The Old Wives' Tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 811 pages of information about The Old Wives' Tale.

The woman’s face was quite changed by her agitation.  Sophia drew away, offended.  She watched the pair from a distance for a few moments, and then, furious in disillusion, she escaped from the fever of the boulevards and walked quietly home.  Madame Foucault did not return.  Apparently Madame Foucault was doomed to be the toy of chance.  Two days later Sophia received a scrawled letter from her, with the information that her lover had required that she should accompany him to Brussels, as Paris would soon be getting dangerous.  “He adores me always.  He is the most delicious boy.  As I have always said, this is the grand passion of my life.  I am happy.  He would not permit me to come to you.  He has spent two thousand francs on clothes for me, since naturally I had nothing.”  And so on.  No word of apology.  Sophia, in reading the letter, allowed for a certain exaggeration and twisting of the truth.

“Young fool!  Fool!” she burst out angrily.  She did not mean herself; she meant the fatuous adorer of that dilapidated, horrible woman.  She never saw her again.  Doubtless Madame Foucault fulfilled her own prediction as to her ultimate destiny, but in Brussels.


Sophia still possessed about a hundred pounds, and had she chosen to leave Paris and France, there was nothing to prevent her from doing so.  Perhaps if she had chanced to visit the Gare St. Lazare or the Gare du Nord, the sight of tens of thousands of people flying seawards might have stirred in her the desire to flee also from the vague coming danger.  But she did not visit those termini; she was too busy looking after M. Niepce, her grocer.  Moreover, she would not quit her furniture, which seemed to her to be a sort of rock.  With a flat full of furniture she considered that she ought to be able to devise a livelihood; the enterprise of becoming independent was already indeed begun.  She ardently wished to be independent, to utilize in her own behalf the gifts of organization, foresight, commonsense and tenacity which she knew she possessed and which had lain idle.  And she hated the idea of flight.

Chirac returned as unexpectedly as he had gone; an expedition for his paper had occupied him.  With his lips he urged her to go, but his eyes spoke differently.  He had, one afternoon, a mood of candid despair, such as he would have dared to show only to one in whom he felt great confidence.  “They will come to Paris,” he said; “nothing can stop them.  And ... then ...!” He gave a cynical laugh.  But when he urged her to go she said: 

“And what about my furniture?  And I’ve promised M. Niepce to look after him.”

Then Chirac informed her that he was without a lodging, and that he would like to rent one of her rooms.  She agreed.

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The Old Wives' Tale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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