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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Eternal Hope
By Eugène Brieux (1858–1932)
From ‘False Gods’ ‘La Foi’: Translation of James Bernard Fagan

MIERIS—What have I left to live for?  1
  Yaouma—You have lived all these years in spite of your affliction, what is there that is changed?  2
  Mieris—What is there that is changed! You ask me what is changed! Until now I lived in the hope of a miracle.  3
  Yaouma—Perhaps it would never have come.  4
  Mieris—Even at my last hour I should have still looked for it.  5
  Yaouma—Then you would have died believing in a lie—if what they say be true.  6
  Mieris—What matter, I had smiled as I died, thinking death but the journey to a land where my lost child was waiting for me. The death of a child! No mother ever can believe, at heart, in that. It is too unjust—too cruel to be possible. One says to oneself: it is but a separation! Oh! Satni, thy doctrines may be the truth. But they declare this separation eternal; they make the death of our loved ones final, irreparable, horrible, therefore I foretell thee this: Women will never believe them! What is there that is changed?—Yesterday, children came playing close to us. You know how their cries and laughter made me glad—the voice of one of them was like the voice of mine. I made him come, I put out my hand, in the old way. I felt, at the old height, tossed hair, and the warmth of a living body. And I did not weep, but my voice spoke in my heart and said: “Little child, thy years are as many as his, whom She-who-loves-the-silence took from me. But in Amenti, where he is, in the island of souls, he is happier than thou, for he is safe from all the ills that threaten thee. He is happier than thou. He lives beneath a sun of gold, amid flowers of strange beauty, and perfumed baths refresh him. And when She-who-loves-the-silence takes me in my turn, I shall see him, I shall see him for the first time—and I shall fondle him as I fondle thee, and none, then, may put us asunder. Go, little child, the happy ones are not on this side of the earth!” Now have I lost the hope of a better life before death, and the hope of a better life beyond as well. If you took both crutches from a cripple, he would fall. Only this twofold hope sustained me. They have taken it from me. And so, it is the end, it is the end—’tis as though I were fallen from a height, I am broken, I have no strength left to bear with life: I tell you, it is the end, it is the end!  7

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