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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Pilgrims Of The Rhine - Chapter 17. Letter From Trevylyan To -----.
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The Pilgrims Of The Rhine - Chapter 17. Letter From Trevylyan To -----. Post by :ron2316 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2320

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The Pilgrims Of The Rhine - Chapter 17. Letter From Trevylyan To -----.

CHAPTER XVII. LETTER FROM TREVYLYAN TO -----.

COBLENTZ.

I AM obliged to you, my dear friend, for your letter; which, indeed, I have not, in the course of our rapid journey, had the leisure, perhaps the heart, to answer before. But we are staying in this town for some days, and I write now in the early morning, ere any one else in our hotel is awake. Do not tell me of adventure, of politics, of intrigues; my nature is altered. I threw down your letter, animated and brilliant as it was, with a sick and revolted heart. But I am now in somewhat less dejected spirits. Gertrude is better,--yes, really better; there is a physician here who gives me hope; my care is perpetually to amuse, and never to fatigue her,--never to permit her thoughts to rest upon herself. For I have imagined that illness cannot, at least in the unexhausted vigour of our years, fasten upon us irremediably unless we feed it with our own belief in its existence. You see men of the most delicate frames engaged in active and professional pursuits, who literally have no time for illness. Let them become idle, let them take care of themselves, let them think of their health--and they die! The rust rots the steel which use preserves; and, thank Heaven, although Gertrude, once during our voyage, seemed roused, by an inexcusable imprudence of emotion on my part, into some suspicion of her state, yet it passed away; for she thinks rarely of herself,--I am ever in her thoughts and seldom from her side, and you know, too, the sanguine and credulous nature of her disease. But, indeed, I now hope more than I have done since I knew her.

When, after an excited and adventurous life which had comprised so many changes in so few years, I found myself at rest in the bosom of a retired and remote part of the country, and Gertrude and her father were my only neighbours, I was in that state of mind in which the passions, recruited by solitude, are accessible to the purer and more divine emotions. I was struck by Gertrude's beauty, I was charmed by her simplicity. Worn in the usages and fashions of the world, the inexperience, the trustfulness, the exceeding youth of her mind, charmed and touched me; but when I saw the stamp of our national disease in her bright eye and transparent cheek, I felt my love chilled while my interest was increased. I fancied myself safe, and I went daily into the danger; I imagined so pure a light could not burn, and I was consumed. Not till my anxiety grew into pain, my interest into terror, did I know the secret of my own heart; and at the moment that I discovered this secret, I discovered also that Gertrude loved me! What a destiny was mine! what happiness, yet what misery! Gertrude was my own--but for what period? I might touch that soft hand, I might listen to the tenderest confession from that silver voice; but all the while my heart spoke of passion, my reason whispered of death. You know that I am considered of a cold and almost callous nature, that I am not easily moved into affection; but my very pride bowed me here into weakness. There was so soft a demand upon my protection, so constant an appeal to my anxiety. You know that my father's quick temper burns within me, that I am hot, and stern, and exacting; but one hasty word, one thought of myself, here were inexcusable. So brief a time might be left for her earthly happiness,--could I embitter one moment? All that feeling of uncertainty which should in prudence have prevented my love, increased it almost to a preternatural excess. That which it is said mothers feel for an only child in sickness, I feel for Gertrude. _My existence is not!--I exist in her!

Her illness increased upon her at home; they have recommended travel. She chose the course we were to pursue, and, fortunately, it was so familiar to me, that I have been enabled to brighten the way. I am ever on the watch that she shall not know a weary hour; you would almost smile to see how I have roused myself from my habitual silence, and to find me--me, the scheming and worldly actor of real life--plunged back into the early romance of my boyhood, and charming the childish delight of Gertrude with the invention of fables and the traditions of the Rhine.

But I believe that I have succeeded in my object; if not, what is left to me? _Gertrude is better!_--In that sentence what visions of hope dawn upon me! I wish you could have seen Gertrude before we left England; you might then have understood my love for her. Not that we have not, in the gay capitals of Europe, paid our brief vows to forms more richly beautiful; not that we have not been charmed by a more brilliant genius, by a more tutored grace. But there is that in Gertrude which I never saw before,--the union of the childish and the intellectual, an ethereal simplicity, a temper that is never dimmed, a tenderness--O God! let me not speak of her virtues, for they only tell me how little she is suited to the earth.

You will direct to me at Mayence, whither our course now leads us, and your friendship will find indulgence for a letter that is so little a reply to yours.

Your sincere friend,

A. G. TREVYLYAN.

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