An hour passed thus, while Henri kept the same attitude, erect, attentive, motionless, with stray scraps of his childhood’s prayers running through his brain. Suddenly the heavy eyelids of the wounded girl were lifted; the dulness of the eyes disappeared; her body made an involuntary attempt to change its position; the nostrils dilated; the lips quivered in an effort to speak. Youth and life had triumphed over death. With painful slowness, she tried to raise her hand to her head, the seat of her pain, where, though half paralyzed, thought was beginning to return. Her eyes wandered to and fro in the shadowy room, seeking to recognize the surroundings. A ray of light, filtering through the window-curtains, showed her the anxious face bending tenderly over her. “Henri!” she murmured, in a soft, plaintive voice. That name, pronounced thus, the first word uttered after her long swoon, revealed her secret. Never had a more complete yet modest avowal been more simply expressed; was it not natural that he should be present at her reentrance into life, since she loved him? With women, the sentiment of love responds to the most diverse objects. The ordinary young girl of Zibeline’s age, either before or after her sojourn in a convent, considers that a man of thirty has arrived at middle age, and that a man of forty is absolutely old. Should she accept a man of either of these ages, she does it because a fortune, a title, or high social rank silences her other tastes, and her ambition does the rest. But, with an exceptional woman, like Mademoiselle de Vermont, brought up in view of wide horizons, in the midst of plains cleared by bold pioneers, among whom the most valorous governed the others, a man like General de Prerolles realized her ideal all the more, because both their natures presented the same striking characteristics: carelessness of danger, and frankness carried to its extremest limit. Therefore, this declaration— to use the common expression—entirely free from artifice or affectation, charmed Henri for one reason, yet, on the other hand, redoubled his perplexity. How could he conciliate his scruples of conscience with the aspirations of his heart? The problem seemed then as insoluble as when it had been presented the first time. But Valentine was saved. For the moment that was the essential point, the only one in question. The involuntary revelation of her secret had brought the color to her cheeks, the light to her eyes, a smile to her lips, in spite of the leaden band that seemed still pressing upon her head. “How you have frightened me!” said Henri, in a low voice, seating himself on the side of the bed and taking her hand. “Is that true?” she asked, softly pressing his fingers. “Hush!” he said, making a movement to enjoin silence. She obeyed, and they remained a few moments thus. Nevertheless, he reflected that the account of the accident would soon be spread everywhere, that Valentine’s new friends would hear about it as soon as they arrived at the race-track that day, and that he could no longer prolong his stay beside her.