Sacred and Profane Love eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about Sacred and Profane Love.

So much for my intellectual inner life.  My emotional inner life is less easy to indicate.  I became a woman at fifteen—­years, interminable years, before I left school.  I guessed even then, vaguely, that my nature was extremely emotional and passionate.  And I had nothing literary on which to feed my dreams, save a few novels which I despised, and the Bible and the plays and poems of Shakespeare.  It is wonderful, though, what good I managed to find in those two use-worn volumes.  I knew most of the Song of Solomon by heart, and many of the sonnets; and I will not mince the fact that my favourite play was Measure for Measure.  I was an innocent virgin, in the restricted sense in which most girls of my class and age are innocent, but I obtained from these works many a lofty pang of thrilling pleasure.  They illustrated Chopin for me, giving precision and particularity to his messages.  And I was ashamed of myself.  Yes; at the bottom of my heart I was ashamed of myself because my sensuous being responded to the call of these masterpieces.  In my ignorance I thought I was lapsing from a sane and proper ideal.  And then—­the second miracle in my career, which has been full of miracles—­I came across a casual reference, in the Staffordshire Recorder, of all places, to the Mademoiselle de Maupin of Theophile Gautier.  Something in the reference, I no longer remember what, caused me to guess that the book was a revelation of matters hidden from me.  I bought it.  With the assistance of a dictionary, I read it, nightly, in about a week.  Except Picciola, it was the first French novel I had ever read.  It held me throughout; it revealed something on nearly every page.  But the climax dazzled and blinded me.  It was exquisite, so high and pure, so startling, so bold, that it made me ill.  When I recovered I had fast in my heart’s keeping the new truth that in the body, and the instincts of the body, there should be no shame, but rather a frank, joyous pride.  From that moment I ceased to be ashamed of anything that I honestly liked.  But I dared not keep the book.  The knowledge of its contents would have killed my aunt.  I read it again; I read the last pages several times, and then I burnt it and breathed freely.

Such was I, as I forced my will on my aunt in the affair of the concert.  And I say that she who had never suspected the existence of the real me, suspected it then, when we glanced at each other across the breakfast-room.  Upon these apparent trifles life swings, as upon a pivot, into new directions.

I sat with my aunt while Lucy went with the note.  She returned soon with the reply, and the reply was: 

’So sorry I can’t accept your kind invitation.  I should have liked to go awfully.  But Fred has got the toothache, and I must not leave him.’

The toothache!  And my very life, so it seemed to me, hung in the balance.

I did not hesitate one second.

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Sacred and Profane Love from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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