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- The Money Master, Volume 2. - 15/15 -


her eyes his own eyes dropped. "No, not yet!" he exclaimed. "It's been a day--heaven and hell, what a day it's been! He had me like that!" He opened and shut his hand with fierce, spasmodic strength. "And he let me go--oh, let me go like a fox out of a trap! I've had enough for one day --blood of St. Peter, enough, enough!"

The flame of desire in her eyes suddenly turned to fury. "It is farewell, then, that you wish," she said hoarsely. "It is no more and farewell then? You said it to him"--she pointed to the other room--"you said it to Jean Jacques, and you say it to me--to me that's given you all I have. Ah, what a beast you are, George Masson!"

"No, Carmen, you have not given me all. If you had, there would be no farewell. I would stand by you to the end of life, if I had taken all." He lied, but that does not matter here.

"All--all!" she cried. "What is all? Is it but the one thing that the world says must part husband and wife? Caramba! Is that all? I have given everything--I have had your arms around me--"

"Yes, the Clerk of the Court saw that," he interrupted. "He saw from the hill behind the Manor on Tuesday last."

There was a tap at the door of the other room; it slowly opened, and the figure of the Clerk appeared. "Two minutes--just two minutes more, old trump!" said the master-carpenter, stretching out a hand. "One minute will be enough," said Carmen, who was suffering the greatest humiliation which can come to a woman.

The Clerk looked at them both, and he was content. He saw that one minute would certainly be enough. "Very well, monsieur and madame," he said, and closed the door again.

Carmen turned fiercely on the man. "M. Fille saw, did he, from Mont Violet? Well, when I came here I did not care who saw. I only thought of you--that you wanted me, and that I wanted you. What the world thought was nothing, if you were as when we parted last night. . . . I could not face Jean Jacques' forgiveness. To stay there, feeling that I must be always grateful, that I must be humble, that I must pretend, that I must kiss Jean Jacques, and lie in his arms, and go to mass and to confession, and--"

"There is the child, there is Zoe--"

"Oh, it is you that preaches now--you that tempted me, that said I was wasted at the Manor; that the parish did not understand me; that Jean Jacques did not know a jewel of price when he saw it--little did you think of Zoe then!"

He made a protesting gesture. "Maybe so, Carmen, but I think now before it is too late."

"The child loves her father as she never loved me," she declared. "She is twelve years old. She will soon be old enough to keep house for him, and then to marry--ah, before there is time to think she will marry!"

"It would be better then for you to wait till she marries before-- before--"

"Before I go away with you!" She gave a shrill, agonized laugh. "So that is the end of it all! What did you think of my child when you forced your way into my life, when you made me think of you--ah, quel bete--what a coward and beast you are!"

"No, I am not all coward, though I may be a beast," he answered. "I didn't think of your child when I began to talk to you as I did. I was out for all I could get. I was the hunter. And you were the finest woman that I'd ever met and talked with; you--"

"Oh, stop lying!" she cried with a face suddenly grown white and cold.

"It isn't lying. You're the sort of woman to drive men mad. I went mad, and I didn't think of your child. But this morning in the flume I saved my life by thinking of her, and I saved your life, too, maybe, by thinking of her; and I owe her something. I'm going to try to pay back by letting her keep her mother. I never felt towards a woman as I've felt towards you; and that's why I want to make things not so bad for you as they might be."

In her bitter eagerness she took a step nearer to him. "As things might be, if you were the man you were yesterday, willing to throw up everything for me?"

"Like that--if you put it so," he answered.

She walked slowly up to him, looking as though she would plunge a knife into his heart. "I wish Jean Jacques had opened the gates," she said. "It would have saved the hangman trouble."

Then suddenly, and with a cry, she raised her hand and struck him full in the face with her fist. At that instant came a tap at the door of the other room, and the Clerk of the Court appeared. He saw the blow, and drew back with an exclamation.

Carmen turned to him. "Farewell has been said, M'sieu' Fille," she remarked in a voice sombre with rage and despair, and she went to the door leading to the street.

Masson had winced at the blow, but he remained silent. He knew not what to say or do.

M. Fille hastily followed Carmen to the door. "You are going home, dear madame? Permit me to accompany you," he said gently. "I have to do business with Jean Jacques."

A hand upon his chest, she pushed him back. "Where I go I'm going alone," she said. Opening the door she went out, but turning back again she gave George Masson a look that he never forgot. Then the door closed.

"Grace of God, she is not going home!" brokenly murmured the Clerk of the Court.

With a groan the master-carpenter started forward towards the door, but M. Fille stepped between, laid a hand on his arm, and stopped him.

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Confidence in a weak world gets unearned profit often Enjoy his own generosity Had the slight flavour of the superior and the paternal He had only made of his wife an incident in his life He was in fact not a philosopher, but a sentimentalist He was not always sorry when his teasing hurt Lacks a balance-wheel. He has brains, but not enough Man who tells the story in a new way, that is genius Missed being a genius by an inch Not content to do even the smallest thing ill You went north towards heaven and south towards hell

*END THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS*Ver.02/11/02*END*


The Money Master, Volume 2. - 15/15

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