At around that time, Charlotte was probably happy. Happiness is not a state, it is a set of fleeting joys, twinkling golden stars against a black background; between each of them, there is an abyss, yet life is about searching those stars and one's own courage is inspired by their expectation or their memories. Charlotte was happy when she was not seeing her friend, because she knew she was going to see him soon; and when she was with him, she felt alive. Henri did not pick her up all the time. At times, she waited upstairs until a quarter past seven, then look through the window, if she did not see him outside, she went to his home by tram. They were always together at a quarter to eight and dinner was served at around eight o'clock. While they were waiting, Henri read out to her, sitting on the little bench, one foot on the front bar of the rocking-chair, and enjoying making her rock to a fro. A soft light fell from a large chandelier hanging from the ceiling, it filtering through its frosted-glass tulips. Charlotte loved the ‘Thoughts of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonicus’, she revered Epictetus because Pascal had cherished him. Henri found all of them unbearable because they were always whingeing. The dinner would be cheerful. The young man was constantly teasing Séraphine about religion. According to him, someone should have none of them or believe in all of them. Then he stood up, walked behind his housekeeper and kissed her. Charlotte felt a great desire to go put her head next to theirs. 

After dinner, it was time for her algebra lesson. According to her teacher, she showed great abilities; but a bad habit of hers was that she was not always focused. When she remained silent for too long in front of the blackboard, Henri stood up, threw his book across the room, erased everything, then he regretted his fit of anger, thus he kissed her hand and softly started explaining once again. Charlotte often made mistakes, this was due to the fact that she was torn between the desire of not wishing to look too stupid, and that of feeling his lips on her hand. Her hands, despite rubbing them every day with glycerin, they remained stubbornly dark, yet they were pretty, and Henri seemed to appreciate them. 

Then they practised music. Henry taught her the do-re-mi. He had no singing voice. He also showed her how to sing scales and other simple exercises. The music lesson concluded with Henri playing whatever Charlotte requested.  Séraphine and Eulalie joined them and watched from the back in silence. While playing, the young man could easily forget the time. Eulalie needed to remind him: 

"It's past eleven o'clock, sir, well I'm mentioning it for the sake of the young lady." 

The journey back to Rue Flocon was a long walk, and Henri still needed to get back. Charlotte had offered to go home alone. Where does one’s self-sacrifice stop? But Henri said he would have been worried about her. Séraphine thought the same; besides Henri did not have to get up early: he and Sonia had always been night owls anyway. 

Charlotte may have remembered meeting her friend at the Moulin Rouge, but Henri did not seem to remember, nor anything that she had told him, because he never spoke about it again. He treated her like a little sister whom he was happy to entertain and cherish. 

"So," asked Charlotte, "you really believe I’ll pass my a-levels?"

"Believing is not a guarantee, besides it's more important to earn it than to have it" 

"And I'll also be able to play Mendelssohn? "

Yes indeed, Charlotte would be able to, she was only a bit too hasty.

Henri had visited England, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy. He knew the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Vosges mountains. Every year for the past ten years, he went on trips with Uncle Pierre and Sonia. This year he did not know where they would go as Sonia was coming to Paris instead of leaving the city. What would she decide about Charlotte? Maybe she would take her to Russia. Henri thought that the girl's job in Paris was not suited to her temperament and that Sonia would be happy to have such a sweet friend to cherish and educate, and she had such an inquisitive mind! Her parents needed to give their consented to that, but as they did not take care of her now, why they should they refuse?

The first time Henri talked about that proposal, Charlotte did not seem very enthusiastic. Henri quickly added that Russia was very far, France was a very beautiful country and one would be sad to leave it , and they would find something else, if exile displeased her. 

"But it's you whom I won't see ," she whispered . 

Heartbroken, she was looking at him with pleading eyes. He was deeply moved, and at the same time he felt strong pleasure. He admitted to himself that he was finding  her infinitely delightful . For the first time, it occurred to him that perhaps she could harbour similar feeling, it was very pleasant to think so, but soon she regained control of her emotions, accepted the offer, and asked to leave with Sonia. Would not she not see her friend Ric every year? So now he was disappointed and interested in solving this new enigma, he found the thought process extremely captivating: 

Charlotte was true. She knew this particular exaltation of sacrifice, the supreme joy of martyrs, she gave nothing, and she lived! Thus verifying these beautiful words of the scientist Henri Poincaré whose name was often on the lips of her teacher: 

" We pursued a selfless purpose and everything else came as an added bonus."

