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Chapter 25
Armand, tired by this long narrative, often interrupted by his tears, put his two
hands over his forehead and closed his eyes to think, or to try to sleep, after
giving me the pages written by the hand of Marguerite. A few minutes after, a
more rapid breathing told me that Armand slept, but that light sleep which the
least sound banishes.
This is what I read; I copy it without adding or omitting a syllable:
To-day is the 15th December. I have been ill three or four days. This morning I
stayed in bed. The weather is dark, I am sad; there is no one by me. I think of
you, Armand. And you, where are you, while I write these lines? Far from Paris,
far, far, they tell me, and perhaps you have already forgotten Marguerite. Well,
be happy; I owe you the only happy moments in my life.
I can not help wanting to explain all my conduct to you, and I have written you a
letter; but, written by a girl like me, such a letter might seem to be a lie, unless
death had sanctified it by its authority, and, instead of a letter, it were a
To-day I am ill; I may die of this illness, for I have always had the presentiment
that I shall die young. My mother died of consumption, and the way I have always
lived could but increase the only heritage she ever left me. But I do not want to
die without clearing up for you everything about me; that is, if, when you come
back, you will still trouble yourself about the poor girl whom you loved before you
went away.
This is what the letter contained; I shall like writing it over again, so as to give
myself another proof of my own justification.
You remember, Armand, how the arrival of your father surprised us at Bougival;
you remember the involuntary fright that his arrival caused me, and the scene
which took place between you and him, which you told me of in the evening.
Next day, when you were at Paris, waiting for your father, and he did not return, a
man came to the door and handed in a letter from M. Duval.
His letter, which I inclose with this, begged me, in the most serious terms, to
keep you away on the following day, on some excuse or other, and to see your
father, who wished to speak to me, and asked me particularly not to say anything
to you about it.
You know how I insisted on your returning to Paris next day.