I found Armand in bed. On seeing me he held out a burning hand. "You are
feverish," I said to him. "It is nothing, the fatigue of a rapid journey; that is all."
"You have been to see Marguerite's sister?" "Yes; who told you?" "I knew it. Did
you get what you wanted?"
"Yes; but who told you of my journey, and of my reason for taking it?"
"The gardener of the cemetery."
"You have seen the tomb?"
I scarcely dared reply, for the tone in which the words were spoken proved to me
that the speaker was still possessed by the emotion which I had witnessed
before, and that every time his thoughts or speech travelled back to that mournful
subject emotion would still, for a long time to come, prove stronger than his will. I
contented myself with a nod of the head.
"He has looked after it well?" continued Armand. Two big tears rolled down the
cheeks of the sick man, and he turned away his head to hide them from me. I
pretended not to see them, and tried to change the conversation. "You have
been away three weeks," I said.
Armand passed his hand across his eyes and replied, "Exactly three weeks."
"You had a long journey."
"Oh, I was not travelling all the time. I was ill for a fortnight or I should have
returned long ago; but I had scarcely got there when I took this fever, and I was
obliged to keep my room."
"And you started to come back before you were really well?"
"If I had remained in the place for another week, I should have died there."
"Well, now you are back again, you must take care of yourself; your friends will
come and look after you; myself, first of all, if you will allow me."
"I shall get up in a couple of hours."
"It would be very unwise."