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Chapter 74

Jan. 22d.

Let us consider the thing calmly. Let us try to say good-by without too great a clamor. What is the use, after all, of being so vocal? We have each given the other many hours of pleasure, and shall we not be grateful rather than tragic? Here we are, got at last to the point where we face the inevitable, and we may as well do it decently. See, here is a woman who does not love you: would you have her marry you when she had rather not? And you mustn't be angry with me because I don't love you, for how can I help it? So far am I from the least approach to it that it makes me tired just to think of a thing so strenuous, of the bother of it, of the perpetual screwed-up condition of mind and body to a pitch above the normal. The normal is what I want. My heart is set upon it. I don't want ecstasies. I don't want excitement. I don't want alternations of bliss and terror. I want to be that peaceful individual a maiden lady,—a maiden lady looking after her aged father, tending her flowers, fondling her bees—no, I don't think she could fondle bees,—fondling a cat, then, which I haven't yet got. Oh, I know I have moods of a more tempestuous nature, such as the one I was foolish enough to write to you about the other day, stirring you up to a still more violent tempestuousness yourself, but they roll away again when they have growled themselves out, and the mood that succeeds them is like clear shining after rain. I intend this clear shining as I grow older to be more and more my surrounding atmosphere. I make the bravest resolutions; will you not make some too? Dear late friend and sometime lover, do not want me to give you what I have not got. We are both suffering just now; but what about Time, that kindest soother, softener, healer, that final tidier up of ragged edges, and sweeper away of the broken fragments of the past?

Elizabeth von Arnim