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And then, in the midst of all this gaiety, came the horror that at first she would not, could not, believe.

It was impossible, she thought, that anything so frightful could have happened to her. At first she continued as though she had noticed nothing, convinced that if she ignored her fears all would be well. Then came a period of anguish, lasting three days, during the course of which she refused to see her lover. And then, when she was certain, when her fate seemed to her irrevocable, she summoned him.

He arrived, much agitated, and found her waiting for him in her salon, whiter, more stony, than the diamond ring he had given her only a week ago.

"Lina! I have been tormented! Why wouldn't you see me? Have you been ill?"

"Not exactly," she said in a dry tone of voice. She asked him to sit down.

"But Lina, my little angel!"

"Please don't come near me. I want to talk to you."

And she resumed, in the same cold voice:

"Something has happened to me. Something so dreadful that we have never even spoken of it, and I don't know what to say or do. . . . I've been thinking during the last few days—that's why I wouldn't receive you. Listen. I'm going to have a child."

She was observant, and always had been; she noticed at once, before he had time to compose his face, the swift repulsion that for one fraction of a second contorted it. He said then, anxiously, soothingly:

"My dear, are you quite sure? Don't you think it may be your imagination? A doctor "

"I've seen a doctor," she said harshly. She could neither forgive nor understand that revolted, almost enraged expression, so swiftly suppressed, that had not escaped her vigilant eye.

"And the doctor?"