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The Cross of Berny by Emile de Girardin

Part 6 out of 6

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so much blood in him?"

They led me away; I allowed them to put me into the carriage like a
thing without strength or motion. The excitement of anger was succeeded
by an icy calmness; I had neither memory, thought nor plans; I was
annihilated; I would have liked to stop, throw myself on the ground and
lie there for ever. I felt no remorse, I had not even the consciousness
of my crime; the thought that I was a murderer had not yet had time to
fix itself in my mind; I felt no connection whatever with the deed that
I had done, and asked myself if it was I, Edgar de Meilhan, who had
killed Raymond! It seemed as if I had been only a looker-on.

As to Irene, the innocent cause of this horrible catastrophe, I scarcely
thought of her; she only appeared to me a faint phantom seen in another
existence! My love, my longings, my jealousy had all vanished. One drop
of Raymond's warm blood had stilled my mad vehemence. She is dead, poor
darling, it is the only happiness that I could wish her; her death
lessens my despair. If she lived, no torture, no penance could be fierce
enough to expiate my crime! No hermit of the desert would lash his
quivering flesh more pitilessly than I!

Rest in peace, dear Louise, for you will always be Louise to me, even in
heaven, which I shall never reach, for I have killed my brother and
belong to the race of Cain; I do not pity thee, for thou hast clasped in
thy arms the dream of thy heart. Thou hast been happy; and happiness is
a crime punishable on earth by death, as is genius and divinity.

You will forgive me! for I caught a glimpse of the angel through the
woman. I also sought my ideal and found it. O beautiful loving being!
why did your faith fail you, why did you doubt the love you inspired!
Alas! I thought you a faithless coquette; you were conscientious; your
heart was a treasure that you could not reclaim, and you wished to
bestow it worthily! Now I know all; we always know all when it is too
late, when the seal of the irreparable is fixed upon events! You came to
Havre, poor beauty, to find me, and fled believing yourself deceived;
you could not read my despair through my fictitious joy; you took my
mask for my real countenance, the intoxication of my body for the
oblivion of my soul! In the midst of my orgie, at the very moment when
my foot pressed on the Ethiop's body, your azure eyes illumined my
dream, your blonde tresses rippled before me like golden waters of
Paradise; thoughts of you filled my mind like a vase with divine
essence! never have I loved you better; I loved you better than the
condemned man, standing on the last step of the scaffold, loves life,
than Satan loves heaven from the depths of hell! My heart, if opened,
would have exhibited your name written in all its fibres, like the grain
of wood which runs through the whole tree. Every particle of my being
belonged to you; thoughts of you pervaded me, in every sense, as light
passes through the air. Your life was substituted for mine; I no longer
possessed either free will or wish.

For a moment you paused upon the brink of the abyss, and started back
affrighted; for no woman can gaze, unflinchingly, into the depths of
man's heart; precipices always have frightened you--dear angel, as if
you had not wings! If you had paused an instant longer, you would have
seen far, far in the gloom in a firmament of bright stars, your adored
image.

Vain regrets! useless lamentation! The damp and dark earth covers her
delicate form! Her beautiful eyes, her pure brow, her fascinating smile
we shall never see again--never--never--if we live thousands of years.
Every hour that passes but widens the distance between us. Her beauty
will fade in the tomb, her name be lost in oblivion! For soon we shall
have disappeared, pale forms bending over a marble tomb!

It is very sad, sinister and terrible, but yet it is best so. See her in
the arms of another: Roger! what have we done to God to be damned
alive! I can pity Raymond, since death separates him from Louise. May he
forgive me! He will, for he was a grand, a noble, a perfect friend. We
both failed to appreciate him, as a matter of course; folly and baseness
are alone comprehended here below!

We ran a desperate race for happiness! One alone attained it--dead!

EDGAR DE MEILHAN.

THE END.

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