J.-A. A. Bernardin
Paul and Virginia
In the foreword the author writes that he set himself great goals in this small work. He tried to describe in it the soil and vegetation, not similar to the European ones. Writers too long sat their lovers on the banks of streams under the shadow of beeches, and he decided to take their place on the seashore, at the foot of the rocks, in the shade of coconut palms. The author wanted to combine the beauty of tropical nature with the moral beauty of a small society. He set himself the task of making certain great truths evident, including the fact that happiness lies in a life consistent with nature and virtue. People about whom he writes existed in reality, and in their main events their history is authentic.
On the eastern slope of the mountain, rising beyond the Port of Louis, that on the Isle of France (now the island of Mauritius), the ruins of two huts are visible. Once, sitting on a hill near their foot, the narrator met an old man who told him the story of two families who lived in these places two decades ago.
In 1726, a young man from Normandy, named De Latour, came to this island with his young wife to seek happiness. His wife was an old family, but her family opposed her marriage to a man who was not a noble and deprived her of a dowry. Leaving his wife in the Port of Louis, he sailed to Madagascar to buy a few blacks and go back, but fell ill and died while traveling. His wife remained a widow, having
Paul and Virginia grew up together and were inseparable. Children could neither read nor write, and all their science consisted in mutual pleasure and help. Madame de Latour was worried about her daughter: what will happen to Virginia when she grows up, because she does not have any state. Madame de Latour wrote to France a rich aunt and at every opportunity she wrote again and again, trying to awaken that kind feeling to Virginia, but after a long silence the old prude finally sent a letter saying that her niece had deserved her sad fate. Not wishing to be too cruel, my aunt asked the governor, M. de Labourdone, to take her niece under her protection, but so she recommended it, that she only set up the governor against the poor woman. Margarita consoled Madame de Latour: “Why do we need your relatives! Did the Lord leave us? He is our father to us. “
Virginia was kind, like an angel. Once, having fed the runaway slave, she went along with her to her master and begged her forgiveness. Returning from the Black River, where the owner of the beggar lived, Paul and Virginia got lost and decided to spend the night in the forest. They began to read the prayer; as soon as they finished it, a dog barking was heard. It turned out that this is their dog Fidel, followed by the Negro Domingo. Seeing the alarm of the two mothers, he gave Fidel a sniff of the old dress of Paul and Virginia, and the faithful dog immediately rushed after the children.
Paul turned the basin, where both families lived, into a flowering garden, skillfully planting trees and flowers in it. Each corner of this garden had its own name: the cliff of the Discovered Friendship, the lawn of Heart Consent. The place at the source under the canopy of two coconut trees planted by happy mothers in honor of the birth of children was called the Virginia Distress. From time to time, Madame de Latour read aloud a touching story from the Old or New Testament. Members of a small society did not philosophize over sacred books, for all their theology, like theology of nature, was in the sense, and all morals, like the morality of the Gospel, are in action. Both women avoided communication with rich settlers and the poor, for some seek saints, while others often are angry and envious. At the same time they showed so much courtesy and courtesy, especially in relation to the poor, which gradually gained the respect of the rich and the confidence of the poor. Every day was a holiday for two small families, but the most joyful holidays for Paul and Virginia were the names of their mothers. Virginia baked pies from wheat flour and treated them to poor people, and the next day arranged for them a holiday. Paul and Virginia did not have hours, calendars, annals, historical or philosophical books. They determined the clock by the shadow cast by the trees, the seasons were recognized by whether the orchards bloom or bear fruit, l was counted according to the harvest yields. and the next day arranged for them a holiday. Paul and Virginia did not have hours, calendars, annals, historical or philosophical books. They determined the clock by the shadow cast by the trees, the seasons were recognized by whether the orchards bloom or bear fruit, l was counted according to the harvest yields. and the next day arranged for them a holiday. Paul and Virginia did not have hours, calendars, annals, historical or philosophical books. They determined the clock by the shadow cast by the trees, the seasons were recognized by whether the orchards bloom or bear fruit, l was counted according to the harvest yields.
