life to an unselfish passion. Let the rich and the powerful，
"I understand nothing except that I love you madly, and that these nails of mine shall tear out the heart of any man who tries to win you from me. I know that I shall force you to love me, and that, if I do not succeed, I will at any rate not let you belong to another while I am alive. The man will have to walk over my body riddled with wounds and bleeding from every pore, ere he can put the wedding-ring on your finger; with my last breath, too, I will dishonour you by proclaiming that you are my mistress, and thus cloud the joy of any man who may triumph over me; and if I can stab you as I die, I will, so that in the tomb, at least, you may be my wife. That is what I purpose doing, Edmee. And now, practise all your arts on me; lead me on from trap to trap; rule me with your admirable diplomacy. I may be duped a hundred times because of my ignorance, but have I not sworn by the name of Mauprat?"
"Mauprat the Hamstringer!" she added with freezing irony.
I was about to seize her arm when the bell rang; it was the abbe who had returned. As soon as he appeared Edmee shook hands with him, and retired to her room without saying a single word to me.
The good abbe, noticing my agitation, questioned me with that assurance which his claims on my affections were henceforth to give him. The present matter, however, was the only one on which we had never had an explanation. In vain had he sought to introduce it. He had not given me a single lesson in history without leading up to some famous love affairs and drawing from them an example or a precept of moderation or generosity; but he had not succeeded in making me breathe a word on this subject. I could not bring myself to forgive him altogether for having done me an ill turn with Edmee. I even had a suspicion that he was still injuring my cause; and I therefore put myself on guard against all the arguments of his philosophy and all the seductions of his friendship. On this special evening I was more unassailable than ever. I left him ill at ease and depressed, and went and threw myself on my bed, where I buried my head in the clothes so as to stifle the customary sobs, those pitiless conquerors of my pride and my rage.
The next day I was in a state of gloomy despair; Edmee was icily cold; M. de la Marche did not come. I fancied I had seen the abbe going to call on him, and subsequently telling Edmee the result of their interview. However, they betrayed no signs of agitation, and I had to endure my suspense in silence. I could not get a minute with Edmee alone. In the morning I went on foot to M. de la Marche's house. What I intended saying to him I do not know; my state of exasperation was such that it drove me to act without either object or plan. Having learnt that he had left Paris, I returned. I found my uncle very depressed. On seeing me he frowned, and, after forcing himself to exchange a few meaningless words with me, left me to the abbe, who tried to draw me on to speak, but succeeded no better than the night before. For several days I sought an opportunity of speaking with Edmee, but she always managed to avoid it. Preparations were being made for the return to Sainte-Severe; she seemed neither sorry nor pleased at the prospect. I determined to slip a note between the page of her book asking for an interview. Within five minutes I received the following reply:
"An interview would lead to nothing. You are persisting in your boorish behaviour; I shall persevere in what I believe to be the path of integrity. An upright conscience cannot go from its word. I had sworn never to be any man's but yours. I shall not marry, for I did not swear that I would be yours whatever might happen. If you continue to be unworthy of my esteem I shall take steps to remain free. My poor father is sinking into the grave; a convent shall be my refuge when the only tie which binds me to the world is broken."
I had fulfilled all the conditions imposed by Edmee, and now, it seemed, her only return was an order that I should break them. I thus found myself in the same position as on the day of her conversation with the abbe.
I passed the remainder of the day shut up in my room. All through the night I walked up and down in violent agitation. I made no effort to sleep. I will not tell you the thoughts that passed through my mind; they were not unworthy of an honest man. At daybreak I was at Lafayette's house. He procured me the necessary papers for leaving France. He told me to go and await him in Spain, whence he was going to sail for the United States. I returned to our house to get the clothes and money indispensable to the humblest of travellers. I left a note for my uncle, so that he might not feel uneasy at my absence; this I promised to explain very soon in a long letter. I begged him to refrain from passing sentence on me until it arrived, and assured him that I should never forget all his goodness.
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