Marie Bashkirtseff (1858—1884) was een in de Oekraïne geboren kunstschilderes en dagboekschrijfster.
Wednesday, November 1st. — As soon as Paul went out, I
found myself alone with that good and praiseworthy being
whose name is Pacha.
"Well, do you like me still?"
"Ah ! Moussia, how can a man tell you so!"
"Why, straightforwardly. Why tnis reticence? Why
can't you be simple and frank? I won't laugh at you. If I
do laugh, it is simply from nervousness — and nothing else.
Then you don't like me any more?"
"Ah ! because ... because ... I don't remember."
"It is impossible to talk of these things."
"If I don't please you, you may as well say so ; you are
quite frank enough for that, and I am indifferent enough ...
Come, is it my nose? my eyes?
"Any one can see that you have never loved."
"Because directly you analyse features, either the nose
surpasses the eyes, or the eyes the mouth. ... All that
means that you do not love."
"Quite true. Who told you so?"
"No," he answered."I don't know what I like best . . .
I will tell you frankly ... it is your air, your manner — above
all, your character."
"It is a good one?"
"Yes, unless you are acting, which one can't be always
"True again ... and my face?"
"It has beauties ... of the sort called classical."
"Yes, I know. And then?"
"Then? There are some women we see pass by whom
we think pretty, and then think no more about them ... But
there are other faces which ... are pretty and charming ...
which leave a vivid impression behind, an agreeable feeling ...
a fascinating one."
"Quite so ... and then?"
"What an inquisitor you are!"
"I am improving the occasion by learning a little about
what people think of me. I shall not meet another in a
hurry whom I can question like this without compromising
myself. Now, how did this feeling come upon you — suddenly or gradually?"
"It is all the better. It is more solid. What you love in
a day you leave off loving in a day ; while"
"Rhyme it ... * the other endures alway.'
Our conversation lasted a good deal longer, and my feelings of respect went up for this man whose love has the
reverence of a religion, and who has never sullied it with a
single profane word or look.
"Do you like to talk about love?" I asked all of a
"No; it is profanation to talk of it lightly."
"But it's amusing."
"Amusing!" he cried out.
"Ah! Pacha, life is a great misery. Have I ever
been in love?"
"Never," he replied.
"Why do you think so?"
"Because of your character ; you can only love capriciously.
.... To-day a man, to-morrow a dress, the next day a
"I am delighted to have people think so. And you, my
dear brother, have you ever been in love?"
"I told you I have. Yes, I told you so. You know it."
"No, no ; I don't mean that," I replied, quickly, "but ever
"That is strange. Now and then I think I am wrong, and
have taken you for more than you are."
We then talked of indifferent matters, and I went up to
my room. There is a — no, we won't call him an excellent man,
the disenchantment would be too unpleasant. He declared to
me a little while ago that he should go into the army —"To
win glory, I tell you, frankly."
Well, this remark coming straight from the heart, half
timid, half bold, and true as truth, gave me great pleasure.
Perhaps I am flattering myself, but it seems to me that
ambition was unknown to him. I can recall what a strange
effect my first talk of ambition produced on him, and one
day, when I was talking of this while painting, the Green
Man suddenly got up and began to pace the room, muttering —
"Oh ! one must do something — one must do something!"