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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Confession Of A Child Of The Century - Part 5 - Chapter 7
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The Confession Of A Child Of The Century - Part 5 - Chapter 7 Post by :notepage Category :Long Stories Author :Alfred De Musset Date :May 2012 Read :832

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The Confession Of A Child Of The Century - Part 5 - Chapter 7

PART V CHAPTER VII

ON the morrow, a clear December day, a young man and a woman who rested on his arm, passed through the garden of the Palais-Royal. They entered a jeweler's store where they chose two similar rings which they smilingly exchanged. After a short walk they took breakfast at the Freres-Provencaux, in one of those little rooms which are, all things considered, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. There, when the garcon had left them, they sat near the windows, hand in hand. The young man was in traveling dress; to see the joy which shone on his face, one would have taken him for a young husband showing his young wife the beauties and pleasures of Parisian life. His happiness was calm and subdued, as true happiness always is. The experienced would have recognized in him the youth who merges into manhood. From time to time he looked up at the sky, then at his companion, and tears glittered in his eyes, but he heeded them not, and smiled as he wept. The woman was pale and thoughtful, her eyes were fixed on the man. On her face were traces of sorrow which she could not conceal, although evidently touched by the exalted joy of her companion. When he smiled, she smiled too, but never alone; when he spoke, she replied and she ate what he served her; but there was about her a silence which was only broken at his instance. In her languor could be clearly distinguished that gentleness of soul, that lethargy of the weaker of two beings who love, one of whom exists only in the other and responds to him as does the echo. The young man was conscious of it and seemed proud of it and grateful for it; but it could be seen even by his pride that his happiness was new to him. When the woman became sad and her eyes fell, he cheered her with his glance; but he could not always succeed, and seemed troubled himself. That mingling of strength and weakness, of joy and sorrow, of anxiety and serenity could not have been understood by an indifferent spectator; at times they appeared the most happy of living creatures, and the next moment the most unhappy; but although ignorant of their secret, one would have felt that they were suffering together, and, whatever their mysterious trouble, it could be seen that they had placed on their sorrow a seal more powerful than love itself--friendship. While their hands were clasped their glances were chaste; although they were alone, they spoke in low tones. As though overcome by their feelings they sat face to face, although their lips did not touch. They looked at each other tenderly and solemnly. When the clock struck one, the woman heaved a sigh and said:

"Octave, are you sure of yourself?"

"Yes, my friend, I am resolved. I will 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 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 will 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 word that it does not understand: Let us be friends; and adieu forever. Before we became such intimate friends there was something within that told us that we were destined to mingle our lives. Let that part of us which is still joined in God's sight never know that we have parted upon earth; let not the paltry chance of a moment undo the union of 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 glorious 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. A moment later a carriage passed over a little hill beyond 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.


(THE END)
Alfred de Musset's Novel: Confession of a Child of The Century

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