But after he had opened it he turned and looked at me. I looked at him, longing, craving, hungering for his love as for a flame at which my heart could warm itself.
Then came a blinding moment. It seemed as if in an instant he lost all control of himself, and his love came rushing upon him like a mighty surging river.
Flinging the door back he returned to me with long strides, and snatching me up in his great arms, he lifted me off my feet, clasped me tightly to him, kissed me passionately on the mouth and cried in a quivering, husky voice:
“You are my wife. I am your real husband. I am not leaving you because you are married to this brute, but for the sake of your soul. We love each other. We shall continue to love each other. No matter where you are, or what they do with you, you are mine and always will be.”
My blood was boiling. The world was reeling round me. There was a roaring in my brain. All my spiritual impulses had gone. I was a woman, and it was the same to me as if the primordial man had taken possession of me by sheer force. Yet I was not afraid of that. I rejoiced in it. I wanted to give myself up to it.
But the next moment Martin had dropped me, and fled from the room, clashing the door behind him.
I felt as if a part of myself had been torn from my breast and had gone out with him.
The room seemed to become dark.
For a moment I stood where Martin had left me, throbbing through and through like an open wound, telling myself that he had gone, that I should never see him again, and that I had driven him away from me.
Those passionate kisses had deprived me of the power of consecutive thought. I could only feel. And the one thing I felt above everything else was that the remedy I had proposed to myself for my unhappy situation—renunciation—was impossible, because Martin was a part of my own being and without him I could not live.
“Martin! Martin! My love! My love!” cried the voice of my heart.
In fear lest I had spoken the words aloud, and in terror of what I might do under the power of them, I hurried into my bedroom and locked and bolted the door.
But the heart knows nothing of locks and bolts, and a moment afterwards my spirit was following Martin to his room. I was seeing him as I had seen him last, with his face full of despair, and I was accusing myself of the pain I had caused him.
I had conquered Martin, but I had conquered myself also. I had compelled him to submit, but his submission had vanquished me.
Even if I had a right to impose renunciation on myself, what right had I to impose it upon him, who did not desire it, did not think it necessary, was not reconciled to it, and only accepted it out of obedience to my will?
He loved me. No man ever loved a woman more dearly. He deserved to be loved in return. He had done nothing to forfeit love. He was bound by no ties. And yet I was driving him away from me. What right had I to do so?