He looked long at her, and then seeing her sympathetic suffering and her passion of wounded love, his face cleared, and for the first time that day he looked like himself.
He began talking, and in a few moments was making everyone at the table roar with laughter.
Brigit, though deeply relieved, was more puzzled than ever. “I want to talk to you after dinner,” she said, leaning towards him, and he bowed. “I, too, have things to say to you, my dear,” he answered, and they were both wildly happy.
Then the Mayor rose, and in short and stereotyped phrase drank to the health of the bride and groom.
The bridegroom had fallen asleep and was not wakened, but the bride bowed with some dignity.
“M. le cure—will you say a few words?” asked Victor courteously.
The old priest rose in obedience to the summons, and murmured a kind of blessing on the two he had joined together in his own youth. He remembered them both very well as they had been in that day; far better than he could in the days of their middle age. Now their three lives were nearly over: “We are all very old,” he faltered, fumbling at his snuff-box, “very old——”
Someone outside thought he had finished and began to clap. He sat down abashed, and took snuff to hide his confusion. Yes, they were all very old.
The meal ended at length with coffee, calvados, a local liqueur, and cheese.
“You are tired, my daughter?” asked Felicite, as Brigit frowned with impatience.
“Yes, petite mere.”
Felicite, who for the last half hour had been fanning the sleeping bridegroom to keep off the flies, sighed.
“It is very warm. Why not go? They will clear the table and dance on the grass, I think.”
Everyone left the arbour except her and the old man, and Brigit, feeling that Joyselle was close on her heels, went into the house and into the sitting-room.
Joyselle closed the door, and, to her surprise, turned the key. Then he faced her.
“Brigit,” he said, clearing his throat, “do you love me?”
“Love you?” she faltered. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that for thirty-six hours I have doubted you, and that I have been——” He broke off short, his vivid face intensely expressive.
“But why? Thirty-six hours? That means that—but I did not even see you yesterday!”
He stood, his arms hanging by his sides, looking at her without a word. Then, when the pause had grown unbearable, he returned slowly: “The night before last I saw you with Theo—on the lawn.”
A painful blush burnt her face, and, unwontedly abashed, she turned away. It seemed to her almost monstrous that Joyselle should have witnessed the little scene in the moonlight.
“You—you saw him kiss me?” she faltered.
“Yes. But that was not the worst. He held open his arms to you, and—you went to him as if—as if you were giving yourself to him.”