“Come,” said she, “there is no time to lose.”
The minister came to our help. He could not resist her appeal, so sweetly spoken. There, under an elm by the wayside, with some score of witnesses, including Louison and the young Comte de Brovel, who came out of the coach and stood near, he made us man and wife. We were never so happy as when we stood there hand in hand, that sunny morning, and heard the prayer for God’s blessing, and felt a mighty uplift in our hearts. As to my sweetheart, there was never such a glow in her cheeks, such a light in her large eyes, such a grace in her figure.
“Dear sister,” said Louison, kissing her, “I wish I were as happy.”
“And you shall be as soon as you get to Paris,” said the young count.
“Oh, dear, I can hardly wait!” said the merry-hearted girl, looking proudly at her new lover.
“I admire your pluck, my young man,” said M. de Lambert, as we shook hands. “You Americans are a great people. I surrender; I am not going to be foolish. Turn your horses,” said he, motioning to the driver. “We shall go back at once.”
I helped Louise into the coach with her sister and the Comte de Brovel. D’ri and I rode on behind them, the village folk cheering and waving their hats,
“Ye done it skilful,” said D’ri, smiling. “Whut’d I tell ye?”
I made no answer, being too full of happiness at the moment.
“Tell ye one thing, Ray,” he went on soberly: “ef a boy an’ a gal loves one ‘nother, an’ he has any grit in ‘im, can’t nuthin’ keep ’em apart long.”
He straightened the mane of his horse, and then added:—
“Ner they can’t nuthin’ conquer ’em.”
Soon after two o’clock we turned in at the chateau.
We were a merry company at luncheon, the doctor drinking our health and happiness with sublime resignation. But I had to hurry back—that was the worst of it all. Louise walked with me to the big gate, where were D’ri and the horses. We stopped a moment on the way.
“Again?” she whispered, her sweet face on my shoulder. “Yes, and as often as you like. No more now—there is D’ri. Remember, sweetheart, I shall look and pray for you day and night.”
Sooner or later all things come to an end, including wars and histories,—a God’s mercy!—and even the lives of such lucky men as I. All things, did I say? Well, what wonder, for am I not writing of youth and far delights with a hand trembling of infirmity? All things save one, I meant to say, and that is love, the immortal vine, with its root in the green earth, that weathers every storm, and “groweth not old,” and climbs to paradise; and who eats of its fruit has in him ever a thought of heaven—a hope immortal as itself.
This book of my life ends on a bright morning in the summer of ’17, at the new home of James Donatianus Le Ray, Comte de Chaumont, the chateau having burned the year before.