I suppose life has its course. In the end, pride has a price, as does love, honor, naïveté, and softness of character. I have fallen prey to all in a form.
I was naïve enough to trust him, to think him my friend, my equal in honor and honestly. I was naïve to expect him to grow warm to me and in the end give a damn, at least a little. My pride has led me to feel slighted by what I fancied a betrayal. Though, how could he have betrayed me if he never was loyal to begin with, if he never thought me his friend, or more correctly – himself mine. It was, likewise, pride that has led me to act outside the rigid barriers of true honor, to stretch those limits somewhat, so that I may exact my revenge on my betrayer, And yet, it is the honor by which I had for so long built my life that gives me no rest now, as I know what my seconds have planned goes far beyond what I had initially planned for. It is murder in a sense, and as a gentleman I shan’t condone or accept it. They may load the pistols as they wish, but I shall not go forth with their plan if I am not given a chance by fate whereas I may act as to my desire without feeling that, in a farer situation, the odds would have played against me. Behold, as well, that it is the softness of character that is making me give into my seconds. I fear a quarrel with them as I fear dishonor. I was naïve enough to trust him, but then I was blinded by my other feelings toward him. I am not so blinded as to where my companions are concerns and I do not trust them so fully and fear that they may frame and betray me if I do not go along with them. All this is not as much a factor of cowardice as of softness, as I have always despised duels. This is, truly, my first real duel that will come to pass, for better or worse, as quarreling with pistols has not suited my fancy, and nether does it now, if I am to be honest.
As for love…I have the fortune – or should I call it a curse? – to love with every part of my soul. To let myself be led away with it, to fall into its embrace and be lost within its depths. I do not love easily, but when I do… I can not say now if I loved her. Where is that sacred line between love and a selfish pride and need to conquer, to be held up in the eyes of a poetic creature of pure beauty as her token of happiness and meaning? I can not say that it was love. I may assume it was, and I shall, to save myself more weight on my conscious and more humiliation before myself.
As for him.
What was it that blinded me to him? I knew him well enough to suspect that his true attitude toward me contained something beyond the innocent pretenses of warmth that he laid out before me for my taking at my leisure. Oh, what a blinded fool I was to take him at face value. He is anything but honest in his intentions. But then, what was it that sparked the need for a hope to cling ti which has blinded, and now, ultimately, destroyed me? Maybe it was that I found him peculiar and with that interesting and enticing. Was it the spark in his eyes or the grace of his movements? Was it the danger he presented? I shall never know, I suppose. All I am aware of is that I fell. Fell for the notion that maybe my hope, my own geniality, may bring him around to the purer side of life, I longed to save him from himself, just as I longed to satisfy my own need to be needed by him. To be to him the singular source of comfort and camaraderie. Of tenderness and… and…
But I had longed so terribly for this achievement that I had fancied that I had attained the place beside him that I most yearned for. I was frustrated, then, with his refusal to admit it. I longed to feel his dearest friend, worthy of at least the small sacrifice of a fleeting caprice, a fleeting pleasure of a needless conquest. Yet, he denied me that right, disillusioned me and showed me that all my longing was for naught and that I was merely a foolish boy who knew so little though fancied that he knew so much merely because he loved.
It is that very word, that awesome sentiment that will bind my chest, spin my head, and compel my hand to tremble. For my pistol shall not fire tomorrow. And if it does, it shall miss its mark. It shall not matter if fate gives me a chance where I may exact my revenge with a clean conscious, as the subject of his pistol shall be irrelevant at the moment of my actions. I can not live with my head as he does. I live with my heart and my heart shall not permit me to end my own misery. I feel it now, even as the hour is not quite yet here when I must make my decision.
And yet… yet… would it not be more wise for me to end it now? To erase all this guilt that hangs over me and has ever since our stars have crossed? Is there truly room on this earth for the two of us?
Maybe God will have pity on me. Per chance, I will be the one to die tomorrow. I know not how but fate, and he, has an insidious way to tie up all the loose ends that may remain.
I can hear hooves on the road. My seconds are coming for me. The hour, so painfully awaited in such confused, delirious agony, has arrived. Now I must only wait for the minute, the second. The one moment which shall be resolved when I face him, when his eyes meet mine and seize my soul into their power, as they had done before.
Mon cher, Pechorin, adieu. I give myself over to whatever passion it is that takes me when I am in your presents, whatever passion that taints me even when you are gone and drives me to the limits of my sanity.
Laisser l'aube est notre témoin.Let the dawn be out witness.