When he saw midnight approaching, his impatience became feverish.
Every moment he thrust his head out of the window to look.
A distant clock struck twelve, then another nearer, then two together, then a last one, very far away.
When the latter had ceased to sound, he thought:
"It is all over.
It is a failure.
She won't come."
He had made up his mind, however, to wait till daylight.
In these matters one must be patient.
He heard the quarter strike, then the half-hour, then the quarter to, and all the clocks repeated "one," as they had announced midnight.
He no longer expected her; he was merely remaining, racking his brain to divine what could have happened.
All at once a woman's head was passed through the window, and asked:
"Are you there, Pretty-boy?"
He started, almost choked with emotion,
"Is that you, Susan?"
"Yes, it is I."
He could not manage to turn the handle quickly enough, and repeated:
"Ah! it is you, it is you; come inside."
She came in and fell against him.
He said, "Go on," to the driver, and the cab started.
She gasped, without saying a word.
He asked: "Well, how did it go off?"
She murmured, almost fainting: "Oh! it was terrible, above all with mamma."
He was uneasy and quivering.
What did she say?
"Oh! it was awful.
I went into her room and told her my little story that I had carefully prepared.
She grew pale, and then she cried:
I cried, I grew angry. I vowed I would marry no one but you.
I thought that she was going to strike me.
She went on just as if she were mad; she declared that I should be sent back to the convent the next day.
I had never seen her like that--never.
Then papa came in, hearing her shouting all her nonsense.
He was not so angry as she was, but he declared that you were not a good enough match.
As they had put me in a rage, too, I shouted louder than they did.
And papa told me to leave the room, with a melodramatic air that did not suit him at all.
This is what decided me to run off with you.
Here I am.
Where are we going to?"
He had passed his arm gently round her and was listening with all his ears, his heart throbbing, and a ravenous hatred awakening within him against these people.
But he had got their daughter.
They should just see.
He answered: "It is too late to catch a train, so this cab will take us to Sevres, where we shall pass the night.
To-morrow we shall start for La Roche-Guyon.
It is a pretty village on the banks of the Seine, between Nantes and Bonnieres."
She murmured: "But I have no clothes. I have nothing."
He smiled carelessly: