Issue 125, Winter 1992
It was at that point I lost all pride and sent Albertine a despairing telegram, begging her to return on any terms. All I asked was to be able to hold her in my arms for a minute three times weekly, before she went to bed. And if she had said once a week, I would have accepted that, such was my groveling fixation.
Alas, the telegram that answered mine came from Madame Bontemps: unopened, a harbinger of subordinate joy, and kept thus for almost half an hour while I dreamed my yearning into being: she had consented! Once a week, which was almost enough. But there are things, like funguses or warts, that attach themselves to our lives in the night and resist all efforts at removal. My little Albertine was no more, thrown by her horse against a tree while she was out riding, and it was as if the shock of that same impact stunned my own head, threw my mind off course, and I could no more write, continue, the novel of the alias, writing “Albertine'' when I meant Alfred Agostinelli, who had reappeared in my life, asking to be my chauffeur, but had become my typist instead. All of a sudden, I the narrator, who now answered to the name Marcel instead of being only a despotic “I,” rejected the lie I told, concocting an “Albertine” smashed against a tree when, all along, and earlier, it had been my dearest Alfred, killed in the airplane I had bought for him. What a Liar I had been, writing that, when I was intending to marry “Albertine,” I would buy her both a yacht and a car, but meaning really that I was going to pay 27,000 francs for Alfred's plane and an equal amount for his Rolls Royce, even after I had pleaded with him to give up all thoughts of becoming a pilot; but he went ahead, enrolling as “Marcel Swann” at a flying school near Antibes.