“Madame, your water is boiling,” again said Rosalie. “There will be soon none left in the kettle.”
She held the kettle before her, and Helene, for the moment astonished, was forced to rise. “Oh, yes! thank you!”
She no longer had an excuse to remain, and went away slowly and regretfully. When she reached her room she was at a loss what to do with the kettle. Then suddenly within her there came a burst of passionate love. The torpor which had held her in a state of semi-unconsciousness gave way to a wave of glowing feeling, the rush of which thrilled her as with fire. She quivered, and memories returned to her—memories of her passion and of Henri.
While she was taking off her dressing-gown and gazing at her bare arms, a noise broke on her anxious ear. She thought she had heard Jeanne coughing. Taking up the lamp she went into the closet, but found the child with eyelids closed, seemingly fast asleep. However, the moment the mother, satisfied with her examination, had turned her back, Jeanne’s eyes again opened widely to watch her as she returned to her room. There was indeed no sleep for Jeanne, nor had she any desire to sleep. A second fit of coughing racked her bosom, but she buried her head beneath the coverlet and stifled every sound. She might go away for ever now; her mother would never miss her. Her eyes were still wide open in the darkness; she knew everything as though knowledge had come with thought, and she was dying of it all, but dying without a murmur.
Next day all sorts of practical ideas took possession of Helene’s mind. She awoke impressed by the necessity of keeping watch over her happiness, and shuddering with fear lest by some imprudent step she might lose Henri. At this chilly morning hour, when the room still seemed asleep, she felt that she idolized him, loved him with a transport which pervaded her whole being. Never had she experienced such an anxiety to be diplomatic. Her first thought was that she must go to see Juliette that very morning, and thus obviate the need of any tedious explanations or inquiries which might result in ruining everything.
On calling upon Madame Deberle at about nine o’clock she found her already up, with pallid cheeks and red eyes like the heroine of a tragedy. As soon as the poor woman caught sight of her, she threw herself sobbing upon her neck exclaiming that she was her good angel. She didn’t love Malignon, not in the least, she swore it! Gracious heavens! what a foolish affair! It would have killed her—there was no doubt of that! She did not now feel herself to be in the least degree qualified for ruses, lies, and agonies, and the tyranny of a sentiment that never varied. Oh, how delightful did it seem to her to find herself free again! She laughed contentedly; but immediately afterwards there was another outburst of tears as she besought her friend not to despise