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    Chapter 23

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    Chapter 23
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    On rising from the dinner-table the doctor spoke to his wife of a
    confinement case, in close attendance on which he would doubtless have
    to pass the night. He quitted the house at nine o'clock, walked down
    to the riverside, and paced along the deserted quays in the dense
    nocturnal darkness. A slight moist wind was blowing, and the swollen
    Seine rolled on in inky waves. As soon as eleven o'clock chimed, he
    walked up the slopes of the Trocadero, and began to prowl round the
    house, the huge square pile of which seemed but a deepening of the
    gloom. Lights could still be seen streaming through the dining-room
    windows of Helene's lodging. Walking round, he noted that the kitchen
    was also brilliantly lighted up. And at this sight he stopped short in
    astonishment, which slowly developed into uneasiness. Shadows
    traversed the blinds; there seemed to be considerable bustle and stir
    up there. Perhaps Monsieur Rambaud had stayed to dine? But the worthy
    man never left later than ten o'clock. He, Henri, dared not go up; for
    what would he say should Rosalie open the door? At last, as it was
    nearing midnight, mad with impatience and throwing prudence to the
    winds, he rang the bell, and walked swiftly past the porter's room
    without giving his name. At the top of the stairs Rosalie received
    him.

    "It's you, sir! Come in. I will go and announce you. Madame must be
    expecting you."

    She gave no sign of surprise on seeing him at this hour. As he entered
    the dining-room without uttering a word, she resumed distractedly:
    "Oh! mademoiselle is very ill, sir. What a night! My legs are sinking
    under me!" Thereupon she left the room, and the doctor mechanically
    took a seat. He was oblivious of the fact that he was a medical man.
    Pacing along the quay he had conjured up a vision of a very different
    reception. And now he was there, as though he were paying a visit,
    waiting with his hat on his knees. A grievous coughing in the next
    room alone broke upon the intense silence.

    At last Rosalie made her appearance once more, and hurrying across the
    dining-room with a basin in her hand, merely remarked: "Madame says
    you are not to go in."

    He sat on, powerless to depart. Was their meeting to be postponed till
    another day, then? He was dazed, as though such a thing had seemed to
    him impossible. Then the thought came to him that poor Jeanne had very
    bad health; children only brought on sorrow and vexation. The door,
    however, opened once more, and Doctor Bodin entered, with a thousand
    apologies falling from his lips. For some time he chattered away: he
    had been sent for, but he would always be exceedingly pleased to enter
    into consultation with his renowned fellow-practitioner.

    "Oh! no doubt, no doubt," stammered Doctor Deberle, whose ears were
    buzzing.

    The elder man, his mind set at rest with regard to all questions of
    professional etiquette, then began to affect a puzzled manner, and
    expressed his doubts of the meaning of the symptoms. He spoke in a
    whisper, and described them in technical phraseology, frequently
    pausing and winking significantly. There was coughing without
    expectoration, very pronounced weakness, and intense fever. Perhaps it
    might prove a case of typhoid fever. But in the meantime he gave no
    decided opinion, as the anaemic nervous affection, for which the
    patient had been treated so long, made him fear unforeseen
    complications.

    "What do you think?" he asked, after delivering himself of each
    remark.

    Doctor Deberle answered with evasive questions. While the other was
    speaking, he felt ashamed at finding himself in that room. Why had he
    come up?

    "I have applied two blisters," continued the old doctor. "I'm waiting
    the result. But, of course, you'll see her. You will then give me your
    opinion."

