FICTION

No Place for a Lady

JANET TOOKE October 15 1932
FICTION

No Place for a Lady

JANET TOOKE October 15 1932

No Place for a Lady

He called her “little turtle-dove" and she— well she didn't coo when danger threatened

JANET TOOKE

THE LITTLE SHOP of Toinette looked cool as a green well, shaded as it was by the balcony above, from which trailed in happy confusion Old Man's Beard and Baby’s Breath. The interior, compared with the hard, sun-bright pavements without, was dim and refreshing.

Toinette herself, seated on a high stool and arrayed in a cool, white frock, looked like a plump dove, newly alighted; which |x rhaps accounted to some extent for the audacity of Paul Gendron'8, "Bon jour, ma petile tourterelle!" This, accompanied by the flashing of white teeth and the baring of black curls, did not displease Toinette, and she smiled impulsively before remembering her aunt’s admonition to the contrary.

This Paul Gendron passed the little shop at the same hour every morning, on his way to the insurance office where he spent the few hours of the day when he was not “»n the road,” expatiating volubly and cheerily upon the shortness and uncertainty of life.

His set speeches would undoubtedly have been more effective liad they not been accompanied by a dentally laughing manner and fun-glistening eyes. It was hard to listen to words of gloom when they fell from full red lips that twitched at the corners with irrepressible fun; to heed ominous warnings of dark days ahead when such warnings were intersjxtrsed with throaty chuckles; when one watched, fascinated, the contradictory twinkle of animated black eyes.

In short, Paul Gendron as a stormy petrel was a failure; therefore, according to his employer, a poor business man. And for that reason Mademoiselle Perron, the aunt of Toinette. frowned upon his advances.

It was not as if her niece had any lack of chances, she assured Amelie from next door. There was that Aristide Bergeron, the butcher. A little fat perhaps, but bon garçon and with a nice little business of his own. There was Victor Rochelle. And Georges Levesque. Both well-to-do and bien ilevé, in spite of the fact that Victor had legs somewhat resembling the iceman’s tongs, and Georges a ready-made family of ten. But there they were, ready to join the Perron family any time Toinette cared to lift her little finger.

Toinette sighed, thinking what a pity it was that eligible young men were never so attractive as eligible old ones.

It was the third time that Paul Gendron had said "Bon jour, ma petite tourterelle;" and the words sang gaily in her heart all that morning and well on into the afternoon. Then, a shadow falling on her sewing, she glanced up to find their author in the doorway, slender and smiling.

"Bon jour, ma petite tourterelle."

"Bon jour. Monsieur Gendnm.” Toinette thought to hide her pleasurable excitement beneath the prim words, but she could not quell the telltale tide of crimson that rushed t6 her pale cheeks.

p.al Gendron, watching this charming transformation, Grgot the words he had intended to say and stood awkward

and smiling.

“It is warm today, is it not?” she remarked helpfully. "Very warm, mademoiselle. But here it is cool.”

^be nodded. "You would like to buy something perhaps:’”

"Yes. Yes, certainly.” His body jerked to attention and, drawing his eyes away from her face, he let them wander over the contents of the small shop. Tiny bootees. Long, lacy baby gowns. Shawls in pink, white and blue. Tiny blankets with rabbits and geese wandering over them. Garments so small that they seemed to be made for a doll. Nothing else in the whole shop but layettes and baby dolls in cradles.

A DARK RED slowly suffused his round face, and when he again met the quizzical gaze of Toinette he burst into such noisy laughter that Mademoiselle Perron poked her head in from the back premises to see what was going on.

“Monsieur Paul Gendron wants something perhaps?” she asked in her most dignified manner; and, noting the dangerous glint in her eye, the young man bowed.

“Madame,” he began impressively, “I have come to ask if you realize what life will be like for this pxr petite demoiselle when you die?”

“Eh? What is that you say?”

“You cannot expect to live forever, madame,” he argued cheerfully, “and one must look ahead a little. One does not want to be buried like a pauper in a deal casket, for example. And . . .”

