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Indiscretion
by [?]

They had loved each other before marriage with a pure and lofty love. They had first met on the sea-shore. He had thought this young girl charming, as she passed by with her light-colored parasol and her dainty dress amid the marine landscape against the horizon. He had loved her, blond and slender, in these surroundings of blue ocean and spacious sky. He could not distinguish the tenderness which this budding woman awoke in him from the vague and powerful emotion which the fresh salt air and the grand scenery of surf and sunshine and waves aroused in his soul.

She, on the other hand, had loved him because he courted her, because he was young, rich, kind, and attentive. She had loved him because it is natural for young girls to love men who whisper sweet nothings to them.

So, for three months, they had lived side by side, and hand in hand. The greeting which they exchanged in the morning before the bath, in the freshness of the morning, or in the evening on the sand, under the stars, in the warmth of a calm night, whispered low, very low, already had the flavor of kisses, though their lips had never met.

Each dreamed of the other at night, each thought of the other on awaking, and, without yet having voiced their sentiments, each longer for the other, body and soul.

After marriage their love descended to earth. It was at first a tireless, sensuous passion, then exalted tenderness composed of tangible poetry, more refined caresses, and new and foolish inventions. Every glance and gesture was an expression of passion.

But, little by little, without even noticing it, they began to get tired of each other. Love was still strong, but they had nothing more to reveal to each other, nothing more to learn from each other, no new tale of endearment, no unexpected outburst, no new way of expressing the well- known, oft-repeated verb.

They tried, however, to rekindle the dwindling flame of the first love. Every day they tried some new trick or desperate attempt to bring back to their hearts the uncooled ardor of their first days of married life. They tried moonlight walks under the trees, in the sweet warmth of the summer evenings: the poetry of mist-covered beaches; the excitement of public festivals.

One morning Henriette said to Paul:

“Will you take me to a cafe for dinner?”

“Certainly, dearie.”

“To some well-known cafe?”

“Of course!”

He looked at her with a questioning glance, seeing that she was thinking of something which she did not wish to tell.

She went on:

“You know, one of those cafes–oh, how can I explain myself?–a sporty cafe!”

He smiled: “Of course, I understand–you mean in one of the cafes which are commonly called bohemian.”

“Yes, that’s it. But take me to one of the big places, one where you are known, one where you have already supped–no–dined–well, you know–I— -I–oh! I will never dare say it!”

“Go ahead, dearie. Little secrets should no longer exist between us.”

“No, I dare not.”

“Go on; don’t be prudish. Tell me.”

“Well, I–I–I want to be taken for your sweetheart–there! and I want the boys, who do not know that you are married, to take me for such; and you too–I want you to think that I am your sweetheart for one hour, in that place which must hold so many memories for you. There! And I will play that I am your sweetheart. It’s awful, I know–I am abominably ashamed, I am as red as a peony. Don’t look at me!”

He laughed, greatly amused, and answered:

“All right, we will go to-night to a very swell place where I am well known.”

Toward seven o’clock they went up the stairs of one of the big cafes on the Boulevard, he, smiling, with the look of a conqueror, she, timid, veiled, delighted. They were immediately shown to one of the luxurious private dining-rooms, furnished with four large arm-chairs and a red plush couch. The head waiter entered and brought them the menu. Paul handed it to his wife.