"So long as I still have a little strength to work and so long as I have you, I'm not to be pitied," she said in a musical voice. She pressed her brother's hand. "I don't look too ghastly?" she asked with a coquettish air.
The contrast between her white-powdered cheeks and her dark eyes made her appear a little feverish; but she seemed rested. "You've never looked better." He touched the pink bed-jacket, edged with swansdown. "What a pretty little thing."
"You like it?" said Marcelle. "I used to take so little notice of my clothes before; but a sick woman who lets herself go is an ugly sight, don't you think?" She made a little face. "One needs to beg the indulgence of others."
"Silly creature," said Pascal tenderly. "Did you sleep well last night?"
"Oh yes, a little," she said with a brave smile. "Marguerite came home frightfully late. Didn't you hear? I said nothing to Mama, for fear of worrying her." She sighed.
"Perhaps you ought to speak to her," said Pascal.
"Marguerite? She would pay no attention to me," said Marcelle. "Everyone has to make their own experiments, my poor Pascal; and perhaps the cruellest thing about it is the knowledge that none of our sufferings allows us to spare the people who come after us."
This hidden disease that was eating her away and that the doctors would not take seriously, no doubt because they could not give it a name, looked at Pascal like a kind of slow disincarnation: not all illnesses come from the body; too ardent a soul could wear its fleshly wrapping to the point of destruction; but in this attempt at self-purification did not the soul destroy itself, alas? In that ultimate moment when the spirit broke ree, did it not disappear forever? Perhaps it stayed for a brief flash, poised in absolute lucidity. Pascal felt his head turn, as it did every time he thought about death. His meditations often brought him towards the subject, but he could not contemplate it for more than a few seconds.
—Simone de Beauvoir, When Things of the Spirit Come First, p. 148