* * * * *
I am reading _Manon l’Escault_ to her. She feels the association, she
doesn’t say a word, but she smiles from time to time, and finally she
shuts up the little book.
“Don’t you want to go on reading?”
“Not to-day. We will ourselves act _Manon l’Escault_ to-day. I have a
rendezvous in the Cascine, and you, my dear Chevalier, will accompany
me; I know, you will do it, won’t you?”
“You command it.”
“I do not command it, I beg it of you,” she says with irresistible
charm. She then rises, puts her hands on my shoulders, and looks at
“Your eyes!” she exclaims. “I love you, Severin, you have no idea
how I love you!”
“Yes, I have!” I replied bitterly, “so much so that you have
arranged for a rendezvous with some one else.”
“I do this only to allure you the more,” she replied vivaciously. “I
must have admirers, so as not to lose you. I don’t ever want to lose
you, never, do you hear, for I love only you, you alone.”
She clung passionately to my lips.
“Oh, if I only could, as I would, give you all of my soul in a kiss–
thus–but now come.”
She slipped into a simple black velvet coat, and put a dark _bashlyk_
[Footnote: A kind of Russian cap.] on her head. Then she rapidly went
through the gallery, and entered the carriage.
“Gregor will drive,” she called out to the coachman who withdrew in
I ascended the driver’s seat, and angrily whipped up the horses.
In the Cascine where the main roadway turns into a leafy path, Wanda
got out. It was night, only occasional stars shone through the gray
clouds that fled across the sky. By the bank of the Arno stood a man
in a dark cloak, with a brigand’s hat, and looked at the yellow
waves. Wanda rapidly walked through the shrubbery, and tapped him on
the shoulder. I saw him turn and seize her hand, and then they
disappeared behind the green wall.
An hour full of torments. Finally there was a rustling in the bushes
to one side, and they returned.
The man accompanied her to the carriage. The light of the lamp fell
full and glaringly upon an infinitely young, soft and dreamy face
which I had never before seen, and played in his long, blond curls.
She held out her hand which he kissed with deep respect, then she
signaled to me, and immediately the carriage flew along the leafy
wall which follows the river like a long green screen.