There was no doubt that such almost incredible spoiling, such blind devotion, and perpetual worship, came very near making of Dionysia the most disagreeable little person that ever lived. But fortunately she had one of those happy dispositions which cannot be spoiled; and besides, she was perhaps saved from the danger by its very excess. As she grew older she would say with a laugh,—
“Grandpapa Chandore, my aunts Lavarande, and I, we do just what we choose.”
That was only a joke. Never did a young girl repay such sweet affection with rarer and nobler qualities.
She was thus leading a happy life, free from all care, and was just seventeen years old, when the great event of her life took place. M. de Chandore one morning met Jacques de Boiscoran, whose uncle had been a friend of his, and invited him to dinner. Jacques accepted the invitation, and came. Dionysia saw him, and loved him.
Now, for the first time in her life, she had a secret unknown to Grandpapa Chandore and to her aunts; and for two years the birds and the flowers were the only confidants of this love of hers, which grew up in her heart, sweet like a dream, idealized by absence, and fed by memory.
For Jacques’s eyes remained blind for two years.
But the day on which they were opened he felt that
his fate was sealed.
Nor did he hesitate a moment; and in less than a month after that, the
Marquis de Boiscoran came down to Sauveterre, and in all form asked
Dionysia’s hand for his son.
Ah! that was a heavy blow for Grandpapa Chandore.
He had, of course, often thought of the future marriage of his grandchild; he had even at times spoken of it, and told her that he was getting old, and should feel very much relieved when he should have found her a good husband. But he talked of it as a distant thing, very much as we speak of dying. M. de Boiscoran brought his true feelings out. He shuddered at the idea of giving up Dionysia, of seeing her prefer another man to himself, and of loving her children best of all. He was quite inclined to throw the ambassador out of the window.
Still he checked his feelings, and replied that he could give no reply till he had consulted his granddaughter.
Poor grandpapa! At the very first words he uttered, she exclaimed,—
“Oh, I am so happy! But I expected it.”
M. de Chandore bent his head to conceal a tear which burned in his eyes. Then he said very low,—
“Then the thing is settled.”
At once, rather comforted by the joy that was sparkling in his grandchild’s eyes, he began reproaching himself for his selfishness, and for being unhappy, when his Dionysia seemed to be so happy. Jacques had, of course, been allowed to visit the house as a lover; and the very day before the fire at Valpinson, after having long and carefully counted the days absolutely required for all the purchases of the trousseau, and all the formalities of the event, the wedding-day had been finally fixed.