“Had no existence—yes, I know. I know what you think would still remain. You can’t hint it, for you think I would promptly promise the impossible, as lovers so easily do. Aline, I would not! ’Twouldn’t be impossible. It shall not be. My mother is helping to prove that even to you, isn’t she—without knowing it? I promise you as if it were in the marriage contract and we were here signing it, that if you will be my wife I never will, and you never shall, let go, or in any way relax, your hold—or mine—on the intimate friendship of the coterie in Royal Street. They are your inheritance from your father and his father, and I love you the more adoringly because you would sooner break your own heart than forfeit that legacy.” He took one of her hands. “You are their ‘Clock in the Sky’; you’re their ‘Angel of the Lord.’ And so you shall be till death do you part.” He took the other hand, held both.
Cupid turned his face from the window and audibly sobbed.
“Oh, child, what is it? Does it pain so?”
He shook his head.
“Doesn’t it pain? Is it not pain at all? Why, then, what is it?”
“Joy,” he whispered as the doctor came in.
The child’s hurts were not so grave, after all.
“He may sit up to-morrow,” the doctor said. The fractured arm was put into a splint and sling, and a collar-bone had to be wrapped in place; but the absorbent cotton bandaged on his head was only for contusions.
“Corinne!” Mlle. Yvonne gasped, “contusion”! Ah, doctor, I ’ope tha’z something you can’t ’ave but once!”
“You can’t in fatal cases. Mrs.—eh—those scissors, please? Thank you.”
“Well, Aline, praise be to heaven, any’ow his skull, from ear to ear ‘tis solid! Ah, I mean, of co’se, roun’ the h-outside. Inside ’tis hollow. But outside it has not a crack! eh, doctor?”
“Except the sutures he was born with. Now, my little man——”
“Ah, ah, Corinne! Born with shuture’! and we never suzpeg’ that!”
“Ah, but, Yvonne, if he’s had those sinz’ that long they cann’ be so very fatal, no!”
Partly for the little boy’s sake three days were let pass before Aline made her announcement. There was but one place for it—the Castanados’ parlor. All the coterie were there—the De l’Isles, even Ovide—butler pro tem.
“You will have refreshments,” he said, with happiest equanimity; “I will serve them”; and the whole race problem vanished. Melanie too was present, with an announcement of her own which won ecstatic kisses, many of them tear-moistened but all of them glad. As for Mme. Alexandre and Beloiseau, they announced nothing, but every one knew, and said so in the smiling fervency of their hand-grasps.
All of which made the evening too hopelessly old-fashioned to be dwelt on, though one point cannot be overlooked. It was the last proclamation of the joyous hour, and was Chester’s. He had bought—on wonderfully easy terms—vieux carre terms—the large house and grounds opposite the Chapdelaine cottage, and there the aunts were to dwell with the young pair.