“Well, yes, I love you, I love you, more than ever and for ever! What is the use of struggling and fighting against fate? Our sin is stronger than we. But, after all, is it a crime for us to love? We were destined for each other. Have we not the right to come together, although life has parted us? So, come! It is all over; we will go away. Meet me to-morrow evening, Lyon station, at ten o’clock. The tickets are secured and I shall be there awaiting you.
For a month past Sidonie had been hoping for that letter, a month during which she had brought all her coaxing and cunning into play to lure her brother-in-law on to that written revelation of passion. She had difficulty in accomplishing it. It was no easy matter to pervert an honest young heart like Frantz’s to the point of committing a crime; and in that strange contest, in which the one who really loved fought against his own cause, she had often felt that she was at the end of her strength and was almost discouraged. When she was most confident that he was conquered, his sense of right would suddenly rebel, and he would be all ready to flee, to escape her once more.
What a triumph it was for her, therefore, when that letter was handed to her one morning. Madame Dobson happened to be there. She had just arrived, laden with complaints from Georges, who was horribly bored away from his mistress, and was beginning to be alarmed concerning this brother-in-law, who was more attentive, more jealous, more exacting than a husband.
“Oh! the poor, dear fellow, the poor, dear, fellow,” said the sentimental American, “if you could see how unhappy he is!”
And, shaking her curls, she unrolled her music-roll and took from it the poor, dear fellow’s letters, which she had carefully hidden between the leaves of her songs, delighted to be involved in this love-story, to give vent to her emotion in an atmosphere of intrigue and mystery which melted her cold eyes and suffused her dry, pale complexion.
Strange to say, while lending her aid most willingly to this constant going and coming of love-letters, the youthful and attractive Dobson had never written or received a single one on her own account.
Always on the road between Asnieres and Paris with an amorous message under her wing, that odd carrier-pigeon remained true to her own dovecot and cooed for none but unselfish motives.
When Sidonie showed her Frantz’s note, Madame Dobson asked:
“What shall you write in reply?”
“I have already written. I consented.”
“What! You will go away with that madman?”
Sidonie laughed scornfully.
“Ha! ha! well, hardly! I consented so that he may go and wait for me at the station. That is all. The least I can do is to give him a quarter of an hour of agony. He has made me miserable enough for the last month. Just consider that I have changed my whole life for my gentleman! I have had to close my doors and give up seeing my friends and everybody I know who is young and agreeable, beginning with Georges and ending with you. For you know, my dear, you weren’t agreeable to him, and he would have liked to dismiss you with the rest.”