For three days and three nights I have been wrestling with Death for this frail little life.
Four candles are burning, one at each corner of the bed. I cannot bear to look, I cannot bear to move; for when the candles flicker, shadows chase one another over his face and his closed lips.
It looks as if his features stirred.
I should not be sorry if I could join my child in that way, instead ofmaking short work of myself.
But you shall only know my secret after I am dead, when there will be no one whom you will have to answer; you shall only know it if that which is now shaking my limbs with cold and with heat should really prove, for me, the end.
What I can recall before that day is gloomy and confused, a memory as of a cellar filled with dusty, dull, and cobwebbed things and people—a place with which my heart has no concern.
I have only one thing to ask of you, that you believe to the full what the pain in me forces me to disclose to you.
She forbade me to play with the children, who took every opportunity of venting their spleen on me for this refusal.
When he had occasion to mention your name, he did so in a way which showed that his feeling toward you was that of a family retainer.
I want you to understand how it was that from the very beginning your personality came to exercise so much power over me when I was still a shy and timid child.
How strange it was that in this first moment I should have plainly realized that which I and all others are continually surprised at in you.
I, a girl of thirteen, coming under the spell of your attraction, grasped this secret of your existence, this profound cleavage of your two lives, at the first glance.
I was only just thirteen, and in my immaturity I did not in the least realize that the eager curiosity with which I scanned all your doings was already love.
It was a caressing and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, the glance of the born seducer.
It is hopeless and subservient; it is patient and passionate; it is something which the covetous love of a grown woman, the love that is unconsciously exacting can never be.
You became for me—what simile can do justice to my feelings? You became for me the whole of my life.
Nothing existed for me except in so far as it related to you. Nothing had meaning for me unless it bore upon you in some way.
You must not laugh at it, for, trifle though you may deem it, to me it was of infinite significance.
But it was enough for me to absorb the atmosphere, and to provide fresh nourishment for my endless dreams of you in waking and sleeping.
I wanted to tell you of it, so that you who do not know me might at length begin to understand how my lifehung uponyours.
On this last day I suddenlymade up my mindthat Icould not live without being near you.You were all the world to me.
But you would not laugh if you could realize how I stood there on the chillylanding, rigid with apprehension, and yet drawn onward by an irresistible force; how my arm seemed to lift itselfin spite ofme.
It was followed by a silencein whichmy heart well-nigh stopped beating, and my blood stagnated, while I listened for your coming.
Yet beneath this exhaustiontherestill glowed the determination to see you, to speak to you, before they carried me away.
Mourning was my joy; I renounced society and every pleasure, and was intoxicated with delight at the mortifications I thus superadded to the lack of seeing you.
The countless repetitions of the years of my childhood from the day in which you came into my life have so branded the details on my memory that I can recall every minute of those long-passed years as if they were yesterday.
To love anyone but you, even to play with the thought of loving anyone but you, would have been so utterly impossible to me, that the mere tender of affection on the part of another man seemed to me a crime.
When nothing but the thin, shining pane of glass was between you and my uplifted eyes, I could ignore the fact that in reality I was as far from your mind as if I had been separated by mountains and valleys and rivers.
Although I was longing to meet your eyes, I hung my head and hurried past you as if someone had been in pursuit.
The memory of it darted through me like an electric shock—that caressive and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, with which, years before, you had awakened the girl to become the woman and the lover.
But never, in the extremity of depression, in the utmost realization of my own insignificance, had I conceived this most abhorrent of possibilities—that you had never become aware of my existence.
It is usually nothing more than the reflection of moods which pass as swiftly as an image vanishes from a mirror. A man can readily forget a woman’s face, because age modifies its lights and shades, and because at different times the dress gives it so different a setting.
Your glance that evening, showing me as it did that on your side there was not even a gossamer thread connecting your life with mine, meant for me a first plunge into reality, conveyed to me the first intimation of my destiny.
I shall never cease to be thankful to you for that hour, for the way in which youjustifiedmy ardent admiration.
Even now I can hardly think of it without tears, but I have no tears left. Everything in that house had beensteeped in my passion; everything was a symbol of my childhood and its longing.
You did notenticeme,deceiveme,seduceme. I threw myself into your arms; went out to meet my fate.
You must forgive me if for a moment, now and again, it seems as if my pen had been dipped in gall.
Always my heart leapt but always you passed me by, unheeding.
Then, all in a moment, I felt as if my heart had been seized by an icy or a burning hand.
I shook like one in the cold stage of a fever.
I cannot describe it all to you, how what I had felt ten years earlier was now renewed as we went up the well-known stairs together; how I lived simultaneously in the past and in the present, my whole being fused as it were with yours.
But it comforted me to see my flowers there, to know that you had cherished something that was an emanation from me, was the breath of my love for you.
Everyone, everyone, has been eager to spoil me; everyone has loaded me with kindness. But you, only you, forgot me. You, only you, never recognized me.