I try to
convince myself that Joseph is a " pearl. ' ' I say to myself over and over again that my imagina- tion takes mad flights, obedient to the influence of the romantic perversity that is in me. But all in vain; the impression remains, in spite of myself, never leaves me for a moment, and is assuming the tormenting and grimacing form of a fixed idea. And I have an irresistible desire to ask Joseph:
' ' Say, Joseph, was it you -who outraged the little Claire in the woods? Was it you, old pig? "
The crime was committed on a Saturday. I remember that Joseph, at about that date, went to the forest of Raillon to get some heath mould. He was absent all day, and did not return to the Priory with his load till late in the evening. Of that I am sure. And â€” an extraordinary coincidence^! remember certain restless movements, certain troubled looks, that he had that evening, when he came back. I took no notice of them then. "Why should I have done so? But to-day these facial details come back to me forcibly. But was it on the Saturday of the crime that Joseph went to the forest of Raillon? I seek in vain to fix the date of his absence. And then, had he really the restless movements, the accusing looks, that I attribute to him, and which denounce him to me ? Is it not I who am bent upon suggesting to myself the unusual strangeness of those movements and those looks? Am I not determined, without reason and against