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Chapter 7
Illnesses like Armand's have one fortunate thing about them: they either kill
outright or are very soon overcome. A fortnight after the events which I have just
related Armand was convalescent, and we had already become great friends.
During the whole course of his illness I had hardly left his side.
Spring was profuse in its flowers, its leaves, its birds, its songs; and my friend's
window opened gaily upon his garden, from which a reviving breath of health
seemed to come to him. The doctor had allowed him to get up, and we often sat
talking at the open window, at the hour when the sun is at its height, from twelve
to two. I was careful not to refer to Marguerite, fearing lest the name should
awaken sad recollections hidden under the apparent calm of the invalid; but
Armand, on the contrary, seemed to delight in speaking of her, not as formerly,
with tears in his eyes, but with a sweet smile which reassured me as to the state
of his mind.
I had noticed that ever since his last visit to the cemetery, and the sight which
had brought on so violent a crisis, sorrow seemed to have been overcome by
sickness, and Marguerite's death no longer appeared to him under its former
aspect. A kind of consolation had sprung from the certainty of which he was now
fully persuaded, and in order to banish the sombre picture which often presented
itself to him, he returned upon the happy recollections of his liaison with
Marguerite, and seemed resolved to think of nothing else.
The body was too much weakened by the attack of fever, and even by the
process of its cure, to permit him any violent emotions, and the universal joy of
spring which wrapped him round carried his thoughts instinctively to images of
joy. He had always obstinately refused to tell his family of the danger which he
had been in, and when he was well again his father did not even know that he
had been ill.
One evening we had sat at the window later than usual; the weather had been
superb, and the sun sank to sleep in a twilight dazzling with gold and azure.
Though we were in Paris, the verdure which surrounded us seemed to shut us off
from the world, and our conversation was only now and again disturbed by the
sound of a passing vehicle.
"It was about this time of the year, on the evening of a day like this, that I first met
Marguerite," said Armand to me, as if he were listening to his own thoughts
rather than to what I was saying. I did not answer. Then turning toward me, he