    So saying he led him into the bedroom. Henri entered it with a shudder
    creeping through his frame. It was but faintly lighted by a lamp.
    There thronged into his mind the memories of other nights, when there
    had been the same warm perfume, the same close, calm atmosphere, the
    same deepening shadows shrouding the furniture and hangings. But there
    was no one now to come to him with outstretched hands as in those
    olden days. Monsieur Rambaud lay back in an arm-chair exhausted,
    seemingly asleep. Helene was standing in front of the bed, robed in a
    white dressing-gown, but did not turn her head; and her figure, in its
    death-like pallor, appeared to him extremely tall. Then for a moment's
    space he gazed on Jeanne. Her weakness was so great that she could not
    open her eyes without fatigue. Bathed in sweat, she lay in a stupor,
    her face ghastly, save that a burning flush colored each cheek.

    "It's galloping consumption," he exclaimed at last, speaking aloud in
    spite of himself, and giving no sign of astonishment, as though he had
    long foreseen what would happen.

    Helene heard him and looked at him. She seemed to be of ice, her eyes
    were dry, and she was terribly calm.

    "You think so, do you?" rejoined Doctor Bodin, giving an approving nod
    in the style of a man who had not cared to be the first to express
    this opinion.

    He sounded the child once more. Jeanne, her limbs quite lifeless,
    yielded to the examination without seemingly knowing why she was being
    disturbed. A few rapid sentences were exchanged between the two
    physicians. The old doctor murmured some words about amphoric
    breathing, and a sound such as a cracked jar might give out.
    Nevertheless, he still affected some hesitation, and spoke,
    suggestively, of capillary bronchitis. Doctor Deberle hastened to
    explain that an accidental cause had brought on the illness; doubtless
    it was due to a cold; however, he had already noticed several times
    that an anaemical tendency would produce chest diseases. Helene stood
    waiting behind him.

    "Listen to her breathing yourself," said Doctor Bodin, giving way to
    Henri.

    He leaned over the child, and seemed about to take hold of her. She
    had not raised her eyelids; but lay there in self-abandonment,
    consumed by fever. Her open nightdress displayed her childish breast,
    where as yet there were but slight signs of coming womanhood; and
    nothing could be more chaste or yet more harrowing than the sight of
    this dawning maturity on which the Angel of Death had already laid his
    hand. She had displayed no aversion when the old doctor had touched
    her. But the moment Henri's fingers glanced against her body she
    started as if she had received a shock. In a transport of shame she
    awoke from the coma in which she had been plunged, and, like a maiden
    in alarm, clasped her poor puny little arms over her bosom, exclaiming
    the while in quavering tones: "Mamma! mamma!"

    Then she opened her eyes, and on recognizing the man who was bending
    over her, she was seized with terror. Sobbing with shame, she drew the
    bed-cover over her bosom. It seemed as though she had grown older by
    ten years during her short agony, and on the brink of death had
    attained sufficient womanhood to understand that this man, above all
    others, must not lay hands on her. She wailed out again in piteous
    entreaty: "Mamma! mamma! I beseech you!"

    Helene, who had hitherto not opened her lips, came close to Henri. Her
    eyes were bent on him fixedly; her face was of marble. She touched
    him, and merely said in a husky voice: "Go away!"

    Doctor Bodin strove to appease Jeanne, who now shook with a fresh fit
    of coughing. He assured her that nobody would annoy her again, that
    every one would go away, to prevent her being disturbed.

    "Go away," repeated Helene, in a deep whisper in her lover's ear. "You
    see very well that we have killed her!"

    Then, unable to find a word in reply, Henri withdrew. He lingered for
    a moment longer in the dining-room, awaiting he knew not what,
    something that might possibly take place. But seeing that Doctor Bodin
    did not come out, he groped his way down the stairs without even
    Rosalie to light him. He thought of the awful speed with which
    galloping consumption--a disease to which he had devoted earnest
    study--carried off its victims; the miliary tubercles would rapidly
    multiply, the stifling sensation would become more and more
    pronounced; Jeanne would certainly not last another three weeks.

