CHAPTER 4. EARTHENWARE AND CRYSTAL.
Day followed day. Calm gradually returned to the soul of
la Esmeralda. Excess of grief, like excess of joy is a violent
thing which lasts but a short time. The heart of man cannot
remain long in one extremity. The gypsy had suffered so
much, that nothing was left her but astonishment. With
security, hope had returned to her. She was outside the pale
of society, outside the pale of life, but she had a vague feeling
that it might not be impossible to return to it. She was like
a dead person, who should hold in reserve the key to her tomb.
She felt the terrible images which had so long persecuted
her, gradually departing. All the hideous phantoms, Pierrat
Torterue, Jacques Charmolue, were effaced from her mind,
all, even the priest.
And then, Phoebus was alive; she was sure of it, she had
seen him. To her the fact of Phoebus being alive was everything.
After the series of fatal shocks which had overturned
everything within her, she had found but one thing intact in
her soul, one sentiment,--her love for the captain. Love is
like a tree; it sprouts forth of itself, sends its roots out
deeply through our whole being, and often continues to flourish
greenly over a heart in ruins.
And the inexplicable point about it is that the more blind
is this passion, the more tenacious it is. It is never more
solid than when it has no reason in it.
La Esmeralda did not think of the captain without bitterness,
no doubt. No doubt it was terrible that he also should
have been deceived; that he should have believed that
impossible thing, that he could have conceived of a stab dealt
by her who would have given a thousand lives for him. But,
after all, she must not be too angry with him for it; had she
not confessed her crime? had she not yielded, weak woman
that she was, to torture? The fault was entirely hers. She
should have allowed her finger nails to be torn out rather
than such a word to be wrenched from her. In short, if she
could but see Phoebus once more, for a single minute, only
one word would be required, one look, in order to undeceive
him, to bring him back. She did not doubt it. She was
astonished also at many singular things, at the accident of
Phoebus's presence on the day of the penance, at the young
girl with whom he had been. She was his sister, no doubt.
An unreasonable explanation, but she contented herself with
it, because she needed to believe that Phoebus still loved
her, and loved her alone. Had he not sworn it to her? What
more was needed, simple and credulous as she was? And
then, in this matter, were not appearances much more against
her than against him? Accordingly, she waited. She hoped.