Edmondo De Acimis
In the presence of your brother’s teacher you failed in respect to your mother! Let this never happen again, my Enrico, never again! Your irreverent word pierced my heart like a point of steel. I thought of your mother when, years ago, she bent the whole of one night over your little bed, measuring your breathing, weeping blood in her anguish, and with her teeth chattering with terror, because she thought that she had lost you, and I feared that she would lose her reason; and at this thought I felt a sentiment of horror at you. You, to offend your mother! your mother, who would give a year of happiness to spare you one hour of pain, who would beg for you, who would allow herself to be killed to save your life! Listen, Enrico. Fix this thought well in your mind. Reflect that you are destined to experience many terrible days in the course of your life: the most terrible will be that on which you lose your mother. A thousand times, Enrico, after you are a man, strong, and inured to all fates, you will invoke her, oppressed with an intense desire to hear her voice, if but for a moment, and to see once more her open arms, into which you can throw yourself sobbing, like a poor child bereft of comfort and protection. How you will then recall every bitterness that you have caused her, and with what remorse you will pay for all, unhappy wretch! Hope for no peace in your life, if you have caused your mother grief. You will repent, you will beg her forgiveness, you will venerate her memory—in vain; conscience will give you no rest; that sweet and gentle image will always wear for you an expression of sadness and of reproach which will put your soul to torture. Oh, Enrico, beware; this is the most sacred of human affections; unhappy he who tramples it under foot. The assassin who respects his mother has still something honest and noble in his heart; the most glorious of men who grieves and offends her is but a vile creature. Never again let a harsh word issue from your lips, for the being who gave you life. And if one should ever escape you, let it not be the fear of your father, but let it be the impulse of your soul, which casts you at her feet, to beseech her that she will cancel from your brow, with the kiss of forgiveness, the stain of ingratitude. I love you, my son; you are the dearest hope of my life; but I would rather see you dead than ungrateful to your mother. Go away, for a little space; offer me no more of your caresses; I should not be able to return them from my heart..
A letter from my father
This morning my brother’s teacher visited us, and my father became aware that I had said a rude word towards my mother. Therefore, my father admonished me with a letter that truly touched me.
Thursday, November 10th
In front of your brother’s teacher you were disrespectful to your mother. May this never happen again, my dear Enrico! Your impolite words have pierced my heart like a knife. I remember a few years ago when your mother spent the whole night at your bedside watching your every breath. She was crying in pain when she thought she had lost you.
When I think about that, I can hardly control my anger at you. Enrico, you offended your mother who would give a year of her happiness if she could save you from one hour of pain. She would beg for you and sacrifice her life in order to save yours.
My son! You will have dreary days, but the day you lose your mother will be the worst. You will grow up to be a brave man. Maybe someday after your mother is gone, you will long to hear your mother’s voice and to see her take you in her arms again. No matter how big or strong you are, you will feel poor, weak, and unprotected without your mother’s embrace.
You will remember with bitterness the times that you have upset your mother. Your conscience will make you pay a heavy price for it. Unfortunately, you can’t hope for peace in your life if you cause your mother to suffer. Even if you beg for forgiveness and pledge eternal devotion to your mother, your soul will not allow you to rest. Your mother’s gentle image will torment you. Enrico, remember a mother’s love is sacred. Those who trample on that love will be unhappy.
Beginning here and now, you will never say another rude word to your mother and you will apologize to her. You will do this not out of fear of me but because your soul demands it. Let your mother’s kiss cleanse you of the stain of selfishness on your forehead.
I love you, my son. You are my one and only hope for the future, but I would rather see you dead than see you disrespect your mother.
For the time being, do not offer me your affection for I will not respond in kind.
Đặng Hoàng Lan Summarized Chapter 13.