On a sign, which she ran up to make from her window, Savinien came over at once; she longed to admire him, for he seemed to her so changed for the better. Military service does, in fact, give a certain grave decision to the air and carriage and gestures of a man, and an erect bearing which enables the most superficial observer to recognize a military man even in plain clothes. The habit of command produces this result. Ursula loved Savinien the better for it, and took a childlike pleasure in walking round the garden with him, taking his arm, and hearing him relate the part he played (as midshipman) in the taking of Algiers. Evidently Savinien had taken the city. The doctor, who had been watching them from his window as he dressed, soon came down. Without telling the viscount everything, he did say that, in case Madame de Portenduere consented to his marriage with Ursula, the fortune of his godchild would make his naval pay superfluous.
“Alas!” said Savinien. “It will take a great deal of time to overcome my mother’s opposition. Before I left her to enter the navy she was placed between two alternatives,—either to consent to my marrying Ursula or else to see me only from time to time and to know me exposed to the dangers of the profession; and you see she chose to let me go.”
“But, Savinien, we shall be together,” said Ursula, taking his hand and shaking it with a sort of impatience.
To see each other and not to part,—that was the all of love to her; she saw nothing beyond it; and her pretty gesture and the petulant tone of her voice expressed such innocence that Savinien and the doctor were both moved by it. The resignation was written and despatched, and Ursula’s fete received full glory from the presence of her betrothed. A few months later, towards the month of May, the home-life of the doctor’s household had resumed the quite tenor of its way but with one welcome visitor the more. The attentions of the young viscount were soon interpreted in the town as those of a future husband,—all the more because his manners and those of Ursula, whether in church, or on the promenade, though dignified and reserved, betrayed the understanding of their hearts. Dionis pointed out to the heirs that the doctor had never asked Madame de Portenduere for the interest of his money, three years of which was now due.
“She’ll be forced to yield, and consent to this derogatory marriage of her son,” said the notary. “If such a misfortune happens it is probable that the greater part of your uncle’s fortune will serve for what Basile calls ‘an irresistible argument.’”