You think yourself better than I? My dear friend, you and I are not great men, and in the depths where we belong there is little difference -- in hours like these. All your greatness is sham and pretense. Your fame? Merely a heap of newspaper notices that will be scattered to the winds the day after your death. Your friends? Flatterers who flock to success; envious parasites who clench their fists at you when your back is turned; fools who find you just small enough for their admiration. But you are clever enough to realize all this yourself, at times. I didn't trouble to come here just to tell you that. What I am going to tell you -- it may be despicable of me -- but it's astonishing how little we care whether we are despicable or not when we know we'll have no tomorrow to be ashamed of it in . . . I've come near throwing it in your face a hundred times during the past few years -- whenever we chanced to meet on the street and you were gracious enough to stop for a few words with me. My dear friend, not only do I know you as you are -- and hundreds of others do, too -- but your own beloved wife knows you better than you dream. She realized what you were twenty years ago -- in the prime of your youth and success. Yes, she realized it -- and I knew that she did -- for I was her lover two whole years. Many a time she came to me in disgust at your hollowness, your utter nothingness -- came to me ready to run off with me. But I was poor and she was a coward -- and so she stayed with you -- and deceived you. It was easier that way, for all of us.
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