The Mutilated Hand

The penalty of such loves is the silence to which they are condemned. Even when the mouths are speaking, the noise of the words they exchange does not break the heavy silence of the inner, solitary thoughts. Each follows his, or her, course of thought without ever penetrating into the very life of the other. A dispiriting intercourse from which Ralph, always so ready to expand, suffered more and more.

Josephine too must have been suffering from it, to judge from certain moments of extreme lassitude in which she seemed on the verge of those confidences that draw lovers closer than do embraces. Once she began to weep in Ralph’s arms so bitterly that he looked for an access of surrender. But she recovered almost at once, and he felt her further away from him than ever.

“She cannot trust,” he told himself. “She is one of those beings who dwell apart from their fellows in a solitude that has no bounds. She is a prisoner of the image she has formed of herself, has forced herself to form of herself; indeed, a prisoner of the enigma she has elaborated and which holds her in its invisible meshes. As the daughter of Cagliostro she has acquired the habit of the darkness, of the intricate, of plots, intrigues, and subterranean operations. To tell anyone the story of one of these machinations is to give him the thread which will guide him through the labyrinth. She is afraid and withdraws into herself.”

By way of counter-stroke he kept silence himself and refrained from making any allusion to the adventure on which they had embarked, or to the problem of which they were seeking the solution. Had she obtained possession of the casket? Did she know the key-word? Had she plunged her hand into the hollow in that legendary block and emptied it of those thousands and thousands of precious stones?

On that matter, on every matter, silence.

Moreover, after they had passed Rouen, their intimacy slackened. Leonard, avoiding Ralph, reappeared again. The secret meetings began once more. The carriage and the untiring little horses every day carried Josine away. Whither? On what enterprises? Ralph observed that three of the abbeys, Saint-Georges, Jumièges, and Saint-Wandrille, were close to the river. But then, if she were searching in this quarter, it must be that no solution had yet been found, and that she had simply failed.

This notion drove him abruptly to action. He sent to the inn near La Haie d’Etigues for his bicycle, and rode across the country to the outskirts of Lillebonne, in which Bridget Rousselin’s mother was living. There he learned that a fortnight before⁠—which was about the time that Josine had taken the train from Paris⁠—the Widow Rousselin had shut her house and gone, so they said, to join her daughter in Paris. The evening before a lady had come to see her.

It was ten o’clock at night before Ralph got back to the barge which was moored to the southwest of the first curve beyond Rouen. A little while before reaching it he passed Josine’s carriage, which the little horses, utterly exhausted, could scarcely drag along. When it came to the bank of the river Leonard jumped down from the box, opened the door, bent down, stood up with the inert body of the fainting Josine in his arms, and carried her to the barge. Ralph lent a hand, and the two of them carried her down to her cabin. The woman of the barge came to tend her.

“Look after her,” said Leonard roughly. “She has only fainted. But you’re all to stay on board, and don’t you forget it!”

He went back to the carriage and drove off.

Josine was delirious most of the night, but Ralph could make no sense of her incoherent utterances. Next morning she had nearly recovered. Next evening Ralph went to the nearest village to buy a newspaper. He read among the local news:

Yesterday afternoon, the police of Caudebec, on receiving information that a woodcutter had heard the screams of a woman appealing for help from an old limekiln on the outskirts of Maulevrier Forest, sent a sergeant and a constable to enquire into the matter. As these two representatives of the law approached the clearing in which the limekiln stands, they perceived over the fence two men who were dragging a woman towards a closed carriage beside which another woman was standing. Compelled to make the circuit of the fence, the police only reached the scene of action after the departure of the carriage. They at once started in pursuit of it, a pursuit which should have ended in the success of the police. But the horses drawing the carriage were so swift and the driver’s knowledge of the lanes and byways of so extensive, that he succeeded in throwing them off his track in the network of roads to the north between Caudebec and Motteville. Moreover the night was coming on; and they have not yet succeeded in ascertaining in which direction this nice little gang escaped.

“And they will not succeed,” said Ralph to himself. “Nobody but me can reconstitute the facts since nobody but me knows the points of departure and arrival.”

He formulated the following conclusions:

“One fact is certain: Mother Rousselin was in that old limekiln in charge of a confederate.

“Secondly, Josine and Leonard, who lured her away from Lillebonne and shut her up, go to see her every day and try to extract some definite information from her. Yesterday the questioning was doubtless rather violent. Mother Rousselin yells; the police arrive. A desperate flight. They get away. Somewhere on their route they deposit their captive in another prison, already prepared for her; and once more they are safe. All these emotions brought about Josine’s attack of nerves.”

