It was a great mistake—a cowardly act—to promise you yesterday that I would return if I regretted my decision. I know I shall never regret it. But in making such a promise I am directly hindering you.... Forgive me, dear friend ... but it is not impossible that you may some day meet a woman who could become something to you. Will you let me take back my promise? I shall be grateful to you. Then only can I feel myself really free.
When you return home, stand firm if your friends overwhelm you with questions and sympathy. I should be deeply humiliated if anyone—no matter who—were to pry into the good and bad times we have shared together. Bygones are bygones, and no one can actually realise what takes place between two human beings, even when they have been onlookers.
Think of me when you sit down to dinner. Henceforward eight o’clock will probably be my bedtime. On the other hand I shall rise with the sun, or perhaps earlier. Think of me, but do not write too often. I must first settle down tranquilly to my new life. Later on, I shall enjoy writing you a condensed account of all the follies which can be committed by a woman who suddenly finds herself at a mature age complete mistress of her actions.
Follow my advice, offered for the twentieth time: go on seeing your friends; you cannot do without them. Really there is no need for you to mourn for a year with crape on the chandeliers and immortelles around my portrait.
You have been a kind, faithful, and delicate-minded friend to me, and I am not so lacking in delicacy myself that I do not appreciate this in my inmost heart. But I cannot accept your generous offer to give me money. I now tell you this for the first time, because, had I said so before, you would have done your best to over-persuade me. My small income is, and will be, sufficient for my needs.
The train leaves in an hour. Richard, you have your business and your friends—more friends than anyone I know. If you wish me well, wish that I may never regret the step I have taken. I look down at my hands that you loved—I wish I could stretch them out to you....
A man must not let himself be crushed. It would hurt me to feel that people pitied you. You are much too good to be pitied.
Certainly it would have been better if, as you said, one of us had died. But in that case you would have had to take the plunge into eternity, for I am looking forward with joy to life on my island.
For twenty years I have lived under the shadow of your wing in the Old Market Place. May I live another twenty under the great forest trees, wedded to solitude.
How the gossips will gossip! But we two, clever people, will laugh at their gossip.
Forgive me, Richard, to-day and always, the trouble I have brought upon you. I would have stayed with you if I could. Thank you for all....