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window looking on to the sea. He had been very ill and

2023-12-01 22:27:17 source:A Spring Dream Netauthor: meat click:501Second-rate

Thus would Patience reason; and, believe me, in translating his words into our conventional language, I am robbing them of all their grace, all their fire, and all their vigour. But who could repeat the exact words of Patience? His was a language used by none but himself; it was a mixture of the limited, though forcible, vocabulary of the peasants and of the boldest metaphors of the poets, whose poetic turns he would often make bolder still. To this mixed idiom his sympathetic mind gave order and logic. An incredible wealth of thought made up for the brevity of the phrases that clothed it. You should have seen how desperately his will and convictions strove to overcome the impotence of his language; any other than he would have failed to come out of the struggle with honour. And I assure you that any one capable of something more serious than laughing at his solecisms and audacities of phrase, would have found in this man material for the most important studies on the development of the human mind, and an incentive to the most tender admiration for primitive moral beauty.

window looking on to the sea. He had been very ill and

When, subsequently, I came to understand Patience thoroughly, I found a bond of sympathy with him in my own exceptional destiny. Like him, I had been without education; like him, I had sought outside myself for an explanation of my being--just as one seeks the answer to a riddle. Thanks to the accidents of my birth and fortune, I had arrived at complete development, while Patience, to the hour of his death, remained groping in the darkness of an ignorance from which he neither would nor could emerge. To me, however, this was only an additional reason for recognising the superiority of that powerful nature which held its course more boldly by the feeble light of instinct, than I myself by all the brilliant lights of knowledge; and which, moreover, had not had a single evil inclination to subdue, while I had had all that a man may have.

window looking on to the sea. He had been very ill and

At the time, however, at which I must take up my story, Patience was still, in my eyes, merely a grotesque character, an object of amusement for Edmee, and of kindly compassion for the Abbe Aubert. When they spoke to me about him in a serious tone, I no longer understood them, and I imagined they took this subject as a sort of text whereon to build a parable proving to me the advantages of education, the necessity of devoting myself to study early in life, and the futility of regrets in after years.

window looking on to the sea. He had been very ill and

Yet this did not prevent me from prowling about the copses about his new abode, for I had seen Edmee crossing the park in that direction, and I hoped that if I took her by surprise as she was returning, I should get a conversation with her. But she was always accompanied by the abbe, and sometimes even by her father, and if she remained alone with the old peasant, he would escort her to the chateau afterwards. Frequently I have concealed myself in the foliage of a giant yew-tree, which spread out its monstrous shoots and drooping branches to within a few yards of the cottage, and have seen Edmee sitting at the door with a book in her hand while Patience was listening with his arms folded and his head sunk on his breast, as though he were overwhelmed by the effort of attention. At that time I imagined that Edmee was trying to teach him to read, and thought her mad to persist in attempting an impossible education. But how beautiful she seemed in the light of the setting sun, beneath the yellowing vine leaves that overhung the cottage door! I used to gaze on her and tell myself that she belonged to me, and vow never to yield to any force or persuasion which should endeavour to make me renounce my claim.

For some days my agony of mind had been intense. My only method of escaping from it had been to drink heavily at supper, so that I might be almost stupefied at the hour, for me so painful and so galling, when she would leave the drawing-room after kissing her father, giving her hand to M. de la Marche, and saying as she passed by me, "Good- night, Bernard," in a tone which seemed to say, "To-day has ended like yesterday, and to-morrow will end like to-day."

In vain would I go and sit in the arm-chair nearest her door, so that she could not pass without at least her dress brushing against me; this was all I ever got from her. I would not put out my hand to beg her own, for she might have given it with an air of unconcern, and I verily believe I should have crushed it in my anger.

Thanks to my large libations at supper, I generally succeeded in besotting myself, silently and sadly. I then used to sink into my favourite arm-chair and remain there, sullen and drowsy, until the fumes of the wine had passed away, and I could go and air my wild dreams and sinister plans in the park.

None seemed to notice this gross habit of mine. They showed me such kindness and indulgence in the family that they seemed afraid to express disapproval, however much I deserved it. Nevertheless, they were well aware of my shameful passion for wine, and the abbe informed Edmee of it. One evening at supper she looked at me fixedly several times and with a strange expression. I stared at her in return, hoping that she would say something to provoke me, but we got no further than an exchange of malevolent glances. On leaving the table she whispered to me very quickly, and in an imperious tone:

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