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Does he, then, accept this separation? Does he want it? Has he, then, lost his confidence in me, the love that he had for me? Or does he simply fear my imprudence, my eternal questions?

Trembling a little, I ask him:

"Will it cause you no pain, Joseph, if we do not see each other again?"

Without halting in his walk, without even glancing at me out of the corner of his eye, in the manner so characteristic of him, he says:

"Of course. But what can you expect? One cannot oblige people to do what they refuse to do. A thing either pleases, or it does not please."

"What have I refused to do, Joseph?"

"And besides, you are always full of bad ideas about me," he continues, without answering my question.

"Why do you say that?"

"Because" . . .

"No, no, Joseph; you no longer love me; you have something else in mind now. I have refused nothing; I have reflected, that is all. It is natural enough, isn't it? One does not make a life-contract without reflection. My hesitation, on the contrary, ought to make you think well of me. It proves that I am not light-headed, — that I am a serious woman."

"You are a good woman, Célestine, an orderly woman."