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FAIRFAX CARTER sat up very straight in the great carved walnut bed, and plaintively inspected the breakfast tray which the red-cheeked Norman maiden had just deposited beside her. Those eternal little hard rolls—the black bowl of coffee beneath whose steaming fragrance lurked the treacherous chicory—the jug of hot thin milk—the small brown jar of pale honey—she bestowed a rebellious scowl on the entire collection. She felt suddenly, frantically homesick for a bubbling percolator, for thick yellow cream and feathery biscuits, for chilled crimson berries with powdered mounds of sugar. Marie Léontine, briskly oblivious, was coaxing the very small fire in the very large chimney into dancing animation.
“V’la!” she announced triumphantly, with all the hearty deference that is the common gift of the French servant. “Beau matin, p’tite dame!”
“Oui,” conceded the “small lady” grudgingly. She shivered apprehensively as Marie Léontine shoved the copper water jug closer to the flames,109 and trotted smiling from the room. Ugh! How in the world could any nation hope to keep clean and warm with three sticks of wood and four teaspoonfuls of water? She remembered another country—a bright and blessed country—where water rushed hot and joyous from glittering faucets into great shining tubs—where warmed and fleecy towels hung waiting to fold you hospitably close. She shivered again, forlornly, scanning the stretch of distance across the bare floor to the hook where the meagre towel hung limp and forbidding. “La douce France!” Ha! She pulled the tray toward her, still scowling.
Even when she scowled, Fair Carter was more distracting looking than any one young woman has a right to be. She was very small—absurdly small sitting bolt upright in the great dark bed—but she had enough charms to equip any six ladies of ordinary size and aspirations. There was the ruffled glory of her hair, warmer than gold, brighter than bronze, and her rain-coloured eyes—and the small, warm mouth, and the elfin tilt to her brows. There was that look about her, eager and reckless and adventurous, that made your heart contract, when you remembered what life did to the eager and reckless and adventurous. It had made a great many hearts contract. It had made one despairing young adorer from Richmond110 say: “Fair always looks as though she were carrying a flag—and listening to drums.” And it had wrung tribute from her father, who had been all her family and all her world, and who had adored her even more than the young man from Richmond. “She’s the bravest of all the fighting Carters, is my Fair. And never quite so brave as when she’s frightened. Panic arms her with really desperate valour!”
The bravest of the fighting Carters swallowed the dregs of the coffee bowl, pushed the tray from her, and bestowed a sudden and enchanting smile on one of the dark carved figures on the bedposts. There were four of them, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but she liked Mark the best. He had a very stern face and a little lion.
“Morning,” she saluted him affably, and if St. Mark’s head had not been made of walnut he would have lost it. She had kept the most potent of her charms in reserve, like a true daughter of Eve. Fair’s extravagant prettiness might steel the sceptical, leading them to argue that so ornamental a head must necessarily be empty, and that no one could look that way long without becoming unbearably vain, spoiled, and capricious. But if she spoke just once—if she said any three indifferent words at random—the veriest sceptic was undone for ever. Because Fair had a Voice.111 Not the coloratura kind—perhaps Patti could do more justice to Caro Nome—but a voice which Galli-Curci and the nightingale and the running brook and church bells and Sarah Bernhardt might well envy. She could sing a little—small, candle-lit songs about love, and absurdly stirring things that had marched down through the centuries, and haunting bits of lullabies—she had a trick of chanting them under her breath, as though it were to herself that she was singing. But when she spoke—ah, then any coloratura that ever lived might well shed tears of bitter envy. For the voice that Fair Carter used for such homely purposes as wishing lucky mortals good day and good night and God-speed was compact of magic. It was wine and velvet and moonlight and laughter and mystery—and for all its enchantment, it was as clear and honest as a nice little boy’s. It did remarkable things to the English language. Fair would have widened her eyes in cool disdain at the idea of indulging in such far-advertised Southern tricks as “you all” and “Ah raickon” and “honey lamb,” but she managed to linger over vowels and elude consonants in a way that did not even remotely suggest the frozen North. It reduced English to such a satisfactory state of submission that she only experimented half heartedly with any other language. A Chinaman would112 have understood her when she said “Please”—a Polynesian would have thrilled responsive to her “Thank you.”
