We shall meet no more, you and I. How strange it will seem. We had so much in common besides our portly dressmaker and our masseuse with her shiny, greasy hands! Well, anyhow, let us be thankful to the masseuse for our slender hips.
I shall miss you. Wherever you were, the atmosphere was cordial. Even on the summit of the Blocksberg, the chillest, barest spot on earth, you would impart some warmth.
Lillie Rothe, dear cousin, do not have a fit on reading my news: Richard and I are going to be divorced.
Or rather, we are divorced.
Thanks to the kindly intervention of the Minister of Justice, the affair was managed quickly and without fuss, as you see. After twenty-two years of married life, almost as exemplary as your own, we are going our separate ways.
You are crying, Lillie, because you are such a kind, heaven-sent, tender-hearted creature. But spare your tears. You are really fond of me, and when I tell you that all has happened for the best, you will believe me, and dry your eyes.
There is no special reason for our divorce. None at least that is palpable, or explicable, to the world. As far as I know, Richard has no entanglements; and I have no lover. Neither have we lost our wits, nor become religious maniacs. There is no shadow of scandal connected with our separation beyond that which must inevitably arise when two middle-aged partners throw down the cards in the middle of the rubber.
It has cost my vanity a fierce struggle. I, who made it such a point of honour to live unassailable and pass as irreproachable. I, who am mortally afraid of the judgment of my fellow creatures—to let loose the gossips’ tongues in this way!
I, who have always maintained that the most wretched menage was better than none at all, and that an unmarried or divorced woman had no right to expect more than the semi-existence of a Pariah! I, who thought divorce between any but a very young couple an unpardonable folly! Here am I, breaking a union that has been completely harmonious and happy!
You will begin to realize, dear Lillie, that this is a serious matter.
For a whole year I delayed taking the final step; and if I hesitated so long before realizing my intention, it was partly in order to test my own feelings, and partly for practical reasons; for I am practical, and I could not fancy myself leaving my house in the Old Market Place without knowing where I was going to.
My real reason is so simple and clear that few will be content to accept it. But I have no other, so what am I to do?
You know, like the rest of the world, that Richard and I have got on as well as any two people of opposite sex ever can do. There has never been an angry word between us. But one day the impulse—or whatever you like to call it—took possession of me that I must live alone—quite alone and all to myself. Call it an absurd idea, an impossible fancy; call it hysteria—which perhaps it is—I must get right away from everybody and everything. It is a blow to Richard, but I hope he will soon get over it. In the long run his factory will make up for my loss.