In order to get her daughter Sylvane out of their poor situation, Mrs. Sambreron encourages her to enter into a strange marriage with a dying man who wants to deprive an unworthy relative of her inheritance. Without too much delay Sylvane would therefore become free and rich. This was the beginning of the 1940 war. The one about the exodus. The wedding takes place but fate then likes to blur the cards. A bombardment killed Mrs. Sombreron, seriously wounding her daughter who remained unconscious for months. Healed, Sylvane, despite her research, does not find any trace of her husband.... Deprived of resources, she takes refuge on her old nanny's farm. The two women lived there sparsely until the day a resident, Charles Ramon, settled there, whose activities were mysterious. Between Sylvane and Charles, an impossible love is gradually born. Isn't she married? He also, moreover, wears a wedding ring.... Will Sylvane's righteousness, which refuses any compromise, lead her to despair and loneliness?
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Max du Veuzit
Max the Veuzit is the pen name of Alphonsine Zéphirine Vavasseur, born in Petit-Quevilly 29 October 1876 and died in Bois-Colombes 15 April 1952. It is a French language writer, author of numerous romance novels with great success.
- Sylvane, leaves something your embroidery; there are many other things to do today. Poor Meline just prevent me she could not come to finish cleaning. She sprained and suffering greatly. I will not even wait for his recovery when to put the house in order ... Come quickly, my child, this book poses useless.
- Yes, Mom, said the arrested, obedient with some regret.
She looked at her mother where her sweet face big blue eyes were forgotten by their light, all this physiognomy was a little sad.
She put away carefully in the basket, fine mat which she worked and, hurrying, went to find Ms. Sambreron who was busy polishing the dining room furniture.
- My God ! you're not alive, my poor! All these household care does not seem to please you ... I do not know what you could do without me! The life of a woman is her tidy inside ... Hey! Take this bowl, these cloths and polishes windows, although carefully.
Obediently, the girl obeyed. After hiding his light hair in a white percale peak and girded size of a large blue apron, she silently undertook the task his mother commanded him. This, in turn, gently dusting of old porcelain, precious memories of a past luxury.
Often Sylvane cast a curious glance and heartbroken by the window at the blue sky and the distant purple backgrounds.
There, something was moving ... like a black line which stretched ... A line made dips and bumps that were going on in an endless chain.
And the girl, suddenly oppressed, turned to her mother.
- Do not you think, mother, she observed, that there is more and more cars out there on the road? It seems that the number of refugees is growing daily. They look so tired, all these poor people under the gleaming sun.
- Yes, said Mrs. Sambreron, joining his daughter in front of the open bay. My God ! that this war lives will she sacrifice?
"Fortunately, in our little corner of Ferrières we are away from these horrors. Your poor father had good reason to listen and to buy this house, in this country we liked. He was not thinking at that time that the war could ever again ravage France and that this house would be a peaceful retreat for his family! ... We live modestly, but with dignity appropriate to a widow and to an officer's daughter.
- Oh ! Mom, if you wanted to allow me to work, I would have been so happy to make your life very soft.
In a somewhat dry voice, the widow interrupted her daughter:
- Even your ideas, my child! Are we not well here, both? ... I ask only always keep this quiet life ... without worries and without deprivation ... In truth, if I had listened to you, we would perhaps like those poor people fleeing their homes in search of a bed for the night and leaving to they do not know where the next day ... Oh! as I pleased, now, have always prevented your ramblings!
"As to assume that you can leave me to go make a living far from here, I do not want to think about it. A well-bred girl remains with her mother.
Sylvane, climbed on a stool, did not reply. Ms. Sambreron his sponge in hand, so continued more calmly:
- My colonel widow's pension sufficient for our needs. At my age, one is satisfied with little and peaceful life of a small provincial town suits my simple tastes! ... And thoughtful, child labor ... What could you find? ... you have few qualifications ... And for that is the yardstick!
- Still, mother, I could, with my punts, some lessons. This would allow me to learn shorthand and to become secretary. Me Patront, our good friend, maybe help me to use me in one of his colleagues ...
- That, among strangers! You, my daughter, an employee! ... Never! ... You know what my views on it! ... Current events only reinforce them ... I see you placed in any province hole , separated from me, at such a time, when whole families are scattered across the country ... do not know where my daughter if she did not starve if the cruel exodus did not amalgamated with all these refugees ... But I'd die of worry!
