One morning, accordingly, when alone with the count, he said to him that he feared he should have to leave for England in a few days, and it was probable he should shortly join his ship.
The count looked keenly at him.
“My young friend,” he said, “have we been making a mistake? The countess and I have thought that you were attached to our daughter.”
“I am so, assuredly,” Jack said. “I love your daughter with all my heart, and have loved her ever since I left her in Russia. But I am older now. I recognize the difference of position between a penniless English lieutenant and a great Russian heiress, and it is because I feel this so strongly that I am thinking that it is best for my own peace of mind to leave Paris at once, and to return to England and to embark on service again as soon as possible.”
“But how about Olga’s happiness?” the count said, smiling.
“I dare not think, sir,” Jack said, “that it is concerned in the matter.”
“I fear, my young friend, that it is concerned, and seriously. When you left us in Russia, Olga announced to her mother that she intended to marry you some day, if you ever came back to ask her. Although I would, I confess, have rather that she had married a Russian, I had so great an esteem and affection for you, and owed you so much, that her mother and myself determined not to thwart her inclination, but to leave the matter to time. Olga devoted herself to the study of English. She has, since she grew up, refused many excellent offers, and when her mother has spoken to her on the subject, her only answer has been, ‘Mamma, you know I chose long ago.’ It was to see whether you also remained true to the affection which Olga believed you gave her, that we have travelled west, and now that I find you are both of one mind, you are talking of leaving us and going to sea.”
“Oh, sir,” Jack exclaimed, delighted, “do you really mean that you give me permission to ask for your daughter’s hand!”
“Certainly I do, Jack,” the count replied. “I am quite sure that I can trust her happiness implicitly to you. The fact that you have nothing but your pay, matters very little. Olga will have abundance for both, and I only bargain that you bring her over to Russia every year, for two or three months, to stay with us. You will, of course, my boy, give up the sea. Now,” he said, “that you have got my consent, you had better ask Olga’s.”
Jack found that the count had not spoken too confidently as to the state of Olga’s feelings towards him, and a month later a gay wedding took place at St. James’ Church, the count and his wife staying at the Bristol Hotel, and Jack’s father, mother, and elder brother and sisters coming up to the wedding. To Jack’s great pleasure, he happened to meet in the streets of London, two or three days before his wedding, his friend Hawtry, whom he had not seen since they parted on the Polish frontier, as their ships had never happened to be on the same station. Hawtry was rejoiced to hear of his friend’s good fortune, and officiated at the wedding as Jack’s best man.