Apple Blossom in Brittany

Apple Blossom in Brittany

By

Ernest Dowson

I

IT was the feast of the Assumption in Ploumariel, at the hottest
part of the afternoon. Benedict Campion, who had just
assisted at vespers, in the little dove-cotted church—like every-
thing else in Ploumariel, even vespers were said earlier than is the
usage in towns—took up his station in the market-place to watch
the procession pass by. The head of it was just then emerging
into the Square : a long file of men from the neighbouring
villages, bare-headed and chaunting, followed the crucifer. They
were all clad in the picturesque garb of the Morbihan peasantry,
and were many of them imposing, quite noble figures with their
clear-cut Breton features, and their austere type of face. After
them a troop of young girls, with white veils over their heads,
carrying banners—children from the convent school of the
Ursulines ; and then, two and two in motley assemblage (peasant
women with their white coifs walking with the wives and
daughters of prosperous bourgeois in costumes more civilised but
far less pictorial) half the inhabitants of Ploumariel—all, indeed,
who had not, with Campion, preferred to be spectators, taking
refuge from a broiling sun under the grateful shadow of the chest-

nuts

94 Apple Blossom in Brittany

nuts in the market-place. Last of all a muster of clergy, four
or five strong, a small choir of bullet-headed boys, and the Curé or
the parish himself, Monsieur Letêtre chaunting from his book,
who brought up the rear.

Campion, leaning against his chestnut tree, watched them
defile. Once a smile of recognition flashed across his face, which
was answered by a girl in the procession. She just glanced from
her book, and the smile with which she let her eyes rest upon him
for a moment, before she dropped them, did not seem to detract
from her devotional air. She was very young and slight—she
might have been sixteen—and she had a singularly pretty face ;
her white dress was very simple, and her little straw hat, but both
of these she wore with an air which at once set her apart from her
companions, with their provincial finery and their rather common-
place charms. Campion's eyes followed the little figure until it
was lost in the distance, disappearing with the procession down a
by-street on its return journey to the church. And after they
had all passed, the singing, the last verse of the "Ave Maris
Stella," was borne across to him, through the still air, the voices of
children pleasantly predominating. He put on his hat at last, and
moved away ; every now and then he exchanged a greeting with
somebody—the communal doctor, the mayor ; while here and there
a woman explained him to her gossip in whispers as he passed, "It
is the Englishman of Mademoiselle Marie-Ursule—it is M. le
Curé's guest." It was to the dwelling of M. le Curé, indeed,
that Campion now made his way. Five minutes' walk brought
him to it ; an unpretentious white house, lying back in its large
garden, away from the dusty road. It was an untidy garden,
rather useful than ornamental ; a very little shade was offered by
one incongruous plane-tree, under which a wooden table was placed
and some chairs. After déjeûner, on those hot August days,

Campion

By Ernest Dowson 95

Campion and the Curé took their coffee here ; and in the evening
it was here that they sat and talked while Mademoiselle Hortense,
the Curé's sister, knitted, or appeared to knit, an interminable
shawl ; the young girl, Marie-Ursule, placidly completing
the quartet with her silent, felicitous smile of a convent-bred child,
which seemed sometimes, at least to Campion, to be after all a
finer mode of conversation. He threw himself down now on the
bench, wondering when his hosts would have finished their de-
votions, and drew a book from his pocket as if he would read.
But he did not open it, but sat for a long time holding it idly in
his hand, and gazing out at the village, at the expanse of dark pine-
covered hills, and at the one trenchant object in the foreground,
the white façade of the convent of the Ursuline nuns. Once and
again he smiled, as though his thoughts, which had wandered a
long way, had fallen upon extraordinarily pleasant things. He was
a man of barely forty, though he looked slightly older than his
age : his little, peaked beard was grizzled, and a life spent in
literature, and very studiously, had given him the scholar's
premature stoop. He was not handsome, but, when he smiled,
his smile was so pleasant that people credited him with good looks.
It brought, moreover, such a light of youth into his eyes, as to
suggest that if his avocations had unjustly aged his body, that had
not been without its compensations—his soul had remained re-
markably young. Altogether, he looked shrewd, kindly and
successful, and he was all these things, while if there was also a
certain sadness in his eyes—lines of lassitude about his mouth—
this was an idiosyncracy of his temperament, and hardly justified
by his history, which had always been honourable and smooth.
He was sitting in the same calm and presumably agreeable reverie,
when the garden gate opened, and a girl—the young girl of the
procession, fluttered towards him.

