she was a very firm woman. She could not relinquish so easily her
heart's desire. No, not even to give me mine. And I think she must
have felt, subconsciously, for she was wiser than she knew, that what
I wanted I would have -- if I wanted it deeply enough. She knew that,
if my purpose were sincere and passionate enough, opposition would
but strengthen that purpose, delay but intensify it.
"And so she commanded me to continue
with my studies, as we had planned, to enter the Sorbonne and to obtain my License of Philosophy. Then she said,
and only then, would I be free to answer any calling I might choose.
If the theatre still seemed to me to be my 'life' she would offer
no further opposition. By the slight smile playing about her mouth,
I gathered that she still saw me in her mind's eye as frock-coated
and covered with scholastic dignities. She could not easily replace
that image with a grease-painted actor from an alien world.
"And so we made the pact between us.
I returned to school -- and to romance -- again.
"For at just about this time I had my
first really memorable romance. At least, memorable in so far as I
remembered the face, the form, the name if the young lady who captured
my heart. She was, I think, my first love worthy of the name. She
was a young woman who had come from Paris to teach our class in philosophy.
She was tall, blonde and very beautiful. And she was deliciously dignified.
If ever she was conscious of my burning glances, of the impassioned
tone of voice in which I managed to deliver the cold, abstract theses
of philosophy, she gave not the slightest indication.
"I became desperate. How to reach her
cool heart? How to make her know?
Boyer in a scene from "Garden of Allah."
The dog, Bous-Bous, and he became
fast friends during the picture's shooting.
last I devised the brilliant scheme of writing my love for her into
the themes I had to compose and she to correct. I realized that I might
be accounted a failure in my course if I did not stick to my subject
matter. No matter. I felt, feverishly, that to fail for love would be
a glorious defeat.
And so, instead of the erudite and dispassionate analyses of the subject matter
allotted me, I wrote fiery panegyrics to her eyes, her hair, her lips,
her hands, even, I think, her feet -- odes to love, to love tinged with
fatality, to unrequited love.
"One day, as class was about to be dismissed, she called
my name. She asked me to remain after the others had gone. To remain
- alone with her. She wanted, she said, to talk to me. I can see her
still, as I saw her then, golden and seeming to swim before my widened
eyes in a radiant haze. I am afraid that I can see myself, too, casting
a slightly oblique glance of triumph upon my fellow classmen, who were
all, like myself, in love with her but who had not conceived my ingenious
scheme of declaring their love. I assumed, I am afraid, the nonchalant
swagger of conquest.
"And then I was alone with her -- standing
there by her desk, my hands and feet slightly chilled, my heart hammering
as I considered the now somewhat terrifying prospect of clasping her
to my adolescent breast. I began to feel a little sick.
"She said, in her grave sweet voice, just
tinged with a gentle amusement, 'Charles, one day you will be a very
charming man, possibly you even may be a very great lover. But that
day has not yet come. Why don't you wait for it?'