    The first of these passed by. In the mighty expanse of heaven before
    the window, the sun rose and set above Paris, without Helene being
    more than vaguely conscious of the pitiless, steady advance of time.
    She grasped the fact that her daughter was doomed; she lived plunged
    in a stupor, alive only to the terrible anguish that filled her heart.
    It was but waiting on in hopelessness, in certainty that death would
    prove merciless. She could not weep, but paced gently to and fro,
    tending the sufferer with slow, regulated movements. At times,
    yielding to fatigue, she would fall upon a chair, whence she gazed at
    her for hours. Jeanne grew weaker and weaker; painful vomiting was
    followed by exhaustion; the fever never quitted her. When Doctor Bodin
    called, he examined her for a little while and left some prescription;
    but his drooping shoulders, as he left the room, were eloquent of such
    powerlessness that the mother forbore to accompany him to ask even a
    question.

    On the morning after the illness had declared itself, Abbe Jouve had
    made all haste to call. He and his brother now again came every
    evening, exchanging a mute clasp of the hand with Helene, and never
    venturing to ask any news. They had offered to watch by the bedside in
    succession, but she sent them away when ten o'clock struck; she would
    have no one in the bedroom during the night. One evening the Abbe, who
    had seemed absorbed by some idea since the previous day, took her
    aside.

    "There is one thing I've thought of," he whispered. "Her health has
    put obstacles in the darling child's way; but her first communion
    might take place here."

    His meaning at first did not seem to dawn on Helene. The thought that,
    despite all his indulgence, he should now allow his priestly character
    the ascendant and evince no concern but in spiritual matters, came on
    her with surprise, and even wounded her somewhat. With a careless
    gesture she exclaimed: "No, no; I would rather she wasn't worried. If
    there be a heaven, she will have no difficulty in entering its gates."

    That evening, however, Jeanne experienced one of those deceptive
    improvements in health which fill the dying with illusions as to their
    condition. Her hearing, rendered more acute by illness, had enabled
    her to catch the Abbe's words.

    "It's you, dear old friend!" said she. "You spoke about the first
    communion. It will be soon, won't it?"

    "No doubt, my darling," he answered.

    Then she wanted him to come near to speak to her. Her mother had
    propped her up with the pillow, and she reclined there, looking very
    little, with a smile on her fever-burnt lips, and the shadow of death
    already passing over her brilliant eyes.

    "Oh! I'm getting on very well," she began. "I could get up if I
    wanted. But tell me: should I have a white gown and flowers? Will the
    church be as beautiful as it was in the Month of Mary?"

    "More beautiful, my pet."

    "Really? Will there be as many flowers, and will there be such sweet
    chants? It will be soon, soon--you promise me, won't you?"

    She was wrapt in joy. She gazed on the curtains of the bed, and
    murmured in her transport that she was very fond of the good God, and
    had seen Him while she was listening to the canticles. Even now she
    could hear organs pealing, see lights that circled round, and flowers
    in great vases hovering like butterflies before her eyes. Then another
    fit of coughing threw her back on the pillow. However, her face was
    still flushed with a smile; she seemed to be unconscious of her cough,
    but continued:

    "I shall get up to-morrow. I shall learn my catechism without a
    mistake, and we'll be all very happy."

    A sob came from Helene as she stood at the foot of the bed. She had
    been powerless to weep, but a storm of tears rushed up from her bosom
    as Jeanne's laughter fell on her ear. Then, almost stifling, she fled
    into the dining-room, that she might hide her despair. The Abbe
    followed her. Monsieur Rambaud had at once started up to engage the
    child's attention.

    "Oh dear! mamma cried out! Has she hurt herself?" she asked.

    "Your mamma?" he answered. "No, she didn't cry out; she was laughing
    because you are feeling so well."

    In the dining-room, her head bowed dejectedly on the table, Helene
    strove to stifle her sobs with her clasped hands. The Abbe hung over
    her, and prayed her to restrain her emotion. But she raised her face,
    streaming with tears, and bitterly accused herself. She declared to
    him that she herself had killed her daughter, and a full confession
    escaped from her lips in a torrent of broken words. She would never
    have succumbed to that man had Jeanne remained beside her. It had been
    fated that she should meet him in that chamber of mystery. God in
    Heaven! she ought to die with her child; she could live no longer. The
    priest, terrified, sought to calm her with the promise of absolution.

