The position should have been untenable, but it was not. As yet no remorse had come to Brigit regarding Felicite, although she frequently experienced a pang of self-loathing on meeting Theo’s honest and trusting eyes. Her upbringing had been such that she really believed herself to be as yet quite guiltless of anything more than an almost inevitable deceit, and even when she did regret the deceit, the thought that she was going to marry Theo gave her instant comfort, as though she were contemplating some noble act of atonement.
“Victor is very good now,” she thought, turning her flat, hard pillow, “and I am much less nervous and irritable. Things always do straighten themselves out, I suppose—for those who know how to wait. Mere waiting does no good, it’s the knowing how that counts. And I think we are learning now. If only Theo would fall in love with someone else. The minute he becomes unhappy or even impatient Victor will grow paternal, and that is horrible. Theo seems happy enough now——”
Her room was small and high, with orange-coloured stencillings on a grey ground, and thin, dangerously movable strips of carpet on the slippery floor. The curtains were of blue flannel and thoroughly unbeautiful.
The sitting-room was exactly like the bedroom, except that its stencilling was bright green and that it had no bed. There was in each room a big bunch of dahlias of gorgeous hues—offerings from Madame Chalumeau.
Yellow Dog Papillon, who had been left with Brigit to keep her company, lay on one of the rugs and snapped rudely at flies. It was very warm, and the tea had proved quite undrinkable. Brigit thought that she did not greatly care for the Chevreuil d’Or.
Then eight o’clock struck and she rose and rang for hot water. The “maid,” who was incidentally a grandmother, wore a blue skirt and a red blouse and smiled cheerfully and toothlessly.
“Yes, yes, mademoiselle, de l’eau chaude. I have brought it! Je connais ma clientele, moi.” With a proud smile she set down a jug about as large as a milk-jug for two coffee-drinkers, and withdrew.
Smiling to herself, Brigit dressed and then went into her sitting-room, and opening a window looked down into the street.
It is a most important thoroughfare, this Rue d’Argentin; the Rue de la Paix de Falaise.
Leaning out the window and looking to her left Brigit beheld the Place St. Gervais, with its fountain, its market-place, now of course empty, and its church steps, on which beggars sleep by day. Opposite her was a cafe, at present enlivened by the dashing presence of two foot-soldiers and an old man playing dominoes with himself.
Above the houses the sky was pale and clear, and from a garden off to the right at the end of the street came a cooing of wood-pigeons.
Two little boys in black blouses came running up the street, their sabots clacking against the rough cobbles. Someone was playing a mandolin, and at the foot of the street, near the bridge, a girl in a pink apron was flirting with a youth with curly red hair.