Pierre and Luce/15

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Survivors of those days who, since then, have been witness to the dazzling change of fortune, will have forgotten doubtless the menacing heavy flight of the dark wing which, during that week, covered the Isle de France and touched Paris with its shadow. Joy does not take further stock in past trials.—The German drive reached the line of its summit between Holy Monday and Holy Wednesday. The Somme traversed, Bapaume, Vesle, Guiscard, Roye, Noyon, Albert carried. Eleven hundred guns taken. Sixty thousand prisoners. . . . Symbol of the land of grace trampled upon, on Holy Tuesday died Debussy the harmonious. A lyre that is snapped. . . . "Poor little expiring Greece!" What will remain of it? A few chiseled vases, a few perfect stelae which the grass will invade from the Path of Tombs. Immortal vestiges of ruined Athens. . . .

As from the height of a hill, Pierre and Luce watched the shadow that moved upon the town. Still wrapped in the rays of their love, they waited without fear for the end of the brief day. Now they would be two in the night. Like to the evening Angelus there rose up to them, conjured up, the voluptuous melancholy of the lovely chords of Debussy which they had so greatly loved. More than it had ever done in any other time, music responded to the need of their hearts. Music was the only art which rendered the voice of the delivered soul behind the screen of forms.

On Holy Thursday they walked, Luce on Pierre's arm and holding his hand, along the streets of the suburb, soused with the rain. Gusts of wind scurried over the moistened plain. They noted neither rain nor wind, neither the hideousness of the fields nor the muddy ways. They seated themselves on the low wall of a park, a section of which had recently fallen in. Under Pierre's umbrella, which scarcely protected her head and shoulders, Luce, her legs hanging down and her hands wet, her rubber coat all steeped, looked at the water dripping down. When the wind stirred the branches a little fire of drops sounded "clop, clop!" Luce was silent, smiling, tranquilly luminous. A profound joy bathed them.

"Why does one love so much?" said Pierre.

"Ah, Pierre, you do not love me so very much if you ask that."

"I ask you that," said Pierre, "in order to make you say what I know just as well as you."

"You want me to give you some compliments. But you'll be neatly caught. For if you know why I love you, I for my part do not know why."

"You don't know?" said Pierre in consternation.

"Why no!" (She was laughing in her sleeve.) "And there is no need at all why I should know. When one asks why something is, it means that one is not sure about it, that the thing is not good. Now that I do love, no more why! No more where or when or for, nor how either! My love is, my love is! All beside may exist if it cares to."

Their faces kissed each other. The rain took advantage of that, gliding under the awkward umbrella in order to brush with its fingers their hair and cheeks; between their lips they drank in a little cold drop.

Pierre remarked:

"But the others?"

"What others?" quoth Luce.

"The poor," answered Pierre. "All those who are not us?"

"Let them do as we do! Let them love!"

"And be loved? Luce, all the world can not do that."

"Why, yes!"

"Why, no. You don't realize the value of the gift you have made me."

"To give one's heart to love, one's lips to the beloved is to give one's eyes to the light; it isn't giving, it's taking."

"There are blind people."

"We cannot cure them, Pierrot. Let's do the seeing for them!"

Pierre remained silent.

"What are you thinking of?" asked she.

"I am thinking that on this day, very far from us, very near, He suffered the Passion, He who came on earth to cure the blind."

Luce took his hand:

"Do you believe in Him?"

"No, Luce, I believe no longer. But he remains always the friend of those he has accepted, even once, at his table. And you, do you know him?"

"Hardly," responded Luce. "They never talked to me about him. But without knowing him I love him. . . . For I know that he loved."

"Not as we do."

"Why not? We ourselves have a poor little heart that knows only how to love you, my love. But He; He loved all of us. But it's always the same love."

"Would you like we should go tomorrow," asked Pierre, much moved, "in honor of His death? . . . I was told that they will have fine music at Saint Gervais!"

"Yes, I would love well to go to church with you on that day. I am sure He will give us welcome. And being nearer to Him, one is nearer each to the other."

They fell silent. . . . Rain, rain, rain. The rain falls. The night falls.

"At this hour tomorrow," said she, "we shall be down there."

The fog was penetrating. She gave a little shudder.

"Darling, you are not cold?" he asked, disquieted.

She rose:

"No, no. Everything is love to me. I love everything and everything loves me. The rain loves me, the wind loves me, the gray sky and the cold—and my little greatly beloved. . . ."