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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

And some of it spurted on Clarimonde

on the famous night at the

mysterious castle. I was in despair at this wasting away, but she, though touched by my sorrow, only smiled at me sweetly and sadly with the fatal smile of those who feel their death approaching. One morning I was sitting by her. In slicing some fruit it happened that I cut my finger somewhat deeply. The blood flowed in crimson streamlets, and some of it spurted on Clarimonde. Her eyes brightened at once, and over her face there passed a look of fierce joy which I had never before seen in her. She sprang from the bed with catlike activity and pounced on the wound, which she began to suck with an air of indescribable delight, swallowing the blood in sips, slowly and carefully, as an epicure tastes a costly vintage. Her eyelids were half closed, and the pupils of her sea-green eyes flattened and became oblong instead of round.... From time to time she interrupted herself to kiss my hand; then she began again to squeeze the edges of the wound with her lips in order to draw from it a few more crimson drops. When she saw that the blood ran no longer, she rose with bright and humid eyes, rosier than a May morning, her cheeks full, her hands warm, yet no longer parched, fairer in short than ever, and in perfect health. "I shall not die! I shall not die!" she said, clasping my neck in a frenzy of joy. "I can live long and love you. My life is in yours, my very existence comes
from you. A few drops of your generous blood, more precious and sovereign than all the elixirs of the world, have given me back to life."

This scene gave me matter for much reflection, and put into my head some strange thoughts as to Clarimonde. That very evening, when sleep had transported me to my parsonage, I found there Father Serapion, graver and more careworn than ever. He looked at me attentively and said, "Not content with destroying your soul, are you bent also on destroying your body? Unhappy youth, into what snares have you fallen!" The tone in which he said this struck me much at the time; but, lively as the impression was, other thoughts soon drove it from my mind. However, one evening, with the aid of a glass, on whose tell-tale position Clarimonde had not counted, I saw her pouring a powder into the cup of spiced wine which she was wont to prepare after supper. I took the cup, and, putting it to my lips, I set it down, as if intending to finish it at leisure. But in reality I availed myself of a minute when her back was turned to empty it away, and I soon after went to bed, determined to remain awake and see what would happen. I had not long to wait. Clarimonde entered as soon as she had convinced herself that I slept. She uncovered my arm and drew from her hair a little gold pin; then she murmured under her breath, "Only one drop, one little crimson drop, one ruby just to tip the bodkin! As you love me still I must not die. Ah, poor love! I am going to drink his blood, his beautiful blood, so bright and so purple. Sleep, my only treasure; sleep, my darling, my deity; I will do you no harm; I will only take so much of your life as I need to save my own. Did I not love you so much I might resolve to have other lovers, whose veins I could drain; but since I have known you I hate all others. Ah, dear arm, how round it is, and how white! How shall I ever dare to pierce the sweet blue veins!" And while she spoke she wept, so that I felt

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