March and April; in July and September, Fortnoye bound up and down the Rhine; in the depth of the winter, Monsieur Tonson-Fortnoye come again! Evidently one of the most frequent guests of my delicate Francine was the interpreter of Cosmos in Strasburg, the white-bearded mystifier of the champagne-cellar, the finest singing-voice in Épernay.
[Illustration: THE CHURCHYARD LOVER.]
Toward ten o'clock, as I paced the little grove called the Oak Wood, I saw at the miniature lake four persons, who were regaining the bank after trying to detach the little boat moored by the shore. They were just the four from our social table with whom I best agreed. I joined the party, and, hooking now a friendly arm to the elbow of one, now to that of another, I soon obtained all they had to communicate on the subject which occupied my mind. Each knew Fortnoye intimately: the result of my quadratic amounted to the following:
First. Fortnoye, educated at the Polytechnic School in Paris, is a man of grave c