which Montaigne and Madame de Sévigné speak.
"All the world of love is full of tragic histories," etc.
"I thought only clever people were subject to this sort of accident," I said to myself.
To him I said: "You drank too much Collioure wine, my dear Monsieur Alphonse; I warned you against it."
"Yes, perhaps. But something much more terrible than that has happened."
His voice was broken. I thought him completely inebriated.
"You know about my ring?" he continued, after a pause.
"Well, has it been stolen?"
"Then you have it?"
"No—I—I cannot get it off the finger of that infernal Venus."
"You did not pull hard enough."
"Yes, indeed I did—But the Venus—she has bent her finger."
He stared at me wildly, and leaned against the window-sash to prevent himself from falling.
"What nonsense!" I said. "You pushed the ring on too far. You can get it off to-morrow with pincers. But be careful not to damage the statue."
"No, I tell you. The Venus's finger is crooked,