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"Mademoiselle Zinca--" I say.
"You know my name?" she exclaims.
"Yes, mademoiselle. I arrived yesterday by the Grand Transasiatic."
The girl turned pale; her eyes became troubled. It was evident that she feared something. Had Kinko been found in his box? Had the fraud been discovered? Was he arrested? Was he in prison?
I hastened to add:
"Mademoiselle Zinca--certain circumstances have brought to my knowledge--the journey of a young Roumanian--"
"Kinko--my poor Kinko--they have found him?" she asks in a trembling voice.
"No--no--" say I, hesitating. "No one knows--except myself. I often visited him in the luggage-van at night; we were companions, friends. I took him a few provisions--"
"Oh! thank you, sir!" says the lady, taking me by the hands. "With a Frenchman Kinko was sure of not being betrayed, and even of receiving help! Thank you, thank you!"
I am more than ever afraid of the mission on which I have come.
"And no one suspected the presence of my dear Kinko?" she asks.
"What would you have had us do, sir? We are not rich. Kinko was without money over there at Tiflis, and I had not enough to send him his fare. But he is here at last. He will get work, for he is a good workman, and as soon as we can we will pay the company--"
"Yes; I know, I know."
"And then we are going to get married, monsieur. He loves me so much, and I love him. We met one another in Paris. He was so kind to me. Then when he went back to Tiflis I asked him to come to me in that box. Is the poor fellow ill?"
"No, Mademoiselle Zinca, no."
"Ah! I shall be happy to pay the carriage of my dear Kinko."
"Yes--pay the carriage--"
"It will not be long now?"
"No; this afternoon probably."
I do not know what to say.
"Monsieur," says mademoiselle, "we are going to get married as soon as the formalities are complied with; and if it is not abusing your confidence, will you do us the honor and pleasure of being present?"
"At your marriage--certainly. I promised my friend Kinko I would."
Poor girl! I cannot leave her like this. I must tell her everything.
"He asked you to come and tell me he had arrived?"
"Yes--but--you understand--he is very tired after so long a journey--"
"Oh! do not be alarmed--"
"Is he ill?"
"Then I will go--I must see him--I pray you, sir, come with me to the station--"
"No; that would be an imprudence--remain here--remain--"
Zinca Klork looked at me fixedly.
"The truth, monsieur, the truth! Hide nothing from me--Kinko--"
"Yes--I have sad news--to give you." She is fainting. Her lips tremble. She can hardly speak.
"He has been discovered!" she says. "His fraud is known--they have arrested him--"