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PAGE 5

The Mask
by [?]

“It was mean to feel thus, but I did my housework with a light heart that morning, without waking him up, and, as soon as he opened his eyes of his own accord, I said to him: ‘Do you know what I discovered while you were asleep?’

“‘No.’

“‘I found white hairs.’

“He started up as if I had tickled him and said angrily: ‘It’s not true!’

“‘Yes, it is. There are four of them over your left temple.’

“He jumped out of bed and ran over to the mirror. He could not find them. Then I showed him the first one, the lowest, the little curly one, and I said: ‘It’s no wonder, after the life that you have been leading. In two years all will be over for you.’

“Well, monsieur, I had spoken true; two years later one could not recognize him. How quickly a man changes! He was still handsome, but he had lost his freshness, and the women no longer ran after him. Ah! what a life I led at that time! How he treated me! Nothing suited him. He left his trade to go into the hat business, in which he ate up all his money. Then he unsuccessfully tried to be an actor, and finally he began to frequent public balls. Fortunately, he had had common sense enough to save a little something on which we now live. It is sufficient, but it is not enormous. And to think that at one time he had almost a fortune.

“Now you see what he does. This habit holds him like a frenzy. He has to be young; he has to dance with women who smell of perfume and cosmetics. You poor old darling!”

She was looking at her old snoring husband fondty, ready to cry. Then, gently tiptoeing up to him, she kissed his hair. The physician had risen and was getting ready to leave, finding nothing to say to this strange couple. Just as he was leaving she asked:

“Would you mind giving me your address? If he should grow worse, I could go and get you.”