    But there was a ring at the bell, and a sound of voices came from the
    lobby. Helene dried her tears as Rosalie made her appearance.

    "Madame, it's Dr. Deberle, who--"

    "I don't wish him to come in."

    "He is asking after mademoiselle."

    "Tell him she is dying."

    The door had been left open, and Henri had heard everything. Without
    awaiting the return of the servant girl, he walked down the stairs. He
    came up every day, received the same answer, and then went away.

    The visits which Helene received quite unnerved her. The few ladies
    whose acquaintance she had made at the Deberles' house deemed it their
    duty to tender her their sympathy. Madame de Chermette, Madame
    Levasseur, Madame de Guiraud, and others also presented themselves.
    They made no request to enter, but catechised Rosalie in such loud
    voices that they could be heard through the thin partitions. Giving
    way to impatience, Helene would then receive them in the dining-room,
    where, without sitting down, she spoke with them very briefly. She
    went about all day in her dressing-gown, careless of her attire, with
    her lovely hair merely gathered up and twisted into a knot. Her eyes
    often closed with weariness; her face was flushed; she had a bitter
    taste in her mouth; her lips were clammy, and she could scarcely
    articulate. When Juliette called, she could not exclude her from the
    bedroom, but allowed her to stay for a little while beside the bed.

    "My dear," Madame Deberle said to her one day in friendly tones, "you
    give way too much. Keep up your spirits."

    Helene was about to reply, when Juliette, wishing to turn her thoughts
    from her grief, began to chat about the things which were occupying
    the gossips of Paris: "We are certainly going to have a war. I am in a
    nice state about it, as I have two cousins who will have to serve."

    In this style she would drop in upon them on returning from her
    rambles through Paris, her brain bursting with all the tittle-tattle
    collected in the course of the afternoon, and her long skirts whirling
    and rustling as she sailed through the stillness of the sick-room. It
    was altogether futile for her to lower her voice and assume a pitiful
    air; her indifference peeped through all disguise; it could be seen
    that she was happy, quite joyous indeed, in the possession of perfect
    health. Helene was very downcast in her company, her heart rent by
    jealous anguish.

    "Madame," said Jeanne one evening, "why doesn't Lucien come to play
    with me?"

    Juliette was embarrassed for a moment, and merely answered with a
    smile.

    "Is he ill too?" continued the child.

    "No, my darling, he isn't ill; he has gone to school."

    Then, as Helene accompanied her into the ante-room, she wished to
    apologize for her prevarication.

    "Oh! I would gladly bring him; I know that there's no infection. But
    children get frightened with the least thing, and Lucien is such a
    stupid. He would just burst out sobbing when he saw your poor angel--"

    "Yes, indeed; you are quite right," interrupted Helene, her heart
    ready to break with the thought of this woman's gaiety, and her
    happiness in possessing a child who enjoyed robust health.

    A second week had passed away. The disease was following its usual
    course, robbing Jeanne every hour of some of her vitality. Fearfully
    rapid though it was, however, it evinced no haste, but, in
    accomplishing the destruction of that delicate, lovable flesh, passed
    in turn through each foreseen phase, without skipping a single one of
    them. Thus the spitting of blood had ceased, and at intervals the
    cough disappeared. But such was the oppressive feeling which stifled
    the child that you could detect the ravages of the disease by the
    difficulty she experienced in breathing. Such weakness could not
    withstand so violent an attack; and the eyes of the Abbe and Monsieur
    Rambaud constantly moistened with tears as they heard her. Day and
    night under the shelter of the curtains the sound of oppressed
    breathing arose; the poor darling, whom the slightest shock seemed
    likely to kill, was yet unable to die, but lived on and on through the
    agony which bathed her in sweat. Her mother, whose strength was
    exhausted, and who could no longer bear to hear that rattle, went into
    the adjoining room and leaned her head against the wall.

