Her income was derived chiefly from Municipal Bonds and Metro shares. At the bank she had also a substantial sum on deposit. She told monsieur Septfous that she had decided to spend the rest of her life in the country, and she took a draft, payable to bearer, for the full amount of cash, and removed her box of securities.

She determined to call herself madame de Beaulieu.

Late on the evening of the 6th of September the old woman and the girl arrived at St. Pierre des Champs.

They had expected to arrive earlier, but the train crept into Pont Chouay at 7.30 instead of 5.15, and thence they were dependent on the local nacres, which were hard to find and slow to move. Madame de Val Fleury reached the village, impatient and fatigued.

In the little moonlit market-place, with its vacant stalls, when they entered it at last, many figures circulated, scrutinising one another's features eagerly. Most of the men and women bore lanterns, and one of the stalls had evidently been sub-let for the evening; under the sign " Christophe : Cheese, Eggs, and Butter," a humpback had electric torches for sale. As the pair made their way, across the cobbles, to the shrine that had been erected beside the water-mill, no face of much beauty met their view. The sellers appeared to be chiefly buxom peasant girls, wholesome looking, but no more. Those who had come to buy were of types more various. Here, an old rou£, fraudulently dyed and painted, peered avidly at the features of a youth, who raised his lantern and rebuffed him with a jeer. There, an individual with crafty lips and predatory eyes, obviously a sharper, was to be seen bargaining for the physiognomy of a simpleton. A man with a round humorous face darted each moment from one melancholy countenance to another, and a passer-by said, loud enough to be overheard : " Look at Jibily, the low comedian —he is crazy to play tragic parts ! " Irritating and incessant was the shrill outcry of a female broker, hobbling with a file of maids-of-all-work at her heels. " Fine faces cheap ! " clamoured the crone. " Fine faces cheap ! "

It became very cold beside the water-mill. As the laggard night wore by, madame de Val Fleury shivered distressfully. Alternately she prayed and despaired. More than once she glanced, tense with hope, at her companion, striving to detect some promise of the sought-for change, but the girl's face remained unaltered. In the serene radiance of the moon its fairness was exquisite beyond words, and the woman wrung her hands with the intensity of her desire.

Slowly, slowly the moonlight faded. The pallor of dawn streaked the sky; and a hundred faces were upturned beseechingly, a hundred suppliants trembled. Wan and white grew the scene. A tremor and a rustling stirred the huddled figures. Suddenly, somewhere a woman wailed, " No use ! " and burst into sobs. Berthe Cheron, fearful now the moment had come, of beholding herself gaunt-cheeked and wrinkled, bowed her head, shuddering, in her hands. Madame de Val Fleury, half dazed with exhaustion and suspense, bent to the shining surface of the pool. The pool receded. It became suddenly unreal. Next, her pounding heart was squeezed with terror—she didn't know if the reflection she beheld was her own, or Berthe Cheron's, from behind her. She nodded wildly at her reflection; she grimaced and gesticulated at it, like a madwoman. ... It had happened ! She thought she gave an ear-piercing shriek of joy, but she fainted, without a sound.

After the money was paid she neither saw nor heard anything of Berthe Cheron. Aided by a lady whose birth gave her the passport to society, and whose income made her amenable to a financial offer, madame de Val Fleury, or, as she now called herself, Victorine de Beaulieu, was the sensation of Paris that autumn. The consummate toilettes permitted by her wealth lent to her face a beauty even more transcendent than Berthe Cheron's had been. When she drove, people pressed forward on the sidewalks to regard her. When she entered her box at the Opera, everybody in the house to whom the box was visible looked at her as much as at the stage. In salons, faces the most admired before her advent paled in her presence, like candle flames in sunshine. She was paramount and she revelled in the knowledge. Yet the transformation had its lack. She missed her game of ecarte with her erstwhile neighbour. She missed the garrulity of familiar friends whom she no longer met. There were hours when, despite the transports afforded by the mirror now, she found time hang heavy on her hands. And the hands, of course, had not recovered girlishness and beauty. Nor her body, nor her mind.

That was the drawback. Only her face was young. Physically and mentally she was old. Her corsetiere could not provide her with a figure to match the face. Her physician could not give back to her the energies that had gone. Her mirror itself was impotent to revive the enthusiasm and illusions of her youth.

Men made love to the bewildering " young widow." After the first thrill of amazed exultance she was bored. Their fervour kindled no responsive spark. Her aged heart beat no faster. The sentiment, the rhapsodies poured into her ear seemed drearily stupid to the old woman, as she posed on balconies, wishing she were in her bedroom with a cup of tisane and her slippers. During the third passionate proposal addressed to her, it was with extreme difficulty that she restrained her jaws from yawning.

" Why are you so cold—why won't you hear me?" men cried to her. And she answered dully : "I am not impressionable. It doesn't interest me to be made love to. I am tired of all that".

And she was spoken of in Paris as the " girl who was tired of love".

Many evenings during the winter there were when the knowledge that she would be wearied by some man's appeal, if she went out, determined her to remain at home. The opportunity to outshine other women failed to lure her from the fireside, and she sat in her dressing-gown, playing ecarte with her new maid. " It is marvellous what a head for the game madame has, seeing she is so young! " exclaimed the maid, awestruck. " I cannot say as much for you" snapped her mistress, mourning that quondam neighbour.