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    Chapter 17

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    Chapter 17
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    That night Helene was unable to sleep. She turned from side to side in
    feverish unrest, and whenever a drowsy stupor fell on her senses, the
    old sorrows would start into new life within her breast. As she dozed
    and the nightmare increased, one fixed thought tortured her--she was
    eager to know where Juliette and Malignon would meet. This knowledge,
    she imagined, would be a source of relief to her. Where, where could
    it be? Despite herself, her brain throbbed with the thought, and she
    forgot everything save her craving to unravel this mystery, which
    thrilled her with secret longings.

    When day dawned and she began to dress, she caught herself saying
    loudly: "It will be to-morrow!"

    With one stocking on, and hands falling helpless to her side, she
    lapsed for a while into a fresh dreamy fit. "Where, where was it that
    they had agreed to meet?"

    "Good-day, mother, darling!" just then exclaimed Jeanne who had
    awakened in her turn.

    As her strength was now returning to her, she had gone back to sleep
    in her cot in the closet. With bare feet and in her nightdress she
    came to throw herself on Helene's neck, as was her every-day custom;
    then back again she rushed, to curl herself up in her warm bed for a
    little while longer. This jumping in and out amused her, and a ripple
    of laughter stole from under the clothes. Once more she bounded into
    the bedroom, saying: "Good-morning, mammy dear!"

    And again she ran off, screaming with laughter. Then she threw the
    sheet over her head, and her cry came, hoarse and muffled, from
    beneath it: "I'm not there! I'm not there!"

    But Helene was in no mood for play, as on other mornings; and Jeanne,
    dispirited, fell asleep again. The day was still young. About eight
    o'clock Rosalie made her appearance to recount the morning's chapter
    of accidents. Oh! the streets were awful outside; in going for the
    milk her shoes had almost come off in the muddy slush. All the ice was
    thawing; and it was quite mild too, almost oppressive. Oh! by the way,
    she had almost forgotten! an old woman had come to see madame the
    night before.

    "Why!" she said, as there came a pull at the bell, "I expect that's
    she!"

    It was Mother Fetu, but Mother Fetu transformed, magnificent in a
    clean white cap, a new gown, and tartan shawl wrapped round her
    shoulders. Her voice, however, still retained its plaintive tone of
    entreaty.

    "Dear lady, it's only I, who have taken the liberty of calling to ask
    you about something!"

    Helene gazed at her, somewhat surprised by her display of finery.

    "Are you better, Mother Fetu?"

    "Oh yes, yes; I feel better, if I may venture to say so. You see I
    always have something queer in my inside; it knocks me about
    dreadfully, but still I'm better. Another thing, too; I've had a
    stroke of luck; it was a surprise, you see, because luck hasn't often
    come in my way. But a gentleman has made me his housekeeper--and oh!
    it's such a story!"

    Her words came slowly, and her small keen eyes glittered in her face,
    furrowed by a thousand wrinkles. She seemed to be waiting for Helene
    to question her; but the young woman sat close to the fire which
    Rosalie had just lit, and paid scant attention to her, engrossed as
    she was in her own thoughts, with a look of pain on her features.

    "What do you want to ask me?" she at last said to Mother Fetu.

    The old lady made no immediate reply. She was scrutinizing the room,
    with its rosewood furniture and blue velvet hangings. Then, with the
    humble and fawning air of a pauper, she muttered: "Pardon me, madame,
    but everything is so beautiful here. My gentleman has a room like
    this, but it's all in pink. Oh! it's such a story! Just picture to
    yourself a young man of good position who has taken rooms in our
    house. Of course, it isn't much of a place, but still our first and
    second floors are very nice. Then, it's so quiet, too! There's no
    traffic; you could imagine yourself in the country. The workmen have
    been in the house for a whole fortnight; they have made such a jewel
    of his room!"

    She here paused, observing that Helene's attention was being aroused.

    "It's for his work," she continued in a drawling voice; "he says it's
    for his work. We have no doorkeeper, you know, and that pleases him.
    Oh! my gentleman doesn't like doorkeepers, and he is quite right,
    too!"

    Once more she came to a halt, as though an idea had suddenly occurred
    to her.

    "Why, wait a minute; you must know him--of course you must. He visits
    one of your lady friends!"

    "Ah!" exclaimed Helene, with colorless face.

    "Yes, to be sure; the lady who lives close by--the one who used to go
    with you to church. She came the other day."

