Some gloomy weeks had passed, and were already in the first days of February, the air was already beautiful and temperate.
Yann had been with his master, seeking his share of last summer’s fishing, he earned FIM 1,500, which he, according to his family’s habit, was going to leave with his mother. The year was good and he returned home with satisfaction.
Near Ploubazlanek he saw a crowd of people near the road: an old grandmother whispered with his stick and there were noisy boys around him, laughing… It was Mama’s grandma!… She’s the grandma’s parlor whom Sylvestre adored; dirty and in repals, he had become an old, boring manhole, around people gathering on the roads!
Ploubazlanek’s sons had killed the grandma’s cat, and he threatened them with his rod, the wrath of anger and despair.
– Oh! if he, my son’s parkman, had been here, you wouldn’t have dared it, it’s sure you wicked it!
He seemed to have fallen, running away from them to beat them; The headdress was skewed, the clothes were dirty, and they still said he was drunk (as sometimes in Brittany, some elderly people get lost in the ruins that have got a lot of hard experience).
Yann knew it wasn’t true that he was a worthy old man who never drank anything other than water.
– You’re not ashamed? he said to the boys, with his great voice, angry with him.
And in the blink of an eye, all the boys escaped with shame and confusion, because there was no play with long Gaos.
Gaud, who had just returned from Paimpol, brought some work in the evening, had seen far and wide in the middle of his grandmother. Frightened, he came running to know what had happened to him, what was done to him, and when he saw the cat, he realized that they had killed it.
He looked openly with Yan, who didn’t look away; this time they did not think to escape each other, both just turned red, both Yann and Gaud, the blood flooded at the same time on both cheeks, they looked at each other a little confused when they were so dirty; but hated, almost affectionately, the same sense of patience and helpfulness united them.
For a long time, the schoolchildren had wanted to kill the dead cat at the time when it was so black and so ugly, but it was a good cat when it looked dirty, it had a quiet and almost gentle look. They had killed it by stoning and the other eye was blowing. Grandma’s parka fluttered with threats and went home with a very upset and hissing, carrying a dead cat from the tail.
Oh my son, my son, my son, my son … if he’d still be alive, they wouldn’t have dared to do this, wouldn’t be!…
The tears were shifted to the wrinkled face, and his hands, with large blue veins, were trembling.
Gaud had put his headscarf around and tried to comfort him with gentle words. And Yannia annoyed that the kids could be so bad. Could have done that for the old woman. He also had tears to come into his eyes. – But not for a cat, of course, because the young, hard men, like Yann, are happy to play with animals, but they do not pity them; but her heart was hissing as she stepped behind the old, again-born grandma, carrying her dead cat from the tail. He thought Sylvestre, who had loved the art so much, how terrible he would be if he had thought that his grandmother would make his day ridiculed and miserable.
Gaud apologized as one who had to respond to his costume.
– He must have fallen when he is so dirty, he said quietly, his suit is not new, it is true because we are not rich, Mr. Yann; I built it but i only yesterday, I’m sure that when I went out this morning, he was neatly dressed.
Yann looked at her for a long time; this little simple explanation perhaps moved him more than the most selected sentences or reproaches and tears. They stepped further towards Moanie’s cottage. He knew that Gaud had always been beautiful, more beautiful than anyone else, but he seemed even more beautiful after he became poor and grieved. His face had become more truthful, his gray eyes in his flax had become thinner, but it seemed to go deeper, up to the bottom of the soul. His body was also perfectly developed. He filled the scene twenty-three years, he was in the boom of his beauty.
And then he was now in the fisherman’s girl’s suit, the black dress didn’t have too many decorations and the headdress was quite simple. Couldn’t say where it came from, that he still looked like a great girl, it was something in her being, something uninformed that she couldn’t be criticized for; Perhaps his waistcoats, which, according to the old way, were more like the body than others, expressed more clearly the chest and shoulder rotation … But no, rather it lived in his calm voice and his eyes.
Apparently he was going to follow them maybe up to the home.
They passed all three together, as if they had been a cat’s funeral, almost seemed a bit ridiculous when they saw them passing when they were celebrating: people laughed in their doors to them. Old Yvonne in the middle carrying a cat; Gaud on the right side, embarrassed and still flashy; great yann on the left, head upright and thinking.
Meanwhile, Grandma’s parka was quietly on her way, she had arranged for her suit, and without saying she began to secretly inspect both of them, and her eyes were again clear.
And Gauda didn’t speak anything, because he was afraid to give Yann a farewell say. She would have wanted to keep in her memory the gentle view she had received from Yann, she would have closed her eyes so that she could no longer see anything else; was disappearing.