He studied an ordnance map of the route from Maulevrier Forest to the Nonchalante. The direct route was thirty kilometers; somewhere off that route, at some distance to the left or to the right Madam Rousselin was imprisoned. “Come,” he said to himself, “the terrain of the conflict is marked out. It’s about time that I made my entry on to the stage.”

Next day he got to work, wandering along the Normandy roads, questioning the dwellers on them and trying to discover the points of the passage and the halting-places of “an old barouche drawn by two little horses.” Logically and inevitably his quest must come to a successful end.

During those days the love of Ralph and Josephine Balsamo was at its keenest and most passionate. The young woman, knowing that the police were on her track, and remembering what she had heard at the Vasseur Inn, at Doudeville, did not dare to leave the Nonchalante and traverse the Caux country. So after every expedition Ralph found her on the barge, and they threw themselves into one another’s arms with an exasperated desire to enjoy to the full the delights which, they foresaw, must soon come to an end.

Only such dolorous delights as two lovers on the verge of separation can have. Suspect delights that doubt poisoned. Either of them divined the secret designs of the other, and even as their lips met either knew that the other, for all their love, was acting as if they were at daggers drawn.

“I love you! I love you!” Ralph reiterated desperately while his inmost thought was how to find means of snatching Bridget’s mother from the talons of his mistress.

Sometimes they gripped one another with the violence of two creatures veritably battling with one another. There was a brutality in their caresses, a threat in their eyes, hate in their hearts, and despair in their tenderness. One would have said that they were watching one another to discover the weak point at which to strike with the deadliest effect.

One night Ralph awoke with a sensation of extreme discomfort to find Josephine at his bedside, with a lamp in her hand, looking down on him. He shivered. Not that her charming face wore other than its usual smiling expression. But why did that smile seem to him so wicked and so cruel?

“What’s the matter? What do you want?” he said sharply.

“Nothing⁠—nothing,” she said in careless accents, and she left him.

But she came back presently to show him a photograph.

“I found this in your pocketbook,” she said. “I could hardly believe that you carried about with you another woman’s photograph. Who is it?”

It was the photograph of Clarice d’Etigues. He hesitated, then said: “I don’t know. It’s a photo I picked up.”

“Come: don’t lie!” she said brusquely. “It’s Clarice d’Etigues. Do you suppose I’ve never seen her? You were in love with her.”

“No! Never!” he said firmly.

“You were in love with her, and she with you. I’m certain of it. And it is still going on.”

He shrugged his shoulders, but as he was about to defend the young girl, Josephine broke in:

“I don’t want to hear anything more about it. You’re warned, and it’s just as well. I’m not going out of my way to look for her, but if she ever crosses my path⁠—all the worse for her.”

“And all the worse for you, if you touch a hair of her head!” he exclaimed imprudently.

She paled. Her lips quivered, and laying her hand on his neck, she stammered: “You dare to take her part against me⁠ ⁠… against me!”

Her hand, very cold, contracted. He had the impression that she was going to strangle him and sprang out of bed. In her turn she was alarmed, thinking that he was going to strike her, and snatched from her bodice a little dagger with gleaming blade.

In these attitudes of attack they stared into one another’s eyes, and it was so painful that Ralph murmured:

“Oh, Josine, what a pity it is that it should have come to this!”

No less moved, she sank into a chair, and he threw himself at her feet.

“Kiss me, Ralph⁠—kiss me⁠—and don’t let’s think anything more about it!” she murmured in a broken voice.

They clasped one another in a feverish embrace. But he observed that she still held the poniard, and a very slight movement would have driven it into his neck.

At eight o’clock the next morning he left the Nonchalante.

“I have nothing to hope from her,” he told himself. “As for love: she loves me indeed, and sincerely; and she wishes, as I do, that this love was without reserves. But it cannot be. She has a hostile soul. She distrusts everything and everybody, and me above all.”

At bottom he found her impenetrable. In spite of all his suspicions and, for that matter, of considerable evidence, even though the very spirit of evil dwelt in her, he refused to admit that she would go to the length of actual crime. He could not reconcile the idea of murder with that sweet face, which neither hate nor anger rendered less sweet. No: Josephine’s hands were not stained with blood. But he thought of Leonard and never doubted that he was capable of putting Bridget’s mother to the most terrible torture.

