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Now the former monk was in love

He wouldn’t even go to Bayonne! He wouldn’t become a chocolate manufacturer. He would be able to stay for a while in the vicinity of Geneviève!

Of course, the knowledge that I would soon have to work in the stone quarry of Bidache was not very pleasant, but that place was not far from Montségur. Louhimo belongs to Miss Sartilly, and even if he was still in her service, he would still get to see her sometime. And what else could he wish for!

He looked over at Martin, who stretched out his brown muzzle to be petted by his Lord.

I remembered the threat the Spanish woman had uttered about Martin. So it was settled. Martin would die a few days later.

— Martin rauka! — said Lazare, patting the animal.

But he felt then that it was no longer as dear to him as before. He no longer wanted to trust his words to Martin, which he had not heard recently. And Martin seemed to realize his fate, for in its beautiful Andalusian eyes, as Geneviève had said, there was a sadder expression than usual.

— Eat, eat even as much as you want, old comrade! — muttered Lazare, giving a good portion of corn.

Then the bull seemed to forget his sorrows, as if a hungry philosopher. And after a while it stretched out its snout to get hold of the fermenting grapes near its mouth.

— Or so, you want to get them. — Eat, my friend! You don’t have to deny yourself anything, you doomed rascal.

And the animal did not wait for another prompt. It began to devour. And after a while its eyes looked very happy.

Lazare took the axe, put the chain around Martin’s neck, and went with it into the forest, saying:

— Yes, Martin, you can eat some juicy grass while I’m chopping wood. Eat, for example, because you crack.

But Martin didn’t wait to get there. It started pacing and shaking its head as soon as it entered the park, doing air jumps here and there. It was like out of my mind. Rushed against trees and stumps, trying to pull them up with their roots with their horns.

— My old Martin, I think you’re crazy now.

And Lazare laughed at the effect of grape waste on the bull.

They came to an open place in the forest. Lazare tied the bull to a stump in an open grassy area and began to look at the tree he was going to cut down.

— Goodbye for a moment! — he said. Amuse yourself as best you can, your chain is long enough.

And life began to jump and run like a circus horse. In between, it scratched the ground with its claws, plowed, punched the ground and stumps, attacked after the flies that met it and started galloping with its head held high.

* * * * *

Lazare began to work, reaching for the largest tree he had chosen to cut down. It was about 40 paces from where Martin had been tied.

Thus, while he was beating and the chips were thrown around him, he suddenly heard a clearing.

He turned and saw Geneviève coming running and the bull after her.

— Martin! — he shouted. — Martin!

And he charged into the clearing.

But the animal did not stop. It charged frantically after the girl, who was still running for her life and screaming.

Suddenly his leg caught in his riding suit and he stumbled.

— Martin! — shouted Lazare in a booming voice. – Oh God!

He still had the ax in his hand. He charged towards the beast-turned-animal, delivering a powerful blow to its forehead as if he was trying to fell a tree. The animal’s head was crushed and the brain burst out.

— Live or kill it! asked Geneviève.

But at the same time he saw a stream of blood and fainted.

Martin had sunk violently and roared, when its spirit fled. But
Lazare wasn’t looking at it. He threw the ax out of his hand and lifted
Geneviève up. He was deathly pale but in no way harmed.
The only thing a bull’s horn had ever torn was his riding breeches. Lazare took the unconscious girl in his arms and ran towards the castle. But they soon lost their strength. His eyes darkened and cold sweat covered his forehead. He laid Geneviève down at the edge of the spring from which Geneviève had given water to Martin a few days ago, and a harsh shiver ran through his body.

— Miss Sartilly? — he said panting.

He put his hand in the spring and moistened the young girl’s temples.

Geneviève opened her eyes.

– Thanks to God! It’s nothing. Just a blink of an eye! — exclaimed Lazare and knelt beside him — How glad I am!

— And Martin? he asked

— Martin? — It’s dead!

— Did you kill it?

— Yes, I killed it! I loved you! … Ah, forgive me… I’m out of my mind!

He closed his eyes, and he felt his breath fleeing.

But after a moment he felt a small hand grasp his own and the same voice he had heard behind the monastery wall on that remarkable evening saying:

— I love you too, Lazare!

Then he sighed heavily as if his whole soul had been squeezed together.

Then silence began. He didn’t hear or see anything. The whole world fled from his consciousness.

* * * * *

But a small hand soon returned to his consciousness, for it clasped his hand. And soon he heard a gentle voice whispering.

