And then, for the race was theirs, they watched the sun creep up until he set the east on fire.
Brigit, her hat off, her eyes bravely set to the east, stood motionless, and Theo, after saluting the risen king, drew back so that he got her profile against the sky and watched it.
She wore a short grey skirt and a grey silk shirt; there was about her not one touch of colour except for a beautiful pink the unwonted climbing had brought to her cheeks. Theo realised how great a mistake most women make in obliterating by bright tints the natural colours of their eyes and skins.
“You are so wonderful,” he said suddenly.
She started, for there was in his tone something that vaguely disquieted her. It was like his father’s voice, and like his father’s when he was impatient and superficially stirred.
“A wonderful person, am I not?” she laughed, picking up her hat and putting it on, dashing a great cruel-looking hat-pin apparently straight through her brain. “I am also a hungry person, Theo. Are we to have food? I suppose no one will be awake for hours!”
It was indeed too early to hope for coffee, so they amused themselves by wandering up and down the stairs, throwing burning paper down the famous oubliette, and crossing perilously narrow ledges hand-in-hand.
“So William was born in this horrid little room? I don’t believe it!”
“On le dit. And down there—see? by the tan-yards, Arlette was washing clothes when Robert the Devil saw her and fell in love with her.”
“Remarkably fine eyesight he must have had to see enough to fall in love with!”
“Exactly. But that is the story. My mother’s father was a tanner down there somewhere. He was fairly well-to-do for his position, and father was considered most audacious for aspiring to her hand!”
He laughed tenderly. “My dear old father! I am so proud of him, dear love, I can’t express it at all.”
“And I am proud of petite mere, too. She was so brave and patient always, and he has led her a sad life at times. They were desperately poor, for her father left most of his money to his other daughter, who married Jacques Colibris. You must see my Uncle Jacques, he is quite delightful—and father was a gambler—and so on. I can myself remember one morning when he came in and told her he had lost two hundred pounds, and that was a fortune then.”
“She told me about those times,” answered Brigit, slowly. “She is very dear and good.”
They were now going slowly down towards the town. It was five o’clock, and the concierge’s children were scampering about, uncombed, as they passed the cottage.
“We’ll go to the Musee and knock up old Malaumain,” declared Theo suddenly. “He won’t mind, and she will give us a good dejeuner. I could eat a horse.”
“And I a carriage! But why go to a museum for breakfast?”