Monday, March 14, 2011

Musset: If you love me...

She gave evidence of more tenderness, more confidence than ever. She clapped her hands gleefully at the prospect of a happy journey; in short, she was all love, or at least apparently all love. I can not tell how I suffered at the sight of that factitious joy; there was in that grief which crazed her something more sad than tears and more bitter than reproaches. I would have preferred to have her cold and indifferent rather than thus excited; it seemed to me a parody of our happiest moments. There were the same words, the same woman, the same caresses; and that which, fifteen days before would have intoxicated me with love and happiness, repeated thus, filled me with horror.  
"Brigitte," I suddenly inquired, "what secret are you concealing from me? If you love me, what horrible comedy is this you are enacting before me?"  
"I!" said she, almost offended. "What makes you think I am acting?"  
"What makes me think so? Tell me, my dear, that you have death in your soul and that you are suffering martyrdom. Behold my arms are ready to receive you; lean your head on me and weep. Then I will take you away, perhaps; but in truth, not thus." 
"Let us go, let us go!" she again repeated.  
"No, on my soul! No, not at present; no, not while there is between us a lie or a mask. I like unhappiness better than such cheerfulness as yours."  
She was silent, astonished to see that I had not been deceived by her words and manner and that I saw through them both. 
"Why should we delude ourselves?" I continued.  
"Have I fallen so low in your esteem that you can dissimulate before me? That unfortunate journey, you think you are condemned to it, do you? Am I a tyrant, an absolute master? Am I an executioner who drags you to punishment? How much do you fear my wrath when you come before me with such mimicry? What terror impels you to lie thus?"  
"You are wrong," she replied; "I beg of you, not a word more."  
"Why so little sincerity? If I am not your confidant, may I not at least be your friend? If I am denied all knowledge of the source of your tears, may I not at least see them flow? Have you not enough confidence in me to believe that I will respect your sorrow? What have I done that I should be ignorant of it? Might not the remedy lie right there?"  
"No," she replied, "you are wrong; you will achieve your own unhappiness as well as mine if you press me farther. Is it not enough that we are going away?"  
"And do you expect me to drag you away against your will? Is it not evident that you have consented reluctantly, and that you already begin to repent? Great God! What is it you are concealing from me? What is the use of playing with words when your thoughts are as clear as that glass before which you stand? Should I not be the meanest of men to accept at your hands what is yielded with so much regret? And yet how can I refuse it? What can I do if you refuse to speak?"  
"No, I do not oppose you, you are mistaken; I love you, Octave; cease tormenting me thus."  
She threw so much tenderness into these words that I fell down on my knees before her. Who could resist her glance and her voice?  
"My God!" I cried, "you love me, Brigitte? My dear mistress, you love me?"  
"Yes, I love you; yes. I belong to you; do with me what you will. I will follow you, let us go away together; come, Octave, the carriage is waiting."

Confessions of a Child of the Century


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