pardon me for betraying the universal secret, have, at，
With these words I bowed to him and withdrew to my room, where I immediately did the French exercise that he had set me.
When I went down to luncheon, I saw that Edmee was already aware of the execution of the promise I had made the previous evening. She at once greeted me with outstretched hand, and frequently during luncheon called me her "dear cousin," till at last M. de la Marche's face, which was usually expressionless, expressed surprise or something very near it. I was hoping that he would take the opportunity to demand an explanation of my insulting words of the previous day; and although I had resolved to discuss the matter in a spirit of great moderation, I felt very much hurt at the care which he took to avoid it. This indifference to an insult that I had offered implied a sort of contempt, which annoyed me very much; but the fear of displeasing Edmee gave me strength to restrain myself.
Incredible as it may seem, my resolve to supplant him was not for one moment shaken by this humiliating apprenticeship which I had now to serve before I could manage to obtain the most elementary notions of things in general. Any other than I, filled like myself with remorse for wrongs committed, would have found no surer method of repairing them than by going away, and restoring to Edmee her perfect independence and absolute peace of mind. This was the only method which did not occur to me; or if it did, it was rejected with scorn, as a sign of apostasy. Stubbornness, allied to temerity, ran through my veins with the blood of the Mauprats. No sooner had I imagined a means of winning her whom I loved than I embraced it with audacity; and I think it would not have been otherwise even had her confidences to the abbe in the park shown me that her love was given to my rival. Such assurance on the part of a young man who, at the age of seventeen, was taking his first lesson in French grammar, and who, moreover, had a very exaggerated notion of the length and difficulty of the studies necessary to put him on a level with M. de la March, showed, you must allow, a certain moral force.
I do not know if I was happily endowed in the matter of intelligence. The abbe assured me that I was; but, for my own part, I think that my rapid progress was due to nothing but my courage. This was such as to make me presume too much on my physical powers. The abbe had told me that, with a strong will, any one of my age could master all the rules of the language within a month. At the end of the month I expressed myself with facility and wrote correctly. Edmee had a sort of occult influence over my studies; at her wish I was not taught Latin; for she declared that I was too old to devote several years to a fancy branch of learning, and that the essential thing was to shape my heart and understanding with ideas, rather than to adorn my mind with words.
Of an evening, under pretext of wishing to read some favourite book again, she read aloud, alternately with the abbe, passages from Condillac, Fenelon, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jean Jacques, and even from Montaigne and Montesquieu. These passages, it is true, were chosen beforehand and adapted to my powers. I understood them fairly well, and I secretly wondered at this; for if during the day I opened these same books at random, I found myself brought to a standstill at every line. With the superstition natural to young lovers, I willingly imagined that in passing through Edmee's mouth the authors acquired a magic clearness, and that by some miracle my mind expanded at the sound of her voice. However, Edmee was careful to disguise the interest she took in teaching me herself. There is no doubt that she was mistaken in thinking that she ought not to betray her solicitude: it would only have roused me to still greater efforts in my work. But in this, imbued as she was with the teachings of /Emile/, she was merely putting into practice the theories of her favourite philosopher.
As it was, I spared myself but little; for my courage would not admit of any forethought. Consequently I was soon obliged to stop. The change of air, of diet, and of habits, my lucubrations, the want of vigorous exercise, my intense application, in a word, the terrible revolution which my nature had to stir up against itself in order to pass from the state of a man of the woods to that of an intelligent being, brought on a kind of brain fever which made me almost mad for some weeks, then an idiot for some days, and finally disappeared, leaving me a mere wreck physically, with a mind completely severed from the past, but sternly braced to meet the future.
One night, when I was at the most critical stage of my illness, during a lucid interval, I caught sight of Edmee in my room. At first I thought I was dreaming. The night-light was casting an unsteady glimmer over the room. Near me was a pale form lying motionless on an easy chair. I could distinguish some long black tresses falling loosely over a white dress. I sat up, weak though I was and scarcely able to move, and tried to get out of bed. Patience, however, suddenly appeared by the bedside and gently stopped me. Saint-Jean was sleeping in another arm-chair. Every night there used to be two men watching me thus, ready to hold me down by force whenever I became violent during my delirium. Frequently the abbe was one; sometimes the worthy Marcasse, who, before leaving Berry to go on his annual round through the neighbouring province, had returned to have a farewell hunt in the outhouses of the chateau, and who kindly offered to relieve the servants in their painful task of keeping watch over me.
As I was wholly unconscious of my illness, it was but natural that the unexpected presence of the hermit in my room should cause me considerable astonishment, and throw me into a state of great agitation. My attacks had been so violent that evening that I had no strength left. I abandoned myself, therefore, to my melancholy ravings, and, taking the good man's hand, I asked him if it was really Edmee's corpse that he had placed in the arm-chair by my bedside.
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