The Best Mystery and Detective Stories HTML version
Marguerite de Thérelles was dying. Although but fifty-six, she seemed like seventy-five
at least. She panted, paler than the sheets, shaken by dreadful shiverings, her face
convulsed, her eyes haggard, as if she had seen some horrible thing.
Her eldest sister, Suzanne, six years older, sobbed on her knees beside the bed. A little
table drawn close to the couch of the dying woman, and covered with a napkin, bore two
lighted candles, the priest being momentarily expected to give extreme unction and the
communion, which should be the last.
The apartment had that sinister aspect, that air of hopeless farewells, which belongs to the
chambers of the dying. Medicine bottles stood about on the furniture, linen lay in the
corners, pushed aside by foot or broom. The disordered chairs themselves seemed
affrighted, as if they had run, in all the senses of the word. Death, the formidable, was
there, hidden, waiting.
The story of the two sisters was very touching. It was quoted far and wide; it had made
many eyes to weep.
Suzanne, the elder, had once been madly in love with a young man, who had also been in
love with her. They were engaged, and were only waiting the day fixed for the contract,
when Henry de Lampierre suddenly died.
The despair of the young girl was dreadful, and she vowed that she would never marry.
She kept her word. She put on widow's weeds, which she never took off.
Then her sister, her little sister Marguérite, who was only twelve years old, came one
morning to throw herself into the arms of the elder, and said: "Big Sister, I do not want
thee to be unhappy. I do not want thee to cry all thy life. I will never leave thee, never,
never! I—I, too, shall never marry. I shall stay with thee always, always, always!"
Suzanne, touched by the devotion of the child, kissed her, but did not believe.
Yet the little one, also, kept her word, and despite the entreaties of her parents, despite the
supplications of the elder, she never married. She was pretty, very pretty; she refused
many a young man who seemed to love her truly; and she never left her sister more.