A monologue from Act II

by: Jules Lemaître

NOTE: Translated from the French by Barrett H. Clark, this version of The Pardon was published in 1914 by Henry Holt & Company in the anthology Three Modern Plays From the French. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

GEORGES: It's easy enough for you to talk. Forgive her, I've done that! But forget--I cannot. You see, I simply cannot! Why, at times she makes me feel very tenderly toward her with her great sorrow and that little air of submission--she's young and not bad-looking. I kiss and pet her like the pretty child she is--but the moment she is in my arms, it's just as if a burning flame shot through me. I say to myself, "She is comparing!" and then I cast her off brutally, or else I press her more closely as if I wanted to hurt her. And then she is afraid, and doesn't understand what I mean. At bottom, I believe I hate her. That's because I have loved her too deeply. -- I can't tell you what she has been to me. I was quite a student, I had done a good deal of traveling, and had seen some of life, even; met all kinds of women. But I had never before really been in love; she was the first. I sought in her a final rest, a haven for life. In her, I centered all the tenderness of which I was capable, every thought, my whole ambition; I worked in order that she might be proud of me, and become rich. It was for her sake that I was proud of my successes. -- You have no idea how seriously I took marriage. [Pause.] I was a fool, wasn't I?

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