Sunday, May 08, 2011

Musset: It was time to go

"Octave, are you sure of yourself?"

"Yes, my friend, I am resolved. I shall suffer much, a long time, perhaps forever; but we will cure ourselves, you with time, I with God."

"Octave, Octave," repeated the woman, "are you sure you are not deceiving yourself?"

"I do not believe we can forget each other; but I believe that we can forgive, and that is what I desire even at the price of separation."

"Why could we not meet again? Why not some day--you are so young!"

Then she added, with a smile:

"We could see each other without danger."

"No, my friend, for you must know that I could never see you again without loving you. May he to whom I bequeath you be worthy of you! Smith is brave, good, and honest, but however much you may love him, you see very well that you still love me, for if I should decide to remain, or to take you away with me, you would consent."

"It is true," replied the woman.

"True! true!" repeated the young man, looking into her eyes with all his soul. "Is it true that if I wished it you would go with me?"

Then he continued, softly:

"That is the reason why I must never see you again. There are certain loves in life that overturn the head, the senses, the mind, the heart; there is among them all but one that does not disturb, that penetrates, and that dies only with the being in which it has taken root."

"But you will write to me?"

"Yes, at first, for what I have to suffer is so keen that the absence of the habitual object of my love would kill me. When I was unknown to you, I gradually approached closer and closer to you, until--but let us not go into the past.Little by little my letters will become less frequent until they cease altogether. I shall thus descend the hill that I have been climbing for the past year. When one stands before a fresh grave, over which are engraved two cherished names, one experiences a mysterious sense of grief, which causes tears to trickle down one's cheeks; it is thus that I wish to remember having once lived."

At these words the woman threw herself on the couch and burst into tears. The young man wept with her, but he did not move and seemed anxious to appear unconscious of her emotion. When her tears ceased to flow, he approached her, took her hand in his and kissed it.

"Believe me," said he, "to be loved by you, whatever the name of the place I occupy in your heart, will give me strength and courage. Rest assured, Brigitte, no one will ever understand you better than I; another will love you more worthily, no one will love you more truly. Another will be considerate of those feelings that I offend, he will surround you with his love; you will have a better lover, you will not have a better brother. Give me your hand and let the world laugh at a sentence that it does not understand: Let us be friends, and part forever. Before we became such intimate friends there was something within that told us we were destined to mingle our lives. Let our souls never know that we have parted upon earth; let not the paltry chance of a moment undo our eternal happiness!"

He held the woman's hand; she arose, tears streaming from her eyes, and, stepping up to the mirror with a strange smile on her face, she cut from her head a long tress of hair; then she looked at herself thus disfigured and deprived of a part of her beautiful crown, and gave it to her lover.

The clock struck again; it was time to go; when they passed out they seemed as joyful as when they entered.

"What a beautiful sun!" said the young man.

"And a beautiful day," said Brigitte, "the memory of which shall never fade."

They hastened away and disappeared in the crowd.

Some time later a carriage passed over a little hill behind Fontainebleau. The young man was the only occupant; he looked for the last time upon his native town as it disappeared in the distance, and thanked God that, of the three beings who had suffered through his fault, there remained but one of them still unhappy.

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