Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/196

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191
THE VENUS OF ILLE.

if laden with a tremendous weight. She was terribly frightened, but dared not turn her head. Five minutes, or ten minutes perhaps—she has no idea of the time—passed in this way. Then she made an involuntary movement, or else it was the other person who made one, and she felt the contact of something as cold as ice: that is her expression. She buried herself against the wall trembling in all her limbs.

"Shortly afterwards, the door opened a second time, and some one came in who said, 'Good-evening, my little wife.' Then the curtains were drawn back. She heard a stifled cry. The person who was in the bed beside her sat up apparently with extended arms. Then she turned her head and saw her husband, kneeling by the bed with his head on a level with the pillow, held close in the arms of a sort of greenish-colored giant. She says, and she repeated it to me twenty times, poor woman!—she says that she recognized—do you guess whom?—the bronze Venus, M. de Peyrehorade's statue. Since it has been here every one dreams about it. But to continue the poor lunatic's story. At this sight she lost consciousness, and probably she had already lost her mind. She cannot tell how long she remained in this condition. Returned to her senses she saw the phantom, or the statue as she insists on calling it, lying immovable, the legs and lower parts of the body on the bed, the bust