The waving of madame’s heavy white hands toward him was the gesture of one shooing away a disgusting goose.

“Go away. Go immediately. I wish to hear no more about death or, what is worse, insurance. If you want to buy baby clothes, buy them. If you do not want to buy baby clothes, go away from my shop. Vile!"

He moved sheepishly toward the door, but was arrested by the roguish expression on the face of Toinette.

"But—there was something else, madame. Something I would ask of Mademoiselle Toinette.”

“Monsieur,” ventured the girl coyly, “my life is already insured.”

The young man’s laugh rang out anew, and a sly dimple played in the girl’s cheek.

“Madame, I wished to ask Mademoiselle Toinette if she would honor me with her company at the theatre tonight.”

"Non! My niece has other plans. Go!” Madame’s gesture was arrogant, but Paul turned toward the girl.

“You cannot come with me, ma petite tourterelle?”

His tone was soft as a summer breeze, his eyes eloquent. Toinette remained silent one short moment, then turned to the older woman.

"Ma tante, I would like very much to go with Monsieur Gendron.”

"Tais toi! You cannot go. There are others to take you

to the theatre. Gentlemen who make the good money. Who do not go around talking of death and laughing at the same time.”

"But ma tante—”

“It is enough. I have said . . . Monsieur? If you please!” Her imposing figure stood beside the door now, ushering the visitor out.

"A bientôt, chère!" he whispered, furtively pressing Toinette’s hand.

Then he was gone. Tante Madeleine also. And Toinette was left alone in the dim shop, eyes wide with a childlike wonder. He had asked her -her, Toinette Perron—to go to the theatre wfith him ! How handsome he was. How always laughing. And he had said, “.4 bientôt!"

What a host of delightful fancies the words brought forth. There was a tiny park just a block away, where white pigeons fluttered scintillatingly between green grass and blue sky; where couples sitting on benches gazed only into each other’s eyes, as if nothing outside themselves existed.

Would it be there that they would meet, she and Paul Gendron?

Or would it be on the mountain? That place of warm, mystic evenings, patterned with fireflies and gaily colored moths. She had been there with Tante Madeleine. But with Paul ! There was ecstasy in the thought.

IT WAS in neither of these places, however that Paul and Toinette met. Their meeting took place quite unexpectedly a few days later, and in the somewhat odorous shop of Monsieur Aristide Bergeron, the butcher.

Tante Madeleine, feeling the heat more than usual, had entrusted the marketing to Toinette that day, and the keen eyes of Paul Gendron had glimpsed her tripping wfiite figure from a distance. Everything else forgotten, he had abruptly left a prospective customer, who gaped in dismay after the long flying legs of the man who spoke so cheerily of death.

One cannot blame Toinette for getting lamb chops instead

of fillet of sole—and that on a Friday ! For la petite was now blind, deaf and dumb to everything but the fire she ha lighted in the eyes of Paul Gendron.

Monsieur Bergeron ceased his labors, and stood, bloody axe in hand, gazing at the two who had withdrawn to a little world of their own. How soft and round and fair she was. How tall and brown and alive the man beside her !

Monsieur Bergeron had long had one eye on Toinette. If the eye that was on his business was slightly the stronger one must not blame him too much, for business after all is business. But now, he decided, it was his duty to inform Mademoiselle Perron about this good-for-nothing young man who whispered so treacherously soft in Toinette s ear. Mademoiselle Perron would not approve, of that he was sure. What had this young man to offer Toinette? Nothing. Except, perhaps, bright eyes and a smiling face. After all, a butcher is a butcher. Especially when he owns his own business.

That very evening Monsieur Bergeron called on

Mademoiselle Perron. Wearing his best Panama hat and a striped silk shirt, on the vast expanse of which reposed a tie that was shot purple and

gold with dots of orange, he was beau garçon and trte gentil!

Was it, perhaps, that Mademoiselle Perron and Mademoiselle Toinette would like to accompany him to the picture show tonight? No?

Rut yes. Mademoiselle Perron would be delighted. For both herself and her niece.

