have added a more bitter affliction to her other afflictions, and the horrible thought and the inexpiable remorse that, but for me, her dear child perhaps would not be dead. And then, I must confess that I had not the courage. I left her house with my secret, worshipped by her as if I were a saint, overwhelmed with rich presents and with love.
Now, on the very day of my departure, as I was coming back from Mme. Paulhat-Durand's employment-bureau, I met in the Champs-Elysees a former comrade, a valet, with whom I had served for six months in the same house. It was fully two years since I had seen him. After our first greetings, I learned that he, as well as I, was looking for a place. Only, having for the moment some nickel- plated extra jobs, he was in no hurry to find one.
"This jolly Célestine!" he exclaimed, happy at seeing me again; "as astonishing as ever!"
He was a good fellow, gay, full of fun, and fond of a good time. He proposed:
"Suppose we dine together, eh?"
I needed to divert myself, to drive far away from me a multitude of sad images, a multitude of obsessing thoughts. I accepted.
"Good!" he exclaimed.
He took my arm, and led me to a wine-shop in the Rue Cambon. His heavy gaiety, his coarse jokes, his vulgar obscenity, I keenly appreciated.