“You wish me to say it to you: ’Kissed lips do not lose their freshness.’”
And he added:
“It is true that love preserves beauty, and that the beauty of women is fed on caresses as bees are fed on flowers.”
She placed on his lips a pledge in a kiss.
“I swear to you I never loved any one but you. Oh, no, it is not caresses that have preserved the few charms which I am happy to have in order to offer them to you. I love you! I love you!”
But he still remembered the letter dropped in the post-box, and the unknown person met at the station.
“If you loved me truly, you would love only me.”
She rose, indignant:
“Then you believe I love another? What you are saying is monstrous. Is that what you think of me? And you say you love me! I pity you, because you are insane.”
“True, I am insane.”
She, kneeling, with the supple palms of her hands enveloped his temples and his cheeks. He said again that he was mad to be anxious about a chance and commonplace meeting. She forced him to believe her, or, rather, to forget. He no longer saw or knew anything. His vanished bitterness and anger left him nothing but the harsh desire to forget everything, to make her forget everything.
She asked him why he was sad.
“You were happy a moment ago. Why are you not happy now?”
And as he shook his head and said nothing:
“Speak! I like your complaints better than your silence.”
Then he said:
“You wish to know? Do not be angry. I suffer now more than ever, because I know now what you are capable of giving.”
She withdrew brusquely from his arms and, with eyes full of pain and reproach, said:
“You can believe that I ever was to another what I am to you! You wound me in my most susceptible sentiment, in my love for you. I do not forgive you for this. I love you! I never have loved any one except you. I never have suffered except through you. Be content. You do me a great deal of harm. How can you be so unkind?”
“Therese, one is never kind when one is in love.”
She remained for a long time immovable and dreamy. Her face flushed, and a tear rose to her eyes.
“Therese, you are weeping!”
“Forgive me, my heart, it is the first time that I have loved and that I have been really loved. I am afraid.”
While the rolling of arriving boxes filled the Bell villa; while Pauline, loaded with parcels, lightly came down the steps; while good Madame Marmet, with tranquil vigilance, supervised everything; and while Miss Bell finished dressing in her room, Therese, dressed in gray, resting on the terrace, looked once again at the Flower City.