He shall go through my hands."
Then he began to reflect, and went on,
"We ought, though, to profit by all this."
"You can still buy some of the loan," said she; "it is only at seventy-two francs."
He said, "Yes, but I have no money under my hand."
She raised her eyes towards him, eyes full of entreaty, saying,
"I have thought of that, darling, and if you were very nice, very nice, if you loved me a little, you would let me lend you some."
He answered, abruptly and almost harshly, "As to that, no, indeed."
She murmured, in an imploring voice: "Listen, there is something that you can do without borrowing money.
I wanted to buy ten thousand francs' worth of the loan to make a little nest-egg.
Well, I will take twenty thousand, and you shall stand in for half.
You understand that I am not going to hand the money over to Walter.
So there is nothing to pay for the present.
If it all succeeds, you gain seventy thousand francs.
If not, you will owe me ten thousand, which you can pay when you please."
He remarked, "No, I do not like such pains."
Then she argued, in order to get him to make up his mind. She proved to him that he was really pledging his word for ten thousand francs, that he was running risks, and that she was not advancing him anything, since the actual outlay was made by Walter's bank.
She pointed out to him, besides, that it was he who had carried on in the _Vie Francaise_ the whole of the political campaign that had rendered the scheme possible. He would be very foolish not to profit by it.
He still hesitated, and she added,
"But just reflect that in reality it is Walter who is advancing you these ten thousand Francs, and that you have rendered him services worth a great deal more than that."
"Very well, then," said he,
"I will go halves with you.
If we lose, I will repay you the ten thousand francs."
She was so pleased that she rose, took his head in both her hands, and began to kiss him eagerly.
He did not resist at first, but as she grew bolder, clasping him to her and devouring him with caresses, he reflected that the other would be there shortly, and that if he yielded he would lose time and exhaust in the arms of the old woman an ardor that he had better reserve for the young one.
So he repulsed her gently, saying,
"Come, be good now."
She looked at him disconsolately, saying,
"Oh, George, can't I even kiss you?"
He replied, "No, not to-day.
I have a headache, and it upsets me."
She sat down again docilely between his knees, and asked,
"Will you come and dine with us to-morrow?
You would give me much pleasure."
He hesitated, but dared not refuse, so said,
She rubbed her cheek slowly against his breast with a regular and coaxing movement, and one of her long black hairs caught in his waistcoat.
She noticed it, and a wild idea crossed her mind, one of those superstitious notions which are often the whole of a woman's reason.
She began to twist this hair gently round a button.
Then she fastened another hair to the next button, and a third to the next.
One to every button.
He would tear them out of her head presently when he rose, and hurt her. What happiness!
And he would carry away something of her without knowing it; he would carry away a tiny lock of her hair which he had never yet asked for.
It was a tie by which she attached him to her, a secret, invisible bond, a talisman she left with him.
Without willing it he would think of her, dream of her, and perhaps love her a little more the next day.
He said, all at once, "I must leave you, because I am expected at the Chamber at the close of the sitting.
I cannot miss attending to-day."
She sighed, "Already!" and then added, resignedly, "Go, dear, but you will come to dinner to-morrow." And suddenly she drew aside.
There was a short and sharp pain in her head, as though needles had been stuck into the skin.