Receiving this assurance as another testimony of my friendship, he left me. I saw him no more that day; it was easy to guess where he was! With my wife, of course!—no doubt binding her, by all the most sacred vows he could think of or invent, to be true to him—as true as she had been false to me. In fancy I could see him clasping her in his arms, and kissing her many times in his passionate fervor, imploring her to think of him faithfully, night and day, till he should again return to the joy of her caresses! I smiled coldly, as this glowing picture came before my imagination. Ay, Guido! kiss her and fondle her now to your heart’s content—it is for the last time! Never again will that witching glance be turned to you in either fear or favor—never again will that fair body nestle in your jealous embrace—never again will your kisses burn on that curved sweet mouth; never, never again! Your day is done—the last brief moments of your sin’s enjoyment have come—make the most of them!— no one shall interfere! Drink the last drop of sweet wine—my hand shall not dash the cup from your lips on this, the final night of your amour! Traitor, liar, and hypocrite! make haste to be happy for the short time that yet remains to you—shut the door close, lest the pure pale stars behold your love ecstasies! but let the perfumed lamps shed their softest artificial luster on all that radiant beauty which tempted your sensual soul to ruin, and of which you are now permitted to take your last look! Let there be music too—the music of her voice, which murmurs in your ear such entrancing falsehoods! “She will be true,” she says. You must believe her, Guido, as I did—and, believing her thus, part from her as lingeringly and tenderly as you will—part from her—forever!
Next morning I kept my appointment and met Ferrari at the railway station. He looked pale and haggard, though he brightened a little on seeing me. He was curiously irritable and fussy with the porters concerning his luggage, and argued with them about some petty trifles as obstinately and pertinaciously as a deaf old woman. His nerves were evidently jarred and unstrung, and it was a relief when he at last got into his coupe. He carried a yellow paper-covered volume in his hand. I asked him if it contained any amusing reading.
“I really do not know,” he answered, indifferently, “I have only just bought it. It is by Victor Hugo.”
And he held up the title-page for me to see.
“Le Dernier Jour d’un Condamne,” I read aloud with careful slowness. " Ah, indeed! You do well to read that. It is a very fine study!”
The train was on the point of starting, when he leaned out of the carriage window and beckoned me to approach more closely.
“Remember!” he whispered, “I trust you to take care of her!”
“Never fear!” I answered, “I will do my best to replace you!”