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"I knew you would be astonished," laughed Desiree, "at the way
he has grown. The little cochon de lait! Look at his legs,
mamma, and his hands and fingernails,--real finger-nails. Zandrine
had to cut them this morning. Isn't it true, Zandrine?"
The woman bowed her turbaned head majestically, "Mais si, Madame."
"And the way he cries," went on Desiree, "is deafening.
Armand heard him the other day as far away as La Blanche's cabin."
Madame Valmonde had never removed her eyes from the child.
She lifted it and walked with it over to the window that was
lightest. She scanned the baby narrowly, then looked as
searchingly at Zandrine, whose face was turned to gaze across the
"Yes, the child has grown, has changed," said Madame Valmonde,
slowly, as she replaced it beside its mother. "What does Armand say?"
Desiree's face became suffused with a glow that was happiness itself.
"Oh, Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe,
chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says
not,--that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't
true. I know he says that to please me. And mamma," she added,
drawing Madame Valmonde's head down to her, and speaking in a
whisper, "he hasn't punished one of them--not one of them--since
baby is born. Even Negrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg
that he might rest from work--he only laughed, and said Negrillon
was a great scamp. oh, mamma, I'm so happy; it frightens me."
What Desiree said was true. Marriage, and later the birth of
his son had softened Armand Aubigny's imperious and exacting nature
greatly. This was what made the gentle Desiree so happy, for she
loved him desperately. When he frowned she trembled, but loved
him. When he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God.
But Armand's dark, handsome face had not often been disfigured
by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.
When the baby was about three months old, Desiree awoke one
day to the conviction that there was something in the air menacing
her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp. It had only been
a disquieting suggestion; an air of mystery among the blacks;
unexpected visits from far-off neighbors who could hardly account
for their coming. Then a strange, an awful change in her husband's