(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Villette"

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at |http : //books . google . com/ 



it 

4 

1 

1 






"s/^ 



L 



I 






1 




tl MDITION ^^1 




«Tao ^^^1 




^^1 




liBONTE ^H 




VARD ^^1 




^^^^^^ 




Nom ^^H 


- 


1 


> 


H 




1 


^ 


J 



THE HA WORTH EDITION 

ILLUSTRATED 



LIFE AND WORKS OF 

THE SISTERS BRON.TE 

WITH PREFACES BT 
MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 

AND AN INTRODUCnON AND NOTES 
TO THE LIFE 

BT 

CLEMENT K. SHORTER 



IN SEVEN VOLUMES 

Volume IIL 

VILLETTE 



THE HAWORTH EDITION 



VILLETTE 



BY 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE 

(CURRER bill) 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION 
BT 

MRB. HUMPHRY WARD 



• • •••• • 



••••• •••• 



ILLUSTRATED 




,•• ••• 



NBW YORK AND LONDON 

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

1902 





y.':.'. 








• • • • 




• • 


• 




• • • 


••••• 




• • • 


;;;V 


• 


• • • 


• 


• •• 




• •••• 






•.••• 


•.. 


• • • 




••••• 




• •••• 


••• 


•••••• 


• , 


• • • 

• • 


::::! 






• • 


%/.'; 




••••• 


•• • 


• • 


• • 


• •- • 


•• •• 


•••• 


• • • 


. :::•• 


V.;'.* 


..... 








• • 


. 



•- .•" 



CopTiicht, ittB, by Babpir k Bitonasa. 
da fittt n m$ n td. 







^^^^ 


1 




f ' 

COI^TENTS 
i 




* M 




^^^^H 




r.„. ., ,..,« . 




^^^H 


1 es*r. 


\ 




^^^^^^^1 


L L 


Ll.,^ X 


. . . . . 


^^H 


B nr. 


Pauls . • « 




^^H 
^^H 


Tbb Pl^OIATf 


• ■ • * • 


1 rv. 


Miss MAACHMairT . 


• • • * » 


^^H 


b 






^^H 


Btui 


IjOKDOK ... * 




^^H 
^^H 
^^1 


Vn.l.llTTB . 




Hadamjb Bbck 




^§ IX. 

B 

^^ XI. 


latDORB .... 




^^H 

^^H 
^^H 


Db. John 




Ths Porteb8s*3 Cabinbt 




V xn. 


Thb Gaskbt , 




^^H 
^^H 


A Skbbsi our of Sbasom 




XIV. 
XV. 


Th» Fetr 




^^H 
^^H 


The Lomo Vacation 




XVI. 
XVIL 






^^H 
^^^1 


mim'mr-mmm^ -mJ^^mm^%^ w^^w^mm 9 w 

IiA T&BILA8SE 




•I '^ 


fU. 


^11 


ij _ 'I a 4t -i 8, 


^^1 



viii VILLETTE ] 

CHAP. j PAOB 

XVIU. Wb Quabbel . . . . I . . • . 221 

XIX. The Cleopatra • • f in • • 280 

XX. The Concert . * • ' i -" * » . • *** 

XXI. Reaction . , • « .« • .268 

XXII. The Letter ^^ t« i ^ 

XXIII. Vashti. . ,f . . . .800 

XXIV. M. DE Bassohpierbe 1^ ^ » • • • 816 
XXV. The Little CovsTEs^bm^^^g^^, . 882 




XXVL A BURUL . ^^^^^H • . • 848 

XXVIL The H6tel Csicf ^^^^^m * •866 

XXVIII. The Watchguabd 

XXIX. Monsieur's F^te 809 

XXX. M. Paul 416 

XXXI. The Dryad 428 

XXXIL The First Letter • 440 

XXXITI. M. Paul keeps his Promise . . . • 461 

XXXIV. Malevola 461 

XXXV. Fraternity ... 476 

XXXVI. The Apple of Discord 490 

XXXVIL 8UNSBINE 607 

XXXVIIL Cloud 626 

XXXIX. Old and New Acquaintance . . ' • . 668 

XL. The Happy Pair 666 

XLI. Faubouro Clotilde 676 

XLIL Finis . 690 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PORTRAIT OF M. HtoEB FronUipiece 

Facbmmxle of thb Titlb-paob of thb Fibst Edition p, xxxv 

Tbb Ghaptbb Oofteb Houbb .... To f(ice p. 48 

Facboulb Paob of thb Obiqinal Makusobipt of 

*Villbttb' „ 60 

St. Paul's Oathbdbal fbom Ludoate Hill in 

1848 „ 52 

Thb Pbnsiomvat in thb Bdb d'Isabbllb • • „ 72 

OaTBWAT (now DB8TB0TBD) TO THB GaBDBN OF 

TBB PBNSIONNAT „ 84 

St. Gudulb's Oathbdbal, Bbubsbls ... „ 128 

Thb Pabb, Bbussbls „ 814 

Placb Botalb, Bbussbls », 852 

HOTKL DM VlLLB, GbANDB PlAOB, BRUSSELS • „ 542 



INTRODUCTION 



Dusnro the year which followed the pablication of 

* Shiriej,' Charlotte Bronte seems to have been content 
to rest from literary labonr-— save for the tpaching and 
raoaarkable Preface that she contributed in the aatamn 
of the year to the reprint of ^Wnthering Heights' and 

* Agnes Orey/ — which had been happily rescued from 
Mr. Newby and were safe in Mr. Smith's hands. We 
bear nothing of any new projects. After the great 
success of ^ Shirley' and ^ Jane Eyre,' indeed, she turned 
back to think of the still unprinted manuscript of ' The 
Professor,' and to plans of how work already done 
might be turned to account, now that the public knew 
her and the way was smoothed. Towards the end of 
1850, or in the first days of 1851, she wrote a fresh 
preface to ' The Professor,' and suggested to her pub- 
lishers that they should at lasjb venture upon its publi- 
cation. They did not apparently refuse ; but they ad- 
vised her against the project ; and as Mr. NichoUs says 
in a note which he added to his wife's Preface, on the 
pubhcation of the ' Professor ' after her death, she then 
^ made use of the materials in a subsequent work — ^^ Yil- 
lette." ' There is an interesting and, for the most part, 



Ill 



VILLETTE 



unpublished letter to Mr. George Stnitb, still in exis^ 
ence, which throws light upon this disappointment of 
hers — a disappointment which to us is pure gain, since 
it produced ' Villette/ In spite of her gaiety of tone, 
it is evident that she is sensitive in the matter, and a ■ 
little wounded^ — \ 

Mr. Williama will have told you (she writes to Mr, 
Smith) that I have yielded with ignoble facility in the 
matter of *The Professor/ Still it may be proper to 
make some attempt towards dignifying that act of sub- 
mission by averring that it was done 'under protest/ 

'The Professor' has now had the honour of being re- 
jected nine times by the *Tr — de/ (Three rejections go 
to your own ahare^ yon may affirm that you accepted it . 
this last time, but that cannot be admitted; if it wereonlyi 
for the sake of symmetry and effect, I must regard tliia 
martyrized MS. as repulsed or at any rate withdrawn for 
the ninth time !) Few^^ — I flatter myself — have earned an 
equal distinction, and of course my feelings towards it 
can only be paralleled by those of a doting parent tow- 
ards an idiot child. Its merits — I plainly perceive — will 
never be owned by anybody but Mr. Williama and me ; 
very particular and unique must be our penetration, and 
1 think highly of us both accordingly. You may allege 
that merit is not visible to the naked eye* Granted ; but 
the smaller the commodity — the more inestimable its 
value. 

You kindly propose to take ' The Professor ' into cus- 
tody* Ah — no ! His modest merit shrinks at the thought 1 
of going alone and unbefriended to a spirited publisher. 
Perhaps with slips of him you might light an occasional 
cigar — or you might remember to lose him some day — 
and a Comhill functionary would gather him up and con- 
sign him to the repositories of waste paper, and thus he 
would prematurely find his way to the 'buttennan^ and 
trunkmukers. No — I hare put hini by and locked him 



INTRODUCTION 



xut 



up — not indeed in my desk, where I could not tolerate 
the monotony of his demure quaker countenance^ but in 
a cupboard by himself. 

In the same letter, she goes on to say — the passage 
has been already qnoted by Mfk, GaskoU — that ahe 
must fiooept no tempting invitations to London, till she 
baa ^ ivritten a book/ She deserves no treat, having 
done no work. 

Early in 1851 then, having * locked up ' * The Pro- 
fessor^ as tinatly done with and set aside, Miss Bronte 
fell back once more on the material of the earlier book, 
holding herself free to use it again in a ditferent and 
a better way. With all the quickened and enriched 
faealty which these five years of labour and of fame 
had brought her, she returned to the scenes of her 
BritSBels experience, and drew ' Villette ' from them aa 
she had onoe drawn ' The Professor.' By the summer 
she had probably written the earlier chapters, and early 
in June she at last allowed herself the change and 
amasement of a visit to Mr. George Smith and his 
mother, who were then living in Gloucester Place. 
This visit contributed much to the growing book. In 
the first place the clmracter of Graliam Bretton,— ' Dr. 
Joba*^-owed many characteristic features and details 
to Miss Brontu*s impressions, now renewed and com- 
pleted^of her kind host and publisher, Mr, George Smith. 
Mrs. Smith, Mr. George Smithes mother, was even 
more closely drasvn — sometimes to wortls and phrases 
which are still remembered— in the Mrs. Bretton of the 
book. And further, two incidents at least of this Lon- 
don visit may be recognised in 'Villette;' one con- 
nected with Tbaokeray's second lecture on ' The £ng- 



XIV 



VILLETTE 



lish H amourists,* to which Miss Bronte was t 
her hosts, — the other a night at the theatre, when she 
saw Rach el act for the first time. As to the lecture, 
after it was over, the great man himself came down 
from the platform, and making his way to the small, 
shy lady sitting heside Mrs. Smith, eagerly asked her 
* bow she had liked it.' IIow many women would have 
felt the charm, the honour even, of the tribute implied 1 
But the * very austere little person/ as Thackeray after- 
wards described her, thus approached, was more re* 
pelleil than pleased. Paul Emanuei does the like after 
his lecture at the Athdn^e, and his chronicler has some 
sharp words for the * restlessness,' the lack of * desirable 
self-control,' that the act seemed to her to show. 
One can only remember that Miss Bmnte would have 
jiicjged herself as she judges another. She too must be 
allowed her idiosyncrasies. One must no more blame 
her slirinking than Thackeray's effusion. 

With regard to the acting of the great^ the * pos- 
sessed ' Rachel, it made as deep an impression on Char-] 
lotte Bronte, as it produced much about the same time 
on Matthew Arnold. 

On Saturday (she writes) I went Lo see Rachel ; a won- 
derful sight — terrible as if the earth had cracked deep at 
your feet, and revealed a glimpse of helL 1 shull never 
forget it. 8he made me shudder to the marrow of my 
bones; in her some fiend has certainty taken up an incar- 
nate home. She is not a woman ; she is a snake ; she is 

And again — 

Racbers acting transfixed me with wonder, encnam? 
me witfi interest^ and thrilled me with horror . 




INTRODUCTION 



XT 



N 



BC&rcelj human nature that she shows jon ; it ig 9ome- 
ihing wilder And worse ; the feelings and fury of a fiend* 

One has only to turn from these letters to the picture 
of the * great actress ' in ' Villette,' who holds the theatre 
breathless on the night when Dr. John and his mother 
take Lacy Snowe to the play, to see that the passage 
in the book, with all its marvellous though unequal 
power, its mingling of high poetry with extravagance 
and occasional falsity of note, is a mate amplification 
of the letters. It shows how profoundly the fiery 
daBTnonio element in Miss Bronte had answered to 
the like gift in Rachel; and it bears testimony once 
more to the close affinity between her genius and those/ 
more passionate and stormy influences let loose in/ 
French culture by the romantio movement. Kachel acted! 
the classical masterpieces ; but she acted them as a ro- 
mntic of the generation of * Hernani ;' and it was as a 
romantic that she laid a fiery hand on Charlotte Bronte. 

After the various visits and excitements of the summer 
Charlotte tried to make progress with the now story, 
dtiring the loneliness of the autumn at Haworth, But 
Htworth in those days seems to have been a poisoned 

i place. A kind of low fever, — influenza— feverish cold 
^ivere the constant plagues of the parsonage and its 
inmates. The poor story-teller struggled in vain against 
iHiiesB and melancholy. She writes to Mrs. Gaskell of 
* Jeep dejection of spirits,' and to Mr. Williams that it 
is no use grombling over hindered powers or retanled 
work/ for no words can make a change.* It is a mat- 
^f between Curmr Bell *and his i>osition, his faculties^ 
^ bis fate.' Was it during these months of phys- 
weakness, — haunted, tcK>, by the longing for her 



k 



ni 



VILLETTE 



at lit ■ 
Gred I 
isedfl 



sisters and the memory of their deaths— that she wroE 
the wonderful chaptet-g describing Lucy Snowe'sdeliriuni ' 
of fever and misery during her lonely holidays at the 
pensionnat f The imagination is at least the fruit of the 
experience; for the poet weaves with all that comes to 
his band. But there are degrees of delicacy and nobility 
in the weaving, Edmond de Goncourt noted, us an ar- 
tist — for the public— every detail of his brother s deaths 
and his own sensations. Charlotte conceived the sacred i 
things of kinship more finely. Those veiled and agonis 
passages of * Shirley' are all that she will tell the world 
of woes that are not wholly her own. But of her per* 
Bonal suffering, physical and mental, she is mistress, 
and she has turned it to poignant and lasting profit in 
the misery of Lucy Snowe. A misery, of which the 
true measure lies not in the story of Lucy's fevered 
solitude in the Rue Fossette, of her wild flight through ■ 
Brussels, her confession to Pere Silas, her fainting in 
the stormy street, but rather in the profound and touch 
ing passage which describes bow Lucy, rescued by the 
Brettons, comforted by their friendship and at rest, yet 
dares not let herself claim too much from that friend* 
ship, lest, like all other claims she has ever made, it 
should only land her in sick disappointment and rebuff 
at last, 

' Do not let me think of them too often, too mneh, too 
fondly,* I implored : * let me be content with a temperate 
draught of the living stream : let mc not run athirst, and 
apply passionately to its welcome waters : let me not im- 
agine in thorn a sweeter taate than earth's fountains know. 
Oh ! would to God I may be enabled to feel enough sus- 
tained by an occasional, amicable intercourse, rare, brief, 
unengrossing and tranqnil : f]nite tranquil!' 



INTRODUCTION 



srvu 



Still repeating thig word, I tarnod to my pillow ; and 
^Itill repeating it, I steeped that pillow with tears* 

Words so desolately, bitterly true were never penne<l 
till the spirit that conoeived them had itself drank to * 
the lees the cup of lonely pain. 

But the spring of the following year brought renew- 
ing of Ufa and faculty* She wrote diligently, refusing 
to visit or be visited, till again, in June, resolution and 
strength gave way. Her father, too, was ill ; and in 
July she wrote despondently to Mr. Williams as to the 
progress of the book. In September, though quite unfit 
for concentrated effort, she was stern with herself, would 
not let her friend, Ellen Nussey, come, — vowed, cost 
what it might> * to finish/ In vain. She was forced to 
give herself the pleasure of her friend's company * for 
, one reviving week.' Then she resolutely sent the kind 
[Ellen Nussey away, and resumed her writing. Always 
the same pathetic* craving for support and corapanion- 
sbip/as she herself described it !— and always the same 
steadfast will, forcing both the soul to patience, and the 
body to its work. No dear comrades now beside her! — 
with whom to share the ardours or the glooms of compo- 
sition. She writes once to Mr. Williams of her depres- 
jsioii «and almost despair, because there is no one to read 
fa line, or of whom to ask a counsel. '* Jane Eyre '* was 
Hot written under such circumstances, nor were two- 
thirds of " Shirley." ' During her worst time of weak- 
tKoB ,as she confessed to Mrs. Gaskell, * I sat in my chair 
^•Wy after day, the saddest memories my only company. 
It was a time I shall never forget. But God sent it, and 
it mast have been for the best.' — Language that might 
have come from one of the pious old maids of ' Shirley.' 



xvm 



VILLETTE 



How strangely its gentle Puritan note mates with tbe 
exuberant, audacious power the speaker was at that 
moment throwing into ' VUlette' 1 But both are equallj 
characteristic, equally true. And it is perhaps in the 
union of this self-governing English piety, submissive, 
practicalf a little stem^ with her astonishing range and 
daring as an artist, that one of Charlotte Bronte's chief 
spells over the English miud may be said to lie. ^ 

One more patient effort, however, in this autumn offl 
1852, and the book at last was done. She sent the later 
portion of it, trembling, to her publishers. Mr. Smith 
had ah^eady given her warm praise for tbe first half of 
the story; and though both he and Mr. Williams made 
some natural and inevitable criticisms when the whole 
was in their hands, yet she had good reason to feel 
that substantially Cornbill was satisfied, and she herself 
could rest, and take pleasure^and for the writer there 
is none greater— in the thingdone, the task fulfilled. In 
January 1853 she was in London correcting proofs, 
and on the 24th of that month tbe book appeared. 



II 



i 



* " Villette," ' says Mrs. GaakelK * was received with 
one burst of acclamation.' There was no question then 
among Hbe judicious,' and there can be still less ques- 
tion now, that it is tbe writer's masterpiece. It has 
never been so widely read as 'Jane Eyre;' and prob* 
ably the majority of English readers prefer 'Shirley.' 
The narrowness of the stage on which the action 
passes, the. foreign setting, the ^ory fulness of poetry^, 



INTRODUCTION 



xtz 



of viBualising force, that ruas through it, like a fiery 
stream bathing and kindling all it touches down to 
the smallest detail^ are repellent or tiring to the mind 
that has no energy of its own responsive to the energy 
of ihe writer. But not seldom the qualities which give 
a book immortality are the qualities that for a time 
guard it from the crowd— till its bloom of fame has 
grown to a safe maturity^ beyond injury or doubt. 

* I think it much quieter than ** Shirley," ' said Char* 
lotte, writing to Mrs, GaskeU just before the book's 
appearance. 'It will not be considered pretentious' 
—she says, in the letter that announces the completion 
of the manuscript Strange ! — as though it were her 
chief hope that the public would receive it as the more 
modest oflfering of a tamed muse. Did she really un- 
dei^tand so little of what she had done 2 For of all 
criticisms that can be applied to it, none has so little 
relation to 'Villette' as a oriiiciam that goes by neg- 
atives. It is the most assertive, the mo^t challenging 
of books. From beginning to end it seems to be writ- 
ten in flame ; one can only return to tbe metaphor, for 
ibere is no other that renders the main, the predomi 
Wat impression. The story is, as it were, upborne by^ 
something lambent and rushing. Whether it be th 
childhood of Paulina, or the first arrival of the desolate 
Lucy in ' Villette/ or those anguished weeks of fever 
Wd nightmare which culminated in the conf^siori to 
tile Pfere Silas, or the yearning for Dr. John's letters, 
or the growth, so natural, so true, of the love between 
Lacy and Paul Emanuel on the very ruins and ashes 
of Lucy's first passion, or the inimitable scene, where 
locy, led by the * spirit in her feet,' spirit of longing, 



zx 



VILLETTE 



spirit of passion, flits gbosUlike through the festival-city, 
or the last pages of dear domestic sweetness, under the 
shadow of parting — there is nothing in the book but 
shares in this all -pervading quality of swiftness, fu- 
sion, vital warmth. And the detail is as a rule much 
more assured and masterly than in the two earlier 
books. Here and there am still a few absurdities that 
recall the drawing-room scenes of * Jane Eyre'— a few 
unfortunate or irrelevant digressions like the chapter 
^ Cleopatra,' — little failures in eye and tact that scores 
of inferior writers could have avoided without an ef- 
fort. But they are very few; they spoil no pleasure* 
And as a rule the book has not only imagination and 
romance, it has knowledge of life, and accuracy of so- 
cial vision, in addition to all the native shrewdness, the 
incisive force of the early chapters of * Jane Eyre.* 

Of all the characters. Dr. John no doubt is the least 
tangible, the least alive. Here the writer was drawing 
enough from reality to spoil the freedom of imagina- 
tion that worked so happily in the creation of Paulina, 
and not enough to give to her work that astonishing 
and complex truth which marks the portrait of Paul 
Emanuel. Dr. John occasionally reminds us of the 
Moores ; and it is not just that he should do so ; there 
is inconsistency and contradiction in the portrait — not 
much, perhaps, but enough to deprive it of the * passion- 
ate perfection,' the vivid rightness that belong to all the 
rest. Yet the whole picture of his second love — the 
sulxluing of the strong successful man to modesty and 
tremor by the sudden rise of true passion, by the gentle, 
all • conquering approach of the innocent and delicate 
Paulina — is most subtly felt, and rendered with the 



mTRODUCnON 



ZZl 



strokes, light and sweet and laughing, that belong to 
tbe subject. As to Paul Emanuel, We need not re- 
say all that Mr. Swinburne has Siiid ; but we need not 
t^ry to question, either, his place among the immortals. 
' Magnificentniinded, grand4iearted, dear faulty httle 
man V It may be true as Mr. Leslie Stephen contends, 
Uiat— in spite of his relation to the veritable M. linger 
— there ai-e in him elements of femininity, that he is nut 
all male. But he is none the less man and living, fur 
that ; the same may bo said of many of bis real breth- 
ren. And what variety, what invention, what truth, 
have been lavished upon him! and what a triumph 
la have evolved from such materials, — ^a schoolroom, a 
garden, a professor, a few lessons, conversations^ walks, 
—so rich and sparkling a whole! 

Madame Beck and Ginevra Fanshawe are in their 
way equally admirable. They are conceived in the tone 
of satire; they represent the same sharp and mordant 
instinct that found so much play in * Shirley,' But the 
mingled finesse and power with which they are devel* 
oped is far superior to anything in 'Shirley;' the cu- 
ratee are r^ide, rough work beside them. 

And Lucy Snowe i Well — ^Lucy Snowe is Jane Eyre \ 
again, the friendless girl, fighting the world as best she 
may^ her only weapon a strong and chainless will, her 
CTonstant hindrances, the passionate nature that makes 
her the slave of sympathy, of the first kind look or 
word, and the wild poetic imagination that forbids her 
all reconciliation with her own lot, the lot of the un- 
beautiful and obscure. But though she is Jane Eyre 
over again, there are differences, and all^ it seems to me, 
%o Lpcy's advantage. She is far more intelligible— 



xxu 



VU.LETTE 



truer to life and feeling. Morbid she is often ; r>iH 
Lucy Snowe so placed, and so gifted, must hare beenl^ 
morbid. There are some touches that displease, indeed,! 
because it is impossible to believe in them. Lucy Hnowe 
could never have broken down, never have appealed for ™ 
mercy, never have cried * My heart will break f l>efor9| 
her treacherous rival, Madame Beck, in Paul EmanueFs 
presence. A reader, by virtue of the very force of the 
eflfect produced upon him by the whole creation, has a 
right to protest * incredible P No woman, least of all 
Lucy Snowe, could have so understood her own cause,-^ 
could have so fought her own battle. But in the mairt^ 
nothing can bo more true or masterly than the whole 
study of Lucy's hungering nature, with its alternate 
discords and harmonies, its bitter-sweetness, its infi- 
nite ix)ssibiyties for good and evil, dependent simply 
on whether the heart is left st ar\;gyl_Qr sati sfied, whether 
love is given or w ithheld. She enters the lKK>k pale 
and small and self-re pressed, t rained in a hard school, to 
stern and humble ways, like Jane Eyi'e — like Charlotta 
Bronte herself. But Charlotte has given to her more 
of her own rich inner life, more of her own jx)etry and 
fiery distinction, than to Jane Eyre, She is weak, but 
except perhaps in that one failure before Madame Beck, 
she is always touching, human, never to be despised. 
Sl \e is in love with lov in g when she first appe ars ; ajid 
she loves L>r John because be is kind and strong, and 
the only man she has yet seen familiarly. What can 
be more natural i— or more exquisitely observed thuu 
the inevitable shipwreck of this first romance, and the 
inevitable anguish, so little known or understood by any 
one about her, that it brings with it i It passes away. 



I 



INTRODUCTION 



XXIU 



like a warm day in winter, not the true spring, only its 
herald. And then slowly, almost uticonscioasly, there 
grows up the real affinity, the love * venturing diffi- 
dently into life after long acM)uaintance, fomacse-trietl 
by pain, stamped by constancy,' The whole experience 
I is life itself, as a woman's heart can feel and make it 
Miss Martineau^s criticism of *Villette' — and it is 
one which hurt the writer sorely — shows a singular, yet 
^_ not Bm'prising blindness. Even more sharply than in 
^P her * Daily News ' review, she expresses it in a private 
f letter to Miss Bronte ; — 

^m ■ I do not like t he love / — she saya^ — 'either the kind 
^B or the degree of it/^ — and she maintains that * its prev- 
alence in the book, and effect on the action of it,' go 
some way to explain and even to justify the charge 
of ^eoarseneBs' which had been brought against the . 
writer's treatment of love in * Jane Eyre.'J The re- / 
mark is carious, as pointing to the gulf between Miss 
Uartineau's type of culture— which alike in its strength 
^Qd its weakness is that of English provincial Puritan- 
«m— and that more European and cosmopolitan type, 
to which, for all her strong English and Yorkshire 
<jiialitie8, and for all her inferiority to her critic in pos- 
ve knowledge, Charlotte Bronte, as an artist, really 
OBgecI. The truth is, of course, that it is precisely % 
and through her treatment of passion, — mainly, no \ 
ubt, as it affects the woman's heart and life— that she \ 
earned and still maintains her fame. And that V 
rings us to the larger question with which Charlotte J 
nte's triumph as an artist is very closely connected./ 
^bat may be said to be the main secret, the central 
«^09e not only of her success, but, generally, of the sue- 



XXIV 



VILLETTE 



cess of women ia fiction, daring the pi^esent century f 
In otlicr fields of art they are stUl either relatively 
amateurs, or their performance, however good, awakens 
a kindly surprise. Their position is hardly assured; 
they are still on sufferance. AV^hereas in fiction the 
great names of the past, within their own sphere, are 
the equals of ail the world, accepted, discussed, ana- 
lysed, by the masculine critic, with precisely the same 
keenness and under the same canons as he applies to 
Thackeray or Stevenson, to Balzac or Loti. 

The reason perhaps lies first in the fact that, where- 
as in all other arts they are comparatively novices and 
strangers, having still to find out the best way in which 
to appropriate traditions and methods not created by 
Kj women, in thsLSucLjil_nmech^ elegant, fitting, familiar 
[n|speech, women are andhave long been at home. They 
have practised it for generations, they have contributed 
largely to its development. The arts of society and of 
letter-writing pass naturally into the art of the novel. 
M iidame de Serign ^ and Madame du Deffand are the 
precursors of George Sand ; they lay her foundations, 
and make her work possible. In the case of poetry, 
one might imagine, a similar process is going on, but 
it is not so far advanced. In proportion, however, ad 
women's life and culture widen, as the points of con- 
tact between them and the manifold world multiply 
and develop, will Parnassus open before them. At 
present those delicate and noble women who have en- 
tered there look a little strange to us. Mrs. Brown 
ing, George Eliot, Emily Bronte, Marcelline Desbonles- 
Valroore — it is as though they had wrested something 
that did not belong to them, b^^ a kind of splendiil 



I 



I 



INTRODUCTION 



© 



« As a rule, so far, women have Ijeen poets in 
through the novel^Jowper4ike poets of the com- 
moa life Uke Miss Austen, or Mrs. Gaskell, or Mrs. 
Oltpfaant; Lucretiaa or Virgilian observers of the man y- 
ooloared web like George Eliot, or, in some phases. 
George Sand ; romantic or lyrical artists like George 
id again^ or like Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Here 
one qoestions their citizenship ; no one is astonished 
the place they hold ; they are here among the recog 

♦masters of those who know/ 
Why? — For, after all, women's range of material, 
ven in the novel, is necessarily limited. There are a 
undred subjects and experiences from which their 
lere sex debars them. Which is all very true, but not 
to the point. For the one subject which they have 
ateroally at command, which is interesting to all the 
world, and whereof large tracts ar e naturall y and wholly 
UMir own, is the^^aabject of love — love of many kinds 
indeed, bat pre-eminently th e love between man an d 
woman. And being already free of th6 art and IfaSi- 
lioa of words, their position in the novel is a strong 
one, and their future probably very greatJ .— % 
But it is love as the woman understands it] And 
again is their second strength. Their peculiar vi- 
their omissions quita as much as their ass^ " 
G them welcome. Balzac, Flaubert, AnatolcM 
Paul Bourget, dissect a complex reality, half physical, 
half moral; they are students, psychologists, "men of 
MieBOd first, poets afterwards. They veil their eyes 
befoK no contributory fact, they carry scientific curi- , 
oeiiy and veracity to the work ; they mast see all and ' 
Uiey most tell all. A kiml of honour seems to be in- 




XXVI 



VILLETTE 



volved in it — at least for the Frencbraan, as also foi 
the modern Italian and Spaniard. On the other hand, 
English novels by men — with the great exceptions of 
Iliebardeon in the last century, and George Meredith 
in this, — from Fielding and Scott onwards, are not, as 
a rule, studies of love. They are rather studies of man- 
nei^^^politics, adventure. —-^^^ 

^it the development of the Hebraist and Puritan 
element in the English mind — so real^ for all its at- 
tendant hypocrisies — that has debarred the mmlem 
Englishman from the foreign treatment of love, so 
I that, with bis realistic masculine instinct, he has largely 
[turned to other things? But, after all^Iove still rules 
* the camp, the court, the grove !* ThereTTas much in- 
nocent, unhappy, guilty, entrancing love in the world 
as there ever was- And treated as the poets treat it, 
as George Meredith has trailed it in * Richard Feverel,' 
or in * Emilia in England/ or with that fine and subtle 
romance which Mr Henry James threw into ^Roder- 
ick Hudson/ it can still, even in its most tragic forms, 
give us joy— as no Flaubert, no Zola, will ever give us 
joy. The tnodern mind craves for knowledge, and the 
modem novel reflects the craving — which after all it 
can never satisfy. But the craving for f eeling is at 
least as strong, and above all f or TEaTleSingwhich 
expresses the heart's defiance of the facts which crush 
it, which dives, as Benan says, into the innermost re- 
oaases of man, and brings up, or seems to bring up, the 
secrets of the infinite, tenderness, faith, treason, lone- 
liness, parting, yearning, the fusion of heart with heart 
and soul with soul, the ineffable illominali onrtEariov e 
can give to common things and humblelivefi, — these, 



INTRODUCTION 



xxvu 



after all, are the perennially interesting things in life ; jf 
and here the women- novelists are at no disadvantage. 
Their knowledge is of the centre ; it is adequate, and 
it is their own. Broadly speaking, they have thrown 
themselves on feeling, on Poetry. And by so doing 
they have won the welcome of all the world, men and 
women, realists and idealists alike. For She — -^ warm 
Keclose' — has her hiding-place deep in the common i 
heart, where * fresh and green — she lives of ns unseen ^; J 
and whoever can evoke her, has never yet lost his re- 
ward. 



III 

It is as poets then, in the larger sense, and as poets 
of passion, properly so-called^ — that is, of exalted and 
transfiguring feeling — that writers like George Mere- 
dith, and George Sand, and Charlotte Bronte affect the 
world, and live in its memory. Never was Charlotte 
Bronte better served by this great gift of poetic vision 
than in * VUlette* — never indeed so well* The style of 
the book throughout has felt the kindling and tran^ 
forming influence. There are few or no cold lapses, 
no raw fillings in. What was extravagance and effort 
in * Shirley' has become here a true * grand style,' an 
exaltation, a poetic ambition which justifies itself. One 
iUustmtion is enough. Let us take it from the famous 
scene of the midnight fete, when Lucy, racked with 
jealousy and longing, escapes from the peiisionnat by 
night, hungering for the silence and the fountains of 
the park, and wanders into the festal streets, knowing 
nothing of what is happening there. 



xJLiriii 



VILLETrE 



liutih! the clock strikes* Ghostly deep as is Uie stilU 
ncss of this house, it is only eleven. While my car folio wg 
to silence the honi of the last stroke^ I catch faintly from 
the built-ont capital, a sound like hells, or like a band^ — 
a sound where sweetness, where victory, where monrning 
blend. Oh, to approach this music nearer, to listen to it 
alone by the rushy basin! Let me go— oh, let me go! 
What hinders, what does not aid freedom? 



Quiet Rue Fossettel I find on this pavement that 

wanderer-wooing summer night of which I mused; 1 see 
its moon over me; I feel its dew in the air. But here I 
cannot stay ; I am still too near old haunts: so close under 
the dungeon, I can hoar the prisoners moan. This solemn 
peace is not what I seek, it is not what I can bear: to mo 
the face of that sky bears the aspect of a world's deaUu 
The park also will bo calm — I know, a mortal serenity 
prevails everywhere — yet let me seek the park. 

Villette is one blaze, one broad illumination; the whole 
world seems abroad; moonlight and heaven are banished: 
the town, by her own flambeaux, beholds her own splen- 
dour — gay drosses, grand equipages, fine horses and gal- 
lant riders throng the bright streets, I see even scores of 
Biaiks. It is a strange scene, stranger than dreams. 

That festal night would have been safe for a very child. 
Half the peasantry had come in from the outlying environs 
of Villette, and the decent burghers were all abroad and 
around; dressed in their best. My straw hat passed amidst 
cap and jacket, short petticoat, and long calico mantle, 
without, perhaps, attracting a glance; I only took the pre- 
caution to bind down the broad leaf gipsy-wise, with a 
BUpplenicntary ribbon — and then I felt safe as if masked* 

Safe I passed down the avenues — safe I mixed with tho 
crowd whore it was deepest. To be stitl was not in my 
power, nor quietly to observe. I drank the elastic night 



INTRODUCTION 



XXIX 



sir — the swell of aonnd, the dabioas light* uow fiashirig, 
now fading. 

Then follow the two or three little scenes, so brilliant, 
and 3^et so flickering and dream-like, of which Lucy — 
closely csoncerned in them all — is the ghostly and un^ 
seen spectator ; the sight of the Brettons in their car- 
riage; the pursuit of the music swelling through the 
park, like 'a sea breaking into song with all its waves 'j 
the Bretton group beside the band ; the figures and the 
talk that surround Madame Ceck, and then, climax of 
the whole, the entry of JI* Paul, under the eyes of Lucy 
— Lucy who watches him from a few yards distance, — 
secret, ardent^ unknown. The story grows fast with 
every page — magical and romantic, as the park itself 
with ita lights and masks and song ; one seems to be 
watching the incidents in a sparkling play, set in a 
passionate music; yet all, as it were, through a shin- 
ing mist, wavering and phantasmal. 

But at last it is over, and Lucy, the spectre, the spy, 
must go home with the rest. 



I tomed from the group of trees and the ' merrie com- 
panieMn its shade. Midnight was long past; the concert 
was over, the crowds wore thinning. I followed the ebb. 
Leaving the radiant park and wcU-lit Haute-Ville, • , . I 
nought the dim lower quarter. 

Dim I should not say, for the beauty of maonligbt^ — for- 
gotten in the park — here once more flowed in upon percep- 
tion. High she rode, and calm and stainlessly she shone. 
The music and the mirth of the f^fe, the fire and bright 
hues of those lamps had outdone and outshone her for an 
hour^ bnt now, again, her glory and her silence triumphed. 
TIm> rival lamps wore dying: she held her course like a 



XXX 



VILLEITE 



white fate. Drum, trumpet, bngle, had uttered their clan- 
gour, and were forgotten; with pencil -ray ehe wrote on 
heaven and on earth records for archives everlasting. 



' This sorely is romaDcej is poetry. It is not what nsM~ 
been called tlie lacka uberias of George Sand. It does 
not flow so much as flash. It is more animated than 
* Jeanne-; more human and plastic than 'L^lia,' *Con- 
Buelo' comes nearest to it; but even ^Consaelo' is cold 
beside it. 

