Camille ALEXANDRE DUMAS FILS
"At last you have come," she said, throwing her arms round my neck. "But how
pale you are!"
I told her of the scene with my father.
"My God! I was afraid of it," she said. "When Joseph came to tell you of your
father`s arrival I trembled as if he had brought news of some misfortune. My
poor friend, I am the cause of all your distress. You will be better off, perhaps,
if you leave me and do not quarrel with your father on my account. He knows
that you are sure to have a mistress, and he ought to be thankful that it is I, since
I love you and do not want more of you than your position allows. Did you tell
him how we had arranged our future?"
"Yes; that is what annoyed him the most, for he saw how much we really love
"What are we to do, then?"
"Hold together, my good Marguerite, and let the storm pass over."
"Will it pass?"
"It will have to."
"But your father will not stop there."
"What do you suppose he can do?"
"How do I know? Everything that a father can do to make his son obey him. He
will remind you of my past life, and will perhaps do me the honour of inventing
some new story, so that you may give me up."
"You know that I love you."
"Yes, but what I know, too, is that, sooner or later, you will have to obey your
father, and perhaps you will end by believing him."
"No, Marguerite. It is I who will make him believe me. Some of his friends have
been telling him tales which have made him angry; but he is good and just, he
will change his first impression; and then, after all, what does it matter to me?"
"Do not say that, Armand. I would rather anything should happen than that you
should quarrel with your family; wait till after to-day, and to-morrow go back to
Paris. Your father, too, will have thought it over on his side, and perhaps you
will both come to a better understanding. Do not go against his principles,
pretend to make some concessions to what he wants; seem not to care so very
much about me, and he will let things remain as they are. Hope, my friend, and
be sure of one thing, that whatever happens, Marguerite will always be yours."
"You swear it?"
"Do I need to swear it?"
How sweet it is to let oneself be persuaded by the voice that one loves!
Marguerite and I spent the whole day in talking over our projects for the future,
as if we felt the need of realizing them as quickly as possible. At every moment
we awaited some event, but the day passed without bringing us any new tidings.
Next day I left at ten o`clock, and reached the hotel about twelve. My father had
I went to my own rooms, hoping that he had perhaps gone there. No one had
called. I went to the solicitor`s. No one was there. I went back to the hotel, and
waited till six. M. Duval did not return, and I went back to Bougival.
I found Marguerite not waiting for me, as she had been the day before, but
sitting by the fire, which the weather still made necessary. She was so absorbed
in her thoughts that I came close to her chair without her hearing me. When I
put my lips to her forehead she started as if the kiss had suddenly awakened her.
"You frightened me," she said. "And your father?"
"I have not seen him. I do not know what it means. He was not at his hotel, nor
anywhere where there was a chance of my finding him."
"Well, you must try again to-morrow."
"I am very much inclined to wait till he sends for me. I think I have done all that
can be expected of me."
"No, my friend, it is not enough; you must call on your father again, and you
must call to-morrow."
"Why to-morrow rather than any other day?"
"Because," said Marguerite, and it seemed to me that she blushed slightly at this
question, "because it will show that you are the more keen about it, and he will
forgive us the sooner."
For the remainder of the day Marguerite was sad and preoccupied. I had to
repeat twice over everything I said to her to obtain an answer. She ascribed this
preoccupation to her anxiety in regard to the events which had happened during
the last two days. I spent the night in reassuring her, and she sent me away in
the morning with an insistent disquietude that I could not explain to myself.
Again my father was absent, but he had left this letter for me:
"If you call again to-day, wait for me till four. If I am not in by four, come and
dine with me to-morrow. I must see you."
I waited till the hour he had named, but he did not appear. I returned to
The night before I had found Marguerite sad; that night I found her feverish and
agitated. On seeing me, she flung her arms around my neck, but she cried for a
long time in my arms. I questioned her as to this sudden distress, which alarmed
me by its violence. She gave me no positive reason, but put me off with those
evasions which a woman resorts to when she will not tell the truth.
When she was a little calmed down, I told her the result of my visit, and I
showed her my father`s letter, from which, I said, we might augur well. At the
sight of the letter and on hearing my comment, her tears began to flow so
copiously that I feared an attack of nerves, and, calling Nanine, I put her to bed,
where she wept without a word, but held my hands and kissed them every
I asked Nanine if, during my absence, her mistress had received any letter or
visit which could account for the state in which I found her, but Nanine replied
that no one had called and nothing had been sent.