Nora and Catherine made a quite dissimilar couple. Nora, very mannish that day, played the role of “gentleman” with such seriousness that, had she not worn a skirt, she would have passed for a beautiful adolescent. She smoked thick cigars, all the while rolling slender cigarettes for Catherine; she carried the parasol for her, offering her hand when they came to difficult spots in the road; she pushed branches aside with her cane, and during rests lay on her stomach gazing up at the “adored one” sitting on the gentle moss . . .
. . . This relationship lasted about a week, then they abruptly stopped seeing one another. Catherine, in a bad mood, blamed her split with Nora on an illness of Mignon, who no longer permitted her friend to leave her. Catherine regarded Mignon as a “poseur” who was sentimental and, consequently, stupid.
We never saw the two girls again, and have never known exactly what motivated their disappearance from our lives. Nora and Mignon inspired Sacher-Masoch’s Mother of God.
Long after, when Catherine was complaining about my husband and I sought to defend him, she cried, “You don’t have any reason to defend him—he is untrue to you as well!”
Wanting to know what she was leading up to, I said, “He is not.”
“Truly, he is not? And when he writes to Mignon that he has the most profound and sincere love for her, that he finds himself very unhappy with you, that he wants to separate from you and elope with her; that they should go to Germany and become Protestants in order to marry after he had divorced you; that their financial position would be assured because he would accept a job that had been offered him . . . That isn’t betrayal? In front of you he acts as though he could never spend a single day apart from you, yet all the time he thinks only of leaving you. Nora showed me the letters; I read them myself, and I can tell you one thing: those two girls truly detest him.”
From what she had said about the job I knew she was speaking the truth, since Leopold really had been negotiating for a job in Germany, and he and I were supposedly the only ones who knew about it.
What should I believe?