“And when he want’ to tell some mo’ my son he stop’ him: ’Enough! I div-ine that. Why you di’n’ take me al-ong? You’ll arrange to go at that France, of my grand’mere, and that Alsace, of her mother, to be fighting aviateur, and leave ‘Oiseau behine? Ah, you cann’ do that!’ And when that young Dubroca and Castanado get the win’ of them, the all four, all of same sweet maladie, they go together; two to be juz’ poilu’, two, aviateur’. That old remedie, you know; if they can’t love—they’ll fight! They are yonder, still al-ive, laz’ account.”
Mainly to himself Chester said, “And I am here, my land still at peace, last account.”
“And also you, you’ve h-ask’ mademoiselle, I think,” said the ironworker, “and alas, she’s say aggain, no, eh?”
The reply was a gaze and a nod.
“Well, Mr. Chezter, I’m sorrie! Her reason—you can’t tell. ’Tis maybe juz’ biccause those hero’ are yonder. ’Tis maybe only that those two aunt’ are here. Maybe ’tis biccause both, maybe neither. You can’t tell. Maybe you h-ask too soon. Ad the present she know’ you only sinze a few week’. She don’t know none of yo’ hiztorie, neither yo’ familie—egcep’ that h-angel of the Lord. Yo’ char-acter, she may like that very well yet same time she know’ how easy that is for women to make miztake’ about. Maybe y’ought to ‘ave ask’ M’sieu’ Thorndyke-Smith to write at yo’ home-town and get you recommen’. Even a cook he’s got to ’ave that—or a publisher, eh?”
“I’ve got that—within reach; my law firm has it. But, pshaw! I think, Beloiseau, while all your maybe’s may be right the thing that explains mademoiselle’s whole situation is that she’s never seen a man worthy to touch a hem of her robe; and the only argument a lover can lay at her feet is that she never will.”
“And you’ll lay that, negs time?”
“Not till that manuscript business is settled, don’t you see? Come, you must go to bed.”
Shrimps, rice, and watered wine for a sunset dinner. At its end the three Chapdelaines, each with her small cup of black coffee, left the table and its remnants to the other two members of the household, and passed out as usual to the bower benches and the goldfish pool.
Humming-birds were there, drinking frenziedly from honeysuckle cups to the health of all things beautiful and ecstatic. Mlle. Yvonne stood at a bench’s end to watch one of them dart from bloom to bloom. “Ah, Corinne,” she sighed, “if we could all be juz’ humming-bird’!”
“Cherie,” cried her sister, “you are spilling yo’ coffee!”
Whether for the coffee, for the fact that we can’t all be humming-birds, or for some thought not yet spoken, Mlle. Corinne’s eyes were all but spilling their tears. As the trio sat down. Aline said in gentlest accusation to the younger aunt: