He closed the window and lighted the fire. She sat in the armchair, and as she remained in it erect, he knelt before her, took her hands, kissed them, and looked at her with a wondering expression, timorous and proud. Then he pressed his lips to the tip of her boot.
“What are you doing?”
“I kiss your feet because they have come.”
He rose, drew her to him softly, and placed a long kiss on her lips. She remained inert, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. Her toque fell, her hair dropped on her shoulders.
Two hours later, when the setting sun made immeasurably longer the shadows on the stones, Therese, who had wished to walk alone in the city, found herself in front of the two obelisks of Santa Maria Novella without knowing how she had reached there. She saw at the corner of the square the old cobbler drawing his string with his eternal gesture. He smiled, bearing his sparrow on his shoulder.
She went into the shop, and sat on a chair. She said in French:
“Quentin Matsys, my friend, what have I done, and what will become of me?”
He looked at her quietly, with laughing kindness, not understanding nor caring. Nothing astonished him. She shook her head.
“What I did, my good Quentin, I did because he was suffering, and because I loved him. I regret nothing.”
He replied, as was his habit, with the sonorous syllable of Italy:
“Is it not so, Quentin? I have not done wrong? But, my God! what will happen now?”
She prepared to go. He made her understand that he wished her to wait. He culled carefully a bit of basilick and offered it to her.
“For its fragrance, signora!”
CHOULETTE TAKES A JOURNEY
It was the next day.
Having carefully placed on the drawing-room table his knotty stick, his pipe, and his antique carpet-bag, Choulette bowed to Madame Martin, who was reading at the window. He was going to Assisi. He wore a sheepskin coat, and resembled the old shepherds in pictures of the Nativity.
“Farewell, Madame. I am quitting Fiesole, you, Dechartre, the too handsome Prince Albertinelli, and that gentle ogress, Miss Bell. I am going to visit the Assisi mountain, which the poet says must be named no longer Assisi, but the Orient, because it is there that the sun of love rose. I am going to kneel before the happy crypt where Saint Francis is resting in a stone manger, with a stone for a pillow. For he would not even take out of this world a shroud—out of this world where he left the revelation of all joy and of all kindness.”
“Farewell, Monsieur Choulette. Bring me a medal of Saint Clara. I like Saint Clara a great deal.”