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Chapter 14
The next time Newman came to the Rue de l'Universite he had the good fortune
to find Madame de Cintre alone. He had come with a definite intention, and he
lost no time in executing it. She wore, moreover, a look which he eagerly
interpreted as expectancy.
"I have been coming to see you for six months, now," he said, "and I have never
spoken to you a second time of marriage. That was what you asked me; I
obeyed. Could any man have done better?"
"You have acted with great delicacy," said Madame de Cintre.
"Well, I'm going to change, now," said Newman. "I don't mean that I am going to
be indelicate; but I'm going to go back to where I began. I AM back there. I have
been all round the circle. Or rather, I have never been away from here. I have
never ceased to want what I wanted then. Only now I am more sure of it, if
possible; I am more sure of myself, and more sure of you. I know you better,
though I don't know anything I didn't believe three months ago. You are
everything--you are beyond everything-- I can imagine or desire. You know me
now; you MUST know me. I won't say that you have seen the best--but you have
seen the worst. I hope you have been thinking all this while. You must have seen
that I was only waiting; you can't suppose that I was changing. What will you say
to me, now? Say that everything is clear and reasonable, and that I have been
very patient and considerate, and deserve my reward. And then give me your
hand. Madame de Cintre do that. Do it."
"I knew you were only waiting," she said; "and I was very sure this day would
come. I have thought about it a great deal. At first I was half afraid of it. But I am
not afraid of it now." She paused a moment, and then she added, "It's a relief."
She was sitting on a low chair, and Newman was on an ottoman, near her. He
leaned a little and took her hand, which for an instant she let him keep. "That
means that I have not waited for nothing," he said. She looked at him for a
moment, and he saw her eyes fill with tears. "With me," he went on, "you will be
as safe--as safe"--and even in his ardor he hesitated a moment for a comparison-
-"as safe," he said, with a kind of simple solemnity, "as in your father's arms."
Still she looked at him and her tears increased. Then, abruptly, she buried her
face on the cushioned arm of the sofa beside her chair, and broke into noiseless
sobs. "I am weak--I am weak," he heard her say.
"All the more reason why you should give yourself up to me," he answered. "Why
are you troubled? There is nothing but happiness. Is that so hard to believe?"
"To you everything seems so simple," she said, raising her head. "But things are
not so. I like you extremely. I liked you six months ago, and now I am sure of it,
as you say you are sure. But it is not easy, simply for that, to decide to marry
you. There are a great many things to think about."
"There ought to be only one thing to think about--that we love each other," said
Newman. And as she remained silent he quickly added, "Very good, if you can't
accept that, don't tell me so."
"I should be very glad to think of nothing," she said at last; "not to think at all; only
to shut both my eyes and give myself up. But I can't. I'm cold, I'm old, I'm a