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VII. A Year of Nobility Henry van Dyke

A Happy Ending Which Is Also A Beginning

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The plan of going back to St. Gedeon, to wait for the return of the lawyer, was not carried out. Several of the little gods that use their own indiscretion in arranging the pieces on the puzzle-map of life, interfered with it.

The first to meddle was that highly irresponsible deity with the bow and arrows, who has no respect for rank or age, but reserves all his attention for sex.

When the camp on the St. Maurice dissolved, Jean went down with Pierre to Three Rivers for a short visit. There was a snug house on a high bank above the river, a couple of miles from the town. A wife and an armful of children gave assurance that the race of La Motte de la Luciere should not die out on this side of the ocean.

There was also a little sister-in-law, Alma Grenou. If you had seen her you would not have wondered at what happened. Eyes like a deer, face like a mayflower, voice like the "D" string in a 'cello,--she was the picture of Drummond's girl in "The Habitant":

"She's nicer girl on whole Comte, an' jus' got eighteen year-- Black eye, black hair, and cheek rosee dat's lak wan Fameuse on de fall; But don't spik much,--not of dat kin',--I can't say she love me at all."

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With her Jean plunged into love. It was not a gradual approach, like gliding down a smooth stream. It was not a swift descent, like running a lively rapid. It was a veritable plunge, like going over a chute. He did not know precisely what had happened to him at first; but he knew very soon what to do about it.

The return to Lake St. John was postponed till a more convenient season: after the snow had melted and the ice had broken up-- probably the lawyer would not make his visit before that. If he arrived sooner, he would come back again; he wanted his money, that was certain. Besides, what was more likely than that he should come also to see Pierre? He had promised to do so. At all events, they would wait at Three Rivers for a while.

The first week Jean told Alma that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. She tossed her head and expressed a conviction that he was joking. She suggested that he was in the habit of saying the same thing to every girl.

The second week he made a long stride in his wooing. He took her out sleighing on the last remnant of the snow,--very thin and bumpy,--and utilized the occasion to put his arm around her waist. She cried "Laisse-moi tranquille, Jean!" boxed his ears, and said she thought he must be out of his mind.

The following Saturday afternoon he craftily came behind her in the stable as she was milking the cow, and bent her head back and kissed her on the face. She began to cry, and said he had taken an unfair advantage, while her hands were busy. She hated him.

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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