“The next day our marriage was decided, perfectly decided. Our waltz had caused scandal. That was just what I wanted.”
“There, Aunt Louise, is the history of our marriage, and I want to-day to draw this conclusion: it is that I was the first to begin to love, and I shall have, consequently, one day, when it pleases me, the right to stop the first.”
“Ah, no, indeed; tell her, Aunt Louise, that she will never have that right—”
A new quarrel threatened to break out.
“This, my children,” said the old aunt, “is all I have to say: she did, in truth, start the first to love; but it seems to me, Gontran, that you started all at once at such a great pace that you must have caught up with her.”
“Passed her, Aunt Louise.”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Marceline.
“Well,” continued Aunt Louise, “try never to have any other quarrels than that one. Try to walk always in life step by step, side by side, and heart to heart. I have seen many inventions since I was born, and the world is no longer what it was then. But there is one thing to which inventions have made no difference, and never will. That thing you have; keep it. It is love! Love each other, children, as strongly and as long as possible.”
And Aunt Louise wept another tear, and smiled on looking at the portrait of the officer of the Royal Guard.
I was dining at the house of some friends, and in the course of the evening the hostess said to me:
“Do you often go to the opera?”
“Yes, very often.”
“And do you go behind the scenes?”
“Yes, I go behind.”
“Then you can do me a favor. In the ballet department there’s an old man called Morin, who is perfectly respectable, it seems. He is the little B——’s dancing-master. He gives excellent lessons. I should like to have him for my little girls, so ask him if he could come twice a week.”
I willingly undertook the delicate mission.
The next day, February 17, 1881, about ten in the evening, I arrived at the opera, and went behind the scenes to search for Monsieur Morin. “The Prophet” was being played, and the third act had just begun. On the stage the Anabaptists were singing forcibly:
“Du sang! que Judas
Du sang! Dansons sur leur tombe!
Du sang! Voila l’hecatombe
Que Dieu nous demande encor!”
Axes were raised over the heads of a crowd of hapless prisoners, who were barons, bishops, monks, and grand ladies. In the wings, balanced on their skates, all the ballet-girls were waiting the right moment to
“Effleurer la glace
Sans laisser de trace.”
I respectfully begged one of the young Westphalian peasant-girls to point out to me the man named Morin.