“Yes, yet not in this li’l’ garden in the front, but in the large, far back from the house, in the h-arbor of ’oneysuckle and by the side of the li’l’ lake, eh?” So prompted madame.
“Assuredly,” said the smiling girl; “not in the front, where is no room for a place to sit down!”
Chester’s acceptance was eager. Then once more the batten gate closed and the key grated between him and Aline—marvellous, marvellous Aline Chapdelaine.
The sunbeams of a tedious Sabbath began noticeably to slant.
For two days, night, morning, noon, and afternoon, Geoffry Chester had silently speculated on what he was to see, hear, and otherwise experience when, as early as he might in keeping with the Chapdelaine dignity and his, he should pull the tiny brass bell-knob on their tall gate-post.
Chapdelaine! Impressive, patrician title. Impressive too those baptismal names; implying a refinement invincible in the vale of adversity. Killing time up one street and down another—Rampart, Ursuline, Burgundy—he pictured personalities to fit them: for Corinne a presence stately in advanced years and preserved beauty; for Yvonne a fragile form suggestive of mother-o’-pearl, of antique lace. Knowledge of Aline justified such inferences—within bounds. With other charms she had all these, and must have got them from ancestral sources as truly Mlle. Corinne’s and Mlle. Yvonne’s as hers.
“Oh, of course,” he pondered, “there are contrary possibilities. They may easily fall short, far short, of her, in outer graces, and show their kinship only in a reflection of her inner fineness. They may be no more surprising than those dear old De l’Isles, or the Prieurs, or than Mrs. Thorndyke-Smith. So let it be! Aline——”
“Aline-Aline!” alarmingly echoed his heart.
“Aline is enough.” Enough? Alas, too much! He felt himself far too forthpushing in—he would not confess more—a solicitude for her which he could not stifle; an inextinguishable wish to disentangle her from the officious care of those by whom she was surrounded—encumbered. “I’ve no right to this state of mind,” he thought; “none.” He reached the gate. He rang.
A footfall of daintiest lightness came running! ["Aline-Aline!”] So might Allegro have tripped it. The key rasped round, ["Aline-Aline!”] the portal drew in, and he found himself getting his first front view of Cupid, the small black satellite.
A pleasing object. Smaller than ever. White-collared as ever, starched and brushed to the sheen of a new penny and ugly of face as a gargoyle—ugly as his goddess was beautiful. Not merely negroidal, in lips, nose, ears, and tight black wool divided on the absolute equator; not racially but uniquely ugly—till he smiled—and spoke. He smiled and spoke with a joy of soul, a transparency of innocence, a rapture of love, that made his ugliness positively endearing even apart from the entranced recognition they radiated.