The anxiety left her face: all that remained was that tense air he had observed before – the air of someone perpetually on guard to shield him. He sat down on the bed and put his hand on her shoulder. "My dear,” he said, “my dear. How much I love you.” He was pledging both of them to a lifetime of lies, but only he knew that.
“Me too,” she said. “Me too.”
They sat for a long while without moving and without speaking: they were on the edge of their ordeal like two explorers who see at last from the summit of the range the enormous dangerous plain. They had to tread carefully for a lifetime, never speak without thinking twice: they must watch each other like enemies because they loved each other so much. They would never know what it was not to be afraid of being found out. It occurred to him that perhaps after all one could atone even to the dead if one suffered for living enough.
He tried tentatively a phrase. “My dear, my dear, I am so happy,” and heard with infinite tenderness her prompt and guarded reply, “Me too.” It seemed to him that after all one could exaggerate the value of happiness . . .
From: Graham Greene, The Ministry Of Fear, London, William Heinemann, 1943.
Simeon Salomon Images:
Top: Hypnos, The God Of Sleep
Bottom: Death Awakening Sleep