At the beginning of April, full-work had resumed at Décoiffer's. Every morning, Martha was told off for being late, this did not startle her: 

"Boss, will you take care of me, when there won't be any work? My time-keeping is none of your business, I don't work for your sake, it's for my mother’s and her principles. " 

" Your mother, she  must be proud of having a daughter like you." 

"Indeed, she is, otherwise she would be living off thin air. Don't bore me more than she does." 

When Martha was behind in her task, Charlotte helped her. Since she had been visiting rue d'Assas, she was no longer afraid of anything. The happiness which Henri gave to her, no one could take it away, he alone was in her heart. She no no longer needed to help with the sales because Annette had taken on a porter. She arrived at seven o'clock in the morning and worked cheerfully. Sometimes she even sang very short gentle songs which the ladies enjoyed. She looked healthier and had put on a little weight. Armandine said that Love did her a lot of good.

Charlotte only thought that by working this way, she was doing Science; according to her friend, this happened when one accepted valiantly to make an effort to be happy, because knowledge was not about avoiding effort, but to use effort more efficiently. Often Henri climbed on a chair when he made his speeches. Eulalie once shouted:

"You are mad, sir, all your numbers, what a story, you’re pulling the wool over our eyes." 

However, Charlotte believed that  while working , she was making Science , she was saving the world. Henri had explained it to her very well: a certain Elie Bertrand had proved that an ant could level up Switzerland by tirelessly carrying small grains of sand. To save the world, it was not necessary to fill it with lamentations, it would not work any faster, quite the contrary: it might get lost in unnecessary complications. Therefore it was easiest to live the best we could and let things take their course naturally. 

While saving the world, Charlotte roughly earned three francs a day. She was able to manage, more so she even paid her rent without using the hundred-franc note that she found in her algebra manual. Now the Sunday dress that she wore every day, started to tear at the seams. Her hat looked faded, her gloves could no longer be mended. Martha looked at her with increasing curiosity: 

"I admit that you have an amazing style and you don't need many rags. You don't look enticing, but since your guy loves originality, he's getting bags of it. It does not matter if he likes you like that, you're lucky but does he not give any dough? "

Charlotte sobbed. 

"Did he dump you?" 

"Oh no." 

"You're a little miffed, and that's because he didn’t do anything to you. No need to feel bad about it. I assure you that you look rolling, and I understand how you feel. This story will end in tears. When people are in love, it's not like they are not. I love Coco, and I would not expect him to send me any money, but this, you know, it's strange, the smartest people could not find any sense. If you want to keep your pet, make sure that you get money from another man. "

Charlotte was beginning to feel self-conscious when she went to the theater with Henri. All the more so because, when they were alone, he always tried to find very good seats to please her.  He did not seem to worry about her dress, nor  did he draw any comparisons with women sitting near them, on the contrary. During the interval he was criticizing everything, saying that he did not like ladies who wore lots of jewelry , nor those who showed off their red arms, but he prized white dresses and asked Charlotte to remove her hat.

One night they were returning from the Theatre Français. She admitted that often on her way to his house for dinner, she made a detour through Rue des Ecoles, so that she could walk in front of the Sorbonne, the temple of his divinity. Henri scolded her, but he held her hand and explained that he used to go there with Sonia when he was very young. They would enter through a passageway by the old church. The porter would look at the little boy and Sonia  would greet him with a smile. The walls were decorated with painted panels in a sober and harmonious style, their footsteps resounded on the flagstones and this made up another harmony. Then they crossed another gallery and the child would scrutinize the walls with the eyes of an investigator, believing coming out of a corner, lifting a corner of her veil: science, holiness, blessing, work, hope, consolation, appeasement would appear and heal Sonia. One day, Charlotte would visit the Sorbonne, she too would admire the frescoes by Puvis de Chavannes and she would understand how the artist was moved by the same force, the same heartbreak and hugged by the same desire which made her dear César Franck cry, and with Henri she would proclaim: 

 "Hallelujah, she is upon us, she is within us, she came!"

They arrived back at her home; as Charlotte left the cab, the sole of her ankle boot caught on the step, and she stumbled. She fell against the young man's chest. Without worrying about the driver, he carried her to the door, saying to her ear:

" My little soul, you’ll buy new ones, that's all. Please, I insist. " 

She said that she still had all the money he had given her, but ... she had thought that her ankle boots would have lasted longer .... 

