so well, but his humanity is large enough to pardon us，
"By the gate of the convent--or of the graveyard."
As she uttered these words in a calm tone, Edmee shook back her long black hair, which had fallen over her shoulders and partly over her pale face.
"Come," she said, "God will help us. It is folly and impiety to doubt him in the hour of danger. Are we atheists, that we let ourselves be discouraged in this way? Let us go and see Patience. . . . He will bring forth some wise saw to ease our minds; he is the old oracle who solves all problems without understanding any."
They moved away, while I remained in a state of consternation.
Oh, how different was this night from the last! How vast a step I had just taken in life, no longer on the path of flowers but on the arid rocks! Now I understood all the odious reality of the part I had been playing. In the bottom of Edmee's heart I had just read the fear and disgust I inspired in her. Nothing could assuage my grief; for nothing now could arouse my anger. She had no affection for M. de la Marche; she was trifling neither with him nor with me; she had no affection for either of us. How could I have believed that her generous sympathy for me and her sublime devotion to her word were signs of love? How, in the hours when this presumptuous fancy left me, could I have believed that in order to resist my passion she must needs feel love for another? It had come to pass, then, that I had no longer any object on which to vent my rage; now it could result only in Edmee's flight or death? Her death! At the mere thought of it the blood ran cold in my veins, a weight fell on my heart, and I felt all the stings of remorse piercing it. This night of agony was for me the clearest call of Providence. At last I understood those laws of modesty and sacred liberty which my ignorance had hitherto outraged and blasphemed. They astonished me more than ever; but I could see them; their sanction was their own existence. Edmee's strong, sincere soul appeared before me like the stone of Sinai on which the finger of God has traced the immutable truth. Her virtue was not feigned; her knife was sharpened, ready to cut out the stain of my love. I was so terrified at having been in danger of seeing her die in my arms; I was so horrified at the gross insult I had offered her while seeking to overcome her resistance, that I began to devise all manner of impossible plans for righting the wrongs I had done, and restoring her peace of mind.
The only one which seemed beyond my powers was to tear myself away from her; for while these feelings of esteem and respect were springing up in me, my love was changing its nature, so to speak, and growing vaster and taking possession of all my being. Edmee appeared to me in a new light. She was no longer the lovely girl whose presence stirred a tumult in my senses; she was a young man of my own age, beautiful as a seraph, proud, courageous, inflexible in honour, generous, capable of that sublime friendship which once bound together brothers in arms, but with no passionate love except for Deity, like the paladins of old, who, braving a thousand dangers, marched to the Holy Land under their golden armour.
From this hour I felt my love descending from the wild storms of the brain into the healthy regions of the heart. Devotion seemed no longer an enigma to me. I resolved that on the very next morning I would give proof of my submission and affection. It was quite late when I returned to the chateau, tired out, dying of hunger, and exhausted by the emotions I had experienced. I entered the pantry, found a piece of bread, and began eating it, all moist with my tears. I was leaning against the stove in the dime light of a lamp that was almost out, when I suddenly saw Edmee enter. She took a few cherries from a chest and slowly approached the stove, pale and deep in thought. On seeing me she uttered a cry and let the cherries fall.
"Edmee," I said, "I implore you never to be afraid of me again. That is all I can say now; for I do not know how to explain myself; and yet I had resolved to say many things."
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