His little sister Solange had, for the first time in her life, a real cap instead of the little child’s cap of Indian muslin that little girls wear up to the age of two or three years. And such a cap! higher and broader than the poor little creature’s whole body. And how lovely she considered herself! She dared not turn her head, and sat perfectly straight and stiff, thinking that people would take her for the bride.
As for little Sylvain, he was still in long dresses and lay asleep on his grandmother’s knees, with no very clear idea of what a wedding might be.
Germain gazed affectionately at his children, and said to his fiancee, as they arrived at the mayor’s office:
“Do you know, Marie, I ride up to this door a little happier than I was the day I brought you home from the woods of Chanteloube, thinking that you would never love me; I took you in my arms to put you on the ground just as I do now, but I didn’t think we should ever be together again on good Grise with this child on our knees. I love you so much, you see, I love those dear little ones so much, I am so happy because you love me and love them and because my people love you, and I love my mother and my friends and everybody so much to-day, that I wish I had three or four hearts to hold it all. Really, one is too small to hold so much love and so much happiness! I have something like a pain in my stomach.”
There was a crowd at the mayor’s door and at the church to see the pretty bride. Why should we not describe her costume? it became her so well. Her cap of white embroidered muslin had flaps trimmed with lace. In those days, peasant-women did not allow themselves to show a single hair; and although their caps conceal magnificent masses of hair rolled in bands of white thread to keep the head-dress in place, even in these days it would be considered an immodest and shameful action to appear before men bareheaded. They do allow themselves now, however, to wear a narrow band across the forehead, which improves their appearance very much. But I regret the classic head-dress of my time: the white lace against the skin had a suggestion of old fashioned chastity which seemed to me more solemn, and when a face was beautiful under those circumstances, it was a beauty whose artless charm and majesty no words can describe.
Little Marie still wore that head dress, and her forehead was so white and so pure that it defied the white of the linen to cast a shadow upon it. Although she had not closed her eyes during the night, the morning air, and above all things the inward joy of a soul as spotless as the sky, and a little hidden fire, held in check by the modesty of youth, sent to her cheeks a flush as delicate as the peach-blossom in the early days of April.