That moment of doubt arose at the door, where the heart seems to be excited about pulsating. Grandma stepped in without looking, then Gaud hesitated, and lastly Yann also stepped in …
Yann was for the first time with a special reason, apparently, what did he want? When he stepped over the threshold, he moved his hand on his strap, and when he noticed the portrait of Sylvestre, surrounded by a funeral wreath made of black pearls, he slowly approached it as a tomb.
Gaud was standing upright with his hands on the table. Yann began to look around and Gaud followed him with his eyes as they listened to their poverty. And it was the poor, even though it was a dwelling, an abominable dwelling of these, who had joined together. Perhaps Yann felt a bit of a pity when he saw him in a miserable, heavy granite shouldered shed. The former wealth was nothing but the white bed, the beautiful bed of the gentleman left, and involuntarily Yann’s eyes returned to it…
He didn’t say anything … Why didn’t he go away?… The old morsel that was still so intelligent in its bright moments didn’t seem to like him. And they stood both in response, silent and restless, and eventually they looked at each other while waiting for a decisive answer. But the time went by and the past moment seemed to make the silence heavier. And they looked at each other more and more, solemnly waiting for something incredible who stayed. – –
– Gaud, Yann asked seriously, halfway if you still want to …
What was he going to say?… He seemed to have made a big decision, steep as his way was, and he did it suddenly, and it barely dared to dress up in the form of words…
– If you still want to… Fishing has been successful this year, and I have little money to possess…
If he still wanted … What did he mean? Had he heard it right? He was dying for the untold thing he thought he was trying to do.
And the old Yvonne tended to fit his ears, feeling the happiness approaching.
– We could marry, Miss Gaud, if you still wanted to.
And then he waited for a response that didn’t come … What then prevented Gaudi from answering? Yann was amazed, scared and Gaud noticed it. She leaned against a two-handed table, she had become quite pale, her eyes dim, and she didn’t get a word out of her mouth: she looked pretty dying.
– Well, Gaud, sure! said the old grandma who had risen up and came to them. See, Mr. Yann, he’s so amazed, he’s gonna have to forgive him when he gets a little bit of thought, so he answers right away … Sit down, Mr. Yann and drink a glass of colt with us!
But Gaudi had no defendant, he didn’t get the word out of his mouth, excited. So it was true, Yann was good, he had a heart. So he saw the right Yann in front of him, he was always thinking of himself, despite his hardness, his stern prohibition, everything. Yann had despised him for a long time, but now he ran to him – now he was poor. No doubt some reason for that was what Gaud should know in the future; but at the moment he did not intend to demand his account, nor accuse him of two years of sorrow. But it was forgotten, it had swept away in the blink of an eye a sweet breeze that hit her alive. Gaud remained still silent, but expressed his delight with his wet eyes as he looked so deeply,
– And God bless you, little children, grandma said, and I thank Him, for I am glad that I have lived so old, to get to see this, accustomed caution, before I die.
They still stood there with the answers, the perceptions, and they didn’t find what to say to each other; they did not know any word that would have been sweet enough, any sentence that would have been meaningful, which would have seemed valuable enough to break their sweet silence.
– Kiss each other even, baby gold … But don’t they talk anything!
Yann took off the hat, taking on a strange sense of respect, before he leaned over to kiss Gaudi – and he felt as if it was the first real kiss he gave in his life.
Gaud also kissed Yannia, squeezing his heartfelt fresh lips on the cheeks of the sea. Behind the furnace, Sirkka sang luck to them, and it guessed right this time. And Sylvestre’s hooded picture looked like a smiling black wreath in the middle. And all looked suddenly in a refreshed and rejuvenated gloomy cottage. The charming adoration filled the silence: the dark twilight of winter, which came in through the window, had turned into a beautiful, enchanting light…
– So when Yann returns from Iceland I guess you get married, kid!
Gaud looked down. Iceland, “Leopoldine”, – it was true, he had already forgotten these terrible obstacles. – When I came back from Iceland … … how long still had to wait, a whole, savage summer!
And Yann was uneasy landing on his feet, he too looked too long, and he quickly dropped to himself, not rushing to spend the wedding before leaving: so many days would be needed to get the papers in order, so many days to preach in the Church; quite rightly, it could be a wedding on the 20th to 25th of the month, and then they would have a whole long week to be together.
– In any case, I’ll rush to announce it to my dad, he said, hurrying like that, every minute their uninhabited now would have been measured and precious.