Therefore she had gone serenely on her way during those two terrible and thrilling years in France, those three terrible and bitter years in Germany, ignoring entirely the fact that the Teutons had a language of their own, and acquiring just enough of the Gallic tongue to enable her to indulge in the gay and hybrid banter of her beloved doughboys—a swift patter consisting largely of “Ah oui,” “?a ne fait rien” and “pas compris!” It had served her purpose admirably for a good five years, but it had proved a broken reed during the past five weeks. The De Lautrecs were capable of speaking almost any kind of French—Monsieur le Vicomte leaned toward a nice mixture of Bossuet and Anatole France, Madame his ancient and regal mother to Marivaux with sprightly touches of Voltaire, Laure and Diane, to René Bazin when they were being supervised and Gyp when they weren’t—Philippe le Gai to a racy and thrilling idiom, at once virile and graceful, as old as the Chanson de Roland, as new as Sacha Guitry’s latest comedy. But after several courteous and tense attempts to exchange amenities with Laure’s “Little American” they had abandoned the tongue of their fathers and devoted their earnest attention113 to mastering the English language. It was easy enough for Philippe and Laure, of course; they already knew a great deal more about English literature than Fair had dreamed existed, though they tripped over the spoken word, but the other members of the family laboured sternly and industriously, while their small guest surveyed their efforts with indulgent amusement. It seemed quite natural and reasonable to Fairfax Carter they they should continue to do so indefinitely—they wanted to talk to her, didn’t they? Well, then! They were getting on quite well, too, she reflected benevolently, still smiling at St. Mark, who stared back at her so unresponsively that she suddenly ceased to smile.
“I suppose you don’t understand English, either?” she demanded severely. “’Bout time a little old thing like you started to learn it, I should think!”
Her eye wandered to the travelling clock ticking competently away on the desk, and rested there for an electrified second.
“Mercy!” she murmured, appalled, and was out of the bed and across the room with all the swift grace of a kitten. Half-past nine, and the De Chartreuil boys were to ride over for a game of “croquo-golf” at ten! Her toes curled rebelliously at the contact of the cold flags, but she114 ignored them stoically, pouncing on the copper jug and whirling across the room like a small, bright tempest. What a divine day, chanted her heart, suddenly exultant, as she splashed the water recklessly and tumbled into her clothes. It was wonderful to feel almost well again—to feel weariness slipping from her like a worn-out garment. The sun came flooding in through the deep windows, gilding the faded hangings—gilding the vivid head—she could hear horses’ hoofs beneath her window, and she flung it wide, leaning far out.
“Bonjour, Monsieur Raoul—bonjour, Monsieur André! Oh, Laure, are you down already?”
“Already? This hour, small lazy one! Quick now, or we leave thee!”
“No, no,” wailed Fair. “I’ll be there—I’m almost there now, truly. Save the red mallet for me, angel darling—it’s the only one I can hit with. Don’t let her go, Monsieur André!”
“Never and never, Mademoiselle. We are your slaves.”
She knotted her shoe-laces with frantic fingers, snatched up the brown tam from the table, and raced down the corridor between the swaying tapestries like a small wild thing. But half way down she halted abruptly. Behind one of the great doors someone was singing, gay and ringing115 and reckless, a gallant thing, that set her heart flying.
“Monsieur Charette à dit a ces Messieurs
Monsieur Charette à dit——”
Philippe le Gai was singing the old Vendée marching song that he had translated for her the day before.
For a moment she wavered and then, thrusting her hands deep in her pockets, she took a long breath. “Morning, Monsieur Philippe!” she challenged clearly.
The song broke off, and Fair could see him, for all the closed doors—could see his shining black head and the dark young face with its recklessly friendly smile, and its curiously unfriendly eyes, gray and quiet. She could see—— The blithe voice rang out again.
“And a most good morning to Mistress Fairy Carter! Where is she going, with those quick feet?”
“She’s going to play croquo-golf with Laure and Diane and the De Chartreuils. It’s such a heavenly beautiful day. You—you aren’t coming?”
“But never of this life!” laughed the voice. “How old you think we in here are, hein? Seven? Eight? We have twenty-nine years and thirty-nine gray hairs—we don’t play with foolish children.116 Only fairies can do that! You be careful of the ball going by old Daudin’s farm, see; there’s a sacred traitor of a ditch just over the hill—hit him hard and good, that ball, and maybe you clear it. Maybe you don’t, too! It is one animal of a ditch!” The light, strong laughter swept through the door, and Fair swayed to it as though it were a hand that pulled her. Then she turned away with a brave lift to her head.