    Mother Fetu's eyes contracted, and from under the lids she took note
    of her benefactress's emotion. But Helene strove to question her in a
    tone that would not betray her agitation.

    "Did she go up?"

    "No, she altered her mind; perhaps she had forgotten something. But I
    was at the door. She asked for Monsieur Vincent, and then got back
    into her cab again, calling to the driver to return home, as it was
    too late. Oh! she's such a nice, lively, and respectable lady. The
    gracious God doesn't send many such into the world. Why, with the
    exception of yourself, she's the best--well, well, may Heaven bless
    you all!"

    In this way Mother Fetu rambled on with the pious glibness of a
    devotee who is perpetually telling her beads. But the twitching of the
    myriad wrinkles of her face showed that her mind was still working,
    and soon she beamed with intense satisfaction.

    "Ah!" she all at once resumed in inconsequent fashion, "how I should
    like to have a pair of good shoes! My gentleman has been so very kind,
    I can't ask him for anything more. You see I'm dressed; still I must
    get a pair of good shoes. Look at those I have; they are all holes;
    and when the weather's muddy, as it is to-day, one's apt to get very
    ill. Yes, I was down with colic yesterday; I was writhing all the
    afternoon, but if I had a pair of good shoes--"

    "I'll bring you a pair, Mother Fetu," said Helene, waving her towards
    the door.

    Then, as the old woman retired backwards, with profuse curtseying and
    thanks, she asked her: "At what hour are you alone?"

    "My gentleman is never there after six o'clock," she answered. "But
    don't give yourself the trouble; I'll come myself, and get them from
    your doorkeeper. But you can do as you please. You are an angel from
    heaven. God on high will requite you for all your kindness!"

    When she had reached the landing she could still be heard giving vent
    to her feelings. Helene sat a long time plunged in the stupor which
    the information, supplied by this woman with such fortuitous
    seasonableness, had brought upon her. She now knew the place of
    assignation. It was a room, with pink decorations, in that old
    tumbledown house! She once more pictured to herself the staircase
    oozing with damp, the yellow doors on each landing, grimy with the
    touch of greasy hands, and all the wretchedness which had stirred her
    heart to pity when she had gone during the previous winter to visit
    Mother Fetu; and she also strove to conjure up a vision of that pink
    chamber in the midst of such repulsive, poverty-stricken surroundings.
    However, whilst she was still absorbed in her reverie, two tiny warm
    hands were placed over her eyes, which lack of sleep had reddened, and
    a laughing voice inquired: "Who is it? who is it?"

    It was Jeanne, who had slipped into her clothes without assistance.
    Mother Fetu's voice had awakened her; and perceiving that the closet
    door had been shut, she had made her toilet with the utmost speed in
    order to give her mother a surprise.

    "Who is it? who is it?" she again inquired, convulsed more and more
    with laughter.

    She turned to Rosalie, who entered at the moment with the breakfast.

    "You know; don't you speak. Nobody is asking you any question."

    "Be quiet, you little madcap!" exclaimed Helene. "I suppose it's you!"

    The child slipped on to her mother's lap, and there, leaning back and
    swinging to and fro, delighted with the amusement she had devised, she
    resumed:

    "Well, it might have been another little girl! Eh? Perhaps some little
    girl who had brought you a letter of invitation to dine with her
    mamma. And she might have covered your eyes, too!"

    "Don't be silly," exclaimed Helene, as she set her on the floor. "What
    are you talking about? Rosalie, let us have breakfast."

    The maid's eyes, however, were riveted on the child, and she commented
    upon her little mistress being so oddly dressed. To tell the truth, so
    great had been Jeanne's haste that she had not put on her shoes. She
    had drawn on a short flannel petticoat which allowed a glimpse of her
    chemise, and had left her morning jacket open, so that you could see
    her delicate, undeveloped bosom. With her hair streaming behind her,
    stamping about in her stockings, which were all awry, she looked
    charming, all in white like some child of fairyland.

    She cast down her eyes to see herself, and immediately burst into
    laughter.

    "Look, mamma, I look nice, don't I? Won't you let me be as I am? It is
    nice!"

    Repressing a gesture of impatience, Helene, as was her wont every
    morning, inquired: "Are you washed?"

    "Oh, mamma!" pleaded the child, her joy suddenly dashed. "Oh, mamma!
    it's raining; it's too nasty!"

    "Then, you'll have no breakfast. Wash her, Rosalie."

