"Bah! we will arrange all that there."
The cab rolled along the street.
George took one of the young girl's hands and began to kiss it slowly and with respect.
He scarcely knew what to say to her, being scarcely accustomed to platonic love-making.
But all at once he thought he noted that she was crying.
He inquired, with alarm: "What is the matter with you, darling?"
She replied in tearful tones: "Poor mamma, she will not be able to sleep if she has found out my departure."
Her mother, indeed, was not asleep.
As soon as Susan had left the room, Madame Walter remained face to face with her husband.
She asked, bewildered and cast down:
What is the meaning of this?"
Walter exclaimed furiously: "It means that that schemer has bewitched her.
It is he who made her refuse Cazolles.
He thinks her dowry worth trying for."
He began to walk angrily up and down the room, and went on:
"You were always luring him here, too, yourself; you flattered him, you cajoled him, you could not cosset him enough.
It was Pretty-boy here, Pretty-boy there, from morning till night, and this is the return for it."
She murmured, livid:
"I--I lured him?"
He shouted in her face: "Yes, you.
You were all mad over him--Madame de Marelle, Susan, and the rest.
Do you think I did not see that you could not pass a couple of days without having him here?"
She drew herself up tragically: "I will not allow you to speak to me like that.
You forget that I was not brought up like you, behind a counter."
He stood for a moment stupefied, and then uttered a furious
"Damn it all!" and rushed out, slamming the door after him.
As soon as she was alone she went instinctively to the glass to see if anything was changed in her, so impossible and monstrous did what had happened appear.
Susan in love with Pretty-boy, and Pretty-boy wanting to marry Susan!
No, she was mistaken; it was not true.
The girl had had a very natural fancy for this good-looking fellow; she had hoped that they would give him her for a husband, and had made her little scene because she wanted to have her own way.
But he--he could not be an accomplice in that.
She reflected, disturbed, as one in presence of great catastrophes.
No, Pretty-boy could know nothing of Susan's prank.
She thought for a long time over the possible innocence or perfidy of this man.
What a scoundrel, if he had prepared the blow!
And what would happen!
What dangers and tortures she foresaw.
If he knew nothing, all could yet be arranged.
They would travel about with Susan for six months, and it would be all over.
But how could she meet him herself afterwards?
For she still loved him.
This passion had entered into her being like those arrowheads that cannot be withdrawn.
To live without him was impossible.
She might as well die.
Her thoughts wandered amidst these agonies and uncertainties.
A pain began in her head; her ideas became painful and disturbed.
She worried herself by trying to work things out; grew mad at not knowing.
She looked at the clock; it was past one.
She said to herself: "I cannot remain like this, I shall go mad.