pitit Mamz’elle Zizi,
C’est l’amou, l’amou qui tourne
La tete a li.
Risler had risen, in spite of Planus’s efforts. “Sit down! sit down!” the people shouted. The wretched man heard nothing. He was staring at his wife.
l’amou, l’amou qui tourne
La tete a li,
Sidonie repeated affectedly.
For a moment he wondered whether he should not leap on the platform and kill her. Red flames shot before his eyes, and he was blinded with frenzy.
Then, suddenly, shame and disgust seized upon him and he rushed from the hall, overturning chairs and tables, pursued by the terror and imprecations of all those scandalized bourgeois.
Never had Sigismond Planus returned home so late without giving his sister warning, during the twenty years and more that he had lived at Montrouge. Consequently Mademoiselle Planus was greatly worried. Living in community of ideas and of everything else with her brother, having but one mind for herself and for him, the old maid had felt for several months the rebound of all the cashier’s anxiety and indignation; and the effect was still noticeable in her tendency to tremble and become agitated on slight provocation. At the slightest tardiness on Sigismond’s part, she would think:
“Ah! mon Dieu! If only nothing has happened at the factory!”
That is the reason why on the evening in question, when the hens and chickens were all asleep on their perches, and the dinner had been removed untouched, Mademoiselle Planus was sitting in the little ground-floor living-room, waiting, in great agitation.
At last, about eleven o’clock, some one rang. A timid, melancholy ring, in no wise resembling Sigismond’s vigorous pull.
“Is it you, Monsieur Planus?” queried the old lady from behind the door.
It was he; but he was not alone. A tall, bent old man accompanied him, and, as they entered, bade her good-evening in a slow, hesitating voice. Not till then did Mademoiselle Planus recognize Risler Aine, whom she had not seen since the days of the New Year’s calls, that is to say, some time before the dramas at the factory. She could hardly restrain an exclamation of pity; but the grave taciturnity of the two men told her that she must be silent.
“Mademoiselle Planus, my sister, you will put clean sheets on my bed. Our friend Risler does us the honor to pass the night with us.”
The sister hastened away to prepare the bedroom with an almost affectionate zeal; for, as we know, beside “Monsieur Planus, my brother,” Risler was the only man excepted from the general reprobation in which she enveloped the whole male sex.
Upon leaving the cafe concert, Sidonie’s husband had had a moment of frantic excitement. He leaned on Planus’s arm, every nerve in his body strained to the utmost. At that moment he had no thought of going to Montrouge to get the letter and the package.