"Ma tante; Excusez, s’il vous plait!" pleaded the latter. “I have the headache, a little. You go with Monsieur Bergeron. I do not mind staying alone, me."

Her aunt’s deprecating hands shot into the air.

“Alone? I? With a gentleman?”

“Forgive me, ma tante. I forgot. Amelie from next door would perhaps like to chaperone

"Non. If you do not go, I cannot It is always that I must sacrifie myself. Always! But never mind, cool here. We will sit and talk,

Monsieur Bergeron?”

Monsieur Bergeron declared himseli delighted, and eased his huge bulk into tne largest chair he could find. Aft* all, this was moro comfortable than or of those maudit seats in the picture show and infinitely less expensive.

The conversation had touched on everything from the heat to the latest political scandal when Toinette sug-

>to

gesting a cool drink, dis the kitchen. It was thi Bergeron whispered of one Paul Gendron, nothing of following un selle into a butcher’s shop, ing her into utter forget, errand.

Tante Madeleine's moi its fullest extent, and she had heard all tha Bergeron had to tell of the afU rencontre.

"Tims! So that is why she iurg«»1 Friday and brought lamb chops!”

More than that Tante Madeleine was at the moment incapable of saying; and she sat glowering and reflective until the tinkling of ice heralded the re-entry of Toinette. Mademoiselle Perron had never, 3he thought, «een any one who lked less like a headache. Moreover, there was something deep and glowing behind the innex-ent blue of Toinette’s eyes. As if they held a secret that danced and clamored to lie let out. And a moment latei Tante Madeleine glimpsed fron* the window the retreating figure of a young man who looked suspiciously like Paul Gendron.

So! That was why Toinette was m eager to get axil drinks !

EARLY the next morning Made moiselle Perron betixik herself to

the offices of F. X. Marcel et Compagnie and asked ostentatiously for a private interview with their young salesman. Monsieur Paul Gendron. Monsieur Marcel himself sprang lightly to Iris feet, bowed from the waist, and ushered Mademoiselle Perron to a small room, assuring her of tne company’s readiness at all times to give careful and courteous attention to its clients.

Then, closing the dexir upon her, he turned back to the Compagnie and asked tensely:

“Is it possible that that young bon-rienhas made nsateReceiving no more answer than a raising of incred'tw hands, shoulders and eyes toward heaven, he set off ui search of the young man in question, cautioned him to a( t as if he knew something, and hurried him into the presence Alone with his client. Monsieur Gendron bowed smilingly "Madame! This gives me great pleasure. You have, thee considered well my suggestion?”

“Your suggestion, monsieur?” *

“That death is always near. That a deal casket—*“Enough! Enough! I have considered no such t What I have considered is that you are a young n. to be trusted.”

Continued on page 47

No Place for a Lady

Continued from page 17

"But, madame!”

"I tell you that I wish you to have nothing whatever to do with my niece, and you follow her into a butcher shop. Just a filet of sole, that is all I ask, and what do I get?”

Paul Gendron shook his head.

"I do not know, madame.”

“You do not know that she buy four lamb chops on a Friday?”

"Non, madame.”

Mademoiselle Perron fixed him with a contemptuous glare.

“What a husband you will make!”

"Oui, madame !” Paul nodded delightedly. “But”—she shook a long finger at him “not for my Toinette, mind you! When Toinette marries it will be to a man of substance. A man who is able to say, ‘Here, madame, is one worthy your beautiful niece!’ ”

“Those are the very words that I shall say, madame.”

"But they would not be true.”

“Give me one little chance, madame, and I will show you.”

“How will you show?”

“I will work hard, me.”

"Ecoulez, Paul Gendron! You would like that I buy an insurance policy from you?” “But yes, madame.”

“Then you shall sell me a policy. A big one. On one condition. That you keep away from Toinette. For always!”

The young man’s enthusiasm was dashed. “But, madame, you ask what is impossible.”

“And what will Marcel et Compagnie think when I leave their office without concluding the business for which I came?”

Monsieur Gendron was speechless.

