Theo broke the last egg, sat down the bowl, and got down from the table. “Tannier—you remember him? The man who painted everybody last winter—said she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.” The pride in his voice was good to hear.
“Tant mieux! Beauty is a quality like another. And—voila mon petit, give me the eggs—she loves you?” As she put the question she took the bowl and began beating the eggs violently yet lightly with a whisk. She had turned the mixture into her hot saucepan and was holding it over the fire before the young man answered. He stood, his hands in his trousers-pockets, his head bent thoughtfully. Then he spoke, and his words mingled with the hissing of the omelet. “I think she must,” he said with a certain dignified simplicity, “or she would not have accepted me. But—not as I love her. That could not be, you know.”
The eavesdroppers started apart guiltily, and for a second Brigit wanted to rush up the stairs and out of the house. She had heard too much.
But Joyselle, gently pushing her out of his way, ran down the steps and with a big laugh threw his arms round his boy and kissed him.
“Voyons l’amoureux,” he cried, “show me thy face of a lover, little boy, who only yesterday wore aprons and climbed on my knees to search for sweets in my pockets!”
Madame Joyselle turned quietly, after having, with a dexterous twist of her frying-pan, flopped her omelet to its other side. “Victor! And what brings you back, my man?”
Her pleasant, placid face was a great contrast to his as he rushed at her and kissed her hot cheek.
“Va t’en—you will make me drop Theo’s omelet.”
Joyselle took Theo’s hands in his and looked solemnly at his son. “My dear,” he said, “my very dear son, God bless you and—her.”
Again Brigit longed to flee, but she knew that if she tried, Joyselle would be after her like a shot, and, she realised with an irrepressible little laugh, probably pick her up and carry her down to the kitchen.
“Are you hungry, my man?” asked Madame Joyselle, slipping the omelet onto a warmed platter, “there is some galantine de volaille truffee, and this, and some cold veal.”
Joyselle patted her affectionately on the back.
“Oui, oui, my femme, I am hungry. But—Theo—to-night I am a wizard. I will grant you any wish you may have in your heart.”