That was not much. He knew that his pupil had gone, like anyone else, to Rue de Cherche Midi; that he had signed an engagement; and had been ordered to join a regiment in process of formation near Tours. And, as he went out, "That is nothing," said the kind maestro to Mme. Favoral. "The signora has quite recovered, and is as gay as a lark."
The signora, shut up in her room, was shedding bitter tears. She tried to reason with herself, and could not succeed. Never had the strangeness of her situation so clearly appeared to her. She repeated to herself that she must be mad to have thus become attached to a stranger. She wondered how she could have allowed that love, which was now her very life, to take possession of her soul. But to what end? It no longer rested with her to undo what had been done.
When she thought that Marius de Tregars was about to leave Paris to become a soldier, to fight, to die perhaps, she felt her head whirl; she saw nothing around her but despair and chaos.
And, the more she thought, the more certain she felt that Marius could not have trusted solely to the chance gossip of the Signor Pulei to communicate to her his determination.
"It is perfectly inadmissible," she thought. "It is impossible that he will not make an effort to see me before going."
Thoroughly imbued with the idea, she wiped her eyes, took a seat by an open window; and, whilst apparently busy with her work, she concentrated her whole attention upon the street.
There were more people out than usual. The recent events had stirred Paris to its lowest depths, and, as from the crater of a volcano in labor, all the social scoriae rose to the surface. Men of sinister appearance left their haunts, and wandered through the city. The workshops were all deserted; and people strolled at random, stupor or terror painted on their countenance. But in vain did Mlle. Gilberte seek in all this crowd the one she hoped to see.
The hours went by, and she was getting discouraged, when suddenly, towards dusk, at the corner of the Rue Turenne, "'Tis he," cried a voice within her.
It was, in fact, M. de Tregars. He was walking towards the Boulevard, slowly, and his eyes raised.
Palpitating, the girl rose to her feet. She was in one of those moments of crisis when the blood, rushing to the brain, smothers all judgment. Unconscious, as it were, of her acts, she leaned over the window, and made a sign to Marius, which he understood very well, and which meant, "Wait, I am coming down."
"Where are you going, dear?" asked Mme. Favoral, seeing Gilberte putting on her bonnet.
"To the shop, mamma, to get a shade of worsted I need."
Mlle. Gilberte was not in the habit of going out alone; but it happened quite often that she would go down in the neighborhood on some little errand.
"Do you wish the girl to go out with you?" asked Mme. Favoral.
"Oh, it isn't worth while!"
She ran down the stairs; and once out, regardless of the looks that might be watching her, she walked straight to M. de Tregars, who was waiting on the corner of the Rue des Minimes.
"You are going away?" she said, too much agitated to notice his own emotion, which was, however, quite evident.
"I must," he answered.
"When France is invaded, the place for a man who bears my name is where the fighting is."
"But there will be fighting in Paris too."
"Paris has four times as many defenders as it needs. It is outside that soldiers will be wanted."