I have spoken to her but once, replied Germain. That was when we were together at Fourche, and since then I havent said a single word. Her refusal gave me so much pain that I had rather not hear her begin again to tell me that she doesnt love me.
But, my son, you must speak to her now; your father gives his approval. So make up your mind. I tell you to do it, and, if need be, I shall order you to do it, for you cant rest in this uncertainty.
Germain obeyed. He reached Mother Guillettes house, hanging his head with a hopeless air. Little Marie sat alone before the hearth so thoughtful that she did not hear Germains step. When she saw him before her, she started from her chair in surprise and grew very red.
Little Marie, said he, sitting down near her, I come to trouble you and to give you pain. I know it very well, but the man and his wife at home [it was thus after the peasant fashion that he designated the heads of the house] wish me to speak to you, and beg you to marry me. You dont care for me. I am prepared for it.
Dont make fun of me; look at me charitably; as yet, I have never lost a single hair nor a single tooth. My eyes tell you plainly how much I love you. Look straight in my eyes. It is written there, and every girl knows how to read that writing.
Good God, exclaimed Germain, I make you afraid; you look at me as though I were the farmer at Ormeaux, Dont be afraid of me, please dont; that hurts me too much. I shall not say any bad words to you, I shall not kiss you if you will not have me, and when you wish me to go away, you have only to show me the door. Must I go in order to stop your trembling?
Poor little girl, you have a kind heart, I know; but you dont love me, and you are hiding your face for fear of letting me see your dislike and your repugnance. And I? I dare not even clasp your hand! In the forest, when my boy was asleep and you were sleeping too, I almost kissed you very gently. But I would have died of shame rather than ask it of you, and that night I suffered as a man burning over a slow fire. Since that time I have dreamed of you every night. Ah! how I have kissed you, Marie! Yet during all that time you have slept without a dream. And now, do you know what I think? I think that were you to turn and look at me with the eyes I have for you, and were you to move your face close to mine, I believe I should fall dead for joy. And you, you think that if such a thing were to happen, you would die of anger and shame!
Germain spoke as in a dream, not hearing the words he said. Little Marie was trembling all the time, but he was shaking yet more and did not notice it. Of a sudden, she turned. Her eyes were filled with tears, and she looked at him reproachfully. The poor husbandman thought that this was the last blow, and without waiting for his sentence he rose to go, but the girl stopped him, and throwing both her arms about him, she hid her face in his breast.
Then Germain had gone mad, if his son, who came galloping into the cottage on a stick, with his little sister on the crupper, scourging the imaginary steed with a willow branch, had not brought him to his senses. He lifted the boy and placed him in the girls arms.