"Indeed I understand that you’re punishing yourself for not being my sister. " 

She felt good in Henri's arms, why did she need to walk with ankle boots anyway? She felt so embarrassed that she almost wept. She replied that the next morning, she would visit a nearby shop and replace them. He was a little annoyed at her pride and the way she felt the need to suffer for this stupid money, and he was barely keeping himself from whispering sweet and tender words to her.

Doing so might not have been right, and yet ... He said ‘good night’ to the young girl, and pulled the door without repeating it as he would usually do because he was so absorbed in his thoughts. 

On that Sunday in May, Charlotte was standing in front of her open window at six-thirty in the morning. The sky was clear and pale, and the air was still a bit cool. She watched the sun playing on the slate roofs, lighting-up the neighbouring windows. Opposite to her, but far away, a window opened and a man popped out his tousled head. He noticed her, blew her a kiss; confused Charlotte closed her window. 

It was ridiculous to be ready so early. Henri was only coming to pick her up at seven. However, she was eager to show him her new dress on which she had worked for three weeks. She did not to pick a white fabric because she needed her only dress to be practical, so she chose a blue colour which Henri loved. She tried on her hat, that one was also new. He was made of light-coloured straw, trimmed with tulle and a rose made from cutouts. All these innovations filled her with childlike joy, mixed with a little remorse and a dull anxiety: What would her friend think of her?

Due to trying and removing her hat, Charlotte’s hair now looked disheveled, it never seemed to hold, there was always a curl from the nape that escaped. Likewise, the hair framing her forehead did not want to stay flat. Once, Henri had caught her patting her hair, while the young girl was writing at the desk and he had said to her:

" Your curls have the soul of logarithmic spirals. Why do you want to enslave them? In five minutes, you will be looking again like a little astrakhan sheep. "

How should she behave when opening the door? As if it was the easiest thing in the world, Henri had said the previous before leaving her:

"As convened, tomorrow, I'm picking you up at home."                      

Everywhere he went, Henri was always perfectly calm as if it was the natural thing. Charlotte was always nervous, and Henri noticed it. He did so, because he could see everything. He would think of something and not say anything. Nor would he tell her how he felt about her room, she had arranged the best she could and yet in the morning light, it looked so terribly empty and poor. Henri would ask why the window was closed, because he could only understand open windows.

Hurried footsteps down the corridor, then a brief knock at the door. Charlotte was so distraught that she dropped her hatpin and her veil, she unlocked the door and ran to the window. Henri said, entering and closing the door as if he were in his own antechamber:

"Good morning, Charlotte, someone is knocking at your door and you're rushing to the window; you can't act rationally."

She turned around, he was holding the hatpin and the veil which he had picked up, and he seemed particularly interested in the portrait of " the Man with a Glove ".

 "This is..." 

" I know him, I also love these hot hues, they seem to have been woven by the sun. If you do not put your veil, today's sun will never agree to leave your cheek. We are late and I guess that your alarm clock is faulty." 

She stretched out her hand, he grabbed it , held it for a second, then he let her go  : 

"I'm not taking it away, but do hurry up. " 

Adjusting a veil in front of a small mirror large enough to glimpse the tip of a nose while being mockingly watched by a handsome young man is a difficult operation. Once her veil was pinned, Charlotte had to change it again because it was pulling her chin.

Downstairs, they went into the waiting car. Sitting beside him, Charlotte had to admit that she was disappointed that she had not received any compliments; did her hat not suit her, or did she behave so foolishly that Henri ignored her? He was merely talking about Titian and the Venetian school: 

"Man with a Glove, apart from his splendid complexion, he has bold looks, thoughtful eyes and good-looking hands. Yet the more we know him, the less we appreciate him. He has only color and shape, I prefer by far the heads of Vinci, particularly St. John the Baptist. " 

"The more we know the less we understand." 

"That's why I like it; this gives him a feminine touch.  When I arrived, and you looked at me, I thought that you were in a good mood, now you seem upset. What’s happened?" 

"Nothing, but I was very rude. I ... I was opening the window to make you happy." 

"It would have been better to open it before to give yourself some fresh air. Is that it, Charlotte?" 


"You’re a timid little bird, and you’re wrong to upset yourself for so little; politeness does not exist, what exists is that you are divinely beautiful."