The short road from Rouen to Duclair, a little before the latter place, runs between the meadows on the bank of the Seine to the cliff which hangs over the stream. Caves have been hollowed in the actual chalk and serve the peasants as tool-houses and sometimes as lodgings for themselves. It came about that Ralph at last noticed that one of these caves was occupied by three men who were weaving baskets from the osiers of the neighboring stream. A small hedgeless vegetable garden lay in front of it.

A careful study of their habits and some suspicious details led him to suppose that father Corbu and his two sons, poachers and petty thieves with an uncommonly bad reputation, were affiliated with that band the members of which Josephine always had ready to her hand, and also to suppose that this cave of theirs was one of those refuges⁠—inns, sheds, limekilns, and so forth, which Josephine had established all about the country.

He had to change his surmise into a certainty without attracting anyone’s attention. He tried therefore to turn the enemy’s position, and climbing on to the cliff, took his way from the river by a woodland path which dipped into a slight depression. At the bottom of the depression he crawled through the bushes and briars to a spot five or six feet above the cave.

He had brought food and drink with him and there he spent two days and two nights. Concealed by the bushes and the thick grass under them, he took an unobtrusive part in the life of the three men. On the second day a conversation he overheard proved uncommonly enlightening: the Corbu family had been in charge of Madam Rousselin and since the flight from Maulevrier Forest were actually keeping her at the end of their cave.

How was he to set her free? Or how, at any rate, was he to get near her and obtain from the unfortunate woman the information which she had doubtless refused Josephine? Carefully considering the habits of the Corbus, he formed and rejected several plans. But on the morning of the third day he saw the Nonchalante descend the river and come to her moorings at the foot of the cliff, about three-quarters of a mile from the cave.

At five o’clock in the evening two people came across the gangway and along the riverbank. In spite of her peasant’s dress, he recognized Josephine by her walk. Leonard was her companion.

They stopped in front of the Corbus’ cave and conversed with them as with persons on whom they had chanced by accident. Then, since there was no one on the road, they went sharply into the garden. Leonard disappeared into the interior of the cave. Josephine remained outside, sitting on an old and rickety chair, under the cover of a screen of shrubs.

Old Corbus hoed away at his garden. His sons went on with their basket-work.

“The questioning is going to begin again,” murmured Ralph. “What a pity it is I cannot be present at it!”

He watched Josephine, whose face was almost entirely hidden under the drooping brim of a large, common straw hat, of the kind that peasants wear during the hot weather. She never stirred; she was leaning forward a little with her elbows on her knees.

The minutes slipped by and Ralph began to ask himself what he was doing there, when all at once he fancied he heard a groan close by, which was followed by smothered cries. Yes, they certainly came from close beside him. The sounds rose, indeed, from the middle of the thick grass which surrounded him. How was it possible?

He crawled to the point at which the noise seemed loudest, and it took him a very little time to understand what was happening. The edge of the cliff, in which the hollow ended, was covered with stones, and among these stones was a little heap of bricks hardly noticeable among the bushes and roots. It was the ruins of a chimney.

That explained the phenomenon which had surprised him. The cave of the Corbus must come to an end a long way in the rock; and there must be a passage running down to it which had formerly served as a chimney. Through this passage and the heap of bricks the sounds came.

There came two louder cries of agony. Ralph thought of Josephine. By turning round he could still see her at the end of the little garden. Still sitting, bent forward, her body motionless, she was carelessly pulling the petals off a capucine. Ralph supposed, or rather tried to suppose, that she had not heard those cries. Perhaps even she knew nothing about what was going on. In spite of that he trembled with indignation. Whether or no she actually had a part in the terrible questioning that the unfortunate woman was undergoing, was she any the less to blame? And all the obstinate doubts in his mind, by which she had profited up to then, ought they not to vanish in the face of the implacable reality? Everything that he had felt to her prejudice, everything that he had refused to know was true, since she must have definitely set Leonard to the task with which he was busy and of which she had been unable to endure the horrible spectacle.

Carefully but quickly Ralph pulled aside the bricks and scooped away the heap of earth. When he had finished the cries had ceased, but the sound of words came to his ears hardly louder than a whisper. He had, therefore, to continue his work and clear the upper part of the passage. Then, lying with his head well down in it, he could hear distinctly. Two voices were speaking in turn⁠—the voice of Leonard and a woman’s voice, without doubt the voice of Madam Rousselin. The unfortunate woman seemed to be at the end of her strength and a prey to indescribable terror.

