“How do you know that I am going to Fourche?” rejoined Germain testily. “Perhaps I shan’t go there.”
“Oh! yes, Germain, you ought to go, and you will,” said the girl.
“You are in a great hurry to have me married to somebody else, so that you can be sure I won’t make myself a nuisance to you.”
“Come, come, Germain, don’t think any more about that; that’s an idea that came to you in the night, because our unpleasant adventure disturbed your wits a little. But now you must be reasonable again; I promise to forget what you said to me and never to mention it to any one.”
“Oh! mention it, if you choose. I am not in the habit of taking back what I say. What I said to you was true and honest, and I shan’t blush for it before any one.”
“Very good; but if your wife knew that you had thought of another woman just at the moment you called on her, it might turn her against you. So be careful what you say now; don’t look at me like that, with such a strange expression, before other people. Think of Pere Maurice, who relies on your obedience, and who would be very angry with me if I turned you from doing as he wants you to. Good-by, Germain; I’ll take Petit-Pierre with me so as to force you to go to Fourche. I keep him as a pledge.”
“Do you want to go with her?” said the ploughman to his son, seeing that he was clinging to little Marie’s hands and following her resolutely.
“Yes, father,” replied the child, who had been listening and understood in his own way what they had been saying unsuspectingly before him. “I am going with my darling Marie: you can come and get me when you’re done getting married; but I want Marie to be my little mother, just the same.”
“You see that he wants it to be so,” Germain said to the young girl. “Listen, Petit-Pierre,” he added, “I want her to be your mother and stay with you always: she’s the one that isn’t willing. Try to make her do what I want her to.”
“Don’t you be afraid, papa, I’ll make her say yes: little Marie always does what I want her to.”
He walked away with the girl. Germain was left alone, more depressed and irresolute than ever.
THE VILLAGE LIONESS
However, when he had repaired the disorder of travel in his clothes and his horse’s accoutrements, when he was mounted upon Grise and had ascertained the road to Fourche, he reflected that there was no drawing back and that he must forget that night of excitement as a dangerous dream.
He found Pere Leonard in the doorway of his white house, sitting on a pretty wooden bench painted spinach green. There were six stone steps leading to the frontdoor, showing that the house had a cellar. The wall between the garden and hemp-field was roughcast with lime and pebbles. It was an attractive place; one might almost have taken it for the abode of a substantial bourgeois.