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Sheridan Le Fanu
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me, and trust in my honour, and with so many promises that I should at last know
all, that I could not find it in my heart long to be offended with her.
She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her
cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ear, “Dearest, your little heart is
wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength
and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In
the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall
die—die, sweetly die—into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in
your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet
is love; so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with
all your loving spirit.”
And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press me more closely in
her trembling embrace, and her lips in soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek.
Her agitations and her language were unintelligible to me.
From these foolish embraces, which were not of very frequent occurrence, I must
allow, I used to wish to extricate myself; but my energies seemed to fail me. Her
murmured words sounded like a lullaby in my ear, and soothed my resistance
into a trance, from which I only seemed to recover myself when she withdrew her
In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I experienced a strange tumultuous
excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of
fear and disgust. I had no distinct thoughts about her while such scenes lasted,
but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence.
This I know is paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the feeling.
I now write, after an interval of more than ten years, with a trembling hand, with a
confused and horrible recollection of certain occurrences and situations, in the
ordeal through which I was unconsciously passing; though with a vivid and very
sharp remembrance of the main current of my story. But, I suspect, in all lives
there are certain emotional scenes, those in which our passions have been most
wildly and terribly roused, that are of all others the most vaguely and dimly
Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would
take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again;
blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing
so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the
ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and
with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek
in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you
mine, you and I are one for ever.” Then she has thrown herself back in her chair,
with her small hands over her eyes, leaving me trembling.
“Are we related,” I used to ask; “what can you mean by all this? I remind you
perhaps of some one whom you love; but you must not, I hate it; I don’t know
you—I don’t know myself when you look so and talk so.”
She used to sigh at my vehemence, then turn away and drop my hand.
Respecting these very extraordinary manifestations I strove in vain to form any
satisfactory theory—I could not refer them to affectation or trick. It was