I defended myself, in an uncertain fashion, for the sake of form. He insisted.
"Come, what is the matter with you? Heart troubles? Now is the very time" …
He followed me. In this hotel they did not look too closely at the guests who returned at night. With its dark and narrow staircase, its slimy banister, its vile atmosphere, its fetid odors, it seemed like a house for the accommodation of transients and cut-throats. My companion coughed, to give himself assurance. And I, with my soul full of disgust, reflected:
"Oh! indeed! this is not equal to the Houlgate villas or to the warm and richly-adorned mansions in the Rue Lincoln."
What a hussy one is sometimes! Oh, misery me!
And my life began again, with its ups and downs, its changes of front, its liaisons as quickly ended as begun, and its sudden leaps from opulent interiors into the street, just as of old.
Singular thing! I, who in my amorous exaltation, my ardent thirst for sacrifice, had sincerely and passionately wished to die, was haunted for long months by the fear of having contracted Monsieur Georges's disease from his kisses. The slightest indisposition, the most fleeting pain, filled me with real terror. Often at night I awoke with mad frights and icy sweats. I felt of my chest,