    She usually took this office upon herself, but that morning she felt
    altogether out of sorts, and drew nearer to the fire, shivering,
    although the weather was so balmy. Having spread a napkin and placed
    two white china bowls on a small round table, Rosalie had brought the
    latter close to the fireplace. The coffee and milk steamed before the
    fire in a silver pot, which had been a present from Monsieur Rambaud.
    At this early hour the disorderly, drowsy room seemed delightfully
    homelike.

    "Mamma, mamma!" screamed Jeanne from the depths of the closet, "she's
    rubbing me too hard. It's taking my skin off. Oh dear! how awfully
    cold!"

    Helene, with eyes fixed on the coffee-pot, remained engrossed in
    thought. She desired to know everything, so she would go. The thought
    of that mysterious place of assignation in so squalid a nook of Paris
    was an ever-present pain and vexation. She judged such taste hateful,
    but in it she identified Malignon's leaning towards romance.

    "Mademoiselle," declared Rosalie, "if you don't let me finish with
    you, I shall call madame."

    "Stop, stop: you are poking the soap into my eyes," answered Jeanne,
    whose voice was hoarse with sobs. "Leave me alone; I've had enough of
    it. The ears can wait till to-morrow."

    But the splashing of water went on, and the squeezing of the sponge
    into the basin could be heard. There was a clamor and a struggle, the
    child was sobbing; but almost immediately afterward she made her
    appearance, shouting gaily: "It's over now; it's over now!"

    Her hair was still glistening with wet, and she shook herself, her
    face glowing with the rubbing it had received and exhaling a fresh and
    pleasant odor. In her struggle to get free her jacket had slipped from
    her shoulders, her petticoat had become loosened, and her stockings
    had tumbled down, displaying her bare legs. According to Rosalie, she
    looked like an infant Jesus. Jeanne, however, felt very proud that she
    was clean; she had no wish to be dressed again.

    "Look at me, mamma; look at my hands, and my neck, and my ears. Oh!
    you must let me warm myself; I am so comfortable. You don't say
    anything; surely I've deserved my breakfast to-day."

    She had curled herself up before the fire in her own little
    easy-chair. Then Rosalie poured out the coffee and milk. Jeanne took
    her bowl on her lap, and gravely soaked her toast in its contents with
    all the airs of a grown-up person. Helene had always forbidden her to
    eat in this way, but that morning she remained plunged in thought. She
    did not touch her own bread, and was satisfied with drinking her coffee.
    Then Jeanne, after swallowing her last morsel, was stung with remorse.
    Her heart filled, she put aside her bowl, and gazing on her mother's
    pale face, threw herself on her neck: "Mamma, are you ill now? I
    haven't vexed you, have I?--say."

    "No, no, my darling, quite the contrary; you're very good," murmured
    Helene as she embraced her. "I'm only a little wearied; I haven't
    slept well. Go on playing: don't be uneasy."

    The thought occurred to her that the day would prove a terribly long
    one. What could she do whilst waiting for the night? For some time
    past she had abandoned her needlework; sewing had become a terrible
    weariness. For hours she lingered in her seat with idle hands, almost
    suffocating in her room, and craving to go out into the open air for
    breath, yet never stirring. It was this room which made her ill; she
    hated it, in angry exasperation over the two years which she had spent
    within its walls; its blue velvet and the vast panorama of the mighty
    city disgusted her, and her thoughts dwelt on a lodging in some busy
    street, the uproar of which would have deafened her. Good heavens! how
    long were the hours! She took up a book, but the fixed idea that
    engrossed her mind continually conjured up the same visions between
    her eyes and the page of print.

    In the meantime Rosalie had been busy setting the room in order;
    Jeanne's hair also had been brushed, and she was dressed. While her
    mother sat at the window, striving to read, the child, who was in one
    of her moods of obstreperous gaiety, began playing a grand game. She
    was all alone; but this gave her no discomfort; she herself
    represented three or four persons in turn with comical earnestness and
    gravity. At first she played the lady going on a visit. She vanished
    into the dining-room, and returned bowing and smiling, her head
    nodding this way and that in the most coquettish style.

    "Good-day, madame! How are you, madame? How long it is since I've seen
    you! A marvellously long time, to be sure! Dear me, I've been so ill,
    madame! Yes; I've had the cholera; it's very disagreeable. Oh! it
    doesn't show; no, no, it makes you look younger, on my word of honor.
    And your children, madame? Oh! I've had three since last summer!"

    So she rattled on, never ceasing her curtseying to the round table,
    which doubtless represented the lady she was visiting. Next she
    ventured to bring the chairs closer together, and for an hour carried
    on a general conversation, her talk abounding in extraordinary
    phrases.

