They chose black, for Gaud had not yet left off mourning for her father; but Yann did not find any of the stuffs they placed before them good enough. He was not a little overbearing with the shopman; he, who formerly never would have set his foot inside a shop, wanted to manage everything himself, even to the very fashion of the dress. He wished it adorned with broad beads of velvet, so that it would be very fine, in his mind.
One evening as these lovers sat out on their stone bench in the solitude over which the night fell, they suddenly perceived a hawthorn bush, which grew solitarily between the rocks, by the side of the road, covered with tiny flowered tufts.
“It looks as if ’twas in bloom,” said Yann.
They drew near to inspect it. It was in full flower, indeed. As they could not see very well in the twilight, they touched the tiny blooms, wet with mist. Then the first impression of spring came to them at the same time they noticed this; the days had already lengthened, the air was warmer, and the night more luminous. But how forward this particular bush was! They could not find another like it anywhere around, not one! It had blossomed, you see, expressly for them, for the celebration of their loving plight.
“Oh! let us gather some more,” said Yann.
Groping in the dark, he cut a nosegay with the stout sailor’s knife that he always wore in his belt, and paring off all the thorns, he placed it in Gaud’s bosom.
“You look like a bride now,” said he, stepping back to judge of the effect, notwithstanding the deepening dusk.
At their feet the calm sea rose and fell over the shingle with an intermittent swash, regular as the breathing of a sleeper; for it seemed indifferent or ever favourable to the love-making going on hard by.
In expectation of these evenings the days appeared long to them, and when they bade each other good-bye at ten o’clock, they felt a kind of discouragement, because it was all so soon over.
They had to hurry with the official documents for fear of not being ready in time, and of letting their happiness slip by until the autumn, or even uncertainty.
Their evening courtship in that mournful spot, lulled by the continual even wash of the sea, with that feverish impression of the flight of time, was almost gloomy and ominous. They were like no lovers; more serious and restless were they in their love than the common run.
Yet Yann never told her what mysterious thing had kept him away from her for these two lonely years; and after he returned home of a night, Gaud grew uneasy as before, although he loved her perfectly—this she knew. It is true that he had loved her all along, but not as now; love grew stronger in his heart and mind, like a tide rising and overbrimming. He never had known this kind of love before.