October, 1832

Cher François,

I have no right to expect your company anymore, and I am heartily sorry for that. I suppose I did not think of you before I set off on my fool's expedition, except in the most superficial way possible. That was heartless of me. I know you have already accepted my first apology, but for a breach this large, I do not think my first, hurried pleas for forgiveness could be sufficient.

Please believe me when I say that I was completely wrong in the whole endeavor, from the moment I decided to leave your side to the moment I returned. I had thought that finding female companionship would be simple, and indeed it was, but the logical progression thereof escaped me. I have no words for how wrong it was, and the inherent disgust was only compounded by my thoughts of how hurt you were. I wish to God that I could retract it all. If I had only known how ludicrously mistaken I was, I could have spared us both pain. I did not consider my actions well enough, or surely I would have seen the flaws in my plan.

If you would like me to leave you in peace for any length of time: two weeks, a month, until Judgement Day, I will do so. In any such event, I will miss you desperately, but I feel that I have lost the right to act as though my problems have more weight than yours. This imbalance in my perceptions led me to my last disastrous course of action. The only recompense I can see is to say that you have the right to decide what you will do, and that I shall do my best not to hinder you in that decision.

With affection and sorrow,

My beloved,

How many times in the past week have I longed to hate you? Too many to count, but it was no use. I can refuse you nothing, even forgiveness. Surely you know that.

I can hardly fault you for doing what I have thought, more than once, of advising you to do. I never meant to take advantage of your inexperience, nor to bind you to me before you had a chance to know ordinary love. It was no more than your right to leave. To tell me that this that we have shared is shameful -- yes, that hurt me; but it may very well be true.

I only know that it has done me more good and brought me more joy than anything in my life before; that I sleep sounder in your arms; that you make of me a better man than I ever hoped to be; that you give meaning and beauty to the world. These are my truths.

Understand that, and then ask me again if I would have you leave me in peace. I am -- I will be -- at peace when I am with you. As your friend, if you want no more than that.

I could never compel you, nor would I want to, no matter what you tell me. But if you were to stay, I would be more than content, and more than grateful.

Your own

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