I had never enjoyed such happiness before; she was a little cold, perhaps, but I did not mind. I had passion that lived by its own flame, and I cared for nothing as long as she let me love her. And I argued with myself that it is an obvious thing that love is not the same on both sides. There is always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved. […] I did not ask for such love as I gave; all I asked was that my love should let herself be loved. That was all I cared for; that was all I wanted.
“Are you in love with her?”
“No; I was.”
“Now, I do not even hate her.”
“Remember that we hold your children, and shall not hesitate to hang them before your eyes if –“
“I know your Christian spirit, Monsignor,” she interrupted.
“Giorgio? Oh, he's a weak sort of creature; one of those men who commit sins and repent!”
“That is not a fault of which you will ever be guilty, Alessandro,” I said, smiling.
“I sincerely hope not. After all, if a man has a conscience he ought not to do wrong. But if he does he must be a very poor sort of a fool to repent.”
“You cannot have the rose without the thorn.”
“Why not? It only needs care. There are dregs at the bottom of every cup, but you are not obliged to drink them.”
“You have made up your mind that if you commit sins you are ready to go to hell for them?” I said.
“It is braver than going to Heaven by the back door, turning pious when you are too old to do anything you shouldn't.”
“I agree with you that one has little respect for the man who turns monk when things go wrong with him.”
One does not really feel much grief at other people's sorrows; one tries, and puts on a melancholy face, thinking oneself brutal for not caring more; but one cannot and it is better, for if one grieved too deeply at other people's tears, life would be unendurable; and every man has sufficient sorrows of his own without taking to heart his neighbour's.
Is it not a curious irony that we should recall our miseries with such plainness, and that our happiness should pass over us so indistinctly that, when it has gone, we can scarcely realise that it ever existed?
I bear my soul in patience, but sometimes I cannot help rising up against fate, and crying out that it is hard that all this should happen to me. Why? What had I done that I should be denied the little happiness of this world? Why should I be more unhappy than others? But then I chide myself, and ask whether I have indeed been less happy. Are they any of them happy? Or are those right who say that the world is misery and that the only happiness is to die? Who knows?