‘You good-for-nothing!’ I cried, ’it is you and such as you that are the beginning of our trouble. You thought there was no watch kept up there; you thought God would not take the trouble to punish you; you went about the streets of Semur tossing a grosse piece of a hundred sous, and calling out, “There is no God—this is my god; l’argent, c’est le bon Dieu."’
’M. le Maire, M. le Maire, be silent, I implore you! It is enough to bring down a judgment upon us.’
’It has brought down a judgment upon us. Go thou and try what thy grosse piece will do for thee now—worship thy god. Go, I tell you, and get help from your money.’
’I have no money, M. le Maire, and what could money do here? We would do much better to promise a large candle for the next festival, and that the ladies of St. Jean—’
’Get away with thee to the end of the world, thou and thy ladies of St. Jean!’ I cried; which was wrong, I do not deny it, for they are good women, not like this good-for-nothing fellow. And to think that this man, whom I despise, was more pleasant to me than the dear souls who loved me! Shame came upon me at the thought. I too, then, was like the others, fearing the Unseen—capable of understanding only that which was palpable. When Jacques slunk away, which he did for a few steps, not losing sight of me, I turned my face towards the river and the town. The moonlight fell upon the water, white as silver where that line of darkness lay, shining, as if it tried, and tried in vain, to penetrate Semur; and between that and the blue sky overhead lay the city out of which we had been driven forth—the city of the dead. ‘O God,’ I cried, ’whom I know not, am not I to Thee as my little Jean is to me, a child and less than a child? Do not abandon me in this darkness. Would I abandon him were he ever so disobedient? And God, if thou art God, Thou art a better father than I.’ When I had said this, my heart was a little relieved. It seemed to me that I had spoken to some one who knew all of us, whether we were dead or whether we were living. That is a wonderful thing to think of, when it appears to one not as a thing to believe, but as something that is real. It gave me courage. I got up and went to meet the patrol which was coming in, and found that great good-for-nothing Jacques running close after me, holding my cloak. ’Do not send me away, M. le Maire,’ he said, ‘I dare not stay by myself with them so near.’ Instead of his money, in which he had trusted, it was I who had become his god now.