When Frank Shabata came in from work at
five o'clock that evening, old Moses Marcel,
Raoul's father, telephoned him that Amedee
had had a seizure in the wheatfield, and that
Doctor Paradis was going to operate on him as
soon as the Hanover doctor got there to help.
Frank dropped a word of this at the table,
bolted his supper, and rode off to Sainte-
Agnes, where there would be sympathetic dis-
cussion of Amedee's case at Marcel's saloon.
As soon as Frank was gone, Marie telephoned
Alexandra. It was a comfort to hear her friend's
voice. Yes, Alexandra knew what there was to
be known about Amedee. Emil had been there
when they carried him out of the field, and had
stayed with him until the doctors operated for
appendicitis at five o'clock. They were afraid
it was too late to do much good; it should
have been done three days ago. Amedee was in
a very bad way. Emil had just come home,
worn out and sick himself. She had given him
some brandy and put him to bed.
Marie hung up the receiver. Poor Amedee's
illness had taken on a new meaning to her, now
that she knew Emil had been with him. And it
might so easily have been the other way--
Emil who was ill and Amedee who was sad!
Marie looked about the dusky sitting-room.
She had seldom felt so utterly lonely. If Emil
was asleep, there was not even a chance of his
coming; and she could not go to Alexandra for
sympathy. She meant to tell Alexandra every-
thing, as soon as Emil went away. Then what-
ever was left between them would be honest.
But she could not stay in the house this
evening. Where should she go? She walked
slowly down through the orchard, where the
evening air was heavy with the smell of wild
cotton. The fresh, salty scent of the wild roses
had given way before this more powerful per-
fume of midsummer. Wherever those ashes-of-
rose balls hung on their milky stalks, the air
about them was saturated with their breath.
The sky was still red in the west and the even-
ing star hung directly over the Bergsons' wind-
mill. Marie crossed the fence at the wheatfield
corner, and walked slowly along the path that
led to Alexandra's. She could not help feeling
hurt that Emil had not come to tell her about
Amedee. It seemed to her most unnatural that
he should not have come. If she were in trou-
ble, certainly he was the one person in the world
she would want to see. Perhaps he wished her
to understand that for her he was as good as
Marie stole slowly, flutteringly, along the
path, like a white night-moth out of the fields.
The years seemed to stretch before her like the
land; spring, summer, autumn, winter, spring;
always the same patient fields, the patient little
trees, the patient lives; always the same yearn-
ing, the same pulling at the chain--until the
instinct to live had torn itself and bled and
weakened for the last time, until the chain
secured a dead woman, who might cautiously
be released. Marie walked on, her face lifted
toward the remote, inaccessible evening star.
When she reached the stile she sat down and
waited. How terrible it was to love people when
you could not really share their lives!
Yes, in so far as she was concerned, Emil was
already gone. They couldn't meet any more.
There was nothing for them to say. They had
spent the last penny of their small change;
there was nothing left but gold. The day of
love-tokens was past. They had now only their
hearts to give each other. And Emil being
gone, what was her life to be like? In some
ways, it would be easier. She would not, at
least, live in perpetual fear. If Emil were once
away and settled at work, she would not have
the feeling that she was spoiling his life. With
the memory he left her, she could be as rash as
she chose. Nobody could be the worse for it
but herself; and that, surely, did not matter.
Her own case was clear. When a girl had loved
one man, and then loved another while that man
was still alive, everybody knew what to think of
her. What happened to her was of little con-
sequence, so long as she did not drag other
people down with her. Emil once away, she
could let everything else go and live a new life
of perfect love.
Marie left the stile reluctantly. She had,
after all, thought he might come. And how
glad she ought to be, she told herself, that he
was asleep. She left the path and went across
the pasture. The moon was almost full. An
owl was hooting somewhere in the fields. She
had scarcely thought about where she was
going when the pond glittered before her,
where Emil had shot the ducks. She stopped
and looked at it. Yes, there would be a dirty
way out of life, if one chose to take it. But she
did not want to die. She wanted to live and
dream--a hundred years, forever! As long as
this sweetness welled up in her heart, as long as
her breast could hold this treasure of pain! She
felt as the pond must feel when it held the moon
like that; when it encircled and swelled with
In the morning, when Emil came down- stairs, Alexandra met him in the sitting-room and put her hands on his shoulders. "Emil, I went to your room as soon as it was light, but you were sleeping so sound I hated to wake you. There was nothing you could do, so I let you sleep. They telephoned from Sainte- Agnes that Amedee died at three o'clock this morning."