“This test would be more than my courage could endure. I never shall see you again, for, should I do so, I would be a lost man.”
This short response caused Mlle. Moriaz a disappointment full of bitterness, and blended with no little wrath. She held in her hand a pencil, which she deliberately snapped in two, apparently to console herself for not having broken the proud and obstinate will of Count Abel Larinski. And yet can one break iron or a diamond? The carrier had brought her at the same time another letter, which she opened mechanically, merely to satisfy her conscience. She ran through the first lines without succeeding in comprehending a single word that she read. Suddenly her attention became riveted, her face brightened up, her eyes kindled. This letter, which a kind Providence had sent her as a supreme resource in her distress, was from the hand of Mlle. Galet, and here was what this retired florist of the Rue Mouffetard wrote:
“MA CHERE DEMOISELLE: I learn that you have returned. What happiness for me! and how I long to see you! You are my good angel, whom I should like to see every day of my life, and the time has seemed so long to me without you. When you enter the garret of the poor, infirm old woman, it seems to her as though there were three suns in the heavens; when you abandon her, the blackness of midnight surrounds her. Mme. de Lorcy has been very good to me. As my angel requested her, she came a fortnight since to pay me the quarter due of my pension. She is a very charitable lady, and she dresses beautifully; but she is a little hard on poor people. She asks a great many questions; she wants to know everything. She reproached me with spending too much, being too fond of luxury, and you know how that is. She forgets that everything is higher priced than it used to be, that meat and vegetables are exorbitant, and that just now eggs cost one franc and fifty centimes a dozen. Besides, a poor creature, deprived of the use of her limbs, as I am, cannot go to market herself, and it is quite possible that my femme de menage does not purchase as wisely as she might. I know I have great scenes with her sometimes for bringing me early vegetables; le bon Dieu can, at least, bear me witness that I am no glutton.
“The good Mme. de Lorcy scolded me about a bouquet of camellias she saw on my table, just like those for which I have been grateful to my angel. I don’t know what notions she got into her head about them. Ah! well, ma chere demoiselle, I have learned since that these double camellias—they are variegated, red and white—came to me from a man, for, at present, as it would appear, men have taken to give me bouquets and making me visits; it is rather late in the day. The particular man to whom I refer presented himself one fine morning, and, telling me that you had spoken to him of me, said that he wished to assure himself that I was well