envelopes, that he was filled with admiration of her amorous cunning.
'Everything is really all right, isn't it?' she said as she kissed him for the last time.
'Of course it is!'--But why, he wondered, as he took his lonely way back through the streets, was she so anxious to get that power of attorney?
LÉON began very soon to assume an air of superiority in the presence of his companions. He saw less of them than he had done, and was neglecting his work.
He waited for her letters and read them over and over again. He wrote to her. He conjured up her image with the full force of his desires and memories. His longing to see her again, instead of diminishing with absence, increased to such an extent that one Saturday morning he played truant from his office.
When, from the top of the hill, he saw the church-tower below him in the valley, with its tin weather-vane turning in the breeze, he felt the same sort of pleasure compounded of triumphant vanity and egotistical sentiment as must come over a millionaire returning to his native village.
He prowled round her house. A light was shining in the kitchen. He watched her shadow on the blind. No one appeared.
When old Madame Lefrançois saw him, she became very talkative. He was 'taller and thinner' than he used to be, she said. Artémise, on the other hand, thought him 'stockier and more tanned'.
He dined, as of old, in the small parlour, but without a companion, for Binet, sick of waiting for the Swallow, had now advanced the time of his meal by an hour, and sat down at five o'clock punctually, though he still quite often asserted that the old ticker was slow.
Plucking up courage, Léon went across and knocked at the doctor's door. Madame was in her room, and it was a quarter of an hour before she came down. Monsieur seemed to be delighted to see him again, but did not stir from the house all that evening or the next day.
Léon saw her alone late that evening, behind the garden, in the lane--that same lane where she had been wont to meet another! The