The doctor awoke next morning firmly resolved to make his fortune. Several times already he had come to the same determination without following up the reality. At the outset of all his trials of some new career the hopes of rapidly acquired riches kept up his efforts and confidence, till the first obstacle, the first check, threw him into a fresh path. Snug in bed between the warm sheets, he lay meditating. How many medical men had become wealthy in quite a short time! All that was needed was a little knowledge of the world; for in the course of his studies he had learnt to estimate the most famous physicians, and he judged them all to be asses. He was certainly as good as they, if not better. If by any means he could secure a practice among the wealth and fashion of Havre, he could easily make a hundred thousand francs a year. And he calculated with great exactitude what his certain profits must be. He would go out in the mornings to visit his patients; at the very moderate average of ten a day, at twenty francs each, that would mount up to seventy-two thousand francs a year at least, or even seventy-five thousand; for ten patients was certainly below the mark. In the afternoon he would be at home to, say, another ten patients, at ten francs each — thirty-six thousand francs. Here, then, in round numbers, was an income of twenty thousand francs. Old patients, or friends whom he would charge only ten francs for a visit, or see at home for five, would perhaps make a slight reduction on this sum total, but consultations with other physicians and various incidental fees would make up for that.
Nothing would be easier than to achieve this by skillful advertising remarks in the Figaro to the effect that the scientific faculty of Paris had their eye on him, and were interested in the cures effected by the modest young practitioner of Havre! And he would be richer than his brother, richer and more famous; and satisfied with himself, for he would owe his fortune solely to his own exertions; and liberal to his old parents, who would be justly proud of his fame. He would not marry, would not burden his life with a wife who would be in his way, but then he might make love. He felt so sure of success that he sprang out of bed as though to grasp it on the spot, and he dressed to go and search through the town for rooms to suit him.
Then, as he wandered about the streets, he reflected how slight are the causes which determine our actions. Any time these three weeks he might and ought to have come to this decision, which, beyond a doubt, the news of his brother’s inheritance had abruptly given rise to.
He stopped before every door where a placard proclaimed that “fine apartments” or “handsome rooms” were to be let; announcements without an adjective he turned from with scorn. Then he inspected them with a lofty air, measuring the height of the rooms, sketching the plan in his note-book, with the passages, the arrangements of the exits, explaining that he was a medical man and had many visitors. He must have a broad and well-kept staircase; nor could he be any higher up than the first floor.
After having written down seven or eight addresses and scribbled two hundred notes, he got home to breakfast a quarter of an hour too late.
In the hall he heard the clatter of plates. Then they had begun without him! Why? They were never wont to be so punctual. He was nettled and put out, for he was somewhat thin-skinned. As he went in Roland said to him:
“Come, Pierre, make haste, devil take you! You know we have to be at the lawyer’s at two o’clock. This is not the day to be dawdling about.”
Pierre sat down without replying, after kissing his mother and shaking hands with his father and brother; and he helped himself from the deep dish in the middle of the table to the cutlet which had been kept for him. It was cold and dry, probably the least tempting of them all. He thought that they might have left it on the hot plate till he came in, and not lose their heads so completely as to have forgotten their other son, their eldest.
The conversation, which his entrance had interrupted, was taken up again at the point where it had ceased.
“In your place,” Mme. Roland was saying to Jean, “I will tell you what I should do at once. I should settle in handsome rooms so as to attract attention; I should rise on horseback and select one or two interesting cases to defend and make a mark in court. I would be a sort of amateur lawyer, and very select. Thank God you are out of all danger of want, and if you pursue a profession, it is, after all, only that you may not lose the benefit of your studies, and because a man ought never to sit idle.”
Old Roland, who was peeling a pear, exclaimed:
“Christi! In your place I should buy a nice yacht, a cutter on the build of our pilot-boats. I would sail as far as Senegal in such a boat as that.”
Pierre, in his turn, spoke his views. After all, said he, it was not his wealth which made the moral worth, the intellectual worth of a man. To a man of inferior mind it was only a means of degradation, while in the hands of a strong man it was a powerful lever. They, to be sure, were rare. If Jean were a really superior man, now that he could never want he might prove it. But then he must work a hundred times harder than he would have done in other circumstances. His business now must be not to argue for or against the widow and the orphan, and pocket his fees for every case he gained, but to become a really eminent legal authority, a luminary of the law. And he added in conclusion:
“If I were rich wouldn’t I dissect no end of bodies!”
