“I am arrested for debt,” said Jacques, in a mournful voice.
“You!” exclaimed Cephyse, with a heart-rending sob.
“Yes, for that bill, or guarantee, they made me sign. And yet the man said it was only a form—the rascal!”
“But you have money in his hands; let him take that on account.”
“I have not a copper; he sends me word by the bailiff, that not having paid the bill, I shall not have the last thousand francs.”
“Then let us go to him, and entreat him to leave you at liberty. It was he who came to propose to lend you this money. I know it well, as he first addressed himself to me. He will have pity on you.”
“Pity?—a money broker pity? No! no!”
“Is there then no hope? none?” cried Cephyse clasping her hands in anguish. “But there must be something done,” she resumed. “He promised you”
“You can see how he keeps his promises,” answered Jacques, with bitterness. “I signed, without even knowing what I signed. The bill is over-due; everything is in order, it would be vain to resist. They have just explained all that to me.”
“But they cannot keep you long in prison. It is impossible.”
“Five years, if I do not pay. As I’ll never be able to do so, my fate is certain.”
“Oh! what a misfortune! and not to be able to do anything!” said Cephyse, hiding her face in her hands.
“Listen to me, Cephyse,” resumed Jacques, in a voice of mournful emotion; “since I am here, I have thought only of one thing—what is to become of you?”
“Never mind me!”
“Not mind you?—art mad? What will you do? The furniture of our two rooms is not worth two hundred francs. We have squandered our money so foolishly, that we have not even paid our rent. We owe three quarters, and we must not therefore count upon the furniture. I leave you without a coin. At least I shall be fed in prison—but how will you manage to live?
“What is the use of grieving beforehand?”
“I ask you how you will live to-morrow?” cried Jacques.
“I will sell my costume, and some other clothes. I will send you half the money, and keep the rest. That will last some days.”
“Afterwards?—why, then—I don’t know—how can I tell you! Afterwards—I’ll look about me.”
“Hear me, Cephyse,” resumed Jacques, with bitter agony. “It is now that I first know how mach I love you. My heart is pressed as in a vise at the thought of leaving you and I shudder to thinly what is to become of you.” Then—drawing his hand across his forehead, Jacques added: “You see we have been ruined by saying—’To-morrow will never come!’—for to morrow has come. When I am no longer with you, and you have spent the last penny of the money gained by the sale of your clothes—unfit for work as you have become—what will you do next? Must I tell you what you will do!—you will forget me and—” Then, as if he recoiled from his own thoughts, Jacques exclaimed, with a burst of rage and despair—“Great Heaven! if that were to happen, I should dash my brains out against the stones!”