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- The Golden Lion of Granpere - 6/36 -

Madame Voss. He goes back early to-morrow with the roulage and some goods that his people have bought. I think he is at supper now.'

The place of honour at the top of the table at the Colmar inn was not in these days assumed by Madame Faragon. She had, alas, become too stout to do so with either grace or comfort, and always took her meals, as she always lived, in the little room downstairs, from which she could see, through the apertures of two doors, all who came in and all who went out by the chief entrance of the hotel. Nor had George usurped the place. It had now happened at Colmar, as it has come to pass at most hotels, that the public table is no longer the table-d'hote. The end chair was occupied by a stout, dark man, with a bald head and black beard, who was proudly filling a place different from that of his neighbours, and who would probably have gone over to the Hotel de l'Imperatrice had anybody disturbed him. On the present occasion George seated himself next to the lad, and they were soon discussing all the news from Granpere.

'And how is Marie Bromar?' George asked at last.

'You have heard about her, of course,' said Edmond Greisse.

'Heard what?'

'She is going to be married.'

'Minnie Bromar to be married? And to whom?'

Edmond at once understood that his news was regarded as being important, and made the most of it.

'O dear, yes. It was settled last week when he was there.'

'But who is he?'

'Adrian Urmand, the linen-buyer from Basle.'

'Marie to be married to Adrian Urmand?'

Urmand's journeys to Granpere had been commenced before George Voss had left the place, and therefore the two young men had known each other.

'They say he's very rich,' said Edmond.

'I thought he cared for nobody but himself. And are you sure? Who told you?'

'I am quite sure; but I do not know who told me. They are all talking about it.'

'Did my father ever tell you?'

'No, he never told me.'

'Or Marie herself?'

'No, she did not tell me. Girls never tell those sort of things of themselves.'

'Nor Madame Voss?' asked George.

'She never talks much about anything. But you may be sure it's true. I'll tell you who told me first, and he is sure to know, because he lives in the house. It was Peter Veque.'

'Peter Veque, indeed! And who do you think would tell him?'

'But isn't it quite likely? She has grown to be such a beauty! Everybody gives it to her that she is the prettiest girl round Granpere. And why shouldn't he marry her? If I had a lot of money, I'd only look to get the prettiest girl I could find anywhere.'

After this, George said nothing farther to the young man as to the marriage. If it was talked about as Edmond said, it was probably true. And why should it not be true? Even though it were true, no one would have cared to tell him. She might have been married twice over, and no one in Granpere would have sent him word. So he declared to himself. And yet Marie Bromar had once sworn to him that she loved him, and would be his for ever and ever; and, though he had left her in dudgeon, with black looks, without a kind word of farewell, yet he had believed her. Through all his sojourn at Colmar he had told himself that she would be true to him. He believed it, though he was hardly sure of himself--had hardly resolved that he would ever go back to Granpere to seek her. His father had turned him out of the house, and Marie had told him as he went that she would never marry him if her uncle disapproved it. Slight as her word had been on that morning of his departure, it had rankled in his bosom, and made him angry with her through a whole twelvemonth. And yet he had believed that she would be true to him!

He went out in the evening when it was dusk and walked round and round the public garden of Colmar, thinking of the news which he had heard--the public garden, in which stands the statue of General Rapp. It was a terrible blow to him. Though he had remained a whole year in Colmar without seeing Marie, or hearing of her, without hardly ever having had her name upon his lips, without even having once assured himself during the whole time that the happiness of his life would depend on the girl's constancy to him,--now that he heard that she was to be married to another man, he was torn to pieces by anger and regret. He had sworn to love her, and had never even spoken a word of tenderness to another girl. She had given him her plighted troth, and now she was prepared to break it with the first man who asked her! As he thought of this, his brow became black with anger. But his regrets were as violent. What a fool he had been to leave her there, open to persuasion from any man who came in the way, open to persuasion from his father, who would, of course, be his enemy. How, indeed, could he expect that she should be true to him? The year had been long enough to him, but it must have been doubly long to her. He had expected that his father would send for him, would write to him, would at least transmit to him some word that would make him know that his presence was again desired at Granpere. But his father had been as proud as he was, and had not sent any such message. Or rather, perhaps, the father being older and less impatient, had thought that a temporary absence from Granpere might be good for his son.

It was late at night when George Voss went to bed, but he was up in the morning early to see Edmond Greisse before the roulage should start for Munster on its road to Granpere. Early times in that part of the world are very early, and the roulage was ready in the back court of the inn at half-past four in the morning.

'What? you up at this hour?' said Edmond.

'Why not? It is not every day we have a friend here from Granpere, so I thought I would see you off.'

'That is kind of you.'

'Give my love to them at the old house, Edmond.'

'Of course I will.'

'To father, and Madame Voss, and the children, and to Marie.'

'All right.'

'Tell Marie that you have told me of her marriage.'

'I don't know whether she'll like to talk about that to me.'

'Never mind; you tell her. She won't bite you. Tell her also that I shall be over at Granpere soon to see her and the rest of them. I'll be over--as soon as ever I can get away.'

'Shall I tell your father that?'

'No. Tell Marie, and let her tell my father.'

'And when will you come? We shall all be so glad to see you.'

'Never you mind that. You just give my message. Come in for a moment to the kitchen. There's a cup of coffee for you and a slice of ham. We are not going to let an old friend like you go away without breaking his fast.'

As Greisse had already paid his modest bill, amounting altogether to little more than three francs, this was kind of the young landlord, and while he was eating his bread and ham he promised faithfully that he would give the message just as George had given it to him.

It was on the third day after the departure of Edmond Greisse that George told Madame Faragon that he was going home.

'Going where, George?' said Madame Faragon, leaning forward on the table before her, and looking like a picture of despair.

'To Granpere, Madame Faragon.'

'To Granpere! and why? and when? and how? O dear! Why did you not tell me before, child?'

'I told you as soon as I knew.'

'But you are not going yet?'

'On Monday.'

'O dear! So soon as that! Lord bless me! We can't do anything before Monday. And when will you be back?'

'I cannot say with certainty. I shall not be long, I daresay.'

'And have they sent for you?'

'No, they have not sent for me, but I want to see them once again. And I must make up my mind what to do for the future.'

'Don't leave me, George; pray do not leave me!' exclaimed Madame Faragon. 'You shall have the business now if you choose to take it- -only pray don't leave me!'

George explained that at any rate he would not desert her now at once; and on the Monday named he started for Granpere. He had not been very quick in his action, for a week had passed since he had given Edmond Greisse his breakfast in the hotel kitchen.

The Golden Lion of Granpere - 6/36

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