And then, turn from such a rush of passionate feel- 1 
ing and description to the scenes of character and in- 
cident, to the play of satiric invention in the portraits 
of Madame Beck, the Belgian schoolgirls, Ginevra 
Fanshawe, M. Paul. What a vivid, homely, poignant 
Uruth in it all ! — like the sharp and pleasant scent of 
jbruised herbs. No novel, moreover, that escapes ob- 
scurity and ugliness was ever freer from stereotyped 
forms and phrases. The writer's fresh inventive sense 
is perpetually brushing them away as with a kind of 
impatience. The phrases come out new minted, shin- 
ing*f each a venture, and, as a rule, a happy one; yet 
with no effect of labour or research ; rather of a care- 
less freedom and wealth. 

Once again we may notice the influence of French 
books, of the French romantic tradition, which had 
evidently flowed in full tide through the teaching of 
that Brussels class-room, whence literally 'Villette' 
took its being. *ViUetto* itself, in portions that are 
clearly autobiographical, bears curious testimony to the 
French reading, which stirred and liberated Charlotte's 
genius, as Ilofmann*s tales gave spur and impetus to 



INTRODUCTION 



XXXi 



Emily. It was a fortunate chance that thus brought 
to bear upon her at a critical moment a force so strong 
and kindred, a force starting from a Celt like herself, 
from the Breton Chateaubriand. She owes to it much 
of her distinction, her European note. French men of 
letters have always instinctively admired and under- 
stood b<»r. They divine that there are certain things 
in the books of their Romantics that she might very 
well have written,— the description, for instance, of Cha- 
teaubriand's youth, of his strange sister, of his father 
and mother, and the old Chateau of Combourg, in 
the * Memoires d'Outre Tom be/ Those pages have 
precisQly her mixture of broad imagination with sharp- 
neas of detail ; they breathe her yearning and her rest- 
leflsness. And no doubt, like ^ Atala ' add ^ Ren6,' they | 
have a final mellowness and mastery, to which the| 
English writer hardly attained. ' 

But to what might she not have attained had she 
lived, had she gone on working? Alas! the delicate 
heart and life had been too deeply wounded; and in 
the quiet marriage which followed immediately on 
*ViUette' the effort to be simply, personally happy 
proved too much for one who had known so well how 
to suffer The sickness and loneliness through which 
fVillette* waa written had no power, apimrently, to 
bftrm the book. Above the encroachments of personal 
weakness she was able for a time to carry her gift, like 
a torch above a swelling stream, unhurt. In the writ- 
iDg of ^Shirley' it was the spectacle of her sisters* 
anguish that had distracted and unnerved her. Above 
her own physical and moral pain, the triumph of * Vil- 
Ieit6' is complete and extraordinary* But it is clear 



XJtXIl 



VILLETTE 



that she felt a deep exhaustion afterwanls. The frag- 
ment of ' Emma,* indeed, seems to show that she might 
at some later time have resumed the old task. But for 
the moment there was clear disinclination for an effort 
of which she had too sharply measured the cost. In 
another unpublished letter to Mr. Smith, written in 
1854, two months before her own marriage, and short- 
ly after Mr Smith's, she says — 

April 25, 1854- 
My dear Sir, — Thank you for your congratulatiuiis and 
good wishes ; if these last are realised bat in part — I sliall 
be very thankful. It gave me also sincere pleasure to be 
assured of your own happiness, though of that I never 
doubted. I have faith also in its permanent character, 
provided Mrs. George Smith is, what it pleases me to fancy 
her to be. You never told me any particulars about her 
— though I should have liked them much^ — but did not 
like to ask questions, knowing how much yonr mind and 
time would be engaged. What / have to say is soon told. 
The step in contemplntion is bo hasty one; on the 
Bntleman's side at least, it has been meditated for many 
years, and I hope that in at last acceding to it, I am act- 
ing right; it is what I earnestly wish to do. My future 
husband is a clergyman. He was for eight years my fa- 
ther's curate. He left because the idea of this marriage 
was not entertained as he wished. His departure was 
regarded by the parish as a calamity, for he had devoted 
himself to his duties with no ordinary diligence* Various 
circumstances have led my father to consent to his return, 
nor can I deny that my own feelings have been much im- 
pressed and changed by the nature and strength of the 
qualities broagtit out in the course of his long attachment 
I fear I must accuse myself of having formerly done him 
less than justice. However, he is to come back now. He 
has foregone many chanoea of preferment to retnrn to the 



i 
4 



i 



INTRODUCTION 



XXXIll 



^ 



obscare village of Haworth. I believe I do right in marry- 
ing him. I meaa to try to make liim a good wife. There 
has been heavy anxiety, but I begin to hope all will end 
for the best. My expectations, however, are very subdoed 
— very different, I dare say, to what yours were before you 
were married. Care and Fear stand so close to Hope, I 
sometimes scarcely can see her for the shadow they cast. 
And yet I am thankful too, and the doubtful future must 
be left with Providence. 

On one feature in the marriage I can dwell with un- 
mingled satisfaction, with a ceriainfy of being right It 
takes nothing from the attention I owe to my Father ; I 
am not to leave him — my future hnsband consents to come 
here — thns Papa secures by the step a devoted and relia- 
ble assistant in his old age. There can, of conrse, be no 
reason for withholding the intelligence from yonr Mother 
and sisters i remember me kindly to them whenever you 
write, 

I hardly know in what form of greeting to include your 
wife^e name, as I have never seen her — say to her whatever 
may seem to yon most appropriate and most expressive of 
good will. I sometimes wonder how Mr. Williams is, and 
hope he is welL In the coarse of the year that is gone 
ornhill and London have receded a long way from me ; 
the links of communication have waxed very frail and 
few. It must be so in this world. All things considered, 
I don't wish it otherwise. 

Yours sincerely, 

0. Bronte. 

L George Smilh, Esq* 
'^In the course of the year that is gone Cornhitt and 
jiicfc^i have receded a long way from ine; the links of 
rnnmnicatimi ham wamd very frail and few. It 
must be so in this world. All things considered^ Idon^t 
wish it otherwise.^ 



^ 



XXX1¥ 



VTLLETl'E 



Sad and gentle words! — written under a grey sky* 
They imply a qoiet, perhaps a final renunciation, above 
all a deep need of rest. And little more than a year 
from the date of that letter she had passed through 
marriage, through the first hope of motherhood, — 
through death* 

Alas 1— To stand in the bare room where she died, 
looking out on the church where she and her sister 
lie, is to be flooded at once with passionate regrets, 
and with a tender and inextinguishable reverence. 
She, too, like Emily, was * taken from life in its prime. 
She died in a time of promise.' But how much had the 
steady eager will wrung already from the fragile body I 
And she has her reward. For she is of those who are 
not forgotten, * exceeded by the height of happier men ;' 
whose griefs, rather, by the alchemy of poetry, have be- 
come the joys of those who follow after ; whose quick 
delights and clear perceptions are not lost in the gener- 
al store, but remain visibly marked and preserved to us, 
in forms that have the time -resisting power, through 
long years, to reawaken similar delights and percep- 
tions in minds attune and sensitive. This it is to live 
as an artist ; and of no less than this is Charlotte Brunts 
now assured. 

Mahy A. Ward, 



Fac9tt?M20 of the Title-ptige of the First Edition. 



VI LL E TTE. 



By CURRER bell, 

AUTBOK or " ttSK KXU," " BBatLEV," CTO. 



IM THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. I. 



LONDON: 
SMITH, ELDER A. CO., 66, OORNHILL. 

SMITH. TATLOB & CO., BOMBAY. 



1863. 
TiM Aolhor o( «M» wwk HMm* »M tight of taaiUtiag it. 



V I L L E T T E 



CHAPTEB I 



BRETTON 



My godmother lived in a handsome house io the clean and 
ancient to\^Ti of Brefcton. Her husband's family had been 
residents there for generations, and bore, indeed^ the name 
of their birthplace^Bretton of Bretton : whether by coinci- 
dence, or because some remote ancestor had been a personage 
of sufficient importance to leave his name to his neighbour- 
hood* I know not. 

When I was a girl I went to Bretton about twice a year, 
and well I liked the visit. The house and its inmates 
specially suited me. The large peaceful rooms, the well- 
arranged furniture, the clear wide windows, the balcony 
OQiside» looking down on a fine antique street, where Stm- 
days and holidays seemed always to abide — so quiet was its 
atmospberep so clean its pavement—these things pleased me 
welL 

One child in a hoxisehold of grown people is usually made 
xery much of, and in a quiet way I was a good deal taken 
odloe of by Mrs. Bretton, who had been left a widow% with 
one son, before I knew her ; her husband, a physician, having 
died while she was y'et a young and handsome woman. 

She was not young, as I remember her, but she was still 
haiidsotDe, tall, well-made, and though dark for an English- 
fromao^ yet wearing always the clearness of health in her 



s^^^ 



VILLETTE 




- /^M"; 






r- 



bmoette cheek, and its viviiicity in a pair of fine, cheerful 
black eyes. People esteemed it a grievous pity that she had 
not conferred her complexion on her son, whose eyes were 
blue^though, even in boyhood, very piercing — and the 
colour of his long hair such as friends did not venture to 
specify, except as the sun shone on it, when they called it 
golden* He inherited the lines of his mother's features, 
however ; also her good teeth, her stature (or the promise of 
her stature, for he was not yet full-grown), and, what was 
better, her health without flaw, and her spirits of that tone 
and equahty which are better than a fortune to the possessor. 

In the autumn of the year 1 was stajing at Bretton; 

my godmother having come in person to claim me of the 
kinsfolk with whom was at that time fixed my permanent 
residence. I believe she then plainly saw events coming, 
whose very shadow I scarce guessed ; yet of which the faint 
suspicion sufficed to impart unsettled sadness, and made me 
glad to change scene and society. 

Time always flowed smoothly for me at my godmother's 
side ; not with tumultuous swiftness, but blandly, like the 
gliding of a full river through a plain. My visits to her 
resembled the sojourn of Christian and Hopeful beside a 
oertain pleasant stream, with 'green trees on each bank, 
and meadows beautified with lilies all the year round/ The 
charm of variety there was not, nor the excitement of inci- 
dent; but I liked peace so well, and sought stimulus so 
little, that when the latter came I almost felt itadisturbanoe^ 
and wished rather it had still held aloof. 

One day a letter was received of which the contents 
evidently caused Mrs. Bretton surprise and some concern. 
I thought at first it was from home, and trembled, expecting 
I know not what disastrous communication : to me, however, 
no reference was made, and the cloud seemed to pass. 

The next day, on my return from a long walk, I found, as 
I entered my bedroom, an unexpected change. In addition 
to my own French bed in its shady recess, appeared in a 
oomer a amaU crib»^iraped with white ; and in addition to 



BRETTON 



my mahogany chest of drawers, I saw a tiny rosewood chest. 
I stood stiiit gazed, and considered. 

' Of what are these things the signs and tokens ? ' I asked* 
The answer was obvious. * A second gnest is coming : Mrs. 
Bretton expects other visitors.' 

On descending to dinner, explanations ensued. A little 
gicL^ I was told, would shortly be my companion : the 
daughter of a friend and distant relation of the late Dr. 
Bretton 's. This little girl, it was added, had recently lost 
her mother ; though, indeed, Mrs. Bretton ere long subjoined, 
the loss was not so great as niight at first appear. Mrs. 
Home (Home it seems was the name) had been a very pretty, 
but a giddy, careless woman, who had neglected her child, 
and disappointed and disheartened her husband. So far 
from congenial had the union proved, that separation at last 
ensued— separation by mutual consent, not after any legal 
process. Soon after this event, the lady having over-exerted 
herself at a ball, caught cold, took a fever, and died after a very 
brief illness^ Her husband, naturally a man of ver}' sensi- 
tire feelings, and shocked inexpressibly by too sudden com- 
mtmioation of the news, could hardly, it seems, now be 
persuaded but that some over-severity on his part — some 
deSciency in patience and indulgence — had contributed to 
hasten her end. He had brooded over this idea til! his 
spirits were seriously affected ; the medical men insisted on 
travelling being tried as a remedy, and meanwhUe Mrs. 
Bretton had offered to take charge of his little girl. ' And I 
hope,* added my godmother in conclusion, ' the child will not 
b0 like her mamma ; as silly and frivolous a little t!irt as 
ewBT sensible man was weak enough to marry. For,' said 
ahe, * Mr. Home is a sensible man in his way, though not 
yewy practical : he is fond of science, and lives half his life in 
a laboratory trying experiments— ^a thing his butterfly wife 
OQold neither comprehend nor endure ; and indeed,* confessed 
my godmother, ' I should not have liked it myself.* 

In answer to a question of mine, she further informed me 
lha& her late husband used to say, Mr« Home had derived 



VILLETTE 



this scientific turn from a matenial tinele, a French savani 
for he came, it seems, of mixed French and Scottish origin, 
and had connections now living in Prance, of whom more 
than one wrote dc before his name, and called himself noble. 

That same evening at nine o'clock, a servant was des- 
patched to meet the coach by which our little visitor was 
expected. Mrs. Bretton and I sat alone in the drawing- 
room waiting her coming; John G raham Bretto n being 
absent on a visit to one of his school Fellows who lived in the 
country. My godmother read the evening paper while she 
waited ; I sewed* It was a wet night ; the rain lashed the 
panes, and the wind sounded angry and restless. 

' Poor child 1 * said Mrs. Bretton from time to time. 
' What weather for her journey I I wish she were safe here.* 

A little before ten the door-bell announced Warren's 
return. No sooner was the door opened than I ran down 
into the hall ; there lay a trunk and some band- boxes, beside 
them stood a person like a nnrse-girl, and at the foot of the 
staircase was Warron vnth a shawled bundle in his arms. 

' Is that the child ? * I asked. 

' Yes, miss/ 

I would have opened the shawl, and tried to get a peep 
at the face, but it was hastily turned from me to Warren s 
shoulder. 

' Put me down, please,* said a small voice when Warren 
opened the drawing-room door, * and take off this shawl,' 
continued the speaker, extracting with its minute hand the 
pin, and with a sort of fastidious haste doffing the clumsy 
wrapping. The creature which now appeared made a deft 
attempt to fold the shawl ; but the drapery was much too 
heavy and large to be sustained or wielded by those hands 
and arms. • Give it to Harriet, please.' was then the direc* 
tion, *aud she can put it away * ThiM said, it turned and 
fixed its eyes on Mrs. Bretton, 

* Come here, little dear,* said that lady. ' Come and let 
met gee if you are cold and damp : come and let me warm 
you at the fire/ 



BRETTON 



*.^ 



The child <advanoed promptly. Believed of her wrappiii)::^, 
&b6 appc^ared exoeedbigly tiny ; but was a oeat, completely- 
faahioned little figare, light, slight, and straight. Si3atixi on 
my godmother's ample lap, she looked a more doll i her 
neck, delicate as wax, her head of silky curls, ineroased, 1 
thought, the resemblanoe. 

Mrs. Bretton talked in little fond phrases as she chafed 
the child*8 hands, arms, and feet ; first she was consider ed 
with a wistful gaze, but soon a smile answered her. Mrs* 
Bretton was not generally a caress ing wo man : even with V* 
her deeply-cherished son, her mannefwas rarely sentimLntal, \ 
often the reverse ; but when the small stranger smiled at her, 
slie kissed it. asking, ' What is my httle one's name ? ' 

* MisBy,' 

' But besides Missy ? ' 

'Polly, papa calls her/ 

' Will Polly l>e content to live with me ? ' 

* Not always ; but till papa comes home. Papa is gone 
away/ She shook her head expressively. 

* He will return to Polly, or send for her/ 

* WiU he, ma'am ? Do you know he will ? ' 
' I think so/ 
'But Harriet thinks not: at least not for a lon^ while. 

He is iU.' 

Her eyes filled. She drew her hand from Mrs. Bretton's 
and made a movement to leavo her lap ; it was at first 
resisted, but she said—* Please, I wish to go : I can sit on a 
tlool/ 

She was allowed to slip down from the knee, and taking 
a foolstool, she earned it to a corner where the shade was 
deep, and there seated herself. Mrs, Bretton, though a 
oommanding, and in grave matters even a peremptory 
nomaiit WEB often passive in trifles : she allowed the child 
her way. She said to me, * Take no notice at present/ But 
I did take notice : I watched Polly rest her small elbow on 
her small knee, her head on her hand ; I ohsei^ved her draw 
aaquaure inch or two of pocket4iaudkerchief from the doll- 



6 



VILLETTE 



pocket of her doll-skirt, and then I heard her weep. Other 
children in grief or pain cry aloud, without shame or restraint ; 
hut this being wept r the tiniesi occasional eniff testified to 
her emotion. Mrs. Bretton did not hear it : which was quite 
a» well. Ere long» a voice, issuing from the corner, demanded 
— * May the bell be rung for Harriet? * 

I rang ; the nurse was summoned and came. 

* Harriet, I must be put to bed,* said her little mistress. 
' You must ask where my bed is/ 

Harriet signified that she had already made that inquiry. 
' Ask if you sleep with me, Harriet/ 

* No, Missy,' said the nurse : ' you are to share this young 
lady's room,* designating me. 

Missy did not leave her seat, but I saw her eyes seek 
me. After some minutes' silent scrutiny, she emerged from 
her comer. 

* I wish you, ma*am, good-night,* said &he to Mrs. Bretton ; 
but she passed me mute. 

* Good-night) Polly/ I said. 

' No need to say good-night, since we sleep in the same 
chamber/ was the reply, with which she vanished from the 
diawing-room. We beard Harriet propose to carry her 
up-stairs. 'No need/ was again her answer— 'no nead^ 
DO need * : and her small step toiled wearily up the stair- 
case. 

On going to bed an hour afterwards, I found her still 
wide awake. She had arranged her pillows so as to support 
her little person in a sitting posture : her hands, placi^d one 
within the other, rested quietly on the sheet, with an old- 
fashioned calm moat unchildlike. I abstained from speaking 
to her for some time, but, just before extinguishing the light. 
I recommended her to lie down. 

'By and by/ was the answer. 

' But you will take cold. Missy/ 

She took sotiie tiny article of raiment from the chair 
her crib side, and with it covered her shoulders. I suffered 
her to do aa aha pleased. Listening awhile in the daiknena, 



BrvETTON 



wept— wept under resiraint. 



I waa aware th at 

On awaking witlTday light, a trickling of water caught my 
ear. Behold ! there she was risen and mounted on a stool 
near the washstand, with pains and diMcalty inclining the 
ewer (which she could not lift) so as to pour its contents 
into the basin. It was curious to watch her as she washed 
aod dressed^ so small, busy, and noiseless. Evidently she 
was little accustomed to perform her own toilet ; and the 
buttons, strings, hooks and eyes, offered dif&oulties which 
aba encountered with a perseverance good to witness. She 
folded her night-dressi she smoothed the drapery of her 
ooach quite neatly ; withdrawing into a comer, where the 
aweep of the white curtain concealed her, she became still. 
I half rose, aod advanced my head to see how she was 
occupiod. On her knees, with her forehead bent on her 
h&nds, I perceived that she was praying. 

Her nuiBe tapped at the door* She started up, 

* I am dressedi Harriet.* said she : ' I have dressed my- 
self, but I do not feel neat. Make me neat I * 

* Why did you dress yourself, Missy ? ' 

' Hush 1 speak low, Harriet, for fear of waking the girl ' 
(meaning me, who now lay with m^ eyes shut). ' I dressed 
inyself to learn, against the time you leave me.* 

* Do you want me to go ? * 

* When you are cross, I have many a time wanted you to 
go; but not now. Tie my aash straight; make my hair 
exnooih, please.' 

* Your sash is straight enough. What a particular Uttlo 
body you are T s^ 

' It must be tied again. Please to tie it/ 

* There, then. When I am gone you must get that young 
lady to dress you.* 

* On no account/ 

* Why ? She is a very nice young lady. I hope you 
to behave prettily to her, Missy, and not show your 



aoB. 



\^' 






.^. 



oi' 



A 



X^ 






6(\ 



VILLETTE 



* She shall dress me on no account/ 

* Comical little thing ! ' 

* You are not passing the comb straight through my hair, 
Harriet ; tlie line wili bo crooked/ 

Ay, you are ill to please. Does that suit ? ' 

* Pretty well. Where should I go now that I an^ 
dressed ? ' 

' I will take you into the hreakfast*room/ 

* ComCi then/ 

They proceeded to the door. She stopped. 

'Ohl Harriet, I wish this was papa's house I 1 don't 
know these people/ 

' Be a good child, Missy/ 

' I am good, but I ache hore ; ' putting her hand to her 
heart, and moaning while she reiterated, ' Papa ! papa ! * 

I roused myself and started up, to check this scene while 
it was yet within bounds. 

* Say good*moming to the young lady/ dictated Harriet. 
She said, * Good-nioming/ and then followed her nurso 

from the room. Harriet temporurily left tliat same day, to 
go to her own friends, who lived in the neighbourhood. 

On descending, I found Paulina (the child called herself 
Polly» but her full name was Pailli^^_^lary) seated at the 
breakfast-table, by Mrs, Bretton's side; a mug of milk stood 
before her, a morsel of bread fillud her band, which lay 
passive on the table-cloth : she was not eating. 

' How we ahall conciliate this little creature,' said Mrs. 
Bretton to me, ' I don't know : she tastes nothing, and by 
her looks, she has not slept/ 

I expressed my confidence in the effects of time and 
kindness. 

* If she were to take a fancy to anybody in the house, 
she would soon settle; but not till then/ replied Mrs. 
Bretton. 



^ 6~Aa 



\ 



OHAPTEB n 



PAULINA 



Soke days elapsed, and it appeared ahe was not likely to 
take much of a fancy to anybody in tlie house. She was not 
exactly naughty or wilful : she was far from disobedient ; 
but an object less conducive to comfort — to tranquillity even 
— than she presented, it was scarcely possible to have before 
one's eyes. She moped : no grown person could have 
performed that un cheering business better ; no furrowed 
faee of adult exile, longing for Europe at Europe's antipodes, 
ever bore more legibly the signs of home sickness than did 
her infant visage. She seemed growing old and unearthly. 
1. Luc y Snowe, plead guiltless of that curse, an overheated 
imd dlsS^ive imagination ; but whenever, opening a room- 
ioot^ I found her seated in a comer alone, her head in her 
pigmy hand, that room seemed to me not inhabited, but 
Gatmted. 

And again, when of moonlight nights^ on waking, I 
beheld her figure, white and conspicuous in its night-dress, 
kneeling upright in bed, and pra}ing like some Catholic or 
Methodist enthusiast— some precocious fanatic or untimely 
saint — I scarcely know what thoughts I had ; but they ran 
risk of being hardly more rational and healthy than that 
child's mind must have been, 

I seldom caught a word of her prayers, for they were 
whbpered low : sometimes, indeed, they were not whispered 
ml all, but put up unuttercd ; such rare sentences as reached 
ray ear still bore the burden, * Papa ; my dear papa I ' 



(i^.^^ p^7 




VILLETTE 



This, I perceived, was a one-idea'd nattipe ; betraying that 
uiooomaDiac tendency I have ever thought the most unior* 
tunate with which man or woman can be cursed. 

What might have been the end of this fretting, had it 
continued unchecked, can only be conjectured*: it received, 
however, a sudden turn. 

One afternoon « Mrs. Bret ton, coaxing her from her usual 
station in a comer « had Lifted her into the window-seat, and, 
by way of occupying her attention, told her to watch the 
passengers and count how many ladies should go down the 
street in a given time. She had sat listlessly, hardly looking, 
and not counting, when — my eye being fixed on hers — I 
witnessed in its iris and pupil a startling transfiguration. 
These sudden, dangerous natures — sensitive as they are 
caUed-^offer many a curious spectacle to those whom a 
cooler temperament has secured from participation in their 
angular vagaries. The fixed arid heavy gaze swmn , trembled, 
then glittered in fire ; the small, overcast brow cleared ; the 
trivial and dejected features ht up; the sad countenanoe 
vanished, and in its place appeared a sudden eagerness, an 
intense expectancy. 

* It M t ' were her words. 

Like a bird or a shaft, or any other swift thing, she was 
gone from the room. How she got the house-door open I 
cannot tell ; probably it might be ajar ; perhaps Warren 
was in the way and obeyed her behest, which would be 
impetuous enough. I— watching calmly from the window — 
saw her, in her black frock and tiny braided apron (to 
pinafores she had an antipathy), dart half the length of th© 
street ; and, as I was on the point of turning, and quietly 
announcing to Mrs. Bretton that the child was run out mad, 
and ought instantly to be pursued, I saw her caught up, and 
rapt at once from my oool observation, and from the 
wondering stare of the passengers. A gentlem&n had done 
this good turn, and now, covering her with his cloak^ 
advanced to restore her to the house whence he had seea 
her issue. 



t-) 



S^^wt V*-, 



PAULINA 



U 



I conduded he would leave her in a servant's charge and 
withdraw ; but he entered : having tarried a little while 
below, he came up-stairs. 

His reception imraediately explained that he wan known 
to Mrs. Bretton, She recognised him ; she greeted him, 
and yet she was fluttered, surprised, taken unawares. Her 
look and manner were even expostulatory ; and in reply to 
Ibeae, rather than her words, he said, — * I could not help it, 
ni&dao] : I found it impossible to leave the oountry without 
aeeing with my own eyes how she settled.* 

• But you will unsettle her/ 

• I hope not. And how is paga^lifctle Polly ? ' 
This question he addressed to Paulina, as he sat down 

mad placed her gently on the ground before him. 

• How is Po lly's papa ? ' was the reply, as she leaned on I 
his knee, and ^ized up into his face. ' 

It was not a noisy, not a wordy scene : for that I was 
Ihiuikful ; but it was a scene of feeling too brimful, and 
I which, because the cup did not foam up high or furiously 
[overflow, only oppressed one the more. On uU occasions of 
vehement, unrestrained expansion, a sense of disdain or 
ridicule comes to the weary spectator's relief; whereas I 
liAve ever felt most burdensome that sort of sensibility 
which bends of ite own will, a giant slave under the sway of i 
good senge. 

Mr. Home was a stem -featured— perhaps I should rather 
amy, » hard-featured man : his forehead was knotty, and his 
cfaeekboiies were marked and prominent. The character of 
his bcB was quite Scotch ; but there was feeling in his eye, 
and emotion in his now agitated countenance. His northern 
accent in speaking harmonised with his physiognomy. He 
waa at once proud-looking and homely-lookiiig. 

He laid his hand on the child's uplifted head. She 
said—* Kiss PoUy* 

He kissed her. I wished she would utter some hysterical 
cry, so that 1 might get relief and \je at ease. She made 
fvoDderfuUy little noise : she seemed to have got what she 



^^vO 






U^- 






V 



S^^ 



^^- 



13 



VILLETTE 



wanted — all she wanted, and to be id a trance of content 
Neither in mien nor in features was this cmature like her 
sire, and yet she was of his strain : her niind had been 
filled from his, as the cup from the flagon. 

Indisputably, Mr, Home owned manly self-control, how- 
ever he might secretly feel on some matters. * Polly/ he said, 
looking down on his little girl, ' go into the hall ; you \\nll 
see papa 8 preat-ooat lying on a chair ; put your hand into 
the pockets, you will find a pocket-handkerchief there; 
bring it to me/ 

She obeyed ; went and returned deftly and nimbly. He 
was talking to Mrs, Bretton when she came back, and 
she waited with the handkerchief in her hand. It was 
a picture, in its way, to see her, with her tiny statore, 
and trim, neat shape, standing at his knee. Seeing that 
he continued to talk, apparently unconscious of her return, 
she took his hand, opened the unresisting fingers, insinuated 
into them the handkerchief, and closed them upon it 
one by one. He still seemed not to see or to feel her ; 
but by-and-by, he lifted her to his knee: she nestled 
against him, and though neither looked at nor spoke to the 
other for an hour following, I suppose both were satisfied. 

During tea, the minute thing's movements and behaviour 
gave, as usuaL full occupation to the eye. First she directed 
Warren, as he placed the chairs. 

' Put papa's chair here, and mine near it, between papa 
and Mrs. Bretton : / must hand his tea/ 

She took her own seat, and beckoned with her hand to 
her father. 

*Be near me, as if we were at home, papa/ 

And again, as she intercepted his cup in passing, and 
would stir the sugar, and put in the cream herself, ' I always 
did it for you at home, papa : nobody could do it as well, 
not even your own self/ ^^^^ 

Throughout the meal she continued her attentions : 
rather absurd they were. The sugar-tongs were too wide 
for one of her hands, and she bad to use both in wielding 



PAULINA 



13 



them ; the weight of the silver cream -ewer» the hread-Jind- 
butter plates, the very cup and saucer, tasked her insufficient 
strength and dexterity ; but she would lift this, hand that, 
and luckily contrived through it all to break nothing. 
Candidly speaking, I thought her a little busy-body ; but her 
father, blind Uke other parents, seemed perfectly content to let 
her wait on him, and even wonderfully soothed by her oSioes. 

* She is my comfort ! * he could not help saying to Mrs. 
Bretton. That lady had her own * comfort ' and nonpareil 
on a much larger scale, and, for the moment, absent; so she 
sympathided with his foible. 

This second * comfort ' came on the stage in the course 
of the evening. I knew this day had been fixed for hia 
return, and was aware that Mrs. Bret ton had been expecting 
him through all its hours. We were seated round the fire. 
after tea, when Graham joined our circle : I should rather 
sfty, broke it up — for, of course, his arrival made a bustle : 
and then, as Mr. Graham was fasting, there was refreshment 
to be provided- He and Mr, Home met as old acquaintanoej 
of the little girl he took no notice for a time. 

His meal over, and numerous questions from his mother 
SESSwered, he turned from the table to the hearth. Opposite 
where he had placed himself was seated Mr, Home, and 
al Ms elbow, the child* When 1 say child I use an 
inappropriate and undescriptive term— a term suggesting 
any picture rather than that of the demure little person in a 
mcMinung frock and white chemisette, that might just have 
fitted a good'Sized doll— perched now on a high chair 
beside a stand, whereon was her toy work-box of white 
vanusbed wood, and holding in her hands a shred of a 
baodkercbief, which she was professing to hem, and at 
wiiiab she bored perse veringly with a nocdle, that in her 
fiogeiB seemed almost a skewer, pricking herself ever and 
atiaD, marking tbe cambric with a track of minute red dots ; 
ooeafiionally starting when tlie perverse weapon — swerving 
bom her control — inflicted a deeper stab than usual; but 
iliU aileat, diligent, absorbed, womanly 



u 



VILLETTE 



Grah am was at that time a handsome, faithless-looking 
youth of sixteen. I say {aithless4ookiiig, not because he 
wa8 really of a very perfidious disposition, but because the 
epithet strikes me aa proper to describe the fair, Celtic (not 
Saxon) character of his good looks ; his waved light auburn 
hair, his supple symmetry* his smile frequent^ and destitute 
neither of fascination nor of subtlety (in no bad sense)* 
A spoiled, whimsical boy he was in those days. 

"TiSother,* he said, after eyeing the little figure before him 
in silence for some time» and when the temporary absence of 
Mr* Home from the room relieved him from the half-laughing 
bashfulness, which was all he knew of timidity—* Mother. I 
see a young lady iu the present society to whom I have not ^ 
been introduced.* ■ 

'Mr. Home's little girl, I suppose you mean,' said hiB 
mother. 

* Indeed, ma'am,* replied her son, ' I consider your 
expression of the least ceremonious : Miss Home / should 
certainly have said, in venturing bo speak of the gentle- 
woman to whom I allude,' 

' Now, Graham, I will not have that child teased. Don't 
flatter yourself that I shall sufiFer you to make her your butt,* 

•Miss Home,' pursued Graham, undeterred by his 
mother's remonstrance, * might I have the honour to intro- 
duce myself, since no one else seems willing to render you 
and me that service? Yojir^sla ve, John Graha m Bretton/ 

She looked at him ; he rose and bowed quite gravely. 
She deliberately put down thimble, scissors, work; descended 
with precaution from her perch, and curtseying with unspeak^ 
able seriousness, said, ' How do you do ? ' ■ 

' I have the honour to be in fair health, only in some 
measure fatigued with a hurried journey. I hope, ma'ami I 
see you well 7 * 

_ * Tor-rer-ably well/ was the ambitious reply of the little 
woman ; and she now essayed to regain her former elovationt 
but finding this could not be done without some climbing and 
straining — a sacrifice of decorum not to be thought of — and 



PAULINA 



15 



ouarly diedmiaful of aid id the presence of a strange 
fOOBg gentlBman, she relinquished the high chair for a low 
stool : tawards that low stool Graham drew in his chair. 

' I hope» ma am, the present residence, my mother's house, 
appears to you a convenient place of abode ? * 

• Not par-tic-er-er-ly ; I want to go home/ 

' A Dalural and landaUe desire, ma'am ; but one which, 
QOtwitbstanding, I shall do my best to oppose. I reckon 
oo being able to get oat of yoa a little of thai precious com- 
modtty called amusement, which mamma and Ukslress Snowu 
there faO to yield me/ 

' I shall have to go with papa soon : I shall not stay long 
at yoor mother's/ 

' Ym, yes ; you will stay with me, I am sure. I have a 
pony on which you shall ride, and no end of books with pio* 
lores to show you.' 

' Are you going to live he re now 7 * 

• I am. Does that plea&e you? Do you like me 7 ' 
•No/ 

•Why?- 

' I think you queer/ 

• ICy face, ma'am ? * 

•Tour face and all about you. You have long red 
bair/ 

• Auburn hair, if you please : mamma calls it auburn, or 
gpUeOf and so do all her friends. But even with my '' long 
ted hair ** * (and he waved his mane with a sort of triumph — 
lawny he himself wgU knew that it was^ and he was proud 
of (he leonine hue), ' I cannot possibly be queerer than is 
ycmr ladyship.' 

• You call me queer 7 * 
-Certainly/ 

(After a pause), • I think I shall go to bed/ 

• A little thing like you ought to have been in bed many 
hotira amoe ; but } ou probably sat up in the expectation of 
Boeing ipe 7 ' 

• No, indeed.* 



<5 



VILLETTE 



• You Gertaitily wished to enjoy the pleasure of my 
society. You knew I was comiDg home, and would wait to 
have a look at me/ 

' I sat up for P9^a, and not for you/ 

• Very good, Miss Home. I am going to be a favourite : 
preferred before papa soon, I daresay,' 

She wished Mrs. Bretton and myself good-night ; she 
seemed hesitating whether Graham's deserts entitled him 
to the same attention, when bo cau^jbt her up with one 
hand, and with that one hand held her poised aloft above his 
head. She saw herself thus hfbed up oo high, in the glass 
o ver the firepla^ The^uddennees, the freeaom. the cUs^ 
respect of the action were too much. 

• For shame, Mr. Graham ! * was her indicant cry, * put 
me down I *^-and when again on her feet, ' I wonder what 
you would think of me if I were to treat you in that way, 
lifting you mih my hand ' (raising that mighty member) ' as 



Warren lifts the little cat.' 
So saying, she departed. 



,» 



V^ 






h 



^i^- 



\;a^ 



'5 






CHAPTER III 



THE PLAYMATES 

Mb. Home stayed two days. During his visit he could not 
be prevailed on to go out : he sat all day long by the fire- 
side, sometimes sileot, sometimes receiving and answering 
Mrs, Bretton's chat, vehich was just of the proper sort for a 
man in his inorbid mood — not over-sympathetic, yet not 
too uncongenial; sensible, and even with a touch of the 
motherly— she was sufficiently his senior to be permitted 
Ihis touch. 

As to Paulinap the child was at once happy and mute, 
busy and watchful. Her father frequently lifted her to his 
knee ; she would sit there til! she felt or fancied he grew 
restless ; then it was—* Papa, put me down ; I shall tire 
you with my weight.' 

And the mighty burden slid to the rug, and establishing 
tt&alf on carpet or stool just at ' papa's ' feet, the white 
work'box and the scarlet-speckled handkerchief csame into 
play. This handkerchief, it seems, was intended as a keep- 
wake for * papa,' and must be finished before his departure ', 
eoilflequently the demand on the sempstress's industry (she 
mocoiDpUshed about a score of stitches in half-an-hour) was 
stringent. 

The evening, by restoring Graham to the maternal roof 
(his days were passed at school)^ brought us an accession of 
animation — a quality not diminished by the nature of the 
scenes pretty sure to be enacted between him and Miss 
Paalina. 



