1811 c/o Vijay Khurana

I lied to you, told you it didn’t hurt that much, for months, until the movement of my arm began to give me away.

You told me you weren’t worried, but you watched every start and heard every gasp. By then you had spoken to a doctor friend, begged him to ask the Empress’s surgeon to come.

So doctors came, and looked, and lied to me, and told me not to worry. But afterwards they sat with you in the library and they said, worry.

I didn’t tell you I had made a will. I had to smuggle it out of the house and to the lawyer, with strict orders of secrecy.

You lied to me and told me we were moving out of Paris for the climate, but I knew it was because I could no longer walk up stairs.

Monsieur Larrey told me they would give me only four hours’ notice before the operation. This to spare me weeks of worry, he said. But I was already worried.

When I got the note you were sitting by my bed. I acted out insouciance and pretended it was something else. When you got up I wrote to Monsieur Neuville that the moment for our little plan had come. He had agreed to call you away on artificial business—better to trick you than have you here and hearing when they did it.

Larrey had told me it would be a simple thing, done quickly in an armchair. But when they arrived they piled old mattresses up in my bedroom, tore up sheets and underwear to catch the blood.

Even as they put a handkerchief over my face, one of them called it a peu de chose. I could see the knife shining through the cambric.

The finger did not lie. I felt it draw a slow cross and then a circle, to show the other fingers where to cut.