"They will undoubtedly give you the ‘hooraw goo’bye,’ eh?”

He nodded miserably.

“Exactly. There are other women in the world beside my Toinette. Not so attractive ixirhaps, but good enough for one who cannot afford better. Go! Marry one of them, and I will take from you one big policy.”

HIS face was no longer smiling, and he sat very still, gazing at the point of a pencil in his fingers. Then he flung the pencil to the desk with a clatter.

“Madame, I cannot accept your terms. I am sorry.”

“You will be more sorry perhaps when you have no longer the work, eh?”

“Perhaps . . . But, madame, is it only my lack of money to which you object? Or is there perhaps something else?”

“It is your lack of business sense, young man. One who does not know letter than to smile and titter and laugh when he speaks of one’s demise will never be in a position to marry into a family like mine.” He looked doleful.

“Death is a serious matter, yes. But life without love is still more serious. Do you not think so, madame?”

“Eh? What is that?”

“I said

“I heard what you said.”

“Then—?”

“You think perhaps that because I have

not married, me, my life has been without love?”

“But, madame, you wrong me! I would never think such a thing.”

"Eh?”

“I say

“Yes. yes, I heard. It is not for lack of chance that I did not marry.”

“Ah, madame, I know you have had romance. How, indeed, could it be otherwise?”

Mademoiselle Perron began to see the reason for the new light in Toinette’s eyes. Her own softened, and she sighed deeply.

“Those were the days of romance, Monsieur Gendron. These —are the days of business.”

Her gaze wandered to the window and rested dreamily on the automobiles passing and repassing on the narrow street. Seeing, perhaps, the smartly equipped carriages of another day.

Monsieur Gendron grasped the auspicious moment as well as the horny hand of Mademoiselle Perron.

“Madame ! They may be both ! Give me a little time, and I will prove to you that one can be romantic and businesslike as well.” There was no answer. Mademoiselle Perron was remembering things.

"Tell me, madame. How much do you consider a man should possess to become the husband of Toinette?"

“No less than three thousand dollars!” Her voice was firm again; and she rose to leave, as if the sum she named had settled the question for good and all.

“With Toinette’s consent, will you give me six months in which to make it?”

“Yes, 1 will give you six months, jeune homme, but they will do you no good. You will never make it.”

“And 1 may call and tell Toinette?”

“For five minutes only. After that you shall not see her until you have earned three thousand dollars.”

“They shall lx.* earned, madame, and honestly. Trust me.”

TOINETTE was weeping on the shoulder of the sympathetic Amélie from next door. Amélie was forty and of a comfortable stoutness, but she had not forgotten the days when she had been courted by her own Philippe.

“Do not cry, petite! What is six months? Pouf! Nothing! They will be over before you can say ‘Gaston L’Hommedieu!’ And then—you will have him for always!”

“But Amélie, supposing -supposing he cannot make the three thousand?”

“But no, I will not suppose that thing. He say he will make the three thousand, then he make it. You will see.”

And with that Toinette had to be content. But each morning, as the hour came around for the passing of Paul, she would sigh disconsolately. For he passed no more. No longer did the words "Bon jour, rna petite tourterelle” cause her heart to flutter preposterously. Paul had left the insurance office, and she sighed as she remembered the scarcity of work in town. How could he make three thousand dollars in six months?

A month passed, and Monsieur Aristide Bergeron had made formal application for

the hand and heart of Toinette, only to be declined by her with a firmness surprising in one so gentle.

Tante Madeleine stormed and threatened, and reminded her of the lonely life of the unmarried.

“Wait! You will yet live to be une vieille carotte. You will see!”

Another month passed, and Victor Rochelle paid his respects. So did Georges Ixvesque. But Toinette turned a frigid shoulder toward each. And when Toinette pleaded that her heart had already been given elsewhere. Mademoiselle Perron retorted that if it was to that maudit Paul Gendron, she had better take it back as quickly as possible, for he would never return.

