“I know, ‘He always cares for the time,’” she quoted softly, pushing away her cup. “Let’s go, Theo, I want to get a sleep before we go to church.”
He was surprised by the irritation in her voice, but rose obediently, and after disappearing for a moment to pay Madame Malaumain, led her back to the inn.
“I will come for you at ten to ten then—darling,” he said, trying to coax her back into the humour of the earlier hours. But he failed, and she nodded gravely, not even trying to conceal her change of mood. “I shall be ready,” she answered, “Good-bye.”
The church of St. Gervais was packed with the majority of a crowd that extended well out down the broad steps and into the square, as the old bells rang a carillon for the old couple who, as a young man and a young woman, had been married under them fifty years ago.
In the carriage that was bringing the bridal pair to the church Grand-pere Joyselle was behaving very badly indeed. Carefully dressed by his daughter, Madame Chalumeau, gloves on his ancient hands, a new top hat on his ancient head, his ancient brain was busily plotting and executing all kinds of small pranks, and his unfortunate old bride had nearly burst into tears at a strong nip he had given her arm with his still muscular fingers.
“Now, father, please be good,” pleaded Madame Chalumeau, to whom, together with Victor, belonged the uncomfortable honour of conducting the wayward groom to the altar. “You know you promised you would.”
“How can you call me father, woman? Me a young lad on his way to be married!” The old man laughed shrilly, and producing an apple from his pocket began to eat it as best he could with his one tooth.
“And where are your teeth?” cried the overwrought Madame Chalumeau. “You promised to wear them. Mother, why don’t you scold him.”
“Because he likes being scolded, that’s why,” snapped the bride, jerking her bonnet over one ear. “He’s been as bad as a devil all the morning.”
Joyselle, who had not been listening, caught this phrase.
“Mother,” he said gently, taking her hand, “don’t be cross, dear. He is—forgetful, but try to remember the day you married him. You loved him,”—he winced, as if hurt by his own words, but went on in the same voice,—“and God has been good in—in allowing you to spend fifty years together.”
The old woman nodded. “I know, my son. I can remember. It—rained and spoiled my cap, but I didn’t care. We walked in a long procession and he wore a green coat that the old M. le Comte gave him.”
“Yes, mother dear,” put in the mistaken Madame Chalumeau, “and you promised to love him always—even when he was—cross.”
Madame Joyselle sniffed. “People promise a lot, but fifty years is more than any woman expects,” she answered, with considerable venom.