“We must be careful, you know, Jenny,” said he, “and cease to meet for a while. I am ruined, you know, and the only thing that can save me is marriage.”
Hector had prepared himself for an explosion of fury, piercing cries, hysterics, fainting-fits. To his great surprise, Jenny did not answer a word. She became as white as her collar, her ruddy lips blanched, her eyes stared.
“So,” said she, with her teeth tightly shut to contain herself, “so you are going to get married?”
“Alas, I must,” he answered with a hypocritical sigh. “You know that lately I have only been able to get money for you by borrowing from my friend; his purse will not be at my service forever.”
Jenny took Hector by the hand, and led him to the window. There, looking intently at him, as if her gaze could frighten the truth out of him, she said, slowly:
“It is really true, is it, that you are going to leave me to get married?”
Hector disengaged one of his hands, and placed it on his heart.
“I swear it on my honor,” said he.
“I ought to believe you, then.”
Jenny returned to the middle of the room. Standing erect before the mirror, she put on her hat, quietly disposing its ribbons as if nothing had occurred. When she was ready to go, she went up to Tremorel. “For the last time,” said she, in a tone which she forced to be firm, and which belied her tearful, glistening eyes. “For the last time, Hector, are we really to part?”
Jenny made a gesture which Tremorel did not see; her face had a malicious expression; her lips parted to utter some sarcastic response; but she recovered herself almost immediately.
“I am going, Hector,” said she, after a moment’s reflection; “If you are really leaving me to get married, you shall never hear of me again.”
“Why, Jenny, I hope I shall still remain your friend.”
“Well, only if you abandon me for another reason, remember what I tell you; you will be a dead man, and she, a lost woman.”
She opened the door; he tried to take her hand; she repulsed him.
Hector ran to the window to assure himself of her departure. She was ascending the avenue leading to the station.
“Well, that’s over,” thought he, with a sigh of relief. “Jenny was a good girl.”
The count told half a truth when he spoke to Jenny of his marriage. Sauvresy and he had discussed the subject, and if the matter was not as ripe as he had represented, there was at least some prospect of such an event. Sauvresy had proposed it in his anxiety to complete his work of restoring Hector to fortune and society.
One evening, about a month before the events just narrated, he had led Hector into the library, saying:
“Give me your ear for a quarter of an hour, and don’t answer me hastily. What I am going to propose to you deserves serious reflection.”