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"That, then, was the way in which I was captured. I was in love, as it is called; not only did she appear to me a perfect being, but I considered myself a white blackbird. It is a commonplace fact that there is no one so low in the world that he cannot find some one viler than himself, and consequently puff with pride and self-contentment. I was in that situation. I did not marry for money. Interest was foreign to the affair, unlike the marriages of most of my acquaintances, who married either for money or for relations. First, I was rich, she was poor. Second, I was especially proud of the fact that, while others married with an intention of continuing their polygamic life as bachelors, it was my firm intention to live monogamically after my engagement and the wedding, and my pride swelled immeasurably.
"Yes, I was a wretch, convinced that I was an angel. The period of my engagement did not last long. I cannot remember those days without shame. What an abomination!
"It is generally agreed that love is a moral sentiment, a community of thought rather than of sense. If that is the case, this community of thought ought to find expression in words and conversation. Nothing of the sort. It was extremely difficult for us to talk with each other. What a toil of Sisyphus was our conversation! Scarcely had we thought of something to say, and said it, when we had to rsum our silence and try to discover new subjects. Literally, we did not know what to say to each other. All that we could think of concerning the life that was before us and our home was said.
"And then what? If we had been animals, we should have known that we had not to talk. But here, on the contrary, it was necessary to talk, and there were no resources! For that which occupied our minds was not a thing to be expressed in words.
"And then that silly custom of eating bon-bons, that brutal gluttony for sweetmeats, those abominable preparations for the wedding, those discussions with mamma upon the apartments, upon the sleeping-rooms, upon the bedding, upon the morning-gowns, upon the wrappers, the linen, the costumes! Understand that if people married according to the old fashion, as this old man said just now, then these eiderdown coverlets and this bedding would all be sacred details; but with us, out of ten married people there is scarcely to be found one who, I do not say believes in sacraments (whether he believes or not is a matter of indifference to us), but believes in what he promises. Out of a hundred men, there is scarcely one who has not married before, and out of fifty scarcely one who has not made up his mind to deceive his wife.
"The great majority look upon this journey to the church as a condition necessary to the possession of a certain woman. Think then of the supreme significance which material details must take on. Is it not a sort of sale, in which a maiden is given over to a debauche, the sale being surrounded with the most agreeable details?
Turn to the next chapter: CHAPTER XI.