ALL OVER (The end)

He could not abstain from murmuring:

“Is it you, Lise?”

She replied:

“Yes, it is I; it is I, indeed. You would not have known me, would you? I have had so much sorrow–so much sorrow. Sorrow has consumed my life. Look at me now–or, rather, don’t look at me! But how handsome you have kept–and young! If I had by chance met you in the street I would have exclaimed: ‘Jaquelet!’ Now, sit down and let us, first of all, have a chat. And then I will call my daughter, my grown-up daughter. You’ll see how she resembles me–or, rather, how I resembled her–no, it is not quite that; she is just like the ‘me’ of former days–you shall see! But I wanted to be alone with you first. I feared that there would be some emotion on my side, at the first moment. Now it is all over; it is past. Pray be seated, my friend.”

Photobucket

He sat down beside her, holding her hand; but he did not know what to say; he did not know this woman–it seemed to him that he had never seen her before. Why had he come to this house? What could he talk about? Of the long ago? What was there in common between him and her? He could no longer recall anything in presence of this grandmotherly face. He could no longer recall all the nice, tender things, so sweet, so bitter, that had come to his mind that morning when he thought of the other, of little Lise, of the dainty Ashflower. What, then, had become of her, the former one, the one he had loved? That woman of far-off dreams, the blonde with gray eyes, the young girl who used to call him “Jaquelet” so prettily?

They remained side by side, motionless, both constrained, troubled, profoundly ill at ease.

As they talked only commonplaces, awkwardly and spasmodically and slowly, she rose and pressed the button of the bell.

“I am going to call Renée,” she said.

There was a tap at the door, then the rustle of a dress; then a young voice exclaimed:

“Here I am, mamma!”

Lormerin remained bewildered as at the sight of an apparition.

He stammered:

“Good-day, mademoiselle.”

Then, turning toward the mother:

“Oh! it is you!”

In fact, it was she, she whom he had known in bygone days, the Lise who had vanished and come back! In her he found the woman he had won twenty-five years before. This one was even younger, fresher, more childlike.

He felt a wild desire to open his arms, to clasp her to his heart again, murmuring in her ear:

“Good-morning, Lison!”

A man-servant announced:

“Dinner is ready, madame.”

And they proceeded toward the dining-room.

What passed at this dinner? What did they say to him, and what could he say in reply? He found himself plunged in one of those strange dreams which border on insanity. He gazed at the two women with a fixed idea in his mind, a morbid, self-contradictory idea:

“Which is the real one?”

The mother smiled, repeating over and over again:

“Do you remember?” And it was in the bright eyes of the young girl that he found again his memories of the past. Twenty times he opened his mouth to say to her: “Do you remember, Lison?” forgetting this white-haired lady who was looking at him tenderly.

And yet, there were moments when he no longer felt sure, when he lost his head. He could see that the woman of to-day was not exactly the woman of long ago. The other one, the former one, had in her voice, in her glances, in her entire being, something which he did not find again. And he made prodigious efforts of mind to recall his lady love, to seize again what had escaped from her, what this resuscitated one did not possess.

The baronne said:

“You have lost your old vivacity, my poor friend.”

He murmured:

“There are many other things that I have lost!”

But in his heart, touched with emotion, he felt his old love springing to life once more, like an awakened wild beast ready to bite him.

The young girl went on chattering, and every now and then some familiar intonation, some expression of her mother’s, a certain style of speaking and thinking, that resemblance of mind and manner which people acquire by living together, shook Lormerin from head to foot. All these things penetrated him, making the reopened wound of his passion bleed anew.

He got away early, and took a turn along the boulevard. But the image of this young girl pursued him, haunted him, quickened his heart, inflamed his blood. Apart from the two women, he now saw only one, a young one, the old one come back out of the past, and he loved her as he had loved her in bygone years. He loved her with greater ardor, after an interval of twenty-five years.

He went home to reflect on this strange and terrible thing, and to think what he should do.

