“And have a sense of guilt in my heart,” she repeated. “Yes, the sense is there. But is it a burden upon my heart? No. That is why I am alarmed at myself. The burden there is quite a different thing—dread, mortal dread, and eternal fear that it may some day be found out. And, besides the dread, shame. I am ashamed of myself. But as I do not feel true repentance, neither do I true shame. I am ashamed only on account of my continual lying and deceiving. It was always my pride that I could not lie and did not need to—lying is so mean, and now I have had to lie all the time, to him and to everybody, big lies and little lies. Even Rummschuettel noticed it and shrugged his shoulders, and who knows what he thinks of me? Certainly not the best things. Yes, dread tortures me, and shame on account of my life of lies. But not shame on account of my guilt—that I do not feel, or at least not truly, or not enough, and the knowledge that I do not is killing me. If all women are like this it is terrible, if they are not—which I hope—then I am in a bad predicament; there is something out of order in my heart, I lack proper feeling. Old Mr. Niemeyer once told me, in his best days, when I was still half a child, that proper feeling is the essential thing, and if we have that the worst cannot befall us, but if we have it not, we are in eternal danger, and what is called the Devil has sure power over us. For the mercy of God, is this my state?”
She laid her head upon her arms and wept bitterly. When she straightened up again, calmed, she gazed out into the garden. All was so still, and her ear could detect a low sweet sound, as of falling rain, coming from the plane trees. This continued for a while. Then from the village street came the sound of a human voice. The old nightwatchman Kulicke was calling out the hour. When at last he was silent she heard in the distance the rattling of the passing train, some two miles away. This noise gradually became fainter and finally died away entirely—Still the moonlight lay upon the grass plot and there was still the low sound, as of falling rain upon the plane trees. But it was only the gentle playing of the night air.
[The following evening Innstetten met Effi at the station in Berlin and said he had thought she would not keep her word, as she had not when she came to Berlin to select their apartment. In a short time he began to bestir himself to make a place for his wife in Berlin society. At a small party early in the season he tactlessly twitted her about Crampas and for days thereafter she felt haunted by the Major’s spirit. But once the Empress had selected her to be a lady of honor at an important function, and the Emperor had addressed a few gracious remarks to her at a court ball, the past began to seem to her a mere dream, and her cheerfulness was restored. After about seven years in Berlin Dr. Rummschuettel