But for some time now Virginia began to torture an unknown disease. That unreasonable gaiety, then causeless sadness seized her. In the presence of Paul, she felt embarrassed, blushed and did not dare to raise her eyes to him. Margarita increasingly spoke with Madame de Latour about marrying Paul and Virginia, but Madame de Latour believed that the children were too young and too poor. After consulting with the Old Man, the ladies decided to send Paul to India. They wanted him to sell there what is in abundance in the neighborhood: raw cotton, ebony, gum – and bought several slaves, and on his return married Virginia, but Paul refused to leave his relatives and friends for the sake of enrichment. Meanwhile, the ship that had arrived from France brought Madame de Latour a letter from her aunt. She finally relented and called her niece to France, and if the health did not allow that to make such a long trip, punished to send her to Virginia, promising to give the girl a good upbringing. Madame de Latour could not and did not want to embark on a journey. The governor began to persuade her to let go of Virginia. Virginia did not want to go, but her mother, and her spiritual father, began to convince her that this was God’s will, and the girl reluctantly agreed. Paul watched with disappointment as Virginia was preparing to leave. Margarita, seeing the sadness of her son, told him that he was only the son of a poor peasant woman and also illegitimate, consequently, he was not a Virginia couple, who, on the part of the mother, belonged to a rich and noble family. Paul decided that Virginia had recently avoided him from contempt. But when he spoke with Virginia about the difference in their origin, the girl swore, that he does not go of his own free will and will never fall in love and call his brother another boy. Paul wanted to accompany Virginia on a journey, but both mothers and Virginia herself persuaded him to stay. Virginia vowed to return, in order to connect his fate with his fate. When Virginia left, Paul asked the Old Man to teach him to read and write, so that he could correspond with Virginia. From Virginia for a long time there was no news, and Madame de Latour only the party learned that her daughter arrived safely in France. Finally in a year and a half came the first letter from Virginia. The girl wrote that she had sent several letters before, but did not receive an answer, and realized that they had been intercepted: now she took precautions and hopes that this her letter will reach its destination. A relative gave it to a boarding school at a large monastery near Paris, where she was taught various sciences, and forbade all sorts of intercourse with the outside world. Virginia really missed her family. France seemed to her a land of savages, and the girl felt lonely. Paul was very sad and often sat under the papaya, which Virginia had once planted. He dreamed of going to France, serving the king, making himself a fortune and becoming a nobleman to earn the honor of becoming the husband of Virginia. But the old man explained to him that his plans were unworkable and illegal origin would close him access to higher positions. The old man supported Paul’s faith in the virtue of Virginia and the hope of her soon return. Finally on the morning of December 24, 1744, on the Mount of Discovery, a white flag was raised, meaning that a ship appeared in the sea. The pilot, who sailed from the harbor to identify the ship, returned only in the evening, that the ship would anchor in the Port of Louis the day after noon, if there was a fair wind. The pilot brought letters, among which was a letter from Virginia. She wrote that the grandmother first wanted to force her into marriage, then deprived of her inheritance and finally sent home, and at a time of year when travel is especially dangerous. Learning that Virginia is on the ship, everyone hurried to the city. But the weather deteriorated, a hurricane flew in, and the ship began to sink. Paul wanted to rush into the sea to help Virginia or die, but he was held back by force. The sailors jumped into the water. Virginia stepped onto the deck and extended her arms to her lover. The last sailor remaining on the ship rushed to the feet of Virginia and begged her to take off her clothes, but she turned away with dignity from him. She held the dress with one hand, another pressed her to her heart and raised her clear eyes. She seemed like an angel who flies to heaven. The water shaft covered it. When the waves carried her body ashore, it turned out that she was clutching an image in her hand – a gift from Paul, with whom she had promised never to part. Virginia was buried near the Pampelmus church. Paul could not be comforted and died two months after Virginia. A week later, followed by Margarita. The old man transported Madame de Latour to herself, but she survived Paul and Margarita only for a month. Before her death, she forgave a heartless relative who condemned Virginia to death. The old woman suffered severe retribution. She was tormented by remorse and for several years suffered from attacks of hypochondria. Before her death she tried to deprive the family of her relatives whom she hated, but they put her behind bars, like crazy, and property was imposed custody. She died, having saved, to top it all off, quite reason enough to realize that she was robbed and despised by the very people whose opinion she valued her whole life.
The cape, which the ship could not circumvent before the hurricane, was called the Cape of Unhappiness, and the bay, where Virginia’s body was thrown, was the Tomb of the Grave. The fields were buried near Virginia at the foot of bamboos, next to the graves of their tender mothers and faithful servants. The old man was left alone and became like a friend who does not have any more friends, a father who has lost his children, a traveler lonely wandering the earth.
Having finished his story, the old man withdrew, shedding tears, and his interlocutor, hearing him, dropped not one tear.