“For we will not stay here,” Jenny went on, “we will go and conceal ourselves far from Paris, in a little cottage. Why, on the other side of Belleville you can get a place surrounded by gardens for a thousand francs a year. How well off we should be there! You would never leave me, for I should be jealous—oh, so jealous! We wouldn’t have any servants, and you should see that I know how to keep house.”
Hector said nothing.
“While the money lasts,” continued Jenny, “we’ll laugh away the days. When it’s all gone, if you are still decided, you will kill yourself—that is, we will kill ourselves together. But not with a pistol—No! We’ll light a pan of charcoal, sleep in one another’s arms, and that will be the end. They say one doesn’t suffer that way at all.”
This idea drew Hector from his torpor, and awoke in him a recollection which ruffled all his vanity.
Three or four days before, he had read in a paper the account of the suicide of a cook, who, in a fit of love and despair, had bravely suffocated himself in his garret. Before dying he had written a most touching letter to his faithless love. The idea of killing himself like a cook made him shudder. He saw the possibility of the horrible comparison. How ridiculous! And the Count de Tremorel had a wholesome fear of ridicule. To suffocate himself, at Belleville, with a grisette, how dreadful! He almost rudely pushed Jenny’s arms away, and repulsed her.
“Enough of that sort of thing,” said he, in his careless tone. “What you say, child, is all very pretty, but utterly absurd. A man of my name dies, and doesn’t choke.” And taking the bank-notes from his pocket, where Jenny had slipped them, he threw them on the table.
He would have gone, but Jenny, red and with glistening eyes, barred the door with her body.
“You shall not go!” she cried, “I won’t have you; you are mine—for I love you; if you take one step, I will scream.”
The count shrugged his shoulders.
“But we must end all this!”
“You sha’n’t go!”
“Well, then, I’ll blow my brains out here.” And taking out one of his pistols, he held it to his forehead, adding, “If you call out and don’t let me pass, I shall fire.” He meant the threat for earnest.
But Jenny did not call out; she could not; she uttered a deep groan and fainted.
“At last!” muttered Hector, replacing the pistol in his pocket.
He went out, not taking time to lift her from the floor where she had fallen, and shut the door. Then he called the servants into the vestibule, gave them ten napoleons to divide among them, and hastened away.
The Count de Tremorel, having reached the street, ascended the boulevard. All of a sudden he bethought him of his friends. The story of the execution must have already spread.