At this moment the voice of his worthy friend appeared to Samuel Brohl the most harmonious of all music. He felt a delicious thrill quiver through his frame. The abbe was telling him nothing he had not known before; but there are things of which we are certain, things that we have told ourselves a hundred times, and yet that seem new when told us for the first time by another.
“You are not misleading me?” ejaculated Samuel Brohl, overwhelmed with joy, transported beyond himself. “Can it really be true!—One day I may flatter myself—one day she may judge me worthy—Ah! what a glorious vision you cause to pass before my eyes! How good and cruel together you are to me! What bitterness is intermingled with the ineffable sweetness of your words! No, I never could have believed that there could be so much joy in anguish, so much anguish in joy.”
“What would you imply, my dear count?” interposed Abbe Miollens. “Have you need of a negotiator? I can boast of having had some experience in that line. I am wholly at your service.”
These words calmed Samuel Brohl. Quickly recovering himself, he coldly rejoined:
“A negotiator? What occasion would I have for a negotiator? Do not delude me with a chimera, and above all do not tempt me to sacrifice my honour to it. This height of felicity that you offer to me I must renounce forever; I have told you why.”
Abbe Miollens was at first inclined to be indignant; he even took the liberty to rebuke, to expostulate with his noble friend. He endeavoured to prove to him that his principles were too rigorous, that such a thing is possible as exaggeration in virtue, too great refinement in delicacy of conscience. He represented to him that noble souls should beware of exaltation of sentiment. He cited the Gospels, he cited Bossuet, he also cited his well-beloved Horace, who censored all that was ultra or excessive, and recommended the sage to flee all extremities. His reasoning was weak against the unwavering resolution of Samuel, who resisted, with the firmness of a rock, all his remonstrances, and finally ended these with the words:
“Peace, I implore you! Respect my folly, which is surely wisdom in the eyes of God. I repeat it to you, I am no longer free, and, even if I were, do you not know that there is between Mlle. Moriaz and myself an insurmountable barrier?”
“And pray, what is that?” demanded the abbe.
“Her fortune and my pride,” said Samuel. “She is rich, I am poor; this adorable being is not made for me. I told Mme. de Lorcy one day what I thought of this kind of alliances, or, to speak more clearly, of bargains. Yes, my revered friend, I love Mlle. Moriaz with an ardour of passion with which I reproach myself as though it were a crime. Nothing remains to me but to avoid seeing her, and I never will see her again. Let me follow to its end my solitary and rugged path. One consolation will accompany me: I can say