“I reproach you with nothing, Henri,” said Eugenie in a trembling voice. “I myself yielded to the same enchantment, and in abandoning myself to it, I did not foresee that some day it might be prejudicial to your honor. A singular moral law is that of the world!” she pursued, growing more excited. “Let General de Prerolles be the lover of Madame de Lisieux or of Madame de Nointel; let him sit every day at their tables—if there be only a husband whose hand he may clasp in greeting, no one will call this hospitable liaison a crime! But let him feel anything more than a passing fancy for Eugenie Gontier, who violates no conjugal vow in loving him, but whose love he is not rich enough to buy—even were that love for sale—oh, then, everyone must point at him the finger of scorn! As for myself, it seems that it was useless for me to resist so many would-be lovers in order to open my door more freely to the man of my choice—an action which no one holds against me, however, because I am only an actress, and the public classes us in a separate category, so that they may more readily offer up to us the incense with which they smother us! Be it so! There are also in my profession disinterested hearts which may serve as examples—and I pretend to the very highest rank as an actress in every role I assume, even in this city. Take back your liberty, Henri!”
“I have most unwillingly offended you,” said he, sadly.
“You? Ah, no! I know that you are loyal and sincere, and I could not harbor resentment against you after your avowal. You would have lacked self-confidence had you acted otherwise. But,” she continued, “have you indeed told me all?”
“All!” he replied, without hesitation.
“Will you give me your word of honor that no other woman stands between you and me?”
“I swear it to you!”
“I thank you! You are incapable of lying. Whatever happens, you never will have a better friend than I, for your just pride is still more dear to me than my own. If you cease to come to the theatre, and appear no more at my receptions, that will be sufficient to insure the silence of gossip concerning us. Go without remorse, Henri! But come back to see me sometimes—quietly, without the knowledge of the envious—will you not?”
“Do you doubt it?” he responded, folding her tenderly in his arms.
“Yes and no! But if this is our supreme farewell, do not tell me so!”
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Ambiguity has no place,
nor has compromise
But if this is our supreme farewell, do not tell me so!
Chain so light yesterday, so heavy to-day
Every man is his own master in his choice of liaisons
If I do not give all I give nothing
Indulgence of which they stand in need themselves
Ostensibly you sit at the feast without paying the cost
Paris has become like a little country town in its gossip
The night brings counsel
You are in a conquered country, which is still more dangerous