18 



VILLETTE 



A distant and haoghty demeanour had been the result of 
the indignity put upon her the first evening of his arrival : 
her usual answer, when be addressed her, was — ' I can*t 
attend to you ; I have other things to think about/ Being 
implored to state what things : ' Business.* 

Graham would endeavour to seduce her attention by 
opening his desk and displaying its multifarious contents ; 
seals, bright sticks of wax, pen-knives, with a miscellany of 
engravings— some of them gaily coloured— which be had 
amassed from time to time. Nor was this powerful tempta- 
tion wholly unavailing : her eyes, furtively raised from her 
work, cast many a peep towards the wTiting- table, rich in 
scattered pictures. An etching of a child playing with a 
Blenheim spaniel happened to flutter to the floor. 

' Pretty little dog I * said she, delighted. 

Graham prudently took no notice. Ere long, stealing 
from her comer, she approached to examine the treasure 
more closely. The dog*8 great eyes and long ears, and the 
child's hat and feathers, were irresistible. 

*Nice picture ! * was her favourable criticism. 

' Well — you may have it,* said Graham. 

She seemed to hesitate. The wish to possess was strong, 
but to accept would be a compromise of dignity. No* She 
put it down and turned away. 

* You won*t have it, then, Polly?' 

* I would rather not, thank you/ 

' Shall I tell you what I will do with the picture if you 
refuse it ? ' 

She half turned to listen, 

' Cut it into strips for lighting the taper/ 

*No!" 

* But I shall.* 
' Please— don't: 
Graham waxed inexorable on hearing the pleading tone ; 

he took the scissors from his mother's work-basket, 

* Here goes I ' said be, making a menacing flourish. 
' Kght through Fido's head, and splitting little Harry's nose/ 



THE PLAYMATES 



19 



*Noi Nof no\* 

' Then come to me. Come quickly, or it i3 done.* 
She hesitated, lingered, but complied. 
' Now, will you have it ? ' he a.sked, as ehe stood before 
him. 

* Please/ 

' But I shall want payment/ 
•How much?* 

* A kiss/ 

' Give the picture first into ray hand.' 

Polly, as she said this, looked rather faithless in her 
torn. Graham gave it. 8he absconded a debtor, darted to 
ber father, and took refuge on bis knee. Graham rose in 
mimic wrath and followed. She buried ber face in Mr. 
Home's waistooat 

'Papa — papa-^send him away ! * 

' I'll not be sent away,* said Graham. 

With face still averted, she held out her hand to keep 
him off. 

* Then, I shall kiss the hand/ said he ; but that moment 
it became a miniature fist, and dealt him payment in a small 
coin that was not kisses. 

Graham — not failing in his way to be as wily as his little 
plAjTnate— retreated apparently quite discomfited ; he flung 
himself on a sofa, and resting his head against the cushion, 
lay like one in pain. Polly, finding him silent, presently 
peeped at him. His eyes and face were covered vnih his 
hands. She turned on her father's knee, and gazed at her 
foe anxiously and long. Graham groaned. 

* Papa, what is the matter ? ' she whispered 

* You had better ask him, PoUy/ 

* la be hurt ? ' (groan second), 

*H© makea a noise as if he were,* said Mr, Home. 

^Mother,' suggested Graham, feebly, 'I think you had 
better send for the doctor. Oh, my eye I * (renewed silence, 
broken only by sighs from Graham). 

* If I were to become blind ? ' suggested this last. 



20 



VILLETTE 



His chastiser could not bear the suggestion. She was" 
beside him directly. 

* Let me see your eye : I did not mean to touch it» only 
your mouth ; and I did not think I hit so very hard/ 

Silence answered her. Her features worked, — * I am 

sorry ; I am sorry I ' 

Then succeeded emotion, faltering, weeping, 

' Have done trying that child, Graham/ said Mrs. 

Brt^tlon. 

* It is all nonsense, my pet»* cried Mr. Home. 

And Graham once more snatched her aloft, and she again 
punished him ; and while she pulled his lion s locks, termed 
him — 'The naughtiest, rudest, worst, untniest person that 
ever was/ 



On the morning of Mr. Home's departure, he and his 
daughter had some conversation in a window-recess by 
themselves ; I heard part of it, 

'Couldn't I pack my box and go with you, papa?' she 
whispered earnestly. 

He shook his head* 

* Should I be a trouble to you 7 * 
•Yes. Polly/ 
'Because I am Little? ' 

'Because you are Little and tender. It is only great 
strong people thai should travel. But don't look sad« my 
little girl ; it breaks my heart. Papa will soon oome back 
to hifl PoUy.* 

'Indeed, indeed. I am not sad. scaroely at all/ 

* Folly would be sorry to give papa pain ; would she 
not?' 

* Sorrier than sorry/ 

* Then Polly must be cheerful : not cry at parting ; not 
fret afterwards. She must look forward to meeting again 
and try to be happy meanwhile. Can she do this ? * 

* She vrill try/ 

'I see she wilt Eiarewell, then. It is time to go/ 



I1 



.mI.W- 



■ 



THE PLAYMATES 



'Now F— just Tiowi' 

'Just now/ 

She held up quivering Lips. Her father sobbed, but she» 
I remarked, did not. Having put her down, he shook hands 
with the rest present, and departed. 

When the street-door closed, she dropped on her knees 
at a chair with a cry — * Papa I ' 

It^wasjow and long ; a sort of ' W hj hast thon forsaken 
me ? * During an ensuing space of some minutes, I per- 
ceived she endured agony. She went through, in that brief 
interval of her infant life, emotions such as some never feel; 
it was in her constitution : she would have more of such 
instants if she lived. Nobody spoke. Mrs, Bretfcon, being a ' 
inother. shed a tear or two. Graham, who was writing, lifted 
up his eyes and gazed at her. I, Lucy Snowe, was calm, f ^ 

The little creature, thus left unharassed, did far hersell 
what none other could do— contended with an intolerable 
faeUog ; and, ere long, in some degree, repressed it. That 
day she would accept solace from none ; nor the next day : 
the prew more passive afterwards. 

On the third evening, as she sat on the floor, worn and 
quiet. Graham, coming in, took her up gently* without a 
word. She did not resist : she rather nestled in his ai^ms, 
ae if weary. When he sat down, she laid her head against 
him ; in a few minutes she slept ; he earned her upstairs 
lo bed. I was not surprised that, the next morning, the 
first thing she demanded was, * Where is Mr, Graham 7 * 

It happened that Graham was not coming to the break- 
fast-table ; he had some exercises to write for that morning's 
class, and had requested his mother to send a cup of tea 
into the study. Polly volunteered to carry it : she must he 
busy about something, look after somebody. The cup was 
entrusted to her ; for, if restless, she was also careful. As 
Ihe study was opposite the breakfast room^ the doors facing 
across the passage, my eye followed her. 

* What are you doing?' she asked, pausing on the 
Ihresbold. 



22 



YILLETTE 



to take breakfast with your 



' Writing/ said Graham. 
*Why doD*t you come 
mamma ? * 

* Too busy/ 
Do you want any breakfast? 

* Of courae/ 

* There, then/ 
And she deposited the cup on the carpet, like a jailor 

putting a prisoner's pitcher of water through his cell-door» 
and retreated. Presently she returned* 

* What will you have besides tea — what to eat ? ' 

* Anything good. Bring me aomethmg particularly nice i^ 
that's a kind little woman/ 

She came back to Mrs. Bretton. 

* Please, ma'am, send your boy somethiDg good/ 

* You shall choose for him, PoEy ; what shall my boy 
have ? * " 

She selected a portion of whatever was best on the 
table, and, ere long, came back with a whispered request 
for some marmalade, which was not there. Having got it, 
however (for Mrs* Bretton refused the pair nothing), 
Graham was shortly after heard lauding her to the skies ; 
promising that, when he had a house of his own, she should 
be his housekeeper, and perhaps^f she showed any 
cnUuary genius^ — his cook ; and, as she did not return, and 
1 went to look after her, I found Graham and her break* 
fasting Ute-d'Ute — she standing at his elbow, and sharing 
his fare: excepting the marmalade, which she delicately 
refused to touch, lest» I suppose, it should appear that she 
had procured it as much on her own account aa his. She 
constantly evinced these nice perceptions and delicate 
instincts. 

Th^Jeagne of acquaintanceship thus struck up was not 
hastily dissolved; on the contrary, it appeared that time 
^ and circumstances served rather to cement than loosen it 

^^ I** V illl-asslmilated as the two were in age» eex, pursuits, Ac, 
^^* \ \ khey somehow found a great deal to say to each other. As 



THE PLAYMATES 



23 



to Paulina, I observed that her little character never 
prcfperly oameout, except with youog BrettOD, As she got 
settled, and accustomed to the house» she proved tractable 
enough with Mrs. Bretton ; but she would sit on a stool at 
that lady's feet all day long, learning her task, or sewing, or 
drawing figures with a pencil on a slate, and never kindling \ 
onoe to originality, or showing a single gleam of the ' 
peculiaiities of her nature. I ^ceased to watr.h her under 
s och c i rcmnstances : nhn wfkn - m^ Jn^^^'^^ ^^lPg- ^jut tiae 
moment Graham's knock sounded of an evening, a change 
occurred ; she was instantly at the head of the staircase. 
D dually her welcome was a reprimand or a threat. 

* You have not wiped your shoes properly on the mat. 
I shall tell your mamma.' 

* Little busybody I Are you there ? * 

■ Yes — and you can't reach me : I am higher up than 
you ' (peeping bNStween the rails of the banister ; she could 
not look over them). 

•PoUy!- 

* My dear boy I * (such was one of her terms for him, 
adopted in imitation of his mother). 

' I am fit to faint with fatigue/ declared Graham, leaning 
against the passage-wall in seeming exhaustion. ' Dr. 
Digby * (the head-master) * has quite knocked me up with 
overwork. Just come down and help me to carry up my 
books.' 

* Ah I you're cunning 1 ' 

* Not at all, PolIy^-it is positive fact* I'm as weak as a 
mab. Come down/ 

* Your eyes are quiet like the cat's, but you'll spring.* 

* Spring? Nothing of the kind: it isn't in me. Come 
down.* 

*Perhapft I may— if youll promise not to touch— not to 
ioatch me up, and not to whirl me round.' 

* I ? I couldn't do it r (sinking into a chair). 

*Then put the books down on the first step, and go three 
yardb off/ 



94 



VILLETTE 



TMa being done, she descended warily, and not taking 
her eyes from the feeble Graham, Of course her approach 
always galvanized him to new and spasmodic Ufe: the 
game of romps was sure to be exacted. Sometimes ahe 
would be angry ; sometimes the matter was allowed to pass 
smoothly, and we could hear her say, as she led him np- 
stairs : * Now, my dear boy, come and take your tea — I am 
sure yon must want something/ 

It was sufficiently comical to observe her as she sat 
beside Graham while he took that meal. In his absence 
she was a stiE personage, but with him the most officious, 
Mgety Little body possible. I often wished she would mind 
herself and be ti^anquil; but no — herself was forgotten in 
him : he could not be sufficiently well waited on, nor care- 
fully enough looked after ; he was more than the Grand 
Turk in her estimation. She would gradually assemble the 
various plates before him, and, when one would suppose all 
he could possibly desire was within his reach, she would 
find out something else : * Ma'am,* she would whisper to 
Mrs. Bretton, — * perhaps your son would like a little cake^ — 
sweet cake, yon know— ^there is some in there * (pointing lo 
the sideboard cupboard), Mrs, Bretton, as a rule, dis- 
approved of sweet cake at tea, but still the request wsls 
urged, — * One little piece — only for him — as he goes ta 
school : girls — such as me and Miss Snowe — don't need 
treats, but lie would like it/ 

Graham did like it very well, and almost always got it. 
To do him justice, he would have shared his pri^e wiUi hfbt 
to whom he owed it ; but that was never allowed : to insist, 
was to ru^e her for the evening. To stand by his knee, 
and monopolize his talk and notice, was the reward she 
wanted— not a share of the cake. 

With curious readiness did she adapt herself to such 
themes 'as interested him. One would have thought tkie 
child had no mind or life of her own, but must necessarily 
live, move, and have her tieing in another: now that her 
father was taken from her, she nestled to Orahaca, and 



THE PLAYMATES 



fe 



seemed U> feel by his feelingB: to exist in his existence. 
She learned the names of all hie schoolfellows in a trice : 
&he got by heart their characters as given from his lips : a 
single description of an individoal seemed to suffice. She 
never forgot, or confused identities : she would talk with 
him the whole eveaing about people she had never seen, 
and appear completely to realise their aspect, manners, and 
dispositions. Some she learned to mimic : an under- 
£DA6ter« who was an aversion of youog Bretton's, had, it 
seems, some peculiarities, which she caught up in a moment 
from Graham's representation, and rehearsed for his amuse- 
ment : this, however, Mrs. Bretton disapproved and forbade. 

The pair seldom quarrelled ; yet once a ruptm-e occurred, 
in which her feelings received a severe shook. 

One day Graham, on the occasion of his birthday, had 
same friends — lads of his own af^e — to dine with him, 
Paulina took much interest in the coming of these friends ; 
she hiid frequently heard of them ; they were amongst those 
of whom Graham oftenest spoke. After dinner* the young 

atlemen were left by themaelves in the dining-room, where 
By soon became very merry and made a good deal of 
noise. Chancing to pass through the haU, I found Paulina 
silting alone on the lowest step of the staircase, her eyes 
fixed on the glossy panels of the dining-room door, where 
&he reflection of the hall-lamp was shining ; her little brow 
knit in anxious meditation, 

• What are you thinking about, Polly ? ' 

/JKoihing particubr; only I wish that door was clear 
^aBS^-that I might see through it. The boys seem very // 
obd6rfttl» and I want to go to them: I want to be wiih|| 
Qrsbam, and ^watch h j ^ frien ds/ 

• What hinders you from going ? * 

• I feel afraid ; but may I try, do you think ? May I 
knock at the door, and ask to be let in ? ' 

I thought perhaps they might not object to have her as 
a playmate, and therefore encouraged the attempt. 

Sbo knocked — too faintly at first to be beard, but on a 



26 



VILLETTB 



.y 



i 



y 



<y 



second essay tli3 door unclosed ; Graham's head appeared ; 
he looked in high spirits^ but impatient. 

' What do you want, you little monkey ? * 

* To come to you.' 

' Do you indeed ? As il I would be troubled with you ! 
Away to mamma and Mistress Snowe» and tell them to put 
you to bed.* The auburn head and bright flushed face 
vanished. — the door shut peremptorily. She was stunned. 

*\Vhy does he speak so? He never spoke so before/ 
she said in consternation. * What have I done ? * 

' Nothing, Polly ; but Graham is busy with his school- 
friends/ 

' And he likes them better than me I He turns me away 
now they are here 1 * 
( I had some thoughts of consoling her, and of improving 
the occasion by inculcating some of those maxims of 
' philosophy whereof I had ever a tolerable stock ready for 
application. She stopped me, however, by putting her 
fingL'rs in her ears at the first words I uttered, and then 
lying down on the mat with her face against the flags ; nor 
could either Warren or the cook root her from that position : 
she was allowed to lie, therefore, till she chose to rise of her 
own aocord. 

Graham forgot his impatience the same evening, and 
would have accosted her as usual when his friends were 
gooe^bnt she wrenched herself from his hand ; her eye 
quitMlashed ; she would not bid him good-night ; she would 
not look in his face. The next day be treated her with in- 
difference, and she grew like a bit of marble. The day after, 
he teased her to know what was the matter; her lips would 
not unclose. Of course he could not feel real anger on his 
side : the match was too unequal in every way ; be tried 
soothing and coascing. * Why was she so angry ? W^hat 
had he done ? ' By-and-by tears answered him ; he petted 
-^er, and they were friends. But she was one on whom 
1 such Incidents were not lost : I remarked that never after 
] this rebuiOr did she seek him, or follow him, or in any way 



I 



THE PLAYMATES 



27 



solicil hia ootioe. I told her once to carry a book or some 
other article to Graham when he was shut up in his study, 

* I shall wait till ha comes out/ said she» proudly ; • I 
don*i ohoose to give him the trouble of rising to open the 
door.* 

YouBg Bretton had a favourite pony on which he often 
rode out; from the window she always watched his de- 
parture and return. It was her ambition to be permitted to 
have a ride round the courtyard on this pony ; but far be it 
from her to ask such a favour. One day she descended to 
the yard to watch him dismount ; as she leaned against the 
gate, the longing wish for the indulgence of a ride glittered 
in her eye. 

'Come, Polly, will you have a canter? ' asked Graham, 
half carelessly. 

I suppose she thought he was too oareless. 

' No, thank you/ said she, turning away with the utmost 
coolness. 

'You'd better,' pursued he, *You will like it» I am 
ware' 

* Don't think I should care a fig about it/ was the 
response. 

' That is not true. You told Lucy Snowe you longed to 
have a ride.* 

* Lucy Snowe is ^Jatkr-hox,* I heard her say (her im- 
perfect articulation was the least precocious thing she had 
about her) ; and with this she walked into the house. 

Graham, coming in soon after, observed to his 
niotber, — • Mamma. I believe that creature is a changeling : 
ske is a perfect cabinet of oddities ; but I should be dull 
iTvithout her : she amuses me a great deal more than you or 
Liucy Snowe.* ' ' 



* Miss Snowe/ said Paulina to me (she had now got into 
Ihe habit of occasionally chatting with me when we were 
mlooe in our room at night), ' do you know on what day in 
tlie week I like Graham best ? * 



28 



VILLETTE 



* How can I possibly know anything so strange ? Is 
there one day out of the Boven when he h otherwise than on 
the other six ? * 

'To be sure! Can*t you see? Don't you know? I 
find him the most excellont on a Sunday ; then we baye 
him the whole day, and he is quiet, and, in the erening, so 
kind/ 

This observation was not altogether groundless : going 
to Ghurch, &c.f kept Grahaoi quiet on the Sunday, and the 
evening he generally dedicated to a serene, though rather 
indolent sort of enjoyment by the parlour fireside* He 
would take possession of the couch, and then he would call 
Polly. 

Graham was a boy not quite as other boys are ; all his 
delight did not lie in action : he was capable of some 
intervals of contemplation ; he could take a pleasure too in 
reading, nor was his selection of books wholly indis- 
criminate : there were glimmerinjE^s of characteristic pre- 
ference, and even of instinctive taste in the choice. He 
rarely, it is true, remarked on what he read, but I have seen 
him sit and think of it. 

Polly, being near him^ kneeling on a little cushion or the 
carpet, a conversation would begin in murmurs, not in- 
audible, though subdued. I caught a snatch of their tenor 
now and then; and, in truth, some influence better and 
finer than that of every day seemed to soothe Graham at 
such times into no ungentle mood. 

' Have you learned any hymns this week, Polly ? * 

'1 have learned a very pretty ooe, four verses long. 
Shall I say it ? ' 

' Speak nioelyi then ; don't be in a hurry/ 

The hymn being rehearsed, or rather half-chanted, in a 
little singing voice, Graham would take exceptions at the 
manner, and proceed to give a lesson in recitation. She 
was quick in learning, apt in imitating ; and, besides, her 
pleasure was to please Graham : she proved a4ready scholar. 
To the liymo would succeed some reading— perhapa a 



readllg- 



THE PLAYMATES 



99 



* 



cdiApter ID the Bible ; correction was seldom required here, 
for the ohild could read any simple narrative chsLpter very 
well ; and, when the subject was such as she could under- 
stand and take ao interest in, her expression and emphasis 
were something remarkable. Joseph cast into the pit ; the 
calling of Samuel; Daniel in the lions' den;— these were 
favourite passages : of the first especially she seemed 
perfectly to feel the pathos. 

* Poor Jacob I * she would sometimes say, with quivering 
lips. * How he loved his son Joseph I As much/ she once 
added — 'as much, Graham, a s^I love y ou: if you were to 
die * (and she re-opened the book, sought the verse» and 
read)« * I should " refuse to be comforted, and go down into 
the grave to you mourning." ' 

With these , words she gathered Graham in her little 
axma, drawing his long-tressed head towards her. The 
action, I remember, struck me as strangely rash ; exciting 
Ihe feeling one might experience on seeing an animal 
dangefTOUs by nature, and but half-tamed by art, too heed- 
lemly fondled. Not that I feared Graham would hurt, or 
very roughly check her ; but I thought she ran risk of 
incurring such a careless, impatient repulse, as would be 
worse almost to her than a blow. On the whole, however, 
these demonstrations were borne passively : sometimes even 
a Bort of complacent wonder at her earnest partiality would 
smile not unkindly in his eyes. Once he said :— * You like 
ma almost as well as if you were my little sister, Polly/ 

•Oh! I da like you,* said she; 'I do like you very 
nmeh/ 



1 



I was not long allowed the amusement of this study of 
I characti^r- She had scarcely been at Bretton two months, 
wh' r came from Mr. Home, signifying that he was 

now >. „.. a amongst his maternal kinsfolk on the Continent ; 
tttat, as England was become wholly distasteful to him, he 
had no thoughts of returning hither, perhaps, for years ; and 
ihat he wished his little girl to join him immediately. 



90 



VILLETTE 



T wonder how she will take this news?* said Mrs. 
BrettoD, whan she had read the letter. / wondered, too, 
and I took upon myself to oommtmioate it. I 

Repairing to the drawing-room — ^in which calm and 
decorated apartment she was fond of being alone, and where 
she cotild be implicitly trusted, for she fingered nothing, or 
rather soiled nothing she fingered^I found her seated, like 
a little Odalisque, on a couch, half shaded by the drooping 
dmperies of the window near. She seemed happy ; all her 
appliances for occupation were about her ; the white wood 
workbox, a shred or two of mualin, an end or two of ribbon 
collected for conversion into doll-mi! linery. Tbe doll, duly 
night-capped and night-gowned, lay in its cradle ; she was 
rocking it to sleep, with an air of the most perfect faith in 
itB possession of sentient and somnolent faculties ; her eyes, 
at the same time, being engaged with a picture-book, which 
lay open on her lap. 

* Miss Snowe,' said she in a whisper. ' this is a wonderful 
tx>ok. Can dace * (the doU, christened by Graham ; for, 
indeed, its begrimed complexion gave it much of an Ethio* 
pian aspect)—* Candaoe is asleep now, and I may tell you 
about it ; only we must both speak low, lest she should 
waken. This book was given me by Graham ; it tells about 
distant countries, a long, long way from England, which no 
traveller can reach without sailing thousands of miles over 
the sea. Wild men live in these countriea. Miss Snowe, 
who wear clothes different from ours : indeed, some of them 
wear scarcely any clothes, for the sake of being cool, you 
know ; for they have very hot weather. Here is a picture 
of thousands gathered in a desolate place— a plain, spread 
with sand — round a man in black, — a good, good English- 
man—a missionary, who is preaching to them under a palm- 
tree.' (She showed a little coloured cut to that effect.) 
* And here are pictures ' (she went on) ' mora stranger ' 
(grammar was occasionally forgotten) *than that. There isj 
the wonderful Great Wall of China ; here is a Chinese l&dy; 
with a foot littler than mine. There is a wild horse o| 



THE PLAYMATES 



31 



Tbrtary ; and here, most strange of &11 — is a land of ice and 
soow, without green fields, woods, or gardens. In this land 
they found some mammoth bones : there are no mammoths 
DOW. You don't know what it was; hut I can tell you, 
because Graham told me. A mighty, goblin creature, as 
high as this room, and as long as the hall ; but not a fierce^ 
fleah-eating thing, Graham thinks. He believes, if I met 
one in a forest, it would not kill me, unless I came quite in 
its way; when it would trample me down amongst the 

» bushes, as I might tread on a grasshopper in a hayfield 
without knowing it.* 
Thus she rambled on. 
* Polly,* I interrupted, ' should you hke to travel ? * 
* Not just yet,' was the prudent answer ; ' but perhaps in 
twenty years* when I am grown a woman, as tall as Mrs. 
Bretton, I may travel with Graham » We intend going to 
Switzerland, and climbing Mount Blanck ; and some day we 
shall sail over to South America, and walk to the top of Kim 
— kim — borazo/ 

* But how would you hke to travel now, if your papa was 

I with you?* 
Her reply — not given till after a pause— evinced one of 
those une3cpeoted turns of temper peculiar to her. 
* Where is the good of talking in that silly way ? ' said she. 
* Why do you mention papa ? What is papa to you ? I was 
just beginning to be happy, and not think about him so much ; 
ind there it will be all to do over again t * 

Her lip trembled. I hastened to disclose the fact of a 
leltiir having been received, and to mention the directions 
given that she and Harriet should immediately rejoin this 
ddiy: pi^pik. * Now, Polly, are you not glad ? ' I added, 

She made no answer. She dropped her book and ceased to 
rock her doll ; she gazed at me with gravity and earnestness. 

* Shall not you like to go to papa ? ' 

* Of ootzrse/ she said at last in that trenchant manner she 
Usually employed in speaking to me ; and which was quite 
iiffarent trom that she used with Mrs. Bretton, and diff^ent 



VILLETTE 



again from the one dedicated to Graham. I wished to ascer- 
tain more of what she thought ; but no : she would converse no 
more. Hastening to Mra. Bretton, she questioned her, and 
reoeived the oon£rmation of my news, The weight and 
importance of these tidings kept her perfectly serious the { 
whole day. In the evening* at the moment Graham's 
entrance was heard below, I found her at my side. She 
began to arrange a looket-ribbon about my neck, she 
. displaced and replaced the comb in my hair ; while thus 
busied, Graham entered. 

* Tell him by-and*by/ she whispered ; * teU him I am 
going/ 

In the course of tea-time I made the desired communi- | 
cation. Graham, it chanced, was at that time greatly 
preoccupied about some school-prize, for which he was j 
competing. The news hnA to be told twice before it took | 
proper hold of his attention, and even then he dwelt on it 
but momently. 

'Polly going? What a pity 1 Dear little Mousie, Ij 
shall be sorry to lose her : she must come to us again, I 
mamma.' 

And hastily swallowing his tea, he took a candle and a 
small table to himself and his books, and was soon buried 
in study. 

'Little Monsio* crept to his side, and lay down on the I 
carpet at his feet, her face to the floor ; mute and motionleM^ 
she kept that post and position till bed-time. Once I f«aw 
Graham—wholly unconscious of her proximity— push her 
with his restless foot. She recedjed ao inch or two. A 
minute after one little hand stole out from beneath her fac«, 
to which it had been pressed, and softly caressed the heed- 
less foot. When summoned by her nurse she rose and 
departed very obediently, having bid us all a subdued good, 
night. 

I will not say that I dreaded going to bed, an hour later ; 
yet I certainly went with an unquiet anticipation that I 
ahould find thi\t child in do peaceful sleep. The forewaminri 



THE PLAYMATES 



83 



I of n 



of my iniitmct was but fulfilled, when I discovered her, all 
and vigilaat, perched like a white bird on the outside of 

bed, I scarcely knew how to accost her ; she was not 
to be mftnaged like another child. She, however, accosted 
me* As I closed the door, and put the light oo the dressing- 
table, she turned to me with these words :—* I cannot — cannot 

ip ; and in this way I cannot— cannot live ! * 

I asked what ailed her. 

* Dedful miz-ery I * said she, with her piteous lisp. 
•ShaU I call Mrs. Bretton?* 

* That is downright silly/ was her impatient reply ; and, 
I well knew that if she had heard Mrs. Bretton's foot 

pproach, she would have nestled quiet as a mouse under the 
bedclothes. Whilst lavishing her eccentricities regard 1 ess ly 
me — for whom she professed scarcely the semblance 
iiection — she never showed my godniother one ghmpse 
of her inner self : for her, she was nothiug but a dooile, 
what quaint little maiden. I examined her; her cheek 
crimson ; her dilated eye was both troubled and glowing, 
and painfully restless : in this state it was obvious she must 
QOt be left till morning. I guessed how the case stood. 

* Would you hke to bid Graham good-night again?' I 
isked. ' He is not gone to his room yet/ 

She at once stretched out her little arms to be lifted. 
Fielding a shawl round her, I carried her baok to the drawing- 
foom. Graham was just coming out. 

'She cannot sleep without seeing and speaking to you 
once more/ 1 said. * She does not like the thought of leaving 
you.' 

*rTe sggilt her/ said he« taking her from me with good 
bttmour, and kissing her little hot face and burning l]ps> 
' PoUy, you care for me more than for papa, now — * 

* I do eare for you, but you care nothing for me/ was her 
wiiisper. 

She was assured to the contrary, again kissed, restored to 
oaei and I earned her away ; but, alas 1 not soothed* 

I thought she could Usten to me, I said — ' Paulina, 



I of he 

I^BOIBe 



VILLETTE 



you nhoutd not grieve that Graham does ooi care for yon so 
much as you care for him. It. must b e so/ 

Her lifted and questioniiigeyes asked why. 

' Because he is a boy and you are a girl ; he is sixteen 
and you are only six ; his uature is strong and gay, and yours 
is otherwise/ 

* But IJoyehi^somuch ; he should love me a little/ 

* He does^ He is fonJof you. You are his favourite/ 
' Am I Graham's favourite ? ' 

* Yes, more than any little child I know/ 
The assurance soothed her ; she smiled in her anguish, 

* But/ I continued, ' don't fret, and don't expect too much 
of him, or else he will feel you to be troublesome, and then 
it is all over/ 

*A11 overt' she echoed softly; 'then I'll be good. rU 
try to be good, Lucy Bnowe/ 
I put her to bed. 

* Will he forgive me this one time?' she asked, as I 
undressed myself. I assured her that be would ; that as yet 
he was by no means alienated ; that she had only to be care- 
fiU for the future. 

'There is no future,' said she: *I am going. Shall I' 
ever — ever — see htm again, aft^r I leave England?' 

I returned an encouraging response. The candle being 
extinguished, a still half^hour elapsed* I thought her asleep,, 
when the bttle white shape once more lifted itself in the crit 
and the small voice asked — * Do you like Graham^ Bliss' 
Snowe ? * ' 

* Like him 1 Yes, a little.* 

* Only a little I Do you like him as I do ? ' 
' I think not* No : not as you do.' 
' Do you like him much ? ' 
' I told you I hked him a little. Where is the 

oaring for himso very much : he is full of faults.' 

•Ishe?'^ 

ilboys are/ 
-MoSiOorgirb?' 



THE PLAYMATES 



88 



ijou 



*Very likely. Wise people say it is folly to think auy- 
l>ody perieot; and as to likes and dislikes^ we should be 
frieodly to all, and worship none/ 

* Are you a wise person ? * 
*I mean to try to be so. Go to sleep/ 

* I eamtot go to sleep. Have you no pain just here * (lay- 
(g her elfish hand on her elfish breast), * when you think 

ghall have to leave Graham ; for your home is not here ? ' 

'Surely, Polly,' said I, * you should not feel so much pain 

when you are very soon going to rejoin your father. Have 

»u forgotten him? Do you no longer w^ish to be his little 

tnpanioD ? ' 

Dead silence succeeded this question. 

* Child, lie down and sleep/ I urged, 
' My bed is cold/ said she. ' I can't warm it/ 

kl saw the little thing shiver. ' Come to me/ I said, wish- 
g.ye t scarcely hoping, that she would comply : for she was 
most strange, capricious, little creature, and especially 
limsical with me. She came, however, instantly, like a 
Email ghost gliding over the caipet. I took her in. She was 
chill : I warmed her in my arms. She trembled nervously ; 
I soothed her. Thus tranquilli^sed and cherished she at last 
slumbered. 

' A very unique child,* thought I, as I viewed her sleeping 

CQimtenanoe by the fitful moonlight, and cautiously and 

y wiped her glittering eyeUds and her wet cheeks with 

handkerchief. * How will she get through this world, or 

with this life? How will she bear the shocks and 

, the humiliations and desolations, which books, and 

my own reason, tell me are prepared for all flesh? * 

She departed the next day ; trembling like a leaf when 
A»took leave, but exercising self-command. 



CHAPTER IV 



KIBS HABOHUONT 



t^ 



On quitting Bretton, which I did a few weeks after Paulina's 
departure — little thinking then I was never again to visit it : 
never more to tread its calm old streets — I betook myself 
home, having been absent six months. It wiU be oonjecturad 
that I was of course glad to return to the bosom of my 
kindred. Well t the amiable conjecture does no barm, and 
may therefore be safely left uncontradicted. Par from saying 
n^, indeed, I will permit the reader to picture me» for the 
next eight years, as a bark slumbering through halcyon 
weather, in a harbour stilTas glass— the steersman stretched 
on the little deck» his face up to heaven, his eyes closed: 
buried, if you will, in a long prayer. A great many women 
and girls are supposed to pass their lives something in that 
fashion ; why not I with the rest ? 

Picture me then idle, basking, plump, and happy, stretched 
on a cusliioned deokp warmed with constant sunshine, rocked 
by breezes indolently soft. However, it cannot be concealed 
that, in that case^ I must somehow have fallen overboard, or 
that there must have been wreck at last, I too well remem- 
ber a time— a long time— of cold, of danger, of contention. 
To this hour, when I have the nightm are, it repeats the rush 
and saltness of briny waves in my throat, and their icy 
pressure on my lungs. I even know there was a storm, and 
that not of one hour nor one day. For many days and nights 
neither sun nor stars appeared ; we caat with our own hands 
the tackling out of the ship ; a heavy tempest lay on us ; all 



MISS MARCHMONT 



m 



hope that we shauld be saved was taken away. In fine, the 
ship was lo6t, the crew perished. 

As far as I recollect, I complained to no one about these 
teoubles. Indeed, to whom could I complain? Of Mrs. 
Bretton I had long lost sight. Impediments, raised by 
others, had, years ago, come In the way of our intercourse^ 
and cut it ofif. Besides, time had brought changes for her, 
too : the handsome property of which she was left guardian 
for her son, and which had been chiefly invested in some 
loint-Btook undertaking, had melted, it was said, to a fraction 
of its origioal amount. Grahami I teamed from incidental 
mxnours, had adopted a profession ; both ho and his mother 
wene gone from Bretton, and were understood to be now in 
London. Thus, there remained no possibility of dependence 
on others ; to myself alone could I look, I know not that I 
was of a self-reliant or active nature ; but self-reliance and 
exfirtion were forced upon me by circumstances, as they are 
upon thousands besides ; and when Miss Marchmont, 
maiden lady of our neighbourhood, sent for me, I obeyed her 
behest, in the hope that she might assign me some task 
eould undert.ake. 

Misft Marchmont was a woman of fortune, and lived in a 
handsome residence; but she was a rheumatic cripple, 
impotent, foot and hand, and had been so for twenty years, 
81^ always sat upstairs : her drawing-room adjoined her 
bed-room. I bad often heard of Miss Marchmont, and of 
her peculiarities (she bad the character of being very eecen- 
trie), but till now had never seen her. I found £er a 
ftuTOwedt grey-haired woman, grave with solitude, stem 
with long alfliction, irritable also, and perhaps exacting. It 
a^semed that a maid, or rather companion, who had waited on 
her for some years, was about to l:>e married; and she, 
he&ring of my bereaved lot, had sent for me, with the idea 
thai I might supply this person s place* She made tho 
proposal to me after tea, as she and I sat alone by her 

*h will not be an easy Ufe,' said she candidly, * for I 



are 
> a \ 

her 



38 



VTLLETTE 



require a good deal of attention, and you will he mucf! 
confioBd; yet, perhaps, contrasted with the existence you 
have lately led, it may appear tolerahle/ 

I reflected. Of course it ought to appear tolerable, I 
argued inwardly ; but somehow, by sonae strange fatality, it 
would not. To live here, in this close room, the watcher of 
suffering — sometimes, perhaps, the butt of temper — through 
all that was to come of my youth ; while all that was gone 
had passed, to say the least, not blissfully t My heart sunk 
one moment, then it revived ; for though I forced myself to 
I realise evils, I think I was too prosaic to tdealise^ and con- 
' sequently to eicaggerate them. " ^ 

• My doubt is whether I should have strength for the 
undertaking/ I observed. 

