afraid of me; have no fears ! I am not a brute. No, indeed; I swear it. I … I" …
"Another word. Monsieur, and this time I tell everything to Madame. Suppose some one were to see you in the garden in this condition?"
He stopped short. Distressed, ashamed, thoroughly stupid, he knew not what to do with his hands, with his eyes, with his whole person. And he looked, without seeing them, at the ground beneath his feet, at the old pear tree, at the garden. Conquered at last, he untied the bits of string at the top of the prop, bent again over the fallen dahlias, and sad, infinitely so, and supplicating, he groaned:
"Just now, Célestine, I said to you … I said that to you … as I would have said anything else to you,—as I would have said no matter what. I am an old fool. You must not be angry with me. And, above all, you must not say anything to Madame. You are right, though; suppose some one had seen us in the garden?"
I ran away, to keep from laughing.
Yes, I wanted to laugh. And, nevertheless, there was an emotion singing in my heart, something—what shall I call it?—something maternal. And, besides, it would have been amusing, because of Madame. We shall see, later.
Monsieur did not go away all day. He straightened his dahlias, and during the afternoon he did