**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Mask
by [?]

“I knew that he would not keep still, that he would come to the point. I could feel that from his manner, which seemed to laugh and say: ‘I had a fine adventure to-day, Madeleine.’ I would pretend to notice nothing, to guess nothing; I would set the table, bring on the soup and sit down opposite him.

“At those times, monsieur, it was as if my friendship for him had been crushed in my body as with a stone. It hurt. But he did not understand; he did not know; he felt a need to tell all those things to some one, to boast, to show how much he was loved, and I was the only one he had to whom he could talk-the only one. And I would have to listen and drink it in, like poison.

“He would begin to take his soup and then he would say: ‘One more, Madeleine.’

“And I would think: ‘Here it comes! Goodness! what a man! Why did I ever meet him?’

“Then he would begin: ‘One more! And a beauty, too.’ And it would be some little one from the Vaudeville or else from the Varietes, and some of the big ones, too, some of the most famous. He would tell me their names, how their apartments were furnished, everything, everything, monsieur. Heartbreaking details. And he would go over them and tell his story over again from beginning to end, so pleased with himself that I would pretend to laugh so that he would not get angry with me.

“Everything may not have been true! He liked to glorify himself and was quite capable of inventing such things! They may perhaps also have been true! On those evenings he would pretend to be tired and wish to go to bed after supper. We would take supper at eleven, monsieur, for he could never get back from work earlier.

“When he had finished telling about his adventure he would walk round the room and smoke cigarettes, and he was so handsome, with his mustache and curly hair, that I would think: ‘It’s true, just the same, what he is telling. Since I myself am crazy about that man, why should not others be the same?’ Then I would feel like crying, shrieking, running away and jumping out of the window while I was clearing the table and he was smoking. He would yawn in order to show how tired he was, and he would say two or three times before going to bed: ‘Ah! how well I shall sleep this evening!’

“I bear him no ill will, because he did not know how he was hurting me. No, he could not know! He loved to boast about the women just as a peacock loves to show his feathers. He got to the point where he thought that all of them looked at him and desired him.

“It was hard when he grew old. Oh, monsieur, when I saw his first white hair I felt a terrible shock and then a great joy–a wicked joy–but so great, so great! I said to myself: ‘It’s the end-it’s the end.’ It seemed as if I were about to be released from prison. At last I could have him to myself, all to myself, when the others would no longer want him.

“It was one morning in bed. He was still sleeping and I leaned over him to wake him up with a kiss, when I noticed in his curls, over his temple, a little thread which shone like silver. What a surprise! I should not have thought it possible! At first I thought of tearing it out so that he would not see it, but as I looked carefully I noticed another farther up. White hair! He was going to have white hair! My heart began to thump and perspiration stood out all over me, but away down at the bottom I was happy.