Jezebel's Daughter HTML version

Chapter I.13
Mr. Keller fixed his eyes on the widow in stern silence; walked past her to the inner end
of the hall; and entered a room at the back of the house, closing the door behind him.
Even if he had felt inclined to look at Minna, it would not have been possible for him to
see her. After one timid glance at him, the poor girl hid herself behind me, trembling
piteously. I took her hand to encourage her. "Oh, what hope is there for us," she
whispered, "with such a man as that?"
Madame Fontaine turned as Mr. Keller passed her, and watched his progress along the
hall until he disappeared from view. "No," she said quietly to herself, "you don't escape
me in that way."
As if moved by a sudden impulse, she set forth on the way by which Mr. Keller had gone
before her; walking, as he had walked, to the door at the end of the hall.
I had remained with Minna, and was not in a position to see how her mother looked. Mr.
Engelman's face, as he stretched out his hands entreatingly to stop Madame Fontaine, told
me that the fierce passions hidden deep in the woman's nature had risen to the surface and
shown themselves. "Oh, dear lady! dear lady!" cried the simple old man, "Don't look like
that! It's only Keller's temper--he will soon be himself again."
Without answering him, without looking at him, she lifted her hand, and put him back
from her as if he had been a troublesome child. With her firm graceful step, she resumed
her progress along the hall to the room at the end, and knocked sharply at the door.
Mr. Keller's voice answered from within, "Who is there?"
"Madame Fontaine," said the widow. "I wish to speak to you."
"I decline to receive Madame Fontaine."
"In that case, Mr. Keller, I will do myself the honor of writing to you."
"I refuse to read your letter."
"Take the night to think of it, Mr. Keller, and change your mind in the morning."
She turned away, without waiting for a reply, and joined us at the outer end of the hall.
Minna advanced to meet her, and kissed her tenderly. "Dear, kind mamma, you are doing
this for my sake," said the grateful girl. "I am ashamed that you should humble yourself--
it is so useless!"
"It shall not be useless," her mother answered. "If fifty Mr. Kellers threatened your
happiness, my child, I would brush the fifty out of your way. Oh, my darling, my