In a quarter of an hour I will come and dress you, and promise you to make you all well in ten days, in return for your having given me my daughter, who was on board of the Victorine with the other ladies." The officers now made their bows, and left me alone with General O'Brien. "Recollect," said he, "that I tell you once for all, that my purse, and everything, is at your command.
"He did not tell me, but I heard the elder man say to Benoit to have the horses ready at earliest light." "Thou must serve them again in the morning," said Jeanne. "It will be but the once more." "Nay," answered Victorine, "I will not." Something in the girl's tone arrested her aunt's attention. "And why?" she said sharply, looking scrutinizingly at her.
You would never have come without her. Contessa Corramini knows nothing of this, though she has a suspicion that something mysterious goes on. She was not on the 'Arethusa. At this moment she is in Venice. Victorine was the one woman beside yourself and the aunt on the yacht, and Victorine has been well paid for the part she plays.
He had but a few hours to spend in the city, he said; had brought despatches and must carry others back by the next train. His story, he insisted, was too long to tell before he had delivered certain battery letters; one to Victorine, two to Constance Mandeville, and so on. Here was one to Flora, from Captain Irby; perhaps the story was in it. At any rate, its bearer must rush along now.
But that is how silly little Victorine leading the hue and cry which suddenly overwhelmed all counter-suggestion as a levee crevasse sweeps away sand-bags that is how the permanent and combined chairmanship of Sisters and Bazaar came to be forcibly thrust upon Anna instead of Flora. Experienced after Odd-Fellows' Hall and St. Louis Hotel, the ladies were able to take up this affair as experts.
And, Victorine," she added, with an attempt at indifference in her tone, "wear thy white gown thou hadst on last Sunday. It pleased me better than any gown thou hast worn this year, that, and thy black silk apron with the red lace; they become thee."
The sitting-room was in one corner of the mansion overlooking the lane and the Tiber, and Victorine at once went to the windows, one of which afforded a view over the distant lower part of the river, while the other faced the Trastevere and the Janiculum across the water. "Ah! yes, it's very pleasant!" said Pierre, who had followed and stood beside her.
Victorine called again impatiently; and the next minute she bounded down the stairway, crying, "Why dost thou terrify me so, thou bad Benoit, not answering me when I " She stopped, face to face with Willan Blaycke, and gave a cry of honest surprise. "Ah! but is it really thou?" she said, the rosy color mounting all over her face as she recollected how she was attired.
Victorine looked after him, murmuring, "Surely the child Annette is the apple of her father's eye." The outline of the foremost fishing-smack was growing more and more distinct on the water, as he reached the end of the quay. Moving figures on board flashed into uncertain light for a moment, then disappeared into darkness again.
O'Brien had taken two good prizes, and that was sufficient to cover a multitude of sins, even if he had committed any; but the despatch was admirably written, and the admiral, in his letter to the Admiralty, commented upon Captain O'Brien's successful and daring attack; whereas, if the truth had been known, it was Swinburne's advice of pulling up the weather shore, which was the occasion of our capturing the Victorine; but it is very hard to come at the real truth of these sort of things, as I found out during the time that I was in His Majesty's service.