The Yellow Book.—Vol. III. F

"Are

96 Apple Blossom in Brittany

"Are you quite alone?" she asked brightly, seating herself at
his side. "Has not Aunt Hortense come back ?"

Campion shook his head, and she continued speaking in English,
very correctly, but with a slight accent, which gave to her pretty
young voice the last charm.

"I suppose she has gone to see la mѐre Guémené. She will not
live another night they say. Ah ! what a pity," she cried, clasping
her hands ; "to die on the Assumption—that is hard."

Campion smiled softly. "Dear child, when one's time comes,
when one is old as that, the day does not matter much." Then
he went on : "But how is it you are back ; were you not going to
your nuns ?"

She hesitated a moment. "It is your last day, and I wanted to
make tea for you. You have had no tea this year. Do you think
I have forgotten how to make it, while you have been away, as I
forget my English words ?"

"It's I who am forgetting such an English habit," he pro-
tested. "But run away and make it, if you like. I am sure it
will be very good."

She stood for a moment looking down at him, her fingers
smoothing a little bunch of palest blue ribbons on her white dress.
In spite of her youth, her brightness, the expression of her face in
repose was serious and thoughtful, full of unconscious wistfulness.
This, together with her placid manner, the manner of a child who
has lived chiefly with old people and quiet nuns, made her beauty
to Campion a peculiarly touching thing. Just then her eyes fell
upon Campion's wide-awake, lying on the seat at his side, and
travelled to his uncovered head. She uttered a protesting cry :
"Are you not afraid of a coup de soleil? See—you are not
fit to be a guardian if you can be so foolish as that. It is I
who have to look after you." She took up the great grey hat and

set

By Ernest Dowson 97

set it daintily on his head ; then with a little laugh she disappeared
into the house.

When Campion raised his head again, his eyes were smiling,
and in the light of a sudden flush which just died out of it, his
face looked almost young.

II

This girl, so foreign in her education and traditions, so foreign
in the grace of her movements, in everything except the shade of
her dark blue eyes, was the child of an English father ; and she
was Benedict Campion's ward. This relation, which many
persons found incongruous, had befallen naturally enough. Her
father had been Campion's oldest and most familiar friend ; and
when Richard Heath's romantic marriage had isolated him from so
many others, from his family and from his native land, Campion's
attachment to him had, if possible, only been increased. From
his heart he had approved, had prophesied nothing but good of an
alliance, which certainly, while it lasted, had been an wholly ideal
relation. There had seemed no cloud on the horizon—and yet
less than two years had seen the end of it. The birth of the
child, Marie-Ursule, had been her mother's death ; and six months
later, Richard Heath, dying less from any defined malady than
because he lacked any longer the necessary motive to live,
was laid by the side of his wife. The helpless child remained, in
the guardianship of Hortense, her mother's sister, and elder by
some ten years, who had already composed herself contentedly, as
some women do, to the prospect of perpetual spinsterhood, and the
care of her brother's house—an ecclesiastic just appointed curé
of Ploumariel. And here, ever since, in this quiet corner of Brittany,

in

98 Apple Blossom in Brittany

in the tranquil custody of the priest and his sister, Marie-Ursule
had grown up.

Campion's share in her guardianship had not been onerous,
although it was necessarily maintained ; for the child had inherited,
and what small property would come to her was in England, and
in English funds. To Hortense Letêtre and her brother such
responsibilities in an alien land were not for a moment to be
entertained. And gradually, this connection, at first formal and
impersonal, between Campion and the Breton presbytery, had
developed into an intimacy, into a friendship singularly satisfying
on both sides. Separate as their interests seemed, those of the
French country-priest, and of the Englishman of letters, famous
already in his own department, they had, nevertheless, much
community of feeling apart from their common affection for a
child. Now, for many years, he had been established in their
good graces, so that it had become an habit with him to spend his
holiday—it was often a very extended one—at Ploumariel ;
while to the Letêtres, as well as to Marie-Ursule herself, this
annual sojourn of Campion's had become the occasion of the year,
the one event which pleasantly relieved the monotony of life in
this remote village ; though that, too, was a not unpleasant routine.
Insensibly Campion had come to find his chief pleasure in con-
sideration of this child of an old friend, whose gradual growth
beneath influences which seemed to him singularly exquisite and
fine, he had watched so long ; whose future, now that her child-
hood, her schooldays at the convent had come to an end, threatened
to occupy him with an anxiety more intimate than any which
hitherto he had known. Marie-Ursule's future ! They had
talked much of it that summer, the priest and the Englishman,
who accompanied him in his long morning walks, through green
lanes, and over white, dusty roads, and past fields perfumed with

