Young Lives eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Young Lives.
But the stars were against us.  We met too late.  We met when she had long been engaged to a friend of her youth, a man noble and true, to whom she owed much, and whom she felt it a kind of murder to desert.  It was one of those fallacious chivalries of feeling which are the danger of sensitive and imaginative minds.  Religion strengthened it, as it is so apt to strengthen any form of self-destruction, short of technical suicide.  There was but a month to their marriage when we met.  For us it was a month of rapture and agonies, of heaven shot through with hell.  I saw further than she.  I begged her at least to wait a year; but the force of my appeal was weakened by scruples similar to her own.  To rob another of his happiness is an act from which we may well shrink, though we can clearly see that the happiness was really destined for us, and can never be his in any like degree.  During this time I had received from her many letters, letters such as a woman only writes in the May-morning of her passion; and one day I received the last.  There was in it one sentence which when I read it I think my heart broke, ’Do you believe,’ it ran, ’in a love that can lie asleep, as in a trance, in this world, to awaken again in another, a love that during centuries of silence can still be true, and be love still in a thousand years?  If you do, go on loving me.  For that is the only love I dare give you.  I must love you no more in this world.’

“Each morning as I have risen, and each night as I have turned to sleep, those words have repeated themselves again and again in my heart, for ten years.  It was so I became the Ashton Gerard you know to-day.  Since that day, we have never met or written to each other.  All I know is that she is still alive, and still with him, and never would I disturb their peace.  When I die, I would not have her know it.  If love is immortal, we shall meet again—­when I am worthier to meet her.  Such reunions are either mere dreams, or they are realities to which the strongest forces of the universe are pledged.”

Henry’s only comment had been to grip Gerard’s hand, and give him the sympathy of silence.

“Now,” said Gerard, once more after a while, “it is about those letters I want to speak to you.  They are here,” and he unlocked a drawer and drew from it a little silver box.  “I always keep them here.  The key of the drawer is on this ring, and this little gold key is the key of the box itself.  I tell you this, because I have what you may regard as a strange request to make.

“I suppose most men would consider it their duty either to burn these letters, or leave instructions for them to be buried with them.  That is a gruesome form of sentiment in which I have too much imagination to indulge.  Both my ideas of duty and sentiment take a different form.  The surname of the writer of these letters is nowhere revealed in them, nor are there any references in them by which she could

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Young Lives from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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