Letters of Two Brides/Chapter XXXIX

Letters of Two Brides by Honore de Balzac

Your atrocious letter has reached me here, the steward having forwarded it by my orders. Oh! Renee . . . but I will spare you the outburst of my wounded feelings, and simply tell you the effect your letter produced.

We had just returned from a delightful reception given in our honor by the ambassador, where I appeared in all my glory, and Macumer was completely carried away in a frenzy of love which I could not describe. Then I read him your horrible answer to my letter, and I read it sobbing, at the risk of making a fright of myself. My dear Arab fell at my feet, declaring that you raved. Then he carried me off to the balcony of the palace where we are staying, from which we have a view over part of the city; there he spoke to me words worthy of the magnificent moonlight scene which lay stretched before us. We both speak Italian now, and his love, told in that voluptuous tongue, so admirably adapted to the expression of passion, sounded in my ears like the most exquisite poetry. He swore that, even were you right in your predictions, he would not exchange for a lifetime a single one of our blessed nights or charming mornings. At this reckoning he has already lived a thousand years. He is content to have me for his mistress, and would claim no other title than that of lover. So proud and pleased is he to see himself every day the chosen of my heart, that were Heaven to offer him the alternative between living as you would have us to for another thirty years with five children, and five years spent amid the dear roses of our love, he would not hesitate. He would take my love, such as it is, and death.

While he was whispering this in my ear, his arm round me, my head resting on his shoulder, the cries of a bat, surprised by an owl, disturbed us. This death-cry struck me with such terror that Felipe carried me half-fainting to my bed. But don't be alarmed! Though this augury of evil still resounds in my soul, I am quite myself this morning. As soon as I was up, I went to Felipe, and, kneeling before him, my eyes fixed on his, his hands clasped in mine, I said to him:—

"My love, I am a child, and Renee may be right after all. It may be only your love that I love in you; but at least I can assure you that this is the one feeling of my heart, and that I love you as it is given me to love. But if there be aught in me, in my lightest thought or deed, which jars on your wishes or conception of me, I implore you to tell me, to say what it is. It will be a joy to me to hear you and to take your eyes as the guiding-stars of my life. Renee has frightened me, for she is a true friend."

Macumer could not find voice to reply, tears choked him.

I can thank you now, Renee. But for your letter I should not have known the depths of love in my noble, kingly Macumer. Rome is the city of love; it is there that passion should celebrate its feast, with art and religion as confederates.

At Venice we shall find the Duc and Duchesse de Soria. If you write, address now to Paris, for we shall leave Rome in three days. The ambassador's was a farewell party.

P. S.—Dear, silly child, your letter only shows that you knew nothing of love, except theoretically. Learn then that love is a quickening force which may produce fruits so diverse that no theory can embrace or co-ordinate them. A word this for my little Professor with her armor of stays.