But, as he was passing, with a wax candle in his hand, before the glass, the large glass in which he had contemplated himself and admired himself before he started, he saw reflected there an elderly, gray-haired man; and suddenly he recollected what he had been in olden days, in the days of little Lise. He saw himself charming and handsome, as he had been when he was loved! Then, drawing the light nearer, he looked at himself more closely, as one inspects a strange thing with a magnifying glass, tracing the wrinkles, discovering those frightful ravages, which he had not perceived till now.

And he sat down, crushed at the sight of himself, at the sight of his lamentable image, murmuring:

“All over, Lormerin!”

by: Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)

The following story is reprinted from Une Vie, a Piece of String and Other Stories. Guy de Maupassant. London: Classic Publishing Company, 1911.

Anuncios

ALL OVER

Comte de Lormerin had just finished dressing. He cast a parting glance at the large mirror which occupied an entire panel in his dressing-room and smiled.

He was really a fine-looking man still, although quite gray. Tall, slight, elegant, with no sign of a paunch, with a small mustache of doubtful shade, which might be called fair, he had a walk, a nobility, a “chic,” in short, that indescribable something which establishes a greater difference between two men than would millions of money. He murmured:

“Lormerin is still alive!”

And he went into the drawing-room where his correspondence awaited him.

On his table, where everything had its place, the work table of the gentleman who never works, there were a dozen letters lying beside three newspapers of different opinions. With a single touch he spread out all these letters, like a gambler giving the choice of a card; and he scanned the handwriting, a thing he did each morning before opening the envelopes.

It was for him a moment of delightful expectancy, of inquiry and vague anxiety. What did these sealed mysterious letters bring him? What did they contain of pleasure, of happiness, or of grief? He surveyed them with a rapid sweep of the eye, recognizing the writing, selecting them, making two or three lots, according to what he expected from them. Here, friends; there, persons to whom he was indifferent; further on, strangers. The last kind always gave him a little uneasiness. What did they want from him? What hand had traced those curious characters full of thoughts, promises, or threats?

Photobucket

This day one letter in particular caught his eye. It was simple, nevertheless, without seeming to reveal anything; but he looked at it uneasily, with a sort of chill at his heart. He thought: “From whom can it be? I certainly know this writing, and yet I can’t identify it.”

He raised it to a level with his face, holding it delicately between two fingers, striving to read through the envelope, without making up his mind to open it.

Then he smelled it, and snatched up from the table a little magnifying glass which he used in studying all the niceties of handwriting. He suddenly felt unnerved. “Whom is it from? This hand is familiar to me, very familiar. I must have often read its tracings, yes, very often. But this must have been a long, long time ago. Whom the deuce can it be from? Pooh! it’s only somebody asking for money.”

And he tore open the letter. Then he read:

My Dear Friend: You have, without doubt, forgotten me, for it is now twenty-five years since we saw each other. I was young; I am old. When I bade you farewell, I left Paris in order to follow into the provinces my husband, my old husband, whom you used to call “my hospital.” Do you remember him? He died five years ago, and now I am returning to Paris to get my daughter married, for I have a daughter, a beautiful girl of eighteen, whom you have never seen. I informed you of her birth, but you certainly did not pay much attention to so trifling an event.

You are still the handsome Lormerin; so I have been told. Well if you still recollect little Lise, whom you used to call Lison, come and dine with her this evening, with the elderly Baronne de Vance, your ever faithful friend, who, with some emotion, although happy, reaches out to you a devoted hand, which you must clasp, but no longer kiss, my poor Jaquelet.

Lise de Vance.

Lormerin’s heart began to throb. He remained sunk in his armchair with the letter on his knees, staring straight before him, overcome by a poignant emotion that made the tears mount up to his eyes! If he had ever loved a woman in his life it was this one, little Lise, Lise de Vance, whom he called “Ashflower,” on account of the strange color of her hair and the pale gray of her eyes. Oh! what a dainty, pretty, charming creature she was, this frail baronne, the wife of that gouty, pimply baron, who had abruptly carried her off to the provinces, shut her up, kept her in seclusion through jealousy, jealousy of the handsome Lormerin.

