“Come, dear child, we are misleading one another; I in speaking too harshly, you in refusing to understand me. Forget that I am your husband; see in me only a friend and open your heart; your resistance hides a mystery. You have had some grief or have been deceived.”
Jeanne, softened, said, in a low tone:
“Don’t speak to me like that; leave me.”
“No,” resumed Cayrol, quietly, “we are beginning life; there must be no misunderstanding. Be frank, and you will find me indulgent. Come, young girls are often romantic. They picture an ideal; they fall in love with some one who does not return their love, which is sometimes even unknown to him who is their hero. Then, suddenly, they have to return to a reality. They find themselves face to face with a husband who is not the expected Romeo, but who is a good man, devoted, loving, and ready to heal the wounds he has not made. They are afraid of this husband; they mistrust him, and will not follow him. It is wrong, because it is near him, in honorable and right existence, that they find peace and forgetfulness.”
Cayrol’s heart was torn by anxiety, and with trembling voice he tried to read the effect of his words on Jeanne’s features. She had turned away. Cayrol bent toward her and said:
“You don’t answer me.”
And as she still remained silent, he took her hand and forced her to look at him. He saw that her face was covered with tears. He shuddered, and then flew into a terrible passion.
“You are crying! It is true then? You have loved?”
Jeanne rose with a bound; she saw her imprudence. She understood the trap he had laid; her cheeks burned. Drying her tears, she turned toward Cayrol, and cried:
“Who has said so?”
“You cannot deceive me,” replied the banker, violently. “I saw it in your looks. Now, I want to know the man’s name!”
Jeanne looked him straight in the face.
“Never!” she said.
“Ah, that is an avowal!” exclaimed Cayrol.
“You have deceived me unworthily by your pretended kindness,” interrupted Jeanne, proudly, “I will not say anything more.”
Cayrol flew at her—the churl reappeared. He muttered a fearful oath, and seizing her by the arm, shouted:
“Take care! Don’t play with me. Speak, I insist, or—” and he shook her brutally.
Jeanne, indignant, screamed and tore herself away from him.
“Leave me,” she said, “you fill me with horror!”
The husband, beside himself, pale as death and trembling convulsively, could not utter a word, and was about to rush upon her when the door opened, and Madame Desvarennes appeared, holding in her hand the letters which she had written for Cayrol to take back to Paris. Jeanne uttered a cry of joy, and with a bound threw herself into the arms of her who had been a mother to her.