It took them a good quarter of an hour to say good-bye. Emma would weep. It was her dearest wish never to leave him. Something stronger than herself led her relentlessly to seek his presence.
One day, when she had made such an unheralded appearance in his room, he welcomed her with an air of frowning discontent.
'What is the matter?' she asked. 'Are you ill!?--Tell me, what is troubling you?'
Finally, taking a serious tone, he told her that her visits were becoming reckless, and that she was compromising herself.
LITTLE by little she began to catch the infection of his nervousness. The first onset of love had gone to her head like wine. So largely did it bulk in her field of vision, that she could see nothing else. But now, she could no longer live without it and began to be obsessed with fears lest something of it be lost, or its smooth course disturbed. On her way home from these visits she glanced anxiously about her, scanning each figure that crossed her path, each cottage window which might hide prying eyes. Her ear grew quick to catch the sound of steps, of voices and of plough-teams at work in the fields. Now and then she came to a standstill, pale of face, and trembling like the poplar leaves above her head.
One morning, as she was thus returning, she suddenly thought that she saw the long barrel of a gun pointed directly at her. It was sticking out at an angle from behind a small cask half buried in the grass at the edge of a ditch. She was almost ready to faint with terror, but continued to move forward, and a man emerged from the cask like a jack-in-the-box. He was wearing gaiters reaching to his knees, and a cap was pulled well down over his eyes. His teeth were chattering and his nose was red. It was Captain Binet on the look out for wild duck.
'You ought to have called out before you got so near!' he exclaimed. 'You must always give warning of your approach when you see a gun!'
In these words did the collector of taxes seek to disguise the fright he had had, for a prefectoral decree had forbidden the shooting of duck except from boats. Consequently, Monsieur Binet, in spite of