The assembled domestics relate a heap of things; they remember that the little Claire was always in the woods. In the spring she gathered there jon- quils and lilies of the valley and anemones, of which she made pretty bouquets for the ladies of the town; she also went there to look for morels, which she sold on Sunday at the market. In sum- mer there were mushrooms of all sorts, and other flowers. But at this time of year why did she go to the woods, where there was nothing left to pick?
One says, discreetly:
' ' Why had the father shown no anxiety regard- ing the child's disappearance? Perhaps he did it himself?"
To which another no less discreetly replies:
"But, if he had wanted to do it himself, he had no need to take his daughter to the woods ; come now."
Mile. Rose intervenes:
" It all looks very suspicious to me."
With knowing airs, the airs of one who is in pos- session of terrible secrets, she goes on in a lower voice, a voice of dangerous confidence :
"Oh! I know nothing about it; I make no asser- tions. But" . . .
And she leaves our curiosity hanging on this "but."
"What then? what then? " they cry from all sides, with outstretched necks and open mouths.