Livette opened the door to the Chateau, which screamed into the empty resonance of the spacious stone staircase.

She lit the “calen”, which was hanging on a nail, and they went upstairs, she preoccupied with him, and he with her, but no longer in the disorder of attraction in which they usually were.

It was he who held the iron lamp, balanced at the end of its hooked stem; and, for the sake of conscience, to do his duty as a gallant and thus perhaps deceive his preoccupations, perhaps to deceive himself from the amorous anxiety in which he was seized, to force himself to return entirely to Livette, and who knows?—so obscure is man in his depths of the devil!—perhaps to satisfy, with this one, without his knowledge, a little of the desire kindled by the other, for all these reasons together , more inextricably intertwined than the twigs of the climbing rosebush, he said to himself: “I’m going to kiss her!” That he had never done, at least outside the presence of old people, but the Renaud of that evening was no longer for Livette, we tell you, the everyday Renaud. The{81}strong leavens of his savage nature swelled his veins. Really he had a fever, at least a kind of fever. All his nerves were overexcited, tense; his eyes showed him even the most indifferent objects otherwise than usual. And, in Livette, he saw, in spite of himself, while reproaching himself for it, things which he ordinarily refused to see. And as she had, being always dressed in the Arlesian style, this white muslin fichu crossed low, and which reveals, under the chain and the gold cross, the birth of the throat above the interlacing stiff, accumulated, regular folds, that’s where his burning gaze went, in the middle of this delicate arrangement of muslin, so kindly called the “chapel.”

In his left hand he held the calen, which he raised to the height of his shoulder, keeping it as far away from him as possible because of the drops of oil—and with his right arm he embraced the waist de Livette, who had put her hand on the iron banister.

He felt, with each step he climbed, the play of the muscles of his fiancee’s young body communicate to the arm which he surrounded her with a languor of pleasure which ran through his whole being—and yet his heart was not rejoiced by it; and he found that usually a single piece of the velvet of Livette’s hairdo, if it happened to be touched in the face, would put him in{82}the bloods a sweeter pleasure, of which above all he was more sure. He resented this within himself as if from a decline, he suffered as if from a presentiment, as if from a vaguely assured misfortune. And her, she suffered more and more from the backlash of what he felt. She felt threatened. Something was decidedly against her. This arm which embraced her thus sometimes no longer seemed to her the arm of her friend, but that of a man. She suffered from it, and did not understand. The look she saw was on her like a new look from him, without friendship, even without pity. She knew him well, however, this brave Renaud, her betrothed, and now she was afraid of him as of a stranger!

All of this, in them, was happening very quickly, in emotions all the more rapid because they only knew how to feel them, did not linger trying to know them within themselves. The all-powerful human electricity, more unknown than the other, played in them, through the millions of networks of its currents, of its correspondences, its game impossible to follow. In these two beings of instinct, the wonder, endlessly renewed, of love, of affinities—of sympathies and repulsions—was renewed, as unknown, as marvelous, as profound as ever. For nature, there are only two beings: a man and a woman; there are no categories. At the base of humanity, life is one,{83}passion is one. The scholar of the superior races is constantly perfecting his reflection and the expression of himself; but, in the heart of his ignorant brother, there is more abundant and inextricable life than in the heads of those philosophers who, by dint of analyzing themselves, often no longer know how to feel. Those who believe themselves the most skilful in discovering the true man in themselves do not notice that they distort the secret movements of their soul by dint of watching them. The brightness of their miner’s lamp changes the psychological conditions, as a constant light would modify the physiological state of beings and plants. Love and death, meanwhile, repeat, in the eternal obscurity of simple hearts, their miracles without witnesses.

They had arrived on the landing, the size of a bedroom—on the first floor. In front of the last step, Renaud, almost lifting Livette to get her there, wanted to draw her to him, but she had a desire to resist, and he a sudden desire to resist himself who, isolated , would have prevented nothing, and which, combined, created sufficient force to place between them a consented obstacle. And this force was the spell that operated.

And as they did not exchange a word, their embarrassment increased.

Strongly, to escape the embarrassment they feel{84}going by each other, she ran to the door on the right and entered. And he, also happy to be able to put something in them that would bring them together, at least a word, said:

“Wait for the light, Livette!” I arrive.

But Livette had suddenly thought of the threat of the gypsy…. “It’s fate, she thought, I recognize it!” And she felt herself turning pale.

Then she had an inspiration:

“Follow me, Renaud.

They passed through rooms where the high hangings slept, hanging from the ceiling, in great rigid and as if dried out folds; where the furniture of the time of the empire slumbered, under the slipcovers; all this, rarely visited by the masters, but cared for by the grandmother and by Livette.

And both of them, Livette and Renaud, arrived in a room with bare walls, whitewashed, and which had formerly served as a chapel.

A wooden altar, stripped of all drapery and ornament, stood at the back. In front of the door to the white and gold tabernacle, the sacred stone was missing, leaving a square hole in the carpentry of the altar.

But Livette opened a wide door flush with the wall. It was that of a cupboard sunk into the thickness of the wall. The double door open, they could see, below a shelf{85}the height of their heads, hung very stiff and very straight, chasubles, stoles—with large golden crosses in thick embroidery;—suns from which the dove issued; mystical triangles, Agnus Dei . In the midst of all the others were the ornaments of the mourning ceremonies—black, whose heavy embroidery represented white bones, executioners’ scales, hammers, nails;—and—what struck Livette—there had, in the center of a stole, in moire dark as the night, a crown of thorns, in silver, which, in the flame of the calen, flashed lightning.

On the shelf, above all these priest’s vestments—seen from the back—suspended in such a way that one thought one saw priests at the altar—flamed, between the chalice and the holy ciborium, a holy sacrament, radiant sun, mounted on one foot like a candelabra; and, in the center of the rays, gleamed a circle of glass, empty, but which also reflected, strangely, the moving flame of the lamp.

“On your knees, Renaud!” said Livette. For what happens to us, prayer is the remedy. Let’s pray a little!

The guardian obeys. He had understood that Livette wanted to ward off fate.

She prayed silently, fervently. He, astonished, unaccustomed to the attitudes of prayer, and seeking countenance, looked from time to time at the calen he{86}had in his hand, held it up the better to see the display of this ecclesiastical treasure, and, distracted for a moment by all the , his thoughts returned to Livette.

He then said to himself that she had really just guessed; that a spell was indeed upon him! And in his heart, he begged the good Lord of the cross, the mystical triangle, the symbolic bird and lamb, to come to his aid.

—Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us! said Livette suddenly aloud, thinking of the gypsy. their church, and to wait that, one after the other, they have consumed themselves for them until burning the nails of our fingers!

Then she got up—but, before leaving, they locked away, in the shadow of abandonment, behind the double door of this banal cupboard, these objects of a dead cult, the chalice without wine, the holy ciborium without bread,—and this Blessed Sacrament, whose metallic radiance framed an empty hearth!