— I love you, Lazare, and I am very happy at this moment, so happy that I have no right to complain, even if the hostility hides only sorrows for my part. The happiness I feel is enough to last me for years to come, and for all of this I am grateful to you. I love you and you are the first man I would give my life to. I am yours, Lazare! Open your eyes! Look at me! See how honestly I mean what I say. I’ve loved you since I saw you, maybe even before, because I dared to throw that apple half at you without knowing you. I’ve never behaved like that before. And when I saw you so pale in my salon and heard your voice trembling with emotion, I immediately felt attached to you. Of course it wasn’t love yet but sympathy, which soon expanded and warmed to love. Haven’t you noticed? Did you not notice how often I passed by you in the fields and fields where you worked, and how I showed my favor to Martin when I could not show it to you. You remember that I gave Martin water from this spring; to your lips in my thoughts I then raised my hand. And the day I came to this open place to think and remember better what had happened the day before? You had the same idea as me and arrived before me! And finally in the morning when I sang in the park, I guess you noticed that the song was to grab my throat? After all, I had to mislead my aunt, who is so suspicious. Besides, I had promised myself not to reveal my feelings to you, but I could no longer keep my promise, Lazare, and I’m so happy about it… Will you love me long? No, don’t answer! I know that you love me right now and you honestly believe that you will always love me! I thank you for that with all my heart, but that word »always» scares me. And yet I can tell you one thing: you have just come from the convent, Lazare, you have never known any other woman but me, and therefore you do not know exactly how long you will love me. There are so many beautiful girls in the world! Maybe if I had a sister, you wouldn’t have cared about me at all. I have to think about all the possibilities. A man’s love is often very fickle. I’ve experienced a lot, even if you don’t think so. My father had also believed that he would love my mother forever, and this “eternity” lasted only 4 years. If only you knew how my mother suffered until her last moment! Lazare, I have sworn never to marry, but now I feel that I cannot keep my oath. I want to make you a proposition: You leave Bontucq; it is necessary for several reasons. You leave, not to Payonne, but to Paris. I’m looking for a good deal for you there; I think I almost know one already. There you will stay two years without seeing me or writing to me, if possible. There you live to experience and see the world, you go to theaters and clubs and you spend the happy days of men of the world in splendor and temptations. Yes, my Lazarus, and if after these two years you have not forgotten me after coming into the touch of so great an array of beauties, if you still love your little Geneviève as you do today, then go back to Bontucq and I will hold out my hand to you as I do now and ask you to keep it forever yours. Yes, then we shall be man and wife, Lazare, and I think we shall be very happy. Don’t worry about it, even if I cry, it’s only for joy when I think back to your return, which I can already see happening. Then you will be a fine gentleman with your white gloves, and you will probably become rich, for your grandfather must feel proud of you; and my relatives won’t have anything against a provincial girl marrying a Parisian like you And if they did, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Then I will be 21 years old and I can decide my own destiny… Goodbye, Lazare! Shake your bride’s hand goodbye, and go bury Marti’s raukka, whom I can thank for the most wonderful moment of my life. I return to my horse, which I tied to a tree, I go home and shut myself in my room to think of you all evening, all night, all tomorrow, and all the time I have yet to live… I love you! for your grandfather must feel proud of you; and my relatives won’t have anything against a provincial girl marrying a Parisian like you And if they did, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Then I will be 21 years old and I can decide my own destiny… Goodbye, Lazare! Shake your bride’s hand goodbye, and go bury Marti’s raukka, whom I can thank for the most wonderful moment of my life. I return to my horse, which I tied to a tree, I go home and shut myself in my room to think of you all evening, all night, all tomorrow, and all the time I have yet to live… I love you! for your grandfather must feel proud of you; and my relatives won’t have anything against a provincial girl marrying a Parisian like you And if they did, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Then I will be 21 years old and I can decide my own destiny… Goodbye, Lazare! Shake your bride’s hand goodbye, and go bury Marti’s raukka, whom I can thank for the most wonderful moment of my life. I return to my horse, which I tied to a tree, I go home and shut myself in my room to think of you all evening, all night, all tomorrow, and all the time I have yet to live… I love you! I don’t care about that at all. Then I will be 21 years old and I can decide my own destiny… Goodbye, Lazare! Shake your bride’s hand goodbye, and go bury Marti’s raukka, whom I can thank for the most wonderful moment of my life. I return to my horse, which I tied to a tree, I go home and shut myself in my room to think of you all evening, all night, all tomorrow, and all the time I have yet to live… I love you! I don’t care about that at all. Then I will be 21 years old and I can decide my own destiny… Goodbye, Lazare! Shake your bride’s hand goodbye, and go bury Marti’s raukka, whom I can thank for the most wonderful moment of my life. I return to my horse, which I tied to a tree, I go home and shut myself in my room to think of you all evening, all night, all tomorrow, and all the time I have yet to live… I love you!

And Lazare saw him go away into a silent forest, where yellowed acacia leaves slowly fell to the ground.

* * * * *

He didn’t move. He stayed by the spring, because he was afraid that if he moved, he would get out of the enchanted castle where he dreamed. He closed his eyes and reveled in his happiness.

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