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Chapter 14
When I reached home I began to cry like a child. There is no man to whom a
woman has not been unfaithful, once at least, and who will not know what I
I said to myself, under the weight of these feverish resolutions which one always
feels as if one had the force to carry out, that I must break with my amour at
once, and I waited impatiently for daylight in order to set out forthwith to rejoin my
father and my sister, of whose love at least I was certain, and certain that that
love would never be betrayed.
However, I did not wish to go away without letting Marguerite know why I went.
Only a man who really cares no more for his mistress leaves her without writing
to her. I made and remade twenty letters in my head. I had had to do with a
woman like all other women of the kind. I had been poetizing too much. She had
treated me like a school-boy, she had used in deceiving me a trick which was
insultingly simple. My self-esteem got the upper hand. I must leave this woman
without giving her the satisfaction of knowing that she had made me suffer, and
this is what I wrote to her in my most elegant handwriting and with tears of rage
and sorrow in my eyes:
"MY DEAR MARGUERITE: I hope that your indisposition yesterday was not
serious. I came, at eleven at night, to ask after you, and was told that you had not
come in. M. de G. was more fortunate, for he presented himself shortly afterward,
and at four in the morning he had not left.
"Forgive me for the few tedious hours that I have given you, and be assured that
I shall never forget the happy moments which I owe to you.
"I should have called to-day to ask after you, but I intend going back to my
"Good-bye, my dear Marguerite. I am not rich enough to love you as I would nor
poor enough to love you as you would. Let us then forget, you a name which
must be indifferent enough to you, I a happiness which has become impossible.
"I send back your key, which I have never used, and which might be useful to
you, if you are often ill as you were yesterday."
As you will see, I was unable to end my letter without a touch of impertinent
irony, which proved how much in love I still was.