Without answering, she accompanied him downstairs, and they threaded their way to the arbour.
“You are to sit here, Brigit, between grandfather and me,” explained Theo, stopping opposite his father, who was listening to something Madame Guillaume was telling him.
Grandfather Joyselle, whose impish spirit had subsided, was busy with some minced veal, and shot a rather grudging look at his new neighbour. “Don’t touch my glass, will you?” he said, “It’s got flies in it, and I love to see ’em drown.”
Theo laughed. “Some wine, grand-mere?”
The old woman shook her head. “No, thank you,” she answered civilly. “I will teach you dominoes, mademoiselle.”
Brigit thanked her and began her dinner.
“Listen to Jacques tell about how he converted a retrograde priest back to holiness by his great eloquence,” laughed Antoine Joyselle, who was an old and soured edition of his famous brother. “Gascon!”
Madame Chalumeau, whose eyes were fixed on M. Bouillard as he sat far down one of the tables, dropped her knife to the ground, and disappearing under the table in search of it, gave her head a terrible thump, and emerged scarlet and agonised.
“Someone ought to propose a toast!” suggested Theo, “I suppose M. Thibaut, father?”
Victor nodded absently. “Yes, or M. le cure.”
“How do you feel to-day—Master?” asked Brigit, suddenly, forcing him to look at her.
His eyes as her gaze met his were so profoundly tragic that she shuddered, and he did not answer.
“I think I might eat more if I had my teeth,” observed the bridegroom, “and I hear there is to be rabbit.”
“Hush, father! you know you can’t eat with your teeth. You are to have minced rabbit, with plenty of gravy.” Madame Chalumeau, whose bright blue dress was very tight and warm, wiped her face on her handkerchief.
Brigit looked round in despair. It was horrible; the heat, the smell of food, the clatter of knives and forks.
For a long time she heard nothing, and then found that M. Thibaut the Mayor was trying to persuade Victor to play. “It would be very pleasant,” urged the good man, with evident pride in his own tact, “and the young people might dance.”
Joyselle burst out laughing. “Yes, I will play—for the young people to dance. That is what fiddlers are for,” he answered.
M. Thibaut bowed. “It will be very pleasant,” he repeated.
Felicite rose quietly and went to the kitchen for a moment, coming back with a plate of minced rabbit for her father-in-law. “Voila, papa,” she said gently, and the old man stopped poking at the flies in his cider with his fork and began to eat.
Suddenly, in his evident agony, Joyselle again looked at Brigit, and all her misery of suspense and curiosity flew to her eyes. “What is it?” they asked him. “Why are you tortured, and why are you torturing me who love you?”