Grandmother Dear Part 3

"Not like England," said Molly superciliously, "where it _always_ rains when you want it to be fine."

They made the most of the beautiful weather, though by no means agreeing with aunty's reminder that even in Paris it did sometimes rain, and the three pairs of eager feet were pretty tired by the time bed-time came.

And oh, what a disappointment the next morning brought!

The children woke to a regular, pouring wet day, no chance of fulfilling the programme laid out, for Sylvia was subject to sore throats, and grandmother would not let her go out in the damp, and there would be no fun in going to the Louvre without her. So, as what can't be cured _must_ be endured, the children had just to make the best of it and amuse themselves in the house in the hopes of sunshine again for to-morrow.

These hopes were happily fulfilled.

"A lovely day," said aunty, "all the brighter for yesterday's rain."

"And we may go to the Louvre," exclaimed Sylvia eagerly.

Aunty hesitated and turned, as everybody did when they were at a loss, to grandmother.

"What do you think?" she said. She was reluctant to disappoint the children--Sylvia especially--as they had all been very good the day before, but yet----"It is Saturday, and the Louvre will be so crowded you know, mother."

"But _I_ shall be with you," said Ralph.

"And _I_!" said grandmother. "Is not a little old lady like me equal to taking care of you all?"

"Will you really come too, dear grandmother?" exclaimed Sylvia and Molly in a breath. "_Oh_, how nice!"

"I should like to go," said grandmother. "It is ever so many years since I was at the Louvre."

"Do let us go then. Oh, do let us all go," said the little girls. "You know we are leaving on Tuesday, and something might come in the way again on Monday."

So it was settled.

"Remember, children," said grandmother as they were all getting out of the carriage, "remember to keep close together. You have no idea how easily some of you might get lost in the crowd."

"_Lost!_" repeated Sylvia incredulously.

"LOST!" echoed Molly.

"LOST!" shouted Ralph so loudly that some of their fellow-sight-seers, passing beside them into the palace, turned round to see what was the matter. "How could we _possibly_ get lost here?"

"Very easily," replied aunty calmly. "There is nothing, to people unaccustomed to it, so utterly bewildering as a crowd."

"Not to me," persisted Ralph. "I could thread my way in and out of the people till I found you. The _girls_ might get lost, perhaps."

"Thank you," said Molly; "as it happens, Master Ralph, I think it would be much harder to lose us than you. For one thing we can speak French ever such a great deal better than you."

"And then there are two of us. If one of us was lost, grandmother and aunty could hold out the other one as a pattern, and say, 'I want a match for this,'" said Sylvia laughing, and a little eager to prevent the impending skirmish between Ralph and Molly.

"Hush, children, you really mustn't chatter so," said aunty. "Use your eyes, and let your tongues, poor things, rest for a little."

They got on very happily. Aunty managed to show the children the special picture or pictures each had most wanted to see--including the "beautiful blue and orange" one of Molly's recollection. She nearly screamed with delight when she saw "how like it was to the one in papa's study," but took in good part Ralph's cynical observation that a thing that was copied from another was generally supposed to be "like" the original.

Only Sylvia was a little disappointed when, after looking at the pictures in one of the smaller rooms--a room in no way peculiar or remarkable as differing from the others--they suddenly discovered that they were in the famous "Salle Henri II.," where Henry the Fourth was killed!

"I didn't think it would be like this," said Sylvia lugubriously. "Why do they call it 'Salle Henri II.?' It should be called after Henry the Fourth; and I don't think it should have pictures in, and be just like a common room."

"What would you have it? Hung round with black and tapers burning?" said her aunt.

"I don't know--any way I thought it would have had old tapestry," said Sylvia. "I should like it to have been kept just the way it was then."

"Poor Sylvia!" said grandmother. "But we must hurry on, children. We have not seen the 'Petite Galerie' yet--dear me, how many years it is since I was in it!--and some of the most beautiful pictures are there."

They passed on--grandmother leaning on aunty's arm--the three children close behind, through a room called the "Salle des Sept Cheminees," along a vestibule filled with cases of jewellery, leading again to one of the great staircases. Something in the vestibule attracted grandmother's attention, and she stopped for a moment. Sylvia, not interested in what the others were looking at, turned round and retraced her steps a few paces by the way they had entered the hall. A thought had struck her.

"I'd like just to run back for a moment to Henry the Fourth's Room," she said to herself. "I want to notice the shape of it exactly, and how many windows there are, and then I think I can fancy to myself how it looked _then_, with the tapestry and all the old-fashioned furniture."

No sooner thought than done. In a moment she was back in the room which had so curiously fascinated her, taking accurate note of its features.

"I shall remember it now," she said to herself, after gazing round her for a minute or two. "Now I must run after grandmother and the others, or they'll be thinking I am lost."

She turned with a little laugh at the idea, and hastened out of the room, through the few groups of people standing or moving about, looking at the pictures--hastened out, expecting in another moment to see the familiar figures. The room into which she made her way was also filled with pictures, as had been the one through which she had entered the "Salle Henri II." She crossed it without misgiving: she had no idea that she had left the Salle Henri II. by the opposite door from that by which she had entered it!

Poor little Sylvia, she did not know that grandmother's warning was actually to be fulfilled. She was "lost in the Louvre!"



"What called me back?

A voice of happy childhood,

"Yet might I not bewail the vision gone, My heart so leapt to that dear loving tone."

Mrs. HEMANS, "An Hour of Romance."

She did not find out her mistake. She passed through the room and entered the vestibule into which it led, quite confident that she would meet the others in an instant. There were several groups standing about this vestibule as there had been in the other, but none composed of the figures she was looking for.

"They must have passed on," said Sylvia to herself; "I wish they hadn't; perhaps they never noticed I wasn't beside them."

Then for the first time a slight feeling of anxiety seized her. She hurried quickly across the ante-room where she was standing, to find herself in another "salle," which was quite unlike any of the others she had seen. Instead of oil-paintings, it was hung round with colourless engravings. Here, too, there were several people standing about, but none whom, even for an instant, Sylvia could have mistaken for her friends.

"How quickly they must have hurried on," she thought, her heart beginning to beat faster. "I do think they might have waited a little. They must have missed me by now."

No use delaying in _this_ room. Sylvia hurried on, finding herself now in that part of the palace devoted to ancient pottery and other antiquities, uninteresting to a child. The rooms through which she passed were much less crowded than those containing pictures. At a glance it was easy to distinguish that those she was in search of were _not_ there. Still she tried to keep up heart.

"There is nothing here they would much care about," she said to herself.

"If I could get back to the picture rooms I should be sure to find them."

At last, to her delight, after crossing a second vestibule, from which descended a great staircase which she fancied she had seen before, she entered another of the long galleries completely hung with paintings. She bounded forward joyously.

Chapter end

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