reason (but first let me assure you that I am not the least bit in love with you): I am horribly jealous, jealous of my friends, and it grieves me to think that your beauty exposes you to the attentions of a lot of men incapable of appreciating you, and who admire in you only those things for which I care the least.
In fact, I am in a beastly humour when I think of that ceremony which you are to attend. Nothing makes me more melancholy than a wedding. The Turks, who bargain for a woman while they examine her as they would a fat sheep, are better than we, who have glossed over this vile trade with a varnish of hypocrisy which, alas! is only too transparent. I have asked myself often what I should find to say to a wife on the first day of my marriage, and I have thought of nothing possible, unless it were a compliment on her night-cap. Happily, the devil will be extremely clever if he ever entraps me into such an entertainment. The part which the woman plays is much easier than that of the man. On such an occasion she models her conduct on Racine’s Iphigenia; but if she is at all observant, what a lot of droll things she must see! You must tell me whether the reception was beautiful. All the men will pay you attention and favour you with allusions to domestic happiness. When the Andalusians are angry, they say: Mataria el sol á puñaladas si no fuese por miedo de dejar el mundo á oscuras!
Since September 28, my birthday, an uninterrupted succession of petty misfortunes have assailed me. Besides this, the pain in my chest is worse and I suffer great distress. I shall delay my trip to England until the middle of November. If you are unwilling to see me in London, I must abandon the hope, but I am anxious to see the elections. I shall overtake you soon after in Paris, where chance may bring us together, even if your whim persists in keeping us apart. All your reasons are pitiful, and are not worth the trouble to refute, and all the more since you yourself know that they are worthless.
You are joking, certainly, when you say so pleasantly that you are afraid of me. You are aware that I am ugly, and have a capricious temper, that I am always absent-minded, and often, when in pain, very irritating and disagreeable. What is there in all that to disturb you? You will never fall in love with me, so rest easy. Your consoling predictions can never be realised. You are not a witch. Now the truth is that my chances of death have increased this year. Do not be anxious about your letters. All letters and papers found in my room shall be burned after my death; but to plague you, I shall bequeath you in my will a manuscript continuation of the Guzla, which amused you so much.
You have the qualities of both an angel and a devil, but many more of the latter. You call me a tempter. Dare, if you will, to say that this title does not apply to you far more than to me. Have you not thrown a bait to me, a poor little fish? and now that you have me caught on the end of your hook you keep me dangling between the sky and the sea as long as it amuses you; then, when you grow tired of the game, you will cut the line, I shall drop with the hook in my mouth, and the fisherman will be nowhere to be found.
I appreciate your frankness in confessing that you read the letter which Mr. V. wrote me and entrusted to your charge. I guessed it, indeed, for since the time of Eve all women are alike in that respect. I wish the letter had been more interesting; but I suppose that, in spite of his spectacles, you consider Mr. V. a man of good taste. I am out of sorts because I am suffering.
I am reminded of your promise to give me a schizzo—a promise you would never have given if I had not begged for it—and I feel in better humour. I await the schizzo with the greatest patience. Adieu, niña de mis ojos; I promise never to fall in love with you. I do not want to be in love ever again, but I should like to have a woman friend. If I should see you often, and you are all I believe you to be, I should become very fond of you, in a truly platonic way. Try, therefore, to arrange it so that we may meet when you come to Paris. Shall I be compelled to wait many long days for a reply? Good-bye again. Pity me, for I am very downcast, and I have a thousand reasons for being so.