“I give you my word, Louise, I had forgotten there was such a thing as marriage in the world for me! I had forgotten it as completely as the chronology of the Merovingian dynasty, alas! with all the other school things forgotten. And I do not believe Clementine remembered there was such a possibility in the world for me. Mon Dieu! when a girl is poor she may have all the beauty in the world—not that I had beauty, only a little prettiness. But you should have seen Clementine! She screamed for joy when she told me. Oh, there was but one answer according to her, and according to everybody she could consult, in her haste. They all said it was a dispensation of Providence in my favor. He was young, he was strong; he did not make a fortune, it was true, but he made a good living. And what an assistance to have a man in the family!—an assistance for Clementine and the children. But the principal thing, after all, was, he wanted to marry me. Nobody had ever wanted that before, my dear!
“Quick, quick, it was all arranged. All my friends did something for me. One made my peignoirs for me, one this, one that—ma foi! I did not recognize myself. One made all the toilet of the bureau, another of the bed, and we all sewed on the wedding-dress together. And you should have seen Clementine, going out in all her great mourning, looking for a house, looking for a servant! But the wedding was private on account of poor papa. But you know, Loulou, I had never time to think, except about Clementine and the children, and when I thought of all those poor little children, poor papa’s children, I said ‘Quick, quick,’ like the rest.
“It was the next day, the morning after the wedding, I had time to think. I was sitting here, just as you see me now, in my pretty new negligee. I had been looking at all the pretty presents I have shown you, and my trousseau, and my furniture,—it is not bad, as you see,—my dress, my veil, my ring, and—I do not know—I do not know—but, all of a sudden, from everywhere came the thought of my brun, my handsome brun with the mustache, and the bonne aventure, ricke, avenant, the Jules, Raoul, Guy, and the flower leaves, and ‘il m’aime, un pen, beaucoup, pas du tout,’ passionnement, and the way I expected to meet him walking to and from school, walking as if I were dancing the steps, and oh, my plans, my plans, my plans,—silk dresses, theater, voyages to Europe,—and poor papa, so fine, so tall, so aristocratic. I cannot tell you how it all came; it seized my heart, and, mon Dieu! I cried out, and I wept, I wept, I wept. How I wept! It pains me here now to remember it. Hours, hours it lasted, until I had no tears in my body, and I had to weep without them, with sobs and moans. But this, I have always observed, is the time for reflection—after the tears are all out. And I am sure God himself gave me my thoughts. ‘Poor little Mimi!’