    "Don't be silly," said her mother at intervals, when the chatter put
    her out of patience.

    "But, mamma, I'm paying my friend a visit. She's speaking to me, and I
    must answer her. At tea nobody ought to put the cakes in their
    pockets, ought they?"

    Then she turned and began again:

    "Good-bye, madame; your tea was delicious. Remember me most kindly to
    your husband."

    The next moment came something else. She was going out shopping in her
    carriage, and got astride of a chair like a boy.

    "Jean, not so quick; I'm afraid. Stop! stop! here is the milliner's!
    Mademoiselle, how much is this bonnet? Three hundred francs; that
    isn't dear. But it isn't pretty. I should like it with a bird on it--a
    bird big like that! Come, Jean, drive me to the grocer's. Have you
    some honey? Yes, madame, here is some. Oh, how nice it is! But I don't
    want any of it; give me two sous' worth of sugar. Oh! Jean, look, take
    care! There! we have had a spill! Mr. Policeman, it was the cart which
    drove against us. You're not hurt, madame, are you? No, sir, not in
    the least. Jean, Jean! home now. Gee-up! gee-up. Wait a minute; I must
    order some chemises. Three dozen chemises for madame. I want some
    boots too and some stays. Gee-up! gee-up! Good gracious, we shall
    never get back again."

    Then she fanned herself, enacting the part of the lady who has
    returned home and is finding fault with her servants. She never
    remained quiet for a moment; she was in a feverish ecstasy, full of
    all sorts of whimsical ideas; all the life she knew surged up in her
    little brain and escaped from it in fragments. Morning and afternoon
    she thus moved about, dancing and chattering; and when she grew tired,
    a footstool or parasol discovered in a corner, or some shred of stuff
    lying on the floor, would suffice to launch her into a new game in
    which her effervescing imagination found fresh outlet. Persons,
    places, and incidents were all of her own creation, and she amused
    herself as much as though twelve children of her own age had been
    beside her.

    But evening came at last. Six o'clock was about to strike. And Helene,
    rousing herself from the troubled stupor in which she had spent the
    afternoon, hurriedly threw a shawl over her shoulders.

    "Are you going out, mamma?" asked Jeanne in her surprise.

    "Yes, my darling, just for a walk close by. I won't be long; be good."

    Outside it was still thawing. The footways were covered with mud. In
    the Rue de Passy, Helene entered a boot shop, to which she had taken
    Mother Fetu on a previous occasion. Then she returned along the Rue
    Raynouard. The sky was grey, and from the pavement a mist was rising.
    The street stretched dimly before her, deserted and fear-inspiring,
    though the hour was yet early. In the damp haze the infrequent
    gas-lamps glimmered like yellow spots. She quickened her steps, keeping
    close to the houses, and shrinking from sight as though she were on
    the way to some assignation. However, as she hastily turned into the
    Passage des Eaux, she halted beneath the archway, her heart giving way
    to genuine terror. The passage opened beneath her like some black
    gulf. The bottom of it was invisible; the only thing she could see in
    this black tunnel was the quivering gleam of the one lamp which
    lighted it. Eventually she made up her mind, and grasped the iron
    railing to prevent herself from slipping. Feeling her way with the tip
    of her boots she landed successively on the broad steps. The walls,
    right and left, grew closer, seemingly prolonged by the darkness,
    while the bare branches of the trees above cast vague shadows, like
    those of gigantic arms with closed or outstretched hands. She trembled
    as she thought that one of the garden doors might open and a man
    spring out upon her. There were no passers-by, however, and she
    stepped down as quickly as possible. Suddenly from out of the darkness
    loomed a shadow which coughed, and she was frozen with fear; but it
    was only an old woman creeping with difficulty up the path. Then she
    felt less uneasy, and carefully raised her dress, which had been
    trailing in the mud. So thick was the latter that her boots were
    constantly sticking to the steps. At the bottom she turned aside
    instinctively. From the branches the raindrops dripped fast into the
    passage, and the lamp glimmered like that of some miner, hanging to
    the side of a pit which infiltrations have rendered dangerous.

    Helene climbed straight to the attic she had so often visited at the
    top of the large house abutting on the Passage. But nothing stirred,
    although she rapped loudly. In considerable perplexity she descended
    the stairs again. Mother Fetu was doubtless in the rooms on the first
    floor, where, however, Helene dared not show herself. She remained
    five minutes in the entry, which was lighted by a petroleum lamp. Then
    again she ascended the stairs hesitatingly, gazing at each door, and
    was on the point of going away, when the old woman leaned over the
    balusters.