Commands and pleading were equally unavailing; Toinette insisted on waiting. But where was he? What was he doing? To wait and wait, and never see him or hear from him, was agonizing. Yet she knew it could not he otherwise, for had he not promised Tante Madeleine that it should he like that?

Then, one morning when Mademoiselle Perron had departed for her day’s marketing, Amélie from next door burst into the little shop in a state of secret excitement.

“I have found him! I have found him!” She laid a newspaper on the counter before the puzzled Toinette, and pointed to a paragraph which read:

“Louis Lemaitre and Jean LeGros are slated to collide in the ten-round event in Sohmer Park on the fifteenth. Both are willing fighters who tum in a vicious contest . .

“But, Amélie, what does it mean?” "Mean? Look! This is Jean LeGros!” Toinette stared with amazement into the pictured face of her lover.

“My Paul !” she breathed. “Jean LeGros?

Amélie?”

She turned a completely bewildered face to her friend.

Amélie nodded exultingly.

"A fighter ! And that is how he is earning his three thousand dollars. Did I not tell you?”

"But, Amélie, he will get hurt.”

“Hurt? Non, non, non! He is beeg, strong. It is nothing for him.”

“Oh. that is splendid ! But why does he call himself Jean LeGros?”

“Why? Shall I tell you? It is because he fears perhaps you will not like that he fight for you.”

“Oh, Amélie, I love that he fight for me! Is he not grand? Marvellous?”

And so the joy returned to the eyes of La Petite Tourterelle. She smiled and hummed a great deal at her work, and delighted in nothing so much as holding little whispered confabs with Amélie from next door.

“You will be matron of honor, Amélie, eh? You will come and stay with us after, eh?” To all of which Amélie heartily agreed. There was nothing quite so exciting as a good love affair, after all. Especially when it was a little bitsecret!

And the beginning of the sixth month came quicker than Toinette would have believed possible.

T7'NEP2LING sedately beside Tante I Madeleine at Mass one Sunday, someI thing caused her to tum her head; and almost she felt like fainting. For there, not six feet away from her. knelt Paul Gendron. As their eyes held, a surge of the sweetest emotion flooded her, and she turned away for fear that her joy would cry aloud.

When she arose to leave the church, he was gone; but a tiny boy, crowding against her in the entry, left a scrap of paper in her hand.

“Ma petite tourterelle,” it read. “On the twenty-first of this month our fate will be decided. I shall try very hard to win you. Pray for me. And love me.”

“There will be a fight. A big fight!” exclaimed Amélie, when she was shown the slip of paper. “We will go, hey? You and me?”

Toinette’s eyes glowed at the thought.

“To see him fight? Oh, Amélie, that would be wonderful! But it cannot be. Tante Madeleine would never consent.” “Listen! Philippe will take us. Wait! I will ask your aunt to let you come with us to—to Sohmer Park only. And that is where we will go. Who is to know that we go to a fight?”

Toinette allowed herself to be persuaded; and on the eventful evening she was seated between Amélie and Philippe, gazing with tremulous expectancy at the raised platform where, Philippe assured her. the fight would take place.

The great arena, packed from floor to ceiling, hummed like a huge beehive. Clouds of smoke lent a dreamy, unreal aspect to the place, and Toinette’s excitement was so great that she could not speak.

Her lover, her future husband, was going up to that awful place that looked like a cattle pen, to fight before all these thousands of people. To fight for her. And he was going to win ! She had prayed for it a thousand times. She prayed for it with every breath.

Philippe had been drawn into conversation with a tiny, dried-up man who sat at his left; and Toinette. hearing the name of LeGros, listened eagerly to what he had to say.

“Mais oui, LeGros is the favorite. LeGros cannot lose. If he do, plenty people lose their money, let me tell you.”

“The betting is on him?”

The man nodded sagaciously.

“Better nor that, he bet on himself. Every time he fight he bet on himself, and he win. Tonight, they tell me, he bet mos’ everything he got. Cos why?” The little man’s voice became sibilantly confidential. “Cos it is the las’ time he fight. After tonight he go for marry himself, and buy him a place in Carillon, where he make the business of renting boats and fishing reds an’ things like that.”