the

By Ernest Dowson 99

the pungently pleasant smell of the blood-red sarrasin, when he
paid visits to the sick who lived on the outskirts of his scattered
parish. Campion became aware then of an increasing difficulty
in discussing this matter impersonally, in the impartial manner
becoming a guardian. Odd thrills of jealousy stirred within him
when he was asked to contemplate Marie-Ursule's possible suitors.
And yet, it was with a very genuine surprise, at least for the
moment, that he met the Curé's sudden pressing home of a more
personal contingency—he took this freedom of an old friend with
a shrewd twinkle in his eye, which suggested that all along this
had been chiefly in his mind. "Mon bon ami, why should you
not marry her yourself ? That would please all of us so much."
And he insisted, with kindly insistence, on the propriety of the
thing : dwelling on Campion's established position, their long
habit of friendship, his own and his sister's confidence and esteem,
taking for granted, with that sure insight which is the gift of many
women and of most priests, that on the ground of affection alone the
justification was too obvious to be pressed. And he finished with
a smile, stopping to take a pinch of snuff with a sigh of relief—
the relief of a man who has at least seasonably unburdened him-
self.

"Surely, mon ami, some such possibility must have been in your
mind ?"

Campion hesitated for a moment ; then he proffered his hand,
which the other warmly grasped. "You read me aright," he said
slowly, "only I hardly realised it before. Even now—no, how
can I believe it possible—that she should care for me. Non sum
dignus, non sum dignus
. Consider her youth, her inexperience ;
the best part of my life is behind me."

But the Curé smiled reassuringly. "The best part is before
you, Campion ; you have the heart of a boy. Do we not know

you ?

100 Apple Blossom in Brittany

you ? And for the child—rest tranquil there ! I have the word of
my sister, who is a wise woman, that she is sincerely attached to
you ; not to speak of the evidence of my own eyes. She will be
seventeen shortly, then she can speak for herself. And to whom
else can we trust her ?"

The shadow of these confidences hung over Campion when he
next saw Marie-Ursule, and troubled him vaguely during the
remainder of his visit, which this year, indeed, he considerably
curtailed. Inevitably he was thrown much with the young girl,
and if daily the charm which he found in her presence was
sensibly increased, as he studied her from a fresh point of view, he
was none the less disquieted at the part which he might be called
upon to play. Diffident and scrupulous, a shy man, knowing
little of women ; and at least by temperament, a sad man, he
trembled before felicity, as many at the palpable breath of mis-
fortune. And his difficulty was increased by the conviction,
forced upon him irresistibly, little as he could accuse himself of
vanity, that the decision rested with himself. Her liking for him
was genuine and deep, her confidence implicit. He had but to
ask her and she would place her hand in his and go forth with
him, as trustfully as a child. And when they came to celebrate
her fête, Marie-Ursule's seventeenth birthday—it occurred a little
before the Assumption— it was almost disinterestedly that he had
determined upon his course. At least it was security which he
could promise her, as a younger man might not ; a constant and
single-minded kindness ; a devotion not the less valuable, because
it was mature and reticent, lacking, perhaps, the jealous ardours of
youth. Nevertheless, he was going back to England without
having revealed himself; there should be no unseasonable haste in
the matter ; he would give her another year. The Curé smiled
deprecatingly at the procrastination ; but on this point Campion

was

By Ernest Dowson 101

was firm. And on this, his last evening, he spoke only of trivial
things to Marie-Ursule, as they sat presently over the tea—a mild
and flavourless beverage— which the young girl had prepared.
Yet he noticed later, after their early supper, when she strolled up
with him to the hill overlooking the village, a certain new shyness
in her manner, a shadow, half timid, half expectant in her clear
eyes which permitted him to believe that she was partly prepared.
When they reached the summit, stood clear of the pine trees by
an ancient stone Calvary, Ploumariel lay below them, very fair
in the light of the setting sun ; and they stopped to rest themselves,
to admire.

"Ploumariel is very beautiful," said Campion after a while.
"Ah ! Marie-Ursule, you are fortunate to be here."

"Yes." She accepted his statement simply, then suddenly:
"You should not go away." He smiled, his eyes turning from
the village in the valley to rest upon her face : after all, she was
the daintiest picture, and Ploumariel with its tall slate roofs, its
sleeping houses, her appropriate frame.