    "What! it's you on the stairs, my good lady!" she exclaimed. "Come in,
    and don't catch cold out there. Oh! it is a vile place--enough to kill
    one."

    "No, thank you," said Helene; "I've brought you your pair of shoes,
    Mother Fetu."

    She looked at the door which Mother Fetu had left open behind her, and
    caught a glimpse of a stove within.

    "I'm all alone, I assure you," declared the old woman. "Come in. This
    is the kitchen here. Oh! you're not proud with us poor folks; we can
    talk to you!"

    Despite the repugnance which shame at the purpose of her coming
    created within her, Helene followed her.

    "God in Heaven! how can I thank you! Oh, what lovely shoes! Wait, and
    I'll put them on. There's my whole foot in; it fits me like a glove.
    Bless the day! I can walk with these without being afraid of the rain.
    Oh! my good lady, you are my preserver; you've given me ten more years
    of life. No, no, it's no flattery; it's what I think, as true as
    there's a lamp shining on us. No, no, I don't flatter!"

    She melted into tears as she spoke, and grasping Helene's hands kissed
    them. In a stewpan on the stove some wine was being heated, and on the
    table, near the lamp, stood a half-empty bottle of Bordeaux with its
    tapering neck. The only other things placed there were four dishes, a
    glass, two saucepans, and an earthenware pot. It could be seen that
    Mother Fetu camped in this bachelor's kitchen, and that the fires were
    lit for herself only. Seeing Helene's glance turn towards the stewpan,
    she coughed, and once more put on her dolorous expression.

    "It's gripping me again," she groaned. "Oh! it's useless for the
    doctor to talk; I must have some creature in my inside. And then, a
    drop of wine relieves me so. I'm greatly afflicted, my good lady. I
    wouldn't have a soul suffer from my trouble; it's too dreadful. Well,
    I'm nursing myself a bit now; and when a person has passed through so
    much, isn't it fair she should do so? I have been so lucky in falling
    in with a nice gentleman. May Heaven bless him!"

    With this outburst she dropped two large lumps of sugar into her wine.
    She was now getting more corpulent than ever, and her little eyes had
    almost vanished from her fat face. She moved slowly with a beatifical
    expression of felicity. Her life's ambition was now evidently
    satisfied. For this she had been born. When she put her sugar away
    again Helene caught a glimpse of some tid-bits secreted at the bottom
    of a cupboard--a jar of preserves, a bag of biscuits, and even some
    cigars, all doubtless pilfered from the gentleman lodger.

    "Well, good-bye, Mother Fetu, I'm going away," she exclaimed.

    The old lady, however, pushed the saucepan to one side of the stove
    and murmured: "Wait a minute; this is far too hot, I'll drink it
    by-and-by. No, no; don't go out that way. I must beg pardon for
    having received you in the kitchen. Let us go round the rooms."

    She caught up the lamp, and turned into a narrow passage. Helene, with
    beating heart, followed close behind. The passage, dilapidated and
    smoky, was reeking with damp. Then a door was thrown open, and she
    found herself treading a thick carpet. Mother Fetu had already
    advanced into a room which was plunged in darkness and silence.

    "Well?" she asked, as she lifted up the lamp; "it's very nice, isn't
    it?"

    There were two rooms, each of them square, communicating with one
    another by folding-doors, which had been removed, and replaced by
    curtains. Both were hung with pink cretonne of a Louis Quinze pattern,
    picturing chubby-checked cupids disporting themselves amongst garlands
    of flowers. In the first apartment there was a round table, two
    lounges, and some easy-chairs; and in the second, which was somewhat
    smaller, most of the space was occupied by the bed. Mother Fetu drew
    attention to a crystal lamp with gilt chains, which hung from the
    ceiling. To her this lamp was the veritable acme of luxury.

    Then she began explaining things: "You can't imagine what a funny
    fellow he is! He lights it up in mid-day, and stays here, smoking a
    cigar and gazing into vacancy. But it amuses him, it seems. Well, it
    doesn't matter; I've an idea he must have spent a lot of money in his
    time."

    Helene went through the rooms in silence. They seemed to her in bad
    taste. There was too much pink everywhere; the furniture also looked
    far too new.

    "He calls himself Monsieur Vincent," continued the old woman, rambling
    on. "Of course, it's all the same to me. As long as he pays, my
    gentleman--"

    "Well, good-bye, Mother Fetu," said Helene, in whose throat a feeling
    of suffocation was gathering.

