Marie Honda was about twenty years old. Her parents had died by that time, and the girl who sold the house for debts rented a tiny apartment next to the owner of a small bakery, Remy’s mother. The elderly woman pitied the orphan and took care of him. In the evenings, Marie often came to the veranda to Mama Remy, they had a heart-to-heart conversation. Louise Remy knitted sweaters for her grandchildren and treated Marie to buns from her bakery.
Unfortunately, Marie was not just plain, she was very ugly: flat-chested and lopsided, with huge feet and hands. A large-nosed face with dull eyes and a narrow-lipped mouth was especially marred by smallpox. For this reason, little Marie had no boyfriends or girlfriends. She was not hired for a decent job, and the girl had to earn a living by hard work as a laundress.
Only Louise Remy Marie told about her troubles. Rejected by people, the girl became interested in everything unknown and mysterious, began to read books on black magic and witchcraft. She often went to the cemetery in the evening and performed some mysterious rituals there.
Louise Remy did not approve of her ward’s infatuation. Mary objected:
– You don’t understand anything, sooner or later with the help of magic I will become beautiful.
Remy’s mom felt sorry for the girl and gave her another croissant.
One evening, the ugly girl came to the veranda and silently sat down next to Louise, smiling happily. Remy ‘s mother said:
– If you smile, it means that your business has improved. Have you increased your salary?
– no. It’s just that everything is ready for the last rite. It’s a full moon today. Tomorrow I will become a beauty.
Louise carefully looked at the radiant face of the girl, which seemed to glow from within and even became pretty.
“I have everything I need,” Marie continued. – A white rat, a fragment of a coffin board, a large cast-iron boiler and a steel knife with a boxwood handle.
“Good God! Remy’s mother exclaimed. – And what are you going to do with all this?
– Exactly at midnight I will go out on the roof and cut off my shadow with a boxwood-handled knife. Thus I will become invisible, this ugly body and ugly face will simply cease to exist. And then I will create a new, beautiful body and a new face. To do this, I will light a stove in which I will put a coffin board, and put water to warm in a cast-iron boiler. When the water boils, I’ll throw a white rat in there. Everything else is very simple!
– Holy Mary! Louise was frightened. “Are you going to mock a rat?”
“But it’s necessary. That’s what it says in an old book on magic that I bought from a second-hand bookseller.
“Don’t play with fire, Marie. Accept it. You have a kind heart, and sooner or later you will find a groom. And if you keep in touch with the devil, God will leave you.
– I will cut up a boiled rat, I will find a bone in the form of a letter, and then my life will change, – the girl did not listen to the objections.
– And what are you going to do with the bone?
– Oh, this is the most important part of the ceremony! I have to put it under my tongue. Then I will become a beauty.
Remy’s mother looked at the girl and realized that she might have gone mad. Her eyes were burning and her hands were shaking. Louise Remy was saddened and said goodbye to Marie:
– Well, I see that you will not change your decision. But I will pray and ask God to reason with you. Maybe at midnight you won’t play with fire.
Marie didn’t say anything and just kissed Remy’s mom.
The next day, Mademoiselle Honda did not come to Mama Remy’s veranda to drink tea and chat. She did not come the next day and the next day. Louise was alarmed. She asked the neighbors, but no one saw baby Marie. Remy’s mother sent her grandson home to the girl, but he returned and said that the door was locked.
Then Louise went to Marie’s neighbors on the landing, the newlyweds Margot and Andre. It turned out they didn’t see
Marino heard a terrible noise in her apartment three days ago at night.
– There were wild screams coming from there, as if some animal was screaming. My hair stood on end,” Margot said.
– Then Marie muttered something, as if she was talking to herself.
Margot and Andre knocked on Marie’s wall, demanding that she stop making noise and not disturb them to sleep. An hour later, everything was quiet. Only a strange smell spread in the apartment of a young couple. It seemed to them that the smell was coming through the ventilation system in the kitchen from Maria’s apartment.
Louise Remy thought that something terrible had happened to her young friend. She, enlisting the help of her grandson and young spouses, decided to crack the lock of Marie’s door. However, it was not possible to enter the apartment. The door was bolted from the inside. Then Louise reported the incident to the landlord. He called a policeman, who broke down the door.
There was a strange smell in Marie’s apartment, similar to the scent of incense. In the center of the only room there was a large table, on it lay a butchered carcass of a white rat. There was a bed in the corner with an unmade bed. On the bed was a long skirt and a dark blouse that Marie usually wore. On half-worn shoes. Marie seemed to have disappeared! From the window of the room it was possible to climb out onto the flat roof of the neighboring house, but no one noticed any traces there. Louise Remy got the idea that it was on this roof that Marie was going to cut off her shadow on a full moon.
Marie paid the landlord a few months in advance. After this period, the owner rented the apartment to another tenant. The poor girl’s miserable belongings were given to the police for safekeeping. Since then, Marie Honda has been missing. No one has ever seen her.
One day, a year after Mademoiselle Honde disappeared, Remy’s mother was knitting on her veranda as usual. Suddenly, she saw a tall girl enter the courtyard. She came closer, looking directly at Louise. The stranger was very beautiful. The oval of the delicate face was framed by thick black hair, the eyes had an unusual violet color, bright lips smiled, exposing white teeth. The girl was dressed in a beautiful silk dress and high-heeled shoes.
“Hello, Mother Remy,” the stranger said.
– Hello. How do you know me? Louise was surprised.
The beauty handed the elderly woman an envelope:
– This is for you from Marie.
Louise looked at the girl as if mesmerized. She turned on her high heels and walked away. It was only a few minutes later that Remy’s mother woke up from her stupor and looked into the envelope. There was a thousand francs lying there-a lot of money by the standards of the bakery owner.