“We will go,” she answered, quivering. “And may your good luck continue—that is what I wish you.”
AMID the general delight attending the double wedding which was to prove, so to say, a supreme celebration of the glory of Chantebled, it had occurred to Mathieu’s daughter Rose to gather the whole family together one Sunday, ten days before the date appointed for the ceremony. She and her betrothed, followed by the whole family, were to repair to Janville station in the morning to meet the other affianced pair, Ambroise and Andree, who were to be conducted in triumph to the farm where they would all lunch together. It would be a kind of wedding rehearsal, she exclaimed with her hearty laugh; they would be able to arrange the programme for the great day. And her idea enraptured her to such a point, she seemed to anticipate so much delight from this preliminary festival, that Mathieu and Marianne consented to it.
Rose’s marriage was like the supreme blossoming of years of prosperity, and brought a finishing touch to the happiness of the home. She was the prettiest of Mathieu’s daughters, with dark brown hair, round gilded cheeks, merry eyes, and charming mouth. And she had the most equable of dispositions, her laughter ever rang out so heartily! She seemed indeed to be the very soul, the good fairy, of that farm teeming with busy life. But beneath the invariable good humor which kept her singing from morning till night there was much common sense and energy of affection, as her choice of a husband showed. Eight years previously Mathieu had engaged the services of one Frederic Berthaud, the son of a petty farmer of the neighborhood. This sturdy young fellow had taken a passionate interest in the creative work of Chantebled, learning and working there with rare activity and intelligence. He had no means of his own at all. Rose, who had grown up near him, knew however that he was her father’s preferred assistant, and when he returned to the farm at the expiration of his military service she, divining that he loved her, forced him to acknowledge it. Thus she settled her own future life; she wished to remain near her parents, on that farm which had hitherto held all her happiness. Neither Mathieu nor Marianne was surprised at this. Deeply touched, they signified their approval of a choice in which affection for themselves had so large a part. The family ties seemed to be drawn yet closer, and increase of joy came to the home.
So everything was settled, and it was agreed that on the appointed Sunday Ambroise should bring his betrothed Andree and her mother, Madame Seguin, to Janville by the ten o’clock train. A couple of hours previously Rose had already begun a battle with the object of prevailing upon the whole family to repair to the railway station to meet the affianced pair.
“But come, my children, it is unreasonable,” Marianne gently exclaimed. “It is necessary that somebody should stay at home. I shall keep Nicolas here, for there is no need to send children of five years old scouring the roads. I shall also keep Gervais and Claire. But you may take all the others if you like, and your father shall lead the way.”