At eight o'clock, one of the door-keeper's daughters brought me my chocolate, and told me that Le Duc had got the fever.
"You must take care of the poor fellow."
"My cousin has just taken him some broth."
"What is your name?"
"My name is Rose, and my sister is Manon."
Just then Manon came in with my shirt, on which she had put fresh lace. I thanked her, and she said with a blush that she did her father's hair very well.
"I am delighted to hear it, and I shall be very pleased if you will be kind enough to do the same offices for me till my servant recovers."
"With pleasure, sir."
"And I," said Rose, laughing, "will shave you."
"I should like to see how you do it; get the water."
I rose hastily, while Manon was preparing to do my hair. Rose returned and shaved me admirably. As soon as she had washed off the lather, I said,
"You must give me a kiss," presenting my cheek to her. She pretended not to understand.
"I shall be vexed," said I, gravely but pleasantly, "if you refuse to kiss me,"
She begged to be excused, saying with a little smile, that it was not customary to do so at Grenoble.
"Well, if you won't kiss me, you shan't shave me."
The father came in at that point, bringing his bill.
"Your daughter has just shaved me admirably," said I, "and she refuses to kiss me, because it is not the custom at Grenoble."
"You little silly," said he, "it is the custom in Paris. You kiss me fast enough after you have shaved me, why should you be less polite to this gentleman?"
She then kissed me with an air of submission to the paternal decree which made Manon laugh.
"Ah!" said the father, "your turn will come when you have finished doing the gentleman's hair."
He was a cunning fellow, who knew the best way to prevent me cheapening him, but there was no need, as I thought his charges reasonable, and as I paid him in full he went off in great glee.
Manon did my hair as well as my dear Dubois, and kissed me when she had done without making as many difficulties as Rose. I thought I should get on well with both of them. They went downstairs when the banker was announced.
He was quite a young man, and after he had counted me out four hundred Louis, he observed that I must be very comfortable.
"Certainly," said I, "the two sisters are delightful."
"Their cousin is better. They are too discreet."
"I suppose they are well off."
"The father has two thousand francs a year. They will be able to marry well-to-do tradesmen."
I was curious to see the cousin who was said to be prettier than the sisters, and as soon as the banker had gone I went downstairs to satisfy my curiosity. I met the father and asked him which was Le Duc's room, and thereon I went to see my fine fellow. I found him sitting up in a comfortable bed with a rubicund face which did not look as if he were dangerously ill.
"What is the matter with you?
"Nothing, sir. I am having a fine time of it. Yesterday I thought I would be ill."
"What made you think that?"
"The sight of the three Graces here, who are made of better stuff than your handsome housekeeper, who would not let me kiss her. They are making me wait too long for my broth, however. I shall have to speak severely about it."
"Le Duc, you are a rascal."
"Do you want me to get well?"
"I want you to put a stop to this farce, as I don't like it." Just then the door opened, and the cousin came in with the broth. I thought her ravishing, and I noticed that in waiting on Le Duc she had an imperious little air which well became her.
"I shall dine in bed," said my Spaniard.
"You shall be attended to," said the pretty girl, and she went out.
"She puts on big airs," said Le Duc, "but that does not impose on me. Don't you think she is very pretty?"
"I think you are very impudent. You ape your betters, and I don't approve of it. Get up. You must wait on me at table, and afterwards you will eat your dinner by yourself, and try to get yourself respected as an honest man always is, whatever his condition, so long as he does not forget himself.