“While you read this letter, my best beloved, I am close to you. Do not agitate yourself; do not be alarmed; you have nothing to fear from me. I will not force myself upon you. I will see you or not, as you yourself shall choose.
“Consider, oh! consider your condition and mine. How must I not thank you, that you have taken no decisive step! But the step which you have taken is significant enough. Do not persist in it. Here, as it were, at a parting of the ways, reflect once again. Can you be mine:—will you be mine? Oh, you will be showing mercy on us all if you will; and on me, infinite mercy.
“Let me see you again!—happily, joyfully see you once more! Let me make my request to you with my own lips; and do you give me your answer your own beautiful self, on my breast, Ottilie! where you have so often rested, and which belongs to you for ever!”
As he was writing, the feeling rushed over him that what he was longing for was coming—was close—would be there almost immediately. By that door she would come in; she would read that letter; she in her own person would stand there before him as she used to stand; she for whose appearance he had thirsted so long. Would she be the same as she was?—was her form, were her feelings changed? He still held the pen in his hand; he was going to write as he thought, when the carriage rolled into the court. With a few hurried strokes he added: “I hear you coming. For a moment, farewell!”
He folded the letter, and directed it. He had no time for sealing. He darted into the room through which there was a second outlet into the gallery, when the next moment he recollected that he had left his watch and seals lying on the table. She must not see these first. He ran back and brought them away with him. At the same instant he heard the hostess in the antechamber showing Ottilie the way to her apartments. He sprang to the bedroom door. It was shut. In his haste, as he had come back for his watch, he had forgotten to take out the key, which had fallen out, and lay the other