“It is I, Madame,” he said in an undertone. “I have come to get the money.”
“What money?” demanded Claire, for she no longer remembered why she had gone to Savigny.
“Hush! The funds to meet my note to-morrow. Monsieur Georges, when he went out, told me that you would hand it to me very soon.”
“Ah! yes—true. The hundred thousand francs.”
“I haven’t them, Monsieur Planus; I haven’t anything.”
“Then,” said the cashier, in a strange voice, as if he were speaking to himself, “then it means failure.”
And he turned slowly away.
Failure! She sank on a chair, appalled, crushed. For the last few hours the downfall of her happiness had caused her to forget the downfall of the house; but she remembered now.
So her husband was ruined! In a little while, when he returned home, he would learn of the disaster, and he would learn at the same time that his wife and child had gone; that he was left alone in the midst of the wreck.
Alone—that weak, easily influenced creature, who could only weep and complain and shake his fist at life like a child! What would become of the miserable man?
She pitied him, notwithstanding his great sin.
Then the thought came to her that she would perhaps seem to have fled at the approach of bankruptcy, of poverty.
Georges might say to himself:
“Had I been rich, she would have forgiven me!”
Ought she to allow him to entertain that doubt?
To a generous, noble heart like Claire’s nothing more than that was necessary to change her plans. Instantly she was conscious that her feeling of repugnance, of revolt, began to grow less bitter, and a sudden ray of light seemed to make her duty clearer to her. When they came to tell her that the child was dressed and the trunks ready, her mind was made up anew.
“Never mind,” she replied gently. “We are not going away.”
ETEXT editor’s bookmarks:
Abundant details which
he sometimes volunteered
Exaggerated dramatic pantomime
Void in her heart, a place made ready for disasters to come
Would have liked him to be blind only so far as he was concerned
By ALPHONSE DAUDET
THE DAY OF RECKONING
The great clock of Saint-Gervais struck one in the morning. It was so cold that the fine snow, flying through the air, hardened as it fell, covering the pavements with a slippery, white blanket.