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Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/164

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treated. It would break her heart, and she is so old and tottering. If I seek other employment no one will take me, no one would give me a character for service. All the world is open to you. You go where you please, do what pleases you. All the world is shut to Florine. And you, Monsieur, my only friend, I hoped when you were well again, such a rich gentleman could find me a place among his friends; find me some quiet place where I might live and be of use, not bringing evil to all I touch. What an evil life, what a wicked life I lead. Oh, Monsieur, save me from it; save me! The horrible man you defended me from that night pursues me everywhere; my aunt is jealous because of him. She hates me now and would like to drive me out upon the streets—ugh! the terror of it. But her husband won't let her; he is kinder than she. See, I am pretty, I bring custom. She can not tell her husband why she hates me. No, no. Bertrand would kill her. And I dare not tell him. They would kill me—"

Her speech rambled on now, disconnected and incoherent. Still by catching sentences here and there the whole pitiful story was clear to me. My eyes would always overflow at sight of woman's suffering, my throat choked up; I could speak no word to her. Of a truth what a horrible life it must be; what iron webs do sin and circumstance weave round their victim. The cowering girl sobbed convulsively on the floor at my feet. I laid my hand tenderly upon her head.

"Florine, I have but two friends myself in all this land of France. You have served one of these faith-