trollable weeping as I fain would have prevented. I did my rough best at comfort, but had to let her sorrow run its course.
"Oh, Monsieur, think of it! I must go back to that dreadful wine shop, to the gaming tables; must continue to draw men there to be despoiled of their money, perhaps of their lives; must laugh and be gay, though my heart break at its own debasement. There have been many, ah, so many, I have lured to that place; and it came so near to costing you your life—you who were so kind to Florine."
She had sunk to the floor, and catching my hand poured out all the bitterness of her heart.
"Yet, Monsieur, what can Florine do? There is no way for a weak woman to do anything in this wretched Paris. If I do not bring players to the house my aunt beats me. See," she drew up her sleeve, and exposed the welts of cruel cuts across the bare white flesh. "She denies me food in my garret. So I must work, be merry and work—and weep all the day for the misery of the nights." My heart went out to the girl with all sympathy, but, every whit as helpless as she, I only wondered what could be done.
"Monsieur, it was not of my choosing, believe me, believe me, it really was not. My father thought his sister so well off in this fine Paris, when she offered to bring me up as her own child, and sent us presents, he made me come with her. We were so poor, so cruelly poor. My mother could not come for me, and now how can I go back? I dare not let her know how I am