“And what is it, child? I doubt much it’s nonsense.”
“You must love Jacques Chapeau too, father,” and having uttered these important words, Annot clung fast to her father’s arms, as if she feared he was going to throw her off, and sobbed and cried as though her heart were breaking.
The battle between the contending factions, namely, the father on one side, and the daughter with her lover on the other, was prolonged for a considerable time, but the success was altogether with Annot. Chapeau would have had no chance himself against the hard, dry, common sense of the smith; but Annot made her appearance just at the right moment, before the father had irrevocably pledged himself, and the old man was obliged to succumb; he couldn’t bring himself to refuse his daughter when she was lying on his bosom and appealing to his love; so at last he gave way entirely, and promised that he would love Jacques Chapeau also; and then Chapeau, he also cried; and, I shudder as I write it, he also kissed the tough, bronzed, old wiry smith, and promised that he would be a good husband and son-in-law.
As soon as Annot had got her wish, and had heard Jacques received as her betrothed husband, she also was wonderfully dutiful and affectionate. She declared that she didn’t want to be married till the wars were nearly over, and the country was a little more quiet; that she would never go away and leave her father altogether, and that if ever she did go and live at Durbelliere, she would certainly make an agreement with her master and mistress that she should be allowed to walk over to eat her dinner with her father every Sunday.
As soon as the smith found himself completely conquered, he resigned himself to his fate, and became exceedingly happy and good-humoured. He shook Chapeau’s hand fifty times, till he had nearly squeezed it off. He sent to the inn for two bottles of the very best wine that was to be had; he made Annot prepare a second supper, and that not of simple bread and cheese, but of poached eggs and fried bacon, and then he did all that he possibly could to make Chapeau tipsy, and in the attempt he got very drunk himself, and so the day ended happily for them all.
THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LAURENT
De Lescure only remained three days at Durbelliere, and then started again for his own house at Clisson, and Henri accompanied him. They had both been occupied during these three days in making such accommodation as was in their power for the sick and wounded, who were brought back into the Bocage in considerable numbers from Saumur. The safe and sound and whole of limb travelled faster than those who had lost arms and legs in the trenches at Varin, or who had received cuts and slashes and broken ribs at the bridge of Fouchard, and therefore the good news was first received in the Bocage; but those miserable accompaniments of victory, low tumbrils, laden with groaning sufferers lying on straw, slowly moving carts, every motion of which opened anew the wounds of their wretched occupants, and every species of vehicle as could be collected through the country, crammed with the wounded and the dying, and some even with the dead, were not long in following the triumphal return of the victorious peasants.