'That is my own scruple/ said she; 'for you look 
worn-out creature/ 

So I did. I saw myself in the glass, in my mournir 
dress, a faded, hollow-eyed vision. Yet I thought little of 
the wan spectacle. The blight, I believed, was c hiefly 
dstemal : I still Call life at hfe's sourcesT 

anything ? ' 



'1 



thM| 
grJi 



* What else have you m view- 

* Nothing clear as yet : but I may find something/ 

* So you imagine : perhaps you are right. Try your own 
method, then ; and if it does not succeed, test mine. The 
chanoe I have offered shall be left open to you for 
months/ 

This was kind. I told her so, and expressed my 
tude. While I was speaking, a paroxysm of pain came oiu I 
ministered to her ; made the necessary applications, accord* 
ing to her directions, and, by the time she was relieved, a 
sort of intimacy was already formed between us. I, for ray 
part, had learned from the manner in which she bore this 
attack, that she was a firm, patient woman (patient under 
physical pain, though sometimes perhaps excitable under 
long mental canker) ; and she, from the goodwill with which 
I succoured her, discovered that she could influence mi 
sympathies (such as they were). She sent for me the 



MISS MARCHMONT 



89 



&y ; for five or six successive days she claimed my com- 
pany. Closer acquaintance, while it developed both faults 
and eccentricities, opened, at the same time, a view of a 
character I could respect. Stern and even morose as she 
sometimes was. I could wait od her and sit beside her with 
that calm which always blesses us when we are sensible that 
oar manners, presence, contact, please and soothe the pBreons 
we serve. Even w^hen she scolded me — which she did, now 
and then, very tartly — it was in such a way as did not 
iate, and left no sting ; it was rather like an irascible 
ther rating her daughter, than a harsh mistress lecturing 
dependent : lecture, indeed, she could not, though she 
d occasionally storm. Moreover, a vein of reason ever 
rwi throujijh her passion : she was logical even when fierce. 
long a growing sense of attachment began to present the 
lught of stayinfT with her as companion in qaite a new 
ht ; in another week I had agreed to remain. 
Two hot. close rooms thus became myworld ; and a 
crippled old w^oman, my mistress, my fHenHTmy all Her 
service was my duty — her pain, my suffering^her relief, my 
hope^her anger, my punishment — her regard, my reward, 
1 forgot that there weie fields, woods, rivers, seas, an ever- 
changing sky outside the steam -dimmed lattice of this sick 
bhambcr ; I was almost content to forget it. All within me 
became narrowed to my lot. Tame and still by habit, 
disciplined by destiny, I demanded no walks in the fresh 
air ; my appetite needed no moiB than the tiny messes served 
the invalid. In addition sfie gave me the originality of 
r character to study : the steadiness of her virtues, I will 
t^ie power of her passions, to admire ; the truth of her 
lings to trust. All these things she had* and for these^ 

I clung to her. 
For these things I would have crawled on with her for 
twenty years, if for twenty years longer her life of endurance 
kid been protracted. But another decree was written. It 
Mmed I must be stimulatedm^ action. I must be goaded. 
dfiTen, stung, fdrced-tcrCfiergyT My little morsel of human. 




40 



VILLETTE 



a flficfcioii. which I prig ed as if it were & solid pearl, m^ 
melt in my fingers and slip thence like & dissolving * 
stone. My small adopted duty must be snatched from my 
easily contented conscience. I had wanted to compromise 
with Fate : to escape occas ional great ag onies by submitting 
to a wk/^in ijffi iT<^p'*YiHitQ^ndj malI p aipil FalrZnvould not 
so be pacified ; nor would Providence sanction this shrinking 
aloth and cowardly indolence. 

One February night — I remember it well— there canoe a 
voice near Miss Marchmont's house, heard by every inmate* 
but translated, perhaps, onlyjay-etie. After a calm winter, 
storms were ushering in the spring. I had put Miss March - 
moot to bed ; I sat at the fireside sewing. The wind was 
wailing at the windows ; it had wailed all day ; but, as night 
deepened, it took a new tone — an accent keen, piercing, 
almost articulate to the ear ; a plaint, piteous and disoou- 
Bolate to the nerves, trilled in every gust. 
^ ' Oh» huah 1 hush I * I said in my disturbed mind, drop- 
ping my work, and making a vain effort to stop my ears 
against that subtle, searching cry, 1 had heard that very 
voice ere this, and compulsory observation had forced on me 
a theory as to what it boded. Three times in the course of 
my hfe, events had taught me that these strange accente in 
the storm — this refltlesB, h opclesB cry — denote a coming 
state of the atmosphere unpropiiTouj^ to life. ^ideiBio 
diseases, I believed, were often heralded by a gasping, 
gobbing, tormented, long-lamenting east wind. Hence, I 
biferred, arose the legend of the Banshee. I fancied, too, 
I had noticed — but was not philosopher enough to know 
whether there was any connection between the circumstances 
— ^Ihat we often at the same time hear of disturbed volcanic 
action in distant parts of the world ; of rivers suddenly 
mshing above their banks ; and of strange high tides flowing 
foriously in on low sea-coasts. ' Our globe,* 1 had said to 
myself, * seems at such periods torn and disordered; the 
feeUe amongst us wither in her distempered breath, fueling 
hot from steaming volcanoes/ 




MISS MABCHMONT 



I listened and trembled ; Miss Marchmont slept. 

About midnight, the storm in one half-hour fell to a dead 
mlm. The fire, which had been burning dead, glowed up 
vividly. I felt the air change, and become keen. Baising 
blind and curtain, I looked out, and saw in the stars the keen 
Bparkl^of a sharp froet. 

Turning away, the object that met my eyes was Miss 
Marchmont awake, lifting her head from the pillow, and 
negarding me with unusual earnestness. 

' Is it a fine night ? ' she asked. 

I replied in the affirmative* 

I thought so,* she said ; ' for I feel so strong, so welL 

me. 1 feel young to-night/ she continued : * young, 

;ht-hearted, and happy. What if my complaint be about 

io take a turn, and I am yet destined to enjoy health ? It 

would be a miracle ! ' 

• And these are not the days of miracles,' I thought to 
myself, and wondered to heiir her talk so. She went on 

eeting her conversation to the past, and seeming to recall 

incidents, scenes, and personages, with singular vivid- 




*I love Memory to-night,* she said: * I prize her as my 

i^beai friend* She is just now giving me a deep delight : she 

bringing back to my heart, in warm and beautiful life, 

' realities — not mere empty ideas, but what were once realities, 

and that I long have thought decayedi dissolved, mixed in 

grave-mould. I possess just now the hours, the 

ights, the hopes of my youth. I renew th e love o f 

! my li fe— its only love — '^^Ttmti it'^ only afifection ; for I am 

not a particularly good woman : I am not amiable. Yet I 

liave had my feelings, strong and concentrated; and these 

igs had their object ; which, in its single self, was dear 

Elo me, aa to the majority of men and women, are all the 

amhered points on which they dissipate their regard, 

I hl\& I loved, and while I was loved, w hnfc an f^TiKt^npA I 

kajoy^d I What a glonous year i can recall— how bright 

|U comes back to me I What a living spring— what a warm, 



O 



Y^w 



Va / VILLETTE 

\y 

glad summer — what fioft moonlight, silvering the autumn 
evenings— what strength of hope under the ice-bound waters 
and frost -hoar fields of that year's winter t Through that 
year my heart lived with Prank's heart. O my noble Frank 
—my faithful Frank — my good Frank I so much better than 
myself — his standard in all things so much higher 1 TThis I 
can now see and say ; if few women have sufiTered as I did 
injlis4aas* few have enjoyed wliat 1 did in his love^ It was 
a far better kind of love than common ; I had no doubts 
about it or him : it was such a love as honoured, pr^t^nt^d^ 
and j&lax;ited, no less than it gladdened her to whom it was 
given, Liet me now ask, just at thi«^ moment, when 
my mind is so strangely clear, — let me reflect why it 
was taken from me? For what crime was I condemned, 
after twelve months of bliss, to undergo thirty years of 
sorrow ? 

' I do not know,' she continued after a pause : ' I cannot 
— cannot see the reason ; yet at this hour I can say with 
sincerity, what I never tried to say before, Inscrutable God, 
Thy will be done 1 And at this moment I can believe that 
death will restore me to Frank, I never believed it till now/ 

* He is dead, then ? ' I inquired in a low voice. 

* My dear girl,' she said, ' one happy Christmas Eve I 
dressed and decomted myself, expecting my lover, very soon 
to be my husband, would come that night to visit me. I 
sat down to wait. Once more I see that moment — I see 
the snow twihgbt stealing through the window over which 
the curtain was not dropped, for I designed to watch him 
ride up the white walk; I see and feel the soft firelight 
warming me, playing on my silk dress, and fitfully showing 
me my ovm young figure in a glass. I see the moon of a 
calm winter night, float fuU^ clear, and cold, over the inky 
mass of shrubbery, and the silvered turf of my grounds* I 
wait, with some impatience in my pulse, but no doubt in my 
breaat. The flames had died in the fire, but it was a bright 
mass yet ; the moon was mounting high, but she was still 
visible from the lattice ; the clock neared ten ; he rarely I 



MISS MARCHMONT 



43 



tarried later than this^ but onoe or twioe he had been delayed 
60 long. 

' Would he for once tail me ? No — not even for once ; and 
now he was coming — and coming fast — to atone for lost time. 
**FnMikl you furiooB rider/* I said inwardly, listening glaydly, 
je& ftniiotisly, to his approaching gallop, '' you shall be 
rebuked for this: I will tell you it is my neck you are putting 
in peril ; for whatever is yours is, in a dearer and tenderer 
aanse, mine." There he was : I saw him ; but I think tears 
were in my eyes^ my sight was so confused. I saw the 
horse ; I heard it stamp— I saw at least a mass ; I heard a 
clamour. Was it a horse? or what heavyi dragging thing 
was it, crossing, strangely dark, the lawn. How could I 
name that thing in the moonlight before me ? or bow could 
I Qtter the feehng which rose in my soul? 

* I could only run out, A great animal — truly* Frank's 
black horse — stood trembling, panting, snorting before the 
door ; a man held it ; Frank, as I thought. 

• •* What is the matter ? " I demanded. Thomas, my own 
aerranl* answered by saying sharply, "Go into the house, 
madam.'* And then calling to another servant, who came 
bunytng from the kitchen as if summoned by some instinct, 
*'Buth»iake Missis into the house directly:*' But I was kneehng 
down in the snow, beside something that lay there — some* 
thing that I had seen dragged along the ground — something 
ihat sighed, that groaned on my breast, as I lifted and 
drew it to me. He was not dead ; he was not quite uncon- 
fldous. 1 had him carried in ; I refused to be ordered about 
mud thrust from him. I was quite collected enough, not 
only to be my own mistress but the mistress of others. 
They had begun by trying to treat me like a child, as they 
iklwa)*s do with people struck by God's hand ; but I gave place 
to none except the surgeon ; and when he had done what be 
could, I took my dying Prank to myself. He had strength to 
fold me in his amis ; he had power to speak my name ; he heard 
me an I prayed over him very softly; he felt me as I 
tenderly and fondly comforted him. X^^^ 



Va. 



cVl 



V 



^f 



^ ( 



r^« 



44 



VILLETTE 



'''Maria«*' ha said, ^^ I am dying in Paradise." 
spent his last breath in faithful words for me. When the 
dawn of Christmas morning bix>ke, my Frank was with 
God. 

* And that/ she went on, ' happened thirty years a^o. I 
have suffered sincse. I doubt if I have made the best uae of 

I all my calamities. Soft, amiable natures they would have 
refined to giiintlinesa ; of strong, evil spirits they would have 
I made demons; as for me, I have only been a woe-struck 
I and selfish woman/ 

* You have done much good/ I said ; for she was noted 
for her liberal almsgiving. 

' I have not withheld money, you meanj where it could 
assuage affliction. What of that? It cost me no effort or 
pang to give. But I think from this day I am about to 
enter a better frame of mind, to prepare myself for reunion 
with Prank. You see I still think of Frank more than of 
God ; and unless it be counted that in thus loving the 
creature so much, so long» and so exclusively, I have not at 
least blasphemed the Creator, small is my chance of sal- 
vation. What do you think, Lucy, of these things? Be i 
chaplain, and tell me/ 

This question I could not answer : I had no words, 
seemed as if she thought I had answered it. 

* Very right, my child* We should acknowledge God 
merciful, but not always for us comprehensible. We should 
accept our own lot, whatever it be, and try to render happy 
that of others. Should we not? Well, to-morrow I will 
begin by trying to make you happy. I will endeavour to do 
fiomething for you, Lucy : something that will benefit you 
when I am dead. My head aches now with talking too 
much; still I am happy. Go to bed. The clock strikes 
two. How late you sit up ; or rather how late I, in my 
selfishness, keep you up. But go now; have no more 
anxiety for me ; I feel I shall rest well/ 

She composed herself as if to alumber. I, too, retired to 
my crib in a closet i^inthin her room. The night passed in 



MISS MARCHMONT 



45 



qnieiness ; quiedy her doom must at last have come : 
peaoefolly and painlessly: in the morning she was fomid 
wiihont life, nearly cold, but all calm and undisturbed. Her 
previous excitement of spirits and change of mood had been 
the prelude of a fit ; one stroke sufficed to sever the thread 
of an existence so long fretted by afSiction. 



CHAPTER V 

TURNIKO A NEW LEAF 

My mistress being dead, and I once more alone, I had to 
look out for a new place. About this time I might be a 
little — a very little — shaken in nerves. I grant I was not 
looking well, but, on the contrary, thin, haggard, and 
hollow -eyed ; like a sitter-up at night, hke an overwrought 
servant, or a plaoeless person in debt. In debt, however, I 
was not ; nor quite poor ; for though Miss Marchmont had 
not had time to benefit me, as, on that last night, she said 
she intended, yet, after the funeral, my wages were duly paid 
by her second cousin, the heir, an avaricious-looking man, 
with pinched nose and narrow temples, who, indeed, I heard 
long afterwards, turned out a thorough miser: a direct 
contrast to his generous kinswoman, and a foil to her 
memory, blessed to this day by the poor and needy. The 
possessor, then, of fifteen pounds ; of health, though worn, 
not hrokeni and of a spirit in similar condition ; I might 
still, in comparison with many people, be regarded as 
occupying an enviable position. An embarrassing one it 
was. however, at the same time ; as I felt with some acute- 
nesB on a certain day, of which the corresponding one in 
the next week was to see my departure from my present 
abode, while with another I was not provided. 

In this dilemma I went* as a last and sole reaonroe, to 
see and consult an old servant of our family ; once my 
nurse, now housekeeper at a grand mansion not far from 
Miss Marchmont's. I spent some hours with her; she 



■ 



TURNING A NEW LEAF 



47 



oomforted» but knew not how to advise me. Still all inward 
darkness, I left her about twilight ; a walk of two miles lay 
before me ; it was a clear, frosty night. In spite of my 
dobtude, my poverty, and my perplexity, my heart, nourished 
and nerved with the vigour of a youth that had not yet 
countod twenty-three summers, beat light and not feebly. 
Not feebly, I am sure, or I should have trembled in that 
lonely walk^ which lay through still fields, and passed 
neither village, nor farmhouse, nor cottage : I should have 
qnailed in the absence of moonlight, for it was by the leading 
of stars only I traced the dim path ; I should have quaded 
still more in the unwonted presence of that which to-night 
shone in the north, a moving mystery — the Aurora Borealis. 
Bat this solemn stranger influenced me otherwise than 
through my fears. Some new power it seemed to bring. I 
drew in energy with tlie keen, low breeze that blew on it(^ 
path. A bold thought was sent to my mind ; my mind was 
made strong to reoeive it. 

• Leave this wilderness/ it was said to me» ' and go out 
hence.* 

' Where ? * was the query. 

I had not very far to look ; gazing from this country 
parish in that flat, rich middle of England — I mentally saw 
urithin reach what I had never yet beheld with my bodily 
eyes : I saw London. 

The next day I returned to the hall, and asking once 
more to see the housekeeper, I communicated to her my 
plan. 

Mrs. Barrett was a grave, judicious woman, though she 
knew little more of the world than myself ; but grave and 
judicious as she was, she did not charge me with being out 
of my senses ; and, indeed, I had a staid manner of my own 
which ere now had been as good to me as cloak and hood of 
hodden grey, since under its favour I had been enabled to 
aohieve with impunity, and even approbation, deeds that, if 
Attempted with an excited and unsettled air, would in some 
minds have stamped mu as a dreamer and zealot. 



M^ 



y 



48; VILLETTE 

^ The housekeeper was slowly propounding some difficul- 
ties, while she prepared orange-rind for marmalade, when a 
child ran past the window and came bounding into the 
room. It was a pretty child, and as it danced, laaghiog, 
up to me — for we were not Btrangers (nor, indeed, was its 
mother— a young married daughter of the house — a stranger) 
— I took it on ray knee. 

Different as were our social positions now, tliis child's^ 
mother and I had been sohoolfello3£a» when I was a girl of 
ten and she a young ladj^^f sixteen : and I remembered her, 
good-looking, but dull.ln a lower class than mine. 

I was admiring the boy s handsome dark eyes, when the 
mother, young Mrs, Leigh, entered. What a beautiful and 
kind-looking woman was the good-natured and comely, hut 
un intellectual, girl become ! Wifehood and maternity had ' 
changed her thus, as I have since seen them change others 
even less promising than she. Me she had forgotten. I 
was changed too, though not, I fear, for the better, I made 
no attempt to recall myself to her memory; why should I?j 
Bho came for her son to accompany her in a walk, and 
behind her followed a nurse, carrying an infant. I only 
mention the incident because, in addressing the nurse, Mrs* 
Leigh spoke French (very bad French, by the way, and with 
an incorrigibly bad acoentf again forcibly reminding me of | 
oui^ school-days) : and I found the woman was a foreigner 
The little boy chattered volubly m French too. When the 
whole party were withdrawn, Mrs. Barrett remarked that 
her young lady had brought that foreign nurse home with 
her two years ago, on her return from a Continental excur- 
sion ; that she was treated almost as weUasa povemess* J 
and had nothing to do but walk out witn the bftby an^rl 
chatter French with Master Charles ; * and,' added Mrs. I 
Barrett. * she says there are many ^uglLsh womeninfo rgiffi 
well placed as she/ 

I fitoreTlipTtiW'piece oi casual information, as careful 
housewives store seemingly woilhless shredti and fragments 
for which their prescient minds anticipate a possible uso 



TUENINO A NEW LEAP 



49 



same day. Before I left my old frieDd, ghe gave me the 
address of a respectable old-fashioned inn in the City, 
which, she said, my uncles used to frequent in former 
days. 

In going to London, I ran lees risk and evinced less 
enterprise than the reader may think. In fact, the distance 
was only fifty miles. My means would suffice both to take 
me there, to keep me a few days, and also to bring me back 
if I found no inducement to stay, I regarded it as a brief 
holiday, permitted for once to work-weary faculties, rather 
than as an adventure of life and death. There is nothing 
like taking all you do at a moderate estimate : it keeps mind 
and body tranquil ; whereas graodiloquent notions are apt to 
hurry both into fever. 

Fifty miles were then a day's journey (for I speak of a 
time gone by : my hair, which, till a late period, withstood 
the frosts of time, lies now^ at last white, under a white 
cap, like snow beneath snow). About nine o'clock of a wet 
February night I reached London. 

My reader, I know, is one who would not thank me for 
an elaborate reproduction of poetic first impressions ; and It 
ia well^ inasmuch as I had neither time nor mood to cherish 
such; arriving as I did late, on a dark, raw, and rainy 
evening, in a Babylon and a wilderness, of which the 
v»slziess and the strangeness triod to the utmost any powers 
of dear thought and steady self-possession with which, in 
iba absence of more brilliant facultiea^ Nature might have 
gdi&d me. 

When I left the coach, the strange speech of the cabmen 
and others waiting round, t^eemed to me odd as a foreign 
tongue. I had never before heard the English language 
chopped up in that way. However, I managed to miderstand 
and to be understood, so far as to get myself and trunk 
aalely conveyed to the old inn whereof I had the address. 
How difficult, how oppressive, how puzzling seemed my 
fliglit i In liondon for the first time ; at an inn for the first 
time; tired with travelling; confused with darkness; palsied 



50 



VILLEfTE 



with cold ; unfurnished with either experience or advice to 
tell me how to ftot, and yet— to act obliged. 

Into the hands of common sense I confided the mfttter* 
Common sense, however, was as chilled and bewildered as 
all my other faculties^ and it was only tinder the spur of an 
inexorable necessity that she spasmodically executed her 
trust. Thus urged, she paid the porter : considering the 
crisis^ I did not blame her too much that she was hugely 
cheated ; she asked the waiter for a room ; she timorously 
called for the chambermaid ; what is far more, she bore» 
without being wholly overcome, a highly supercilious style 
of demeanour from that young lady, when she appeared* 

I recollect this same chambermaid was a pattern of town 
prettiness and smartness. So trim her waist, her cap, her 
dress — ^I wondered how they had all been manufactured. 
Her speech had an accent which in its mincing glibnesa 
seemed to rebuke mine as by authority ; her spruce attire 
flaunted an easy scorn to my plain country garb. 

*Woll, it can't be helped,* I thought, 'and then the scene 
is new, and the circumstances ; I shall gain good/ 

Maintaining a very quiet manner towards this arrogant 
little maid, and subsequently observing the same towards 
the parsonic-looking, black-coated, white-neckclothed waiter, 
I got civility from them ere long. I believe at first they 
thought I was a servant ; but in a little while they changed 
their minds, and hovered in a doubtful state between 
patronage and politeness. 

I kept up well till I had partaken of some refreshment, 
warmed myself by a fire, and was fairly shut into my own 
room ; but, as I sat down by the bed and rested my head 
and arms on the pillow, a terrible oppression ovt rcame me. 
All at once my position rose on me like a ghost. Anomalous, 
desolatei almost blank of hope it stood. What was I doing 
here alone in great London? What should I do on the 
morrow? What prospects had I in life? What friends 
hod I on earth? Whence did I come? Whither should I 
go? What should I do? 



I 









p 



I 

til 



I 



^ 



\ 






I I ^ > 

,' t f I 

'1 



I- \ 



\ 




^nu 




TURNING A NEW LEAF 



51 



I wet the pUlow, my arms, and my hair, with rashing 
tears. A dark interval of moat bitter thought followed this 
barst; but I did not regret the step taken^ nor wish to 
relraol it. A strong, vague persuasion that it was better to 
go forward than backward, and that I could go forward — 
that a way, however narrow and difficult, would in time 
open^ — predominated over other feelings : its influence hushed 
them so far, that at last I became sufficiently tranquil to be 
able to say my prayers and seek my couch. I had just 
extinguished my candle and lain down, when a deep, low, 
mighty tone swung through the night. At first I knew it 
nol; but it was uttered twelve times, and at the twelfth 
ODlossal hum and trembling knell, I said : ' I lie in the shadow 
of St. Pauls/ 



CHAPTER VI 

LONDON 

The next day was the Ersi of Marchi and when I awoke^ 
rose, and opened my curtain, 1 saw the risen sun straggling 
through fog. Above my head, above the houae-lops, 
oo-elevate almost with the clouds, I saw a solemn, orbed 
mBUB, dark blue and dim — the dome. While I looked, my 
mner self moved ; my spirit ahooF its always-fettered wings 
half loose ; I had a sudden feeling as ii I, who never yet 
truly lived, wexe at last about to taste life. In that morning 
my soul grew as fast as Jonah *8 gourd. 

* I did well to come,* I said, proceeding to dress witlj 
^peed and care. ' I like the spirit of this great London which 

\1 feel around roe. Who but a coward would pass his whole 
life in hamlets, a.ud for ever abandon his faculties to the 

Being dressed, I went down ; not travel-worn and 
exhausted, hut tidy and refreshed. When the waiter came 
in with my breakfast, I managed to accost him sedately, yel | 
cheerfuOy ; we had ten minutes' di^coursCt in the oourse of 
which we became usefully known to each other. 

He was a grey-haired, elderly man ; and, it seemed, had 
lived in his present place twenty years. Having ascertained 
this, I was sure he must remember my two uncles, Charlee 
and Wilmot, who, fifteen years ago, were frequent visitors 
here. I mentioned their names ; he recalled them perfectly, 
and with respect Having intimated my connection, my 
position in his eyes was henceforth clear, and on a right 





8fr. PAULS CATHEDRAL FRUM Ll'DOATE HILL IN 184§ 



LONDON 



53 



footing. He said I was like my unQle Charles : I suppose 
he spoke truth, because Mrs, Barrett was accustomed to 
aay the same thing. A ready aud obliging courtesy now 
replaced his former uncomfortably doubtful manner ; hence- 
forth I need no longer be at a loss for a civil answer to a 
sensible question. 

The street on which my little sitting-room window 
looked was narrow, perfectly quiet, and not dirty : the few 
passengers were just such as one sees in provincial towns : 
here was nothing formidable; I felt sure I might venture 
out alone. 

Having breakfasted, out I went. Elation and pleasure 
were in my heart : to walk alone in London seemed of ilself 
an adventure. Presently I found myself in Paternoster 
Row—classic ground this. I entered a bookseller's shop, 
kept by one Jones : I bought a little book — a piece of 
extravagance I could ill afford ; but I thought I would one 
day give or send it to Mrs. Barrett. Mr. Jones* a dried-in 
man of business^ stood beliind his desk : he seemed one of 
the greatest, and I one of the happiest of beings. 

Prodigious was the amount of life I lived that morning. 
Mnding myself before St. Paul's. I went in ; I mounted to 
the dome : I saw thence Lon Ion, with its river, and its 
bridges, and its churches ; I saw antique Westminster, and 
the green Temple Gardens, with sun upon them, and a 
^ad, blue sky, of early spring above ; and between them 
and it, not too dense, a cloud of haze. 

Desoending, I went wandering whither chance might 
lead, in a still ecstasy of freedom and enjoyment; and I 
got— I know not how— I goJi,4Bta-^bfeeheart of_citjHifa 
I g ftw and felt London at last : I got intotIi515^nd ; I went 
up ComhUl ; I mixed with the life passing along ; I dared 
the perils of crossings. To do this, and to do it utterly 
alone, gave me, perhaps an irrational, but a real pleasure. 
^nce those days, I have seen the West End, the parks, the 
fine squares ; butJJiii:g^^thecity far better. The city seems 
BO mtich more in eameamtsHbmgrness, its rush, its roar, 



54 



VILLETTE 



[ 



are such serioua thinp^s, sights, aud ftounds. The city il^ 
getting its living — the West End but enjoying its pleasure. 
At the West End you may be amused, but in the city you 
are deeply excited. 

Faint, at last, and hungry (it was years since I had felt 
such healthy hunger), I returned, about two o'clock* to my 
dark, old, and quiet inn. I dined on two dishes — a plain 
joint and vegetables ; both seemed excellent : how much 
better than the small, dainty messee Miss Marchmant's 
cook used to send up to my kin^,,^.dfiad mistress and me, 
and to the discussion of which we could not bring half an 
appetite between us ! Deliglitfully tired, I kiy down, on 
three chairs for an hour (the room did not boast a sofa). 
1 slepr., then I woke and thought for two hours. 

My state of mind, and all accompanyiog circumstanced, 
were just now such as most to favour the acloplion of a new, 
resolute, and daring — perhaps desperate — line of action. I 
had nothing to lose. Unutterable loathing of a desolate, 
existence past, forbade return. If 1 failed in what I now 
desi^Tied to undertake, who, save myself, would suffer? If 
I died far away from— home, I was going to say, but I had 
no home — from England, then, who would weep? 

I might suffer; I was nured to suifering: death itself 
had not, I thought, those terrors for me which it has for the 
softly rtiared. I had, ere this, I coked on the thought of death 
with a quiet eye. Prepared, then, for any consequences, I 
formed a project. 

That same evening I obtained from my friend, the waiter, 
information respecting the saihng of vessels for a certain 
oontinental port, Bone- Marin e. No time, I found, was to be 
lost : that verymgHrTmust take my berth. I might, indeed, 
have waited till the morning before going on board, but 
would not run the risk of being too late. 

' Better take your berth at once, ma*am,' counselled the 
waiter. 1 agreed with bim, and having discharged my bill, 
and acknowledged my friend's services at a rate which I now 
know was princely, and which in his eyes must have seemed 



y, hi^T~ 



I 



LONDON 



66 



ifasurd — and indsed, while pocketing the cash, he smiled a 
Umi smile which mtim&ted his opitiion of the donor's savair- 
/aire~he proceeded to call a coach. To the driver he also 
recommended me, giving at the same time an iojunction 
about taking me, I think, to the wharf, and not leaving me 
to the watermen; which that functionary promised to 
observe, but failed in keeping his promise : on the contrary, 
he offered me up as aa obktion, served me as a dripping 
roast, making me aUght in the midst of a throng of water- 
men. 

This was an uncomfortable crisis. It was a dark night. 
The coachman Li:iHtantly drove oE aa soon as he had got hts 
fare : the watermen commenced a struggle for me and my 
trunk. Their oaths 1 bear at Uiis moment : they shook my 
philosophy more than did the night, or the isolation, or the 
strangeness of the scepe. One laid bauds on my trunk I 
looked on and waited quietly ; but when another laid hands 
on me, I spoke up, shook off bis touch, stepped at once into 
a boat, desired austerely that the trunk should he placed 
btsside me — * Just there,'— which was instantly done ; for the 
owner of the boat I had chosen became now an ally : I was 
rowed off. 

Black was the river as a torrent of ink ; lights glanced 
OD it from the piles of building round, ships rocked on its 
bosom. They rowed me up to several vessej^; I read by 
laotem-Ught their names painted in great white letters on a 
dark ground. 'The Ocean,' * The Phuenix,' * The Consort,' 
• The Dolphin,* were passed in turns ; but * The Vivid * was 
my ship, and it seemed she la^ further down. 

Down the sable flood we gUded; I thought of the Styx, 
and of Charon rowing some solitary soul to the Laud of 
Shades. Amidst the strange scene, with a chilly wind 
blowing in my face and midnight-clouds droppin:^ rain above 
my head; with two rude rowers for companions, whose 
insane oaths still tortured my ear, I asked myself if I was 
wretched or terrified. I was neither. Often in my life have 
I beeji far more so under comparatively safe circumstauces. 



56 



VILLETTE 



4 

1 



* How is this ? ' said I. * Methinks I &m animated nni aler 
instead of being depressed and apprehensive ? ' I coold no 
tell how it was. 

*The Vivid* started ont» white and glaring, from the 
black night at last. * Here you are 1 ' said the waterman, 
and instantly demanded six shillings. 

' You ask too much/ I said. He drew off from the vess 
and swoi-e he would not embark me till I paid it. A your 
man, the steward as I found afterwards, was looking ov6 
the ship*s side ; he grinned a smile iu anticipation of 
. I ooming contest ; to disappoint him, I paid the moneyJ 
^jV* Three times that afternoon I had given cro\\m8 where 

should haw given shilhngs ; but I consoled myself with thd 
reflection, * I1i is the price of experience/ 

* They've cheated you ( ' said the steward exultingly wheij 
1 got on board. I answered phlegmatically that ' 1 knew it 
and went below. 

A stouti handsome, and showy woman was in the ladies^ 
cabin. I asked to be shown my berth ; she looked hard at 
me, muttered something about its being unusual for passen- 
gers to come on board at that hour, and seemed disposed to 
be less than civil. What a face she had- so comely — so 
insolent and so selfish I "^"^ 

' Now that I am on board, I shall certainly stay here,' wa 
my answer. * I will trouble you to show me my berth.* 

She complied^ but sullenly. I took off my bonne 
arranged my things, and lay down. Some difliculties had 
been passed through ; a sort of victory was won : my home- 
less, anchorless, unsupported mind had again leisure for 
brief repose. Till the * Vivid ' arrived in harbour, no furthc 
action would be required of me ; but then. ... Oh I 1 ooul3 
not look forward. Harassed, exhausted, I lay in a hall- 
trance. |H 

The stewardess talked all night ; not to me, but to th^' 
young steward, her son and her very picture. He passed in 
and out of the cabin continually : they disputtd, they quar- 
re lied f they made it up again twenty times iu the course i 



li 

lad 

ae- 




LONDON 



87 



She profesfled to be wnting a letter home — she 
Eather ; she read passages of it idoud, heeding me 
oo iiK»ce ihan a stock — perhaps she believed me aeleep. 
Seveml of these paeaages appeared to comprise family 
«Mceta, And bore special reference to one 'Charlotte,* a 
joonger sister who, from the bearing of the epistle, seemed 
to be OQ the brink of perpetrating a romantic and imprudent 
aiaAeh ; loud was the protest of this elder lady against the 
distasteful union. The duiiful son laughed his mother's 
eorrespondence to scorn. She defended it, and raved at him^ 
They were a strange pwr. She oaight be thirty-nine or forty, 
mod WBA buxom and blooming as a girl of twenty. Hard* 
load, vain and Tulgar, her mind and body alike seemed 
brazen aod imperishable. I should think, &om her child- 
hood, she must have lived in public stations ; aod in her 
jOQib might very hkely have been a barmaid. 

Towiurds morning her discourse ran on a new tbeme: 
' the Walfions^* a certain expected family-party of passeogsrs* 
kaowti to her, it appealed, and by her much esteemed on 
iooount ot the handsome profit realized in their fees. She 
aaid« * It m^ as gqod as a little fortune to her whenever this 
family crossed/ 

At dawn all were astir, and by sunrise the passengers 
came on board. Boisterous was the welcome given by the 
slewaidess to the ' Watsons^' and great was the bustle made 
in Ibeir honour. They were four in number, two males and 
two females. Besides them, there was but one other passen- 
ger — a young lady, whom a gentlemanly, though languid- 
bokiiig man escorted. The two groups offered a marked 
oonlrasL The Watsons were doubtless rich people, for they 
had the confidence of conscious wealth in their bearing ; the 
women — ^youthful both of them, and one perfectly handsome« 
as ^ as physical I^eauty went — were dressed richly, g^y, 
and absurdly out of character for the circumstances. Their 
with bright flowers, their velvet cloaks and silk 
f seemed better suited for park or promenade than for 
a damp packet deck. The men were of low stature, plain, 



SB 



VILLETTE 



fat, and vulgar; the oldest, plainest, greasiest, broadest, 
soon found was the husband — the bridegroom I suppose, for 
she was very young— of the beautiful girl. Deep was my 
amazement at this discovery; and deeper still when I per- 
ceived that, instead of being desperately wretched in such a 
union, she was gay even to giddiness. ' Her laughter,* I 
reflected, ' must be the mere frenzy of despair/ And even 
while this thought was crossing my mind, as I stood leaning 
quiet and solitary against the ship's side, she came tripping 
up to me, an utter stran«2;er, with a camp-stool in her hand, 
and smiling a smile of which the levity puzzled and startled 
me, though it showed a perfect set of perfect teeth, she 
offered me the accommodation of this piece of furniture. I 
declined it, of course, with all the courtesy I could put into 
my manner ; she danced off heedless and lightsome. She 
must have been good-natured ; hut what had msA^e her marry 
that individual, who was at least as much like an ^-barrel 
as a man ? 

The other lady- passenger, with the gentleman-eompamon, 
was quite a girl, pretty and fair : her simple print dress, 
untrimmed straw bonnet and large shawl, gracefully worn, 
formed a costume plain to quakerism : yet, for her, becoming 
enough. Before the gentleman quitted her, I observed him 
throwing a glance of scrutiny over all the passengers, as if to 
ascertain in what company his charge would be left. With 
a most dissatisfied air did his eye turn from the ladies with 
the gay flowers ; he looked at me, and then he spoke to his 
daughter, niece, or whatever she was : she also glanced in 
my direction ^ and slightly curled her short, pretty lip. Il 
might be myself, or it might be my homely mourning habit, 
that elicited this mark of contempt ; more Ukely, both, A 
beU rang; her father (I afterwards knew that it was her 
father] kissed her, and returned to land. The packet sailed. 

Foreigners say that it is only English girls who can thus 
be trusted to travel alone, and deep is their wonder at the 
daring confidence of English parents and guardians. As for 
the ' J0UJ16B Mcess,' by some their intrepidity is pronounced 



r/)NDON 



i: 



Qe ftnd * incsonvenant/ others regard them as the pas- 
\ victims of an educational and theological system which 
waDlonly dispenses with proper 'surveillance/ Whether 
this particular young lady was of the sort that can the most 
safely be left un watched, 1 do not know : or rather did not 
then imow ; but it soon appeared that the dignity of solitude 
was not to her taste. She paced the deck once or twico 
backwards and forwards ; she looked with a little sour air of 
disdain at the flaunting silks and velvets, and the bears 
which thereon d .need attendance, and eventually she 
approached me and spoke* 

* Are you fond of a 8ea*voyage ? * was her question, 
I explained that my fondness for a sea- voyage had yet to 

^ imdergo the test of experience ; 1 had never made one. 

