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As the mayor was about to sit down to breakfast word was brou!ht to him that the rura" po"i#eman with two prisoners was awaitin! him at the Hote" de $i""e% He went there at on#e and found o"d Ho#hedur standin! !uard before a midd"e&#"ass #oup"e whom he was re!ardin! with a se'ere e(pression on his fa#e% The man a fat o"d fe""ow with a red nose and white hair seemed utter"y de)e#ted* whi"e the woman a "itt"e roundabout indi'idua" with shinin! #heeks "ooked at the offi#ia" who had arrested them with defiant eyes% +What is it, What is it Ho#hedur,+ The rura" po"i#eman made his deposition- He had !one out that mornin! at his usua" time in order to patro" his beat from the forest of .hampiou( as far as the boundaries of Ar!enteui"% He had not noti#ed anythin! unusua" in the #ountry e(#ept that it was a fine day and that the wheat was doin! we"" when the son of o"d Brede" who was !oin! o'er his 'ines #a""ed out to him- +Here Daddy Ho#hedur !o and ha'e a "ook at the outskirts of the wood% In the first thi#ket you wi"" find a pair of pi!eons who must be a hundred and thirty years o"d between them/+ He went in the dire#tion indi#ated entered the thi#ket and there he
+ +Ni#ho"as Beaurain%+ +1our o##upation.+ +No monsieur%+ +4o you #onfess it.heard words whi#h made him suspe#t a f"a!rant brea#h of mora"ity% Ad'an#in! therefore on his hands and knees as if to surprise a poa#her he had arrested the #oup"e whom he found there% The mayor "ooked at the #u"prits in astonishment for the man was #ertain"y si(ty and the woman fifty&fi'e at "east and he be!an to 0uestion them be!innin! with the man who rep"ied in su#h a weak 'oi#e that he #ou"d s#ar#e"y be heard% +What is your name.+ +1es monsieur%+ +What ha'e you to say in your defen#e.+ The haberdasher remained si"ent with his eyes on his fat paun#h and his hands han!in! at his sides and the mayor #ontinued+Do you deny what the offi#er of the muni#ipa" authorities states.+ .+ +Haberdasher in the 2ue des Martyrs in 3aris%+ +What were you doin! in the wood.
+ +4he is my wife monsieur%+ +1our wife.+ +I be! your pardon monsieur but we are "i'in! to!ether/+ +But in that #ase&&you must be mad a"to!ether mad my dear sir to !et #au!ht p"ayin! "o'ers in the #ountry at ten o5#"o#k in the mornin!%+ The haberdasher seemed ready to #ry with shame and he muttered+It was she who enti#ed me/ I to"d her it was 'ery stupid but when a woman on#e !ets a thin! into her head&&you know&&you #annot !et it out%+ The mayor who "iked a )oke smi"ed and rep"ied.+Nothin! monsieur%+ +Where did you meet the partner in your misdemeanor.+In your #ase the #ontrary ou!ht to ha'e happened% 1ou wou"d not be here if she had had the idea on"y in her head%+ Then Monsieur Beauain was sei6ed with ra!e and turnin! to his wife he said.+ +1es monsieur%+ +Then&&then&&you do not "i'e to!ether&in 3aris.+Do you see to what you ha'e brou!ht us with your poetry. And now we sha"" ha'e to !o before the #ourts at our a!e for a brea#h of mora"s/ And we sha"" ha'e to shut up the shop se"" our !ood wi"" and !o .
And I hope that you wi"" be kind enou!h to send us home and to spare us the dis!ra#e of a prose#ution% +1ears a!o when I was youn! I made Monsieur Beaurain5s a#0uaintan#e one 4unday in this nei!hborhood% He was emp"oyed in a draper5s shop and I was a sa"eswoman in a ready&made #"othin! estab"ishment% I remember it as if it were yesterday% I used to #ome and spend 4undays here o##asiona""y with a friend of mine 2ose 7e'e0ue with whom I "i'ed in the 2ue 3i!a""e and 2ose had a sweetheart whi"e I had none% He used to brin! us here and one 4aturday he to"d me "au!hin! that he shou"d brin! a friend with him the ne(t day% I 0uite understood what he meant but I rep"ied that it wou"d be no !ood* for I was 'irtuous monsieur% +The ne(t day we met Monsieur Beaurain at the rai"way station and in those days he was !ood&"ookin! but I had made up my mind not to en#oura!e him and I did not% We"" we arri'ed at Be6ons% It was a "o'e"y day the sort of day that tou#hes your heart% When it is fine e'en now )ust as it used to be former"y I !row 0uite foo"ish and when I am in the #ountry I utter"y "ose my head% The !reen !rass the swa""ows f"yin! so .to some other nei!hborhood/ That5s what it has #ome to%+ Madame Beaurain !ot up and without "ookin! at her husband she e(p"ained herse"f without embarrassment without use"ess modesty and a"most without hesitation% +Of #ourse monsieur I know that we ha'e made ourse"'es ridi#u"ous% Wi"" you a""ow me to p"ead my #ause "ike an ad'o#ate or rather "ike a poor woman.
