. . . The life of senses and of sex had nearly always had for me the bitter accompaniment of guilt, the sweet but dread taste of forbidden fruit that puts a spiritual man on his guard. Now, Hermine and Maria had shown me this garden in its innocence, and I had been a guest there and thankfully. But it would soon be time to go on farther. It was too agreeable and too warm in this garden. It was my destiny to make another bid for the crown of life in the expiation of its endless guilt. And easy life, an easy love, an easy death—those were not for me.
In the mood between joy and fear that fate and parting imposed on me just now, all the situations and shrines of meditation in my life’s pilgrimage caught once more that gleam of pain and beauty that comes from things past; and so too had the little tavern, thick with smoke, among whose patrons I had lately been numbered and whose primitive opiate of a bottle of cheap wine had lately heartened me enough to spend one more night in my lonely bed and to endure life for one more day. I had tasted other specifics and stronger stimulus since then, and sipped a sweeter poison.
I was not a modern man, nor an old-fashioned one either. I had escaped time altogether, and went my way, with death at my elbow and death as my resolve. I had no objection to sentimentalities. I was glad and thankful to find a trace of anything like a feeling still remaining in my burned-out heart.