An emotion did bend his harsh voice.
- My little girl ! Is that really you would be so nice to be separated from your mom?
- Oh ! mother ! said the young girl tenderly, coming to kiss her. When I want to work, it is mainly in order to give you more welfare. Do not be reduced to any small privations to which we must bend ... I also fear the future ... Two women alone! ... Without fortune ... Having to live that small pension a change of government or a freak of war can remove us overnight.
- You go up you the wrong head ... In the other war, there was no similar savings measures ... My rent is due and will be served to me ... It's me regularly natural! ... instead you imagine the worst things rather think my painful rheumatism sometimes make me impotent ... I need you, my child. What would I do, if you were not there? ...
- I never thought about leaving you, dear mother ... I just wanted to work ... learn a trade.
- Madness ... Young serious girls remain at home ... You're not the only one who lives in his family ...
Before great so pure eyes that implored Mrs. Sambreron added, by way of consolation:
- After the war, we will see ... Until then, I hope you certainly find a husband ... or, at least, a situation, since you want it so much ... Come, my child! , and resign yourself whether our last discussion on this.
With that more conciliatory, the mother left the room to store your cloths.
Sylvane who, too, finished his work, down from the stool and wiped her eyes full of tears. The uncompromising selfishness of his mother was painful for him, more convenient than the poor widow, she thought better their existence narrow and mean.
How tight life they led, both from the death of his dear papa! Retirement seemed increasingly lean, during these days of trouble. Sylvane knew better than another, it was that the commissions! That small accounts, often complicated, to spare the widow worries of painful budget balance.
For a long time already, it was the girl who replaced good, too costly luxury for two women alone. Assistance came from without: Meline, a good woman who lived in a neighboring hamlet. The rustic contrived his best to save his mistresses too great fatigue. Ms. Sambreron, quite demanding, was trotting daughter, often little more than his rheumatism attacks did not require it.
The sweet child never complained and regret, sometimes bitter, quickly gave way to a generous filial devotion.
At twenty-five years, this monotonous life, but not without worries and work, had a child, once so gay, a serious girl and a little sad. Never the loud laughter of happy times, when the girl was playing with a very tender father, did not tingle small windows of the buffet. And yet, as she was transfigured, in that time, the amiable child! Pink animated his pale cheeks; if its pure eyes took an intense burst of happiness. Adorned with his fine hair with golden highlights, it was really pretty. Now hardly a sweet smile brightened his face pensive sometimes when consoled her ailing mother.
"What good start these useless talks? "She said then.
She knew, ever, his mother would leave convinced that, never, it would allow him to create a situation ensuring its future. The widow of Colonel was rigid and outdated principles that plagued the orphan, and the latter, tired, finally leaving to Providence the care of his future.
"God thank you, she reasoned, mom, despite his rheumatism, has a very good health. This existence pleases; it's all I have desired! ... The future? I do not want them to think ... It does bring me anything better ... Near my mother and in a middle-class, am I not among the fortunate of this world? "
Thus she moralized, throwing one last look at the dusty road where the dismal procession of fugitives continued.
The day wore on. Sylvane pushed the shutters closed the window to the gleaming glass and joined Mrs. Sambreron.
- My child, I want you to go get me some errands. I need my medicine and I just saw that the bottle is almost empty.
- I'll go, mother ... I take this opportunity to bring to the clinic those few bras that had been given to me to make. With all these unfortunate passing, one must need it! ... I also will go to Meline see if it lacks nothing.
- Candy ! said the lady. Go where you need to go. But do not be too long, because I'll need your help for supper.
- Yes ! do not worry, Mom, I will come and go.
With one bound the girl climbed up to his room.
In the darkness, she bumped into a chair where a small gray cat slept.
This one, a fearful moment, cast a fearful mewing. But, recognizing his young mistress, she jumped down and came to rub against her legs.
- Oh ! my Grisette I wake you said it in the caressing of her white hand.
And, placing it on the chair, she added:
- Go back to sleep quickly, my kitten.
Under the light rustling of the slender hand, purring softly, the kitten closed his green eyes.
