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PAGE 2

Madame Guyon
by [?]

Now, Jacques Guyon had been at the Bouvier residence on a visit three months before, and had looked the lass over stealthily with peculiar interest, and had intimated that if Monsieur Bouvier wished to get rid of her it could be brought about. So, after some weeks had passed, Monsieur bethought him of the offer of Jacques Guyon, and he concluded that inasmuch as Guyon was rich and respectable it would be a good match.

So he wrote to Guyon, and Guyon replied that he would come, probably within a fortnight–just as soon as his rheumatism got better.

Monsieur Claude Bouvier read the letter, and walking into the next room, surprised Jeanne Marie by kissing her tenderly on her forehead–all as herein truthfully recorded.

* * * * *

So Jacques Guyon came, came in his carriage, with two servants riding on horseback in front and another riding on horseback behind. Jeanne Marie sat on the floor, tailor fashion, up in her little room of the old stone house, and peeked out of the diamond-paned gable-window very cautiously; and she was sorely disappointed.

In some of her dreams (and these dreams she thought were very bad), she had pictured a lover coming alone on a foam-flecked charger; and as the steed paused, the rider leaped lightly from saddle to ground, kissing his hand to her as she peeked through the curtains. For he discovered her when she hoped he would not, but she did not care much if he did.

But Monsieur Guyon’s eyes did not search the windows. He got out of the carriage with difficulty, and his breath came wheezy and short as he mounted the steps. His complexion was dusty blue, his nose tinged with carmine, his eyes watery, and his girth aldermanic. He was growing old, and, saddest of all, he was growing old rebelliously and therefore ungracefully–dyeing his whiskers purple.

That evening when Jeanne Marie was introduced to Monsieur Guyon at dinner she found him very polite and very gracious. His breeches were real black velvet and his stockings were silk, and the buckles on his shoes were polished silver and the frill of his shirt was finest lace. His conversation was directed mostly to Jeanne’s father, so Jeanne did not feel nearly so uncomfortable as she had expected.

The next day a notary came, and long papers were written out, and red and green seals placed on them, and then everybody held up his right hand as the notary mumbled something, and then all signed their names. The room seemed to be teetering up and down, and it looked quite like rain. Monsieur Bouvier stood on his tiptoes and again kissed his daughter on the forehead, and Monsieur Guyon, taking her hand, lifted the long, slender fingers to his lips, and told her that she would soon be a great lady and the mistress of a splendid mansion, and have everything that one needed to make one happy.

And so they were married by a bishop, with two priests and three curates to assist. The ceremony was held at the great stone church; and as the procession came out, the verger had a hard time to keep the crowd back, so that the little girls in white could go before and strew flowers in their pathway. The organ pealed, and the chimes clanged and rang as if the tune and the times were out of joint; then other bells from other parts of the old town answered, and across the valley rang mellow and soft the chapel-bell of Montargis Castle.

Jeanne was seated in a carriage–how she got there she never knew; by her side sat Jacques Guyon. The post-boys were lashing their horses into a savage run, like devils running away with the souls of innocents, and behind clattered the mounted, liveried servant. People on the sidewalks waved good-bys and called God-bless-yous. Soon the sleepy old town was left behind and the horses slowed down to a lazy trot. Jeanne looked back, like Lot’s wife: only a church-spire could be seen. She hoped that she might be turned into a pillar of salt–but she wasn’t. She crouched into the corner of the seat and cried a good honest cry.