I had loved her madly!
Why does one love? Why?
Why does one have only one thought in one’s mind, only one desire in the heart, and only one name on the lips – a name which comes up continually, rising, like the water in a spring, a name which one repeats over and over again, like a prayer.
“I am going to tell you our story, for love only has one, which is always the same. I met her and loved her that is all. I loved her for a year; I lived on her caresses, her smile, and her charm. I no longer cared whether it was day or night, or whether I was dead or alive.”
“And then she died. How? I do not know; one day she came home wet, for it was raining badly, and the next day she coughed and she coughed for about a week and took to her bed.
When I spoke to her, she answered me, but I do not remember what she said. I have forgotten everything, everything!
She, died, and I very well remember her slight feeble sigh. I knew nothing more, nothing. I saw a priest who conducted me about the funeral, but I do not remember anything what he said, though I recollect the coffin and the sound of the hammer when they nailed her down in it.
A few years later I went towards the cemetery. I found her single grave, a white marble cross, with a few words:
“She loved, was loved, and died”.
“She is there, below decayed! How horrible! I sobbed. I stopped there for a long time. I wished to pass the night in weeping on her grave.
In order not to get caught I got up and began to roam about in the city of dead. I walked and walked.
I was alone, perfectly alone. So I crouched in a green tree and hid myself there completely amid the thick branches.
I waited, clinging to the stem like a shipwrecked man does to a plank. When it was quite dark, I left my refuge and began to walk softly. I wandered about for a long time but could not find her tomb again.
Graves! Graves! Nothing but graves! I sat down on one of them.
“Suddenly it seemed to me that the slab of marble on which I was sitting was moving, as it were being raised. With a bound, I sprang on to the neighboring tomb. I saw the stone which I had just quitted rise upright. Then the dead person appeared, a naked skeleton, pushing the stone back with its bent back. On the cross I could read:
Here lies Jacques Olivant who died at the age of 71. He loved his family, was kind and honorable, and died in the grace of lord.
The dead man picked up a stone off the path, a little pointed stone and began to scrape the letters carefully. He wrote in luminous letters:
“Here reposes Jacques Olivant, who died at the age of 71. He hastened his father’s death by his unkindness, as he wished to inherit his fortune, he tortured his wife, tormented his children and died wretched.”
On turning around I saw that all graves were open, that all the dead people had effaced the lies inscribed on the gravestones by their relations, substituting the truth instead. And I saw that all had been malicious, liars, envious.
I thought that SHE also must have written something, and now running without any fear among the corpses, half opened coffins and skeletons, I went towards her. I recognized her at once, without seeing her face. She was scribbling on the cross and it read:
“Having gone out in the rain one day, in order to deceive her lover, she caught cold and died”
They found me at daybreak, lying on the grave unconscious.