“Zoe,” she said to the lady’s maid, who was enchanted at the thought of leaving the country, “pack the trunks when you get up tomorrow. We are going back to Paris.”
And she went to bed with Muffat but experienced no pleasure.
One December evening three months afterward Count Muffat was strolling in the Passage des Panoramas. The evening was very mild, and owing to a passing shower, the passage had just become crowded with people. There was a perfect mob of them, and they thronged slowly and laboriously along between the shops on either side. Under the windows, white with reflected light, the pavement was violently illuminated. A perfect stream of brilliancy emanated from white globes, red lanterns, blue transparencies, lines of gas jets, gigantic watches and fans, outlined in flame and burning in the open. And the motley displays in the shops, the gold ornaments of the jeweler’s, the glass ornaments of the confectioner’s, the light-colored silks of the modiste’s, seemed to shine again in the crude light of the reflectors behind the clear plate-glass windows, while among the bright-colored, disorderly array of shop signs a huge purple glove loomed in the distance like a bleeding hand which had been severed from an arm and fastened to a yellow cuff.
Count Muffat had slowly returned as far as the boulevard. He glanced out at the roadway and then came sauntering back along the shopwindows. The damp and heated atmosphere filled the narrow passage with a slight luminous mist. Along the flagstones, which had been wet by the drip-drop of umbrellas, the footsteps of the crowd rang continually, but there was no sound of voices. Passers-by elbowed him at every turn and cast inquiring looks at his silent face, which the gaslight rendered pale. And to escape these curious manifestations the count posted himself in front of a stationer’s, where with profound attention contemplated an array of paperweights in the form of glass bowls containing floating landscapes and flowers.
He was conscious of nothing: he was thinking of Nana. Why had she lied to him again? That morning she had written and told him not to trouble about her in the evening, her excuse being that Louiset was ill and that she was going to pass the night at her aunt’s in order to nurse him. But he had felt suspicious and had called at her house, where he learned from the porter that Madame had just gone off to her theater. He was astonished at this, for she was not playing in the new piece. Why then should she have told him this falsehood, and what could she be doing at the Varietes that evening? Hustled by a passer-by, the count unconsciously left the paperweights and found himself in front of a glass case full of toys, where he grew absorbed over an array of pocketbooks and cigar cases, all of which had the same blue swallow stamped on one corner. Nana was most certainly not the same woman! In the