Yes, he had loved her, and he believed that he, too, had been truly loved. She familiarly gave him the name of Jaquelet, and would pronounce that word in a delicious fashion.

A thousand forgotten memories came back to him, far off and sweet and melancholy now. One evening she had called on him on her way home from a ball, and they went for a stroll in the Bois de Boulogne, she in evening dress, he in his dressing-jacket. It was springtime; the weather was beautiful. The fragrance from her bodice embalmed the warm air–the odor of her bodice, and perhaps, too, the fragrance of her skin. What a divine night! When they reached the lake, as the moon’s rays fell across the branches into the water, she began to weep. A little surprised, he asked her why.

She replied:

“I don’t know. The moon and the water have affected me. Every time I see poetic things I have a tightening at the heart, and I have to cry.”

He smiled, affected himself, considering her feminine emotion charming–the unaffected emotion of a poor little woman whom every sensation overwhelms. And he embraced her passionately, stammering:

“My little Lise, you are exquisite.”

What a charming love affair, short-lived and dainty, it had been and over all too quickly, cut short in the midst of its ardor by this old brute of a baron, who had carried off his wife, and never let any one see her afterward.

Lormerin had forgotten, in fact, at the end of two or three months. One woman drives out another so quickly in Paris, when one is a bachelor! No matter; he had kept a little altar for her in his heart, for he had loved her alone! He assured himself now that this was so.

He rose, and said aloud: “Certainly, I will go and dine with her this evening!”

And instinctively he turned toward the mirror to inspect himself from head to foot. He reflected: “She must look very old, older than I look.” And he felt gratified at the thought of showing himself to her still handsome, still fresh, of astonishing her, perhaps of filling her with emotion, and making her regret those bygone days so far, far distant!

He turned his attention to the other letters. They were of no importance.

The whole day he kept thinking of this ghost of other days. What was she like now? How strange it was to meet in this way after twenty-five years! But would he recognize her?

He made his toilet with feminine coquetry, put on a white waistcoat, which suited him better with the coat than a black one, sent for the hairdresser to give him a finishing touch with the curling iron, for he had preserved his hair, and started very early in order to show his eagerness to see her.

The first thing he saw on entering a pretty drawing-room newly furnished was his own portrait, an old faded photograph, dating from the days when he was a beau, hanging on the wall in an antique silk frame.

He sat down and waited. A door opened behind him. He rose up abruptly, and, turning round, beheld an old woman with white hair who extended both hands toward him.

He seized them, kissed them one after the other several times; then, lifting up his head, he gazed at the woman he had loved.

Yes, it was an old lady, an old lady whom he did not recognize, and who, while she smiled, seemed ready to weep….

by: Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)

The following story is reprinted from Une Vie, a Piece of String and Other Stories. Guy de Maupassant. London: Classic Publishing Company, 1911.

Woman in Love

Photobucket

Life is a moment in space
When the dream is gone
Its a lonelier place
I kiss the morning goodbye
But down inside you know
We never know why
The road is narrow and long
When eyes meet eyes
And the feeling is strong
I turn away from the wall
I stumble and fall
But I give you it all…

Chorus:

I am a woman in love
And I do anything
To get you into my world
And hold you within
It’s a right I defend
Over and over again
What do I do?

