SCENE IV.—The apartment of ASTOLAINE. ASTOLAINE and PALOMIDES discovered.
Astolaine, when I met you several months ago by chance, it seemed to me that I had found at last what I had sought for during many years.... Till you, I did not know all that the ever tenderer goodness and complete simplicity of a high soul might be. I was so deeply stirred by it that it seemed to me the first time I had met a human being. You would have said that I had lived till then in a closed chamber which you opened for me; and all at once I knew what must be the soul of other men and what mine might become.... Since then, I have known you further. I have seen you act, and others too have taught me all that you have been.
There have been evenings when I quitted you without a word, and went to weep for wonder in a corner of the palace, because you had simply raised your eyes, made a little unconscious gesture, or smiled for no apparent cause, yet at the moment when all the souls about you asked it and would be satisfied. There is but you who know these moments, because you are, it seems, the soul of all, and I do not believe those who have not drawn near you can know what true life is. To-day I come to say all this to you, because I feel that I shall never be he whom I hoped once to become.... A chance has come—or haply I myself have come; for you can never tell if you have made a movement of yourself, or if it be chance that has met with you—a chance has come, which has opened my eyes, just as we were about to make each other unhappy; and I have recognized there must be something more incomprehensible than the beauty of the most beautiful soul or the most beautiful face; and mightier, too, since I must needs obey it.... I do not know if you have understood me. If you understand, have pity on me.... I have said to myself all that could be said.... I know what I shall lose, for I know her soul is a child’s soul, a poor strengthless child’s, beside yours, and yet I cannot resist it....
Do not weep.... I know too that one does not do what one would do ... nor was I ignorant that you would come.... There must indeed be laws mightier than those of our souls, of which we always speak.... [Kissing him abruptly].—But I love thee the more, my poor Palomides.
I love thee, too ... more than her I love.... Thou weepest, as I do?
They are little tears.... Do not be sad for them.... I weep so, because I am woman, but they say our tears are not painful.... You see I can dry them already.... I knew well what it was.... I waited for the wakening.... It has come, and I can breathe with less disquietude, being no longer happy.... There!... We must see clearly now for you and her. For I believe my father already has suspicions. [Exeunt.