Robert Tronge 9

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robert tronge
Robert Tronge

She threw her arms around my neck, saying that she had been tempted, that my rival had intoxicated her at that fatal supper, but that she had never been his; that she had abandoned herself in a moment of forgetfulness; that she had committed a fault but not a crime; but that if I would not pardon her, she, too, would die. All that sincere repentance has of tears, all that sorrow has of eloquence, she exhausted in order to console me; pale and distraught, her dress deranged, her hair falling over her shoulders, she kneeled in the middle of her chamber; never have I seen anything so beautiful, and I shuddered with horror as my senses revolted at the sight. I went away crushed, scarcely able to direct my tottering steps. I wished never to see her again; but in a quarter of an hour I returned. I do not know what desperate resolve I had formed; I experienced a full desire to know her mine once more, to drain the cup of tears and bitterness to the dregs, and then to die with her. In short I abhorred her, yet I idolized her; I felt that her love was ruin, but that to live without her was impossible. I mounted the stairs like a flash; I spoke to none of the servants, but, familiar with the house, opened the door of her chamber. I found her seated calmly before her toilette-table, covered with jewels; she held in her hand a piece of red crepe which she passed gently over her cheeks. I thought I was dreaming; it did not seem possible that this was the woman I had left, just fifteen minutes before, overwhelmed with grief, abased to the floor; I was as motionless as a statue. She, hearing the door open, turned her head and smiled: "Is it you?" she said. She was going to a ball and was expecting my rival. As she recognized me, she compressed her lips and frowned. I started to leave the room. I looked at her bare neck, lithe and perfumed, on which rested her knotted hair confined by a jewelled comb; that neck, the seat of vital force, was blacker than hell; two shining tresses had fallen there and some light silvern hairs balanced above it. Her shoulders and neck, whiter than milk, displayed a heavy growth of down. There was in that knotted mass of hair something maddeningly lovely, which seemed to mock me when I thought of the sorrowful abandon in which I had seen her a moment before. I suddenly stepped up to her and struck that neck with the back of my hand. My mistress gave vent to a cry of terror, and fell on her hands, while I hastened from the room. When I reached my room I was again attacked by fever and was obliged to take to my bed. My wound had reopened and I suffered great pain. Desgenais came to see me and I told him what had happened. He listened in silence, then paced up and down the room as if undecided as to his next course. Finally he stopped before my bed and burst out laughing. "Is she your first love?" he asked. "No!" I replied, "she is my last." Toward midnight, while sleeping restlessly, I seemed to hear in my dreams a profound sigh. I opened my eyes and saw my mistress standing near my bed with arms crossed, looking like a spectre. I could not restrain a cry of fright, believing it to be an apparition conjured up by my diseased brain. I leaped from my bed and fled to the farther end of the room; but she followed me. "It is I!" said she; putting her arms around me, she drew me to her. "What do you want of me?" I cried. "Leave, me! I fear I shall kill you!" "Very well, kill me!" she said. "I have deceived you, I have lied to you, I am an infamous wretch and I am miserable; but I love you, and I can not live without you." I looked at her; how beautiful she was! Her body was quivering; her eyes were languid with love and moist with voluptuousness; her bosom was bare, her lips were burning. I raised her in my arms. "Very well," I said, "but before God who sees us, by the soul of my father, I swear that I will kill you and that I will die with you." I took a knife from the table and placed it under the pillow. "Come, Octave," she said, smiling and kissing me, "do not be foolish. Come, my dear, all these horrors have unsettled your mind; you are feverish. Give me that knife." I saw that she wished to take it. "Listen to me," I then said; "I do not know what comedy you are playing, but as for me I am in earnest. I have loved you as only man can love, and to my sorrow I love you still. You have just told me that you love me, and I hope it is true; but, by all that is sacred, if I am your lover to-night, no one shall take my place tomorrow. Before God, before God," I repeated, "I would not take you back as my mistress, for I hate you as much as I love you. Before God, if you wish to stay here to-night I will kill you in the morning." When I had spoken these words I fell into a delirium. She threw her cloak over her shoulders and fled from the room. When I told Desgenais about it he said: "Why did you do that? You must be very much disgusted, for she is a beautiful woman." "Are you joking?" I asked. "Do you think such a woman could be my mistress? Do you think I would ever consent to share her with another? Do you know that she confesses that another attracts her, and do you expect me, loving her as I do, to share my love? If that is the way you love, I pity you." Desgenais replied that he was not so particular.