With you eternally mine
In love there is
No measure of time
We planned it all at the start
That you and I
Would live in each others hearts
We may be oceans away
You feel my love
I hear what you say
No truth is ever a lie
I stumble and fall
But I give you it all

Repeat chorus

I am a woman in love
And Im talking to you
Do you know how it feels?
What a woman can do
It’s a right
That I defend over and over again……
Barbra Streisand

Delilah

Delilah, delilah, oh my, oh my, oh my – you’re irresistible
You make me smile when I’m just about to cry
You bring me hope, you make me laugh – you like it
You get away with murder, so innocent
But when you throw a moody you’re all claws and you bite –
That’s alright!
Delilah, delilah, oh my, oh my, oh my – you’re unpredictable
You make me so very happy
When you cuddle up and go to sleep beside me
And then you make me slightly mad
When you pee all over my chippendale suite
Delilah, delilah,
Hey – hey – hey,
You take over my house and home
You even try to answer my telephone
Delilah, you’re the apple of my eyes
Meeow, meeow, meeow,
Delilah – I love you
Oh you make me so very happy – you give me kisses
And I go out of my mind ooh,
Meeow, meeow, meeow, meeow,
You’re irresistible – I love you delilah
Delilah – I love you
Oooh – I love your kisses
Oooh – I love your kisses…

Feddie Mercury

 

AFTERWARD

She remained silent, and he continued: “You see, it’s only come out lately what a bad state Elwell’s affairs were in. His wife’s a proud woman, and she fought on as long as she could, going out to work, and taking sewing at home, when she got too sick–something with the heart, I believe. But she had his bedridden mother to look after, and the children, and she broke down under it, and finally had to ask for help. That attracted attention to the case, and the papers took it up, and a subscription was started. Everybody out there liked Bob Elwell, and most of the prominent names in the place are down on the list, and people began to wonder why–“

Parvis broke off to fumble in an inner pocket. “Here,” he continued, “here’s an account of the whole thing from the ‘Sentinel’–a little sensational, of course. But I guess you’d better look it over.”
Photobucket
He held out a newspaper to Mary, who unfolded it slowly, remembering, as she did so, the evening when, in that same room, the perusal of a clipping from the “Sentinel” had first shaken the depths of her security.

As she opened the paper, her eyes, shrinking from the glaring head-lines, “Widow of Boyne’s Victim Forced to Appeal for Aid,” ran down the column of text to two portraits inserted in it. The first was her husband’s, taken from a photograph made the year they had come to England. It was the picture of him that she liked best, the one that stood on the writing-table up-stairs in her bedroom. As the eyes in the photograph met hers, she felt it would be impossible to read what was said of him, and closed her lids with the sharpness of the pain.

“I thought if you felt disposed to put your name down–” she heard Parvis continue.

She opened her eyes with an effort, and they fell on the other portrait. It was that of a youngish man, slightly built, in rough clothes, with features somewhat blurred by the shadow of a projecting hat-brim. Where had she seen that outline before? She stared at it confusedly, her heart hammering in her throat and ears. Then she gave a cry.

“This is the man–the man who came for my husband!”

She heard Parvis start to his feet, and was dimly aware that she had slipped backward into the corner of the sofa, and that he was bending above her in alarm. With an intense effort she straightened herself, and reached out for the paper, which she had dropped.

“It’s the man! I should know him anywhere!” she cried in a voice that sounded in her own ears like a scream.

Parvis’s voice seemed to come to her from far off, down endless, fog-muffled windings.

“Mrs. Boyne, you’re not very well. Shall I call somebody? Shall I get a glass of water?”

“No, no, no!” She threw herself toward him, her hand frantically clenching the newspaper. “I tell you, it’s the man! I know him! He spoke to me in the garden!”

Parvis took the journal from her, directing his glasses to the portrait. “It can’t be, Mrs. Boyne. It’s Robert Elwell.”

“Robert Elwell?” Her white stare seemed to travel into space. “Then it was Robert Elwell who came for him.”

“Came for Boyne? The day he went away?” Parvis’s voice dropped as hers rose. He bent over, laying a fraternal hand on her, as if to coax her gently back into her seat. “Why, Elwell was dead! Don’t you remember?”

Mary sat with her eyes fixed on the picture, unconscious of what he was saying.

