(et je parle des mots qui une personne dit à soi-même à faire soi-même oublier)
etienne and dinah were just then at the most dazzling and fervid stage of a passion when each is perfectly accustomed to the other, and yet love has not lost its freshness and relish. the lovers know each other well, but all is not yet understood; they have not been a second time to the same secret haunts of the soul; they have not studied each other till they know, as they must later, the very thought, word, and gesture that responds to every event, the greatest and the smallest. enchantment reigns; there are no collisions, no differences of opinion, no cold looks. their two souls are always on the same side. and dinah would speak the magical words, emphasized by the yet more magical expression and looks which every woman can use under such circumstances.
"when you cease to love me, kill me. if you should cease to love me, i believe i could kill you first and myself after."
to this sweet exaggeration, lousteau would reply:
"all i ask of god is to see you as constant as i shall be. it is you who will desert me!"
"my love is supreme."
"supreme," echoed lousteau. "come, now? suppose i am dragged away to a bachelor party, and find there one of my former mistresses, and she makes fun of me; i, out of vanity, behave as if i were free, and do not come in here till next morning would you still love me?"
"a woman is only sure of being loved when she is preferred; and if you came back to me, if oh! you make me understand what the happiness would be of forgiving the man i adore."
"well, then, i am truly loved for the first time in my life!" cried lousteau.
"at last you understand that!" said she.
lousteau proposed that they should each write a letter setting forth the reasons which would compel them to end by suicide. once in possession of such a document, each might kill the other without danger in case of infidelity. but in spite of mutual promises, neither wrote the letter.
the journalist, happy for the moment, promised himself that he would deceive dinah when he should be tired of her, and would sacrifice everything to the requirements of that deception. to him madame de la baudraye was a fortune in herself. at the same time, he felt the yoke.
dinah, by consenting to this union, showed a generous mind and the power derived from self-respect. in this absolute intimacy, in which both lovers put off their masks, the young woman never abdicated her modesty, her masculine rectitude, and the strength peculiar to ambitious souls, which formed the basis of her character. lousteau involuntarily held her in high esteem. as a parisian, dinah was superior to the most fascinating courtesan; she could be as amusing and as witty as malaga; but her extensive information, her habits of mind, her vast reading enabled her to generalize her wit, while the florines and the schontzes exerted theirs over a very narrow circle.
"there is in dinah," said etienne to bixiou, "the stuff to make both a ninon and a de stael."
"a woman who combines an encyclopaedia and a seraglio is very dangerous," replied the mocking spirit.