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Jena, Nov. 15th, 11 p.m.
Dearest,—Your letter came this afternoon. How glad I was to get it. And I do think it a good idea to go down into the country to those Americans before your exam. Who knows but they may, by giving you peace at the right moment, be the means of making you pass extra brilliantly? That you should not pass at all is absolutely out of the question. Why have the gods showered gifts on you if not for the proper passing of exams? For I suppose in this as in everything else there are different ways, ways of excellence and mediocrity. I know which way yours will be. If only the presence of my spirit by your side on Saturday could be of use. But that's the worst of spirits: they never seem to be the least good unless they take their bodies with them. Yet mine burns so hotly when I am thinking of you—and when am I not thinking of you?—that I feel as if you actually must feel the glow of it as it follows you about. How strange and dreadful love is. Till you know it, you are so sure the world is very good and pleasant up in those serene, frost-bitten regions where you stand alone, breathing the thin air of family affection, shone upon gently by the mild and misty sun of general esteem. Then comes love, and pulls you down. For isn't it a descent? Isn't it? Somehow, though it is so great a glory, it's a coming-down as well—down from the pride of absolute independence of body and soul, down from the high-mightiness of indifference, to something fierce, and hot, and consuming. Oh, I daren't tell you how little of serenity I have left. At first, just at first, I didn't feel like this. I think I was stunned. My soul seemed to stand still. Surely it was extraordinary, that tempestuous crossing from the calm of careless friendship to the place where love dashes madly against the rocks? Don't laugh at my images. I'm in deadly earnest to-night. I do feel that love hurts. I do feel as if I'd been thrown on to rocks, left by myself on them to come slowly to my senses and find I am lying alone in a new and burning sun. It's an exquisite sort of pain, but it's very nearly unbearable. You see, you are so far away. And I, I'm learning for the first time in my life what it means, that saying about eating out one's heart.
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