Her eyes sparkled. She always knew where to go, what to do; she always had desires or curiosities to satisfy. Had it been given to me to follow her all through life, I would always have known what to do with myself.
We went down the stairs and I asked, "Shall we walk?"
"Of course," she replied. "It's such a bright, lovely night."
"Ah! So you like the moon!" I said bitterly.
"I hate it."
She laughed. "Your feelings are always excessive."
"When all of us are dead, it will still be there, sneering in the heavens."
"I don't envy it," Marianne said. "I'm not afraid of death."
"Really? If you were told that you were going to die in a little while, you mean to say you wouldn't be afraid?"
"Ah! But I want to die when the time is ripe."
She walked with rapid little steps, avidly absorbing the sweetness of the night through her eyes, her ears, through every pore in her body.
"It's remarkable how much you love life," I said.
"Yes, I do love life very much."
"Are there ever times when you're unhappy?"
"Occasionally. But that too is part of living."
"I'd like to ask you one question," I said.
"Were you ever in love?"
"No," she answered without hesitation.
"And yet you have a passionate nature."
"That's just it," she said. "Other people always seem indifferent, lukewarm. They're not alive..."
I felt a small wrench in my heart. "And neither am I alive."
"You told me that once before," she said. "But it's not true, not true at all. You're excessive in both good and evil! you can't stand mediocrity. That's being alive." She looked at me steadily. "At bottom, your meanness was simply a form of revolt."
"You don't know me," I said dryly.
She reddened and we walked the rest of the way to the cabaret in silence. A stairway led down to a large vaulted room with smoke blackened beams. Waiters wearing brightly colored caps were scurrying about among the tables around which noisy groups were crowded together. We sat down at a small, round table all the way in the back and I ordered supper.
After the waiter had placed the hors d'oeuvre and a decanter of pink wine in front of us, Marianne asked me, "Why do you always get so angry whenever I suggest that you're capable of good?"
"I feel as if I'm being an imposter."
"Well, isn't it true that you give your time, your money, and your pains unsparingly to our enterprise?"
"But it doesn't cost me anything," I answered.
"Precisely. That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing."
I filled our glasses with the wine. "Have you forgotten already what I used to be like?"
"No," she replied. "But you've changed."
"One never changes."
"Ah! That I don't believe. If people never changed, all our work would be for nothing," she said spiritedly. She looked at me thoughtfully. "I'm certain that now you would not be able to divert yourself by pushing a man to suicide."
"I think that's probably true."
She lifted a piece of paté de foie to her mouth. When she ate she had a serious, animal look about her. Despite the graceful reserve of her gestures, she gave the appearance of a wolf transformed into a woman. Her teeth shone with a cruel sparkle. How could I explain it to her? To commit evil no longer amused me. But I had not become any better for that. Neither good nor bad, neither miserly nor generous.
—Simone de Beauvoir, All Men Are Mortal, p. 260