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"To-night!" "This very evening!" "Did you ever!"
"What possesses him!" were some of the replies she gathered,
uttered simultaneously in French and English.

"Impossible!" she exclaimed. "How can a person start off from
Grand Isle to Mexico at a moment's notice, as if he were going over
to Klein's or to the wharf or down to the beach?"

"I said all along I was going to Mexico; I've been saying so
for years!" cried Robert, in an excited and irritable tone, with
the air of a man defending himself against a swarm of stinging

Madame Lebrun knocked on the table with her knife handle.

"Please let Robert explain why he is going, and why he is
going to-night," she called out. "Really, this table is getting to
be more and more like Bedlam every day, with everybody talking at
once. Sometimes--I hope God will forgive me--but positively,
sometimes I wish Victor would lose the power of speech."

Victor laughed sardonically as he thanked his mother for her
holy wish, of which he failed to see the benefit to anybody, except
that it might afford her a more ample opportunity and license to
talk herself.

Monsieur Farival thought that Victor should have been taken
out in mid-ocean in his earliest youth and drowned. Victor thought
there would be more logic in thus disposing of old people with an
established claim for making themselves universally obnoxious.
Madame Lebrun grew a trifle hysterical; Robert called his brother
some sharp, hard names.

"There's nothing much to explain, mother," he said; though he
explained, nevertheless--looking chiefly at Edna--that he could
only meet the gentleman whom he intended to join at Vera Cruz by
taking such and such a steamer, which left New Orleans on such a
day; that Beaudelet was going out with his lugger-load of
vegetables that night, which gave him an opportunity of reaching
the city and making his vessel in time.

"But when did you make up your mind to all this?" demanded
Monsieur Farival.
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