Father Roland shrugged his shoulders.
“That is all very fine,” he said. “But the wisest way of life is to take it easy. We are not beasts of burden, but men. If you are born poor you must work; well, so much the worse; and you do work. But where you have dividends! You must be a flat if you grind yourself to death.”
Pierre replied haughtily:
“Our notions differ. For my part, I respect nothing on earth but learning and intellect; everything else is beneath contempt.”
Mme. Roland always tried to deaden the constant shocks between father and son; she turned the conversation, and began talking of a murder committed the week before at Bolbec Nointot. Their minds were immediately full of the circumstances under which the crime had been committed, and absorbed by the interesting horror, the attractive mystery of crime, which, however commonplace, shameful, and disgusting, exercises a strange and universal fascination over the curiosity of mankind. Now and again, however, old Roland looked at his watch. “Come,” said he, “it is time to be going.”
“It is not yet one o’clock,” he said. “It really was hardly worth while to condemn me to eat a cold cutlet.”
“Are you coming to the lawyer’s?” his mother asked.
“I? No. What for?” he replied dryly. “My presence is quite unnecessary.”
Jean sat silent, as though he had no concern in the matter. When they were discussing the murder at Bolbec he, as a legal authority, had put forward some opinions and uttered some reflections on crime and criminals. Now he spoke no more; but the sparkle in his eye, the bright color in his cheeks, the very gloss of his beard seemed to proclaim his happiness.
When the family had gone, Pierre, alone once more, resumed his investigations in the apartments to let. After two or three hours spent in going up and down stairs, he at last found, in the Boulevard François, a pretty set of rooms; a spacious entresol with two doors on two different streets, two drawing-rooms, a glass corridor, where his patients while they waited, might walk among flowers, and a delightful dining-room with a bow-window looking out over the sea.
When it came to taking it, the terms — three thousand francs — pulled him up; the first quarter must be paid in advance, and he had nothing, not a penny to call his own.
The little fortune his father had saved brought him in about eight thousand francs a year, and Pierre had often blamed himself for having placed his parents in difficulties by his long delay in deciding on a profession, by forfeiting his attempts and beginning fresh courses of study. So he went away, promising to send his answer within two days, and it occurred to him to ask Jean to lend him the amount of this quarter’s rent, or even of a half-year, fifteen hundred francs, as soon as Jean should have come into possession.
“It will be a loan for a few months at most,” he thought. “I shall repay him, very likely, before the end of the year. It is a simple matter, and he will be glad to do so much for me.”
As it was not yet four o’clock, and he had nothing to do, absolutely nothing, he went to sit in the public gardens; and he remained a long time on a bench, without an idea in his brain, his eyes fixed on the ground, crushed by weariness amounting to distress.
And yet this was how he had been living all these days since his return home, without suffering so acutely from the vacuity of his existence and from inaction. How had he spent his time from rising in the morning till bed-time?
He had loafed on the pier at high tide, loafed in the streets, loafed in the cafés, loafed at Marowsko’s, loafed everywhere. And on a sudden this life, which he had endured till now, had become odious, intolerable. If he had had any pocket-money he would have taken a carriage for a long drive in the country, along by the farm-ditches shaded by beech and elm trees; but he had to think twice of the cost of a glass of beer or a postage-stamp, and such an indulgence was out of his ken. It suddenly struck him how hard it was for a man of past thirty to be reduced to ask his mother, with a blush, for a twenty-franc piece every now and then; and he muttered, as he scored the gravel with the ferrule of his stick:
“Christi, if I only had money!”
And again the thought of his brother’s legacy came into his head like the sting of a wasp; but he drove it out indignantly, not choosing to allow himself to slip down that descent to jealousy.
Some children were playing about in the dusty paths. They were fair little things with long hair, and they were making little mounds of sand with the greatest gravity and careful attention, to crush them at once by stamping on them.
It was one of those gloomy days with Pierre when we pry into every corner of our souls and shake out every crease.
“All our endeavors are like the labors of those babies,” thought he. And then he wondered whether the wisest thing in life were not to beget two or three of these little creatures and watch them grow up with complacent curiosity. A longing for marriage breathed on his soul. A man is not so lost when he is not alone. At any rate, he hears some one stirring at his side in hours of trouble or of uncertainty; and it is something only to be able to speak on equal terms to a woman when one is suffering.
