Lillie, in the innocence of her heart, sent me a tiny Christmas tree, decorated by herself and her lanky daughters. Sweets and little presents are suspended from the branches. She treats me like a child, or a sick person.
Well, let it be so! Lillie must never have the vexation of learning that I detested her girls simply because they represented the youthful generation which sooner or later must supplant me.
I have made good use of my eyes, and I know what I have seen: the same enmity exists between two generations as between the sexes.
While the young folk in their arrogant cruelty laugh at us who are growing old, we, in our turn, amuse ourselves by making fun of them. If women could buy back their lost youth by the blood of those nearest and dearest to them, what crimes the world would witness!
How I used to hate Richard when I saw him so completely at his ease among young people, and able to take them so seriously.
* * * * *
Christmas Eve! In honour of Jeanne, I put on one of my very best frocks—Paquin. Moreover, I have decorated myself with rings and chains as though I were a silly Christmas Tree myself.
Jeanne has enjoyed herself to-day. She and Torp rose before it was light to deck the rooms with pine branches. Over the verandah waves the Swedish flag, which Torp generally suspends above her bed, in remembrance of Heaven knows who. I gave myself the pleasure of surprising Jeanne, by bestowing upon her my green crepe de Chine. In future grey and black will be my only wear.
After the obligatory goose, and the inevitable Christmas dishes, I spent the evening reading the letters with which “my friends” honour me punctiliously.
Without seeing the handwriting, or the signature, I could name from the contents alone the writer of each one of them. They all write about the honours which have befallen Joergen Malthe: a hospital here; a palace of archives there. What does it matter to me? I would far rather they wrote: “To-day a motor-car ran over Joergen Malthe and killed him on the spot.”
I have arrived at that stage.
But to-night I will not think about him; I would rather try to write to Magna Wellmann. I may be of some use to her. In any case I will tell her things that it will do her good to hear. She is one of those who take life hard.
DEAR MAGNA WELLMANN,
It is with great difficulty that I venture to give you advice at this moment. Besides, we are so completely opposed in habit, thought, and temperament. We have really nothing in common but our unfortunate middle age and our sex; therefore, how can it help you to know what I should do if I were in your place?