Toinette thought her heart would burst with joy. A little home in Carillon! What utter bliss !

Toinette had spent a month in Carillon when she was recovering from la grippe, and to her it had seemed like a bit of fairyland. But to live there! With Paul! And—this was to be his last fight !

r"PHERE was a patter of hands, which gathered in volume as it rapidly ran through the vast hall till it became deafening. A half-naked man was mounting the steps to the platform, and Toinette, in her excitement, clenched Amélie’s stout arm in tense fingers.

Amélie laughed.

“Non, non, petite. Compose yourself. It is not he. Listen.”

A man on the platform was yelling something through a megaphone, the half-naked man bowed to the shouts and stamping of the crowd; and another fighter was introduced, who also bowed.

“Have patience, mademoiselle!” whispered Philippe. “LeGros comes on next, and this bout will not be long, I think.”

To Toinette it was endless—and horrifying. With difficulty she restrained her screams as blows rained resoundingly on the fighters’ naked bodies; and when one man fell with a sickening thud to the floor, she hid her eyes in her hands and refused to look again until Amélie assured her it was all over.

“Mesdames et messieurs! Ladees and Gentlemen! Ixiuis Lemaitre”—the man with the megaphone was announcing the next fight, while a fighter, swathed in a purple bathgown. ascended the steps—“and Jean LeGros!”

The purple-gowned fighter turned to face his audience and bowed.

Paul Gendron! Smiling, insouciant as ever!

It was easy to see that he was the favorite. The arena rang with shouts:

“Hooraw, LeGros! Bonne chance, LeGros!”

“Bonne chance!” Toinette breathed. “Bonne chance, Paul!”

Still smiling, LeGros stepped to the centre of the ring and shook hands with his

opponent as gracefully as if he were in a drawing-room.

Then the fight began. It seemed a little foolish at first, the fighters hopping around each other on tiptoe, feinting, weaving and dancing, as if it were some sort of childish play. Toinette became reconciled. This was not so bad, after all. It was really rather an easy way to earn such a lot of money. How clever of Paul to think of it.

Then a resounding smack caused the hall to rock with boos and hoorahs, and Toinette sat very straight in her seat.

What had happened? The men were so swift and agile that it was difficult to see exactly what they were doing. Paul’s opponent was facing her now in the white, glaring light; and she shuddered at the grim, animal-like ferocity of the heavy features. He was much bigger than Paul; and when lie made a sudden thrust at Paul’s jaw, knocking his head backward with the terrifying impact, Toinette felt acutely sick. She had been foolish to come, she reflected, but she could not leave now.

Paul, recovering, capered a-tiptoe round his opponent, making quick, swift jabs at the other’s body. Then Lemaitre threw his arms around Paul, and they went into a clinch. The referee separated them, and Lemaitre, appearing to Toinette for all the world like a mad bull, made a sudden rush for Paul.

Toinette, in a panic of fear, sprang to her feet and screamed a warning:

“Paul! Paul!”

It was but the fraction of a second that the fighting LeGros hesitated and shot a startled glance at the small, erect figure below; and in that fraction of a second Lemaitre got in a crashing blow which felled the other to the ground.

A MOMENT of astonished silence followed the sickening thud, then yells. lxx)s, and catcalls rang out in a mad outburst of excitement that made the place a veritable bedlam.

Toinette gazed horror-stricken at the limp, helpless figure of her lover, while the referee stood over him, counting:

‘ ‘One—two—three—’ ’

Toinette shuddered, hid her face in her hands, and gasped:

“They have killed him ! They have killed him !”

Amélie drew her back to her seat, and the little man beside Philippe who had bet heavily on the favorite glared wrathfully at her.

"And if they have killed him,” he muttered, “whose fault is it but yours? Mon dieu seigneur! Do you know no better than to yell at a man like that when he is fighting?”

Toinette stared at him wide-eyed.

“I? I did it?”

“But certainly. You see? He has lost the fight. A kayo in the first round. And all because you distract him. Such a thing has never happen’ to LeGros before.”