Then he began thinking of women. He knew very little of them, never having had any but very transient connections as a medical student, broken off as soon as the month’s allowance was spent, and renewed or replaced by another the following month. And yet there must be some very kind, gentle, and comforting creatures among them. Had not his mother been the good sense and saving grace of his own home? How glad he would be to know a woman, a true woman.
He started up with a sudden determination to go and call on Mme. Rosémilly. But he promptly sat down again. He did not like that woman. Why not? She had too much vulgar and sordid common sense; besides, did she not seem to prefer Jean? Without confessing it to himself too bluntly, this preference had a great deal to do with his low opinion of the widow’s intellect; for, though he loved his brother, he could not help thinking him somewhat mediocre and believing himself the superior. However, he was not going to sit there till nightfall; and as he had done on the previous evening, he anxiously asked himself: “What am I going to do?”
At this moment he felt in his soul the need of a melting mood, of being embraced and comforted. Comforted — for what? He could not have put it into words; but he was in one of those hours of weakness and exhaustion when a woman’s presence, a woman’s kiss, the touch of a hand, the rustle of a petticoat, a soft look out of black or blue eyes, seem the one thing needful, there and then, to our heart. And the memory flashed upon him of a little barmaid at a beer-house, whom he had walked home with one evening, and seen again from time to time.
So once more he rose, to go and drink a bock with the girl. What should he say to her? What would she say to him? Nothing, probably. But what did that matter? He would hold her hand for a few seconds. She seemed to have a fancy for him. Why, then, did he not go to see her oftener?
He found her dozing on a chair in the beer-shop, which was almost deserted. Three men were drinking and smoking with their elbows on the oak tables; the book-keeper in her desk was reading a novel, while the master, in his shirt-sleeves, lay sound asleep on a bench.
As soon as she saw him the girl rose eagerly, and coming to meet him, said:
“Good-day, monsieur — how are you?”
“Pretty well; and you?”
“I— oh, very well. How scarce you make yourself.”
“Yes. I have very little time to myself. I am a doctor, you know.”
“Indeed! You never told me. If I had known that — I was out of sorts last week and I would have sent for you. What will you take?”
“A bock. And you?”
“I will have a bock too since you are game to treat me.”
She had addressed him with the familiar tu, and continued to use it, as if the offer of a drink had tacitly conveyed permission. Then, sitting down opposite each other, they talked for a while. Every now and then she took his hand with the light familiarity of girls whose kisses are for sale, and looking at him with inviting eyes, she said:
“Why don’t you come here oftener? I like you very much, sweetheart.”
He was already disgusted with her; he saw how stupid she was, and common, smacking of low life. A woman, he told himself, should appear to us in a dream, or such a glory as may poetize her vulgarity.
Next she asked him:
“You went by the other morning with a handsome fair man, wearing a big beard. Is he your brother?”
“Yes, he is my brother.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yes, indeed; and he looks like a man who enjoys life, too.”
What strange craving impelled him on a sudden to tell this tavern-wench about Jean’s legacy? Why should this thing, which he kept at arm’s-length when he was alone, which he drove from him for fear of the torment it brought upon his soul, rise to his lips at this moment? And why did he allow it to overflow them, as if he needed once more to empty out his heart to some one, gorged as it was with bitterness?
He crossed his legs and said:
“He has wonderful luck, that brother of mine. He has just come into a legacy of twenty thousand francs a year.”
She opened those covetous blue eyes of hers very wide.
“Oh! and who left him that? His grandmother or his aunt?”
“No. An old friend of my parents’.”
“Only a friend! Impossible! And you — did he leave you nothing?”
“No. I knew him very slightly.”
She sat thinking some minutes; then, with an odd smile on her lips, she said:
“Well, he is a lucky dog, that brother of yours, to have friends of that pattern. My word! and no wonder he is so unlike you.”
He longed to slap her, without knowing why; and he asked with pinched lips: “And what do you mean by saying that?”
She had put on a stolid, innocent face.
“O— h, nothing. I mean he has better luck than you.”
He tossed a franc piece on the table and went out.
Now he kept repeating the phrase: “No wonder he is so unlike you.”
