Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo
Book III. The Departure of the Cashmere.
IV. "For Your Wife When You Marry."
AS they left the church they could see the Cashmere making preparations for her departure
"You are in time," said Gilliatt.
They chose again the path leading to the Havelet:
Caudray and Deruchette went before, Gilliatt this time walking behind them. They were two somnambulists. Their bewilderment had not passed away, but only changed in form. They took no heed of whither they were going, or of what they did. They hurried on mechanically, scarcely remembering the existence of anything, feeling that they were united for ever, but scarcely able to connect two ideas in their minds. In ecstasy like theirs it is as impossible to think as it is to swim in a torrent In the midst of their trouble and darkness they had been plunged in a whirlpool of delight; they bore a paradise within themselves. They did not speak, but conversed with each other by the mysterious sympathy of their souls. Deruchette pressed Caudray's arm to her side
The footsteps of Gilliatt behind them reminded them now and then that he was there. They were deeply moved, but could find no words. The excess of emotion results in stupor. Theirs was delightful, but overwhelming. They were man and wife: every other idea was postponed to that. What Gilliatt had done was well; that was all that they could grasp. They experienced towards their guide a deep but vague gratitude in their hearts. Deruchette felt that there was some mystery to be explained, but not now. Meanwhile they accepted their unexpected happiness. They felt themselves controlled by the abruptness and decision of this man who conferred on them so much happiness with a kind of authority. To question. him, to talk with him, seemed impossible. Too many impressions rushed into their minds at once for that. Their absorption was complete.
Events succeed each other sometimes with the rapidity of hailstones. Their effect is overpowering; they deaden the senses. Falling upon existences habitually calm, they render incidents rapidly unintelligible even to those whom they chiefly concern; we become scarcely conscious of our own adventures; we are overwhelmed without guessing the cause, or crowned with happiness without comprehending it. For some hours Deruchette had been subjected to every kind of emotion: at first, surprise and delight at meeting Caudray in the garden; then horror at the monster whom her uncle had presented as her husband; then her anguish when the angel of her dreams spread his wings and seemed about to depart; and now her joy, a joy such as she had never known before, founded on an inexplicable enigma-the monster of last night himself restoring her lover; marriage arising out of her torture; this Gilliatt, the evil destiny of last night, become to-day her saviour! She could explain nothing to her own mind. It was evident that all the morning Gilliatt had had no other occupation than that of preparing the way for their marriage: he had done all-he had answered for Mess Lethierry, seen the Dean, obtained the licence, signed the necessary declaration; and thus the marriage had been rendered possible. But Deruchette understood it not. If she had, she could not have comprehended the reasons. They did nothing but close their eyes to the world, and-grateful in their hearts-yield themselves up to the guidance on this good demon. There was no time for explanations, and expressions of gratitude seemed too insignificant. They were silent in their trance of love.
The little power of thought which they retained was scarcely more than sufficient to guide them on their way-to enable them to distinguish the sea from the land, and the Cashmere from every other vessel.
In a few minutes they were at the little creek.
Caudray entered the boat first. At the moment when Deruchette was about to follow she felt her sleeve held gently. It, was Gilliatt, who had placed his finger upon a fold of her dress.
"Madam," he said, "you are going on a journey un expectedly. It has struck me that you would have need of dresses and clothes. You will find a trunk aboard the Cashmere, containing a lady's clothing. It came to me from my mother. It was intended for my wife if I should marry. Permit me to ask your acceptance of it."
Deruchette, partially aroused from her dream, turned towards him. Gilliatt continued, in a voice which was scarcely audible,-
"I do not wish to detain you, madam, but I feel that I ought to give you some explanation. On the day of your misfortune you were sitting in the lower room; you uttered certain words; it is easy to understand that you have forgotten them. We are not compelled to remember every word we speak. Mess Lethierry was in great sorrow. It was certainly a noble vessel, and one that did good service. The misfortune was recent; there was a great commotion. Those are things which one naturally forgets. It was only a vessel wrecked among the rocks; one cannot be always thinking of an accident. But what I wished to tell you was, that as it was said that no one would go, I went. They said it was impossible; but it was not. I thank you for listening to me a moment. You can understand, madam, that if I went there, it was not with the thought of displeasing you. This is a thing, besides, of old date. I know that you are in haste. If there was time, if we could talk about this, you might perhaps remember. But this is all useless now. The history of it goes back to a day when there was snow upon the ground. And then on one occasion that I passed you I thought that you looked kindly on me. This is how it was. With regard to last night, I had not had time to go to my home. I came from my labour; I was all torn and ragged; I startled you, and you fainted. I was to blame; people do not come like that to strangers' houses, I ask your forgiveness. This is nearly all I had to say. You are about to sail. You will have fine weather; the wind is in the east. Farewell. You will not blame me for troubling you with these things. This is the last minute."
"I am thinking of the trunk you spoke of," replied Deruchette. "Why do you not keep it for your wife, when you marry? "
"It is most likely, madam,"' replied Gilliatt, "that I shall never marry."
"That would be a pity," said Deruchette; "you are so good."
And Deruchette smiled. Gilliatt returned her smile.
Then he assisted her to step into the boat.
In less than a quarter of an hour afterwards Caudray and Deruchette were aboard the Cashmere in the roads.