“’Let us now examine the question from another point of view. Either you have misbehaved yourself—and then so much the worse for you, my boy; one should not go near a young girl—or else, being drunk, as you say, you made a mistake in the room. In this case, it’s even worse for you. You shouldn’t get yourself into such foolish situations. Whatever you may say, the poor girl’s reputation is lost, for a drunkard’s excuses are never believed. The only real victim in the matter is the girl. Think it over.’
“He went away, while I cried after him: ’Say what you will, I’ll not marry her!’
“I stayed alone for another hour. Then my aunt came. She was crying. She used every argument. No one believed my story. They could not imagine that this young girl could have forgotten to lock her door in a house full of company. The colonel had struck her. She had been crying the whole morning. It was a terrible and unforgettable scandal. And my good aunt added: ’Ask for her hand, anyhow. We may, perhaps, find some way out of it when we are drawing up the papers.’
“This prospect relieved me. And I agreed to write my proposal. An hour later I left for Paris. The following day I was informed that I had been accepted.
“Then, in three weeks, before I had been able to find any excuse, the banns were published, the announcement sent out, the contract signed, and one Monday morning I found myself in a church, beside a weeping young girl, after telling the magistrate that I consented to take her as my companion—for better, for worse.
“I had not seen her since my adventure, and I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye with a certain malevolent surprise. However, she was not ugly—far from it. I said to myself: ’There is some one who won’t laugh every day.’
“She did not look at me once until, the evening, and she did not say a single word.
“Toward the middle of the night I entered the bridal chamber with the full intention of letting her know my resolutions, for I was now master. I found her sitting in an armchair, fully dressed, pale and with red eyes. As soon as I entered she rose and came slowly toward me saying: ’Monsieur, I am ready to do whatever you may command. I will kill myself if you so desire’
“The colonel’s daughter was as pretty as she could be in this heroic role. I kissed her; it was my privilege.
“I soon saw that I had not got a bad bargain. I have now been married five years. I do not regret it in the least.”
Pierre Letoile was silent. His companions were laughing. One of them said: “Marriage is indeed a lottery; you must never choose your numbers. The haphazard ones are the best.”
Another added by way of conclusion: “Yes, but do not forget that the god of drunkards chose for Pierre.”
We were speaking of adventures, and each one of us was relating his story of delightful experiences, surprising meetings, on the train, in a hotel, at the seashore. According to Roger des Annettes, the seashore was particularly favorable to the little blind god.