“Well, when is the wedding to be?”
“And to whom am I about to be married?”
“To Monsieur Jean Reynaud.”
“Ah! Susie has written to you?”
“Susie? Not at all. Susie has not said a word. It is you, Bettina, who have written to me. For the last two months, all your letters have been occupied with this young officer.”
“All my letters?”
“Yes, and you have written to me oftener and more at length than usual. I do not complain of that, but I do ask when you are going to present me with a brother-in-law?”
He spoke jestingly, but Bettina replied:
“Soon, I hope.”
Mr. Scott perceived that the affair was serious. When returning in the carriage, Bettina asked Mr. Scott if he had kept her letters.
“Certainly,” he replied.
She read them again. It was indeed only with “Jean” that all these letters have been filled. She found therein related, down to the most trifling details, their first meeting. There was the portrait of Jean in the vicarage garden, with his straw hat and his earthenware salad-dish—and then it was again Monsieur Jean, always Monsieur Jean. She discovered that she had loved him much longer than she had suspected. At last it was the 10th of August. Luncheon was just over, and Harry and Bella were impatient. They knew that between one and two o’clock the regiment must pass through the village. They had been promised that they should be taken to see the soldiers pass, and for them, as well as for Bettina, the return of the 9th Artillery was a great event.
“Aunt Betty,” said Bella, “Aunt Betty, come with us.”
“Yes, do come,” said Harry, “do come, we shall see our friend Jean, on his big gray horse.”
Bettina resisted, refused—and yet how great was the temptation. But no, she would not go, she would not see Jean again till the evening, when she would give him that decisive explanation for which she had been preparing herself for the last three weeks. The children went away with their governesses. Bettina, Susie, and Richard went to sit in the park, quite close to the castle, and as soon as they were established there:
“Susie,” said Bettina, “I am going to remind you today of your promise; you remember what passed between us the night of his departure; we settled that if, on the day of his return, I could say to you, ’Susie, I am sure that I love him,’ we settled that you would allow me to speak frankly to him, and ask him if he would have me for his wife.”
“Yes, I did promise you. But are you very sure?”
“Absolutely—and now the time has come to redeem your promise. I warn you that I intend to bring him to this very place,” she added, smiling, “to this seat; and to use almost the same language to him that you formerly used to Richard. You were successful, Susie, you are perfectly happy, and I—that is what I wish to be.”