Grateful, she looked at him.

" It is a joy for me to say so; your Man with a Glove ' is silent, lucky me. If you’re kind, you’ll give him to me. If he learned to speak, I wouldn't like that: you might leave me stranded outside your door."

Charlotte 's heart was racing. At times, it seemed that Henri was looking as if he wanted to kiss her; she could not get rid of such crazy expectations. If he loved her, it would not last for long; maybe until he left for Russia. As always the expectations faded, maybe he would have kissed her this morning if she hadn't been so silly. Spontaneously, she took his hand and said:

"Ric, you must believe what I said about the window, I didn't do it on purpose .”


His friend didn't desire her when he thought she was selling herself, but if he could believe that she loved him, she would not mind being his mistress. He had brought her to the house, that was true, and this was unusual, but he did not have any prejudices. Charlotte had still so much to learn before understanding about lack of prejudices. She resented the terror that love still continued to inspire her, and she suffered from the anxiety that Henri who believed that she was pure, might not easily accept that she was not. Would he find out? The poor child just did not know anything. 

Besides, she realized almost immediately that she had deceived herself once more, because her companion was probably thinking nothing of the kind.  He barely squeezed her hand and said cheerfully: 

"Calm down, I'm just teasing you a bit, but I was telling the truth. If you crafted this hat, as I assume, then you are a fairy." 

She blushed:

"Yes, I did dress too."

"You are two fairies. How do you find the time doing these things?" 


"At night? Please don't do that again: I'll talk to Séraphine. She can sew, she loves you very much and she would be happy to help you." 

The cab had arrived. As they were walking into the Gare du Nord, Henry seemed bothered by what he called the twin beauties of Monopoly and Administration. This station, famous for the speed of its trains - that others reached too -, was also renowned for being dirty and for its shoddy management. 

Especially on Sundays, the number of open ticket booths was in inverse proportion to the number of people who wanted to leave. On the platforms, no employee never knew where the train was. As for the signs, they were only put up at the last minute; probably they were meant to tell latecomers that their train was gone. Those trains were always certain to carry the luggage, while the travelers themselves, stood obediently behind the railings until departure time, so that the porters were at least able to crush their feet. Henry explained that it had been like that every Sunday since he started to visit the forest with Sonia. He noted with satisfaction that nothing had changed and that Pascal while mourning stability, was still unaware of railway companies. 

That forest they were going to see, Henry had spoken about it since the milder days, and Charlotte had been waiting impatiently for him to take her there. She knew the trees on the boulevards. In the past, she remembered that she had seen some others, but their image remained vague in her mind. Henri spoke about this forest as if it were a special place where there were no people, where there was freedom. However, he had spent all these Sundays locked up at home, working on Mr. Hama's course. Fortunately, Mr. Hama was satisfied. 

Ninety minutes later, they arrived in a small town that Charlotte did not find pretty and her friend made her walk quickly through its three small badly paved streets, explaining that the town possessed a horrible chapel in a very pretentious bastard Jesuit style, it also had a statue of a great man very enamored with pomp and circumstance, and a palace which had beautiful chimneys from the Renaissance period which they would visit another day, and there was a very good bakery in this town as well and this is where they bought their provisions of bread rolls because it was quite possible to get lost on the whimsical paths of this forest. Therefore, they might get their lunch only very late. They crossed a corner of a park, Charlotte was admiring the very large trees and Henri admitted they were beautiful despite being civilized; then they followed a narrow path along a beautiful sunlit plain: a house with a red roof sheltered under a clump of trees, chickens pecking here, became frightened and fled. 

"My little soul, contemplate, this is the forest." 

In front of them a narrow grassy avenue opened; saplings, very tight against each other, formed a slight and airy vault with their tender leaves. Through the foliage, they could see the blue sky. On the ground, the sun was playfully drawing the shades of the leaves. In the middle, a capricious little path, was twisting, sometimes running ahead, then stepping to the left before moving to the right like a long earth-coloured snake. 

"Remove your veil, Charlotte, and your gloves. The free children of the earth enjoy simplicity, and if you give them the alms of a caress, they will accept only your bare hands. Give me those and all these things that you are carrying with you; you are like Sonia, I think, you don't have any pockets, yet quantities of useless fancy goods.”

