`Do I love you!' cried he.
`Truly?' I demanded.
His countenance brightened; he thought his triumph was at hand. He commenced a passionate protestation of the truth and fervour of his attachment which I cut short by another question:--
`But is it not a selfish love?--have you enough disinterested affection to enable you to sacrifice your own pleasure to mine?'
`I would give my life to serve you.'
`I don't want your life--but have you enough real sympathy for my afflictions to induce you to make an effort to relieve them, at the risk of a little discomfort to yourself?'
`Try me, and see!'
`If you have--never mention this subject again. You cannot recur to it in any way, without doubling the weight of those sufferings you so feelingly deplore. I have nothing left me but the solace of a good conscience and a hopeful trust in Heaven, and you labour continually to rob me of these. If you persist, I must regard you as my deadliest foe.'
`But hear me a moment--'
`No, sir! you said you would give your life to serve me: I only ask your silence on one particular point. I have spoken plainly; and what I say I mean. If you torment me in this way any more, I must conclude that your protestations are entirely false, and that you hate me in your heart as fervently as you profess to love me!'
He bit his lip and bent his eyes upon the ground in silence for a while.
`Then I must leave you,' said he at length, looking steadily upon me, as if with the last hope of detecting some token of irrepressible anguish or dismay awakened by those solemn words. `I must leave you. I cannot live here, and be for ever silent on the all-absorbing subject of my thoughts and wishes.'
`Formerly, I believe, you spent but little of your time at home,' I answered: `it will do you no harm to absent yourself again, for a while--if that be really necessary.'
`If that be really possible,' he muttered--'and can you bid me go so coolly? Do you really wish it?'
`Most certainly I do. If you cannot see me without tormenting me as you have lately done, I would gladly say farewell and never see you more.
He made no answer, but, bending from his horse, held out his hand towards me. I looked up at his face, and saw, therein, such a look of genuine agony of soul that, whether bitter disappointment, or wounded pride, or lingering love, or burning wrath were uppermost, I could not hesitate to put my hand in his as frankly as if I bade a friend farewell. He grasped it very hard, and immediately put spurs to his horse and galloped away. Very soon after, I learned that he was gone to Paris, where he still is, and the longer he stays there the better for me.
I thank God for this deliverance!
[END OF VOL. II.]
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