the avenue."

"Is he expecting someone?" asked the marchioness.

"Oh, no!" explained M. de Rueille, laughing; "but a cab, even a Pont sur Loire cab, would remind him of Paris. Bertrade is teasing him."

"I don't care all that much about being reminded of Paris," muttered Jean, without stirring.

Madame de Rueille gazed at him in astonishment. "One would almost think he was in earnest!" she remarked.

"In earnest, but absent minded!" said the marchioness, and then, turning towards a young abbé, who was playing loto with the de Rueille children, she asked:

"Monsieur, will you tell us whether there is anything interesting taking place on the terrace?"

The abbé, who was seated with his back to the bay window, looked behind him over his shoulder, and replied promptly:

"I do not see anything in the slightest degree interesting, madame."

"Nothing whatever," affirmed Jean, leaving the window, and taking his seat on a divan.

One of the de Rueille children, forgetting his loto cards, and leaving the abbé to call out the numbers over and over again with untiring patience, suddenly perched himself up on a chair, and, by his grimaces, appeared to be making signals to someone through the window.

"Marcel dear, at whom are you making those horrible grimaces?" asked the grandmother, puzzled.

"At Bijou," replied the child; "she is out there gathering flowers."

"Has she been there long?" asked the marchioness.

It was the abbé who answered this time.

"About, ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, madame."

"And you consider that Bijou is not interesting to look at?" exclaimed the old lady, laughing. "You are difficult to please, monsieur!"

Abbé Courteil, who had not been long in the family, and who was incredibly shy, blushed from the neck band of his cassock to the roots of his fair hair, and stammered out in dismay:

"But, madame, when you asked if anything interesting were taking place on the terrace, I thought you meant something something extraordinary, and I never thought that the presence of Mademoiselle Bij I mean, of Mademoiselle Denyse as she always gathers her flowers there at this time every day I never thought that you would consider that as "

The sentence ended in an unintelligible way, whilst the abbé, very much confused, continued shaking the numbers about in the bag.

"That poor abbé," said Bertrade de Rueille, very quietly, "you do frighten him, grandmamma."

"Nonsense! nothing of the kind! I do not frighten him; you exaggerate, my dear."

And then, after a moment's reflection, Madame de Bracieux continued:

"The man must be blind then."

"What man?"

"Why, your abbé! Good heavens, what stupid answers he makes."

"But, grandmamma "

"No! you will never make me believe that a man could watch Bijou at work amongst the flowers, and not consider her ' interesting to look at !' no, never!"

"A man, yes; but then the abbé is not exactly a man... Continue reading book >>

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