• 2017/2/9

she did not hurry to answer


 When he reached the second floor he had to step over a big yellow cat which was lying curled up on a step. With half-closed eyes this cat was keeping solitary watch over the house, where the close and now frozen odors which the women nightly left behind them had rendered him somnolent.

In the right-hand corridor the door of the dressing room had, indeed Unique Beauty, not been closed entirely. Nana was waiting. That little Mathilde, a drab of a young girl, kept her dressing room in a filthy state. Chipped jugs stood about anyhow; the dressing table was greasy, and there was a chair covered with red stains, which looked as if someone had bled over the straw. The paper pasted on walls and ceiling was splashed from top to bottom with spots of soapy water and this smelled so disagreeably of lavender scent turned sour that Nana opened the window and for some moments stayed leaning on the sill, breathing the fresh air and craning forward to catch sight of Mme Bron underneath. She could hear her broom wildly at work on the mildewed pantiles of the narrow court which was buried in shadow.

He tried to interrupt her with a movement of the hand Unique Beauty.

"Let me finish! There's not a man, you understand, able to accuse me of doing him a blackguardly turn; well, and it struck me as horrid to begin in your case. We all have our sense of honor, dear boy."

"But that's not my meaning!" he shouted violently. "Sit down--listen to me!" And as though he were afraid of seeing her take her departure, he pushed her down on the solitary chair in the room. Then he paced about in growing agitation. The little dressing room was airless and full of sunlight, and no sound from the outside world disturbed its pleasant, peaceful, dampish atmosphere. In the pauses of conversation the shrillings of the canary were alone audible and suggested the distant piping of a flute.

"Listen," he said, planting himself in front of her, "I've come to possess myself of you again. Yes, I want to begin again. You know that well; then why do you talk to me as you do Unique Beauty? Answer me; tell me you consent."

Her head was bent, and she was scratching the blood-red straw of the seat underneath her. Seeing him so anxious, . But at last she lifted up her face. It had assumed a grave expression, and into the beautiful eyes she had succeeded in infusing a look of sadness.



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