APPLE-BLOSSOMS AND WHITE MUSLIN
and I would talk to her by the hour—she and I alone, the fire lighting up the dark. And so it was when she grew up. It is only of late that she has shut herself away from me. I deserve it maybe—she must marry somebody, and I would not have it otherwise—but why must it be now? I do not blame madame la marquise. She is an enthusiastic woman whose heart often runs away with her head; but she is honest and sincere. She had only the child’s happiness in view, and she will be a mother to them both as long as she lives, as she is to many others I know.”
He had paused for a moment, I standing still beside him, and had then gone on, the words coming slowly, like the dropping of water:
“You remember Monsieur Herbert’s story, do you not, of the old mould-maker who lost his daughter, and who died in his chair, his clay masks grinning down at him from the skylight above? Well, I am he. Just as they grinned at the old mould-maker, his daughter gone, so in my loneliness will my figures grin at me.”
This had been in late October.
What the dull winter had been to him I never knew, but he had not gone back on his