    Jeanne was slowly becoming oblivious to her surroundings. She no
    longer saw people, and her face bore an unconscious and forlorn
    expression, as though she had already lived all alone in some unknown
    sphere. When they who hovered round her wished to attract her
    attention, they named themselves that she might recognize them; but
    she would gaze at them fixedly, without a smile, then turn herself
    round towards the wall with a weary look. A gloominess was settling
    over her; she was passing away amidst the same vexation and sulkiness
    as she had displayed in past days of jealous outbursts. Still, at
    times the whims characteristic of sickness would awaken her to some
    consciousness. One morning she asked her mother:

    "To-day is Sunday, isn't it?"

    "No, my child," answered Helene; "this is only Friday. Why do you wish
    to know?"

    Jeanne seemed to have already forgotten the question she had asked.
    But two days later, while Rosalie was in the room, she said to her in
    a whisper: "This is Sunday. Zephyrin is here; ask him to come and see
    me."

    The maid hesitated, but Helene, who had heard, nodded to her in token
    of consent. The child spoke again:

    "Bring him; come both of you; I shall be so pleased."

    When Rosalie entered the sick-room with Zephyrin, she raised herself
    on her pillow. The little soldier, with bare head and hands spread
    out, swayed about to hide his intense emotion. He had a great love for
    mademoiselle, and it grieved him unutterably to see her "shouldering
    arms on the left," as he expressed it in the kitchen. So, in spite of
    the previous injunctions of Rosalie, who had instructed him to put on
    a bright expression, he stood speechless, with downcast face, on
    seeing her so pale and wasted to a skeleton. He was still as
    tender-hearted as ever, despite his conquering airs. He could not even
    think of one of those fine phrases which nowadays he usually concocted
    so easily. The maid behind him gave him a pinch to make him laugh. But
    he could only stammer out:

    "I beg pardon--mademoiselle and every one here--"

    Jeanne was still raising herself with the help of her tiny arms. She
    widely opened her large, vacant eyes; she seemed to be looking for
    something; her head shook with a nervous trembling. Doubtless the
    stream of light was blinding her as the shadows of death gathered
    around.

    "Come closer, my friend," said Helene to the soldier. "It was
    mademoiselle who asked to see you."

    The sunshine entered through the window in a slanting ray of golden
    light, in which the dust rising from the carpet could be seen
    circling. March had come, and the springtide was already budding out
    of doors. Zephyrin took one step forward, and appeared in the
    sunshine; his little round, freckled face had a golden hue, as of ripe
    corn, while the buttons on his tunic glittered, and his red trousers
    looked as sanguineous as a field of poppies. At last Jeanne became
    aware of his presence there; but her eye again betrayed uneasiness,
    and she glanced restlessly from one corner to another.

    "What do you want, my child?" asked her mother. "We are all here." She
    understood, however, in a moment. "Rosalie, come nearer. Mademoiselle
    wishes to see you."

    Then Rosalie, in her turn, stepped into the sunlight. She wore a cap,
    whose strings, carelessly tossed over her shoulders, flapped round her
    head like the wings of a butterfly. A golden powder seemed to fall on
    her bristly black hair and her kindly face with its flat nose and
    thick lips. And for Jeanne there were only these two in the room--the
    little soldier and the servant girl, standing elbow to elbow under the
    ray of sunshine. She gazed at them.

    "Well, my darling," began Helene again, "you do not say anything to
    them! Here they are together."

    Jeanne's eyes were still fixed on them, and her head shook with the
    tremor of a very aged woman. They stood there like man and wife, ready
    to take each other's arm and return to their country-side. The spring
    sun threw its warmth on them, and eager to brighten mademoiselle they
    ended by smiling into each other's face with a look of mingled
    embarrassment and tenderness. The very odor of health was exhaled from
    their plump round figures. Had they been alone, Zephyrin without doubt
    would have caught hold of Rosalie, and would have received for his
    pains a hearty slap. Their eyes showed it.