This amount of fancy goods amounted to a small silk handbag containing a purse, a key and a handkerchief. Henri carefully folded the ribbon handle, flattened the bag, the veil and the gloves, and put it everything in one of his pockets:

"Go first, and follow the path, here the grass is always wet."

Yes, indeed, this forest was whimsical, they were constantly ascending, then the path went down a bit, and went up again. Birds were singing in the trees as if they said 'Why are you coming here?' or 'We are not bothered' - at least that is what Henri claimed. Walking behind Charlotte, he was pleased to rid the trail of leaves with his cane and watching the pretty slim round waist of the charming creature walking cheerfully in front of him. From time to time, she turned around and smiled, her face looking rosy under her hat, and she was asking: "That way?"

The rise to the Route du Faite, was a bit steep, so Henri suddenly took her by the waist, and he make her run, by almost carrying her:

"Here we are, this is the cross of Bellevue."

Charlotte, a little breathless and red, sat down on a moss-covered fallen tree, a log ready to be taken away. Henri threw his hat in front of him and reclined on the ground, a bit further away from her:

"Are you not you hungry?"

"Oh yes!" 

"Like a wolf?" 

"Like all the wolves put together." 

He raised himself on one elbow to see her better. He smiled thinking that she sounded very audacious, but she was looking at him with open hands, a sweet demeanour of, half-prayer, half trust. So he threw a bread roll on her lap. 

They were a little on the side of a large green circle. In the middle, a wooden cross dangled its rotten arms on and all traces of inscriptions had faded. Across, some very large trees with smooth trunks set themselves up as the columns of a temple of awe-inspiring depths; close to them, a large gap and the bluish distance. A brisk breeze came through it; they saw only bushes, and saplings happy to feel their first leaves shivering. A path wandered between large clumps of golden broom, shining among the greenery like a noisy, childish fanfare trying to distract you from the charm of a soothing melody, yet no one could blame them. 

"The brooms are tempting you, Charlotte, but this is not our path." 

Henry said he knew all the paths of that forest. The path was leading a small and neat white city, it had a little old bell tower around which the sparrows were always chirping. It crossed a flowing clear small river, to an always buzzing mill. Their own road was winding down, the soft earth was giving way under their feet, tremors were shaking the thickets. Charlotte stopped, listened, motionless, a finger to her lips, hoping to see a deer emerging, Henri had said that there were deer in this forest. A flutter, a little cry: it was only a bird that was flying away, she watched and was delighted.

They reached the edge of a big circus, encircled with towering trees on different levels like an amphitheatre; very distant from each other, they looked like gods sizing each other. The wind was shaking their round and hairy heads. These were the beech trees; the forest was mostly the home of beeches and the hornbeams. Behind them, like a veil made with lace and gold threads, was draping the horizon: the plain. A dazzling green range descended to the very bottom and went back to the path that did not lead any further. The shade of the trees was cutting large dark bands. A few steps away, between rigid and thin stems of green, a frail and capricious white glow was dancing, shimmering in the light. The young girl ran: it was a lily-of-the-valley; she crouched, she stretched out her hand but the young man called out to her with a reproachful tone: 

"Charlotte! ... sitting like that and lost in the dark, I can only see your pale eyes and you look like a real flower of the woods, don't take away the joy of your sister." 

Saddened, she backed away. He loved flowers, she knew it; at rue d’Assas, there were always some; she would have liked to buy him some; but she would have needed to buy them with ' his money'. 

"Oh,Ric! I wanted to give it to you."

He went down as well, knelt in the grass beside her, pulled out a book from his pocket and opened it. He watched her gently flatten the white bells, they were less fragrant than her kindness of her naive confession. 

"Little girl, how do you feel in our forest?" 

"So well." 

"Too well, it is enchanted, you see; we must defend ourselves, otherwise we would still be here tonight ..."

Henri was singing a verse from a poem by Clément Marot:

Au temps de ma jeunesse folle

Je ressemblais l'hirondelle qui vole

"When I was young and wild, 

I was like the flying swallow"

These trees were very beautiful, they leaned over the way for more air; they soared very high, their stripped bark was red as blood. Behind them, wild boars were hiding in the thickets of Saint-Jean-Aux-Feuilles; further away, they needed to cross a dusty road rushing like a river between two double rows of acacias and plane trees. They crossed a grass circle, then walked along of the Fond des Couleuvres, whose name alone was enough to fill the young girl with terror, while helping Charlotte to swim through the ferns, Henri explained that a small grass snake, green with a white belly, was a delightful creature and a pleasure to find. A metallic sound emerged from outside: Noon.

