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The child rose, and timidly approached, his eyes dilating with distrust and astonishment. The poor boy's repulsive uncleanliness was a terrible charge against the mother. Did she no longer love her own offspring? The untidiness of sorrow and poverty has its bounds. A long time must have passed since the child's face and hands had been washed, and his soiled clothes were literally falling to rags. Still, he was a handsome little fellow, and seemed fairly intelligent, in spite of his bashfulness. He was very light-haired, and in features he was extremely like M. de Coralth. Chupin took him on his knees, and, after looking to see if the door communicating with the inner room were securely closed, he asked: "What's your name, little chap?"
"Doesn't your mother ever talk to you about him?"
The child did not reply; perhaps his mother had forbidden him to say anything on the subject--perhaps that instinct which precedes intelligence, just as the dawn precedes daylight, warned him to be prudent with a stranger. "Doesn't your papa ever come to see you?" insisted Chupin.
"And wouldn't you like to go and see him?"
"I don't know. But he'll come some day, and take us away with him to a large house. We shall be all right, then; and he will give us a deal of money and pretty dresses, and I shall have plenty of toys."
Satisfied on this point, Chupin, pushed his investigations farther. "And do you know this old gentleman who is with your mamma in the other room?"
"He's the gentleman who owns that beautiful garden at the corner of the Rue Riquet, where there are such splendid grapes. I'm going with him to get some."
"Does he often come to see you?"
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