Yet three days, and then I must go back to the pensionnat. I almost numbered the moments of these days upon the clock. Fain would I have retarded their flight; but they glided by while I watched them, they were already gone while I yet feared their departure.

“Lucy will not leave us to-day,” said Mrs. Bretton coaxingly, at breakfast. “She knows we can procure a second respite.”

“I would not ask for one if I might have it for a word,” said I. “I long to get the good-bye over, and to be settled in the Rue Fossette again. I must go this morning. I must go directly. My trunk is packed and corded.”

It appeared, however, that my going depended upon Graham. He had said he would accompany me, and it so fell out that he was engaged all day, and only returned home at dusk. Then ensued a little combat of words. Mrs. Bretton and her son pressed me to remain one night more. I could have cried, so irritated and eager was I to be gone. I longed to leave them as the criminal on the scaffold longs for the axe to descend—that is, I wished the pang over. How much I wished it they could not tell. On these points mine was a state of mind out of their experience.

It was dark when Dr. John handed me from the carriage at Madame Beck’s door. The lamp above was lit. It rained a November drizzle, as it had rained all day. The lamplight gleamed on the wet pavement. Just such a night was it as that on which, not a year ago, I had first stopped at this very threshold; just similar was the scene. I remembered the very shapes of the paving-stones which I had noted with idle eye, while, with a thick-beating heart, I waited the unclosing of that door at which I stood—a solitary and a suppliant. On that night, too, I had briefly met him who now stood with me. Had I ever reminded him of that rencontre, or explained it? I had not, nor ever felt the inclination to do so. It was a pleasant thought, laid by in my own mind, and best kept there.

Graham rang the bell. The door was instantly opened, for it was just that period of the evening when the half-boarders took their departure—consequently Rosine was on the alert.

“Don’t come in,” said I to him; but he stepped a moment into the well-lighted vestibule. I had not wished him to see that “the water stood in my eyes,” for his was too kind a nature ever to be needlessly shown such signs of sorrow. He always wished to heal—to relieve—when, physician as he was, neither cure nor alleviation were, perhaps, in his power.

“Keep up your courage, Lucy. Think of my mother and myself as true friends. We will not forget you.”

“Nor will I forget you, Dr. John.”

My trunk was now brought in. We had shaken hands; he had turned to go, but he was not satisfied. He had not done or said enough to content his generous impulses.

“Lucy,” stepping after me, “shall you feel very solitary here?”

“At first I shall.”

“Well, my mother will soon call to see you; and meantime, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll write—just any cheerful nonsense that comes into my head—shall I?”

“Good, gallant heart!” thought I to myself; but I shook my head, smiling, and said, “Never think of it. Impose on yourself no such task. You write to me! You’ll not have time.”

“Oh! I will find or make time. Good-bye!”

He was gone. The heavy door crashed to. The axe had fallen; the pang was experienced.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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