"Yes, but let us mind what we are about," said Grandet in a tone whichmade the president tremble.
"Is he driving some bargain?" thought Cruchot.
At this moment the knocker announced the des Grassins family, andtheir arrival interrupted a conversation which had begun betweenMadame Grandet and the abbe.
Madame des Grassins was one of those lively, plump little women, withpink-and-white skins, who, thanks to the claustral calm of theprovinces and the habits of a virtuous life, keep their youth untilthey are past forty. She was like the last rose of autumn,--pleasantto the eye, though the petals have a certain frostiness, and theirperfume is slight. She dressed well, got her fashions from Paris, setthe tone to Saumur, and gave parties. Her husband, formerly aquartermaster in the Imperial guard, who had been desperately woundedat Austerlitz, and had since retired, still retained, in spite of hisrespect for Grandet, the seeming frankness of an old soldier."Good evening, Grandet," he said, holding out his hand and affecting asort of superiority, with which he always crushed the Cruchots."Mademoiselle," he added, turning to Eugenie, after bowing to MadameGrandet, "you are always beautiful and good, and truly I do not knowwhat to wish you." So saying, he offered her a little box which hisservant had brought and which contained a Cape heather,--a flowerlately imported into Europe and very rare. ombre hair