* Ch| how charming I ' cried she. * I quite envy you the 
novelty : first impressions, you know, are so pleasant. Now 
I have made so many, I quite forget the first : I am quite 
bioBie about the sea and all that/ 

I could not help smiling. 

* Why do you laugh at me ? ' she inquired, with a frank 

Ittttiness that pleased me better than her other talk, 
*fieoause you are so youug to be hlasis about anything/ 
* I am seventeen ' (a little piqued). 
* You hardly look sixteen. Do you like travelling alone? ' 
'Bahl I oare nothing about it. I have crossed the 
Channel ten times, atone ; hut then I take care never to be 
lang alone : I always make friends/ 
'You will scarcely make many friends this voyage, I 
I iJiiuk ' (glancing at the Watson group, who were now Uugh- 
^B log and making a great deal of noise on deck). 
^M ' Not of those odious men and women,' said she : ' such 
B People should be steerage passengers. Are you going to 
^ Bcbool?' 
'No/ 

* Where are you going? ' 

* I have not the least idea — beyond, at least, the port of 
Boue-Marine/ 



60 



VILLETTE 



She stared, then carelesftly 
) schooL Ohi 



ran on : 



I am 



going to i 



the number of foreign schoolii 



I haTd been at in my life I And yet I am quite an ignora- 
mus. I know nothing — nothing in the world — I assure you ; 
except that I play and dajice beautifully, — and French and 
German of course I know, to speak ; but I can't read or write 
them very well. Do you know they wanted me to translate 
a page of an easy German book into English the other day, 
and I couldn't do it Papa was so mortified : he says it 
looks as if M. de Bassompierre — my godpapa, who pays all 
my school-biUs^had thrown away all his money. And 
then, in matters of information — in history, geography, 
anthmetic, and so on, I am quite a baby ; and I write 
English so badly — such spelling and grammar, they tell me. 
Into the bargain 1 have quite forgotten my religioii ; they 
call me a Protestant, you know, but really I am n :t sure 
whether I am one or not : I don't well know the dUl'erence 
between Romanism and Protestantism. However. 1 don't 
in the least care for that. I was a Lutheran once at Bonn 
— niear Bonn ! — charming Bonn 1 — where there were so many 
handsome students. Every nice girl in our school had an 
admirer ; they knew our hours for walking out, and almost 
aiwayB passed us on the promenade: 'Schones Madchen/ 
we used to hear them say. I was excessively happy at 
BonnT 

* And where are you now ? * I inquired. 

' Oh I at — chose,' said she. 

NoWf Miss Ginevra Fanshawe (such was this young 
person's namepordy^ substituted this word * chase ' in tern- 
porai^ obhvion of the real name. It was a habit she had : 

* chose ' came in at every turn in her conversation — ^the con- 
venient substitute for any missing word in any language she 
might chance at tl jo time to be speaking. French girls often 
do the Uke; from them she had csnght the c ustom^ 

* Choae^* however, I found in this instance stood for ^lUette 
^^die great capital of the great kingdom of Labassecour. 



4 



*Do you like Villette 7 ' I asked. 



^I'^SH^^i 




LONDON 



( 



61 



; 



I 



'Pretty well. The natives, you know, are intensely 
stupid and vulgar ; but ther^ are some nioe English families.' 

* Are you in a school ? ' 
'Yea.* 

* A good one ? * 

* Oh, no ! horrid : but I go out every Sunday, and care 
nothing about the maitresses or the professeurs, or the iHii'^St 
and 8end lessons au diable (one daren't say that in English, 
you know, but it sounds quite right in French) ; and thus I 
get on charmingly. , , . , You are laughing at me again ? ' 

* No — I am only smiling at my own thoughts.' 

* yfh&t are they ? ' (Without waiting for an answer) — 
Now, do tell rae where you are going/ 

*Y/here Fate may lead me. My business is to earn a 
living where I can find it.* 

' To earn ! ' (in consternation) ; * are you poor, then ? * 

' As poor as Job/ 

(After a pause)—' Bah I how unpleasant ! But J know 
what it is to be poor : they are poor enough at home — papa 
ft&d mamma, and all of them. Papa is (sailed Captain Fan- 
Bhawe ; he is an officer on half-pay, but well-descended^ and 
of our connections are great enough ; but my uncle 
godpapa De Bassoinpierre, who lives in France, is the 
only one that helps us : he educates us girts. I have five 
sisters and three brothers, By*and-by we are to many — 
rather elderly gentlemen, I suppose, with cash : papa and 
mamma manage that. My sister Augusta is married now 
to a man much older- looking than papa, Augusta is very 
beautiful — not in my style — but dark ; her husband, Mn 
Dftvies, had the yellow fever in India, and he is still the 
ooloar of a guinea ; but then he la rich, and Augusta has her 
earriage and establishment, and we all think she has done 
perfectly well. Now, tliis is better than ** earning a living,*' 
I you Bay. By the way, are you clever ? * 

* No — not at all/ 

' Yon can play, sing, speak three or four languages ? * 
' By no meana.* 



T 

U' 






62 VILLETTE 

* Still I think you are clever ' (a pause and a yawn). 

* Shall you be sea-sick ? ' 
' Shall yoQ?' 

* Oh, immensely ! as soon as ever we get in sight of the 
sea : I begin, indeed, to feel it already. I shall go below ; and 
won't I order about that fat odious stewardess I Heureuse- 
ment je sais faire aller men monde/ 

Down she went. 

It was not long before the other passengers followed 
her : throughout the afternoon I remained on deck alone. 
When I recall the tranquil, and even happy mood in which 
I passed those hours, and remember, at the same time, the 
position in which I was placed; its hazardous ^some would 
have said its hopeless — character ; I feel that, as- 
Stone walls do not a pri^n make. 
Nor iron bart— » ca^e, 

so peril, loneliness, an uncertain future, are not oppressive 
evils, so long as the frame is healthy and the faculties are 
employed ; so long, especially, as Liberty lends us her wingB, 
and Hope guides ur by her stai\ 

i was not sick till long after we passed Margate, and deep 
was the pleasure I drank in with the sea-breeze ; divine the 
delight I drew from the heaving Channel waves, from the 
sea-birds on their ridges, from the white sails on their dark 
distance, from the quiet yet beclouded sky, overhanging all* 
In my reverie, methought I saw the continent of Europe, 
like a wida^jireao^nd, far away. Sunshine lay on it« 
making the long coast one line of gold ; tiniest tracery of _ 
clustered town and anow-gleaming tower, of woods deep^H 
massed, of heights serrated, of smooth pasturage and veiny ^ 
stream, embossed the metal-bright prospect. For back* 
ground, spread a sky, solemn and dark blue, and — grand 
with imperial promise, soft with tints of enchantment — 
strode from north to south a God-bent boW| an arch of 
hope. 

Cancel the whole of that, if you pljase, reader — or rather 




LONDON 



63 



lei it stand, and draw theoce a moral — an alliterative, text- 
hand copy — 

Day -dreams are delusions of the demon. 

ing excessively sick, I faltered down into the cabin. 
Miss F&nshawe's berth chanced to be next mine ; and, I 
i sorry to say, she tormented me with an unsparing_jelfish- 
I during the whole time of our mutual distress. Nothing 
ooold exceed her impatience and fretfulness. The Watsons, 
who were very sick too, and on wSom the stewardess 
attended with shameless partiality, vjre stoics compared 
with her. Many a time since have I noticed, in persons of 
Gmevra Fanahawe's light, careless temperament, and fair, 
fragile style of beauty, an entire incapacity to endure : they 
seem to sour in adversity, like small beer in thunder. The^ 
i man who takes such a woman for his wife^ ought to be 
' pnpared to guarantee her an existence all sunshine. Indig- / 
ii^iiant at last with her teasing peevishness, I curtly requested j 
^Uer'to hold her tongue.' The rebuff did her good, audit,/ 
^^ wag observable that she liked me no worse lor it. 

As dark night drew on, the sea roughened : larger waves 
swayed strong against the vessel's side. It was strange to 
reflect that blackness and water were round us, and to feel 
the ship ploughing straight on her pathless way, despite 
Doise, billow, and rising gale. Articles of furniture began to 
E&U about, and it became needful to lash them to their places ; 
ibe passengers grew sicker than ever; Miss Fanshawe 
declared* with groans, that she must die. 

* Not just yet, honey,' said the stewardess. 'We're just 
in port/ Accordingly, m another quarter of an hour, a 
calm fell upon us all : and about midnight the voyage ended » 
I was sorry : yes, I was sorr5% My resting-time was 
past; my difficulties — my stringent dilficulties—recom- 
menced. When I went on deck, the cold air and black 
fioowl of the night seemed to rebuke me for my presumption 
in being where I was : the hghte of the foreign sea-port 
town, glimmering round the foreign harbour, met me Eke 



N 



64 



VILLETTE 



miDumbered threatening eyes. Friends came on boai 
welcome the Watsons ; a whole family of friends surround 

aod bore away Miss Faiidhawe : I but I dared not for 

one moment dwell on a comparison of positions. 

Yet where should I go? I must go somewhere. 
Necessity dare not be nice. As I gave the stewardess her 
fee- — and she seemed surprised at receiving a coin of more 
value than, from suoh a quarter, her coarse calculations had 
probably reckoned on — I said, * Be kind enough to direct me 
to some quiet, respectable inn, where I can go for the night.* 

She not only gave me the required direction, but called a 
commissionatre, and b tde him take charge of me, and — nai 
my trunk, for that was gone to the custom-house. 

I followed this man along a rude!y-paved street, lit now 
by a fitful gleam of moonlight ; he brought me to the inn, 
I offered him sixpence, which he refused to take ; supposioj 
it not enough, I changed it for a shilling ; but this also hi 
declined, speaking rather gharply, in a language to me 
unknown. A waiter, coming forward into the lamp-lit inn- 
passage, reminded me, in broken English, that my money 
was foreign money, not current here. I gave him a sovereign 
to change. This little matter settled, I asked for a bedroom ; 
supper I could not take : I was still sea-sick and unnerved, 
and trembling all over. How deeply glad I was whea the 
door of a very small chamber at length closed on me and 
my exhaustion. Again I might rest : though the cloud of 
doubt would be as thick to-morrow as ever ; the necessity 
for exertion more urgent, the peril (of destitution) 
the conflict (for existence) more severe. 



1^^ 



CHAPTEB VII 



VILLETTE 



I AWOKE next morning with courage revived and spirits 
sfreahed : physical debility qo longer enervated my jndg- 
ttieQt ; my mind felt prompt and clear. 

Just as I fiinshed dressing, a tap came to the door : I 
^d, *Come in/ expecting the chambermaid, whereas a 
'oogh man walked in and said^— 
' Gif me your keys, Meess/ 
*Why?*lksked. 

*GifI* said he impatiently; and as he half-snatched 
thetD from my hand, he added, ' All right ! haf your tronc 
soon; 

Fortunately it did turn out all right : he was from the 
im*house. Where to go to get some breakfast I could 
^t tell; but I proceeded, not without hesitation, to descend. 
I now observed, what I had not noticed in my extreme 
^^Btirinesa last night, viz. that this inn was, in fact, a large 
<^otel ; and as I slowly descended the broad staircase, halt- 
^^g on each step (for I was in wonderfully little haste to get 
wq), I gazed at the high ceiling above me, at the painted 
Ig around, at the wide windows which filled the house 
^th light, at the veined marble I trod (for the steps were 
^I of marble, though uncarpeted and not very clean), and 
^trasttng all this with ^fi diqi e nsions of the closet 
^gned to me as a chaml>er, with the extreme inudtssiy^ 
appointments. I fell into a philosophizing mood. 
Much I marvelled at the sagacity evinced by waiters and 
^ml)emmids in proportioning the accommodation to the 

F 



kBloi 






66 



VILLETTE 



gnest. How could inc- servants and ship- stewardesses 
everywhere tell at a glance that I, for instance, was an 
individual of no social significance, and little burdened by 
cash ? They did know it evidently ; I saw quite well that 
they all, in a moment's calculation, estimated me at about 
the same fractional value. The fact seemed to me curious 
and pregnant : I would not disguise from myself what it 
indicated, yet managed to keep up my spirits pretty well 
under its pressure* 

Having at last landed in a great hall, full of skylight 
glare, I made my way somehow to w^bat proved to be the 
coffee-room. It cannot be denied that on entering this 
room I trembled somewhat ; felt uncertain, solitary, wretched ; 
wished to Heaven I knew whether I was doing right or 
wrong felt convinced that it was the last, but could not 
help myself. Acting in the spirit and with the calm of a 
fatalist, I sat down at a small table, to which a waiter 
presently brought me some breakfast ; and I partook of that 
meal in a frame of mind not greatly calculated to favour digesr 
tion. There were many other people breakfasting at atber 
tables in the room ; I should have felt rather more happy if 
amongst them all I could have seen any women ; however, 
there was not one — all present were men. But nobody 
seemed to think I was doing anything strange ; one or two 
gentlemen glanced at me occasionally, but none stared 
obtrusively : I suppose if there was anything eccentric in 
the business, they accounted for it by this word * Anglaise I * 

Breakfast over, I must again move— in what direction ? 
' Go to Villette,' said an inward voice ; prompted doubtle^^ 
by the recollection of this slight sentence uttered carelessly 
and at random by Miss Fanshawe, as she bid me good-by : * 1 
wish you would come to Mada me Beck's ; she has some 
marmots whom yon might look after T^ahe wants jUL ^nnlish 
gouvemante, or was wanting one two months ago/ 

Who M adame B eck was, where she lived, I knew not : 1 
had askedrEut the queaSon passed unheard : Miss Fanshawe, 
hurried away by her friends, left it unanswered. I pre- 



VILLETTE 



f>flf'^ 



67 



imed Villette to be her residence— to ViUette I would go. 
The distance was forty miles. I knew I was catching at 
straws ; but in the wide and weltenug deep where I found 
myself, I would have caught at cobwebs. Having inquired 
about the means of travelling to ViDette, and secured a seat 
in the diligence, I departed on the strength of this outline — 
this shadow of a project. Before you pronounce on the 
rashness of the proceeding, reader, look back to the point 
whence I started ; consider the desert I had left, note how 
little I perilled : mine was the game where the player cannot 
loae and may win. 

Of an artistic temperament, I deny that I am ; yet I 
must possess something of the artist's faculty of making the 
most of pre sent pleasu re : that is to say, when it is of the 
kind to my taste, I enjoyed that day, thou^'h we travelled 
slowly, though it w as co ld, though it rained. Somewhat 
bare, flat, and treeless was the route along which our jour- 
ney lay ; and slimy canals crept. Eke half-torpid green snakes, 
beside the road ; and formal pollard willows edged level 
fields^ tilled like kitchen -garden bods. The sky, too, was 
monotonously grey ; the atmosphere was stagnant and 
humid ; yet amidst all these deadening iuAuences, my fancy 
budded fresh and my heart basked in sunshine. These 
feelings, however, were well kept in check by the secret but 
oea gelessc onsciousness of anxiety lying in wait on enjoyment, 
like a tiger^ouuhwd lu a jwtgle. The breathing of that 
beast of prey was in my ear always ; his fierce heart panted 
close against mine ; he never stirred in his lair but I felt him : 
I knew he waited only for sun-dovsm to bound ravenous from 
his i^nbush. 

I had hoped we might reach Villette ere night set in, and 
thus I might escape the deeper embarrassment which 
obscurity seems to throw round a first arrival at an unknown 
bourne ; but, what with our slow progress and long stoppages 
— what with a thick fog and small, dense rain — darkness, 
that might almost be felt, had settled on the city by the 
tinae we gained its suburbs. 



A 



Jthat 
^^obsc 



V." 



VILLETTE 



I know we passed through a g&te where aoldiera were 
stationed—so much I eoiild see by lamplight ; then, having 
left behmd us the miry Chauss^, we rattled over a pavement 
of strangely rough and flinty surface. At a bureau, the 
diligence stopped, and the passengers alighted. My first 
business was to get my trunk ; a small matter enough, but 
important to me. Understanding that it was best not to be 
importunate or over-eager about luggage, but to wait and 
watch quietly the delivery of other boxes till I saw my own, 
and tlien promptly claim and sacui-e it, I stood apart ; uxy 
eye fixed on that part of the vehicle in which I had seen my 
little |>ortmanteau safely stowed, and upou which piles of 
additional bags and boxes were now heaped. One by one, I 
saw these removed, lowered, and seiised on. I was sure mine 
ought to be by this time visible : it was not, I had tied on 
the direction-card with a piece of green ribbon^ that I might 
know it at a glance : not a fringe or fragment of green was 
perceptible. Every package was removed ; every tin-caae 
and brown -paper parcel ; the oilcloth cover was lifted ; I saw 
with distinct vision that not an umbrella, cloak, cane, h&t-box 
or band- box remained. 

And my portmanteau, with my few clothes and little 
pocket-book enclasping the remnant of my fifteen pounds, 
where were they ? 

I aak this question now, but I could not ask it then. I 
could say nothing whatever; not possessing a phrase of 
speaking Freuch ; and it was IVench. an d French only, the 
whole world seemed now gabbling around me. Whai should 
I do 7 Approaching the conductor, I just laid my hand on 
his arm, pointed to a trunk, thence to the dihgence-roof, and 
tried to express a question with my eyes. He mistmder* 
stood me, seiised the trunk indicated, and was about to hoist 
it on the vehicle. 

' Let that atone — will you ? * said a voice in good English ; 
then, in correction, * Qu'est-ce que vous faites done ? Cet4e 

malle est h moi/ -^ . ^ _ 

ete^a 



But I had heard the \ 



they rejoiced 




VILLETTB 



69 



my heart ; I turned : ' Sir;' g&id I. appealing to the stranger, 
without^ in my distress, noticing what he was like, ' I cannot 
speak French. May I entreat you to ask this man what he 
has done with my trunk ? ' 

Without discrimiDating* for the moment, what sort of face 
it was to which my eyes were raised and on which they were 
txed^ I felt in its expression half-surprise at my appeal and 
half -doubt of the wisdom of interference. 

' Do ask him ; I would do as much for you,* said I. ^ 

I don't know whether he smiled^ but he said in a gentle- 
manly toDe — that is to say, a tone not hard nor terrifying^ — 
* What sort of trunk was yours ? * 

I described it, including in my description the green 
ribbon. And forthwith he took the conductor under hand, 
and I felt, through all the storm of French which followed, 
thMkt he raked him fore and aft. Presently be returned to me. 

* The fellow avers he was overloaded, and confesses that 
he removed your trunk after you saw it put on, and has left 
ii behind at Boue- Marine with other parcels ; he has pro- 
misedf however, to forward it to-morrow ; the day after, 
therefore, you will find it sa fe at tms^ bureau/ 

* Thank you,' said I ; but my heart sank. 

Meantime what should I do? Perhaps this English 
gentleman saw the failure of courage in my face ; he 
inquired kindly» ' Have you any friends in this city ? * 

* No, and I don*t know where to go:' ^^ — 

There was a little pause, in the course of which, as he 
lamed more fully to the light of a lamp above him, I saw 
that he was a young, distinguished, and handsome man ; he 
might be a lord, for anything I knew : naturelaci ^SJttit^ him 
good enough for a prince, I thought. His face was very 
pleasant ; he looked high but not arrogant, manly but not 
OTerbearing. I was turning away, in the deep consciousness 
of aQ absence of claim to look for further help from such a 
one as he. 

* Was all your money in your trunk ? ' he asked, stopping 
me, — — 



Cr 



.U«'^J 



TO 



VILLETTE 



How thankful was I to be able lo answer with truth — 
♦ No. I have enough io my purse * (for I had near twenty 
francs) ' to keep me at a quiet inn till the day after to- 
morrow ; but I am quite a stranger in Villette, and don't 
know the streets and the inns.' 

' I can give you the address of such an inn as you want,* 
said he ; ' and it is not far off ; with my direction you will 
easily find it/ 

He tore a leaf from his pocket-book, wrote a few words, 
and gave it to me. I did think him kind : and as to dis- 
trusting him, or his advice, or his address, I should almost 
as soon have thought of distruating the Bible. There wae 
goodness in his oountenancei and honour in his bright 
eyes. 

' Your shortest way will be to follow the Boulevard axid 
cross the park/ he continued; 'but it is too late and too 
dark for a woman to go through the park alone ; 1 will step 
with you thus far/ 

He moved on, and 1 followed him, through the darkness 
and the small soaking rain. The Boulevard was all deserted, 
its path miry, the water dripping from its trees ; the park 
was black as midnight. In the double gloom of trees and 
fog, I could not see my guide ; I oould only follow his tread. 
Not the least fear had I : I believe I would have followed 
that frank tread, through continual night^to the world's 
end. ' 

* NoWp' said he, when the park was traversed^ * you wUI 
go along this broad street till you come to steps ; two lamps^ 
will show you where they are : these steps you wiU descend : 
a narrower street lies below ; following that, at the bottom 
you will find your inn. They speak English there, so yoi 
difficulties are now pretty well over. Good-night.' 

* Good-night, sir/ said I : * accept my sincerest thanks** 
And we parted. 

The remembrance of his countenance, which I am sure 
wore a light not unbenignant to the iriendless— the sound 
in my ear of his voice« which spoke a nature ehivaliic to the 



I 




VILLETTE 



71 



iy and feebki as well as the youthful and fair— were a 
of cordial to me long after. He was a true young 

iglish gentleman. '"^'""'"" — 

On I went, hurrying fast through a magnificent street 
id square, with the grandest houses round, and amidst 
aem the huge outline of more than one overhearing pile ; 
rhioh might be palace or church — I could not tell. Just as 
I passed a portico, two mustachioed men came suddenly 
behind the pillars ; they were smoking cigars : their 
implied pretensions to the ranlt of gentlemen, hut» poor 
ings I they were very plebeian in sonl They spoke with 
[>lence, and, fast as I walked, they kept pace with me a 
cing way. At last I met a sort of patrol, and my dreaded 
kunters were turned from the pursuit ; but they had driven^ 
me beyond my reckoning : when I could collect my faculties, 
I no longer knew where I was ; the staircase I must long 
ace have passed. Puzzled, out of breath, all my pulses 
ebbing in inevitable agitation, I knew not where to turn. 
( was terrible to think of again encountering those bearded, 
aeering simpletons ; yet the ground must be retraced, and 
the steps sought out. 

I came at last to an old and worn flight, and, taking it 

Ji6r granted that this must be the one indicated, I descended 

The street into which they led was indeed narrow* 

it it contained no inn. On I wandered. In a very quiet 

and comparatively clean and well-paved street, I saw a light 

ig over the door of a rather large house, loftier by a 

Dry than those round it. This might be the inn at last. 

[ hastened on : my knees now trembled under me : I was 

siting quite exhausted. 

No inn was this. A brass-plate embellished the great 

9-coch^re : ' Pensionnat de Demoiselles ' was the inscrip* 

'tkui ; and beneath, a name, ' MiLilftrnft Rp.nk.' 

I started. About a hundred thoughts volleyed through 
ny mind in a moment. Yet I planned nothing, and con- 
red nothing : I had not time. Providence said, * Stop 
Ibis is your inn.* Fate took me in her strong hand; 




mastered my will ; directed my actions : I rang the 
bell 

W^lfi r "^Ti^W"*! T WPF^^'^ "*^^ rai^flz>f. I fixedly looked ; 
the street- stones, where the door-lamp shone, and count 
them and noted their shapes, and the glitter of wet on thei 
angles. I rang again. They opened at last. A bonne in 
smart cap stood before me. 

' May I see Madame Beck ? * I inquired. 

I believe if I had spoken French she would not han 
admitted me ; but, as I spoke English^ she concluded I 
a foreign teacher come on business connected with the pen-^ 
sionnat, and, even at that late hour, she let me in, without 
a word of reluctance, or a moment of hesitation* 

The next moment I sat in a cold, glittering salon, wit 
porcelain stove, unlit, and gilded ornamentSi and polishe 
floor. A pendule on the mantel -piece struck nine o'clock. 

A quarter of an hour passed. How fast beat every pulaej 
in my frame I How I turned cold and hot by turns ! 1 1 
with my eyes fixed on the door — a great white folding-doorJ 
with gilt mouldings : I watched to see a leaf move and 
open. All had been quiet : not a mouse bad stirred ; thoj 
white doors were closed and motionless. 

* You ay re Engliss ? ' said a voice at my elbow. I almo&i 
bounded, so unexpected was the sound ; so certain had I 
been of solitude. 

No ghost stood beside me, Dor anything of speelrat 
aspect ; merely a motherly, dumpy little woman, in a 
shawl, a wrapping- gown, and a clean, trim nightcap. 

I said I was English, and immediately, without furthe 
prelude, we fell to a most remarkable conversation.' 
Madame Beck (for Madama Beck it was — she had entered 
by a little door behind me, and, being shod with the shoei 
of silence, I had heard neither her entrance nor approach)- 
Madame Beck had exhausted her command of insular i 
when she said, ' You ayre Engliss/ and she now pr 
to work away volubly in her own tongue. I answered 
mine. She partly understood me, but as I did nd «l 



I 



VILLETTB 



73 



all uDderstand her — though we made together an a%¥ful 
clamour (anything like Madame'3 gift of utterance I had not 
hitherto heard or imagined) — we achieved little progress. 
She rang, ere long, for aid ; which ariived in the shape o! a 
•maltresse/ who had been partly educated in an Irish 
oonventi and was esteemed a perfect adept in the Englisb ^ „ 
language. A blufif little personage this maltrease was— ^c\S 
^ ^hft'^^Tffl^^ '''^" "*^ irom top to toe: and how she did 
slaughter the speech of Albion I However, I told her a 
plain tale, which she translated. I told her how I had left 
nay own countrj% intent on extending my knowledge, and 
gaining my bread ; how I was ready to turn my hand to any 
useful thing, provided it was not wrong or degrading ; how f 
I would be a child's-nurse, or a lady's-maid, and would not 
refuse even housework adapted to my strength. Madame I 
heard this; and, questioning her ooa&teuaoc6| I almost 
Ihought the tale won her ear : 

' n n'y a que les Anglaises poor ces sortes d'entreprises/ 
said she : ' sont-elles done intr6pides ces femmes-li I ' 

She asked my name, my age ; she sat and looked at me 
— not pityingly, not with interest: never a gleam of 
sympathy, or a shade of compassion, crossed her counte- 
D&noe during the interview. I felt she was not one to be 
led an inch by her feelings : grave and considemte, she 
gazed, consulting her judgment and studying my narrative. 
A bell rang. 

' Voil4 pour la pri^re du soir 1 ' said she, and rose. 
Through her interpreter, she desired me to depart now, and 
<9ome back on the morrow ; but this did not suit me : I 
oould not bear to return to the perils of darkness and the 
street. With energy, yet vrith a collected and controlled 
manner, I said, addressing herself personally, and not the 
inaltreeae : ' Be assured, madame, that by instantly securing 
my aenrices, your interests will be served and not injured : 
you will find me one who will wish to give, in her labour, a 
full equivalent for her wages ; and if you hire me, it wiU be 
better that I should stay here this night: having no 



74 



VILLETTE 



\< 



t^'' 



>'!' 



acquaintance in Yillette, and not possessing the language of 
the oounti7, how can I secure a lodging?* 

' It is true/ said she ; ' but at least you can give a 
reference ? * 

' None/ 

She inquired after my luggage : I told her when it would 
arrive. She mused. At that moment a man's step was 
heard in the vestibule, hastily proceeding to the outer door. 
(J shall go on with this part of my tale as if I had understood 
all that passed ; for though it was then scarce intelligible to 
me, I heard it ti-an slated afterwards). 1 

' Who goes out now ? ' demanded Madame Beck, 
listening to the tread. 

* M ^PauV replied the teacher, • He came this evening 
to give areaSing to the first class," 

* The very m&n I should at this moment most wish to 
see. Call him.* i 

The teacher ran to the salon door, M. Paul was sum- 
uioned He entered : a small, dar k and jtqu are man, in 
spectacles. 

' Mon cousin/ began Madame, ' I want your opinion. 
We know your skill in physioCT oniy ; use it now. Bead 
that countenance/ *" ' 

The little man fixed on me his spectacles, A resolute 
compression of the lips, and gatheriog of the brow, seemed 
to say that he meant to see through me, and that a veil 
would be no veil for him. 

■ I read it/ he pronounced* 

' Et qu'en dites-vous ? * 

' Mais— bien des choses,* was the oracular answer. 

* Bad or gooST^ 

* Of each kind, without doubt/ pursued the diviner, 
' May one trust her word ? * 

* Are you negotiating a matter of importance ? ' 

* She wishes me to engage her as bonne or gouvernante ; 
tells a tale full of integrity, but gives no reference/ 

She is a stranger ? ' 



VILLETTE 



76 



'An EngUshwomaik, as one maj see/ 

* She speaks French ? * 

* Not a word.' 

* She anderstands it ? ' 

* No/ 

* One may then speak plainly in her presence 7 ' 

* Doubtless/ 

He gazed steadily, * Do you need her services 7 * 

* I could do with them. You know I am disgusted with 
Madame Syini/ 

Still he scrutinized. The judgment, when it at last 
c&me, was as inde&nite as what had gone before it. 

' Engage her. If good predominates in that nature, the 
action will bring its own reward ; if evil — eh bien I ma 
cousme, ee sera toujours une bonne oeuvre/ And with a 
bow and a 'bon soir/ this vague arbiter of my destiny | 
vunished. 

And Madame did engage me that very night— by God's 
blessing I was spared the necessity of passing forth again 
into the lonesome, dreary, hostile street. 



n^ 



,VvV 



t^* 



u 



\ 



CHAPTEB VIII 



MADAME BECK 



Bbikg delivered into the charge of the mattregse» I was led 
through a long narrow passage into a foreign kitchen, very 
clean but very strange. It seemed to contain no means of 
cooking — neither ^replace nor oven ; I did not understand 
that the gi^eat black furnace which filled one corner, was an 
efficient substitute for these. Surely pnde was not already 
beginning its whispers in my heart ; yet I felt a sense of 
relief when, instead of being left in the kitchen, as I half an- 
ticipated, I was led forward to a small inner room termed a 
' cabinet/ A cook in a jacket, a short petticoat and sabots^ 
brought my supper : to wit — some meat, nature unknown, 
served in an odd and add, but pleasant sauce ; some chopped 
potatoes, made savoury with, I know not what : vinegar 
and sugar, I think : a tartine, or slice of bread and butter, 
and a baked pear. Being hungry, I ate and was grateful. 

After the ' pri^re du soir,' Madame herself came to 
have another look at me. She desired me to follow her up- 
stairs. Through a series of the queerest little dormitories — 
which, I heard afterwards, had once been nuns* cells : for 
the premises were in part of ancient date— and through Iba 
oratory — a long, low, gloomy room, where a crucifix hung, 
pale, against the wall, and two tapers kept dim vigils— she 
conducted me to an apartment where three children were 
asleep in three tiny beds. A heated stove made the lUr of 
this room oppressive ; and, to mend matters, it was scented 
with an odour rather strong than delicate : a perfunie. 



MADAME BECK 



n 



indeed, altogether surpriBing and unexpected under the 
circumstancea, being like the combiQation of Bmoke with 
some spirituous essence— a smeU, in short, of whisky. 

. Bedde a table, on which flared the remnant of a cnndle 
gaitering to waste in the socket, a coarse woman » hetero- 
geneously clad in a broad striped showy silk dress, and a 
stuff apron, sat in a chair fast asleep. To complete the 
picture, and leave no doubt as to the state of matters, a 
bottle and an empty glass stood at the sleeping beauty's 
elbow. 

Madame contemplated this remarkable tableau with great 
calm ; she neither smiled nor scowled ; no impress of 
anger, disgust, or surprise, ruffled the equality of her grave 
aspect ; she did not even wake the woman I Serenely 
pointing to a fourth bed, sbe intimated that it was to be 
mine ; then, having extinguished the candle and substituted 
for it a night-lamp, she glided through an inner door, which 
she left ajar — the entrance to her own chamber, a large, 
well'famished apartment ; as was discernible through the 
aperture. 

My devotions that night were all thanksgiving. Strangely 
had I been led since morning— unexpectedly had I been 
proTided for. Scarcely could I believe that not forty -eight 
faDura had elapsed since I left London, under no other 
[ianship than that which protects the passenger- bird — 
ith DO prospect but the dubious cloud-tracery of hope. 

I vras a light sleeper ; in the dead of night I suddenly 
iwoke. All was hushed, but a white figure stood in the 
^foom — Madame in her night-drees. Moving without per- 
oepHble sound, she visited the three children in the three 
beds ; she approached me : I feigned sleep, and she studied 
toe long. A small pantomime " ^TSBtTOdr^urious en ough. I 
dmreeay she safls *|titt! bt i Uf llB huur on the edge m my bed, 
gadng at my face. She then drew nearer, bent close over 
me ; slightly raised my cap, and turned back the border so 
as to expose my hair ; she looked at my hand l}dng on the 
bedclothes* This done, she tuiTied to the chair where my 




78 



VILLETTE 



^•0 



clothes lay : it was oX Ihe foot of the bed. Hearing her 
touch and lift them, I opened my eyes with precaution, for 
I own I felt curious to see how fai' her taste for research 
would lead her. It led her a good way : every article did 
she inspect, I divined her motive for this proceeding, viz. 
the wish to form from the garments a judgment respecting 
ihe wearer, her station, means, neatness^ &c. The end wiia 
not bad, but the means were hardly fair or justifiable. In 
my dress was a pocket ; she fairly turned it inside out : she 
counted the money in my purse ; she opened a little 
memorandum-book, coolly porused its contents, and took 
from between the leaves a small plaited lock of Miss March- 
moot's grey hair. To a bunch of three keys, being those of 
my trunk, desk, and work-box, she accorded special atten* 
tion: with these, indeed, she withdrew a moment to her 
^•^ ' own room- I softly rose in my bed and followed her with 

\. ' ^ my eye : these keys, padar. were not brought back till they 
^f^*^^ had left on the toilet of the adjoining room the impress of 
^ their wards in wax. All being thus done decently and in 

order, my property was returned to its place, my clothes 
were carefully refolded. Of what nature were the con- 
olnsions deduced from this scrutiny ? Were they favourable 
or otherwise ? Vain question. Madame's face of stone (for 
of stone in its present night aspect it looked : it had been 
human, and, as I said before, motherly, in the salon) 
betrayed no response. 

Her duty done — I felt thai in her eyes thtB business was 
ft duty^ — she rose, noiseless as a shadow : she moved towards 
her own chamber ; at the door, she turned, fixing her eye 
on the heroine of the bottle, who still slept and loudly 
snored. Mrs. Svini (I presume this was Mrs. Svini, AngUc^ 
or Hibemic^, Sweeny) — Mrs. Sweeny's doom was in Mad&me 
Beok*s eye— an immutable purpose that eye spoke : Madame'ft 
visitations for shortcomings might be slow, but they were 
sure. All this was very un-English: truly I wae in m 
foreign land. 

The morrow made me further acquainted with Mrs, 



n 



MADAME BECK 



79 



|Mi 



m 



P 



Sweeny. It seems she had iotroduced herself to her 
present employer els an English lady in reduced circum- 
stances : a native^ indeed, of Middlesex, professing to speak 
the English tongue with the purest metropoHtan accent, 
Madame — reliant on her own infallible expedients for 
ding out the truth in time — had a singular intrepidity in 
'hiring service off-hand {as indeed seemed abundantly proved 
in my own case). She received Mrs. Sweeny as nursery- 
g overnesB t o her three children. I need hardly explain to 
the reader that this lady was in effect a native of Ireland ; 
her station I do not pretend to fix : she boldly declared that 
she had ' had the bringing- up of the son and daughter of a 
marquis.' I think myself, she might possibly have been a 
hanger-on, nurae, fosterer, or washerwoman, in some Irish 
family ; she spoke a smothered tongue, curiously overlaid 
wilb mincing cockney inflections. By some means or other 
she bad acquiredi and now hold in possession, a wardrobe 
of rather suspicious splendour— gowns of stiff and costly 
silk, fitting her indifferently, and apparently made for other 
proportions than those they now adorned ; caps with real 
lace borders, and — the chief item in the inventory » the spell 
by which she struck a certain awe through the hotisehold, 
quelling the otherwise scornfully disi-Oacd teachers and 
servants, and, so long aa her broad shoulders wore the folds 
of that majestic drapery, even infiucncing Madame lierseU — 
a real Indian shawl — ' un %'^ri table each emir e,' as Madame 
Beck said, with unmixed reverence and amaze. I feel 
[aite sure that without this ' cache mire ' she would not have 
;ept her footing in the pensionnat for two days ; by virtue 
of it, and it only, she maintained the same a month. 

