I wish to speak to Yves about Chrysantheme; it is indeed somewhat in view of this that I have persuaded him to sit down; but how to set about it without hurting his feelings, and without making myself ridiculous, I hardly know. However, the pure air playing round me up here, and the magnificent landscape spread beneath my feet, impart a certain serenity to my thoughts which makes me feel a contemptuous pity, both for my suspicions and the cause of them.
We speak, first of all, of the order for departure which may arrive at any moment, for China or for France. Soon we shall have to leave this easy and almost amusing life, this Japanese suburb where chance has installed us, and our little house buried among flowers. Yves perhaps will regret all this more than I shall, I know that well enough; for it is the first time that any such interlude has broken the rude monotony of his hard-worked career. Formerly, when in an inferior rank, he was scarcely more often on shore, in foreign countries, than the sea-gulls themselves; whilst I have, from the very beginning, been spoilt by residence in all sorts of charming spots, infinitely superior to this, in all sorts of countries, and the remembrance pleasurably haunts me still.
In order to discover how the land lies, I risk the remark:
“You will perhaps be more sorry to leave this little Chrysantheme than I am?”
Silence reigns between us.
After which I pursue, and, burning my ships, I add:
“You know, after all, if you have such a fancy for her, I haven’t really married her; one can’t really consider her my wife.”
In great surprise he looks in my face:
“Not your wife, you say? But, by Jove, though, that’s just it; she is your wife.”
There is no need of many words at any time between us two; I know exactly now, by his tone, by his great good-humored smile, how the case stands; I understand all that lies in the little phrase: “That’s just it, she is your wife.” If she were not, well then he could not answer for what might happen,—notwithstanding any remorse he might have in the depths of his heart, since he is no longer a bachelor and free as air, as in former days. But he considers her my wife, and she is sacred. I have the fullest faith in his word, and I experience a positive relief, a real joy, at finding my staunch Yves of bygone days. How could I have so succumbed to the demeaning influence of my surroundings as to suspect him even, and invent for myself such a mean, petty anxiety?
We will never even mention that doll again.
We remain up there very late, talking of other things, gazing the while at the immense depths below our feet, at the valleys and mountains as they become one by one indistinct and lost in the deepening darkness. Placed as we are at an enormous height, in the wide free atmosphere, we seem already to have quitted this miniature country, already to be freed from the impression of littleness which it has given us, and from the little links by which it was beginning to bind us to itself.