Page:Pierre and Luce.djvu/22

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No, he could not speak out. They would have gazed at him in a stupor, frightened, indignant—with sorrow and shame. And since he was at that plastic age when the soul, with a bark still too tender, wrinkles up at the slightest breeze that comes from outside and under its furtive fingers molds its form shudderingly, he felt himself beforehand sorrowful and ashamed. Ah! how they believed, all of them! (But did they really all of them believe?) How was it they managed it then?—One did not dare to ask. Not to believe, standing all alone among all those who do believe, is like one who lacks some organ, superfluous perchance, but one that all the others possess; and so, blushing, one hides one's nudity from the public.

The only one who was able to comprehend the tortures of the young fellow was his elder brother. Pierre had for Philip that adoration which the younger ones often have (but which they jealously conceal) for the older brother or sister, some stranger comrade, at times merely the vision of an hour and lost again—who realizes in their eyes the