    "Well, my darling, have you nothing to say to them?"

    Jeanne gazed at them, her breathing growing yet more oppressed. And
    still she said not a word, but suddenly burst into tears. Zephyrin and
    Rosalie had at once to quit the room.

    "I beg pardon--mademoiselle and every one--" stammered the little
    soldier, as he went away in bewilderment.

    This was one of Jeanne's last whims. She lapsed into a dull stupor,
    from which nothing could rouse her. She lay there in utter loneliness,
    unconscious even of her mother's presence. When Helene hung over the
    bed seeking her eyes, the child preserved a stolid expression, as
    though only the shadow of the curtain had passed before her. Her lips
    were dumb; she showed the gloomy resignation of the outcast who knows
    that she is dying. Sometimes she would long remain with her eyelids
    half closed, and nobody could divine what stubborn thought was thus
    absorbing her. Nothing now had any existence for her save her big
    doll, which lay beside her. They had given it to her one night to
    divert her during her insufferable anguish, and she refused to give it
    back, defending it with fierce gestures the moment they attempted to
    take it from her. With its pasteboard head resting on the bolster, the
    doll was stretched out like an invalid, covered up to the shoulders by
    the counterpane. There was little doubt the child was nursing it, for
    her burning hands would, from time to time, feel its disjointed limbs
    of flesh-tinted leather, whence all the sawdust had exuded. For hours
    her eyes would never stray from those enamel ones which were always
    fixed, or from those white teeth wreathed in an everlasting smile. She
    would suddenly grow affectionate, clasp the doll's hands against her
    bosom and press her cheek against its little head of hair, the
    caressing contact of which seemed to give her some relief. Thus she
    sought comfort in her affection for her big doll, always assuring
    herself of its presence when she awoke from a doze, seeing nothing
    else, chatting with it, and at times summoning to her face the shadow
    of a smile, as though she had heard it whispering something in her
    ear.

    The third week was dragging to an end. One morning the old doctor came
    and remained. Helene understood him: her child would not live through
    the day. Since the previous evening she had been in a stupor that
    deprived her of the consciousness even of her own actions. There was
    no longer any struggle with death; it was but a question of hours. As
    the dying child was consumed by an awful thirst, the doctor had merely
    recommended that she should be given some opiate beverage, which would
    render her passing less painful; and the relinquishing of all attempts
    at cure reduced Helene to a state of imbecility. So long as the
    medicines had littered the night-table she still had entertained hopes
    of a miraculous recovery. But now bottles and boxes had vanished, and
    her last trust was gone. One instinct only inspired her now--to be
    near Jeanne, never leave her, gaze at her unceasingly. The doctor,
    wishing to distract her attention from the terrible sight, strove, by
    assigning some little duties to her, to keep her at a distance. But
    she ever and ever returned, drawn to the bedside by the physical
    craving to see. She waited, standing erect, her arms hanging beside
    her, and her face swollen by despair.

    About one o'clock Abbe Jouve and Monsieur Rambaud arrived. The doctor
    went to meet them, and muttered a few words. Both grew pale, and stood
    stock-still in consternation, while their hands began to tremble.
    Helene had not turned round.

    The weather was lovely that day; it was one of those sunny afternoons
    typical of early April. Jeanne was tossing in her bed. Her lips moved
    painfully at times with the intolerable thirst which consumed her. She
    had brought her poor transparent hands from under the coverlet, and
    waved them gently to and fro. The hidden working of the disease was
    accomplished, she coughed no more, and her dying voice came like a
    faint breath. For a moment she turned her head, and her eyes sought
    the light. Doctor Bodin threw the window wide open, and then Jeanne at
    once became tranquil, with her cheek resting on the pillow and her
    looks roving over Paris, while her heavy breathing grew fainter and
    slower.

