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Camille ALEXANDRE DUMAS FILS CHAPTER 22 It seemed to me as if the train did not move. I reached Bougival at eleven. Not a window in the house was lighted up, and when I rang no one answered the bell. It was the first time that such a thing had occurred to me. At last the gardener came. I entered. Nanine met me with a light. I went to Marguerite`s room. "Where is madame?" "Gone to Paris," replied Nanine. "To Paris!" "Yes, sir." "When?" "An hour after you." "She left no word for me?" "Nothing." Nanine left me. Perhaps she had some suspicion or other, I thought, and went to Paris to make sure that my visit to my father was not an excuse for a day off. Perhaps Prudence wrote to her about something important. I said to myself when I was alone; but I saw Prudence; she said nothing to make me suppose that she had written to Marguerite. All at once I remembered Mme. Duvernoy`s question, "Isn`t she coming to- day?" when I had said that Marguerite was ill. I remembered at the same time how embarrassed Prudence had appeared when I looked at her after this remark, which seemed to indicate an appointment. I remembered, too, Marguerite`s tears all day long, which my father`s kind reception had rather put out of my mind. From this moment all the incidents grouped themselves about my first suspicion, and fixed it so firmly in my mind that everything served to confirm it, even my father`s kindness. Marguerite had almost insisted on my going to Paris; she had pretended to be calmer when I had proposed staying with her. Had I fallen into some trap? Was Marguerite deceiving me? Had she counted on being back in time for me not to perceive her absence, and had she been detained by chance? Why had she said nothing to Nanine, or why had she not written? What was the meaning of those tears, this absence, this mystery? That is what I asked myself in affright, as I stood in the vacant room, gazing at the clock, which pointed to midnight, and seemed to say to me that it was too late to hope for my mistress`s return. Yet, after all the arrangements we had just made, after the sacrifices that had been offered and accepted, was it likely that she was deceiving me? No. I tried to get rid of my first supposition. Probably she had found a purchaser for her furniture, and she had gone to Paris to conclude the bargain. She did not wish to tell me beforehand, for she knew that, though I had consented to it, the sale, so necessary to our future happiness, was painful to me, and she feared to wound my self-respect in speaking to me about it. She would rather not see me till the whole thing was done, and that was evidently why Prudence was expecting her when she let out the secret. Marguerite could not finish the whole business to-day, and was staying the night with Prudence, or perhaps she would come even now, for she must know bow anxious I should be, and would not wish to leave me in that condition. But, if so, why those tears? No doubt, despite her love for me, the poor girl could not make up her mind to give up all the luxury in which she had lived until now, and for which she had been so envied, without crying over it. I was quite ready to forgive her for such regrets. I waited for her impatiently, that I might say to her, as I covered her with kisses, that I had guessed the reason of her mysterious absence. Nevertheless, the night went on, and Marguerite did not return. My anxiety tightened its circle little by little, and began to oppress my head and heart. Perhaps something had happened to her. Perhaps she was injured, ill, dead. Perhaps a messenger would arrive with the news of some dreadful accident. Perhaps the daylight would find me with the same uncertainty and with the same fears. The idea that Marguerite was perhaps unfaithful to me at the very moment when I waited for her in terror at her absence did not return to my mind. There must be some cause, independent of her will, to keep her away from me, and the more I thought, the more convinced I was that this cause could only be some mishap or other. O vanity of man, coming back to us in every form! One o`clock struck. I said to myself that I would wait another hour, but that at two o`clock, if Marguerite had not returned, I would set out for Paris. Meanwhile I looked about for a book, for I dared not think. Manon Lescaut was open on the table. It seemed to me that here and there the pages were wet as if with tears. I turned the leaves over and then closed the book, for the letters seemed to me void of meaning through the veil of my doubts. Time went slowly. The sky was covered with clouds. An autumn rain lashed the windows. The empty bed seemed at moments to assume the aspect of a tomb. I was afraid. I opened the door. I listened, and heard nothing but the voice of the wind in the trees. Not a vehicle was to be seen on the road. The half hour sounded sadly from the church tower. I began to fear lest some one should enter. It seemed to me that only a disaster could come at that hour and under that sombre sky. Two o`clock struck. I still waited a little. Only the sound of the bell troubled the silence with its monotonous and rhythmical stroke. At last I left the room, where every object had assumed that melancholy aspect which the restless solitude of the heart gives to all its surroundings. In the next room I found Nanine sleeping over her work. At the sound of the door, she awoke and asked if her mistress had come in. "No; but if she comes in, tell her that I was so anxious that I had to go to Paris." "At this hour?" "Yes. "But how? You won`t find a carriage." ... - tailieumienphi.vn
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