+Then he saw that I was 'irtuous and he .+ Monsieur Beaurain who was "ookin! at his feet in #onfusion did not rep"y and she #ontinued.swift"y the sme"" of the !rass the s#ar"et poppies the daisies a"" that makes me #ra6y% It is "ike #hampa!ne when one is not a##ustomed to it/ +We"" it was "o'e"y weather warm and bri!ht and it seemed to penetrate your body throu!h your eyes when you "ooked and throu!h your mouth when you breathed% 2ose and 4imon hu!!ed and kissed ea#h other e'ery minute and that !a'e me a 0ueer fee"in!/ Monsieur Beaurain and I wa"ked behind them without speakin! mu#h for when peop"e do not know ea#h other they do not find anythin! to ta"k about% He "ooked timid and I "iked to see his embarrassment% At "ast we !ot to the "itt"e wood* it was as #oo" as in a bath there and we four sat down% 2ose and her "o'er teased me be#ause I "ooked rather stern but you wi"" understand that I #ou"d not be otherwise% And then they be!an to kiss and hu! a!ain without puttin! any more restraint upon themse"'es than if we had not been there* and then they whispered to!ether and !ot up and went off amon! the trees without sayin! a word% 1ou may fan#y what I "ooked "ike a"one with this youn! fe""ow whom I saw for the first time% I fe"t so #onfused at seein! them !o that it !a'e me #oura!e and I be!an to ta"k% I asked him what his business was and he said he was a "inen draper5s assistant as I to"d you )ust now% We ta"ked for a few minutes and that made him bo"d and he wanted to take "iberties with me but I to"d him sharp"y to keep his p"a#e% Is not that true Monsieur Beaurain.
A moment #omes in whi#h one per#ei'es that one #ou"d ha'e done .be!an to make "o'e to me ni#e"y "ike an honorab"e man and from that time he #ame e'ery 4unday for he was 'ery mu#h in "o'e with me% I was 'ery fond of him a"so 'ery fond of him/ He was a !ood&"ookin! fe""ow former"y and in short he married me the ne(t 4eptember and we started in business in the 2ue des Martyrs% +It was a hard stru!!"e for some years monsieur% Business did not prosper and we #ou"d not afford many #ountry e(#ursions and besides we had !ot out of the way of them% One has other thin!s in one5s head and thinks more of the #ash bo( than of pretty spee#hes when one is in business% We were !rowin! o"d by de!rees without per#ei'in! it "ike 0uiet peop"e who do not think mu#h about "o'e% One does not re!ret anythin! as "on! as one does not noti#e what one has "ost% +And then monsieur business be#ame better and we were tran0ui" as to the future/ Then you see I do not e(a#t"y know what went on in my mind no I rea""y do not know but I be!an to dream "ike a "itt"e boardin!&s#hoo" !ir"% The si!ht of the "itt"e #arts fu"" of f"owers whi#h are drawn about the streets made me #ry* the sme"" of 'io"ets sou!ht me out in my easy&#hair behind my #ash bo( and made my heart beat/ Then I wou"d !et up and !o out on the doorstep to "ook at the b"ue sky between the roofs% When one "ooks up at the sky from the street it "ooks "ike a ri'er whi#h is des#endin! on 3aris windin! as it f"ows and the swa""ows pass to and fro in it "ike fish% These ideas are 'ery stupid at my a!e/ But how #an one he"p it monsieur when one has worked a"" one5s "ife.
5Why you must be mad/ 1ou are mad this mornin!/ What is the matter with you.5 I did not "isten to him I on"y "istened to my own heart and I made him #ome into the wood with me% That is a""% I ha'e spoken the truth Monsieur "e Maire the who"e truth%+ .somethin! e"se and that one re!rets oh/ yes one fee"s intense re!ret/ 8ust think for twenty years I mi!ht ha'e !one and had kisses in the woods "ike other women% I used to think how de"i!htfu" it wou"d be to "ie under the trees and be in "o'e with some one/ And I thou!ht of it e'ery day and e'ery ni!ht/ I dreamed of the moon"i!ht on the water unti" I fe"t in#"ined to drown myse"f% +I did not 'enture to speak to Monsieur Beaurain about this at first% I knew that he wou"d make fun of me and send me ba#k to se"" my need"es and #otton/ And then to speak the truth Monsieur Beaurain ne'er said mu#h to me but when I "ooked in the !"ass I a"so understood 0uite we"" that I no "on!er appea"ed to any one/ +We"" I made up my mind and I proposed to him an e(#ursion into the #ountry to the p"a#e where we had first be#ome a#0uainted% He a!reed without mistrustin! anythin! and we arri'ed here this mornin! about nine o5#"o#k% +I fe"t 0uite youn! a!ain when I !ot amon! the wheat for a woman5s heart ne'er !rows o"d/ And rea""y I no "on!er saw my husband as he is at present but )ust as he was former"y/ That I wi"" swear to you monsieur% As true as I am standin! here I was #ra6y% I be!an to kiss him and he was more surprised than if I had tried to murder him% He kept sayin! to me.
The mayor was a sensib"e man% He rose from his #hair smi"ed and said.+Go in pea#e madame and when you a!ain 'isit our forests be more dis#reet%+ 1886 .
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