- Project Runeberg -  The story of San Michele /
213

(1929) [MARC] Author: Axel Munthe - Tema: Medicine
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foi! it looks to me as if it might make up for my
bill if it comes to the worst. One never knows
with these foreign ladies, she might choose to
clear out as mysteriously as she came, God knows
from where.”

“We are not there yet,” said I snatching the
brooch from his red fingers and putting it in my
pocket, “according to French law the bill of the
undertaker passes before the bill of the doctor,
we don’t yet know which of the two bills will be
presented for payment first. As to the child
. . .”

“Never mind the child,” he giggled, “we have
plenty of babies here and to spare to substitute
for it if it comes to the worst. Madame Réquin
is dispatching every week half-a-dozen babies
with the ‘train des nourrices’ from the Gare
d’Orléans. But I cannot afford to let the mother
slip through my fingers, I have to be careful
about my statistics, I have already signed two
death-certificates from this place in two weeks.”

The woman was still half-unconscious when I
left at daybreak but the pulse had steadied itself
and I told the doctor I thought she would live. I
must have been in a pretty bad state myself or I
would never have accepted the cup of black coffee
Madame Réquin offered me in her sinister little
parlour as I staggered downstairs.

“Ah, la jolie broche,” said Madame Réquin
as I handed her the brooch for custody. “Do
you think the stones are real?” she wondered
holding the brooch close to the gaslight. It was a
very fine diamond brooch with a letter M,
surmounted with a coronet in rubies. The flash

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