Four Novels

Four Novels by Marguerite Duras Read Free Book Online

Book: Four Novels by Marguerite Duras Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marguerite Duras
ended by them giving me the hardest things to do, dreadful things, and yet I do them and I never complain. Because if I refused it would mean that Iimagined that my situation, as it stands, could be improved, that it could be made somehow bearable, and then, of course, it would end up one day by becoming bearable.”
    “And yet it seems strange to be able to make one’s life easier and refuse to do so.”
    “I suppose so, but I must do whatever they ask. I have never refused anything although it would have been easy at the beginning and now it would be easier still since I am asked to do more and more. But for as long as I can remember it has always been like this: I accepted everything quite quietly so that one day I would be quite unable to accept anything any more. You may say that this is a rather childish way of looking at things, but I could never find another way of being sure that I would get what I wanted. You see, I know that people can get used to anything and all around me I see people who are still where I am, but ten years later. There is nothing people cannot get accustomed to, even to a life like mine, and so I must be careful, very careful indeed, not to become accustomed to it myself. Sometimes I am frightened, because although I am aware of this danger, it is still so great that I am afraid that even I, aware as I am, might give in to it. But please go on telling me about the changes you see when you travel, apart from the snow, the cherries and the new buildings?”
    “Well, sometimes the hotel has changed hands and the new owner is friendly and talkative where the old one was tired of trying to please and never spoke to his clients.”
    “Tell me, it is true isn’t it that I must not take things for granted: that each day I must still be amazed to be where I am or else I shall never succeed?”
    “I think that everyone is amazed, each day, to be still where they are. I think people are amazed quite naturally. I doubt if one can decide to be amazed at one thing more than at another.”
    “Each morning I am a little more surprised to find myself still where I am. I don’t do it on purpose: I just wake up and, immediately, I am surprised. Then I start remembering things . . . I was a child like any other: there was nothing to show I was different. At cherry time we used to go and steal fruit in the orchards. We were stealing it right up to the last day, because it was in that season that I was sent into service. But tell me more about the things you see when you travel?”
    “I used to steal cherries like you, and there was nothing which seemed to make me different from other children, except perhaps thateven then I loved them very much. Well, apart from a change of proprietor in a hotel, sometimes a radio has been installed. That’s a big change, when a café without music suddenly becomes a café with music: then of course they have many more customers and everyone stays much later. And that makes an evening to the good.”
    “You said to the good?”
    “Ah, I sometimes think: if only we had known. . . . My mother simply came up to me and said, ‘Well, you must come along now.’ And I just let myself be led away like an animal to the slaughterhouse. If only I had known then, I promise you I would have fought. I would have saved myself. I would have begged my mother to let me stay. I would have persuaded her.”
    “But we don’t know.”
    “The cherry season went on that year like all the others. People would pass under my window singing and I would be there behind the curtains watching them, and I got scolded for it.”
    “I was left free to pick cherries for a long time. . . .”
    “There I was behind the window like a criminal and yet my only crime was to be sixteen. But you? You said you went on picking them for a long time?”
    “Longer than most people. And yet you see. . . .”
    “Tell me more about your cafés full of people and music.”
    “I like them very much. I

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