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I could not listen further. Was it pity? Was it the bleeding reproach and bitter challenge that these atrocious and sacrilegious words conveyed? Was it simply the impulsive and savage love that suddenly took possession of me? I do not know. Perhaps it was all of these together. What I know is that I allowed myself to fall, like a mass, on the long chair, and that, lifting in my hands the child's adorable head, I wildly cried:

"There, naughty boy, see how afraid I am of you! See, then, how afraid I am of you!"

I glued my lips to his lips, I pressed my teeth against his, with such quivering fury that my tongue seemed to penetrate the deepest sores of his chest, to lick them, to drink from them, to draw out of them all the poisoned blood and all the mortal pus. His arms opened, and closed again about me, in an embrace.

And what was to happen happened.

Well, no. The more I think about it, the surer I am that what threw me into Georges's arms, what fastened my lips to his, was, first and only, an imperative, spontaneous movement of protest against the base sentiments that Georges—through strategy, perhaps—attributed to my refusal. It was, above all, an act of fervent, disinterested, and very pure piety, which meant to say:

"No, I do not think that you are sick; no, you are not sick. And the proof is that I do not hesitate to mingle my breath with yours, to breathe it,