"I shall come back, I shall come back," he murmured. She
had gathered a bunch of ruddy heather as they walked, and her
fingers played with it now nervously. Campion stretched out his
hand for it. She gave it him without a word.

"I will take it with me to London," he said ; "I will have
Morbihan in my rooms."

"It will remind you—make you think of us sometimes ?"

For answer he could only touch her hand lightly with his lips.
"Do you think that was necessary ?" And they resumed their
homeward way silently, although to both of them the air seemed
heavy with unspoken words.

When

102 Apple Blossom in Brittany

III

When he was in London—and it was in London that for nine
months out of the twelve Benedict Campion was to be found—he
lived in the Temple, at the top of Hare Court, in the very same
rooms in which he had installed himself, years ago, when he gave
up his Oxford fellowship, electing to follow the profession of
letters. Returning there from Ploumariel, he resumed at once,
easily, his old avocations. He had always been a secluded man,
living chiefly in books and in the past ; but this year he seemed
less than ever inclined to knock at the hospitable doors which were
open to him. For in spite of his reserve, his diffidence, Campion's
success might have been social, had he cared for it, and not purely
academic. His had come to be a name in letters, in the higher
paths of criticism ; and he had made no enemies. To his success
indeed, gradual and quiet as this was, he had never grown quite
accustomed, contrasting the little he had actually achieved with all
that he had desired to do. His original work was of the slightest,
and a book that was in his head he had never found time to write.
His name was known in other ways, as a man of ripe knowledge,
of impeccable taste ; as a born editor of choice reprints, of
inaccessible classics : above all, as an authority—the greatest, upon
the literature and the life (its flavour at once courtly, and
mystical, had to him an unique charm) of the seventeenth century.
His heart was in that age, and from much lingering over it, he
had come to view modern life with a curious detachment, a sense
of remote hostility : Democracy, the Salvation Army, the novels of
M. Zola—he disliked them all impartially. A Catholic by long
inheritance, he held his religion for something more than an

heirloom ;

By Ernest Dowson 103

heirloom ; he exhaled it, like an intimate quality ; his mind being
essentially of that kind to which a mystical view of things comes
easiest.

This year passed with him much as any other of the last ten years
had passed ; at least the routine of his daily existence admitted little
outward change. And yet inwardly, he was conscious of alteration,
of a certain quiet illumination which was a new thing to him.

Although at Ploumariel when the prospect of such a marriage
had dawned on him, his first impression had been one of strange-
ness, he could reflect now that it was some such possibility as this
which he had always kept vaguely in view. He had prided himself
upon few things more than his patience ; and now it appeared that
this was to be rewarded ; he was glad that he had known how
to wait. This girl, Marie-Ursule, had an immense personal charm
for him, but, beyond that, she was representative—her traditions
were exactly those which the ideal girl of Campion's imagination
would possess. She was not only personally adorable; she was also
generically of the type which he admired. It was possibly because
this type was, after all, so rare, that looking back, Campion in his
middle age, could drag out of the recesses of his memory no
spectre to compete with her. She was his first love precisely
because the conditions, so choice and admirable, which rendered it
inevitable for him to love her, had never occurred before. And
he could watch the time of his probation gliding away with a
pleased expectancy which contained no alloy of impatience. An
illumination—a quite tranquil illumination : yes, it was under
some such figure, without heart-burning, or adolescent fever,
that love as it came to Campion was best expressed. Yet if
this love was lucent rather than turbulent, that it was also deep
he could remind himself, when a letter from the priest, while
the spring was yet young, had sent him to Brittany, a month

or

104 Apple Blossom in Brittany

or two before his accustomed time, with an anxiety that was
not solely due to bewilderment.

"Our child is well, mon bon, " so he wrote. "Do not alarm
yourself. But it will be good for you to come, if it be only because of
an idea she has, that you may remove. An idea ! Call it rather a
fancy—at least your coming will dispel it. Petites entêtées : I have
no patience with these mystical little girls.
"

His musings on the phrase, with its interpretation varying to
his mood, lengthened his long sea-passage, and the interminable
leagues of railway which separated him from Pontivy, whence he
had still some twenty miles to travel by the Courrier, before he
reached his destination. But at Pontivy, the round, ruddy face
of M. Letêtre greeting him on the platform dispelled any serious
misgiving. Outside the post-office the familiar conveyance
awaited them : its yellow inscription "Pontivy-Ploumariel,"
touched Campion electrically, as did the cheery greeting of the
driver, which was that of an old friend. They shared the interior
of the rusty trap—a fossil among vehicles—they chanced to be
the only travellers, and to the accompaniment of jingling harness,
and the clattering hoofs of the brisk little Carhaix horses,
M. Letêtre explained himself.

