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which to restore to your mother the property you took from her this morning. If you refuse, we must go with this story to your husband's office. You are expecting your lover; Mr. Foster must know that, too.'
The high-heeled slippers of the woman tapped on the hard-wood floor.
Will you do it?'
' Then,' announced the old lady, in the clear voice that had rung out in many a victory over cowardice, or trickery, or wrongdoing, ‘I will this afternoon lay before the police information in regard to M. Blanc which will take him back to the galleys, from which he escaped some four years ago, having been sentenced at Nimes, under the name of Marton, to ten years' imprisonment for forgery.'
Julie's face grew white.
It isn't true,' she muttered.
She really loves him,' said Mrs. Faunce to herself, taking out an antiquated gold watch, whose loud ticking could be heard throughout the room.
'Five minutes,' she repeated.
'How dare you ? ' blazed the young woman. 'You couldn't know anything about a man of M. Blanc's rank. I believe you're a common highway robber.'
* I'm not, me dear, though the situation might point to that. Shall we settle the dispute by telephoning to your husband ? No? Then you must believe me. I happen to have heard the early history of your lover, from a fellow-rascal that just escaped being sent to prison with him. Richards he called himself, when he didn't call himself something else. And he did me a good turn with the Orphanage of the Open Door. Four minutes ! Would you mind hurrying a bit ?'
The feet of Julie Weston Foster dragged heavily away. A minute later, a whirlwind swept back through the portières, scattering leaves of Revelation,' together with thin, folded documents that fell this way and that. A torn book was hurled at Mrs. Faunce; she caught it and touched it reverently.
You really shouldn't treat the Holy Scriptures that way,' she said rebukingly. “I've heard that you began life by tearin' out the Ten Commandments. Don't do it! Somehow we need that leaf of the Bible if we have naught else.'
Now, Mrs. Weston, will you please sit down somewhere and see if your property is all here?”
You do it !’she begged. There's a list John made before he died.'
"Goneril,' said Mrs. Faunce, turning to Maude, 'your mother has some information to give you about M. Lamballe. Meanwhile, I will verify the list,' and, taking the bag from Mrs. Weston, she added its contents to those gathered from the floor, seated herself upon a brocaded, gilt-legged fauteuil, and began systematically checking off bond after bond.
'Twenty Pennsylvania Railroad bonds, ten Delaware and Hudson-Madam, your husband seems to have been a good investor.'
'Who the devil are you ? ' demanded Julie Foster. At this moment of her fury Mrs. Faunce partly understood the fascination she had evidently exercised over M. Blanc.
“Ay, who the devil are we all?' said Mrs. Faunce, philosophically. • 'Tis the question we all ask but never answer, for we do not know. All I can say is, I am one who has tried to be what I hope you will grow into, an honest woman. Check! They are all here. Now, will Miss Maude come with us ?'
The girl had been talking with her mother, one of whose withered hands still clutched the bright-blue gown. She shook her head sullenly ; her eyes were full of smarting tears, and she was evidently unable to speak.
Come!' said Mrs. Faunce. And now you two little girls, fresh from the country, that think you belong to the great world, just take a word of warning from me. You're only playin' with the whirlpool, that will draw you in and suck you down if
down if you don't run away from it.'
'But,' faltered the mother, as the door had closed upon the awed and frightened faces of the daughters, ' I've got to stay and take care of them.'
Rich Irish laughter rang out through the bare and desolate balls.
With that money of yours in the bank, there will be no trouble for the present from MM. Lamballe and Blanc. This very day I cable to your daughter Maude's Maine young man, and we'l marry him to her the day he lands. He can help her now better than you can. There's nothin' the matter with your daughters, me dear, save ignorance; and I'll see that your son-in-law gets the message that will make him look after his wife a trifle better.'
Tears were running down the wrinkled cheeks of the fugitive.
'They was such cute little girls,' she said. “Julie's hair was yellow, too, when she was little.'
Within half an hour, Mrs. Weston's little fortune was safely locked up in a safe-deposit box in one of the tourist banks that were open in the afternoon; her key and her bank-book were safe in her bag.
Now there's no one on earth can touch what belongs to you,' said Mrs. Faunce gaily, as the two came down the broad stone steps with the relief of their inmost hearts shining in their faces. A flower-girl was calling violets; the pungent odour of chrysanthemums came from a stand near by ; the crisp air was full of that homeward call of hearth and settle that autumn twilights bring.
'You said I might go home with you to-night,' ventured the fugitive.
'Indeed and you may. And I've just taken the liberty of telephoning your son-in-law at his office, askin' him to call on you there to-morrow. '
'Have you any grandchildren ? 'asked Mrs. Weston wistfully, as they drove through the chilly streets to the Orphanage of the Open Door.
Dozens of em,' answered Mrs. Faunce, laughing ; 'twenty right here.'
A misgiving came into Mrs. Weston's eyes; was this woman, after all, as Julie had said, crazy? Through the open front door, however, streamed reassuring light and warmth and colour, and
as they entered the air was all alive with children's laughter. A Coby fat little German boy, fair-haired and sturdy, rushed upon Mrs.
Faunce and clasped her about the knees in ardent embraces.
'Would you want a finer family of grandchildren than this?
“They're lovely,' said the other, her bonnet hanging rakishly
'They're me own because they're nobody else's, and I've collected 'em where I could find 'em. Who is there is not your own when they're in need ?'
“I knew you was a good woman the minute I set eyes on you, said Mrs. Weston simply. Would you let me help take care of them?'
"I'll let you take care of 'em altogether for a while, if you can be happy here,' exclaimed Mrs. Faunce exultantly, taking a fer waltz steps.
Oh!'cried the other; the tenderness of the enfolding arms about little Gabrielle spoke for her. But would I have to manage the help ?'
'The help will manage itself, but you will have to answer the children's questions,' chuckled Mrs. Faunce.
The front door still stood open ; through it came sickening sounds of cruel blow after blow; a Paris cab-driver was beating his horse after the manner of his kind.
Why doesn't God stop it ?' demanded Petit Pierre, fiercely. He could if he wanted to, couldn't he?'
'You tell 'em l'cried Mrs. Faunce, dashing out of doors after the driver.
Later that evening, the ex-matron found the new-comer sitting on the edge of a tiny white bed in the boys' ward, and bending in rapture over two bowed heads. ‘Hush !' she said imperatively, while little Paul lisped
* Effishidy before I wake.' • I'm so glad they can say 'em in English,' she whispered, when they had finished and stood before her in their white night-gowns. 'It never seemed to me as if God really could understand French.'
As Mrs. Faunce went on to the other room to say good-night to Enchen and little English Mary and the others, she heard Jeannot's oft-repeated question as to whether God had side curls.
‘Sh, sh, oh no!'came the shocked answer from the new grandmother's lips.
' Then he's got side whiskers,' triumphantly asserted little Paul.
'Yes, I guess maybe he's got side whiskers,' was the answer. 'You see, God isn't a lady, God is a man.'
Jeannot drew a deep sigh of relief, as if theological spectres were laid for ever.
'I asked Grandma Faunce the other day, and she didn't know,' he said reproachfully.
Mrs. Faunce clasped her hands together in delight; she had found the right person at last! She went hastily upstairs, and sat down at her desk, carefully examining certain documents that gave information about steamers leaving Marseilles for Egypt.
I'll start for the Sphinx to-morrow,' she announced with a gleam in her eye. Then she wrote a letter to America, ordering a Boston rocker to be shipped to No. 41, Rue de Vannes, Paris.