"Alas!" she answered sorrowfully, "I have nothing left, and it is only on Monday that we are to take our work back. Couldn't you wait until then?"
He could not wait he was expected for a game. Blind devotion begets ferocious egotism. He wanted his mother to go out and borrow the money from the grocer or the butcher. She was hesitating. He spoke louder.
"Have you, then, really no heart?" she said. "It seems to me, that, if I were a man, I would not ask my mother and sister to work for me."
Gilberte Favoral had just completed her eighteenth year. Rather tall, slender, her every motion betrayed the admirable proportions of her figure, and had that grace which results from the harmonious blending of litheness and strength. She did not strike at first sight; but soon a penetrating and indefinable charm arose from her whole person; and one knew not which to admire most, - the exquisite perfections of her figure, the divine roundness of her neck, her aerial carriage, or the placid ingenuousness of her attitudes. She could not be called beautiful, inasmuch as her features lacked regularity; but the extreme mobility of her countenance, upon which could be read all the emotions of her soul, had an irresistible seduction. Her large eyes, of velvety blue; had untold depths and an incredible intensity of expression; the imperceptible quiver of her rosy nostrils revealed an untamable pride; and the smile that played upon her lips told her immense contempt for every thing mean and small. But her real beauty was her hair, - of a blonde so luminous that it seemed powdered with diamond-dust; so thick and so long, that to be able to twist and confine it, she had to cut off heavy locks of it to the very root.
Alone, in the house, she did not tremble at her father's voice. The studied despotism which had subdued Mme. Favoral had revolted her, and her energy had become tempered under the same system of oppression which had unnerved Maxence.
Whilst her mother and her brother lied with that quiet impudence of the slave, whose sole weapon is duplicity, Gilberte preserved a sullen silence. And if complicity was imposed upon her by circumstances, if she had to maintain a falsehood, each word cost her such a painful effort, that her features became visibly altered.
Never, when her own interests were alone at stake, had she stooped to an untruth. Fearlessly, and whatever might be the result,
"That is the fact," she would say.