They left the forest through a meadow leading to the gate of a small garden. A little blonde girl about eight years old, cheerful and mischievous, hands in the pockets of her pink apron, caught sight of them and started to dance and she ran and shouted: 

"Monsieur Henri is here. " 

" Hello, Little Mémaine, come over here so that we can see you. Give a kiss to my sister Charlotte." 

The girl's mother, Mrs Saguet, had flat hair and a tanned complexion; she was tall, and leaning against the wall of her cottage, indolent and hands in the pockets of her blue apron, she looked at them. 

" We are hungry and thirsty, Mrs. Saguet." 

" I'll bring the table out. " 

Henri helped her install the table in the shade between two flowering apple trees at the back of the garden. After this effort, Mrs Saguet put her hands back in her pockets and admired the young man who was arranging the cutlery. 

" Will you give us a drink and take care of our omelette."                      

The omelettes from Clary had a special and truly exquisite favour, the very spicy cider could make someone feel a little bit tipsy. Henri had consented to drink some. Charlotte was laughing very loudly as she was eating:  two cats were sitting on each side of her chair, one was red, the one was grey - they were called Tape-a-L'Œil and Mouille-Ta-Patte . A large black dog, with tawny paws and snout, - his name was Faraud -, barked when Charlotte forgot to pay attention to him. 

" Come with me, my dog " Henri called "Young ladies are superficial and only appreciate pretty manners, come with me and learn philosophy ... How are you feeling, Charlotte? " 

"Very good." 

"Not too tired?" 

"Not really." 

"Charlotte, if you want , we'll go to the fountain of Mont -Aigu, from there you can see the Clary in all its splendor. Look at Mémaine isn't she a very pretty creature? " 

Mémaine came running, her straw hat falling back on her shoulders, her arms loaded with a fragrant harvest for Miss Charlotte. Henri had never been able to inspire in her the slightest respect for the poor meadow flowers.                        

Mémaine was promoted chief leader of the expedition, and they left for Mont-Aigu through the ever so beautiful forest. This road was called Laie-des-Charmes, and the hornbeams formed a very high and very dark large nave. They took a turn at the Cornillards crossroads; because Henry wanted to book the donkey Jacquot from the forest ranger to get back to the station in the evening. 

From there, they went down to the Ramée, and they saw a beautiful pond, a little overgrown with reeds, and frequented by teal. The forest formed an almost purple belt. Charlotte exclaimed: 


A beautiful deer was standing nearby with his timid doe running around him, afraid of escaping on her own. No doubt, they had come back from drinking. The deer waited for a few seconds, stared at them, and then jumped aside and both animals disappeared into the bushes. Charlotte, happy to have finally seen them, tried to follow their tawny coat with her eyes.

Memaine was following a small stream, looking barely like a silver wire, and stated that they would soon arrive at the fountain. Beautiful grey rocks littered the path, long and beautiful grass snakes glided silently, often the small silver wire disappeared; Mémaine then stopped, sighed, and moved again: 

"Sir, listen, this is it." 

There is was. It was gushing between two stones, jumping bravely and spreading in a small clear puddle, laughing like only small children can. Across, they saw Clary and his plain, both bathed in light, as calm as if they had been so sure of their right to make their own way through the world, that the spring was certain of reaching the great ocean. 

"Charlotte," Henri, "Look into the fountain, it is custom here to make a wish, so I'll do it for you: I wish you listen to its advice and leave to its picture of you all the sadness of your eyes." 


He kissed her brown cheek, he had not planned that, and found it as downy as a peach; a little unhappy with himself, he asked: "Give it back to me. " 

She wanted to kiss him with all her heart, but her lips only knew how to give him a shy kiss. Now Mémaine demanded her turn. 

" Like Faraud? " 

" Like Faraud. " 

The night was setting, there were already large parts of wood entirely dipped in shadows. Charlotte was now tired and was trailing her feet. 

"Give me your arm , I'll recite ‘The Evening song’ and you will sing it with Mémaine This will help us . " 

"Does Memaine know it? " 

Mémaine knew very well:

 The wood is dark, 

All filled with shadows, 

Oh hush! 

Smell the moss 

At our feet so sweet, 

Watch your steps. 


