Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/205

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all probability, that it shall be Joseph — a pearl — ■who did it? It irritates me, and at the same time confirms me in my apprehensions, that I cannot reconstruct before my eyes the tragedy of the forest. If only the judicial examination had revealed fresh tracks of a cart on the dead leaves and on the heather in the neighborhood? But no; the examination revealed nothing of the kind; it revealed the outrage and murder of a little girl, and that is all. "Well, it is precisely that which so excites me. This cleverness of the assassin in leaving not the slightest trace of his crime behind him, this diabolical invisibility, — I feel in it and see in it the presence of Joseph. Enervated, I make bold suddenly, after a silence, to ask him this question:

" Joseph, what day was it that you went to the forest of Raillon to get heath mould ? Do you remember ? ' '

Without haste, without a start, Joseph puts down the newspaper that he was reading. Now his soul is steeled against surprises.

"Why do you ask? " he says.

"Because I want to know."

Joseph looks at me with his heavy, searching gaze. Then, without affectation, he seems to be ransacking his memory in search of recollections that are already old. And he answers :

' ' Indeed, I do not remember exactly ; I think, though, that it was on a Saturday."