What had her thought been, what had been her meaning under those words? There was certainly some malice, some spite, something shameful in it. Yes, that hussy must have fancied, no doubt, that Jean was Maréchal’s son. The agitation which came over him at the notion of this suspicion cast at his mother was so violent that he stood still, looking about him for some place where he might sit down. In front of him was another café. He went in, took a chair, and as the waiter came up, “A bock,” he said.
He felt his heart beating, his skin was goose-flesh. And then the recollection flashed upon him of what Marowsko had said the evening before. “It will not look well.” Had he had the same thought, the same suspicion as this baggage? Hanging his head over the glass, he watched the white froth as the bubbles rose and burst, asking himself: “Is it possible that such a thing should be believed?”
But the reasons which might give rise to this horrible doubt in other men’s minds now struck him, one after another, as plain, obvious, and exasperating. That a childless old bachelor should leave his fortune to a friend’s two sons was the most simple and natural thing in the world; but that he should leave the whole of it to one alone — of course people would wonder, and whisper, and end by smiling. How was it that he had not foreseen this, that his father had not felt it? How was it that his mother had not guessed it? No; they had been too delighted at this unhoped-for wealth for the idea to come near them. And besides, how should these worthy souls have ever dreamed of anything so ignominious?
But the public — their neighbors, the shopkeepers, their own tradesmen, all who knew them — would not they repeat the abominable thing, laugh at it, enjoy it, make game of his father and despise his mother?
And the barmaid’s remark that Jean was fair and he dark, that they were not in the least alike in face, manner, figure, or intelligence, would now strike every eye and every mind. When any one spoke of Roland’s son, the question would be: “Which, the real or the false?”
He rose, firmly resolved to warn Jean, and put him on his guard against the frightful danger which threatened their mother’s honor.
But what could Jean do? The simplest thing, no doubt, would be to refuse the inheritance, which would then go to the poor, and to tell all friends or acquaintances who had heard of the bequest that the will contained clauses and conditions impossible to subscribe to, which would have made Jean not inheritor but merely a trustee.
As he made his way home he was thinking that he must see his brother alone, so as not to speak of such a matter in the presence of his parents. On reaching the door he heard a great noise of voices and laughter in the drawing-room, and when he went in he found Captain Beausire and Mme. Rosémilly, whom his father had brought home and engaged to dine with them in honor of the good news. Vermouth and absinthe had been served to whet their appetites, and every one had been at once put into good spirits. Captain Beausire, a funny little man who had become quite round by dint of being rolled about at sea, and whose ideas also seemed to have been worn round, like the pebbles of a beach, while he laughed with his throat full of r ’s, looked upon life as a capital thing, in which everything that might turn up was good to take. He clinked his glass against father Roland’s, while Jean was offering two freshly filled glasses to the ladies. Mme. Rosémilly refused, till Captain Beausire, who had known her husband, cried:
“Come, come, madame, bis repetita placent, as we say in the lingo, which is as much as to say two glasses of vermouth never hurt any one. Look at me; since I have left the sea, in this way I give myself an artificial roll or two every day before dinner; I add a little pitching after my coffee, and that keeps things lively for the rest of the evening. I never rise to a hurricane, mind you, never, never. I am too much afraid of damage.”
Roland, whose nautical mania was humored by the old mariner, laughed heartily, his face flushed already and his eye watery from the absinthe. He had a burly shopkeeping stomach — nothing but stomach — in which the rest of his body seemed to have got stowed away; the flabby paunch of men who spend their lives sitting, and who have neither thighs, nor chest, nor arms, nor neck; the seat of their chairs having accumulated all their substance in one spot. Beausire, on the contrary, though short and stout, was as tight as an egg and as hard as a cannon-ball.
Mme. Roland had not emptied her glass and was gazing at her son Jean with sparkling eyes, happiness had brought a color to her cheeks.
In him too the fullness of joy had now blazed out. It was a settled thing, signed and sealed; he had twenty thousand francs a year. In the sound of his laugh, in the fuller voice with which he spoke, in his way of looking at the others, his more positive manners, his greater confidence, the assurance given by money was at once perceptible.
Dinner was announced, and as the old man was about to offer his arm to Mme. Rosémilly, his wife exclaimed:
“No, no, father. Everything is for Jean today.”
