At the Cross of Plouezoc’h she bade good-bye to the old man, and begged him to return. The lights of Paimpol were already in view, and there was no more occasion to be afraid.
So hope was over for this time. Who could tell her when she might see Yann again?
An excuse to return to Pors-Even would have been easy; but it would really look too bad to begin her quest all over again. She would have to be braver and prouder than that. If only her little confidant Sylvestre had been there, she might have asked him to go and fetch Yann, so that there could be some explanation. But he was gone now, and for how many years?
“Me get married?” said Yann to his parents that same evening. “Me get married? Good heavens, why should I? Shall I ever be as happy as here with ye? no troubles, no tiffs with any one, and warm soup ready for me every night when I come home from sea. Oh! I quite understand that you mean the girl that came here to-day, but what’s such a rich girl to do with us? ’Tisn’t clear to my thinking. And it’ll be neither her, nor any other. It’s all settled, I won’t marry—it ain’t to my liking.”
The two old Gaoses looked at one another in silence, deeply disappointed, for, after having talked it over together, they were pretty well sure that this young lady would not refuse their handsome Yann. But they did not try to argue, knowing how useless that would be. The mother lowered her head, and said no more; she respected the will of her son, her eldest born, who was all but the head of the family; although he was always tender and gentle with her, more obedient than a child in the petty things of life, he long ago had been her absolute master for the great ones, eluding all restraint with a quiet though savage independence. He never sat up late, being in the habit, like other fishermen, of rising before break of day. And after supper at eight o’clock, he had given another satisfactory look to his baskets and new nets from Loguivy, and began to undress—calm to all appearances, and went up to sleep in the pink-curtained bed, which he shared with his little brother Laumec.
For the last fortnight Gaud’s little confidant, Sylvestre, had been quartered in Brest; very much out of his element, but very quiet and obedient to discipline. He wore his open blue sailor-collar and red-balled, flat, woollen cap, with a frank, fearless look, and was noble and dignified in his sailor garb, with his free step and tall figure, but at the bottom of his heart he was still the same innocent boy as ever, and thinking of his dear old grandam.
One evening he had got tipsy together with some lads from his parts, simply because it is the custom; and they had all returned to the barracks together arm-in-arm, singing out as lustily as they could.