“Thanks a lot—I’ll be careful. See you this afternoon, then.”
But the light feet finished their journey down the gray corridor and the worn flight of stone steps in an ominously sedate fashion. No, it was no use; it was no use at all. She felt suddenly discouraged and baffled, she who a few minutes before had been a candle, brave and warm and shining—only to have a careless breath blow out the light, leaving nothing but a cold little white stick with a dead black wick for a heart. It was horribly unfair, and someone should most certainly pay for it; someone who was sitting blithe and callous and safe behind those heavy doors—heavy doors of oak, and heavier ones of cool indifference. She drew a quivering breath, and straightened, as though she had heard far off a bugle sing. Oh, how dared he, how dared he be indifferent? He, who idled all his life away, paying no tribute to the117 world save laughter, a useless, black-haired, arrogant young good-for-nothing? How dared he be indifferent to beauty and riches and grace and wit and kindness, when they lingered at his side, tremulous and expectant? It was worse than cruel to be indifferent to the personification of all these attributes—it was crass, intolerable stupidity. She made a sudden violent gesture, pushing something far from her. That dream was ended; she was through. She would tell them to-night that her visit was over—that to-morrow she must be on her way to Paris—and America.
But at the thought of America her feet faltered to a halt, as though she were reluctant to go one step nearer to that enchanted country, empty now and strange, since Dad had gone. How could she go back to that great house with its white pillars and echoing halls?—how could she face its cold and silent beauty without his arms about her? No, no, she couldn’t—she was afraid—she was afraid of loneliness. While she had had her work, while she had had those thousands of brown young faces lifted to her in comradeship and worship and mirth, she had fought off the nightmare of his going. No one had known but Laure—Laure who had loved “the little American” from the first day that she had come laughing and tiptoeing down the long room with contraband chocolates for118 Laure’s bitter, dying poilus—Laure who had held her in her tired young arms all the terrible night after the cable came—Laure who had wept when a tearless and frozen Fair had set off for Germany with her division—Laure who had come all the way to Coblenz to bring her back to Normandy when she had literally dropped in her tracks two years later. Dear Laure, who had healed and tended this small alien, she would be loath to leave her go.
Fair’s lip quivered; she felt suddenly too small and solitary to face a world that could play such hideous tricks. It was bad enough and thrice incredible to have rendered Laure’s brother impervious to her every enchantment, but it was sheer wanton cruelty to have made him utterly unworthy of any lady’s straying fancy—and alas, alas, how fancy strayed! The bravest of all the fighting Carters was badly frightened; the whole thing savoured of black magic. She, who had flouted and flaunted every masculine heart that had been laid at her feet since she had put on slippers, to have fallen, victim to a laugh and a careless word! Why, she barely knew him, he held so lightly aloof, courteous and smiling and indifferent; it was hatefully obvious that he preferred his own society to any that they could offer. He wouldn’t play—he wouldn’t work—he wouldn’t even eat with them. Of course he had been in the hospital for119 ages, but he had been out of it for ages, too, and it was criminal folly to continue to pamper any one as he was pampered. A man—a real man—would die of shame before he would permit his sisters to give music lessons while he locked himself in his room and laughed. Never was he with them, save for the brief hour after déjeuner when they drank their cups of black coffee under the golden beech trees—and for that heavenly space after dinner in the great salon, full of firelight and candlelight and falling rose-leaves and music, with Madame de Lautrec stitching bright flowers into her tapestry frame and Monsieur le Vicomte smiling his courteous and tragic smile into the leaping fire in the carved chimney, and the fresh young voices rising and falling about the piano over which Laure bent her golden head—Diane’s silver music lifting clearly, Laure’s soft contralto murmuring like far waters, and Philippe singing as his troubadour ancestor might have sung, fearless and true and shining—Fair caught her breath at the memory of that ringing splendour, and then looked stern. It was ridiculous to worship any one as the De Lautrecs worshipped their tall Philippe and it was obviously highly demoralizing for him—highly. Laure was the worst; it was as though she couldn’t bear to have him out of her sight for a minute; if he rose to go—oh, if he even120 stirred, she was at his side in a flash, her hand slipped into his, all her white tranquillity shaken into some mysterious terror at the thought that he might escape her again.