But when Mrs. Sweeny knew that I was come to fill her 
shoee* then it was that she declared herself— then did she rise 
on Madame Beck in her full power — then come down on me 
with her concentrated weight. Madame bore this revelation 
.j^nd visitation so well, so stoically, that I for very shamo 
could not support it otherwise than with compo&ure. For 
one Uttle moment Madame Beck absented herself from the 



u^ 






80 



VILLETTE 



I, 



room ; ten min tiles after, an agent of the police stood in the 
midst of us. Mrs. Sweeny and her effects were removed. 
Madarae's brow had not been ruffled during the scene— her 
lips had not dropped one sharply-accented word. 

This brisk little affair of the dismiBaal was all settled 
before breakfast : order to march given , policeman callei^H 
mutineer expelled, ' chambre d'enfans * fumigated an^H 
cleansed, windows thrown open, and every trace of the 
accomplished Mrs. Sweeny — even to the fine essence and 
spiritual fragrance which gave token so subtle and so fatal 
of the head and front of her offending— was annihilated 
from the Rue Fossette : all this, I say, was done between 
the moment of Madame Beck's issuing like Aurora from her 
chamber, and that in which she coolly sat down to pour out 
her first cup of coffee* 

About noon, I was summoned to dress Madame. (It 
appeared my place was to be a hybrid between gouvemante 
and lady's-maid.) Till noon, she haunted the house in her 
wrapping-gown, shawl, and soundless shppers. How would 
the lady-chief of an English school approve this custom? 

The dressing of her hair puzzled me ; she had plenty of 
it: auburn, unmixed with grey : though she was forty ^ears 
old. Seeing my embarrassment, she said, * You have not 
been a (emme-de-chambre in your own country ? ' And 
taking the brush from my hand, and setting me aside, not 
ungently or disrespectfally, she arranged it herself* In 
performing other offices of the toilet, she half -directed, half- 
aided me, without the least display of temper or impatience, 
N.B. — That was the first and last time I was required to 
dress her. Henceforth, on Robine, the portress, devolved 
that duty. 

When attired, Madame Beck appeared a personage of a 
figure rather short and stout, yet still graceful in its own 
pecuUar way; that is, with the grace resulting from 
proportion of parts. Her complexion was fresh and sanguine, 
not loo rubicund ; her eye, blue and serene; her dark silk 
dress fitted her as a French sempstress alone can make a 



MADAME BECK 



ei 



^ 



; she looked well, though a little bourgeoise'; as 
se, indeed, she was. I know not what of harmony 
penraded her whole person ; and yet her face offered 
coDtrast, too : its features were by no means such as are 
cisually seen in conjuncUon with a complexion of such 
Mended freshness and repose : their outline was stern : her 
forehead was high but narrow ; it expressed capacity and 
some benevolence, but no expanse ; nor did her peaceful yet 
watchful eye ever know the fire which is kindled in the heart 
or the softness which flows thence. Her mouth was hard : 
il oould be a little grim ; her lips were thin. For sensibility and 
genius, with all their tenderness and temerity^ I felt somehow 
that Madame would be the right sort of Minos in petticoats. 

In the long run, I found she was something else in 
petticoats too. Her name was Modeste Maria Beck, n^e 
Kint : it ought to have been Ignacia* She was a charitable 
woman, and did a great deal of good. There never was a 
mistress whose rule was milder. I was told that she never 
once remonstrated with the intolerable Mrs. Sweeny, despite 
her tipsiness, disorder, and general neglect ; yet Mrs. Sweeny 
had to go the moment her departure became conyenient. I 
was told, too, that neither masters nor teachers were found 
fault with in that establishment ; yet both masters and 
teachers were often changed : they vanished and others 
&lled their places, none could well explain how. 

The establishment was both a pensionnat and an externat : 
the extemes or day-pupils exceeded one hundred in number ; 
the boarders were about a score. Madame must have 
possessed high administrative powers: she ruled all these, 
together with four teachers » eight masters, six servants, and 
three children, managing at the same time to perfection the 
pupils' parents and friends; and that without apparent 
effort; without bustle, fatigue, fever, or any symptom of 
undue excitement : occupied she always was — busy, rarely. 
It is true that Madame had her own system for managing 
and regulating this mass of machinery ; and a very pretty 
il was : the reader has seen a specimen of it, in that 



VILLETTB 



8mall aSair of tarning my pocket inside out, and reading my 
private memoranda?*YTSlirTwikm«e^^ — these were 

her watchwords* ""^^ 

Still, Madcune knew what honesty was, and liked it — 
ihat is, when it did not ohtnide its clumsy scruples in the 
way of hei- will and interest. She had a respect for 
* Angleterre ' ; and as to * les Anglaises/ she would have the 
women of no other country about her own childreni ii she 
could help it ^ 

Often in the evening, after she had been plotting anclfl 
counterplotting, spying and receiving the reports of spies all 
day. she would come up to my room— a trace of real weari- 
ness on her brow — and she would sit down and listen while 
the children said their little prayers to me in English ; tbe^ 
Lord's Prayer, and the hymn beginning 'Grentle Jesus,!fl 
these little Catholics were permitted to repeat at my knee ; 
and, when I had put them to bed, she would talk to me (I 
soon gained enough French to be able to understand, and 
even answer her) about England and Englishwomen, and 
the reasons for what she waa pleased to term their superior 
intelligence, and more real and reliable probity. Very good 
sense she often showed ; very sound opinions she often 
broached : she seemed to know that keeping girls in 
y distrustful restraint, in blind ignorance, and under a sur- 
veillance that left them do moment and no corner for 
retirement, was not the best way to make them grow up 
honest and modest women; but she averred that ruinous 
consequences would ensue if any other method were tried 
with continental children : they were so accustomed to 
restraint, that relaxation, however guarded, would be mis- 
undei^tood and fatally presumed on. Bhe waa sick, she 
would declare, of the means she had to use, but use them 
she must; and after discoursing, often with dignity and 
delicacy, to me, she would move away on her ' souliers de 
silence,' and glide ghost-like through the house, watching 
and spying everywhere, peering through every keyhole, 
listening behind every door. 



MADAME BECK 



* 









After all, Madame's system was not bad^let me do her 
justioe. Nothing could be better than all her arrangements 
ior the physical well-being of her scholars. No minds were 
overtasked ; the lesBoas were well distributed and made 
inoomparably easy to the learner ; there was a liberty of 
UDUBement, and a provision for exercise which kept the 
girls healthy; the food was abundant and good: neither 
pale nor puny faces were any^'here to be seen in the Kue 
Fossette. She never grudged a holiday ; she allowed plenty 
of time for sleeping, di-essing, washing, eating ; her method 
in all these matters was easy, liberal, salutary, and rational : 
many an austere English school-mistress would do vastly 
well to imitate her — and I beUeve many would be glad to 
do so, if exacting English parents would let them. 

As Madame Beck ruled by espionage, she of course had 
ber staflf of spies : she perfectly knew the quality of the tools 
she used, and while she would oot scruple to handle the dirtiest 
ior a dirty occasion — flinging this sort from her like refuse 
id, after the orange has been duly squeezed — I have 
iown her fastidious in seeking pure metal for clean uses ; 
and when once a bloodless and rustless instrument was 
found, she was careful of the prize, keeping it in silk and 
cotlon*wooL Yet, woe be to that man or woman who 
relied on her one inch beyond the point where it was 
her interest to be trustworlhy : int erest wq i p tht> maK tflr.kAy 
of Madame's nature^the mainspring of her motives— the 
alpha and omega of her life. I have seen her feelings 
appsiiled to, and I have smiled in half-pity, half-scorn at the 
RppeUantB. None ever gained her ear through that channel 
or swayed her purpose by that means. On the contrary, to 
attempt to touch her heart was the surest way to rouse her 
antipathy, and to make of her a secret foe. It proved to 
ir that she had no heart to be touched : it reminded her 
here she was impotent and dead. Never was the distinc- 
tion between charity and mercy better exemphfied than in 
bar. While devoid of sympathy, she had a sufficiency o( 
rational benevolence : she would give in the readiest nianner 



SI 



VILLETTB 



(th 



to people she had never seen — rather, however, to cla 
than to individuals. * Pour les panvres/ she opened het 
puree freely — against the poor man, as a mlep she kept i| 
closed. In philanthropic schemes for the benefit of society^ 
at large she took a cheerful part ; no private sorrow touched 
her : no force or mass of suffering concentrated in one heart 
had power to pierce hers. Not the agony in Gethsemane, 

Lnoi the death on Calvary, could have wrung from her eye* 
one tear. 

I Bay again, Madame was a very great and a very 
capahle woman. That school offered her for her powers too 
limited a sphere ; she ought to have swayed a nation : she 
should have heen the leader of a turbulent legislative 
afisembly. Nobody could have browbeaten her, none irritated 
her nerves, exhausted her patience, or over-reached her astute^ 
ness. In her own single person, she could have comprised 

, the duties of a first minister and a superintendent of poUoe. 

/Wise, firm, faithless; secret, crafty, passionless; watchful 

t and inscrutable ; acute and insensate^withal perfectly 

Vdecorous — what more could be desired ? 

The seneihle reader will not suppose that I gained all the 
knowledge here condensed for his benefit in one month, or 
in one half-year. No 1 what I saw at first was the thriving 
outside of a large and flourishing ofiktcaUo&aL^atahlishment. 
Here was a great house, full of healthy, lively girls, all well* 
dressed and many of them handsome, gaining knowledge by 
ft marvellously easy method, without painful exertion or 
useless waste of spirits ; not, perhaps, making very rapid 
progress in an}^hing; taking it easy, but still always 
employed, and never oppressed. Here was a corps of 
teachers and masters, more stringently tasked, as aJl the 
real head-labour was to be done by them, in order to save 
the pupils, yet having their duties so arranged that they re- 
lieved each other in quick succession whenever the work waa 
severe : here, in short, was a foreign school ; of which the life, 
movement, and variety made it a complete and most charming 
contrast to many English institutions of the same kind. 



MADAME BECK 



8fi 



tho bouse waa a large garden, and, in summerp 
tlie pupils alznoBt lived out of doors ainongsl the rose-busbea 
and the fruit trees. Under the vast and vine-draped berceau, 
Madame would take her seat on Bummer afternoons, and 
lend for the classes, in turne, to sit round her and sew and 
read. Meantime, masters carae and went, delivering short 
and lively lectures, rather than lessons, and the pupils made 
notes of their instructions, or did not make them — just as 
inclination prompted ; secure that, in case of neglect, they 
could copy the notes of their companions. Besides the 
regular monthly jftmrs de sortiet the CatboUc fdte-days brought 
a sucoessioD of holidays all the year round ; and some* 
times on a bright summer morning, or soft summer evening, 
the boarders were taken out for a long walk into the country, 
regaled with yaufres and vin b/anc, or new milk and pain bis^ 
or pisioUts an beurre (rolls) and cofifee. All this seemed 
very pleasant, and Madame appeared goodness itself ; and 
the teachers not so bad but they might be worse ; and tha 
pupils, perhaps, a httle noisy and rougb, but types of health 
and glee. 

Thus did the view appear, seen thmngli j^ha ftT^p.h'^ ptmfini 
of distance; but there came a time when distance was to 
melt for me — when I waa to be called down from my watch- 
tower of the nurse r}% whence I had hitherto made my 
observations, and was to be compelled into closer intercourse 
with this httle world of the Rue Fossette. 

I was one day sitting upstairs, as usual, hearing the 
children their English lessons, and at the same time turning 
& silk dress for Madame, when she came sauntering into the 
room with that absorbed air and brow of hard thought she 
sofDetiines wore, and which made her look so little genial. 
Dropping into a seat opposite mine, she remained some 
minates silent. I>6air^« the eldest girl, was reading to ma 
some little essay of Mrs. Barbauld*s, and I was making her 
translate currently from Eoghsh to French as she proceeded, 
by way of ascertaining that she comprehended what she 
Madame listened. 



VILLETTB 




Presently, without preface or prelude, she said, alinost in 
tbe tone of one making an aeousatioD, ' Meesa, in England 
you were a governess ? * \ 

* No, Madame/ said I, smiling^ * you are mistaken.' 

* Ib this your first essay at teaching — this attempt with 
my children ? ' 

I assured her it was. Again she became silent; but 
looking up, as I took a pin from the cushion, I found niyse] 
an object of study : she held me under her eye ; she seemi 
turning me round in her thoughts — measuring my fitm 
for a purpose, weighing my value in a plan, Madame had, 
ere thi^^, scrutinized all I had, and I believe she esteemed 
herself cognizant of much that I was ; but from that day, 
for the space of about a fortnight, she tried me by new tests. 
She listened at the nursery door when I was shut in with the 
children; she followed me at a cautious distance when I 
walked out with them, stealing within ear-shot whenever the 
trees of park or ix)ulevard avoided a sufficient soreen : a 
strict preliminary process having thus been observed, she 
made a move forward. 

One morning, coming on me abruptly, and with the 
semblance of hurry, she said she found herself placed in 
httle dilemma. Mr. Wilson, the English master, had fail 
to come at his hour ; she feared he was ill ; the pupils wi 
waiting in classe ; there was no one to give a lesson ; should 
I, for once, object to giving a short dictation exercise, just that 
the pupils might not have it to say they had missed their 
Enghsh lesson ? 

' Id classe, Madame ? ' I asked* ^ 

' Yes» in classe : in the second division.' ^ 

* Where there are sixty pupils,* said I ; for I knew the 
number, and with my usual base habit of oowardice, I 
shrank into my sloth like a snail into its shell, and alleged 
incapacity and impracticability as a pretext to escape action. 
If left to myself, I should infallibly have let this chance sUp. 
Inad venturous, unstirred by impulses of practical ambition, 
I was capable of sitting twenty years teaching infants the 



bui_ 
iesiV 



leS 
enifl 



MADAME BECK 



87 






hornbook, turaing silk dress^f^ and makiDg children's frocks. 
Not that true contentment dignified this infatuated resigna- 
tion : my work had neither charm for my taste» nor hold 
on my interest ; hat it seemed to me a great thing to be 
without heavy anxiety, and relieved from intimate trial : the ' 
negation of severesufiFermg was the nearest approach to 
happ!TiiB8ft-I-^XJ)ected to know. Besides, I seemed to hold' 
two lives — the life of thought, and that of reality; and,| 
provided the former was nourished with a sufiBciency of thoj 
strange necromantic joys of fancy, the privileges of the latter 
might remain limited to daily bread, hourly work, and a roof j 
of shelter. 

' Come/ said Madame, as I stooped more busily than ever 
OVBT the cntting-out of a child s pinafore, * leave that work.* 

j^* But Fifine wants it, Madame. ' 
Fifine must want it, then, for / want you,* 

And as Madame Beck did really want and was resolved 

have me — as she had long been dissatisfied with the 
E nglish master, w ith his shortcomings in punctuality, and 
his careless method of tuition — as, too, she did not lack r so- 
lution and practical activity, whether / lacked them o^ not 
— she, without more ado, made me relinquish thimlA and 
needle ; my hand was taken into hers, and I was conducted 
down-stairs. When we rea^shed the carr^, a large pquare 
hall between the dwelling-house and the pensionnM, she 
paused, dropped my hand, faced, and scrutinized me. I was 
fluflhedf and tremulous from head to foot: teB it not in 
Gath, I believe I was crying. In fact, the difficulties before 
me were far from being wholly imaginary ; some of them 
were real enough ; and not the least substantial lay in my 
want of mastery over the medium through which I should 
be obliged to teach. I had, indeed, studied French closely 
iince my arrival in Villette ; learning its practice by day, 
and Ite theory in every leisure moment at night, to as late an 
hour as the rule of the house would allow candle-light ; hut 
1 was far from yet being able to trust my powers of correct 
i0aA expression. 



VILLETTE 






* Dttes done/ said Madame steralyf ' vous seiiU 
rfiellemeDt trop faible ? ' 

I might have said ' Yes/ and gone back to niirsery 
obscurity, and there, perhaps, mouldered for the rest of my 
life ; but looking tip at Madame* I saw in her countenance 
a something that made me think twice ere I decided. At 
that inatan t she d id not wear a womap's aspect, but rather 
^man 's. V^oweTbt a particular kind strongly limned itself 
in all her traits, and that power waa not viy kind of power y 
neither sympathy, nor oongeniality, nor submission, wer 
the emotions it awakened. I stood^ — not Boothed, nor woii«i 
nor overwhelmed. It seemed as if a challenge of strength 
between opposing gifts was given, and I suddenly felt all 
the dishonour ol my dilBdenoe — ail the pusillanioiity of &)&■ 
slackness to aspire. ^|' 

*Will you/ she said, 'go backward or forward?' indi- 
cating with her hand, first, the small door of communication 
with the dwelling-house, and then the great double portab 
of the classes or schoolixKims. ^H 

" En avant,* I said. ^1 

' But,' pursued she, cooling as I warmed, and continuing 
the h^rd look, from very antipathy to which I drew strength 
and determination, ' can you face the classes, or are you 
over-excited ? ' 

8he sneered slightly in saying this : nervous excitabiJii] 
was not much to Madame 's taste. 

* I am no more excited than this stone,' I said, tappix 
the flag with my toe ; ' or than you/ 1 added, returning 
look. 

' Bon I But let me tell you these are not quiet, decor 
English girls you are going to encounter. Ce sont 
Labasaacouriennes, rondes, franchesp brusques, et tant soil ' 
peu rebelles.' 

I said : ' I know ; and I know, too, that though I have 
studied French hard since I came here, yet I stiH speak it 
with far too much hesitation — too little accuracy to be able 
to command their respect : I shall make blunders that will 




MADAME BECK 



88 



Uy me open to the Boorn of the moet igoorant. Still I mean 
to give the lesaon/ 

* They always throw over timid teachers,* said she, 

* I know that too, Madame ; I have heard how they 
leballed against and persecuted Miss Turner '—a poor friend- 
less English teacher, whom Madame had employed, and 
Gghtly discarded ; and to whose piteous history I was no 
stranger. 

* Cost vrai/ said she, coolly. * Miss Turner had no more 
oominand over them than a servant from the kitchen would 
have had. She was weak and wavering ; she had neither 
tact nor intelHgenoe, decision nor dignity. Miss Turner 
would not do for these girls at all/ 

I made no reply, but advi^nced to the closed schoolroom 
door. 

* You will not expect aid from me, or from any one,' said 
Madame. ' That would at once set you down as incompetent 
for your office/ 

I opened the door, let her pass with courtesy^ and 
followed her. There were three school rooms » all large. 
That dedicated to the second division, where I was to figure, 
^aa considerably the largest, and accommodat^ed an assem- 
triage more numerous, more turbulent, and infinitely more 
^tinnaanageiable than the other two. In after days, when I 
Imew the ground better, I used to think sometimes (if such 
^ comparison may be permitted), that the quiet, polished, 
teme finst division was to the robust, riotous, demonsti'ative 
second division, what the English House of Lords is to the 
House of Commons. 

The first glance informed me that many of the pupils were 
more than girls— quite young women ; I knew that some of 
ibem were of noble family (as nobility goes in Labasseoour), 
and I was well convinced that not one amongst them was 
ignorant of my position in Madame's household. Asl mounted 
the estrade (a low platform, raised a step above the flooring), 
where stood the teacher's chair and desk, I beheld opposite 
to me a row of eyes and brows that threatened stormy 



90 



VILLETTE 



.4^ 



weather— eyes (uU of an insolent light, and brows hard and 
unblushing as marble. The continenl al ' fem ale * is quite a 
difiTerent being to tbe insular ' feinale^of the same age aitd 
class : I never saw such eyesTnd brows in England. 
Madame Beck introduced me in one cool phrase, sailed fiom 
the room, and left me alone in my glory. 

I shall never forget that fiirat leBson, nor all the under* 
current of life and character it opened up to me. Then first 
did I begin rightly to see the wide difiTerence that lies between 
the novelist^fe ^m^ p^tet^ ideal * jeune fiUe * and the said * jeana 
fille ' as she really ia. 

^t seems that three titled belles in the first row bad gal 
down predetermined that a bonne d*enfants should not give 
them lessons in English. They knew they bad succeeded 
in expelling obnoxious teachers before now ; they knew 
that Madame would at any lime throw overboard a pro- 
fesseur or maltresse who became unpopukr with the 
echool^-that she never assisted a weak official to retain his 
plaoe^that if he had not strength to fight, or tact to win bis 
way, down he went : looking at * Miss Snowe/ they promised 
themselves an easy victoiy. 

Mesdemoiselles Blaocbe*, Virginie, and Ang^lique opened 
the campaign by a series of titterings and wbisperinga ; 
these soon swelled into murmurs and short laogha, 
which the remoter benches caught up and echoed more 
loudly. This growing revolt of sixty against oq6» soon 
became oppressive enough; my command of French being 
so limited, and exercised under such cruel constraint. 

CouJd I but have spoken in my own tongue, I felt as if I 
might have gained a hearing ; for, in the first place, though 
I knew I looked a poor creature, and in many respecie 
aotnally was so, yet nature had gi%xn me a voice tliat oould 
make itself heard, if lifted in excitement or deepened by 
emotion. In the second place, while I had no flow, only a 
hesitating trickle of language, in ordinary circumstanoee, 
yet — under ii*imulus such as was now rife through the 
mutinous mass—I could, in English, have rolled oat readily 



MADAME BECK 



91 



phiaaes stigmatizing their prooeediogs as such proceedings 
deserved to be stigmatized ; and then wilti some sarcasm, 
flaroored with oootemptuous bitterness for the ringleaders, 
aod relieyed with easy banter for the weaker but less knavish 
followers, it seemed to me that one might possibly got 
command over this wild herd, and bring them into training 
at least. All I could now do was to walk up to Blanche — 
Mademoiselle de Melcy, a young baronne — the eldest, tallest, 
handsomest, and most vicious— stand before her desk, take 
from under her hand her exercise-book, remount the estrade, 
dehberately read the composition, which I found very 
^tripid. and, as deliberately, and in the faoe of the whole 
school, tear the blotted page in two. 

This action availed to draw attention and check noise. 
One girl alone, quite in the background, persevered in the 
riot with undiminished energy. 1 looked at her attentively. 
She had a pale faoe, hair hke night, broad 6ti*ong eyebrows, 
decided features, and a dark, mutinous, sinister eye : I noted 
ih&t she sat close by a little door, which door, I was well 
aware, opened into a small closet where books were kept. 
She was standing up for the purpose of conducting her 
damour with freer energies. I measured her stature and 
calculated her strength. She seemed both taU and wiry; 
but, so the conflict were brief and the attack unexpected, I 
thought I might manage her. 

Advancing up the room, looking as cool and careless as 
I possibly could, in short, ayani Vair de risn, I shghtly 
pushed the door, and found it was ajar. In an instant, and 
with sharpness, I had turned on her. In another instant 
aha occupied the closet, the door was shut, and the key m 
my pocket. 

It so happened that this giil, Dolores by name, and a 
Catalonianji^ race, was the sort of character at once dreaded 
acid hated by all her associates ; the act of summary justice 
above noted proved popular: there was not one present 
but, in her heart, Uked to see it done* They were stilled 
for a moment ; then a smile— not a laugh — passed from 



k^ ^ 



U'^N''\>.> 



92 VILLETTE \ '^ 1 \o 

desk to desk: then — when I had gravely and tranqoilly 
returned to the estrade, ooorteously requested siknce, and 
oommenoed a dictation as if nothing at all had happened — 
the pens travelled peacefully over the pages, and the 
remainder of the lesson passed in order and industry. 

'O'est bien/ said Madame Beck, when I came out of 
class, hot and a little exhausted. ' (^a ira.* 

She had been listening and peeping through a spy-hole 
the whole time. 

From that day I ceased to be nursery governess, and 
(became English teacher. Madame raised my salary; but 
\ she got thrice the work out of me she had extracted from 
: Mr. Wilson, at half the expense. 



CHAPTER IX 



tSlDOKB 



My time was now well and profitably filled up. What with 
teachiog others and studying closely my self » I had hardly a 
spare moment. It was pleasant. I felt I was getting on ; 
not lying the stagnant prey of mould and rust, but polishing 
my faculties and whetting them to a keen edge with constant 
nae. Experience of a certain kind lay before me, on no 
narrow scale. ViUette is a cosmopolitan city, and in thiB 
school were girls of almost every European nation, and like- 
wise of very varied rank in life. Equality is much practised 
in Labaesecour ; though not republrtt-ffU lu fal'm, it is nearly 
so in BUbst&nc^, and at the desks of Madame Beck's esta- 
bU&hment the young countess and the young bourgeoise sal 
side by side. Nor could you always by outward indications 
decide which was noble and which plebeian ; except that, 
indeed, the latter had often franker and more courteous 
manners, while the former bore away the bell for a delicately* 
balanoed combination of insolence and deceit. In the 
former there was often quick French blood mixed with the 
marsh-phlegm : I regret to say that the effect of this vivacious 
fluid chiefly appeared in the oilier glibness with which 
flattery and fiction ran from the tongue, and in a manner 
hghter and livelier, hut quite heartless and insincere. 

To do all parties justice, the honest aboriginal Labasse- 
oouriennes had an hypocrisy of their own, too ; but it was 
of a coarse order, such as could deceive few. Whenever a 
lie was necessary for their occasions, they brought it out 



M 



VILLETTE 



with a careless eaae and breadth altogether untroubled by 
the rebuke of conscieoce. Not a soul in Madame Beek*fi 
house, from the scullion to the directress herself, but was 
above being ashamed of a lie ; they thought nothing of it : to 
invent might not be precisely a virtue, but it was the most 
venial of faults. * J ai menti plusieurs fois,* formed an item 
of every gurl's and woman's monthly confession : the priest 
heard unshocked, and abeolved unreluctant. If they had 
missed going to mass, or read a chapter of a novel, that was 
another thing: these were cnmes whereof rebuke and 
penance were the unfailing meed. 

While yet but half-conscious of this state of things, and 
unlearned in its results, I got on in my new sphere very welL 
'^After the first few difficult lessons, given amidst peril and on 
I the edge of a mor al vo lcano that rumbled under my feet and 
sent sparks and hoOumes into my eyes, the eruptive spirit 
L seemed to subside, as far as I was concerned. My mind was 
a good deal bent oto success ; I could not bear the thought of 
being baffled by mere undisciplined disafifection and wanton 
indocility, in this first attempt to get on in Hfe. Many hours 
of the night I used to lie awake, thinking what plan I had 
best adopt to get a reliable hold on these mutineers, to bring 
this stilf-necked tribe under permanent influence. In the 
first place, I saw plainly that aid in no shape was to be 
expected from Madame : her righteous plan was to maintain 
an unbroken popularity with the pupils^ at any and ever\^ 
cost of justice or comfort to the teachers. For a teacher to 
seek her alhance in any crisis of insubordination was equiva- 
lent to securing her own expulsion. In intercourse with her 
pupils* Madame only took to herself what was pleasant^ 
amiable, and recommendatory; rigidly re<)uiring of ber 
Lieutenants sufficiency for every annoying crisis, where to act 
with adequate promptitude was to be unpopular. Thus, I 
must look only to myself. 

Imprimis — it was clear as the day that this swinish mul- 
titude were not to be driven by force. They were to be 
humoured, borne with very patiently: a courteous though 



ISIDORE 



^'^'^7 



96 



sedate manner impressed them ; a very rare flash of raillery 
did good. Severe or csontinuoufl mental application they 
ooald not. or would not, bear : heavy demand on the memory, 
the reason, the attention, they rejected point-blank» Where 
an English girl of not more than average capacity and 
docility would quietly take a theme and bind herself to the 
task of comprehension and mastery, a Lahassecounenne 
would laugh in your face, and throw it hack to you with the 
phrase, — • Dieu, que c'est difficile ! Je n'en veux pas. Cela 
m'ennuie trop/ 

A teacher who understood her business would take it 
back at once, without hesitation, contest, or expostulation — 
proceed with even exaggerated care to smooth every diflS- 
culty, to reduce it to the level of their understandings, return 
it to them thus modified, and lay on the lash of sarcasm with 
onsparing hand* They would feel the sting, perhaps wince 
a little under it ; but they bore no malice against this sort of 
attack, provided the sneer was not sour, hut hearty, and that 
n held well up to them, in a clear, light, and bold type, so 
t she who ran might read, their incapacity, ignorance, 
and sloth. They would riot for three additionallines to a 
lesson ; but I never knew them rebel against a wound given 
to their self -respect : the little they had of that quality was 
tniined to be crushed, and it rather liked the pressure of a 
firm heel than otherwise. 

By degrees, as I acquired fluency and freedom in their 
language, and could make such application of its more ner- 
us idioms as suited their case, the elder and more intelli- 
gent girls began rather to like me in their way : I noticed 
Uiat whenever a pupil had been roused to feel in her soul 
the stirring of worthy emulation, or the quickening of honest 
shancie, from that date she was^won. If I could but once 
make their (usually large) ears burn under their thick glossy 
hair, all was comparatively well. By-and-by bouquets began 
lO be laid on my desk in the morning ; by way of acknow- 
ledgment for this little foreign attention, I used sometimes to 
ith a select few during recreation. In the course of 



1^ u 

PIha 
and 



I lac 

K^Toi 



orb ^ 



96 



VILLETTE 



coDversation it befell once or twioe that I made an 
me^ditated attempt to rectify some of tbeijr iiBgularly distoi 
notions of piinciple ; espc^cmlly I expressed my ideas of the 
evil and baseness of a lie. In an unguarded moment, I 
ohanced to say that, of the two ei rats« I considered falsehood 
worse than an occasional lapse in church-attendance. The 
poor girls were tutored to report in Catholic ears whatever 
the Protestant teacher said. An edifying oonsequenoe 
ensued. Something— an unseen ^ an in definite, a nameless 
something — stole between myself and these ray best pupils : 
the bouquets continued to be offered, but conversation thence- 
forth became impracticable. As I paced the alleys or sat in 
the berceau, a girl never came to my right hand but a teacher, 
as if by magio, appeared at my left. Also, wonderful to 
relate, Madame's shoes of silence brought her continuaUy to 
uiy back, as quick, as noiseless and unexpected, as some 
wandering zephyr. 

The opinion of my Catholic acquaintance concerning my 
spiritual prospects was Bomewbat naively expressed to ma 
on one occasion. A penaionnaire, to whom I had rendered 
some little service, exclaimed one day as she sat beside me : 
' Mademoiselle, what a pity you are a Ptotoalm t 1 ' i 

* Why, Isabelle?* ^ 

* Parce que, quand vous serez morte — vou s brg lerez toat 
de suite dans I'enfar.* 

* Croyez-vous ? * 1 

* Certainement que j y crois : tout le monde le sait ; et 
d*ailleurs le pr^tre me I'a dit/ 

Isabelle was an odd, blunt little creature. She added, 
sotto voce : ' Pour assurer votre salut 14>haut, on ferait bien 
de vous brMer toute vive ici-bas.' 

I laughed, as, indeed, it was impossible to do otherwise* 



/^ Has the reader forgotten Miss Ginevra Fanshawe 7 If 

K*"^, I must be allowed to re-introduce that young lady as a 

ihriving pupil of Madame Back's; for such she was. Oo 

hitr arrival in the Bue Fossette, two or three days atter my 



4 



ISIDORE 



97 



Ridden &ettlement there, she encountered me with very 
Kule sarprise. She must have had good blood in her veins, 
tor never was any duchess more perfectly* radically, un- 
affiaotedly nanchalante than she : a weak, traDeient amaze 
W18 all she knew of the sensation of wonder. Most of her 
other (acuities seemed to be in the same flimsy condition : 

|»r Uking and disliking, her love and hate, wore mere cobweb 
li goasamer ; but she had one thing about her that seemed 
rong and durable enough, and that was— hoLaai^sbne^. 
She was not proud ; and — bonne d'en/ants as I was — she 
ould forthwith have made of me a sort of friend and confi- 
mt. She teased me with a thousand vapid complaints 
about school -quarrels and household economy : the cookery 
was not to her taste; the people about her, teachers and 
pupils, she held to be despicable* because they were foreigners. 
I bore with her abuse of the Friday s salt fish and bard eggs 
—with her invective against the soup, the bread, the coffee — 
with some patience for a time ; but at last, wearied by itera- 
tion, I turned crusty, and put her to rights : a thing I ought 
to have done in the very beginning, for a salutary setting 
down always agreed with her. 

Much longer had I to endure her demands on me in the 
way of work. Her wardrobe, so far as concerned articles of 
external wear, was weU and elegantly supplied ; but there 
were other habiliments not so carefully provided : what she 
had, needed frequent repair. She hated needle-drudgery 
herself, and she would bring her hose, &c. to me in heaps, 
to be mended. A compliance of some weeks threatening to 
result in the establishment of an intolerable bore— I at last 
Unctly told her she must make up her mind to mend her 
^own garments. She cried on receiving this information, and 
accused me of having ceased to be her friend ; but I held by 
my decision, and let the hysterics pass as they could 

Notwithstanding these foibles, and various others need- 
lees to mention — but by no means of a refined or elevating 
character— how pretty she was I How charming she looked, 
when tfbe came down on a sunny Sunday morning, well* 



Pdisi 
OW] 



gs 



VILLETTE 



dresBed and weU-hiimouredf robed in pa.l6 lilac silk, and i^th 
her fair loog cuiis reposing on her white shoulders, Sunday 
was a holiday which she always passed with friends t>esident 
in town ; and amongst these friends she speedily gave me to 
understand was one who would fain become something more. 
By glimpses and hints it was shown me, and by the general 
buoyancy of her look and manner it weis ere long proved, 
that ardent admiration — perh aps genaine l ove— was at her 
command. She called her suitor * Isidore ' : this» however, 
she intimated was not his real name, but one by which it 
pleased her to baptize him — ^his own, she hinted, not being 
* very pi-etty.' Once, when nhe bad been bragging about the 
vehemence of ' Isidore's ' attachment, I asked if she loved 
him in return. 

' Comma cela/ said she : ' he is handsome, and he loves 
me to distraction, so that I am well amused. Qa sufiit/ 

Finding that she carried the thing on longer than, from 
her very fickle tastes, I had anticipated, I one day took it 
upon me to make serious inquiries as to whether the gentle* 
man was such as her parents, and especiaUy her uncle — on 
whom, it appeared, she was dependent— would be likely to 
approve. She allowed that this was very doubtful^ as shi 
did not believe * Isidore ' had much money. 

* Do you encourage him ? ' I asked, 

* Furieusement sometimes/ said she- 

* Without being certain that you will be permitted to 
marry him ? ' 

'Oh, how dowdyish you are t I don't want to be married. 
I am too young.' 

*But if he jpiresN,xou as much as you say, and yet 
cornea to nothing in tbeend, he w'lH be made miserable.* 

' Of course he wiH break his heart. I should be shocked 
and disappointed if he didn't/ 

' I wonder whether this M. Isidore is a fool ? ' said I. 

* He is, about me ; but he is wise in other things, k 
qu'oa dit Mrs. Gholmondeley considers him ex 
clever : she says be will push his way by his talents ; all 



i ahet^ 




ISIDORE 



99 



k 



aoau 



know is, that he does little more than sigh in my preseDce, 
and that I can wind him round my little linger/ 

Wishing to get a more definite idea of thi s love- stricken 

Isidore, whose position seemed to me of ttie^ least secure, 
requested her to favour me with a personal description ; 
but she could not describe : she had neither words nor the 
power of putting them together so as to make graphic 
phrases. She even seemed not properly to have noticed 
him : nothing of his looks, of the changes in his countenance, 
had touched her heart or dwelt in her memory — that he was 
' beao, mais plut6t bel homme que joti gar^on/ was all she 
could assert. My patience would often have failed, and my 
interest flagged, in hstening to her, but tor one thing. All 
Ibe bints she dropped, all the details she gave, went 
unconsciously to prove, to my thinking, that M, Isidore*s 
liomage was offered with great delicacy and respect. I 

»nDed her very plainly that I believed him much too 
for her, and intimated with equal plainness my 
impression that she was but _a vain cogj iette. She laughed, 
shook her curls from her eyes, and danced away as if I had 
paid her a compliment. 