Quickly, Sylvane changed her dress and put a large rustic cape. Then, bowing his mother the passage of a gay "At just now," she came out, her little bag in the arm.
Soon, the miserable crowd the main street engulfs her graceful, slender silhouette that deftly slipped between many vehicles overloaded with refugees.
The next morning, as every day, for refueling, returned Sylvane make some commissions.
Despite the bright sunshine of this almost the beginning of summer, nature seemed quite bereaved him.
She thought anxiously to bad news from the front circulating in town. What would they do, both his mother and if the enemy was advancing towards the center of France? Should they flee, too, remain calm?
Better not to think quickly make necessary purchases for their subsistence and strongly back the cool and peaceful home where there was thankfully unconscious optimism of his mother.
All his many thoughts, she came to their door without noticing a large car dusty stationed near the sidewalk.
What was his surprise to recognize Auto Patront me, a notary of their friends!
Never again, the good man had come to visit them since that awful war had overloaded with work.
"What is he doing? ... wondered Sylvane. We he brings some bad news? "
This was his first impression. In the midst of universal disaster, the girl was too privileged and, at the bottom of itself, a fear throbbing:
"Our peaceful life is it normal in such moments? Are we, too, we will not suddenly be affected by misfortune? ... "
The view of the car having whetted his curiosity, Sylvane hurried to the living room where the sound of the voice guided her.
On entry, the two interlocutors were silent, but exchanged a knowing look, which remained unnoticed by the girl.
- Hello, miss Sylvane, said the notary in a jovial air. You are fresh as a rose! ... Thank God, in your quiet corner, no one seems to think that danger may come.
- In fact, we are too happy! But do you believe that we can, we, too, know the horrors of deportation?
- No, honestly, I do not think so. Our troops stop the enemy on the Loire, he ventured beyond Orleans.
- They say that Paris is recognized open city. It's terrible. This means that the penalty will not be defended, and we abandon it to the enemy.
- Strategy Question, probably.
- It's comforting to hear you, Master Patront. There are so many bad rumors.
- Obviously, the morale of these fugitives cannot be good ... They flee because they believe the worst.
- And, of course, the village people who see the move day and night are as demoralized as they. How did they would imagine that not all is lost, before this tragic exodus!
- Wait and trust ... It is impossible that our leaders do not have everything.
- Yes, of course ... wait!
During this exchange of words took place between me and the girl Patront Ms. Sambreron gave clear signs of impatience.
- Dear friend, do not you think he should hurry ...
- But surely ... surely, ma'am ... I'm waiting.
- Hurry up, Sylvane. We leave with me Patront.
- We leave ? said his daughter, astonished.
At the same time, she noticed the agitation of his mother.
- What happens then? worried she suddenly. You look quite upset, Mom ...
- But so happy, my child ... Thanks to our good friend, Mr. Patront we sometimes an extraordinary change. Something unheard of and happy ... Oh! Sylvane, what recognition do not you will have our dedicated scrivener!
-!!! An Unbelievable chance ... ... Extraordinary ... what are the happy news that you bring us, in these days so sad, dear sir?
- My child, miraculously proposal that will transform your whole existence.
Feverish and pathetic, Ms. Sambreron interrupted.
- It's amazing and beautiful ... The realization of your innermost desires for the good genius of our friend ...!
It burst of joy, giving vent to his enthusiasm.
- Me Patront will tell you himself ...
The girl was taken, in turn, in the wave of enthusiasm from his mother. Seizing hastily a low chair, she sat near it.
- That, my friends, what it is, the notary began seriously ... but I'll summarize a bit, because time and I would like to leave earlier to La Chatre. Make forty kilometers on the busy roads, we will take time ...
"Listen, my little Sylvane is to you that this is ... You'll have to quickly make an important decision.
At this, the curiosity made the heart beat of the girl. And, not leaving me more Patront his eager eyes, she listened in silence as he explained it:
- I know you for so long, both, friends dear, I did not hesitate to come as soon as you submit this unexpected proposal.
"A Mr. Jacques Desfarges, passing through my good city, made me look this morning at dawn. Very ill, he was sentenced by doctors and does not want his fortune - considerable fortune, it seems - become the legacy of one of his cousins ... The only relative he has left ... a heinous sir! who has known that harm him, since his youth. In his last moments of strength, my unfortunate client has found a marriage in extremis could only disinherit the odious character he hates. So he asked me to find him as soon as possible, a wife, a young decent woman, able to worthily bear his name ... A wife in extremis who agrees to become his widow soon ...
