Later on, when I have had time to rest a little, I shall be delighted to hear from you; although I foresee that five-sixths of the letters will be about your children, and the remaining sixth devoted to your husband—whereas I would rather it was all about yourself, and our dear town, with its life and strife. I have not taken the veil; I may still endure to hear echoes of all the town gossip.
If you were here, you would ask what I proposed to do with myself. Well, dear Lillie, I have not left my frocks nor my mirror behind me. Moreover, time has this wonderful property that, unlike the clocks, it goes of itself without having to be wound up. I have the sea, the forest; my piano, and my house. If time really hangs heavy on my hands, there is no reason why I should not darn the linen for Torp!
Should it happen by any chance—which God forbid—that I were struck dead by lightning, or succumbed to a heart attack, would you, acting as my cousin, and closest friend, undertake to put my belongings in order? Not that you would find things in actual disorder; but all the same there would be a kind of semi-order. I do not at all fancy the idea of Richard routing among my papers now that we are no longer a married couple.
With every good wish,
MY DEAR, KIND FRIEND, AND FORMER HUSBAND,
Is there not a good deal of style about that form of address? Were you not deeply touched at receiving, in a strange town, flowers sent by a lady? If only the people understood my German and sent them to you in time!
For an instant a beautiful thought flashed through my mind: to welcome you in this way in every town where you have to stay. But since I only know the addresses of one or two florists in the capitals, and I am too lazy to find out the others, I have given up this splendid folly, and simply note it to my account as a “might-have-been.”
Shall I be quite frank, Richard? I am rather ashamed when I think of you, and I can honestly say that I never respected you more than to-day. But it could not have been otherwise. I want you to concentrate all your will-power to convince yourself of this. If I had let myself be persuaded to remain with you, after this great need for solitude had laid hold upon me, I should have worried and tormented you every hour of the day.
Dearest and best friend, there is some truth in these words, spoken by I know not whom: “Either a woman is made for marriage, and then it practically does not matter to whom she is married, she will soon understand how to fulfil her destiny; or she is unsuited to matrimony, in which case she commits a crime against her own personality when she binds herself to any man.”
Apparently, I was not meant for married life. Otherwise I should have lived happily for ever and a day with you—and you know that was not the case. But you are not to blame. I wish in my heart of hearts that I had something to reproach you with—but I have nothing against you of any sort or kind.