“Yes, I am deaf,”he went on. “But you can speak to me by signs and gestures. I have a master who talks to me in that manner. And then I shall soon know your will by the motion of your lips and by your face.”

“Well, then,”she said, smiling, “tell me why you saved me.”

He looked at her attentively while she spoke.

“I understood,”he replied, “you were asking why I saved you. You have forgotten a poor wretch who tried to carry you off one night — a wretch to whom, next day, you brought relief on the shameful pillory. A drop of water — a little pity — that is more than my whole life could repay. You have forgotten — he remembers.”

She listened to him with profound emotion. A tear rose to the bell–ringer’s eye, but it did not fall; he seemed to make it a point of honour that it should not fall.

“Listen,”he said, when he had regained control over himself. “We have very high towers here; a man, if he fell from one, would be dead before he reached the ground. If ever you desire me to throw myself down, you have but to say the word — a glance will suffice.”

He turned to go. Unhappy as the gipsy girl herself was, this grotesque creature awakened some compassion in her. She signed to him to remain.

“No, no,”he returned, “I may not stay here too long. I am not at my ease while you look at me. It is only from pity that you do not turn away your eyes. I will go to a spot where I can see you without being seen in my turn. It will be better.”

He drew from his pocket a little metal whistle.

“Here,”he said, “when you have need of me, when you wish me to come, when you are not too disgusted to look at me, then sound this whistle; I can hear that.”

He laid the whistle on the floor and hastened away.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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