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Des Grieux

The Prelude to Teleny


213 pages
Library of Alexandria
On the morrow the young girl awoke as you and I have often done after a bewildering, restless, terror-haunted night, when we have been the prey of some persecuting nightmare. She was, as yet, half asleep, so she felt weary, sore, broken down, but nothing more. Her head was aching with a dull heavy pain, her body was languid, her mind bewildered, lost, but nothing more. She tossed about for some time between wakefulness and oblivion, unable to rouse herself, unable to fall asleep again, trying to collect her wandering senses. The first thing that made her feel uncomfortable was the light streaming into her room, whereupon she asked herself how it was that her shutters had been left open? Surely they were shut, or at least ajar, the evening before. In somnambulism—as in every-day life—one thought recalls another, one remembrance evokes another. Life is a chain of many links, like those Indian puzzle rings; by patient perseverance we can get them to fit into one another. It is like the game played by ten or twenty persons—where a phrase whispered from mouth to ear reaches the last hearer, entirely changed in its meaning as well as in its words. As she looked at the open window, the golden rays which poured in blinded her, and made her blink her eyes, and the casement seemed to her just then like the frame of the altar-piece, and in the iridiscent glittering light she saw the beautiful image of the saint which—for days, nay for months—had unconsciously, been haunting her, like St-George or St-Denis appeared to Jeanne d'Arc; and like all hysterical saints given to hallucinations, Sebastian now was visible to her as clearly as if he stood there in tangible flesh.