My poor son, I believe you are not well. You dont eat as well as usual; you never laugh; you talk less and less. Perhaps one of us, or all of us, have hurt your feelings, without knowing and without wishing it.
No, my mother, answered Germain, you have always been as kind to me as the mother who brought me into the world, and I should be very ungrateful if I were to complain of you or your husband, or of anybody in the household.
Then, my child, it is the sorrow for your wifes death which comes back to you. Instead of growing lighter with time, your grief becomes worse, and as your father has said very wisely, it is absolutely necessary for you to marry again.
Apparently thats because we havent been able to understand your taste. You must help us by telling us the truth. There must be a woman somewhere who is made for you, for God doesnt make anybody without placing his happiness in somebody else. So if you know where to find this woman whom you need, take her, and be she pretty or ugly, young or old, rich or poor, we have made up our minds, my husband and I, to give our consent, for we are tired of seeing you so sad, we can never be happy while you are sorrowful.
Yes, mother dear, I have been foolish enough to love a young girl, and its my fault. I do my best to stop thinking of it, but, working or sleeping, at mass or in bed, with my children or with you, I can think of nothing else.
Then its like a fate cast over you, Germain. Theres but one remedy, and it is that this girl must change her mind and listen to you. Its my duty to look into this, and see whether its practicable. Tell me where she lives, and whats her name.
Great was the surprise of Mother Maurice. Marie was the last person she would have dreamed of. But she had the delicacy not to cry out, and made her comments to herself. Then seeing that her silence hurt Germain, she stretched out her basket toward him and said:
Do you mean to say that you will die, if you do not succeed? God grant not, Germain. I dont like to hear a man like you talk of those things; for what he says, he thinks. You are very brave, and weakness is dangerous for strong men. Take heart; I cant conceive that a poverty-stricken girl, whom you have honoured so much as to ask her to marry you, will refuse you.
If she says that, she proves her good sense, and shows what an honest girl she is. But, Germain, she doesnt cure you; for of course she tells you that she loves you and would marry you if we were willing?
Germain, said Mother Maurice, you must promise me not to worry for a whole week. Keep from tormenting yourself, eat, sleep, and be as gay as you used to be. For my part, Ill speak to my husband, and if I gain his consent, you shall know the girls real feelings toward you.
Germain promised, and the week passed without a single word in private from Father Maurice, who seemed to suspect nothing. The husbandman did his best to look calm, but he grew ever paler and more troubled.