“Yes⁠ ⁠… yes,” she murmured, “I’m going to tell you, since I said I would. But I’m so worn out you must excuse me, good gentleman.⁠ ⁠… Besides⁠ ⁠… All these things happened such a long time ago⁠ ⁠… Twenty-two years have passed since⁠ ⁠…”

“Stop babbling and come to the point!” growled Leonard.

“Yes,” she replied. “I am coming to the point. It was at the time of the war with Prussia, twenty-two years ago.⁠ ⁠… And as the Prussians were advancing on Rouen, where we were living, two gentlemen came to my poor husband, who was a carrier⁠ ⁠… gentlemen whom we had never seen before. They wished to get out of the country, with their trunks, like a great many other people at that time, you know. My husband accepted their offer and without wasting any more time, for they were in a hurry, set out with them in his carrier’s cart. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that our other horses had been requisitioned, we had only one horse, and that one wasn’t up to much. Besides, it was snowing.⁠ ⁠… Seven miles out of Rouen he fell down and could not get up again.⁠ ⁠… The gentlemen were shivering with fear, for the Prussians might turn up at any moment. It was then that a man from Rouen, who my husband knew quite well, a confidential servant of the Cardinal de Bonnechose⁠—Monsieur Jaubert his name was⁠—drove up in a dogcart.⁠ ⁠… You can see what happened⁠ ⁠… They talked.⁠ ⁠… The two gentlemen offered him a large sum for his horse.⁠ ⁠… Jaubert refused. They begged him, and then they threatened him.⁠ ⁠… And then they threw themselves on him like madmen, and in spite of the prayers of my husband, knocked him on the head.⁠ ⁠… After that they looked into his dogcart, found in it a casket, which they took, harnessed Jaubert’s horse to the carrier’s cart, and went off leaving the poor man half dead.”

“Quite dead,” said Leonard more accurately.

“Yes: my husband learned that months later, when he was able to enter Rouen again.”

“And didn’t he inform the police about it?”

Madam Rousselin appeared to hesitate; then she said: “Yes.⁠ ⁠… No doubt he ought to have done perhaps⁠ ⁠… Only⁠—”

“Only they’d bought his silence, hadn’t they?” sneered Leonard. “They opened the casket in front of him and found jewels in it and gave your husband his share of the loot.”

“Yes⁠—yes⁠ ⁠… the rings⁠ ⁠… the seven rings,” she said. “But that wasn’t his reason for keeping silence.⁠ ⁠… The poor man was ill. He died a little while after he came back from Rouen.”

“And that casket?”

“It was left in the empty cart so that my husband brought it back with the rings. I kept silence, as he had done. It was already an old story, and I was afraid of the scandal, too.⁠ ⁠… They might have accused my husband. It was just as well to keep my mouth shut. I went away to Lillebonne with my daughter, and it was only when Bridget left me to go on the stage that she took the rings⁠ ⁠… which for my part I never wanted to touch.⁠ ⁠… That’s the whole story, Monsieur. Don’t ask me anything else.”

“What do you mean, the whole story?” said Leonard, and he sneered again.

“It’s all I know,” said the widow fearfully.

“But I’ve no interest in that precious story of yours. What we’re quarreling about is another thing.⁠ ⁠… As you very well know.”

“What do you mean?”

“The letters carved on the inside of the casket, on the lid⁠—that’s the whole point of the business.”

“Those half rubbed-out letters! I swear to you, good gentleman, I never even dreamed of trying to make them out.”

“That’s all right, and I’m quite willing to believe it,” said Leonard. “But then we come again to the original point: what has become of the casket?”

“I’ve told you. It was taken from me⁠—the evening before you came to Lillebonne with the lady, the lady who wore a thick veil.”

“It was taken from you, was it? Who by?”

“By a person of my acquaintance.”

“A person who was looking for it?” said Leonard sharply.

“No. That person saw it on the top of a cupboard in my sitting-room and fancied it as a curio,” said the widow.

“What was that person’s name⁠—for the hundredth time⁠—what was that person’s name? That’s what I want to know,” stormed Leonard.

“I can’t tell you that. It was someone who has been very kind to me, and to tell would only do harm great harm. I will not tell.”

“But, you old fool, that person would be the first to tell you to speak!”