“No, no!” she would cry passionately when Fair rallied her with flying laughter. “You do not know what you say, my Fair. I have no courage left; none, none, I tell you. He is my life—and for four years every morning, every night I made myself say: ‘You will not see him again, you will not hear him again, you will not touch him again. But you will be brave, you hear? You will be brave because it is for France.’ Now France has no more need of my courage—and that is very well, because I have no more to give her. It is all gone. I will never be brave again.”
She was the only one that Philippe would suffer to come near him in all the long hours that he spent behind those dark barred doors; often, as Fair sped by on light feet, she could hear the murmur of their voices, low and absorbed—shutting her out, thought Fair forlornly, more than any lock on any door. What did they find to talk about, hour after hour, blind and deaf to the world that lay about them, golden under the October sun? What spell did Laure use to bind him, what magic to dispel all the endless witchery that Fair had spread before him, first carelessly,121 then startled into wide-eyed consciousness and finally, during these last flying days, driven to despairing prodigality? She bit her lip, blinking back the treacherous tears fiercely. Some day—some day he should pay for this indifference, and pay with interest. The loitering feet paused again while their owner visualized, through the mist of unwelcome tears, a contrite Philippe dragging himself to grovel abjectly at her feet, begging for one small word of mercy and of hope. The vivid countenance suddenly assumed an expression of exquisite contentment.
“No, Philippe,” she would tell him, lightly but inflexibly, “no, my poor boy, it would be sheer cruelty to mislead you. Never, under any circumstances could I——”
“Enfin!” rang out a richly indignant voice. “Do you walk in your sleep, my good goose? We wait and we wait until we are one half frozen, and you arrive like the snail he was your little brother and——”
“Oh, Laure, I am sorry! Box my ears—no, hard—you tell her to box them hard, Monsieur André!”
“I, Mademoiselle? But never—I think we are well repaid for our vigil, hey, Raoul? Here is that very red mallet with which you will beat us all. We take Bravo with us, Diane?”
122 Diane shook her curly head dubiously at the frantic police dog.
“Who holds the leash; you, André? Last time he get loose, he bite three sheep—three, before we catch him. You hear, monster?”
Fair and Bravo exchanged guilty glances.
“Well, but Diane, he pulled so; truly he did. He went so fast, right over those hedges, and the leash cut through my mittens, and——”
Laure and Diane yielded to outrageous laughter.
“Raoul, you should see them! Right over those sticking hedges they go, Bravo ahead, big like three wolves, and Fair ’way behind at the other end of the leash, so small like the little Red Riding Hood, and so fast like she was flying! Oh, bon Dieu! I thought we die laughing!”
“Very, very funny,” commented Fair bitterly. “Specially for me. How are we going to-day?”
“How if we go across the little meadow to the Gates and home by the C?ur d’Or? Too far, Raoul?”
“We will be back for lunch? à la bonheur—we go. Ah, well hit, Mademoiselle. Straight like arrows, too!”
Fair raced after the red ball, her scarf flying behind her like a banner, wings at her heels, stars in her eyes, tragedy forgotten.
Three more strokes like that would get her to123 the meadow—oh, wonderful to be alive, to be swift and light and sure, to feel the wind lifting your hair, and the sun warming your heart in a world that was once more safe and kind. Dear world—dear France, dear France, so kind to this small American—she absolved it lavishly from its sins of cold water and bitter coffee; where else in all the world could you find a game of the inspiring simplicity of croquo-golf—a game whose sole equipment was a ball and a mallet—whose sole object was to cover as much space in as few strokes as possible? Where else could you find such comrades to play it with, grave and eager as children, ardent-eyed and laughing-lipped? She smote the ball again, her voice flying with it.
“Oh, Laure, as I live and breathe, it’s cleared the ditch!
‘Monsieur Charette hath said to all his peers,
Monsieur Charette hath said to all his peers,
Come, good sirs!
Now let us sally forth and whip these curs!’”
The exultant chant wavered for a moment as the proud possessor of the ball cleared the ditch, too, and took up her triumphant lilt, crescendo:
“‘Take up thy gun, my good Gregory!
Take up thy virgin of ivory—
Fill up thy drinking gourd right cheerily—
Our comrades have gone down
To fight for Paris Town!’”
André de Chartreuil swung up beside her, breathless and laughing. Luck was with him; all the English that he had mastered as liaison officer raced to the tip of his tongue.
“But what a child! How old are you, Mlle. Fairfax Carter?”