It's very rich widow, since, by contract, he will bequeath to him all that he has ... What seems to be considerable.
At this, Ms. Sambreron was, again, an exclamation of joy. She approved the proposal of the notary, without studying all the perks without looking beyond the material benefits it exposed.
Sylvane the contrary, instinctively felt frightened, so that, before his serious face and a little pale, Me Patront thought fit to continue his explanation.
- I cannot, my child, give you great information on Mr. Desfarges because I do not know enough. He is a man of thirty years, former officer. Very sick and condemned by the doctors, his end is near ... It Châtre last few weeks ... Set in a furnished villa, with several servants, it offers all the trappings of a good situation. An old housekeeper directs its interior, a religious heals the ... A driver goes shopping ... It is the latter who came to tell me that his master wanted to talk to me.
"I went home, where everyone told me that the patient, though very weak, enjoyed her reason ... His entourage, which is in service for many years, approved the marriage in extremis that he wants to do ... The sad parent who has had to complain is despised by all ... Anyway, it occurred to me that I had no reason not to satisfy his desires ... The mayor warned ... the priest will come this afternoon, bless the proposed union ... It remains for me to appoint him the woman I consider to be worthy of him ... the one who will accept to be his woman, in such tragic circumstances.
"I immediately thought of you, Sylvane. You are young, well educated and courageous. You really deserve to be the heir of the wealthy customer ...
She looked at him curiously, listening without understanding.
He continued, convinced and resolved:
- The projected marriage will harm you in any way and I know you will wear with dignity the name you give your husband. However, you'll enjoy long, and you, dear lady, this unexpected manna from heaven through me.
Ms. Sambreron in his joy, no longer held in place and meet his daughter, thanked him effusively notary.
Without waiting for the opinion of the interested, she pressed to get ready for this ultimate tour.
- Come on, Sylvane, do not waste our time. A similar opportunity will never find it. You'll know the benefits of marriage, without suffering the inconvenience, which is really unexpected ...
The girl remained standing, motionless.
His mother insisted, annoyed by this kind of misunderstanding:
- Come on, hurry, hurry. Will change toilet. Me Patront waiting to take us to La Chatre.
Head, the notary approved and the two women went up to their room.
At the top of the stairs, increasingly agitated, the mother, enthusiastic, exclaimed:
- Do you think, Nanon ... What an incredible opportunity! And you wanted to work! ... You see, my child, as fate guides us! ...
From her big sad eyes, the orphan kept staring vague.
- You are married! insisted the lady. Do not you rather want, as you were afraid to remain an old maid? ... Bride and rich! ... It's even more beautiful than we could hope for ... I'm crazy of joy !...
She spoke softly, his commanding voice muffled by joy.
- I will keep my little girl and we will be happy, both carefree ... ... able to easily fulfill our desires!
Embracing Sylvane suddenly, she led him to her room.
- Quick, quick, my dear! Do not make me wait Patront. The good man! The excellent friend ... ... Put on your black suit with a white shirt, it will be absolutely fine for a wedding like this ... A dying husband ... A marriage in extremis ...
- I'm afraid, 'stammered the girl.
- Afraid of what, my little girl?
Sylvane shook his head.
- Do not you think this is scary?
- Little fool ... Me Patront is a serious man. He did not advise us something that is not honorable. In all, it takes dignity ... And we will ... Come on, hurry up. I cannot wait all this to be completed in order to be sure that this wealth is not going to escape and go to others.
Sylvane, always thoughtful, not yet realized what his mother suggested to him ... Towards what fate she led?
Giddy this almost surreal adventure, she obeyed like an automaton without thinking ...!
Under the influence of emotion, really she has made the improbable story of which she became the heroine?
In his room, his little "at home", the ideas began to coordinate, in his feverish head. And, by wearing his dark suit, she wondered if it was naturally good at it that a similar adventure happened.
- Do not you think that I dream, my Grisette? She whispered, suddenly, the cat purring, eyes half closed, his favorite place. I'm getting married ... Get married! ... it's unimaginable! ... Get married! Do you understand ?...
