“I was saying,” she remarked presently, “that I would not have you think that I do not appreciate the suffering in which you were plunged by the haste you found necessary in the wedding of your jeune fille.”
But I was on my guard. “At least, I may thank you for your sympathy, Madam!” I replied.
“Yet in time,” she went on, gone reflective the next instant, “you will see how very unimportant is all this turmoil of love and marriage.”
“Indeed, there is, as you say, something of a turmoil regarding them in our institutions as they are at present formed.”
“Because the average of humanity thinks so little. Most of us judge life from its emotions. We do not search the depths.”
“If I could oblige Madam by abolishing society and home and humanity, I should be very glad—because, of course, that is what Madam means!”
“At any cost,” she mused, “that torture of life must be passed on to coming generations for their unhappiness, their grief, their misery. I presume it was necessary that there should be this plan of the general blindness and intensity of passion.”
“Yes, if, indeed, it be not the most important thing in the world for us to marry, at least it is important that we should think so. Madam is philosopher this morning,” I said, smiling.
She hardly heard me. “To continue the crucifixion of the soul, to continue the misapprehensions, the debasings of contact with human life—yes, I suppose one must pay all that for the sake of the gaining of a purpose. Yet there are those who would endure much for the sake of principle, Monsieur. Some such souls are born, do you not think?”
“Yes, Sphinx souls, extraordinary, impossible for the average of us to understand.”
“That torch of life!” she mused. “See! It was only that which you were so eager to pass on to another generation! That was why you were so mad to hasten to the side of that woman. Whereas,” she mused still, “it were so much grander and so much nobler to pass on the torch of a principle as well!”
“I do not understand.”
“The general business of offspring goes on unceasingly in all the nations,” she resumed frankly. “There will be children, whether or not you and I ever find some one wherewith to mate in the compromise which folk call wedlock. But principles—ah! my friend, who is to give those to others who follow us? What rare and splendid wedlock brings forth that manner of offspring?”
“Madam, in the circumstances,” said I, “I should be happy to serve you more omelet.”
She shook her head as though endeavoring to dismiss something from her mind.
“Do not philosophize with me,” I said. “I am already distracted by the puzzle you offer to me. You are so young and beautiful, so fair in your judgment, so kind—”
“In turn, I ask you not to follow that,” she remarked coldly. “Let us talk of what you call, I think, business.”