Superior men sometimes lack cleverness
The door of one’s room opens on the infinite
The one whom you will love and who will love you will harm you
The past is the only human reality—Everything that is, is past
There are many grand and strong things which you do not feel
They are the coffin saying: ‘I am the cradle’
To be beautiful, must a woman have that thin form
Trying to make Therese admire what she did not know
Unfortunate creature who is the plaything of life
What will be the use of having tormented ourselves in this world
Women do not always confess it, but it is always their fault
You must take me with my own soul!
THE RED LILY
By Anatole France
“One is never kind when one is in love”
The next day, in the hidden pavilion of the Via Alfieri, she found him preoccupied. She tried to distract him with ardent gayety, with the sweetness of pressing intimacy, with superb humility. But he remained sombre. He had all night meditated, labored over, and recognized his sadness. He had found reasons for suffering. His thought had brought together the hand that dropped a letter in the post-box before the bronze San Marco and the dreadful unknown who had been seen at the station. Now Jacques Dechartre gave a face and a name to the cause of his suffering. In the grandmother’s armchair where Therese had been seated on the day of her welcome, and which she had this time offered to him, he was assailed by painful images; while she, bent over one of his arms, enveloped him with her warm embrace and her loving heart. She divined too well what he was suffering to ask it of him simply.
In order to bring him back to pleasanter ideas, she recalled the secrets of the room where they were and reminiscences of their walks through the city. She was gracefully familiar.
“The little spoon you gave me, the little red lily spoon, I use for my tea in the morning. And I know by the pleasure I feel at seeing it when I wake how much I love you.”
Then, as he replied only in sentences sad and evasive, she said:
“I am near you, but you do not care for me. You are preoccupied by some idea that I do not fathom. Yet I am alive, and an idea is nothing.”
“An idea is nothing? Do you think so? One may be wretched or happy for an idea; one may live and one may die for an idea. Well, I am thinking.”
“Of what are you thinking?”
“Why do you ask? You know very well I am thinking of what I heard last night, which you had concealed from me. I am thinking of your meeting at the station, which was not due to chance, but which a letter had caused, a letter dropped—remember!—in the postbox of San Michele. Oh, I do not reproach you for it. I have not the right. But why did you give yourself to me if you were not free?”