    She was burning to get away, but on opening a door she found herself
    threading three small rooms, the bareness and dirt of which were
    repulsive. The paper hung in tatters from the walls, the ceilings were
    grimy, and old plaster littered the broken floors. The whole place was
    pervaded by a smell of long prevalent squalor.

    "Not that way! not that way!" screamed Mother Fetu. "That door is
    generally shut. These are the other rooms which they haven't attempted
    to clean. My word! it's cost him quite enough already! Yes, indeed,
    these aren't nearly so nice! Come this way, my good lady--come this
    way!"

    On Helene's return to the pink boudoir, she stopped to kiss her hand
    once more.

    "You see, I'm not ungrateful! I shall never forget the shoes. How well
    they fit me! and how warm they are! Why, I could walk half-a-dozen
    miles with them. What can I beg Heaven to grant you? O Lord, hearken
    to me, and grant that she may be the happiest of women--in the name of
    the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!" A devout enthusiasm had
    suddenly come upon Mother Fetu; she repeated the sign of the cross
    again and again, and bowed the knee in the direction of the crystal
    lamp. This done, she opened the door conducting to the landing, and
    whispered in a changed voice into Helene's ear:

    "Whenever you like to call, just knock at the kitchen door; I'm always
    there!"

    Dazed, and glancing behind her as though she were leaving a place of
    dubious repute, Helene hurried down the staircase, reascended the
    Passage des Eaux, and regained the Rue Vineuse, without consciousness
    of the ground she was covering. The old woman's last words still rang
    in her ears. In truth, no; never again would she set foot in that
    house, never again would she bear her charity thither. Why should she
    ever rap at the kitchen door again? At present she was satisfied; she
    had seen what was to be seen. And she was full of scorn for herself
    --for everybody. How disgraceful to have gone there! The recollection of
    the place with its tawdry finery and squalid surroundings filled her
    with mingled anger and disgust.

    "Well, madame," exclaimed Rosalie, who was awaiting her return on the
    staircase, "the dinner will be nice. Dear, oh dear! it's been burning
    for half an hour!"

    At table Jeanne plagued her mother with questions. Where had she been?
    what had she been about? However, as the answers she received proved
    somewhat curt, she began to amuse herself by giving a little dinner.
    Her doll was perched near her on a chair, and in a sisterly fashion
    she placed half of her dessert before it.

    "Now, mademoiselle, you must eat like a lady. See, wipe your mouth.
    Oh, the dirty little thing! She doesn't even know how to wear her
    napkin! There, you're nice now. See, here is a biscuit. What do you
    say? You want some preserve on it. Well, I should think it better as
    it is! Let me pare you a quarter of this apple!"

    She placed the doll's share on the chair. But when she had emptied her
    own plate she took the dainties back again one after the other and
    devoured them, speaking all the time as though she were the doll.

    "Oh! it's delicious! I've never eaten such nice jam! Where did you get
    this jam, madame? I shall tell my husband to buy a pot of it. Do those
    beautiful apples come from your garden, madame?"

    She fell asleep while thus playing, and stumbled into the bedroom with
    the doll in her arms. She had given herself no rest since morning. Her
    little legs could no longer sustain her--she was helpless and wearied
    to death. However, a ripple of laughter passed over her face even in
    sleep; in her dreams she must have been still continuing her play.

    At last Helene was alone in her room. With closed doors she spent a
    miserable evening beside the dead fire. Her will was failing her;
    thoughts that found no utterance were stirring within the innermost
    recesses of her heart. At midnight she wearily sought her bed, but
    there her torture passed endurance. She dozed, she tossed from side to
    side as though a fire were beneath her. She was haunted by visions
    which sleeplessness enlarged to a gigantic size. Then an idea took
    root in her brain. In vain did she strive to banish it; it clung to
    her, surged and clutched her at the throat till it entirely swayed
    her. About two o'clock she rose, rigid, pallid, and resolute as a
    somnambulist, and having again lighted the lamp she wrote a letter in
    a disguised hand; it was a vague denunciation, a note of three lines,
    requesting Doctor Deberle to repair that day to such a place at such
    an hour; there was no explanation, no signature. She sealed the
    envelope and dropped the letter into the pocket of her dress which was
    hanging over an arm-chair. Then returning to bed, she immediately
    closed her eyes, and in a few minutes was lying there breathless,
    overpowered by leaden slumber.
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