In the bushes 

On our knees. 

our arms outstretched, 

with our bewildered hearts 

We beg you, 

This is not the time, 

Remain with us, 

a little bit 

Let's sing. 


Let's Sing about the joy of your light 

And the beauty of this divine day. 

That all hope of this earth 

Inside us, with the wind, 

Will reach you and follow you 

Until the morning 

Through the dark nights, 

In our memories 

We see you again, 

And this is how we want to live 

Endless days. Ah! ah! ah!" 

Mrs. Saguet was outside the door waiting for them, saying; "It's pretty, very pretty". The guard and Jacquot were already there, the donkey began braying with its lamentable voice, not harmoniously at all:  and the all ah! ah! stopped right away. 

The table was set in the same way as during lunchtime, Henri and Charlotte could barely see each other, despite facing each other. Mrs Saguet said that they were late; yet they still needed to wait for their cup of warm milk, their hard-boiled egg, and a shawl that the young man had asked for the girl. Charlotte did not bring her jacket with her and the evenings at Clary were fresh:  

" This shawl, Mrs. Saguet, when do we need bring back the shawl?" 

"Well, next time. Goodbye Henri, goodbye Charlotte. " 

The night was magnificent, so full of stars. Henry was holding Charlotte tightly against him, because it was cold and because the roads were bad and Jacquot was very capricious, the bumps in the cariole were sudden and hard. The wind blew the hair of the girl towards the right and the left on both their faces. Bird called to each other from one tree to another; a small red glow was shining in the woods. The hut of a woodcutter who was still awake. 

"Alone maybe ..." she said in a pitying emphasis 

" You 'll never be alone again, Charlotte." 

She did not answer him. Henri was distracted by his deep thoughts, while answering the warden who was encouraging his beast. He still felt her soft lips on his cheek. Why was she so quickly diverted? And her abandonment now, was it just because she was very tired? He saw himself as a very young boy, in a photograph inside Uncle Pierre's photograph album timidly holding to his heart one of Sonia's dolls as if he were afraid of breaking it. This is how, he was holding Charlotte that night, his throbbing temples and his beating heart were anxiously. How come he was getting so anxious about every glance and every gesture from that small creature which both so naive and so complex? His sister might have received his letter by now, what would she think? What would she say? 

At the back of the plain, the lights of the little town were beginning to appear, so pale, they were struggling badly against the dying clarity of the twilight. The shape of the forest loomed majestically like an impressive and mysterious mass. On the horizon, the sky seemed to merge with it.

Henri called her:

"Charlotte, don't fall asleep here... It's too cold. Make one last effort, look at this beautiful forest I like it so much, it's a true integral equation: We are born in it, we rejoice in it, we suffer in it, we die in it. Leaves, grass, earth, smile and tears, nothing exists except what remains of it, the beauty she can make with the sun, with shade, just like life. "

Charlotte barely lifted barely her eyelids: the fresh air, walking and the cider had made her sleepy; she murmured: 

"Oh yes, Ric, but I can’t see life without you."

Three hours later, as they were drinking a hot toddy in a café in front of the station, Charlotte was astonished to find her friend so complacent, so kind, he always seemed happy, and yet she had behaved so terribly: she had not said hello in the morning, and she could not quite remember what she had done this evening. He had made her walk quickly on the platform, put into a compartment or sled, or a bed. Mom caught her, because she had found her hiding place; but in fact it was Miss Buchs, and it was Ric who kissed her. they travelled quickly, while the wind roared and wailed from both sides. she had fallen into a hole. at the bottom, her father was waiting for her. 

She had woke up screaming in a roar of whistles, chugging sounds, white lights, red lights , green lights , blue lights . Henri still held her against him, he whispered to her: 

"It's nothing, my little soul, we just arriving in big Paris."                       

Henri helped her put her hat back on, while two ladies, one old, one young, were watching them with curiosity, probably because it was bad manners to sleep in the arms of a young man in front of everyone. Charlotte was still red, troubled; and also shivering. The dream - was it this hole, or the whole day, and the forest? His friend did not avert his eyes from her, while drinking a cup of tea. He said he was three minutes before midnight, when they should arrive at ten forty one. This company's Pégase trains were always more than an hour late when they returned; but why complain as long as none was killed in an accident? If Charlotte wished so, Henri would bring the bouquet of meadow flowers to Séraphine, on her behalf.