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VII

October 6.

Decidedly, autumn is here. Frosts which were not expected so soon have browned the last flowers of the garden. The dahlias, the poor dahlias, witnesses of Monsieur's amorous timidity, are dried up; dried up also are the big sunflowers that mounted guard at the kitchen-door. There is nothing left in the devastated flower-beds,—nothing but a few sorry-looking geraniums here and there, and five or six clusters of asters, whose blue flowers—the dull blue of rottenness—are bending toward the ground in anticipation of death. The garden-plots of Captain Mauger, whom I saw just now over the hedge, present a scene of veritable disaster, and everything is of the color of tobacco.

The trees, through the fields, are beginning to turn yellow and to lose their foliage, and the sky is funereal. For four days we have been living in a thick fog, a brown fog that smelt of soot and that did not dissipate even in the afternoon. Now it is raining, an icy, beating rain, which a fierce wind, blowing in squalls from the northwest, occasionally intensifies.

Ah! I am not comfortably situated here. In my room it is bitter cold. The wind blows into it,