“Too old,” mourned Fairfax, shaking her bright head till the curls danced in the sun. “Much, much too old—old enough to know better.” She pounced on the half-buried ball with a small shriek of excitement. “Ah ha, my little treasure, a mere turn of the wrist and—bet I make the gate in four strokes.”
“Bet you do not,” replied André obligingly.
“Done; all the mushrooms that you find in Daudin’s meadow to—to what?”
“To the very great privilege of kissing the tips of your fingers.” Young De Chartreuil’s voice was carefully light.
“Monsieur André!” Fair, her mallet poised for the blow, paused long enough to bestow a distracting glance through her lashes, oddly at variance with her maternal tone. “You aren’t going to begin that kind of thing, are you?” Her laughter rang out, gay and lovely and mocking.
Young De Chartreuil smiled back at her—a not very convincing smile. She was the most enchanting creature that he had ever met, but125 her lack of discretion froze the marrow in his bones.
“Mademoiselle, one so charming is privileged to forget that one may also be kind,” he remarked formally.
Fair stopped laughing. “Oh, nonsense!” she returned abruptly, forgetting that one may also be polite. She hit viciously at the ball, scowling after it more like a cross little boy than a lady of Romance. “There—see what you made me do!” The astonished André met her accusing gaze blankly.
“I, Mademoiselle?”
“Yes, sir, you.” The tone was unrelenting. “I’m a great deal kinder than I have any business being,” she added darkly. “I certainly am. Sooner or later every single one of you turn on me like—like—vipers, and tell me that it’s not possible that I could have been so everlastingly kind and patient and wonderful if I hadn’t meant something by it. Goodness knows what you’d all like me to do,” she murmured gloomily. “Make faces and bark like a dog every time one of you comes near me, I s’pose. Where’s that ball? I wish I were dead.”
This time André’s smile was clearly unforced.
“Oh, no one in the world is droll like you!” he stated with conviction. “But no one. No, do126 not bark like a little dog—I will be good, I swear.” He shrugged his shoulders philosophically. “After all, if God had made you tender hearted you would spend your days weeping for the ones you broke. So this way it is best, is it not so?”
Fair beamed on him graciously. “Well, of course!” she assented with conviction. “And I’m certainly thankful that you see it. If you’d had about seventy-eight thousand soldiers spending their every waking minute telling you that they’d fade away and die if you weren’t kind to them, you’d see that the novelty of it would wear off a little. Wear off a good deal.” She gave the ball a rather perfunctory hit. After all, Fairfax Carter on the subject of Fairfax Carter was more absorbing than any game ever invented. She drew a deep breath and started off headlong on her favourite topic. “It’s perfectly horrible being a girl—and it’s a million times worse if you’re a—well, if you aren’t exactly revolting looking and are what the dime novels call an heiress.”
“It must, indeed, be hard,” agreed young De Chartreuil consolingly.
Fair glanced at him suspiciously from the corner of her eye.
“You needn’t laugh, my dear boy—it most certainly is. I don’t believe men care one little snip for your soul or—or your intellect.”
127 “Oh, but surely!” protested De Chartreuil politely.
“No, sir,” maintained the complete cynic, giving another abstracted hit at the ball. “Not a single, solitary one. Oh, bother—look where it went then! How many strokes have you had? Four? Four? I’ve had five, and look at the horrible thing now. What was I talking about? Oh, proposals! I don’t believe in international marriages, do you, Monsieur André?”
Monsieur André made a light and deprecating gesture. “I, Mademoiselle? But I have had so few!”
“I do think foreigners are horribly frivolous!” murmured Fair to the universe at large. “I’ve not had so many myself, but I can still think they’re a bad idea. You couldn’t possibly help thinking that they were pretty cold and calculating.”
“Could you not?” inquired one who had come very near being a cold calculator in a freezing voice. “I, for one, try to look more charitably on the pretty ladies who covet our poor coronets.”
Fair brushed this thrust aside with the obliviousness that made her strength and her weakness once the engine of her attention was racing along her one-track mind to the goal of her selection. Humour, satire, impertinence, or indignation were128 signals powerless to impede her progress when she was on her way; she rushed by them heedlessly, recklessly indifferent to anything short of a head-on collision.
“Oh, I wasn’t thinking of the girls—who in the world wants a little old coronet! Of course they’re nice if you’re used to them,” she added hastily. “But it was the men that I was thinking of; you simply couldn’t be sure, not ever. You work, don’t you?”
