This simple touch of pity for the misfortunes of others, at the moment when the noble maiden herself attained to the highest point of happiness, had such an effect on Djalma, that involuntarily he fell on his knees before Adrienne, clasped his hands together, and turned towards her his fine countenance, with an almost daring expression. Then, hiding his face in his hands, he bowed his head without speaking a single word. There was a moment of deep silence. Adrienne was the first to break it, as she saw a tear steal through the slender fingers of the prince.
“My friend! what is the matter?” she exclaimed, as with a movement rapid as thought, she stooped forward, and taking hold of Djalma’s hands, drew them from before his face. That face was bathed in tears.
“You weep!” cried Mdlle. de Cardoville, so much agitated that she kept the hands of Djalma in her own; and, unable to dry his tears, the young Hindoo allowed them to flow like so many drops of crystal over the pale gold of his cheeks.
“There is not in this wide world a happiness like to mine!” said the prince, in his soft, melodious voice, and with a kind of exhaustion: “therefore do I feel great sadness, and so it should be. You give me heaven—and were I to give you the whole earth, it would be but a poor return. Alas! what can man do for a divinity, but humbly bless and adore? He can never hope to return the gifts bestowed: and this makes him suffer—not in his pride—but in his heart!”
Djalma did not exaggerate. He said what he really felt: and the rather hyperbolical form, familiar to Oriental nations, could alone express his thought. The tone of his regret was so sincere, his humility so gentle and full of simplicity, that Adrienne, also moved to tears, answered him with an effusion of serious tenderness, “My friend, we are both at the supreme point of happiness. Our future felicity appears to have no limits, and yet, though derived from different sources, sad reflections have come to both of us. It is, you see, that there are some sorts of happiness, which make you dizzy with their own immensity. For a moment, the heart, the mind, the soul, are incapable of containing so much bliss; it overflows and drowns us. Thus the flowers sometimes hang their heads, oppressed by the too ardent rays of the sun, which is yet their love and life. Oh, my friend! this sadness may be great, but it also sweet!”
As she uttered these words, the voice of Adrienne grew fainter and fainter, and her head bowed lower, as if she were indeed sinking beneath the weight of her happiness. Djalma had remained kneeling before her, his hands in hers—so that as she thus bent forward, her ivory forehead and golden hair touched the amber-colored brow and ebon curls of Djalma. And the sweet, silent tears of the two young lovers flowed together, and mingled as they fell on their clasped hands.
Whilst this scene was passing in Cardoville House, Agricola had gone to the Rue de Vaugirard, to deliver a letter from Adrienne to M. Hardy.