The pitiless sentence pronounced by Mme. de Lorcy grieved M. Moriaz, but did not discourage him. It was his opinion that, let her say what she might, precautions were good; that, well though it might be to bear our misfortunes patiently, there was no law forbidding us to assuage them; that it was quite permissible to prefer to complete follies those of a modified character, and that a bad cold or an influenza was decidedly preferable to inflammation of the lungs, which is so apt to prove fatal. “Time and myself will suffice for all things,” proudly said Philip II. M. Moriaz said, with perhaps less pride: “To postpone a thing so long as possible, and to hold deliberate counsel with one’s notary, are the best correctives of a dangerous marriage that cannot be prevented.” His notary, M. Noirot, in whom he reposed entire confidence, was absent; a case of importance had carried him to Italy. Nothing remained but to await his return, until which everything stood in suspense.
In the first conversation he had with his daughter on the subject, M. Moriaz found her very reasonable, very well disposed to enter into his views, to accede to his desires. She was too thoroughly pleased with his resignation not to be willing to reward him for it with a little complaisancy; besides, she was too happy to be impatient; she had gained the main points of her case—it cost her little to yield in matters of secondary detail.
“You will be accused of having taken a most inconsiderate step,” said her father to her. “You are little sensible to the judgment of the world, to what people say; I am much more so. Humour my weakness or cowardice. Let us endeavour to keep up appearances; do not let us appear to be in a hurry, or to have something to hide; let us act with due deliberation. Just at present no one is in Paris; let us give our friends time to return there. We will present Count Larinski to them. Great happiness does not fear being discussed. Your choice will be regarded unfavourably by some, approved by others. M. Larinski has the gift of pleasing; he will please, and all the world will pardon my resignation, which Mme. de Lorcy esteems a crime.”
“You promised me that your resignation would be mingled with cheerfulness: I find it somewhat melancholy.”
“You scarcely could expect me to be intoxicated with joy.”
“Will you at least assure me that you have taken your part bravely, and that you will think of no further appeal?”
“I swear it to you!”
“Very good; then we will honour your weakness,” she replied, and she said Amen to all that he proposed.