CHAPTER IX ECLIPSE
The reader has just seen how Marius discovered, or thought that he
discovered, that She was named Ursule.
Appetite grows with loving. To know that her name was Ursule was a great deal; it was very little. In three or four weeks,Marius had devoured this bliss. He wanted another. He wanted to know where she lived.
He had committed his first blunder, by falling into the ambush of the bench by the Gladiator. He had committed a second, by not remaining at the Luxembourg when M. Leblanc came thither alone. He now committed a third, and an immense one. He followed "Ursule."
She lived in the Rue de l'Ouest, in the most unfrequented spot,in a new, three-story house, of modest appearance.
From that moment forth, Marius added to his happiness of seeing her at the Luxembourg the happiness of following her home.
His hunger was increasing. He knew her first name, at least,a charming name, a genuine woman's name; he knew where she lived;he wanted to know who she was.
One evening, after he had followed them to their dwelling,and had seen them disappear through the carriage gate, he entered in their train and said boldly to the porter:--
"Is that the gentleman who lives on the first floor, who has just come in?"
"No," replied the porter. "He is the gentleman on the third floor."
Another step gained. This success emboldened Marius.
"On the front?" he asked.
"Parbleu!" said the porter, "the house is only built on the street."
"And what is that gentleman's business?" began Marius again.
"He is a gentleman of property, sir. A very kind man who does good to the unfortunate, though not rich himself."
"What is his name?" resumed Marius.
The porter raised his head and said:--
"Are you a police spy, sir?"
Marius went off quite abashed, but delighted. He was getting on.
"Good," thought he, "I know that her name is Ursule, that she is the daughter of a gentleman who lives on his income, and that she lives there, on the third floor, in the Rue de l'Ouest."
On the following day, M. Leblanc and his daughter made only a very brief stay in the Luxembourg; they went away while it was still broad daylight. Marius followed them to the Rue de l'Ouest, as he had taken up the habit of doing. On arriving at the carriage entrance M. Leblanc made his daughter pass in first, then paused,before crossing the threshold, and stared intently at Marius.
On the next day they did not come to the Luxembourg. Marius waited for them all day in vain.
At nightfall, he went to the Rue de l'Ouest, and saw a light in the windows of the third story.
He walked about beneath the windows until the light was extinguished.
The next day, no one at the Luxembourg. Marius waited all day,then went and did sentinel duty under their windows. This carried him on to ten o'clock in the evening.
His dinner took care of itself. Fever nourishes the sick man,and love the lover.
He spent a week in this manner. M. Leblanc no longer appeared at the Luxembourg.
Marius indulged in melancholy conjectures; he dared not watch the porte cochere during the day; he contented himself with going at night to gaze upon the red light of the windows. At times he saw shadows flit across them, and his heart began to beat.
On the eighth day, when he arrived under the windows, there was no light in them.
"Hello!" he said, "the lamp is not lighted yet. But it is dark. Can they have gone out?" He waited until ten o'clock. Until midnight. Until one in the morning. Not a light appeared in the windows of the third story, and no one entered the house.
He went away in a very gloomy frame of mind.
On the morrow,--for he only existed from morrow to morrow,there was, so to speak, no to-day for him,--on the morrow,he found no one at the Luxembourg; he had expected this. At dusk,he went to the house.
No light in the windows; the shades were drawn; the third floor was totally dark.
Marius rapped at the porte cochere, entered, and said to the porter:--
"The gentleman on the third floor?"
"Has moved away," replied the porter.
Marius reeled and said feebly:--
"How long ago?"
"Where is he living now?"
"I don't know anything about it."
"So he has not left his new address?"
And the porter, raising his eyes, recognized Marius.
"Come! So it's you!" said he; "but you are decidedly a spy then?"