He muttered an oath inarticulately.
“Take care, Madame!” standing in front of her. How easily he might crush the life from that delicate throat! He checked his rage. Within three hundred yards was the palisade. “I would not be here in these cursed wilds but for your sake. You know the persistence of my love; take heed lest you learn the quality of my hate.”
“Neither your love nor your hate shall in the future disturb me. There are men yonder. Do you wish me to shame you by calling them?”
“I have warned you!”
He stepped aside, and she passed on, the rain drenching her hair and face. His gaze, freighted with love and hate and despair, followed her. She was lost to him. He knew it. She had always been lost to him, only her laughter and her smiles had blinded him to the truth. Suddenly all that was good in him seemed to die. This woman should be his; since not honestly, dishonestly. Revenge, upon one and all of them, priests, soldiers, and women, and the other three fools whom madame had tricked as she had him. One of his furies seized him. Some men die of rage; D’Herouville went mad. He looked wildly around for physical relief, something upon which to vent his rage. The blood gushed into his brain—something to break, to rend, to mangle. He seized a small sapling, bore it to the ground, put his foot on it and snapped it with ease. He did not care that he lacerated his hands or that the branches flying back scratched his face. He laughed fiercely. The Chevalier first, that meddling son of the left-hand whom his father had had legitimatized; then the vicomte and the poet. As for madame . . . Yes, yes! That would be it. That would wring her proud heart. Agony long drawn out; agony which turns the hair grey in a single night. That would be it. He could not return to the fort yet; he must regain his calm. Money would buy what he wanted, and the ring on his finger was worth many louis, the only thing of value he had this side of France. But it was enough. A deer fled across his path, and a partridge blundered into his face. They had played him the man in the motley; let them beware of the fool’s revenge.
At seven the storm had passed. Around the mess-table sat the men, eating. Victor had thrown his grey cloak over the back of his chair. Occasionally his glance wandered toward madame and Anne. Brother Jacques sat opposite, and the vicomte sat at his side. As they left the table to circle round the fire in the living-room, Victor forgot his cloak, and the vicomte threw it around his own shoulders, intending to follow the poet and join him in a game of dominoes. A spurt of flame crimson-hued his face and flashed over the garment.
Brother Jacques started, his mouth agape.
A JOURNEY INTO THE HILLS AND THE TEN LIVRES OF CORPORAL FREMIN