“Here is what I propose to you. You go to the Hotel de Noailles; I, too, naturally. You have all the morning to-morrow to talk to Mlle. Martha, and the telephone to talk through to M. Derame. You know who I am. You have seen me, too, in the daylight. I have talked—talked a great deal. You could, you and Mlle. Martha, find out what I am, what I think. Well, to-morrow—what time do you expect to breakfast to-morrow?”
“But I don’t know. I assure you that I am choking, upset, overcome.”
“Let us settle on an hour all the same; eleven o’clock—will you, at eleven?”
“If you wish.”
“Well, to-morrow at eleven o’clock I shall be in the dining-room of the hotel. If you say ‘Go’ I shall go; if you say ‘Stay’ I shall stay. Don’t answer me; take time to reflect; it’s worth while. Till to-morrow, madam, till to-morrow at eleven.”
* * * * *
In the morning very interesting communications passed between Paris and Marseilles.
When Mme. Derame entered the dining-room of the hotel at eleven o’clock, Raoul went straight to her, and the cavalryman, always adroit in his manoeuvres, had taken possession of Mlle. Martha. A short dialogue ensued between Raoul and Mme. Derame, who was much agitated.
“They tell me there are boats every fortnight between Indo-China and Marseilles—you could put off your departure—merely taking another boat—”
“Ah, thanks, madam, thanks!”
* * * * *
At two o’clock the Derames and young Chamblard accompanied Maurice to the boat for Africa. On the deck of the steamer Raoul said to his friend:
“It’s understood that you are to be best man. On arriving, ask your colonel for leave at once. It will take place, I think, in six weeks.”
Raoul was mistaken. It was decidedly an express marriage; five weeks were sufficient.
When they were mounting the steps of the Madeleine, Raoul said to Martha:
“What are you thinking of?”
“Ah, you too.”
“Twelve, the hour of the platform, isn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
They began to laugh, but quickly became serious, and made an irreproachable entry into church.
They were looked at eagerly, and on all sides the following remarks were exchanged:
“You know it’s a love-match.” “Yes, it appears it was a meeting on the train.” “A lightning-stroke!” “What a charming affair!” “And so rare!” “Oh yes, so rare! A love-match! A true love-match!”