“Perhaps⁠—perhaps. But how am I to know that? I cannot write.⁠ ⁠… We see one another from time to time.⁠ ⁠… Why, we were to meet next Tuesday, at two o’clock.”


“It’s impossible⁠ ⁠… I’d no right⁠—”

“What? Have we got to begin all over again?” growled Leonard impatiently.

The widow cried in a voice of terror: “No, no! good gentleman! I beg you!”

The words ended in a cry of pain.

“Oh, the brute!⁠ ⁠… What is he doing to me? Oh! my poor hand!”

“Speak, then, curse you!”

“Yes, yes.⁠ ⁠… I will!⁠ ⁠… I will!”

But she broke off short; her voice gave out. She was at the end of her strength. Leonard, however, went on pressing her and Ralph caught some words painfully uttered: “Yes⁠ ⁠… we’re to meet on Tuesday⁠ ⁠… at the old lighthouse.⁠ ⁠… But, no!⁠ ⁠… I have no right!⁠ ⁠… I would rather die!⁠ ⁠… You can do what you like!⁠ ⁠… I’d rather die!”

She was silent.

Leonard growled: “What’s the matter with the pigheaded old beast now? She’s not dead I hope. Oh, you old donkey, you shall speak! I’ll give you ten minutes and then I’ll make an end of it.”

A door was opened and then shut. Doubtless he was going to inform Josephine of the admissions he had so far obtained and to get instructions from her as to the course the rest of the questioning was to take. Ralph pulled his head out of the chimney and saw him go to her and stand over her. He talked to her with excited gestures; she listened to him.

“The brutes!” Ralph execrated both of them, the one no less than the other. The groans of Madam Rousselin had moved him profoundly and he was trembling with rage and burning to act. Nothing in the world should prevent him from rescuing this woman.

As was his custom, he started to act the moment that the vision of the things that he must accomplish unfolded itself before him in logical sequence. In these cases hesitation is apt to spoil everything. Success depends on the audacity with which one forces one’s way through obstacles that as yet one does not even know. He glanced at his adversaries. All five of them were some distance from the cave. Quickly he went down the chimney, this time feet foremost. It was his intention to make his way down the crumbling shaft as gently as possible. But almost on the instant he went down at full speed accompanied by most of its crumbling walls and arrived at the bottom with a bump and the crash of falling stones and bricks.

“Hang it all! If only they didn’t hear it outside!” he said to himself.

He listened. No one was coming. The darkness was so great that he believed himself to be still on the hearth. But stretching out his arms he found that the chimney had landed him in a little chamber hollowed out of the end of the cave and so small that his hand immediately touched another hand which almost seemed to be on fire. His eyes grew used to the darkness; and he saw gleaming eyes fixed on him in a gray and haggard face contorted with terror. She was not bound or gagged. What use would it have been? Her weakness and terror rendered escape impossible.

He bent down and said to her: “Don’t be frightened, I saved the life of your daughter, Bridget, who was also a victim of these people who are persecuting you on account of the casket and the rings. I’ve been on their track ever since they took you from Lillebonne. I’m going to save you too, but on condition that you never say a word about what has happened to anyone.”

But what was the use of explanations that the unfortunate woman was incapable of understanding? Without wasting any more time, he picked her up and hoisted her on to his shoulder. Then he walked to the mouth of the cave and quietly opened the door which was not locked as he expected.

A little way off Leonard and Josephine were still talking, behind them, at the bottom of the garden the white road stretched away to the large village of Duclair; and on it were the carts of the countryfolk, coming and going.

Then, at what he judged to be a propitious moment, he threw the door open, walked quickly down the garden path and laid Madam Rousselin on the turf at the bottom of it.

At once, all about him there rose an outcry. The Corbus rushed forward along with Leonard, all four of them, spurred to a conflict by an unreasoning impulse. But what could they do? A carriage was coming along the road from the right, another from the left. To attack Ralph in the presence of all these witnesses and recover the unfortunate woman by force was to betray themselves and bring upon themselves the inevitable enquiry and the penalty of the law. They stopped short, exactly as Ralph had foreseen.

In the calmest manner in the world he called to two nuns, wearing large caps, one of whom was driving a little wagonette drawn by an old horse, and asked them to succor a poor woman whom he had found unconscious by the side of the road, her fingers crushed by some carriage.

The good sisters who were in charge of a refuge and small infirmary at Duclair were only too ready to do so. They installed Madam Rousselin in the wagonette and covered her with shawls. She had not recovered consciousness and was delirious, waving her mutilated hand, the thumb and first finger of which were swollen and bleeding.