She repeated the word as if to convince himself of it.
Suddenly, there was an upheaval in it all.
The idea of marriage took gigantic proportions in his brain alerted.
" But that is not possible ! stammered she suddenly, in a kind of horror. I cannot marry a man I do not know! A man about to die! ... it is an abomination! ... "
Tears clouded her eyes and she mechanically passed his hand over his forehead where ideas were not clear.
"Did we allowed to contract such a union? ... Is it not play Christian conditions of marriage? A man about to die! ... that cannot really be a husband? ... "
Holding his hat and gloves in hand, she remained frozen in a painful emotion ...
What dreams his young heart had he not scaffolded at the thought of the man she hoped to meet one day on his way ... Prince Charming that evoked his dreams ... the vision of Hymen dear girls! What strong and healthy companion had she called his soul to gift a life of adoration!
Every night, taking refuge in the peace of her room, she was dedicating the overflow of his heart to an ideal image that never left. From this intimate dream, his lips, always, had remained closed. Never his mother could not imagine for a moment that her daughter might need a love other than his. But if the gray kitten could speak, she would have told funny at Sambreron on the inner thoughts of her child.
And now all that the marriage had for her beautiful, pure, sacred ... this total gift of life ... this life side by side with mutual aid and faithful love ... everything this was going to condense it into a deed signed by an unknown dying. Never again, now she could with her cherished companion of his dreams.
A big tear slid down her pale cheek.
- Come on, Sylvane, are you ready? It's time to go.
The voice of her mother forced her to stiffen to respond calmly:
- I'm coming, mom!
Wiping her eyes, the girl tenderly stroked the little gray ball that followed, her big green eyes, his every movement.
- Guard well our home, my little kitten, she said sadly. I'm going to a funeral ... One of my youth and my dreams ...
Then stooping towards the kitten, as to make him the ultimate secret, she whispered softly:
- And even, soon, I will go to my husband's ... I'm a widow. What do I will remain so all my possibilities of happiness? ... Widow, without ever having known the groom.
With a heavy heart, losing his head, Sylvane left his room.
Destiny, which often plays with our insight and our forecast would endorse all the fears of the girl, as the events that follow will demonstrate ...
A few minutes later, closing behind their home, the two women climbed into the sedan notary.
Of the always congested roads of the lamentable caravan leaking, the car carried Ms. Sambreron illuminated hope and tragically worried that unknown girl happiness that announced him so certain and so close ...
But who would dare to guarantee that the favorable treatment in the present moment will be even in the moments that follow? Chance, fate, providence, whatever the name given to the sequence of events, each of us is blind plaything of a fate he can neither dominate nor thwart.
Sylvane was going towards his destiny ...
The car was driving slowly, trying to trace the line of overloaded vehicles.
After a moment of silence, the lawyer looked at his watch, noting that lunchtime approached, asked his travelers if their appetite was not too keen.
- We will not have time for breakfast, but we will take a light snack, at home, before going to Mr. Desfarges. He does not need our married tomb of starvation during the ceremony.
- The wedding ceremony! You do not want to say it's just now? ... It would be awful! Sylvane moaned that included these words that his decision was imminent.
- But, my child, strongly replied Mrs. Sambreron this gentleman is dying ... and cannot wait ... We cannot postpone the realization of what he asks.
- It is impossible to delay things, intervened Patront me. We need this marriage certificate is signed quickly.
The girl shuddered. She had hoped to calm some days to get used to the painful prospect of marrying a stranger and, moreover, a dying man. She noticed with alarm that her fate was merciless and she had to submit immediately.
- Come, Sylvane, you will not refuse? asked the notary, suddenly worried. I prepared the contract, and ... there's more than your name to it ... The mayor and the priest ahead, two hours, and poor Mr. Desfarges must gather his last strength to welcome the woman that I have spoken to him ...
Hardest, he explained:
- I was so sure that you would accept this miraculous proposal I arranged everything in advance ...
Sylvane heaved a heavy sigh.
- My God ! Have mercy on me! ... Help me! ... moaned the poor child, the tortured soul.
Ms. Sambreron at these words, burst:
- How! You complain when everything is available to you, for a rich and happy life! Such luck! You do not have the right to repel it.
Sylvane, upset, continued to remain silent.
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