Miss Ginevra's school-studies were little better than 
nominal; there were but three things she practised in 
earnest, viz. music, singing, and dancing ; also embroidering 
the fine cambric handkerchiefs which she could not afford to 
buy ready worked : such mere trifles as lessons in history, 
geography, grammar, and arithmetic, she left undone, or got 
others to do for her. Very much of her time was spent in 
visiting. Madame* awai*e that her stay at school was now 
limited to a certain period, which would not be extended 
whethe(r she made progi'ess or not, allowed her great licence 
in this particular, Mrs, Choi mondeley^ her chaperan—ii gay, 
faahionable lady« invited her whenever she had company at 
her own house, and sometimes took her to evening-parties 
al Ibe bouses of her acquaintance. Giuevra perfectly 
approved this mode of procedure : it had but one in con - 
v^ence ; she was obliged to be well dressed, and she had 



L^ 



100 



VILLETTE 



Bot money to buy variety of dreasee. All her though 
turned ou this difficulty ; ber whole soul was occupied wi 
expedients for effecting its solution* It was wonderful to 
witness the activity of ber otherwise indolent mind on this 
point, and to see the much-dftring intrepidity to which she 
was spurred by a sense of necessity, and the wish to shine* 

She begged boldly of Mrs. Chobuondeley — boldly, I say : 
not with an air of reluctant shame, but in this strain :— 

* My darling Mrs, C, I have nothing in the world fit to 
wear for your party next week ; you mtist give me a book- 
muslin dress, and then a ceinture blene cileste : do — there's 
an angel ! will you ? * 

The ' darling Mrs. C/ yielded at first ; but finding that 
applications increased as they were complied with, she was 
soon obliged, like all Miss Fansbawe's fnendi^, to oppose 
resistance to encroachment. After a while I heard no more 
of Mrs. Cholmondeley's presents ; but still, visitiog went on, 
and the absolutely necessary dresses continued to be supplied : 
also many little expensive etcetera — gloves^ bouquets, even 
trinkets. These things, contrary to her custom, and even 
nature^for she was not secretive — ^were most sedulously 
kept out of sight for a time ; but one evening, when she was 
going to a large party for which particular care and elegance 
of costume were demanded, she could not resist coming to 
my chamber to show herself in all her splendour. 

Beautiful she looked : so young, so fresh, and with a 
delicacy of skin and flexibility of shape altogether English. 
and not found in the list of continental female charms. Her 
dress was new, costly, and perfect, I saw at a glance that 
it lacked none of those finishing details which cost so much, 
and give to the general effect such an air of tasteful 
completeness. 

I viewed her from top to toe. She turned airily round 
that I might survey her on all sides. Conscious of her 
charms, she was in her best humour : her rather small blue 
eyes sparkled gleefully. She was going to bestow on me a 
kias, in her school-girl fashion of showing i^er dehght : but I 



d 



ISIDORE 



101 



in 



said, ' Steady ! Let tta be steady, and know what we are 
>nt, and find out the meaniog of our magnificence ' — 
id so put her off at arm's length, to undergo cooler 
inspection. 

Shall I do ? * was her question. 

Do ? * said I. * There are different ways of doing ; and, 
by my word, I don't understand yours/ 

^* But how do I look ? ■ 
' Yon look well dressed.* 
She thought the praise not warm enough, and proceeded 
direct attention to the various decorative points of her 
attire, * Look at this parure,* said she. 'The brooch, the 
ear-ring9» the bracelets: no one in the school has Buch a 
net — not Madame herself/ 

' I see them all/ (Pause.) * Did M. d© Bassompieixe 
give you those jewels ? * 

• My uncle knows nothing about them/ 

^ * Were they presents from Mrs. Cholmondeley ? * 
H • Not they, indeed. Mrs. Cholmondeley is a mean, stingy 
^^Bereature ; she never gives me anything now/ 
^" I did not choose to ask any further questions^ but turef I 
abruptly away, 

• Now, old Crusty — old Diogenes ' (these were her 
familiar tenns for me when -we disagreed), ' what is the 
matter now ? ' 

' Take yourself away. I have no pleasure in looking at 

hyou or your parure.* 
For an instant, she seemed taken by surprise. 
* What now, Mother Wisdom ? I have not got into debt 
for it — that is, not for the jewels, nor the gloves, nor the 
bouquet. My dress is certainly not paid for, but uncle de 
Baasofmpierre will pay it in the bill : he never notices itema« 
but just looks at the total ; and he is so rich) one need not 
oare about a few guineas more or less/ 

'Will you go? I want to shut the door. . , , Ginevra, 
people may tell you you are very handsome in that ball- 
atlire ; but, in viy eyes, you will never look so pretty as you 



^ 



102 



VILLETTE 



\l^ 



>«V 



did to the girtgham gown and plain Btr&w bonnei you wc 
when I ftrat saw you.' 

* Other peopio hav e_not yam puritanical taste s/ was her 
angry reply. ' And, besides, I see no right you have to ser- 
moDize me/ 

* Certainly ! I have little right ; and you, perhaps, 
have still less to come flourishing and fluttering into my 
chamber^a mere jay io borrowed plumes. I have not the 
least respect for your feathers, Miss Fanshawe ; and espe- 
cially the peacocks eyes you call a parure: very pretty 
things, if you had bought them with money which was your 
own, and which you could well spare, but not at all pretty 
under present circumstances/ 

* On est \k pour Mademoiselle Fanshawe ! ' was announced 
by the portress, and away she tripped. 

This semi-mystery of the parure was not solved till two 
or three days afterwards, when she came to make a voluBtary 
confefibvion. 

* You need not be sulky with me/ she began, * in the 
idea that I am nm ning somebody, papa or M. dc Bassom- 
pierre, deeply into debt. I assure you nothing remains 
unpaid for, but the few dresses I have lately had : all the 
rest is settled/ 

* There,' I thought, * lies the mystery ; considering that 
they were not given you by Mrs. Cholmondeley, and that 
your own means are limited to a few shillings, of which I 
know you to he excessively careful/ 

* Ecoutez t * she went on, drawing near and speaking in 
her most confidential and coaxing totie ; for my 'sulkiness* 
was inconvenient to her : she liked me to be in a talking 
and listening mood, even if I only talked to chide and 
listened to rail, * Ecoutez, ch^re grogneuse 1 I will tell yo 
all how and about it ; and you will then see, not only hot 
right the whole thing is, but how cleverly managed. In 
first place, I must go out. Papa himself said that he wighe 
me to see something of the world ; he particularly retnarke 
to Mrs. Cbolmondeley, that, Uiough 1 was a sweet cieiU.uie 



ISIDORE 



lOd 



^h, I had rather a bread*and*biitter*€ating, school-girl 
air ; of which it was his special desire that I should get rid, 
by an introduction to society here, before I made my regular 
d^but in England. Well, then, if I go out, I must dress. 
Mtb* Cholmondeley is turned shabby, and will give nothing 
more ; it*would be too hard npon uncle to make him pay for 
all the things I need : that you can*t deny — thci agrees with 
your own preachments. Well, but somebody who heard me 
(quite by chance, I assure you) complaining to Mrs. Chol- 
mondeley of my distressed circumstances, and what straits I 
was put to (or an ornament or two— somebodi/t far from 
grudging one a present, was quite delighted at the idea of 
being permitted to offer some trifle. You should liave seen 
what a blanC'bec he looked when he first spoke of it : bow 
he hesitated and blushed, and positively trembled from fear 
of a repulse. 

'That will do, Miss Fanshawe. I suppose I am to 
understand that M. Isidore is the benefactor : that it is from 
him you have accepted that costly parure ; that he supplies 
your bouquets and your gloves ? * 

^You express yourself so disagreeably,* said she, 'one 
hardly knows how to answer ; what 1 mean to say is, that I 
occasionally allow frirlnrn thr plrjuiurr^ n,prt honour of 
expressmg his homage by the ofifer of a trifle/ 

' It comes to the same thing, . . . Now, Ginevra, to 
speak the plain truth, I don't very well understand these 
naafeters ; but I believe you are doing very wrong — seriously 
wrong. Perhaps, however, you now feel certain that you 
will be able to marry M. Isidore ; your pai'ents and uncle 
have given their consent, and, for your part, you love him 
eourely ? * 

* Maia pas du tout 1 ' (she always had recourse to Frenoh 
when about to say something specially heartless and per* 
verse). ' Je suis sa reine, mais tl nest pas mon roi.* 

* Excuse me, I mtS^t believe this language is mere 
POnaense and coquetry. There is nothing great about you, 

* yet you are above profiting by the good nature and purse of 




It, 



VILLETTE 

to whom you feel absolute indifference. You lor© 
Isidore far more than you think, or will avow/ 
*No. Idanoed with a young officei" the other night, 
whom I love a thousar^d times more than he. I ofbej 
wonder why I feel bo very cold to Isidore, for every bod; 
says he is handsome, and other ladies admire him ; but 
somehow, he bores me : let me see now how it is 

And she seemed to make an effort to reflect. In this I 
encouraged her. 

' Yes I ' I saidf ' try to get & clear idea of the state of 
your mind. To me it seems in a great mess — chaotic as a 
rag-bag/ 

' It is something in this fashion/ she cried out ere long : 
* the man is too romantic and devoted, and he expects some- 
thing more of me than I End it convenient to be. He thinks 
I am perfect : furnished with all sorts of sterling qualities 
and solid virtues, Buch as I never had, nor intend to have.^M 
Now, one can't help, in his presence, rather trying to justify^B 
his good opinion ; and it does so tire one to be goody, and ui ^ 
talk sense, — for he really thinks I am sotfsible. 1 am far 
more at ray ease with you, old lady — you, you dear crosb- 
patch — who take me at my lowest, and know me to be 
coquettish, and ignorant, and flirting, and fickle, and silly, 
and selfish, and all the other sweet things you and I have 
agreed to be a part of my character/ 

' This is all very well,' I said, making a strenuous effort 
to preserve that gravity and severity which ran risk of being 
shaken by this whimsical candour, ' but it does not alter 
that wretched business of the presents. Pack them up, 
Ginevra, like a good, honest girl, and send them back/ 

* Indeed, I won't/ said she, stoutly. 
' Then you are deceiving M. Isidore. It stands to reaeoi 

that by accepting his presents you give him to understand 
be vrill one day receive an equivalent, in your regard . . / 

* But he won't,' she interrupted : ' he has his equivalent 
now, in the pleasure of seeing me wear them — quite 
for him ; be is only bourgeois/ 



1 



ISIDORE 



105 



^ 



This phrase, in its senseless arrogance, quite cured me of 
the temporary weakness wliich had made me relax my tone 
Aod aspeot. 8he rattled on : 

• My present business is to enjoy youth, and not to think 
of fettering myself, by promise or vow, to this man or that. 
When first I saw Isidore, I believed he would help me to 
enjoy it. I believed he would be content with my being a 
pretty girl ; and that we should meet and part and flutter 
about like two butterflies, and be happy. Lo, and behold ! 
I find him at times as grave as a judge, and deep-feeling and 
thoughtful. Bah I Les penseurs, les hommes profouds et 
passionn^s ne sont pas k mon goUt. Le colonel Alfred de 
Eamal suits me far better. Ya pour les beaux fats et les 
jobs fripons ! Vive les joies et les plaiairs I A has les 
gra ndes passions et les s^vferes vertu s I * 

She looked for an answer to this tirade, I gave none. 

*J*aime mon beau colonel,' she went on: 'je n'aimerai 
jamais son rival J e ne serai jamaia fern me de bourgeois, 
moi I ^^ -m 

I now signified that it was imperatively necessary my 
apartment should be reUeved of the honour of her presence : 
she went away laughing. 



.r 



\\ 



CHAPTEE X 



DR. JOHN 



Madame Beck was a most consistent character ; forbearin] 
with all the world, and tender to no part of It Her owtt 
children drew her into no deviation from the even tenor of 
her stoic cii.lm. She was solicitous about her family, vigilant 
for their interests and physical well-heing ; but she never 
seemed to know the wish to take her little children upon her 
lap, to press their rosy lips with her own, to gather them in 
a genial embrace, to shower on iheni softly the benignant 
caress, the loving word. 

I have watched her sometimes sitting in the garden, 
viewing the Uttle ones afar off, as they walked in a distant 
alley with Trinette, their bonne ; in her mien spoke care 
and prudence. I know she often pondered anxiously what 
she called ' Leur avenir' ; but if the youngest, a puny and 
delicate hut engaging child, chancing to spy her, broke from 
its nurse, and toddling down the walk, came all eager and 
laughing and panting to clasp her knee, Madame would 
just calmly put out one hand, so as to prevent inconvenient, 
concussion from the child's sudden onset : * Prends gard* 
roon enfant ! ' she would say unmoved, patiently permit it 
stand near her a few moments, and then, without smile 
kiss, or endearing syllable, rise and lead it back to Trinette. 

Her demeanour to the eldest girl was equally character- 
istic in another way. This was a vicious child. 'Quelle 
peste que cette D6sir6e 1 Quel poison que cet enfant-l& I * 
were the expressions dedicated to her, alike in kitchen and 






DB. JOHN 



107 



in schoolroom. Amongst her other endowmentB she boaBted 
an exquisite skill in the art of provocation, sometimes 
dnYiQg her bonne and the servants almost wild. She would 
steal to their attics, open their drawers and boxes p wantonly 
tear their best caps and soil their best shawls ; she would 
watoh her opportunity to get at the bulfet of the salle 4 
manger, where she would smash articles of porcelain or 
glass — or to the cupboai'd of the storeroom, where she would 
plunder the preserves, drink the sweet wine, break jars and 
bottles, and so contrive as to throw the onus of suspicion on 

[ Ihe cook and the kitchenmaid. All this when Madame saw, 
and of which when she received report, her sole observation, 
uttered with matchless serenity, was : * D6sir6e a besoin 
d'une ^|iry^ma iice to ute parti culi6re/ ^ — 

AcGordingly she kept this promising ohve-branch a good 
deal at her side. Never once, I believe, did she teil her 

, faithfully of her faults, explain the evil of such habits^ and 
show the results which must thence ensue. Surveillance 
must work the whole cure* It failed of course. D^sir^ 
was kept in some measure from the servants, but she teased 
and pillaged her mamma int^tead. Whatever belonging to 
Madame'8 work -table or toilet she could lay her hands on, 
she stole and liid. Madame saw all this, but she still pre- 
tended not to see : she had not rectitude of soul to confront 
ihe child with her vices. When an article disappeared whose 

^ value rendered restitution necessary, she would profess to 

timk that IMsir6e had taken it away in play, and beg her to 

estore it. ggsiijg was not to be so cheated : she had 

learned to bring falsehood to ihe aid of theft, and would 

ay having touched the brooch, ring, or scissors. Carrying 

the hollow system, the mother would calmly assume an 

kir of belief, and afterwards ceaselessly watoh and dog the 

lild till she tracked her to her hiding-places — some hole in 

garden -wall — some chink or cranny in garret or out- 

pbouse. This done, Madame would send D^sir^e out for a 
walk with her bonnet and profit by her absence to rob the 
robber* D6sir6e proved herself the true daughter of her 



106 



VILLETTE 



astute parent, by never sufiTering either her countenance or 
manner to betray the least sign of mortification on dis- 
covering the loss. ^ 

The second child, Fifinei was said to be like its de'idfl 
father. Certainly, though the mother had given it her 
healthy frame, her blue eye and ruddy cheek, not from her ^ 
was derived its moral being. It was an honest, gleefnl littlerfl 
soul I a passionate, warm -tempered, bustling creature it was 
too, and of the sort hkety to blunder often into perils and 
difficulties. One day it bethought itself to fall from top to 
lx»ttom of a steep flight of stone steps ; and when Madame, 
bearing the noise (slie always heard every noise), issued 
from the salle h manger and picked it op, she said quietly — 
* Get enfant a nn os cass^/ 

At first we hoped this was not the case. It was, how- 
ever, but too true : one little plump arm hung powerless. 

'Let Meess' (meaning me) ' take her/ said Madame ; *et 
qu'on aille tout de suite chercher un fiacre.' 

In a fiacre she promptly, but with admirable coolness 
and self-possession, departed to fetch a surgeon. 

It appeared she did not find the family- surgeon at home ; 
but that mattered not : she sought until she laid her hand on 
a substitute to her mind, and brought him baok with her. 
Meantime I had cut the child's sleeve from its arm, 
undressed and put it to bed. 

We none of us, I suppose (by w6 I mean the bonne, tho 
cook, the portress, and myself, all which personages were 
DOW gathered in the small and heated chamber), looked very 
scrutinizingly at the new^ doctor when he came into the 
room. I, at least, was taken up with endeavouring to soothe 
Fifine ; whose cries (for she had good lungs) were appalling 
to hear. These cries redoubled in intensity as the^stranger 
approached her bed ; when he took her up, * Let aloneT*lihe' 
cried passionately, in her broken English (for she spoke 
English as did the other children). ' I will not you : 
Dr, Pillule I ' 

* And Dr. Pillule is my very good friend/ was the i 



i: Ij^ 



DR. JOHN 



109 



I 



in perfect English ; ' but he ib busy at a place three leagues 
ofi^ and I am come in hjB stead. So now, when we get a 
little calmer, we must commence business ; and we wDl 
soon have that unlucky little arm bandaged and in right 
order.' 

Hereupon he called for a glass of eau smrie, fed her with 
some teaspoonfuls of the sweet liquid (Fifine was a frank 
goormande; anyl)ody could win her heart through her 
palate), promised her more when the operation should he 
over, and promptly went to work. Some assistance being 
needed, he demanded it of the cook, a robust, strong-arrued 
woman ; but ehc, the portress, and the nurse instantly fled. 
I did not like to touch that small, tortured limbj but thinking 
thenre was no alternative, my hand was already extended to 
do what was requisite. I was anticipated ; Madame Beck 
had put out her own hand : hers was steady while mine 
trembled. 

' <Ja vaudra mieux,' said the doctor, turning from roe to 
her* 

He showed wisdom in his choice. Mine would have 
been feigned stoicism, forced fortitude. Hers was neither 
forced nor feigned. 

• Mercit madame ; tr^s bien, fort bien V said the operator 
when he ha^i finished. * Voil4 un sang-froid bien opportun, 
el qui vaut rnille ^lans de sensibility d6plac^o/ 

He was pleased with her firmness, she with his compli- 
ment. It was likely, too, that his whole general appearance, 
his Toioe, mien, and manner, wrought impressions in his 
Cavour. Indeed, when you looked well at him, and when a 
lamp was brought in— for it was evening, and now waxing 
duak — you saw that, unless Madame Beck had been less 
than woman, it could not well be otherwise. This young 
doctor (h ^ wa^ young) had no common aspect . His sUture 
looked inapOHipgly tall in that little chamber, and amidst 
that group of DiUch-made women ; his profile was clear, 
fiae and expressive * pSrh^ps ins eye glanced from face to 
faoe rather too vividly, too quickly, and too often ; but it 



110 



VILLETTE 






had a raost pleasant character, and so had his mouth ; hil 
chin was full, cleU, Grecian, and perfect. As to his smik 
one could not in a hurry make up one's mind as to the 
descriptive epithet it merited ; there was something in it 
that pleased, but something too that brought surging up into 
the mind all one's foibles and vveak points : all that could 
lay one open to a laugh. Yet Fi6ne liked this doubtfu 
smile, and thought the owner genial : much as he had hurt 
her, she held cut her hand to hid him a friendly good-night. 
He patted the little hand kindly, and then he and Mad&nie 
went down-stairs together ; she talking in her highest tide 
af spirits and volubility, he listening with an air of good- 
natured amenity, dashed with that unconscious roguisI^H 
archness I find it difficult to describe. ^^ 

I noticed that though he spoke French well, he spoke 
English better; he had, too » an English complexion, eyes, 
and form. I noticed more. As he passed me in leaving 
the room, turning his face in my direction one moment — 
not to address me, but to speak to Madame, yet so standing, 
that I almost necessarily looked up at him— a recollection 
which bad been struggling to form in my memory, since the 
first moment 1 heard bis voice, started up perfected. This 
was the very gentleman to whom I had spo ken at the 
bureau ; who had helped me in the matter of the trunk' ; 
who had been my guide through the dark, wet path. 
Listening, as he passed down the long vestibule out into the 
street, I recognised his very tread : it was the same firm 
and equal stride J had followed under the dripping trees. 



It was to be concluded that this young surgeon- 

f}hy6i cian*8 first visit to the Bue Fossette would he the last. 

TherSfepec table Dr. Pillule being expected home the next 

day, there appeared no reason why his temporary substitute 

I should again represent him ; but the Fates had written their 

I decree to tlie contrary. 

Dr. Pillule had been summoned to see a rich old hypo- 
ohondriao at the antique university town of Bouquin-Moia 



DB. JOHN 



111 



and upon his prescribing change of air And travel as 
remedies, he was retained to aocoEnpany the timid patient 
00 a tour of some weeks ; it but remained, therefore, for the 
new doctor to continue his attendance at the Hue Fossette. 

I often saw him when he camo ; for Madame would not 
trust the litUe invalid to Trinette, but required me to spend 
much of my time in the nursery. I think he wati fikilful. 
Fifine recovered rapidly under his carci yet even her convalos- 
oenee did not hasten his dismissal. Destiny and Madame Beck 
fieemed in league, and both had ruled that he should make 
deliberate acquaintance with tho vestibule, the private 
stairease and upper chambers of the Rue Fossette. 

No sooner did Fihne emerge from his hands than \^^i 
D^mHe declared herself ill. That possessed child had a . 
genius for simulation, and captivated by the attentions and \ 
mduigences of a sick*room, she came to the conclusion that \ 
an illness would perfectly accommodate her tastes, and took I 
her bed accordingly. She acted well, and her mother still i 
better ; for while the whole case was transparent to Madame 
Beck as the day, she treated it with an astonishingly well- 
aasured air of gravity and good faith. 

What surprised me was, that Dr. John (so the young i 
Englishman had taught Fifine to call him, and we all took I 
from her the habit of addressing him hy this name, tilt it 1 
became an established custom, and he was known hy no 
other in the Bue Fossette)— that Dr. John consented tacitly 
to adopt Madame's tactics, and to fall in with ber manmuvres. 
He betrayed, indeed, a period of comic doubt, cast one or 
two rapid glances from the child to the mother, indulged in 
no interval of self -consultation, hut finally resigned himself 
with a good grace to play his part in Ui^jbivee. DSsir^ ate 
like a raven, giimbolled day and night in her bed, pitched 
teol9 with the sheets and blankets, lounged like a Turk 
amidst pillows and bolsters, diverted herself with throwing 
bar eboea at ber bonne and grimacing at her sisters — y 
overflowed, in short, with unmerited health and evil* spirits ; 
only languishing when her mamma and the physician paid 



.^' 



\,v 






113 



VILLETTE 



(( 



their diurnal visit. Madanie Beck, I knew, was glad, at an; 
pnce^ to have her daughter m bed out of the way of mischief 
but I wondered that Dr. John did not tire of the business. 

Every day, on this mere pretext o! a motive, he g^^m 
punctual attendance ; Madame always received him with 
the same empressement, the same sunBhine for himself, the 
same admu*ahly counterfeited air of concern for her child. 
Dr. John wrote harmless preBcriptions for the patient, and 
viewed her mother with a shrewdly sparkling eye* Madame 
caught his rallying looks without resenting them — she bad 
too much good sense for that. Supple as the young doctor 
seemed, one could not despise him— this pliant part was 
evidently not adopted in the design to curry favour with his 
employer : while he liked his office at the pensionnat, and 
hngered strangely about the Rue Fossette« he was inde- 
pendent, almost careless in his carriage there ; and yet, too, 
he was often thoughtful and preoccupied. 

It was not perhaps ray business to observe the mystery 
of his bearing, or search out its origin or aim ; but, plaoed 
as I was, I could hardly help it. He laid himself open to 
my obser\'ationi according to my presence in the room jui 
that degree of notice and consequenoe a person of 
exterior habitually expects : that is to say, about what m^ 
given to unobtrusive articles of furniture, chairs of ordinal 
joiner's work, and carpets of no striking pattern. Oftei 
while waiting for Madame, he would muse, smile, watch, or 
listen like a man who thinks himself alone. I, meantime, 
was free to puzzle over his countenance and movements, 
and wonder what could be the meaning of that peculiar 
interest and attachment — all mixed up with doubt and 
strangeness, and inexplicably ruled by some^^pr esidin^ apeU 
— ^which wedded him to thi ^ d em i- con v ent, secluded in the 
bmilt-up core of a capital. He, I believe, never remembered 
that I had eyes in my head, much iem a brain behind them. 

Nor would he ever have found this cut, but that one day, 

! while he sai in the sunshine and I was observing the 

colouring of his hair, whii^kers, and complexion— 4hd whole 




DB. JOHN 



i'"" ^ 






being of such a tone as a strong lighl bringB out with some- 
what perilous force (indeed I reooUecb I was driven to 
compare his beamy head in my thoughts to that of the 
* golden image ' which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set 
up), an idea new, sudden, and startling, riveted my attention 
with an overniasteringjtDBO|^yh^^andpow^ I 

know not to this day how I looked at him : thefSrce of 
surprise, and also of conviction, made me forget myself ; and 
1 only recovered wonted consciousness when I saw that his 
notice was arrested, and that it had caught my movement in 
a clear l ittle oval mirro r fiiad in the side of the window ] 
lecess — by the aid of which reflector Madame often secretly 
spied persons walking in the garden below. Though of so 
gay and aanguine a temperament, he was not without a 
certain nervous sensitiveness which made him ill at ease 
under a direct, inquiring gaze. On surprising me thus, he 
turned and said, in a tone which, though courteoug, had just 
80 much dryness In it as to mark a shade of annoyance, as 
well as to give to what was said the character of rebukci 
'Mademoiselle does not spare me : I am not vain enough to 
fancy that it is my merits which attract her attention ; it 
mast then be acme defect. Dare I ask— what ? ' 

I was confounded, as the reader mayTttppose, yet not 
with an irrecoverable confusion ; being conscious that it was 
from no emotion of incautious admiration, nor yet in a spirit 
of unjustifiable inqmsitiveness, that I had incurred this 
reproof. I might have cleared myself on the spot, but 
would not. I did oofejpeak. I was not in the habit of 
fipeaking to him, SafferingTiim, then, to think what he 
choee and accuse me of what he would, I resumed some 
work I had dropped, and kept my head bent over it during 
the remainder of Ms stay. There is a perverse mood of the 
tnind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruc- 
tion ; and in quarters where we can never be rightly known, 
We take pleasure, I think, in being consummately ignored. 
What honest man, on being casually taken for a housebreaker, 
does not £del rather tickled than vexed at the mistake ? 



CHAPTER XI 

THE POHTBEBB^S CABINET 

It was eummer and very hot Georgette, the Y<^i3ng^st of 
Madame Beck's children, took a fever. IMsir^, suddenly 
cured of her ailments, was, together with Pifine, packed off 
to Bonne-Maman, in the country, hy way of precaution 
against infection. Medical aid was now really needed, and 
Madame, choosing to ignore the return of Dr. Pillule, who 
had been at home a week, conjured his English rival to 
continue his visits. One or two of the pensionnaires com- 
plained of headache, and in other respects seemed slightly 
to participate in Georgette a ailment, ' Now, at lasti 
thought, ' Dr. Pillule must be recalled : the prudent direotrei 
will never venture to permit the attendanoe of so yotiiig 
man on the pupils' 

The directress was very prudent, hut she could also be 
intrepidly venturous. She Ewctnally introduced Dr. John to 
the school divinion of the premises, and established htm in 
attendance on the proud and handsome Blanche de Melcy, 
and the ^in, flirtin g Ang^gxie> her friend. Dr. John» I 
thought, testified a certain gratification at this mark of con- 
fidence ; and if discretion of bearing could have justified the 
step, it would by him have been amply justified. Here, 
however, in this land of convents and oonfessionald, such a 
presence as his was Dot to be suifered with impiznity in « 
* l>6nsionnat de denioiselies/ The school gossiped, the 
kitchen whispered^ the town c>aught the rumour, parente 
wrote letters and paid jmils ol remonstrance. Maiamei had 



i 




THE PORTRESS'S CABINET 



118 



slie been weak, would now have been lost: a dozen rival 
edacational houses wore ready to improve this fake step — if 
false step it were^to her ruin ; but Madame was not weak, 
and little Jesuit though she might be, yet I clapped the 
h&oda of my heart, and with its voice cried * brava ! * as I 
watched her able bearing, her skilled management^ her 
temper and her firmness on this occasion. 

She met the alarmed parents with a good-humoured, 
easy grace : for nobody matched her in, I know not whether 
to say the possession or the assumption of a certain 
* rondeur et franchise de bonne femme " ; which on various 
occasions gained the point aimed at with instant and com- 
plete success, where severe gravity and serious reasoning 
would probably have failed. 

* Ce pauvre docteur Jean I * she would say, chuckling 
aod rubbing joyously her fat little white hands ; • ce cher 
jeane homme ! !a meilleure creature du monde ! ' and go on 
to explain how she happened to be employing him for her own 
childreD, who were so fond of him they would scream them- 
selves into fits at the thought of another doctor ; how, where 
she had confidence for her own, she thought it natural to 
repose trust for others, and au reste, it was only the most 
temporary expedient in the world ; Blanche and Ang^lique 
had the migraine ; Dr. John had written a prescription ; 
voilA tout 1 

The parents' mouths were closed. Blanche and 
Ang^lique saved her all remaining trouble by chanting loud 
duets in their physician's praise ; the other pupils echoed 
them, unanimously declaring that when they were ill they 
would have Dr. John and nobody else; and Madame 
laughed, and the parents laughed too. The Labassecouriens 
rr^naf. hg;ve ^arpe organ of philoprogenitiveness : at leaat 
the indulgence of offspring is earned by them" to excessive 
lengths ; the law of most households being the children's 
will. Madame now got credit for having acted on this 
occasion in a spirit of motherly partiality : she came off with 
flying colours ; people liked her as a directress better than ever. 



116 



VILLETTB 






To this day I never fully understood why she th^ 
risked her interest for the sake of Dr. John. What peoptej 
said, of course, I know well : the whole house — pupilSi'J 
teachers, servants included— affianfidJhaLabe was goin^ i 
m j^rry hirr^ So they had settled it ; difference of 
seemed to make no obstacle in their eyes : it was to be so. 

It must be admitted that appearances did not wholly 
discountenance this idea ; Madame seemed so bent on 
retaining his services^ so oblivious of her former prot^g6, 
Pillule. She made, too, such a point of personally receiving 
his visits, and was so unfailingly cheerful, blithe, and 
benignant in her manner to him. Moreover, she paid, about 
this time, marked attention to dress : the morning dishabillep 
the nightcap and shawl, were discarded ; Dr, John*s early 
visits always found her with auburn braids all nicely 
arranged, silk dress trimly fitted on, neat laced brodequins 
in lieu of slippers : in short, the whole toilette complete as a 
model, and fresh as a flower. I scarcely think, however, 
that her intention in this went further than just to show a 
very handsome man that she was not quite a plain woman : 
and plain she was not. Without beauty of feature or 
elegance of form, she pleased. Without youth and its gay 
graces, she cheered. One never tired of seeing her: she 
was never monotonous, or insipid, or colourless, or flat. 
Her unfaded hair, her eye with its temperate blue light, her 
cheek with its wholesome fruit-like bloom — these things 
pleased in moderation, but with constancy. 

Hiid she, indeed, floating visions of adopting Dr. John as 
a husband, taking him to her well-furnished home, endowi 
him with her savings, which were said to amount to 
moderate competency, and making him comfortable for 
rest of his life ? Did Dr. John suspect her of such v Jaiona 
I have met him coming out of her presence wiih a mis- 
ohievous half-smile about his lips, and m his eyes a look as of 
< masculine vanii>^.£ lgite and tick led. With all his good looks 
I and good-nature, he was not perfect; he must have been 
wery imperfect if he roguishly encouraged aims he never 



L as 

I 



THE POKTRESS'S CABINET 



iotended to be successful But did he not inteud them 
to be successful ? People said he had no money, that he i 
was wholly dependent upon his profession. Madame — ' 
though perhaps some fourteen years hie senior — was yet the 
sort of woman never to grow old, never to wither, never to 
break down. They certainly were on gpod terms. He 
perhaps was not in love ; but how many people ever do 
love, or at least marry for love> in this world ? We waited 
the end. 

For what A« waited, I^ dp jaot JtBOW, nor for what he 
watched ; but the peculiarity of his manner, his expectant, 
vigilant, absorbed* eager look, never wore off: it rather 
intensified. He had never been quite within the compass 
of my penetration, and I think he ranged farther and farther 
beyond it. 

One morning little Georgette had been more feverish and 
consequently more peevish ; she was crying, and would not 
be pacified. I thought a particular draught ordered, dis- 
agreed with her, and I doubted whether it ought to be 
continued ; I waited impatiently for th edoctor^s coming in 
order to consult him. 

The door-bell rang, he was admitted ; I felt sure of this, 
for I heard his voice addressing the portress. It w^as his 
custom to mount straight to the nurse r}', taking about three 
degrees ol the staircase at once, and coming upon us like a 
cheerfcil surprise. Five minutas elapsed— ten — and I saw 
and heard nothing of him. What could he be doing? 
Possibly waiting in the conidor below. Little Georgette 
still piped her plaintive wail, appealing to roe by her familiar 
tainiii * Minnie, Minnie, me very poorly ! ' till my heart ached. 
I descended to ascertain why he did not come. The 
oorridor was empty. Whither was he vanished ? Was he 
with Madame in t he salle d T nangcr ? Impossible : I had 
left her but a short time since7 dressing in her own chamber. 
I Usteoed. Three pupils were just then hard at work prac* 
filing in three proximate rooms- -the dining-room and the 
greater and lesser drawing-rooms, between which and tiie 



V 






118 



VILLETTE 



corridor there was but the portress's cabinet commtinicai 
with the salons, and intended originally for a boudoirj 
Farther ofiF, at a fourth instrument in the oratory, a who! 
class of a dozen or more were taking "nlnging lesson, a] 
just then joining in a * barcarole * (I think they called it] 
whereof I yet remember these words, * fratche,' * brise, 
* Yenis^.* Under these circumstances, "wHat oould I hear 
A great deal, certainly ; had it only been to the purpose. 

Yes; I heard a g idily trebla laugh in the above-men 
tioned little cabinet, close by the door of which I stood — 
that door half-unclosed ; a man*s voice in a soft, dee 
pleading ton^, uttered some words, whereof I only caugl 
the adjuration, ' ForJSod! ^sake t ' Then, after a second's 
pause, forth issued Dr. John, his eye full shining, but not 
with either joy or tnumph ; his fair English cheek high- 
coloured ; a baffled, tortured, anxious, and yet a tender 
meaning on his b row. ' " 

The open door sensed me as a screen ; but had I been 
full in bis way, I believe he would have passed withoi 
seeing me. Some mortilication, some strong vexation 



'M 






bold of bis soul : or rather, to wiite my Impressions now 
I received tbem at the time, I should say some sorro w» some' 
sense of injustice. I did not so much think his pride was 
hurt, as that his affections had been wounded — cruelly 
wounded, it seemed to me. But who was the torturer? 
What being in that bouse had him so much in her power ? 
Madame I believed to be in her chamber ; the room whence 
he had stepped was dedicated to the portress's sole use 
and she, Eosine Matou, an unprincipled though pretl 
little French grisette, airy, fickle, dressy, vain, 
mercenary — it was not, surely, to htr hand be owed 
ordeal through which he seemed to have passed ? 

But while I pondered, her voice, clear, though somew] 
sharp, broke out in a lightsome French song, trilling throuj 
the door still ajar : 1 glanced in, doubting my senses. Thi 
at the table she sat in a smart dress of ' jaooDas rose," 
ming a tiny blond cap : not a living thing save hetnelf 



isej^ 



THE PORTEEaS'S CABINET 



118 



in the rootu, except indeed some gold fish in el glass globe, 
some flowers in pots, and a broad July suobeatxit 

Here was a problem : but I must go up-stalra to ask 
about the medicine. 

Dr. John sat in a Ghair at Georgette's bedside ; Madame 
stood before bim ; the little patient had been examined and 
soothed, and now lay composed in her crib. Madame Beck^ 
as I entered, was discussing the physician's own healthy 
remiurkiDg on some real or fancied change in his looks^ 
charging him with ove rework, and recommending rest and 
change of air. He listened good-natnredly, but with laugh- 
ing indifference, telUng ber that she was ' trop bouoe/ and 
that he felt perfectly well, Madame appealed to me — Dr. 
John following her movement with a slow glance which 
seemed to express languid surprise at reference being made 
to a quarter so insignificant. 

