the people had found it necessary to follow the receding，
"Does he often come to see you?"
"Every evening. He always has goodies in his pocket for mamma and me."
"Why does he sit in that back room without any light?"
"Oh, he says that the customers mustn't see him."
It would have been an abominable act to continue this examination, and make this child the innocent accuser of his own mother. Chupin felt conscience-smitten even now. So he kissed the cleanest spot he could find on the boy's face, and set him on the floor again, saying, "Go and play."
The child had revealed his mother's character with cruel precision. What had she told him about his father? That he was rich, and that, in case he returned, he would give them plenty of money and fine clothes. The woman's nature stood revealed in all its deformity. Chupin had good cause to feel proud of his discernment--all his suppositions had been confirmed. He had read Mouchon's character at a glance. He had recognized him as one of those wily evil-minded men who employ their leisure to the profit of their depravity--one of those patient, cold-blooded hypocrites who make poverty their purveyor, and whose passion is prodigal only in advice. "So he's paying his court to Madame Paul," thought Chupin. "Isn't it shameful? The old villain! he might at least give her enough to eat!"
So far his preoccupation had made him forget his wine and his cigar. He emptied the glass at a single draught, but it proved far more difficult to light the cigar. "Zounds! this is a non- combustible," he growled. "When I arrive at smoking ten sous cigars, I sha'n't come here to buy them."
However, with the help of several matches and a great deal of drawing, he had almost succeeded, when the door opened, and Madame Paul reappeared with a letter in her hand. She seemed greatly agitated; her anxiety was unmistakable. "I can't decide," she was saying to Mouchon, whose figure Chupin could only dimly distinguish in the darkness. "No, I can't. If I send this letter, I must forever renounce all hope of my husband's return. Whatever happens, he will never forgive me."
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