"A vocation, mon Dieu ! if all the little girls who fancied them-
selves with one, were to have their way, to whom would our poor
France look for children ? They are good women, nos Ursulines,
ah, yes ; but our Marie-Ursule is a good child, and blessed
matrimony also is a sacrament. You shall talk to her, my Campion.
It is a little fancy, you see, such as will come to young girls; a
convent ague, but when she sees you"... He took snuff with
emphasis, and flipped his broad fingers suggestively. "Craque !
it is a betrothal, and a trousseau, and not the habit of religion, that
Mademoiselle is full of. You will talk to her ?"

Campion

By Ernest Dowson 105

Campion assented silently, absently, his eyes had wandered
away, and looked through the little square of window at the sad-
coloured Breton country, at the rows of tall poplars, which
guarded the miles of dusty road like sombre sentinels. And the
priest with a reassured air pulled out his breviary, and began to
say his office in an imperceptible undertone. After a while he
crossed himself, shut the book, and pillowing his head against the
hot, shiny leather of the carriage, sought repose ; very soon his
regular, stertorous breathing, assured his companion that he was
asleep. Campion closed his eyes also, not indeed in search of
slumber, though he was travel weary ; rather the better to isolate
himself with the perplexity of his own thoughts. An indefinable
sadness invaded him, and he could envy the priest's simple logic,
which gave such short shrift to obstacles that Campion, with his
subtle melancholy, which made life to him almost morbidly an
affair of fine shades and nice distinctions, might easily exaggerate.

Of the two, perhaps the priest had really the more secular mind,
as it certainly excelled Campion's in that practical wisdom, or
common sense, which may be of more avail than subtlety in the
mere economy of life. And what to the Curé was a simple matter
enough, the removal of the idle fancy of a girl, might be to
Campion, in his scrupulous temper, and his overweening tender-
ness towards just those pieties and renunciations which such a
fancy implied, a task to be undertaken hardly with relish, perhaps
without any real conviction, deeply as his personal wishes might
be implicated in success. And the heart had gone out of his
journey long before a turn of the road brought them in sight of
Ploumariel.

Up

106 Apple Blossom in Brittany

IV

Up by the great, stone Calvary, where they had climbed nearly
a year before, Campion stood, his face deliberately averted, while
the young girl uttered her hesitating confidences ; hesitating, yet
candid, with a candour which seemed to separate him from the
child by more than a measurable space of years, to set him with
an appealing trustfulness in the seat of judgment—for him, for her.
They had wandered there insensibly, through apple-orchards white
with the promise of a bountiful harvest, and up the pine-clad hill,
talking of little things—trifles to beguile their way—perhaps, in a
sort of vain procrastination. Once, Marie-Ursule had plucked a
branch of the snowy blossom, and he had playfully chided her
that the cider would be less by a litre that year in Brittany.
"But the blossom is so much prettier," she protested ; "and there
will be apples and apples—always enough apples. But I like the
blossom best—and it is so soon over."

And then, emerging clear of the trees, with Ploumariel lying in
its quietude in the serene sunshine below them, a sudden strenuous-
ness had supervened, and the girl had unburdened herself, speaking
tremulously, quickly, in an undertone almost passionate ; and
Campion, perforce, had listened. ... A fancy ? a whim ? Yes,
he reflected ; to the normal, entirely healthy mind, any choice of
exceptional conditions, any special self-consecration or withdrawal
from the common lot of men and women must draw down upon
it some such reproach, seeming the mere pedantry of inexperience.
Yet, against his reason, and what he would fain call his better
judgment, something in his heart of hearts stirred sympathetically
with this notion of the girl. And it was no fixed resolution, no

deliberate

By Ernest Dowson 107

deliberate justification which she pleaded. She was soft, and
pliable, and even her plea for renunciation contained pretty,
feminine inconsequences ; and it touched Campion strangely.
Argument he could have met with argument ; an ardent con-
viction he might have assailed with pleading ; but that note of
appeal in her pathetic young voice, for advice, for sympathy,
disarmed him.

"Yet the world," he protested at last, but half-heartedly, with
a sense of self-imposture ; "the world, Marie-Ursule, it has its
disappointments ; but there are compensations."

