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Mother And Son
by [?]

“‘And now I feared that they might meet. What would they do in that case? What would my son do? My mind was torn with fearful doubts, with terrible suppositions.

“‘You can understand my feelings, can you not, monsieur? “‘My chambermaid, who knew nothing, who understood nothing, came into the room every moment, believing, naturally, that I had lost my reason. I sent her away with a word or a movement of the hand. She went for the doctor, who found me in the throes of a nervous attack.

“‘I was put to bed. I had brain fever.

“‘When I regained consciousness, after a long illness, I saw beside my bed my–lover–alone.

“‘I exclaimed:

“‘My son? Where is my son?

“‘He made no reply. I stammered:

“‘Dead-dead. Has he committed suicide?

“‘No, no, I swear it. But we have not found him in spite of all my efforts.

“‘Then, becoming suddenly exasperated and even indignant–for women are subject to such outbursts of unaccountable and unreasoning anger–I said:

“‘I forbid you to come near me or to see me again unless you find him. Go away!

“He did go away.

“‘I have never seen one or the other of them since, monsieur, and thus I have lived for the last twenty years.

“‘Can you imagine what all this meant to me? Can you understand this monstrous punishment, this slow, perpetual laceration of a mother’s heart, this abominable, endless waiting? Endless, did I say? No; it is about to end, for I am dying. I am dying without ever again seeing either of them–either one or the other!

“‘He–the man I loved–has written to me every day for the last twenty years; and I–I have never consented to see him, even for one second; for I had a strange feeling that, if he were to come back here, my son would make his appearance at the same moment. Oh! my son! my son! Is he dead? Is he living? Where is he hiding? Over there, perhaps, beyond the great ocean, in some country so far away that even its very name is unknown to me! Does he ever think of me? Ah! if he only knew! How cruel one’s children are! Did he understand to what frightful suffering he condemned me, into what depths of despair, into what tortures, he cast me while I was still in the prime of life, leaving me to suffer until this moment, when I am about to die–me, his mother, who loved him with all the intensity of a mother’s love? Oh! isn’t it cruel, cruel?

“‘You will tell him all this, monsieur–will you not? You will repeat to him my last words:

“‘My child, my dear, dear child, be less harsh toward poor women! Life is already brutal and savage enough in its dealings with them. My dear son, think of what the existence of your poor mother has been ever since the day you left her. My dear child, forgive her, and love her, now that she is dead, for she has had to endure the most frightful penance ever inflicted on a woman.”

“She gasped for breath, trembling, as if she had addressed the last words to her son and as if he stood by her bedside.

“Then she added:

“‘You will tell him also, monsieur, that I never again saw-the other.’

“Once more she ceased speaking, then, in a broken voice, she said:

“‘Leave me now, I beg of you. I want to die all alone, since they are not with me.'”

Maitre Le Brument added:

“And I left the house, monsieurs, crying like a fool, so bitterly, indeed, that my coachman turned round to stare at me.

“And to think that, every day, dramas like this are being enacted all around us!

“I have not found the son–that son–well, say what you like about him, but I call him that criminal son!”