Unwonted luxury graced the table. In front of Jean, who sat in his father’s place, an enormous bouquet of flowers intermingled with ribbon favors — a bouquet for a really great occasion — stood up like a cupola dressed with flags, and was flanked by four high dishes, one containing a pyramid of splendid peaches; the second, a monumental cake gorged with whipped cream and covered with pinnacles of sugar — a cathedral in confectionery; the third, slices of pine-apple floating in clear syrup; and the fourth unheard-of lavishness — black grapes brought from the warmer south.
“The devil!” exclaimed Pierre as he sat down. “We are celebrating the accession of Jean the Rich.”
After the soup, Madeira was passed round, and already every one was talking at once. Beausire was giving the history of a dinner he had eaten at San Domingo at the table of a negro general. Old Roland was listening, and at the same time trying to get in, between the sentences, his account of another dinner, given by a friend of his at Mendon, after which every guest was ill for a fortnight. Mme. Rosémilly, Jean, and his mother were planning an excursion to breakfast at Saint Jouin, from which they promised themselves the greatest pleasure; and Pierre was only sorry that he had not dined alone in some pot-house by the sea, so as to escape all this noise and laughter and glee which fretted him. He was wondering how he could now set to work to confide his fears to his brother, and induce him to renounce the fortune he had already accepted and of which he was enjoying the intoxicating foretaste. It would be hard on him, no doubt; but it must be done; he could not hesitate; their mother’s reputation was at stake.
The appearance of an enormous shade-fish threw Roland back on fishing stories. Beausire told some wonderful tales of adventure on the Gaboon, at Sainte–Marie, in Madagascar, and above all, off the coasts of China and Japan, where the fish are as queer-looking as the natives. And he described the appearance of these fishes — their goggle gold eyes, their blue or red bellies, their fantastic fins like fans, their eccentric crescent-shaped tails — with such droll gesticulation that they all laughed till they cried as they listened.
Pierre alone seemed incredulous, muttering to himself: “True enough, the Normans are the Gascons of the north!”
After the fish came a vol-au-vent; then a roast fowl, a salad, French beans with a Pithiviers lark-pie. Mme. Rosémilly’s maid-servant helped to wait on them, and the fun rose with the number of glasses of wine they drank. When the cork of the first champagne bottle was drawn with a pop, father Roland, highly excited, imitated the noise with his tongue and then declared: “I like that noise better than a pistol-shot.”
Pierre, more and more fractious every moment, retorted with a sneer:
“And yet it is perhaps a greater danger for you.”
Roland, who was on the point of drinking, set his full glass down on the table again, and asked:
He had for some time been complaining of his health, of heaviness, giddiness, frequent and unaccountable discomfort. The doctor replied:
“Because the bullet might very possibly miss you, while the glass of wine is dead certain to hit you in the stomach.”
“And what then?”
“Then it scorches your inside, upsets your nervous system, makes the circulation sluggish, and leads the way to the apoplectic fit which always threatens a man of your build.”
The jeweler’s incipient intoxication had vanished like smoke before the wind. He looked at his son with fixed, uneasy eyes, trying to discover whether he was making game of him.
But Beausire exclaimed:
“Oh, these confounded doctors! They all sing the same tune; eat nothing, drink nothing, never make love or enjoy yourself; it all plays the devil with your precious health. Well, all I can say is I have done all these things, sir, in every quarter of the globe, wherever and as often as I have had the chance, and I am none the worse.”
Pierre answered with some asperity:
“In the first place, captain, you are a stronger man than my father; and in the next, all free livers talk as you do till the day when — when they come back no more to say to the cautious doctor: ‘You were right.’ When I see my father doing what is worst and most dangerous for him, it is but natural that I should warn him. I should be a bad son if I did otherwise.”
Mme. Roland, much distressed, now put in her word: “Come, Pierre, what ails you? For once it cannot hurt him? Think of what an occasion it is for him, for all of us. You will spoil his pleasure and make us all unhappy. It is too bad of you to do such a thing.”
He muttered, as he shrugged his shoulders:
“He can do as he pleases. I have warned him.”
But father Roland did not drink. He sat looking at his glass full of the clear and luminous liquor while its light soul, its intoxicating soul, flew off in tiny bubbles mounting from its depths in hurried succession to die on the surface. He looked at it with the suspicious eye of a fox smelling at a dead hen and suspecting a trap. He asked doubtfully: “Do you think it will really do me much harm?” Pierre had a pang of remorse and blamed himself for letting his ill-humor punish the rest:
“No,” said he. “Just for once you may drink it; but do not take too much, or get into the habit of it.”