"I am afraid, afraid," she murmured.

Their eyes alike sought instinctively the Convent of the
Ursulines, white and sequestered in the valley—a visible symbol
of security, of peace, perhaps of happiness.

"Even there they have their bad days : do not doubt it."

"But nothing happens," she said simply; "one day is like
another. They can never be very sad, you know."

They were silent for a time: the girl, shading her eyes with one
small white hand, continued to regard the convent ; and Campion
considered her fondly.

"What can I say ?" he exclaimed at last. "What would you
put on me ? Your uncle—he is a priest—surely the most natural
adviser—you know his wishes."

She shook her head. "With him it is different—I am one of
his family—he is not a priest for me. And he considers me a
little girl—and yet I am old enough to marry. Many young
girls have had a vocation before my age. Ah, help me, decide
for me !" she pleaded ; "you are my tuteur."

"And a very old friend, Marie-Ursule." He smiled rather
sadly. Last year seemed so long ago, and the word, which he had
almost spoken then, was no longer seasonable. A note in his

voice,

108 Apple Blossom in Brittany

voice, inexplicable, might have touched her. She took his hand
impulsively, but he withdrew it quickly, as though her touch had
scalded him.

"You look very tired ; you are not used to our Breton rambles
in this sun. See, I will run down to the cottage by the chapel
and fetch you some milk. Then you shall tell me."

When he was alone the smile faded from his face and was
succeeded by a look of lassitude, as he sat himself beneath the
shadow of the Calvary to wrestle with his responsibility. Perhaps
it was a vocation : the phrase, sounding strangely on modern ears,
to him, at least, was no anachronism. Women of his race, from
generation to generation, had heard some such voice and had
obeyed it. That it went unheeded now was, perhaps, less a
proof that it was silent, than that people had grown hard and deaf,
in a world that had deteriorated. Certainly the convent had to
him no vulgar, Protestant significance, to be combated for its
intrinsic barbarism ; it suggested nothing cold nor narrow nor
mean, was veritably a gracious choice, a generous effort after
perfection. Then it was for his own sake, on an egoistic impulse,
that he should dissuade her ? And it rested with him ; he had no
doubt that he could mould her, even yet, to his purpose. The
child ! how he loved her.... But would it ever be quite the
same with them after that morning ? Or must there be hence-
forth a shadow between them ; the knowledge of something
missed, of the lower end pursued, the higher slighted ? Yet, if
she loved him ? He let his head drop on his hands, murmured
aloud at the hard chance which made him at once judge and
advocate in his own cause. He was not conscious of praying, but
his mind fell into that condition of aching blankness which is,
perhaps, an extreme prayer. Presently he looked down again at
Ploumariel, with its coronal of faint smoke ascending in the

perfectly

By Ernest Dowson 109

perfectly still air, at the white convent of the Dames Ursulines,
which seemed to dominate and protect it. How peaceful it was !
And his thought wandered to London : to its bustle and noise, its
squalid streets, to his life there, to its literary coteries, its politics,
its society ; vulgar and trivial and sordid they all seemed from
this point of vantage. That was the world he had pleaded for, and
it was into that he would bring the child.... And suddenly,
with a strange reaction, he was seized with a sense of the wisdom
of her choice, its pictorial fitness, its benefit for both of them.
He felt at once and finally, that he acquiesced in it ; that any
other ending to his love had been an impossible grossness, and that
to lose her in just that fashion was the only way in which he
could keep her always. And his acquiescence was without bitter-
ness, and attended only by that indefinable sadness which to a
man of his temper was but the last refinement of pleasure. He
had renounced, but he had triumphed ; for it seemed to him that
his renunciation would be an aegis to him always against the
sordid facts of life, a protest against the vulgarity of instinct, the
tyranny of institutions. And he thought of the girl's life, as it
should be, with a tender appreciation—as of something precious
laid away in lavender. He looked up to find her waiting before
him with a basin half full of milk, warm still, fresh from the cow ;
and she watched him in silence while he drank. Then their eyes
met, and she gave a little cry.

"You will help me ? Ah, I see that you will ! And you
think I am right ?"

"I think you are right, Marie-Ursule."

"And you will persuade my uncle ?"

"I will persuade him."

She took his hand in silence, and they stood so for a minute,
gravely regarding each other. Then they prepared to descend.





MLA citation: Dowson, Ernest. "Apple Blossom in Brittany." The Yellow Book 3 (Oct. 1894): 93-109. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [Date of access]. http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YBV3_dowson_apple.html