Opposite No. 6 Rue Victor Hugo is a long black wall, and in the middle of this wall an old-fashioned gas lantern was glowing red when Joyselle and Brigit arrived.
The moon had risen, and mingling with the red of the gas made that part of the narrow street almost as light as if it had been high noon.
“There is the house, ma Brigitte,” murmured Joyselle, pressing her hand close to his side. When she had left the inn arm-in-arm with him, she had felt as though they must look perilously like a German bride and groom, but there was in his old-fashioned bearing as he guided her through the streets a kind of chivalrous courtesy that she liked, and she began to feel like a princess being presented to his people by her lord.
“There is their house. I gave it to them twenty-five years ago. It is their palace, their country-place, their world, to my old people.”
Through a half-door in the opposite wall the girl could just catch a glimpse of the left side of the house. It was hung with trumpet flowers.
Beyond, a clearly defined square of moonlight showed her a smooth patch of lawn, beyond which the side of a creeper-clad arbour blocked the view.
“The dinner is to be in the garden; they are to sit in the arbour, and there will be many narrow tables all over the lawn, which is rather large behind the house. They are very much interested in it; all of us will be there, and our children, and—theirs. I am old, ma Brigitte——”
His voice fell sadly as this idea occurred to him, and she pressed his arm and smiled up at him, her face ruddy in the gaslight.
“You are young, my man; you will never grow old. And you will play at the dinner? And you will play to me? I always know when you play to me.”
“Yes, for it is always. You are good to me now, bien-aimee.”
His gentleness was wonderfully appealing, as it always was to her. The long respite from nerve-racking misunderstandings had allowed her to see more clearly the real beauty of his faulty character, and a wave of compunction came over her as she thought how little she, with her bad qualities of jealousy, selfishness and cruelty, deserved this beautiful love.
For she fully understood that only a deep, real love could so vanquish the lower part of his nature as to let the nobler triumph as it had of late.
“I adore you, my great man,” she said, very low, and their eyes met.
Then they crossed the street and he, leaning over the closed half of the door in the wall, opened it and they went in.
It was nine o’clock, and the old people had had their supper. Brigit who had, thinking of their great age, rather expected to find them more or less mummy-like, sitting in comfortable chairs tended by a middle-aged relation, was somewhat amused to find them squabbling fiercely over a game of dominoes, each with a glass of cider at hand.