"At last it has been given to my eyes to contemplate him, and to myarms to press him against my heart!"It was in these terms that the old Italian master, all vibratingwith enthusiasm, and with his most terrible accent, announced toMlle. Gilberte that he had just seen that famous pupil from whom heexpected both glory and fortune.

"But how weak he is still!" he added, "and suffering from his wounds.

I hardly recognized him, he has grown so pale and so thin."But the girl was listening to him no more. A flood of life filledher heart. This moment made her forget all her troubles and allher anguish.

"And I too," thought she, "shall see him again to-day."And, with the unerring instinct of the woman who loves, shecalculated the moment when Marius would appear in Rue St. Gilles.

It would probably be about nightfall, like the first time, beforeleaving; that is, about eight o'clock, for the days just then wereabout the longest in the year. Now it so happened, that, on thatvery day and hour, Mlle. Gilberte expected to be alone at home.

It was understood that her mother would, after dinner, call onMme. Desclavettes, who was in bed, half dead of the fright she hadhad during the last convulsions of the Commune. She would thereforebe free and would not need to invent a pretext to go out for a fewmoments. She could not help, however, but feel that this was abold and most venturesome step for her to take; and, when her motherwent out, she had not yet fully decided what to do. But her bonnetwas within reach, and Marius' letter was in her pocket. She wentto sit at the window. The street was solitary and silent as ofold. Night was coming; and heavy black clouds floated over Paris.

The heat was overpowering: there was not a breath of air.

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One by one, as the hour was approaching when she expected to seeMarius, the hesitations of the young girl vanished like smoke. Shefeared but one thing, - that he would not come, or that he mayalready have come and left, without succeeding in seeing her.

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Already did the objects become less distinct; and the gas was beinglit in the back-shops, when she recognized him on the other side ofthe street. He looked up as he went by; and, without stopping, headdressed her a rapid gesture, which she alone could understand, andwhich meant, "Come, I beseech you!"Her heart beating loud enough to be heard, Mlle. Gilberte ran downthe stairs. But it was only When she found herself in the streetthat she could appreciate the magnitude of the risk she was running.

Concierges and shopkeepers were all sitting in front of their doors,taking the fresh air. All knew her. Would they not be surprisedto see her out alone at such an hour? Twenty steps in front of hershe could see Marius. But he had understood the danger; for,instead of turning the corner of the Rue des Minimes, he followedthe Rue St. Gilles straight, and only stopped on the other side ofthe Boulevard.

Then only did Mlle. Gilberte join him; and she could not withholdan exclamation, when she saw that he was as pale as death, andscarcely able to stand and to walk.

"How imprudent of you to have returned so soon!" she said.

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A little blood came to M. de Tregars' cheeks. His face brightenedup, and, in a voice quivering with suppressed passion,"It would have been more imprudent still to stay away," he uttered.

"Far from you, I felt myself dying."They were both leaning against the door of a closed shop; and theywere as alone in the midst of the throng that circulated on theBoulevards, busy looking at the fearful wrecks of the Commune.

"And besides," added Marius, "have I, then, a minute to lose? Iasked you for three years. Fifteen months have gone, and I am nobetter off than on the first day. When this accursed war broke out,all my arrangements were made. I was certain to rapidly accumulatea sufficient fortune to enable me to ask for your hand without beingrefused. Whereas now""Well?""Now every thing is changed. The future is so uncertain, that noone wishes to venture their capital. Marcolet himself, who certainlydoes not lack boldness, and who believes firmly in the success of ourenterprise, was telling me yesterday, 'There is nothing to be donejust now: we must wait.'"There was in his voice such an intensity of grief, that the girlfelt the tears coming to her eyes.

"We will wait then," she said, attempting to smile.

But M. de Tregars shook his head.