Then old Roland raised his glass, but still he could not make up his mind to put it to his lips. He contemplated it regretfully, with longing and with fear; then he smelt it, tasted it, drank it in sips, swallowing them slowly, his heart full of terrors, of weakness and greediness; and then, when he had drained the last drop, of regret.
Pierre’s eye suddenly met that of Mme. Rosémilly; it rested on him clear and blue, far-seeing and hard. And he read, he knew, the precise thought which lurked in that look, the indignant thought of this simple and right-minded little woman; for the look said: “You are jealous — that is what you are. Shameful!”
He bent his head and went on with his dinner.
He was not hungry and found nothing nice. A longing to be off harassed him, a craving to be away from these people, to hear no more of their talking, jests, and laughter.
Father Roland meanwhile, to whose head the fumes of the wine were rising once more, had already forgotten his son’s advice and was eyeing a champagne-bottle with a tender leer as it stood, still nearly full, by the side of his plate. He dared not touch it for fear of being lectured again, and he was wondering by what device or trick he could possess himself of it without exciting Pierre’s remark. A ruse occurred to him, the simplest possible. He took up the bottle with an air of indifference, and holding it by the neck, stretched his arm across the table to fill the doctor’s glass, which was empty; then he filled up all the other glasses, and when he came to his own he began talking very loud, so that if he poured anything into it they might have sworn it was done inadvertently. And in fact no one took any notice.
Pierre, without observing it, was drinking a good deal. Nervous and fretted, he every minute raised to his lips the tall crystal funnel where the bubbles were dancing in the living, translucent fluid. He let the wine slip very slowly over his tongue, that he might feel the little sugary sting of the fixed air as it evaporated.
Gradually a pleasant warmth glowed in his frame. Starting from the stomach as from a focus, it spread to his chest, took possession of his limbs, and diffused itself throughout his flesh, like a warm and comforting tide, bringing pleasure with it. He felt better now, less impatient, less annoyed, and his determination to speak to his brother that very evening faded away; not that he thought for a moment of giving it up, but simply not to disturb the happy mood in which he found himself.
Beausire presently arose to propose a toast. Having bowed to the company, he began:
“Most gracious ladies and gentlemen, we have met to do honor to a happy event which has befallen one of our friends. It used to be said that Fortune was blind, but I believe that she is only short-sighted or tricksy, and that she has lately brought a good pair of glasses which enabled her to discover in the town of Havre the son of our worthy friend Roland, skipper of the Pearl.”
Every one cried bravo and clapped their hands, and the elder Roland rose to reply. After clearing his throat, for it felt thick and his tongue was heavy, he stammered out:
“Thank you, captain, thank you — for myself and my son. I shall never forget your behavior on this occasion. Here’s good luck to you!”
His eyes and nose were full of tears, and he sat down, finding nothing more to say.
Jean, who was laughing, spoke in his turn:
“It is I,” said he, “who ought to thank my friends here, my excellent friends,” and he glanced at Mme. Rosémilly, “who have given me such a touching evidence of their affection. But it is not by words that I can prove my gratitude. I will prove it tomorrow, every hour of my life, always, for our friendship is not one of those which fade away.”
His mother, deeply moved, murmured: “Well said, my boy.”
But Beausire cried out:
“Come, Mme. Rosémilly, speak on behalf of the fair sex.”
She raised her glass, and in a pretty voice, slightly touched with sadness, she said: “I will pledge you to the memory of Monsieur Maréchal.”
There was a few moments’ lull, a pause for decent meditation, as after prayer. Beausire, who always had a flow of compliment, remarked:
“Only a woman ever thinks of these refinements.” Then turning to father Roland: “And who was this Maréchal, after all? You must have been very intimate with him.”
The old man, emotional with drink, began to whimper, and in a broken voice he said:
“Like a brother, you know. Such a friend as one does not make twice — we were always together — he dined with us every evening — and would treat us to the play — I need say no more — no more — no more. A true friend — a real true friend — wasn’t he, Louise?”
His wife merely answered: “Yes; he was a faithful friend.”
Pierre looked at his father and then at his mother, then, as the subject changed, he drank some more wine. He scarcely remembered the remainder of the evening. They had coffee, then liqueurs, and they laughed and joked a great deal. At about midnight he went to bed, his mind confused and his head heavy; and he slept like a brute till nine next morning.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:11