    During the three weeks of her illness she had thus many times turned
    towards the city that stretched away to the horizon. Her face grew
    grave, she was musing. At this last hour Paris was smiling under the
    glittering April sunshine. Warm breezes entered from without, with
    bursts of urchin's laughter and the chirping of sparrows. On the brink
    of the grave the child exerted her last strength to gaze again on the
    scene, and follow the flying smoke which soared from the distant
    suburbs. She recognized her three friends, the Invalides, the
    Pantheon, and the Tower of Saint-Jacques; then the unknown began, and
    her weary eyelids half closed at sight of the vast ocean of roofs.
    Perhaps she was dreaming that she was growing much lighter and
    lighter, and was fleeting away like a bird. Now, at last, she would
    soon know all; she would perch herself on the domes and steeples;
    seven or eight flaps of her wings would suffice, and she would be able
    to gaze on the forbidden mysteries that were hidden from children. But
    a fresh uneasiness fell upon her, and her hands groped about; she only
    grew calm again when she held her large doll in her little arms
    against her bosom. It was evidently her wish to take it with her. Her
    glances wandered far away amongst the chimneys glinting with the sun's
    ruddy light.

    Four o'clock struck, and the bluish shadows of evening were already
    gathering. The end was at hand; there was a stifling, a slow and
    passive agony. The dear angel no longer had strength to offer
    resistance. Monsieur Rambaud, overcome, threw himself on his knees,
    convulsed with silent sobbing, and dragged himself behind a curtain to
    hide his grief. The Abbe was kneeling at the bedside, with clasped
    hands, repeating the prayers for the dying.

    "Jeanne! Jeanne!" murmured Helene, chilled to the heart with a horror
    which sent an icy thrill through her very hair.

    She had repulsed the doctor and thrown herself on the ground, leaning
    against the bed to gaze into her daughter's face. Jeanne opened her
    eyes, but did not look at her mother. She drew her doll--her last
    love--still closer. Her bosom heaved with a big sigh, followed by two
    fainter ones. Then her eyes paled, and her face for a moment gave
    signs of a fearful anguish. But speedily there came relief; her mouth
    remained open, she breathed no more.

    "It is over," said the doctor, as he took her hand.

    Jeanne's big, vacant eyes were fixed on Paris. The long, thin,
    lamb-like face was still further elongated, there was a sternness on
    its features, a grey shadow falling from its contracted brows. Thus
    even in death she retained the livid expression of a jealous woman.
    The doll, with its head flung back, and its hair dishevelled, seemed
    to lie dead beside her.

    "It is over," again said the doctor, as he allowed the little cold
    hand to drop.

    Helene, with a strained expression on her face, pressed her hands to
    her brow as if she felt her head splitting open. No tears came to her
    eyes; she gazed wildly in front of her. Then a rattling noise mounted
    in her throat; she had just espied at the foot of the bed a pair of
    shoes that lay forgotten there. It was all over. Jeanne would never
    put them on again; the little shoes could be given to the poor. And at
    the sight Helene's tears gushed forth; she still knelt on the floor,
    her face pressed against the dead child's hand, which had slipped
    down. Monsieur Rambaud was sobbing. The Abbe had raised his voice, and
    Rosalie, standing at the door of the dining-room, was biting her
    handkerchief to check the noise of her grief.

    At this very moment Doctor Deberle rang the bell. He was unable to
    refrain from making inquiries.

    "How is she now?" he asked.

    "Oh, sir!" wailed Rosalie, "she is dead."

    He stood motionless, stupefied by the announcement of the end which he
    had been expecting daily. At last he muttered: "O God! the poor child!
    what a calamity!"

    He could only give utterance to those commonplace but heartrending
    words. The door shut once more, and he went down the stairs.
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    Chapter 23
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