Letters of Two Brides/Chapter XVI

Letters of Two Brides by Honore de Balzac


I am dressed in white—white camellias in my hair, and another in my hand. My mother has red camellias; so it would not be impossible to take one from her—if I wished! I have a strange longing to put off the decision to the last moment, and make him pay for his red camellia by a little suspense.

What a vision of beauty! Griffith begged me to stop for a little and be admired. The solemn crisis of the evening and the drama of my secret reply have given me a color; on each cheek I sport a red camellia laid upon a white!

1 A. M.

Everybody admired me, but only one adored. He hung his head as I entered with a white camellia, but turned pale as the flower when, later, I took a red one from my mother's hand. To arrive with the two flowers might possibly have been accidental; but this deliberate action was a reply. My confession, therefore, is fuller than it need have been.

The opera was Romeo and Juliet. As you don't know the duet of the two lovers, you can't understand the bliss of two neophytes in love, as they listen to this divine outpouring of the heart.

On returning home I went to bed, but only to count the steps which resounded on the sidewalk. My heart and head, darling, are all on fire now. What is he doing? What is he thinking of? Has he a thought, a single thought, that is not of me? Is he, in very truth, the devoted slave he painted himself? How to be sure? Or, again, has it ever entered his head that, if I accept him, I lay myself open to the shadow of a reproach or am in any sense rewarding or thanking him? I am harrowed by the hair-splitting casuistry of the heroines in Cyrus and Astraea, by all the subtle arguments of the court of love.

Has he any idea that, in affairs of love, a woman's most trifling actions are but the issue of long brooding and inner conflicts, of victories won only to be lost! What are his thoughts at this moment? How can I give him my orders to write every evening the particulars of the day just gone? He is my slave whom I ought to keep busy. I shall deluge him with work!

Sunday Morning.

Only towards morning did I sleep a little. It is midday now. I have just got Griffith to write the following letter:

  "To the Baron de Macumer.

  "Mademoiselle de Chaulieu begs me, Monsieur le Baron, to ask you
  to return to her the copy of a letter written to her by a friend,
  which is in her own handwriting, and which you carried away.
  —Believe me, etc.,


My dear, Griffith has gone out; she has gone to the Rue Hillerin-Bertin; she had handed in this little love-letter for my slave, who returned to me in an envelope my sweet portrait, stained with tears. He has obeyed. Oh! my sweet, it must have been dear to him! Another man would have refused to send it in a letter full of flattery; but the Saracen has fulfilled his promises. He has obeyed. It moves me to tears.