Page:Pierre and Luce.djvu/79

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and sickness arrived. The wife accepted this further burden courageously; she worked for two. Her parents, obstinately cherishing their wounded pride, refused to do anything to come to his assistance. The sick man died a few months before the outbreak of the war. And the two women did not try to renew connection with the mother's family. The latter would have welcomed the young girl if she had made any advances; she would have been received like a mea culpa condoning the action of her mother. But the family might wait! Rather eat stones for breakfast!

Pierre was amazed at the hard heartedness of these bourgeois parents. Luce did not find it extraordinary.

"Don't you believe there are a great many people like that? Not wicked. No, I am sure that my grandparents are not, and even believe that it pained them not to say to us: 'Come back!' But their self-respect had been mortified too much. And self-love among these people, there's nothing else that is so great. It is stronger than all the rest.