“Don’t weep, my fairy, you rob me of all my courage. Come, you will be a great deal happier when you no longer have your terrible demon. You will go back to Fontainebleau and look after your chickens. The ten thousand francs from Brahim will help to get you settled down. And then, don’t be afraid, once you are over there I shall send you money. Since this Bey wants to have sculpture done by me, he will have to pay for it, as you may imagine. I shall return rich, rich. Who knows? Perhaps a sultana.”
“Yes, you will be a sultana, but I—I shall be dead and I shall never see you again.” And the good Crenmitz in despair huddled herself into a corner of the cab so that she would not be seen weeping.
Felicia was leaving Paris. She was trying to escape the horrible sadness, the sinister disgust into which Mora’s death had thrown her. What a terrible blow for the proud girl! Ennui, pique, had thrown her into this man’s arms; she had given him pride—modesty—all; and now he had carried all away with him, leaving her tarnished for life, a tearless widow, without mourning and without dignity. Two or three visits to Saint-James Villa, a few evenings in the back of some box at some small theatre, behind the curtain that shelters forbidden and shameful pleasure, these were the only memories left to her by this liaison of a fortnight, this loveless intrigue wherein her pride had not found even the satisfaction of the commotion caused by a big scandal. The useless and indelible stain, the stupid fall of a woman who does not know how to walk and who is embarrassed in her rising by the ironical pity of the passers-by.
For a moment she thought of suicide, then the reflection that it would be set down to a broken heart arrested her. She saw in a glance the sentimental compassion of the drawing-rooms, the foolish figure that her sham passion would cut among the innumberable love affairs of the duke, and the Parma violets scattered by the pretty Moessards of journalism on her grave, dug so near the other. Travelling remained to her—one of those journeys so distant that they take even one’s thoughts into a new world. Unfortunately the money was wanting. Then she remembered that on the morrow of her great success at the Exhibition, old Brahim Bey had called to see her, to make her, in behalf of his master, magnificent proposals for certain great works to be executed in Tunis. She had said No at the time, without allowing herself to be tempted by Oriental remuneration, a splendid hospitality, the finest court in the Bardo for a studio, with its surrounding facades of stone in lacework carving. But now she was quite willing. She had to make but a sign, the agreement was immediately concluded, and after an exchange of telegrams, a hasty packing and shutting up of the house, she set out for the railway station as if for a week’s absence, astonished herself by her prompt decision, flattered on all the adventurous and artistic sides of her nature by the hope of a new life in an unknown country.