“Don’t you remember Boyne’s unfinished letter to me–the one you found on his desk that day? It was written just after he’d heard of Elwell’s death.” She noticed an odd shake in Parvis’s unemotional voice. “Surely you remember that!” he urged her.

Yes, she remembered: that was the profoundest horror of it. Elwell had died the day before her husband’s disappearance; and this was Elwell’s portrait; and it was the portrait of the man who had spoken to her in the garden. She lifted her head and looked slowly about the library. The library could have borne witness that it was also the portrait of the man who had come in that day to call Boyne from his unfinished letter. Through the misty surgings of her brain she heard the faint boom of half-forgotten words–words spoken by Alida Stair on the lawn at Pangbourne before Boyne and his wife had ever seen the house at Lyng, or had imagined that they might one day live there.

“This was the man who spoke to me,” she repeated.

She looked again at Parvis. He was trying to conceal his disturbance under what he imagined to be an expression of indulgent commiseration; but the edges of his lips were blue. “He thinks me mad; but I’m not mad,” she reflected; and suddenly there flashed upon her a way of justifying her strange affirmation.

She sat quiet, controlling the quiver of her lips, and waiting till she could trust her voice to keep its habitual level; then she said, looking straight at Parvis: “Will you answer me one question, please? When was it that Robert Elwell tried to kill himself?”

“When–when?” Parvis stammered.

“Yes; the date. Please try to remember.”

She saw that he was growing still more afraid of her. “I have a reason,” she insisted gently.

“Yes, yes. Only I can’t remember. About two months before, I should say.”

“I want the date,” she repeated.

Parvis picked up the newspaper. “We might see here,” he said, still humoring her. He ran his eyes down the page. “Here it is. Last October–the–“

She caught the words from him. “The 20th, wasn’t it?” With a sharp look at her, he verified. “Yes, the 20th. Then you did know?”

“I know now.” Her white stare continued to travel past him. “Sunday, the 20th–that was the day he came first.”

Parvis’s voice was almost inaudible. “Came here first?”

“Yes.”

“You saw him twice, then?”

“Yes, twice.” She breathed it at him with dilated eyes. “He came first on the 20th of October. I remember the date because it was the day we went up Meldon Steep for the first time.” She felt a faint gasp of inward laughter at the thought that but for that she might have forgotten.

Parvis continued to scrutinize her, as if trying to intercept her gaze.

“We saw him from the roof,” she went on. “He came down the lime-avenue toward the house. He was dressed just as he is in that picture. My husband saw him first. He was frightened, and ran down ahead of me; but there was no one there. He had vanished.”

“Elwell had vanished?” Parvis faltered.

“Yes.” Their two whispers seemed to grope for each other. “I couldn’t think what had happened. I see now. He tried to come then; but he wasn’t dead enough–he couldn’t reach us. He had to wait for two months; and then he came back again–and Ned went with him.”

She nodded at Parvis with the look of triumph of a child who has successfully worked out a difficult puzzle. But suddenly she lifted her hands with a desperate gesture, pressing them to her bursting temples.

“Oh, my God! I sent him to Ned–I told him where to go! I sent him to this room!” she screamed out.

She felt the walls of the room rush toward her, like inward falling ruins; and she heard Parvis, a long way off, as if through the ruins, crying to her, and struggling to get at her. But she was numb to his touch, she did not know what he was saying. Through the tumult she heard but one clear note, the voice of Alida Stair, speaking on the lawn at Pangbourne.

“You won’t know till afterward,” it said. “You won’t know till long, long afterward.”
The End

by: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

The following story is reprinted from Tales of Men and Ghosts. Edith Wharton. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1914.

AFTERWARD XV

“I don’t say it wasn’t straight, yet don’t say it was straight. It was business.”

Mary, at the words, lifted her head with a start, and looked intently at the speaker.

