Come, then, dear friend, and I will give you such a welcome that you will not regret the journey.
* * * * *
Joergen Malthe paid me a flying visit last week. Business brought him into the neighbourhood, and he called unexpectedly and spent an hour with me.
I must say he has altered, and not for the better.
I hope he will not wear himself out prematurely with all his work.
If you should see him, do not say I mentioned his visit. It was rather painful. He was shy, and I, too, was nervous. One cannot spend a whole year alone on an island without feeling bewildered by the sudden apparition of a fellow-creature....
Tell your chauffeur to get the car ready. Should you find the neighbourhood very fascinating, you could always telegraph to him to bring it at once.
If the manufactory, or any other plans, prevent your coming, send me a few lines. Till we meet,
who perhaps after all is not suited to a hermit’s life.
* * * * *
So he has dared!...
So all his passion, and his grief at parting, were purely a part that he played!... Who knows? Perhaps he was really glad to get rid of me....
Ah, but this scorn and contempt!...
Elsie Lindtner, do you realise that in the same year, the same month, you have offered yourself to two men in succession and both have declined the honour? Luckily there is no one else to whom you can abase yourself.
One of these days, depend upon it, Richard will eat his heart out with regret. But then it will be too late, my dear man, too late!
That he should have dared to replace me by a mere chit of nineteen!
The whole town must be laughing at him. And I can do nothing....
But I am done for. Nothing is left to me, but to efface myself as soon as possible. I cannot endure the thought of being pitied by anyone, least of all by Richard.
How badly I have played my cards! I who thought myself so clever!
Good heavens! I understand the women who throw vitriol in the face of a rival. Unhappily I am too refined for such reprisals.
But if I had her here—whoever she may be—I would crush her with a look she could never forget.
* * * * *
Jeanne has agreed to go with me.
Nothing remains but to write my letter—and depart!
* * * * *
How your letter amused me, and how delighted I am to hear your interesting intelligence. You could not have given me better news. In future I am relieved of all need of sympathetic anxiety about you, and henceforth I can enjoy my freedom without a qualm, and dispose of life just as I please.
Every good wish, dear friend! We must hope that this young person will make you very happy; but, you know, young girls have their whims and fancies. Fortunately, you are not only a good-looking man in the prime of life, but also an uncommonly good match for any woman. The young girls of the present day are seldom blind to such advantages, and you will find her devotion very lasting, I have no doubt.