Romance? Well, February can be a time for romance, particularly when you factor in Valentine’s Day – Feb. 14th. The word romance certainly has a certain amount of appeal, whether on that day or later in springtime.
The idea of romance was also appealing in the 1800s. Writer’s like Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas employed the concept extensively.
Allow me to take you back to a time when chivalry and honour meant something and character defined a gentleman. Our hero, Hugo von Löwenklau, finds the woman he loves, Margot Richemonte, bound to a conniving older man, a baron, through a contrived plot, one that threatens to usurp their budding romance. Here’s a snippet from their intimate conversation.
“Weren’t you afraid of those looters, Monsieur?” she asked.
“Afraid? I would have fought them if they hadn’t left,” he reassured her.
“Oh God! What if they had stormed the door and killed you?”
“Then I would have died a soldier’s death. Naturally, I considered the risk, but foremost on my mind was my honor and loyalty to you.”
“Please explain yourself,” she whispered.
After a long pause, he replied in a somewhat nervous tone. “My heart and life belong to you alone. Without you, I would become a meaningless machine, devoid of emotion.”
She stirred slightly.
“Well then, Monsieur Hugo, why do you wrestle with uncertain dreams which belong to the future? One day you’ll be very happy in your exploits.”
“No,” he nearly blurted out. “I don’t think so.”
“Why do you feel you can’t be happy?”
“Because, I… love… you, and because…my love has not been returned.”
Hugo took a deep breath, involuntarily brushing his forehead. He looked at Margot expectantly, uncertain of what she would say. She stood before him, the picture of charm and embarrassment.
“I’m not permitted to return your love, Monsieur Hugo,” she replied sadly.
Hugo, ignoring the implication, ventured hopefully. “But if you had the freedom to choose, would you love me?”
“Yes,” she whispered, closing her eyes.
Hugo unwittingly placed his left arm on her shoulder, gently stroking her hair, trying to soothe her. “You believe you can’t return my love because you are bound to the baron.”
“Yes. It’s because of him.”
Hugo considered for a moment. “What if I can come up with a hundred and fifty thousand francs?”
“Oh my God! It would be too great a sacrifice,” she cried out. “Are you that wealthy?”
“I’ll be honest with you, Margot. I’m not what you consider rich, with my sustenance coming from a small estate. I’ve resolved to sell it all so I can rescue you and your mother from the clutches of that charlatan, Reillac.”
Margot, completely speechless, embraced him in the heat of the moment. He felt her heart pounding in the embrace as a deep sobbing took hold of her. He let her release the pent-up emotions, only responding when she had calmed down once more.