Photobucket
When, half an hour before, a card with “Mr. Parvis” on it had been brought up to her, she had been immediately aware that the name had been a part of her consciousness ever since she had read it at the head of Boyne’s unfinished letter. In the library she had found awaiting her a small neutral-tinted man with a bald head and gold eye-glasses, and it sent a strange tremor through her to know that this was the person to whom her husband’s last known thought had been directed.

Parvis, civilly, but without vain preamble,–in the manner of a man who has his watch in his hand,–had set forth the object of his visit. He had “run over” to England on business, and finding himself in the neighborhood of Dorchester, had not wished to leave it without paying his respects to Mrs. Boyne; without asking her, if the occasion offered, what she meant to do about Bob Elwell’s family.

The words touched the spring of some obscure dread in Mary’s bosom. Did her visitor, after all, know what Boyne had meant by his unfinished phrase? She asked for an elucidation of his question, and noticed at once that he seemed surprised at her continued ignorance of the subject. Was it possible that she really knew as little as she said?

“I know nothing–you must tell me,” she faltered out; and her visitor thereupon proceeded to unfold his story. It threw, even to her confused perceptions, and imperfectly initiated vision, a lurid glare on the whole hazy episode of the Blue Star Mine. Her husband had made his money in that brilliant speculation at the cost of “getting ahead” of some one less alert to seize the chance; the victim of his ingenuity was young Robert Elwell, who had “put him on” to the Blue Star scheme.

Parvis, at Mary’s first startled cry, had thrown her a sobering glance through his impartial glasses.

“Bob Elwell wasn’t smart enough, that’s all; if he had been, he might have turned round and served Boyne the same way. It’s the kind of thing that happens every day in business. I guess it’s what the scientists call the survival of the fittest,” said Mr. Parvis, evidently pleased with the aptness of his analogy.

Mary felt a physical shrinking from the next question she tried to frame; it was as though the words on her lips had a taste that nauseated her.

“But then–you accuse my husband of doing something dishonorable?”

Mr. Parvis surveyed the question dispassionately. “Oh, no, I don’t. I don’t even say it wasn’t straight.” He glanced up and down the long lines of books, as if one of them might have supplied him with the definition he sought. “I don’t say it wasn’t straight, and yet I don’t say it was straight. It was business.” After all, no definition in his category could be more comprehensive than that.

Mary sat staring at him with a look of terror. He seemed to her like the indifferent, implacable emissary of some dark, formless power.

“But Mr. Elwell’s lawyers apparently did not take your view, since I suppose the suit was withdrawn by their advice.”

“Oh, yes, they knew he hadn’t a leg to stand on, technically. It was when they advised him to withdraw the suit that he got desperate. You see, he’d borrowed most of the money he lost in the Blue Star, and he was up a tree. That’s why he shot himself when they told him he had no show.”

The horror was sweeping over Mary in great, deafening waves.

“He shot himself? He killed himself because of that?”

“Well, he didn’t kill himself, exactly. He dragged on two months before he died.” Parvis emitted the statement as unemotionally as a gramophone grinding out its “record.”

“You mean that he tried to kill himself, and failed? And tried again?”

“Oh, he didn’t have to try again,” said Parvis, grimly.

They sat opposite each other in silence, he swinging his eye-glass thoughtfully about his finger, she, motionless, her arms stretched along her knees in an attitude of rigid tension.

“But if you knew all this,” she began at length, hardly able to force her voice above a whisper, “how is it that when I wrote you at the time of my husband’s disappearance you said you didn’t understand his letter?”

Parvis received this without perceptible discomfiture. “Why, I didn’t understand it–strictly speaking. And it wasn’t the time to talk about it, if I had. The Elwell business was settled when the suit was withdrawn. Nothing I could have told you would have helped you to find your husband.”

Mary continued to scrutinize him. “Then why are you telling me now?”

Still Parvis did not hesitate. “Well, to begin with, I supposed you knew more than you appear to–I mean about the circumstances of Elwell’s death. And then people are talking of it now; the whole matter’s been raked up again. And I thought, if you didn’t know, you ought to.”…

by: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)