Jezebel's Daughter HTML version

Chapter I.21
The next day, my calculation of possibilities in the matter of Fritz turned out to be
Returning to Main Street, after a short absence from the house, the door was precipitately
opened to me by Minna. Before she could say a word, her face told me the joyful news.
Before I could congratulate her, Fritz himself burst headlong into the hall, and made one
of his desperate attempts at embracing me. This time I succeeded (being the shorter man
of the two) in slipping through his arms in the nick of time.
"Do you want to kiss me," I exclaimed, "when Minna is in the house!"
"I have been kissing Minna," Fritz answered with perfect gravity, until we are both of us
out of breath. I look upon you as a sort of safety-valve."
At this, Minna's charming face became eloquent in another way. I only waited to ask for
news of my aunt before I withdrew. Mrs. Wagner was already on the road to Frankfort,
following Fritz by easy stages.
"And where is Jack Straw?" I inquired.
"Traveling with her," said Fritz.
Having received this last extraordinary piece of intelligence, I put off all explanations
until a fitter opportunity, and left the lovers together until dinner-time.
It was one of the last fine days of the autumn. The sunshine tempted me to take a turn in
Mr. Engelman's garden.
A shrubbery of evergreens divided the lawn near the house from the flower-beds which
occupied the further extremity of the plot of ground. While I was on one side of the
shrubbery, I heard the voices of Mr. Keller and Madame Fontaine on the other side.
Then, and then only, I remembered that the doctor had suggested a little walking exercise
for the invalid, while the sun was at its warmest in the first hours of the afternoon.
Madame Fontaine was in attendance, in the absence of Mr. Engelman, engaged in the
duties of the office.
I had just turned back again towards the house, thinking it better not to disturb them,
when I heard my name on the widow's lips. Better men than I, under stress of temptation,
have been known to commit actions unworthy of them. I was mean enough to listen; and
I paid the proverbial penalty for gratifying my curiosity--I heard no good of myself.
"You have honored me by asking my advice, sir," I heard Madame Fontaine say. "With
regard to young David Glenney, I can speak quite impartially. In a few days more, if I
can be of no further use to you, I shall have left the house."