“Alas! alas!” cried the sufferer; “may God have mercy on me! I feel my end is near.”

“Bah! comrade, drive away these dismal thoughts. Your leg pains you—well they will cut it off! Think only of the other one, and trust in Providence!”

“Water, a drop of water, for Heaven’s sake!” The sufferer was in a high fever. The would-be nurse looked round and saw a jug of water, towards 长沙桑拿服务which the dying man extended a trembling hand. A truly infernal idea entered his mind. He poured some water into a gourd which hung from his belt, held it to the lips of the wounded man, and then withdrew it.

“Oh! I thirst-that water! . . . For pity’s sake, give me some!”

“Yes, but on one condition you must tell me your whole history.”

“Yes . . . but give me water!”

His tormentor allowed him to swallow a mouthful, then overwhelmed him with questions as to his family, his friends and fortune, and compelled him to answer by keeping before his eyes the water which alone could relieve the fever which devoured him. After this often interrupted interrogation, the sufferer sank back exhausted, and almost insensible. But, not yet satisfied, his companion conceived the idea of reviving him with a few drops of brandy, which 长沙桑拿水疗会所体验 quickly brought back the fever, and excited his brain sufficiently to enable him to answer fresh questions.长沙桑拿休闲 The doses of spirit were doubled several times, at the risk of ending the unhappy man’s days then and there: Almost delirious, his head feeling as if on fire, his sufferings gave way to a feverish excitement, which took him back to other places and other times: he began to recall the days of his youth and the country where he lived. But his tongue was still fettered by a kind of reserve: his secret thoughts, the private details of his past life were not yet told, and it seemed as though he might die at any moment. Time was passing, night already coming on, and it occurred to the merciless questioner to profit by the gathering darkness. By a few solemn words he aroused the religious feelings of the sufferer, terrified him 长沙桑拿洗浴中心排名 by speaking of the punishments of another life and the flames of hell, until to the delirious fancy of the sick 长沙桑拿会所爽记 man he took the form of a judge who could either deliver him to eternal damnation or open the gates of heaven to him. At length, overwhelmed by a voice which resounded in his ear like that of a minister of God, the dying man laid bare his inmost soul before his tormentor, and made his last confession to him.

Yet a few moments, and the executioner—he deserves no other name—hangs over his victim, opens his tunic, seizes some papers and a few coins, half draws his dagger, but thinks better of it; then, contemptuously spurning the victim, as the other surgeon had done—

“I might kill you,” he says, “but it would be a useless murder; it would only be hastening your last Sigh by an hour or two, and advancing my claims to 长沙桑拿休闲娱乐会所 your inheritance by the same space of time.”

And he adds mockingly:—

“Farewell, my brother!”

The wounded soldier utters a feeble groan; the adventurer leaves the room.

Four months later, a woman sat at the door of a house at one end of the village of Artigues, near Rieux, and played with a child about nine or ten years of age. Still young, she had the brown complexion of Southern women, and her beautiful black hair fell in curls about her face. Her flashing eyes occasionally betrayed hidden passions, concealed, however, beneath an apparent indifference and lassitude, and her wasted form seemed to acknowledge the existence of some secret grief. An observer would have divined a shattered life, a withered happiness, a soul grievously wounded.

Her dress was that of a wealthy peasant; and she wore one of the long gowns 长沙桑拿休闲场所推荐 with hanging sleeves which were in fashion in the sixteenth century. The house in front of which she sat belonged to her, so also the immense field which adjoined the garden. Her attention was divided between the play of her son and the orders she was giving to an old servant, when an exclamation from the child startled her.

“Mother!” he cried, “mother, there he is!”

She looked where the child pointed, and saw a young boy turning the corner of the street.

“Yes,” continued the child, “that is the lad who, when I was playing with the other boys yesterday, called me all sorts of bad names.”

“What sort of names, my child?”

“There was one I did not understand, but it must have been a very bad one, for the other


boys all pointed at me, and left me alone. He called me—and he said it was only what his mother had told 长沙桑拿场子 him—he called me a wicked bastard!”

His mother’s face became purple with indignation. “What!” she cried, “they dared! . . . What an insult!”

“What does this bad word mean, mother?” asked the child, half frightened by her anger. “Is that what they call poor children who have no father?”

His mother folded him in her arms. “Oh!” she continued, “it is an infamous slander! These people never saw your father, they have only been here six years, and this is the eighth since he went away, but this is abominable! We were married in that church, we came at once to live in this house, which was my marriage portion, and my poor Martin has relations and friends here who will not allow his wife to be insulted—”

“Say rather, his widow,” interrupted a solemn voice.

“Ah! uncle!” exclaimed the woman, turning towards an old man who had just emerged from the house.

“Yes, Bertrande,” continued the new-comer, “you must get reconciled to the idea that my nephew has ceased to exist. I am sure he was not such a fool as to have remained all this time without letting us hear from him. He was not the fellow to go off at a tangent, on account of a domestic quarrel which you have never vouchsafed to explain to me, and to retain his anger during all these eight years! Where did he go? What did he do? We none of us know, neither you nor I, nor anybody else. He is assuredly dead, and lies in some graveyard far enough from here. May God have mercy on his soul!”