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The Sphinx

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The Sphinx

by Octave Feuillet

Genre: Romance
Setting:
Format of Original Source: Novella
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Reviewed

EXCERPT:

“Yes, you are my mother’s husband; and what is more, you are, according to my notion, a very bad husband for my mother.”

“According to your notion!” said Lucan, quietly. “And why so?”

“Because you are not at all suited to her.”

“Have you consulted your mother on that subject, my dear madam? It seems to me that she must be a better judge of it than yourself.”

“I need not consult her. It is enough to see you both together. My mother is an angelic creature, whereas you;–no!”

“What am I, then?”

“A romantic, restless man–the very reverse, in fact. Sooner or later, you’ll betray her.”

“Never!” said Lucan, somewhat sternly.

“Are you quite sure of that, sir?” said Julia, riveting her gaze upon him from the depths of her hood.

“Dear madam,” replied Monsieur de Lucan, “you were asking me, a moment since, to explain to you what was proper and what was improper; well, it is improper that we should take, you your mother, and I my wife, as the text for a jest of that kind, and consequently, it is proper that we should drop the subject.”

She hushed, remained motionless and closed her eyes. In the course of a minute or two, Lucan saw a tear fall down her long eyelashes and roll over her cheek.

“Mon Dieu! my child,” he said, “I have wounded your feelings! Allow me to tender you my sincere apologies.”

“Keep your apologies to yourself!” she said, in a hoarse voice, opening her eyes wide at the same time. “I have no need of your apologies any more than of your lessons! Your lessons! What have I done to deserve such a humiliation? I cannot understand. What is there more innocent than my words, and what do you expect me to tell you? Is it my fault if I am here alone with you! if I am compelled to speak to you?–if I know not what to say? Why am I exposed to such things? Why ask me more than I can do? It is presuming too much on my strength! It is enough–it is a thousand times too much already–to be compelled to act such a comedy as I am compelled to act every day. God knows I am tired of it!”

Lucan found it difficult to overcome the painful surprise that had seized him.

“Julia,” he said at last, “you were kind enough to tell me that we were friends; I believed you. Is it not true, then?”

“No!”

After launching that word with somber energy, she wrapped up her head and face in her hood and vail, and remained during the rest of the way plunged into a silence which Monsieur de Lucan did not attempt to disturb.


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