Paul Gendron, the smiling, the insouciant, was being half carried, half led, to his dressing room, amid a babel of deafening yells, while Toinette crept, ashamed and grief-stricken, from the smoke-filled arena.

Sinking to a seat in the outside darkness, she sobbed :

“What have I done? What have I done?” And Amélie, unable to offer any consolation, looked helplessly at Philippe.

“I have spoilt everything. Our marriage. Our little home in Carillon. Everything!” Philippe nodded.

“If it is as the bonhomme says, LeGros, by betting on himself tonight, has lost all that he made before. Only one thing has he gained, and that is a broken head.”

“Can -can you not marry him anyway, chère?” whispered Amélie.

Toinette shook her head.

“He promised ma tante that he would not ask me. Would not even return without the money.”

“But—but if he did, you would say yes, huh?”

“Oh. Amélie! Yes. yes. A thousand times, yes! Butma tante!”

“Pauvre Monsieur Gendron! His head

broken and, without doubt, his heart! And—”

“All through me!”

“And you are the only one who can heal him, Toinette.”

Toinette raised her tearful eyes to Amélie.

“I?,,

“Only last week you became twenty-one, petite. You are of age.”

Dashing the tears away, Toinette gazed with startled eyes at her companion.

“You mean—that I can now marry without ma tante's consent?”

Amélie nodded; and Toinette considered this staggering thought in tense silence. Then she shook her head.

“No. I cannot go against Tante Madeleine. I never have, and I cannot now.”

Amélie gesticulated impatiently.

“Ecoutez! You would be old carrot like your aunt, just because she would listen to her head instead of her heart when she was twenty-one? Think how happy she would have been now if she had not waited. Good husban’, children of her own. But instead, she is old carotte! Think ...”

Toinette sprang to her feet.

“Non! I have already thought. I shall not be like Tante Madeleine. Let me go to him. Quick. I am twenty-one, me!”

STRETCHED on a narrow bench in the dressing room, Paul Gendron looked bewildered; but when his one free eye— the other being swathed in white bandages rested on La Petite Tourterelle, it twinkled as merrily as ever. She, at sight of his battered face, wept openly.

“It was all my fault. I have spoilt everything for you.”

He patted her hand.

“Do not cry, petite. It was my fault.” "But no, it was mine.”

“No, no. It was mine.”

“Non! It was mine. But I am come to marry with you anyway.”

“But, chère; My promise with your aunt!”

“Yes, yes. Your promise with my aunt is all very well, but I am now twenty-one. me. And I wish to marry. And the man I wish to marry is you. So I am asking you to marry with me.”

The words rushed bravely from her lips, but her face was turned away to hide her i flaming cheeks.

The strong brown hand of Paul Gendron found its way across her shoulder and under her chin, gently forcing the shy face to look at him. And when their eyes met, they laughed -happy, spontaneous laughter that put such trifling worries as swollen eyes and maiden aunts entirely outside their world.

“And Paul,” she said by-and-fcy. “the petit bonhomme told us all about the little house in Carillon, and it make me feel so happy I want to dance. But then I go and spoil it all with my so foolish fear for you.” ! “But, no!”

“But, yes! So now I go for werk hard in a store where I will make money. Also 1 will sew for money instead of for Tante Madeleine, and some day yet we will have our home in Carillon. Eh, Paul?”

He gazed very solemnly at her a moment, then threw his head back and laughed again, irrepressibly.

“That petit bonhomme know a little, chère, but not everything. He do not know, par exemple, that I pay something on our home in Carillon on every fight I make. Also he do not know that I bet, not everything but very little, on this fight. Paul Gendron is p’raps bad insurance man, but he is not so big fool like that.”

“Paul! Then—we may go to Carillon?” “As soon as you like, chère! Everything is waiting for ma petite tourterelle! I have but to buy a few boats and fishing rods, and—”

“Oh, Paul!”

“And you will see that I am not such a bad business man as some people may think. Wait. You will see!”

She smiled.

“I shall see. But I shall not wait!”

The End