Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/169

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"Be still!" he exclaimed, gasping. "I have never loved you so much as to-night."

Suddenly his arms relaxed and fell back, inert, upon the bed; his lips abandoned mine. And from his mouth, turned upward, there came a cry of distress, and then a flow of hot blood that spattered my face. With a bound I was out of bed. A mirror opposite revealed my image, red and bloody. I was mad, and, running about the room in bewilderment, it was my impulse to call for aid. But the instinct of self-preservation, the fear of responsibilities, of the revelation of my crime, and I know not what else that was cowardly and calculating, closed my mouth, and held me back at the edge of the abyss over which my reason was tottering. Very clearly and very speedily I realized that it would not do for any one to enter the room in its present condition.

O human misery! There was something more spontaneous than my grief, more powerful than my fear; it was my ignoble prudence and my base calculations. In my terror I had the presence of mind to open the door of the salon, and then the door of the ante-room, and listen. Not a sound. Everybody in the house was asleep. Then I returned to the bedside. I raised Georges's body, as light as a feather, in my arms. I lifted up his head, maintaining it in an upright position in my hands. The blood continued to flow from his