A confidence between sisters
Madame de Vandenesse, Marie-Angelique, who seemed to have broken down under a weight of troubles too heavy for her soul to bear, was lying back on the sofa with bent limbs, and her head tossing restlessly. She had rushed to her sister’s house after a brief appearance at the Opera. Flowers were still in her hair, but others were scattered upon the carpet, together with her gloves, her silk pelisse, and muff and hood. Tears were mingling with the pearls on her bosom; her swollen eyes appeared to make strange confidences. In the midst of so much luxury her distress was horrible, and she seemed unable to summon courage to speak.
“Poor darling!” said Madame du Tillet; “what a mistaken idea you have of my marriage if you think that I can help you!”
Hearing this revelation, dragged from her sister’s heart by the violence of the storm she herself had raised there, the countess looked with stupefied eyes at the banker’s wife; her tears stopped, and her eyes grew fixed.
“Are you in misery as well, my dearest?” she said, in a low voice.
“My griefs will not ease yours.”
“But tell them to me, darling; I am not yet too selfish to listen. Are we to suffer together once more, as we did in girlhood?”
“But alas! we suffer apart,” said the banker’s wife. “You and I live in two worlds at enmity with each other. I go to the Tuileries when you are not there. Our husbands belong to opposite parties. I am the wife of an ambitious banker,—a bad man, my darling; while you have a noble, kind, and generous husband.”
“Oh! don’t reproach me!” cried the countess. “To understand my position, a woman must have borne the weariness of a vapid and barren life, and have entered suddenly into a paradise of light and love; she must know the happiness of feeling her whole life in that of another; of espousing, as it were, the infinite emotions of a poet’s soul; of living a double existence,—going, coming with him in his courses through space, through the world of ambition; suffering with his griefs, rising on the wings of his high pleasures, developing her faculties on some vast stage; and all this while living calm, serene, and cold before an observing world. Ah! dearest, what happiness in having at all hours an enormous interest, which multiplies the fibres of the heart and varies them indefinitely!