Pierre was a forthright chap, and he made no secret of his admiration for the Mayor’s son, Yves. Following in his father’s well-heeled footsteps Yves had a bright future, and he was great company over a few beers.
Marie wasn’t a material girl, and she didn’t drink much beer. She could never understand why her father thought so highly of such a loud and tubby specimen. But she would do almost anything to please her daddy. Whenever he invited the Mayor and his family to dinner, or on a boat trip, she bit her lip and pretended to be charmed by Yves.
“I am so pleased that you get on so well, my dear,” said her father. “You make a wonderful pair. Mum and I will be so happy watching your love grow and your family flourish.”
“I am so pleased that you get on so well,” said the Mayor to Yves. “You are probably rather better than she deserves, but she is very pretty, and that restores the balance. I am sure the pair of you will give us many beautiful grand-daughters.”
The man who really owned Marie’s heart was Jean-Luc, the greengrocer’s son, but this was the best-kept secret in Aude. He was known as a modest young man who went often to the theatre. He bothered nobody, and nobody bothered him.
If anyone had cared, they might have noticed that Marie went to the theatre on the same nights. But why should anyone waste time on such unimportant people?
One balmy summer’s night, at a party given by the Mayor, Yves proposed to Marie. She crossed her fingers, took a deep breath, and said yes. Banns were read, champagne was ordered, and invitations were sent.
On the morning of the wedding, Madame Thibaut went to wake her daughter. The bed was empty. On the pillow was a handbill advertising a band of travelling players, on which Marie had written: “Dear Daddy, I’m so sorry”.
And if anyone had bothered to look, they would have found Jean-Luc’s bed empty, too.