The horse trotted quietly off.

Ralph remained motionless, thoroughly upset by the sight of that mutilated hand; and so upset was he that he did not notice the movements of Leonard and the three Corbus who had surrounded him and were about to attack him. When he did perceive them, the four of them had cut him off from the road and were trying to force him into the garden. No peasant was in sight; and the situation seemed so favorable to Leonard that he drew his knife.

“Put that up and leave us!” cried Josephine. “You Corbus too. None of that foolishness!”

She had not risen from her chair while all this had been going on, but now she rose among the bushes.

Leonard protested: “It isn’t foolishness! The foolishness would be to let him go⁠—now that we’ve once got him.”

“Be off!” she commanded.

“But that woman⁠—that woman will denounce us!”

“No she won’t. It’s not to Mother Rousselin’s interest to speak. Now be off!” said Josephine.

Leonard and his friends moved away. She came close up to Ralph.

He looked at her at length, with a look which appeared to disquiet her to the point that to break the silence she had to say jestingly: “Each in turn, isn’t it, Ralph? Between you and me success passes from one to the other. Today you have the upper hand. Tomorrow⁠—but what’s the matter with you? You do look funny! And your eyes are positively savage.”

He said curtly: “Goodbye, Josine.”

The color in her cheeks faded a little and she said: “Goodbye? You mean au revoir.”

“No: goodbye.”

“Then⁠—then⁠—you mean that you don’t wish to see me again?”

“I don’t wish to see you again,” he said coldly.

She lowered her eyes. Her eyelids quivered. Her lips were smiling and at the same time infinitely dolorous.

“Why, Ralph?” she murmured.

“Because I’ve seen a thing that I cannot⁠—that I can never forgive you,” he said.


“That poor woman’s hand.”

She looked as if she were going to faint and murmured, “Ah, I understand.⁠ ⁠… Leonard hurt her. But I forbade him to do anything of the kind.⁠ ⁠… I thought she had yielded merely to threats.”

“You lie, Josine! You heard the woman’s cries, just as you heard them in Maulevrier Forest. Leonard acts, but the will to evil, the intention to murder is yours, Josine. It was you who sent your accomplice to the little house in Montmartre with instructions to kill Bridget Rousselin if she resisted. It was you who some time ago put the poisonous cachet among those which Beaumagnan would swallow. It was you who, during the years before that, destroyed Beaumagnan’s two friends, Denis Saint-Hébert and George d’Isneauval.”

“No, no! I won’t let you say so!” she broke out. “It isn’t true! And you know it isn’t!”

He shrugged his shoulders and said slowly: “Yes: the legend of the other woman created to meet the necessity of the case⁠ ⁠… another woman who is your exact image and commits the crimes, while you, Josephine Balsamo, content yourself with less brutal adventures. I believe in that legend. I let myself get muddled up in all these stories of identical women, daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughter of Cagliostro. But it’s all over, Josine. If my eyes deliberately closed themselves formerly in order not to see things, the sight of that mangled hand has definitely opened them to the truth.”

“You are acting on lies, Ralph! On wrong interpretations! I never knew the two men of whom you speak!”

He said wearily: “It may be so. It is not altogether impossible that I am making a mistake. But it is altogether impossible that I should henceforward see you through this fog of mystery in which you’ve hidden yourself. You are no longer mysterious to me, Josine. I see you as you are⁠—that is to say as a criminal.”

He paused and added in a lower voice: “As a sick woman even. If there is a lie anywhere, it’s the lie of your beauty.”

She was silent. In the shadow of her straw hat her face was still sweet. The accusations of her lover did not ruffle her. She was altogether seductive, altogether enchanting.

He was disturbed to the very depths of his being. Never had she appeared to him so beautiful and so desirable; and he asked himself if it were not folly to seize a freedom which he would curse on the morrow.

“My beauty is not a lie, Ralph,” she declared. “And will come back to me because it is for you that I am beautiful.”

“I shall never come back.”

“Yes, you can no longer live without me. The Nonchalante is close by, I shall be waiting for you tomorrow.”

“I shall never come back,” said he, once more ready to bend the knee.

“In that case, why are you trembling? Why are you so pale?” she said stretching out her arms toward him.

He perceived that his salvation depended on his silence, that he must flee without answering, and never turn his head.

He thrust off the two hands which were grasping him, and went.