“Alas, yes, Mademoiselle!” De Chartreuil abandoned resentment and stood leaning on his mallet, laughing down at this incorrigible and enchanting small barbarian.
“Monsieur André, why do you suppose that Monsieur de Lautrec doesn’t work?”
“Philippe?” His voice was strange.
“Yes, Philippe—you didn’t suppose that I meant the Vicomte, did you? This place keeps him busy from morning to night. Philippe, of course.” Her voice was impatient, but there was a desperate eagerness behind it that checked the quick words on De Chartreuil’s tongue.
“Mademoiselle, for four years he worked day and night; he gave the blood of his heart, the blood of his soul in work—would you grudge him a little rest?”
“But, good heavens, he’s had years to rest,”129 cried Fair despairingly. “He’s not going to rest until he dies, is he? You’re not resting—Monsieur Raoul’s not resting—no one in the world has a right to rest when there’s so much to do—no one!”
“For long, long after the war he did not leave the hospital, Mademoiselle.”
“Well, wasn’t he resting there?” demanded his inquisitor fiercely.
“No,” replied the boy gravely. “No, he was not resting there, I think.”
“What—what was the matter with him in the hospital?” asked Fair, making her lips into a very straight line so that they wouldn’t quiver.
“It was—what you call shell-shock.”
“Shell-shock? That’s horrible—oh, don’t I know! Those hospitals—like a nightmare—worse than a nightmare——” She swept it far from her with a resolute gesture. “It’s no good thinking about it; you have to forget! And Heaven knows that he’s over it now; Heaven knows that now he isn’t suffering from any breakdown. I’ve never seen him look even serious for two minutes at a time—I don’t believe that he has the faintest idea of what seriousness means. It’s all very well to have a sense of humour; I have a perfectly wonderful sense of humour myself when I’m not thinking of something more important—but it’s ridiculous to think that that’s all there is to it!” She130 hit the ball a reckless blow that sent it flying far across the tawny meadow, and turned to young De Chartreuil a lovely little countenance on fire with righteous indignation and angry distress. “A real man would know that life ought to be more than just laughing half the day—and singing half the night—and looking the way the heroes in the moving pictures ought to look—and chatter-boxing away in his room for hours and hours and hours!” Bitter resentment at this unpalatable memory sent the colour flying higher in her cheeks, and she swung off after the red ball at a furious scamper. “And by Glory, I’m going to tell him so!” she announced tempestuously over her shoulder to the astounded André. He sprang forward, galvanized into instant action.
“Mademoiselle—Mademoiselle, wait, I beg you. You jest, of course, but——”
“Indeed I do not jest, of course,” retorted Fair hotly. “I don’t jest one little bit. Why in the world shouldn’t I tell him?”
“There are, I should think, one thousand reasons why,” he replied sharply. “Must I give you the thousand and first, and assure you that always, always, all the days that you live, it would be to you a very deep regret?”
“It certainly would not,” replied his unimpressed audience flatly. Any one who attempted131 to frighten Fair out of any undertaking whatever was making a vital strategic error, but André de Chartreuil was too young and too thoroughly outraged to indulge in strategy.
“Mademoiselle, but this is madness——”
“Monsieur, but this is impertinence.” Fair’s chin was tilted at an angle that implied that battle, murder, and sudden death would be child’s play to her from then on. This—this little whipper-snapper of a French infant who had basely pretended to be at her feet, suddenly rising up and dictating a course of conduct to her—to her! Well, it simply proved what she had always maintained. You couldn’t trust a foreigner—you couldn’t, not ever.
“For what you call impertinence, forgive me.” The tone was far from repentant, and Fair waited stiffly for further developments. “My poor English renders me clumsy—grant me, I pray, patience.”
Very poor English, thought Fair sternly; it might mean anything. Grant him patience indeed! She had precious little patience to spare for any one this morning, as he would discover to his cost.
“Philippe, he is like no one else!” Young De Chartreuil made a gesture of impotent despair, his careful English suddenly turned traitor. “You do not see it, but he is like no one else, I tell you.132 I who was his sous-officier—his how you call it, his under-officer—ah, no matter—he was my captain for three years, and I know, you hear me, I know.”
“Heaven knows I hear you,” Fair assured him with ominous calm. “I should think that they could hear you in Paris!”
“Well, then, I tell you that we, his men, we who............
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