The translation of the Lucien Yentl letters.
16th of February, 1940.
My dearest Marguerite,
It’s cold, so terribly cold, my fingers wince like an old man’s. The paper is damp. The draft from my little window – do you remember? – worsened after the landlady tried to fix it. I hear the wind whistle at night, but I gather the cat to my chest and think warm thoughts of you.
My friends spoke so highly of you after your visit. They called me mad not to run home to Rouen and make ardent love to you. Parisians love differently. Men are in love with many women, none of them their wives, and no man but me has begged for a hand in marriage. Only aristocrats rely on fathers’ blessings, though I’m told even they think it old-fashioned. These artists think me a fool. They don’t know me as a Jew, nor an orphan. I am afraid they would withhold invitations and introductions.
Some ladies, one rather great actress in particular, are said to enjoy my stories. Have I told you about the letters gentlemen give their mistresses? I’ve written three so far. I am told they were very useful. So, you see, my love, I will make my fortune and steal you away from the dairy farm. Then, you and I shall live in a castle, and you shall eat oranges every day. Who I am shan’t matter. It’ll be just you and I.
Please don’t worry about the news of Germany and Poland. I was merely repeating the gossip of market streets, which means nothing. No Frenchman wants another war. The Germans are too frightened of us, in any case. And if there is a war, I shall be sure to come back to you a hero.
Write back soon, tell me how you are. It’s all that matters.
Also found in Lucien’s belongings: Apology Letter for Monsieur de Guisson.
So many times since our last encounter I have thought of you, of the wet curls which clung to your cheek. You think I am forgetting you, but how could any man forget one such as yourself? Accuse me of a selfish, indolent and cruel nature and you shall be thrice right, but never for a moment doubt my devotion towards you.
For months, I have watched you sing at the opera. A hundred times, I have walked past the Deux Magots Café in the hopes of seeing you perched over a café crème. A thousand evenings, I have drafted an invitation, a million more dreamed of your entering the grounds of my castle, where I should hide in disguise, and surprise you from behind, and you would know me by my lips.
I’d press myself against your hips, and find a tree to lean you against. As I think of kissing your dear, sweet face, I remember your hair and neck smell of rosewater. I will carry you to bed, should you wish it, and undress you to caress every inch of your body, I’d make you moan and whimper until you trembled in my arms. I’d make love to you until you begged me to stop, and then I’d pleasure you till morning.
My dear, you ask why I’ve been quiet. Some family matters, unfortunately, but these have not for a moment stopped me from thinking of you. I’m sure you’ve heard through little birds that I am a cad, that I could have you and leave you. Do not let anyone trick you into thinking you are the sort of woman one could so easily forget. To possess you only once would never be enough.
These were found in Lucien Yentl’s briefcase. Though his landlady was forced to let all the rooms to German officers, she kept Lucien’s belongings throughout the war.
A woman, by the name of Marguerite Girot, daughter of dairy farmer Joseph Girot, retrieved them in 1951.
Marguerite Girot had not heard from Lucien since the spring of 1940, when Lucien Yentl disappeared. He is thought to have worked as a writer for the French resistance before being captured and sent to Auschwitz in 1942.
Marguerite Girot married André Martin. These letters were published by her one and only daughter, Lucienne Martin.