* What do you think, Miss Lucie ? * asked Madame. * Is 
he not paler and thinner ? ' 

It was very seldom that I uttered more than monosyl- 
lables in Dr, John's presence ; he was the kind of person 
with whom I was likely ever to remain the neutral, passive 
thing Lejhought me* Now, however, I took licence to 
aaswer in a phrase : and a phrase I purposely made quite 
significant. 

' He looks ill at this moment ; but perhaps it is owing to^ 
some temporary cause : Dr, John may have been vexed or ^ 
harassed/ 1 cannot tell liow he took this speech, as 1 never 
sought his face for information. Georgette here began to 
ask me in her broken English if she might have a glass o! 
tau sucrie. I answered her La English. For the first time, 
I fancy, he noticed that I spoke his language; hitherto he 
had alw*ays taken me for a foreigner, atddreasing me as 
'Mademoiselle,' and giving in French the requisite directions 
about the children's treatment. He seemed on the point of 
making a remark, but thinking better of it, held his tongue. 

Madame recommenced advising him ; be shook his head, 
l&aghtng, rose and bid her good •morning, with comtesy, but 



120 



VILLETTE 



still with the regardless air of one whoQi too much ansoUciti 
attention was suifeiting and spoiliug. 

When he was gone, Mudame dropped into the chair h 
had jost left ; she rested her chin io her hand ; all that wai 
animated and amiable vanished from her face : she looke< 
stony and stern, almost mortiBed and morose. She sighed 
a single, but a deep sigh. A loud bell rang for morning 
sohooL She got up; as she passe i a dressing-table with \ 
glass upon it, she looked at her reflected image. One singl 
white hair streaked her nut-brown tresses ; she plucked i 
out with a shudder. In the full summer daylight, her face 
^ though it still had the colour, could plainly be seen to hav 
lost the texture of youth ; and then, where were youth* 
contours? Ah, Madame I wise as you were, even you kuei 
weakness. Never had I pitied Madame before, but my heai 
softened towards her, when she turned darkly from the glaai 
A calamity had come upon her. That hag Disappointmei) 
was greeting her with a grisly ' AU-hail,' and her soul rejeoa 
the intimacy. 

But Rosine I My bewilderment there surpasses descrii 
tion, I embraced five opportunities of passing her cabinc 
that day, with a view to contemplating her charms, an 
finding out the secret of their influence. She was pretti 
young, and wore a well-made dress. All vety good jxiintt 
and, I suppose, amply sufficient to account, in any phik 
sophic mind, for any amount of agony and distraction ia 
young man, like Dr, John. Still, I could not help forznin 
half a wish that the said doctor were my brother ; or at lead 
that he had a sister or a mother who would kindly sermonii 
him. I say half a wish ; I broke it, and flung it away befoi 
it became a whole one, discovering in good time its exquisil 
folly. * Somebody,* I argued, ' might as well sermomi 
Madame about her young physician : and what good wocd 
that do?* 

I believe Madame sermonized herself. She did 
behave weakly, or make herself in any shape ridiculotui. 
is true she had neither strong feeliagn to overcome, nor 1 



THE PORTRESS'S CABINET 



121 



feelings by which to be miserably pained. It is true likewise 
that ahe had an important avocation, a real business to fill 
her time, divert her thoughts, and divide her interest. It is 
especially true that she possessed a genuine good sense 
which is not given to all women nor to all men ; and by dint 
d these combined advantages she behaved wisely — she 
behaved well. Braval once more, Madame Beck. I saw 
yoQ matched against an Apollyon of a predilection; you 
boght a good fight, and you overcame I 



; 




CHAPTEB XII 



THE CASKET 



Behind the house at the Riie Fossetta there waa^a_garden— 
large, considering that it lay in the heart of a city, and to my 
recollection at this day it seems pleasant: but timep Uke 
distance, lends to certain scenes an influence bo softening ; 
and where all is stone around, blank wall and hot pavement, 
how precious seems one shrub, how lovely an enclosed and 
planted spot of ground I 

There went a tradition that Madame Beck's house had 
in old days been a convent. That in years gone by^ — how 
long gone by I cannot tell, but I think some centuries — 
before the city had overspread this quarter, and when it wafi 
tilled ground and avenue, and such deep and leafy seelasion 
as ought to embosiom a religious house — that something had 
happened on this site which, rousing fear and inflicting 
horror, had left to the place the inheritance of a ghost- story. 
A vague tale went ol a black and white nun, sometimes, on 
some night or nights of the year, seen in some part of thi^ -^ 
vicinage. The ghost must have been built out some ages ^ 
ago, for there were houses all round now ; but certain con- - 
vent- relics, in the shape ol old and huge fruit-trees, yel '^ 
consecrated the spot ; and, at the foot of one — ^ Methuselah ^-^^ 

of a pear-tree, deadi all but a few boughs which still faith- 

fuDy renewed their perfumed snow in spring, and theii — "^ 
honey-sweet pendants in autumn^you saw, in scn^pin^^^ 
away the mossy earth between the half -bared rooti^ i^ ■ 
glimpse of slab, smooth, hard, and black. The legend wtot ^^ 




THE CASKET 



123 



1 &nd unaccredited, but Btill propagated, that this 
^Hf^m the portal of a Yaolt, imprisoning deep beneath that 
gromnd, oq who«e surface grass grew and flowers bloomed* 
the bones of a girl whom a monkish conclave of the drear 
middle agee had here buried alive for some sin against her 
vow* Her shadow it was that tremblers had feared, through 
bog geiierati0ns after her poor frame was dust ; her black 
tobe and white veil that, for timid eyes* moonlight and shade 
had mooked^ as they fluctuated in the night-vrind thit>ugh 
the g|krden*tfaicket. 

Independently of romantic rubbish, however, that old 
gafdeo had its charms. On summer mornings I used to 
ritfo eariy, to enjoy them alone ; on summer evenings, to 
linger solitary, to keep tr^^at with the rising moon, or taste 
one kiss of the evening breeze, or fancy rather than feel the 
fi«diness of dew descending. The turf was verdant, the 
^|r»velled walks were white ; sun-bright nasturtiums clus- 
tered beautiful about the roots of the doddered orchsu^ 
^jiants* There was a large berceau, above which spread the 
shade of an acacia ; there was a smaller, more sequestered 
bower, nestled in the vines which ran all along a high and grey 
wall, and gathered their tendrils in a knot of beauty, and 
hong their clusters in loving profusion about the favouz^ 
spo4 where jasmine imd ivy met and married them. 

Doubtless at high noon, in the braad, vulgar middle of 
the day, when Madame Beck's large school turned out ram- 
pan t« and extemes and pension naires were spread abroad, 
keying with the denizens of the boys' college close at haad« 
^Ha the brazen exercise of their lungs and hmbs — doubtless 
^Hft^ift the giarden was a trite, trodden -down place enough, 
^r^nt a4 sunset or the hour of salute when the eitemes were 
gooe home, and the boarders quiet at their studies ; pleasant 
Hae it then to stray down the peaceful alleys, and hear (he 
bells of St. Jean Baptiste peal out vrith their sweet, soft» 
exalted eoiuid. 

I was walking thus one evening, and had been detained 
:buiber within the verge of twilight than usual, by the still- 



'Q 



VILLETTE 



deepening calm, the mellow coolneas, the fragrant breathing 
with which flowers no siinahtne coqW win now answered 
the persuasion of the dew* I saw by a light in the oratory 
window that the Catholio household were then gathered to 
evening prayer — a rite, from attendance on which, I now and 
then, as a Protestant, exempted myself. 

* One moment longer/ whispered solitude and the sum- 
mer moon. * stay with us : all is truly quiet now ; for another 
quarter of an hour your presence will not be missed : the day's 
heat and bustle have tired you ; enjoy these precious minutes/ 

The windowless backs of houses built in this garden ^ and 
in particular the whole of one side, were skirted by the rear 
of a long line of premises — being the boarding-houses of the 
neighbouring college. This rear, however, was all blank 
stone, with the exception of certain attic loopholes high up, 
opening from the sleeping-rooms of the women-servants, 
and also one casement in a lower story said to mark the 
chamber or study of a master. But, though thus secure, 
an alley, which ran parallel with the very high wall on that 
side the garden, was forbidden to he entered by the pupils»j 
It w^as called indeed * Tall^e d^fendue/ and any girl settir 
foot there would have rendered herself liable to as severe 
penalty as the mild rules of Madame Beck's establishmen 
permitted. Teachers might indeed go there with imponity^ 
but as the walk was narrow^ and the neglected shrubs wer 
grown very thick and close on each side, weaving overhea 
a roof of branch and leaf which the stm's rays penetrated 
but in rare chequers, this alley was seldom entered eveHi 
during day. and after dusk was carefully shunned. 

From the first I was tempted to make an exception 
] this rule of avoidance : the seclusion, the very gloom 
jwalk attracted me. For a long time the fear of 
singular scared me away ; but by degrees, as people becamrf' 
accustomed to me and my habits, and to such shades of 
jH3culianty as were engrained in my nature— shades, cer- 
tainly not striking enough to interest, and "perE5p5"Ti5l 
prominent eriough to offend, but bom in and with me« 



Baei<raiiea 

red evea — 

option t<iH 

m of thM 

8eemici|H 



THE CASKET 



<a 



demoift 



be parted with thao my ideotity — by alow degrees 
Ik frequenter of this strait and naiTpw p&tb. I 
nittdd myself gardener of &ome tiniless flowers that grew 
balween Lis closely -ranked shrubs ; I cleared away the relics 
of psst autamns. chokiog tip a rustic seat at the far end. 
Borrowing of Goton, the cuisini^re, a pail of water and a 
scmbbing- brush, I made this seat clean. Madame saw^ me 
ai work and smiled approbation : whether sincerely or not I 
don't know ; but she seemed sincere. 

' Voyez-vous,' cried she, * com me elle est propre, oetle 
demoiselle Lucie ? Vous aimez done eette all^, Meess ? ' 
fee/ I said, ' it is quiet and shady/ 

juste/ ciied she with an air of bont^; and she 
reoommended me to confine myself to it as much as 
' ohoee, saying, that as I was not charged with the surveil- 
laaoe, I need not trouble myself to walk with the pupils : 
only I might permit her children to come there, to talk 
Eogiiah with me. 

On Ihe night in question, I was sitting on ihe hidden 
•Bftl reoUimed &om fungi and mould, listening to what 
fieemed the lar^ofiT sounds of the city. Far off, In truth, 
tbey weiB not : this school waa in the city's centre ; hence, 
il wma but five minutes' walk to the park, scarce ten to 
buildings of palatial splendour. Quite near were wide streets 
brighlly ht. teeming at this moment \dth life : carriages were 
rolling through ihem to balls or to the opera. The same 
boor which tolled curfew for our convent, which extinguished 
eaeb lampv &od dropped the curtain round each couch, rang 
for the giay city about us the sunmions to festal enjoyment. 
Of tliia contrast I thought not, however : gay instincts my 
Qitera bad few ; ball or opera 1 had never seen ; and though 
ohen I had heard them described, and even wished to see 
Ihfiiii* it was not the wish of one who hopes to partake a 
pleasare if she could only reach it— ^who feels fitted to shine 
tn 90En« bright distant sphere, could she but thither win ber 
Way ; it was no yearning to attain, no hunger to taste ; only 
tbe calm dewe to look on a new thing* 



Ur> 



VILLETTE 



but 



HMD 

1 



A moon was in the sky, not a fuU moon, but a yotm| 
crescent. I saw her through a space in the boughs overhe^ 
She and the stars, visible beside her, were no strangers whfl 
all ebe was strange : nay childhood knew them. I had smI 
that golden sign with the dark globe in its curve leaainj 
back on azure, beside an old thora at the top of an old field 
in Old England, in long past days, just as it now I 
back beside a stately spire in this continental capital. 

Oh, my childhood I I^^ad_feeling3 : passive as I U 
I little aa I spoke, cold as Ilooted, when I thought of p^ 
I days, l^^c mid fe el. About the present, it was better to' 
I Btoic&l ; aEouT the future— such a future as mine — to 
^ead. And in catalepsy and a dead trance, I studiously 
held the quick of my nature 

At that time, I well remember whatever could excii 
oertain accidents of the weather, for instance, were all 
dreaded by me, because they woke the 
luHiag, anx] atirra^ jip a cravnng cry I could not sat isfy. _ 
uighta thunder-storm broke i a sort of hurricane shook us I 
our beds : the Catholics rose in panic and prayed to tl 
saints. As for me, the tempest took hold of me with tyratii 
1 was roughly roused and obliged to live. I got up 
dressed myself, and creeping outside tKecasement close b 
my bed, sat on its ledge, with my feet on the roof of a loH 
adjoining building. It was wet, it was wild« it was pita 
dark. Within the dormitory they gathered round the njghl 
lamp in consternation, praying loud. I could not go in : to 
resistless was the dehght of staying with the wild hi 
black and full of thunder, pealing out such an ode as 
guage never dehvered to man — too terribly glorious, 
spectacle of clouds, split and pierced by white and blin 
bolts. 

1 did long, achingly, then and for four-and-twenty h 
afterwards, for something to fetch me out of 



i9 U 

i 



existence, and le ad me upw^ds_and Qpi^A^fl! This longil^ 

and all oF a similar kind,Trwa8 necessarylb knock on th 

<^ead ; which X did, figuratively, after the manner of Jael t 



(>' 



AA 



TEE CASKET 



& 




Sisera, driYiDg a nail through their temples* Dnlike Sisera, 

H|h6y did Dot die : they were but transieDtly stunned, and 

^■t mtervals would turn on the nail with a rebellious 

wrench : then did the temples bleed, and the brain thrill to 

lis core. 

To-night, I was not so mutinous, nor so miserable. My 
Bisera lay quiet in ihe tent, slumbering; and if his pain 
ached through his slumbers, something like an angel— the 
ideal — knelt near, dropping balm on the soothed temples, 
holding before the sealed eyes a magic glass, of which the 
sweet, solemn visions were repeated in dreams, and shedding 
a reflex from her moonlight wings and robe over the trans- 
ed sleeper, over the tent threshold, over all the landscape 
ig without, Jael, the stern woman, sat apart, relenting 
what over her captive ; but more prone to dwell on the 
ul expectation of Heber coming home. By which 
otds I meao that the oool peace and dewy sweetness of 
the night filled me witlt H^m/vna nf hr^pg : not hope on any 
definite point, but a general sense^oT encouragement and 
heart-ease. 
^^ Should not sach a mood, so sweet, so tranquil, so un- 
^■Wonted, have been the harbinger of good ? Alas, no good 
^^came of it! Presently the rude Real burst coarsely in — ally 
evil grovelling and repeUent as she too often is. ' 

Amid the intense stillness of that pile of stone overlook- 
ing the walk, the trees, the high wall, I heard a sound ; a 
canameDt [all the windows here are casements, opening on 
lunges] creaked. Ere 1 had time to look up and mark where, 
»Q which story, or by whom unclosed, a tree overhead shook, 
as if struck by a missile ; some object dropped prone at my 
bet. 

Nine was striking by St. Jean Baptiste's clock ; day was 
fading, but it was not dark : the crescent moon aided little, 
but ihe deep gilding of that point in heaven where the sun 
beamed last, and the crystaUioe clearness of a wide space 
above, sustained the suiijtiier twilight; even in my dark 
ivilk 1 oould, by approachmg an opening, have managed to 



\ 128 VILLETTE 

\' read print of a small type. Easy was it to see theo tba? 



V^<? 



niiBsile was a box, a small box of white and csoloured ivory 
its loose lid opened in my hand ; violets lay within, viole 
(h ^H ' smothering a olosely folded bit of pink paper, a note; 
V* superscribed, * ^fiurjarobegnse/ I wore indeed a dress of 

French grey. 

Good. Was this a billet-doux ? A thing I had heard of, 
but hitherto had not had the honour of seeing or handling. 
Was it this sort of commodity I held between my finger and 
thumb at this moment ? 

Scarcely : I did not dream it for a moment. Suitor or 
admirer my very thoughts had not conceived. All the 
j teachers had dre ams of some lover : one (but she was 
I paturally of a credulous ium) believed in a future husband. 
All the pupils above fourteen knew of some prospective 
bridegroom ; two or three were already affianced by their 
parents, and had been so from childhood : but into the 
realm of feelings and hopes which such prospects open^ my 
speculationsi far less my presumptions, had never once had 
warrant to intrude. U the other teachers went into town, 
or took a walk on the boulevards, or only attended maasi 
they were very certain (according to the acoounte brougl 
back) to meet with some individual of the 'opposite 
whose rapt, earnest gaze assured them of their power 
strike and to attmct I can't say that my experience 
with theirs, in this respect. I went to church and I 
walks, and am very well convinced that nobody minded 
There was not a girl or woman in the Hue Fossette who 
could not, and did not testify to having received an adxni 
beam from our young doctor's blue eyes at one time 
fother. I am obliged, however humbling it may sound, to 
except myself : as far as I was concerned, those blue e; 
were guiltless, and caUn as the sky, to whose tint thei 
teemed akin. So it oajne to pass that I heard the others talk, 
wondered often at their gaiety, security, and self-satisfaction, 
but did not trouble myself to look up and ga^e along the 
patli they seemed so certain of treading. This, then, v^a^no 




wh^l 
le q^ 



THE CASKET 



@> 



* 



!i-doux ; and it w&a in settled convictioD to the oontrary 
*k»at I quietly opened it. Thus it ran~I translate :— 

'Angel of my dreams I A thoosand, tboagand thanks 

«Oi- the promise kept: scarcely did I venture to hope its 

^Xjjfilment» I believed you, indeed, to be half in jest ; and 

^i^eo yOQ aeeoied to think the enterprise beset with such 

^^mger— the hour so untimely, the alley so strictly secluded 

— -^-often, you said, haunted by t^fli„di:agQiL„tbfi_English 

'^^aachcr — one v^table b^gueule Britannique k ce que vous 

^ — esp^ce de monstre, brusque et rude comme un vieux 

^^smpond de grenadiers, et rev^che comme une religieuse ' 

^tiie reader will excuse my modesty in allowing this flattering 

^^Imkli of my amiable self to retain the slight veil of the 

^original tongue). 'You are aware/ went on this precious 

v^flTusion, ' that little Gustave, on account of his illness, has 

\)e€n removed to a master's chamber — that favoured chamber, 

ivhose lattice overlooks your prison-ground. There, I, the 

best tmcla in the world, am admitted to visit him. How 

Imsiblingly I approached the window and glanoed into your 

Bdeo — an Eden for me, though a desert for you f— how I 

feared to behold vao^j^y, or the di-agon aforesaid! How 

my beart palpitated with delight when, through apertures 

in ike envious boughs, I at onoe caught the gleam of your 

graceful straw-hat, and the waving of your grey dress — 

dxees that I sbooid recognise amongst a thousand. Bat 

why, my angel, will you not look up? Croel, to deny me 

one ray of those adorable eyes ( — how a single glance would 

have revived me J I write this in fiery haste ; while the 

physician examines Gustave, I snatch an opportunity to 

eiusloee it in a s mall casket, together with a bouquet of 

flowera* the sweetest that blow — yet less sweet than thee, 

my Peri — my all-charming I ever thine — thou well knowest J 

whom!' 

' I wish I did knojit^^wheoi^^wasmj^^n^ent ; and the 
wish bore even closer reference to the person addressed in 
this ehoioe document, than to the writer thereof. Perhaps 
It was from the fianc^ of one of the engaged pupils ; and, in 



-, 



(Jff 






130 



VILLBTTE 



.•" 






that case, there was no great harm done or intended— only 
a small irregularity. Several of the girk, the majority, 
indeed, had brothers or cousins at the neighbouring college. 
But *la robe grise, te ohapeau de paille/ here eurely was a 
clue — a very confusing one. The straw- hat was an ordinary 
garden head-screen, oommon to a score besides myself. The 
grey dress hardly gave more de6nite indicatioSr' Madame 
fieck herself ordinarily wore a grey dress just now ; another 
teaclier, and three of the penaionnaires, had had grey dresses 
purchased of the same shade and fabric as mine : it was a 
sort of every-day wear which happened at that time to be in 
vogue. 

Meanwhile, as f pondered, I knew I must go in. Lij^hts, 
moving in the doi*mitor^% announced that prayers were over, 
and the pupils going to bad. Another halfhour and all 
doors would be locked^all lights extinguished. The front 
door yet stood open, to admit into the heated house the 
coolness of the summer night ; from the portress s cab inet 
close by shone a lamp, showing the long vestibule with^be 
Iwo-leaved drawing-room doors on one side, the great street* 
door closing the vista. 

All at once, quick rang the bell— quick, but not loud — a 
cautious tinkle --a sort of warning metal whisper. 9<>diDe 
darted from her cabinet and ran to open. The persondtm 
admitted stood mih her two minutes in parley : there seemed 
a demur, a delay. Hosine came to the garden door, lamp in 
band ; she stood on the steps, Ufting her lamp, loo 
round vaguely. 

* Quel oonte } ' she oned, with a coquettish langhJ 
' Personne n'y a 6t^.* 

* Let me paas,* pleaded a voice I knew : ' I ask bat five 
minutes * ; and a familiar shape, tali and grand (as we of the 
Rae Fossette all thought it), issued from the house, and 
strode down amongst the beds and walks. It was sacrilege 
^the intrusion of a^a&.-iii^L_th|ktspot, at that hour ; bui 
he knew himself privileged, and perBaps^lJe trusted to the 
friendly night. He wandered down the alleys, looking ou 






THE CASKET 



ISl 



this side and oq that - he was lost in the Bhruba, trampling 
flowers and breaking branches in his search — he penetrateii 
at last the ^forlji dden walk/ There I meti him, hke' some 
ghost, I snppoBS. 

* Di: ^Qhn ? it is foimd/_ 

He did not ask by ^om, for with his quick eye he 
perceived that I held it in my hand* '^ 

* Do not betray her,' he said, looking at me as if I were 
indeed a dragon, 

* Were I ever so disposed to treacherj^ I cannot betray 
what I do not know/ was my answer. * Kead the note» and 
yon will see how little it reveals.* 

'Perhaps you have read it/ I thought to myself; and 
yet I could not believe he wrote it : that ooidd hardly Ije his 
Btyle : besides, I was fool enough to think there would be a 
degree of h flj-dflliip \p hii^ _^o alling me siich^iam es. His 
own look vindicated him ; he grew hot, and coloured as he 
reihd. 

' This is indeed too much : this is cruelj this is humiUat- 
ing/ were the words that fell from him, 

1 thought it was cruel, when I saw his countenance so 
moved. ^^fo matSerwhether he was to blame or not ; 
somebody, it seemed to me, must be more to blame. 

* What shall you do about it ? ' he inquired of me. ' Shall 
yoQ tell Madame Beck what you have found, and cause a 
fltir^ — an esclandre ? ' 

I thought I ought to tell, and said so ; adding that I did 
not believe there would be either stir or esctandre : Madame 
was much too prudent to make a noise about an affair of 
that sort connected with her establishment. 

He stood looking down and meditating. He was both 
too proud and too honourable to entreat my secresy on a 
point which duty evidently commanded me to communicate. 
i wished to do right, yet loathed to grieve or injure him. 
Just then Bosine glanced out through the open door; she 
coald not see us, though between the trees I could plaiuly 

her : her dreaajamg^grey, hke mine. This circumstance. 



) 



132 



VILLETTE 



taken in connection with prior transactions, suggested to me 
that perhaps the case, however deplorable, was one in which 
I was under no obligation whatever to concern myBell. 
Accordingly, I said, — * If you can assure me that none of 
Madame Beck's pupils aie implicated in this business, I 
shall be very happy to stand aloof from all interference. 
Take the oasket, the bouquet, and the billet ; for my parti I 
gladly forget the whole affair/ 

* Look there I * he whispered suddenly, as his hand closed 
on what I offered, and at the same time he pointed through 
the boughs. 

I looked. Behold Madame, in shawl» wrapping- gown, 
and slippers, softly desceDdiog the steps, and stealing hke a 
cat round the garden: in two minutes she would have been 
upon Dr, John. If she were like a cat, however, he, quite 
as much, resembled a leopard : nothing could be Ughter 
tima his tread when he chose. He watched, and as she 
turned a comer, he took the garden at two noiseless bounds. 
She reappeared, and he was gone. Rosine bel pej_ him , 
instantly interposing the door between him and his huntress. 
I, too, might have got away, but I preferred to meet 
Madame openly. 

Though it was my fre<|U6nt and welUknown custom to 
spend twilight in the garden, yet, never till now, had I 
remained so late. Full sure was I that Madame had missed 
— ^was come in search of me, and designed now to pounce on 
the defaulter unawares. I expected a reprimand. No. 
Madame was all goodness. She tendered not even a remon- 
stranoe ; she testified no shade of surprise. With that 
consummate tact of hers, in which I believe she was newir 
surpassed by li\Hng thing, she even professed merely to 
have issued forth to taste * la brJae jjl-seir.' 

' Quelle belle nuit 1 ' cried ^KeTlooking up at the stars — 
the moon was now gone down behind the broad tower of Jean 
Baptiste. * Qu'il fait boo ! que Tair est frais t * 

And, instead of sending me in^ she detained me to take a 
{ew turns with her down the principal alley. When at last 



I 



THE CASKET 



133 



we both re-entered, ehe leaned affably on my shoulder by 
way of support in mounting the front- door steps ; at parting, 
her cheek was presented to my lips, and ' Bon soir, ma bonno 
amie ; dormez bien I ' was her kindly adieu for the night. 

I caught myself smiling as I lay awake and thoughtful 
on my couch — smiling at Madame. The unction, the 
suavity of her behaviour offered, for one who knew her, a 
sure token that suspicion of some kind was busy in her 'iM 

brain. From some aperture or summit of observation, ^ ** '^*' 
through parted bough or open window, she had doubtless 
caught a glimpse, remote or near, deceptive or instructive^ 
of that night's transactions. Finely accomplished as she was 
in the art of surveillance, it was next to impossible that a 
casket could be thrown into her garden, or an interloper 
could cross her walks to aeek it, without that she, in shaken 
branch, passing shade, unwonted footfall, or stilly murmur 
(and though Dr, John had spoken very low in the few words 
he dropped me, yet the hum of his man's voice pervaded, I 
thought, the whole conventual ground) — without, I say, that 
she should have caught intimation of things extraordinary 
transpiring on her premises- WJuit things, she might by no 
means see, or at that time be able to discover ; but a delicious 
little ravelled plot lay tempting her t/y HifiAn ^n^lementj and 
in iha midst, folded round and round in cobwebs, had she not 
seoured * Meoas— IjucigJ clumsily involved, hke the foolish 
fly she was? 



c*^ 



,M 






u^"^ 



irM 



i<';;:"i 



0' ^^-^'. ^ 



*>«• 



0- 






w 



\ 

^ 






CHAPTER XIII 



A 8NEBZB OUT OF BKAaON 



I HAD oocaaioii to smile — nay, to laugh, at Madame agam, 
within the epace of four-and -twenty hours after the little 
scene treated of in the last chapter. 

Villette owns a climate as variable, though not so humid, 
ae that of any English town. A night of high wind followed 
upon that soft sunset, and all the next day was one of dry 
storm — dark, beclouded, yet rainless, — the streets were dim 
with sand and dust, whirled from the bonlevards. I know 
not that even lovely weather would have tempted me to 
spend the evening-time of study and I'ecreation where I had 
spent it yesterday* My alley, and, indeed, all the walks and 
shrubs in the garden, had acqui red aj iew, hut not a pleasant 
iuterest ; their seclusion was now become precarious ; their 
calm—insecure. That /*ftR*^piAni whifih r'^ ined bille ts, had 
vulg amed_the onoe dear niX)k it o verlooked ; and elsewhere, 
the eyes of the flowers had gained vision, and the knots in the 
tree*boles listened like secret ears. Some plants there were, 
indeed, trodden down by Dr. John in his search, and his 
hasty and heedless progresSt which I wished to prop np, 
water, and revive ; some footnmrks, too, he had left on the 
beds : but these, in spile of the strong wind, I found a 
moment's leisure to efface very early in the morning, ere 
common eyes had discovered them. With a pensive sort of 
content, I sat down to my desk and my German, while the 
pupils settled to their evening lessons, and the other teaohen 
took up their needlework. 




A 8NEEZB OUT OF SEASON 135 

Tbe scene of the * ^ttide du soir * was always the refectory, 

ft much sm&Iler apartment than any of the three classes or 

Bchoolrooms ; for here none» save the boarders, were ever 

admitted, and these niimbered only a score. Two lamps 

hung from the ceiling over the two tables ; these were lit at 

diisk» and their kindling was the signal for schootbooks being 

set aside, a grave demeanour assumed, general silence en* 

forced, and then commenced ' likU gcture pieuse / This said 

' lecture pieuse ' was, I soon found, mainly designed as a 

^^holesome mortification of the Intellect, a useful humiliation 

of the Beason ; and such a dose for Common Sense as she 

Height digest at her leisure, and thrive on as she best could. 

The book brought out (it was never changed, but when 

finished, recommenced) was a venerable volume, old as the 

tiills— grey as the H6tel de Ville* 

I would have given two francs for the chance of getting 

^hat book once into my hands, turning over the sacred yellow 

icsaves, ascertaining the title, and perusing with my own eyes 

%>he enormous figments which, as an unworthy heretic, it was 

^nly permitted me to drink in with my bewildered ears, 

■^This book contained legends of the saints. Good God ! (I 

^peak the words reverently) what legends they were. What 

jii^asconading rascals those saints must have been, if they first 

^^oasted these exploits or invented these miraclea. These 

i^egends, however, were no more than monkish extravagances^ 

«>ver which one laughed inwardly; there were, besides, 

priestly matters, and the priestcraft of the book was far 

"worse than its monkery. The ears burned on each side of 

my head as I listened, perforce, to tales of moral martyrdom 

infiicted by Eome ; the dread bo*iksts of confessors, who had 

wickedly abused their office, trampling to deep degradation 

high-born ladies, making of countesses and princesses the 

most tonnented slaves under the sun. Stones like that of 

Conrad and EUzabeth of Hungary, recurred again and again, 

with all its dreadful viciousness, sickening tyranny and black 

impiety : tales that were nightmares of oppression, privation, 

and agODy. 



196 



VILLETTE 



I sat out this ' lecture pienBe ' for some DightB as well as 
I cotild, and as quietly too ; only once breaking off the points 
of my scissors by involuntarily sticking them somewhat deep 
in the worm-eaten board of the table before me. Bat, 
last, it made me so bnming hot, and my temples, and m 
heart, and my wrist throbbed so fast, and my sleep afterwards 
was so broken with excitement, that I could sit no longer, 
Prudence recommended henceforward a swift clearance of 
my person from the place, the moment that guilty old book 
was brought out. No Mause Headri gg ever felt a stronger 
call to take up her testimony against Sergeant Bothwell, than 
I — to speak my mind in this matter of the popish ' lecture 
pieuse.' However, I did mana^ somehow to curb and rein 
in ; and though always, as soon as^oaiae^gameto light the 
J^ps, I shot from the room quickly, yet also I 3i3 it quietly ; 
seizTtrg that vantage moment given by the little bustle before 
the dead silence, and vanishing whilst the boarders put their 
books away. 

When I vanished— it was into darkness; candles were 
not allowed to be carried about, and the teacher who forsook 
the refectory, had only the unlit hall, schoolroom, or bed* 
room, as a refuge. In winter I sought the long classes, and 
paced them fast to keep myself wai-m — fortunate if the moon 
shone, and if there were only stars, soon reconciled to their 
dim gleam, or even to the total eclipse of their absence. In 
summer it was never quite dark, and then I went up-staira 
to my own quarter of the long dormitory, opened my own 
casement (that chamber was lit by five casements large as 
great doors), and leaning out, looked forth upon the city 
beyond the, garden, and listened to band-music from thi 
park or the palace-square, thinking meantime my own 
thoughts, living my own life, in my own still, shadow- 
world. 

This evening, fugitive as usual before the Pope and his 
works, I mounted the staircase, approached the dormitory, 
and quietly opened the door, which was always kept care- 
fuDy shut, and which, like every other door in this house, 



Its 

dsV 
ir. 



n^ 




A SNEEZE ODT OP SEASON 



137 



rfUtthaA 



iTed oaiaelessly on weU-oUed hinges. Before I saw, I 



room, usually Toid : not tbikt 



I 



there was eiiher stir or breatE^ or rustle of sound, bul 
Yaeuam beked. SolUude was not at bocne. All the white 
beds — the * l^jsj^a^gie/ aa they were poeticaUy termed — lay 
▼iaiUe at a gjanoe ; all were empty : no sleeper reposed 
IkereiiL. The aouod of a drawer cautiously alid out stmok 
my e^g ; stepping a little to one side, my vision took a free 
imngis, unimpeded by falliog curtains. 1 now oommanded 
my own bed and my own toilet, with a locked work-box upoo 
ti, an/d locked drawers underneath. 

Very good. A dumpy, motherly little body, in decent 
shawl and the cleanest of possible nightcaps, stood before 
this toilet, hard at work, apparently doing me the kindness 
of * tidying out ' the ' meuble/ Open stood the hd of the 
work-box, open the top drawer ; duly and impartially was 
earob succeeding drawer opened in turn : not an article of 
their eontentg but was lifted and upfoldedi not a paper but 
was glanced over, not a Httle box but was unlidded : and 
beantifol was the adroitness, exemplary the care with which 
Ilia seateh was aceoniplisbed. Madame wrought at it like a \ 
Ifius star, • unhasti ng yet unresting.* I will not deny that it was I 
wsib a secret glee I watched her^ Had I been a gentleman ' 
I believe Madame would have found favour in my eyes, she * 
was so bandy, neat, thorough in all ^Jbe did : some people's 
movements provoke the soul by their loose awkwardness^ 
hers — satisfied by their trim compactness. I stood^ in 
short, fascinated ; but it was necessary to make an effort to 
break this spell : a retreat must be beaten. The searcher 
might have turned and caught me ; there would have been 
iKitf^ing for it then but a scene, and she and I would have 
had k» oome all at once, with a sudden clash, to a thorough ^ 
knowledge of each other: down would have gone conven- \ 
taonaliiies, away swept disguises, and / should have looked 1 
islo her eyes, and she into mine — we should have known | 
that we could work together no more, and parted in this life _1 
latere. 






\ 



^ 



Cj w...^** 



VILLETTE 



t 



^:- 



Cs 






Where was the use of tempting Bucb a catastrophe 
not angry» and had do wish in the world to leave 
could hardly get another employer whose yoke would be so 
light and so easy of carriage : and truly I liked Madame for 
her capital sense, whatever I might think of her principles : 
as to her system, it did me no harm : she might work me 
with it to her heart's content : nothing would come of the 
operation. LQyele8s_ ftnd JppTpQ/»tj>T]j^jTMnvA^ J was as^safe 



from jpieB in my beart -poverty, as the beggar from thieves 
in hie destitution of purse. 1 tuftred, then, and fled ; de- 
scemlmg^be stairs with pifogress as swift and soundless as 
that of the spider, which at the same instant ran down tbo 
banister. 

How I laughed when I reached the schoolroom. I kne 
now she had certainly seen Dr. John in the garden ; I Ime^ 
what her thoughts were. The spectacle of a suspicious 
nature so far misled by its own inventions, tickled me much. 
Yet as the laugh died, a kind of wrath smote me, and 
then bitterness followgd^ it was the rock struck, and 
Meribah'fi waters gushing out. I never had felt so strange 
and contradictory an inward tumult as I felt for an hour that 
evening : soreness and laughter, and fire, and grief, shared 
my heart between them. I cried hot tears: not beoause 
Madame mistrusted me — I did not care twopence for her 
mistrust — but for other reasons. Complicated, disquieting 
thoughts broke up the whole repose of my nature. However, 
that turmoil subsided : next day I was again Imc si Snow e. 

On revisiting my drawers, I found them all securely 
locked ; the closest subsequent examination oould not 
discover change or apparent disturbance in the position of 
one object. My few dresses were folded as I bad left them ; 
a certain little bunch of white violets that had once been 
silently presented to me by a stranger (a strangt^r to me, for 
we had never exchanged words), and which I had dried and 
kept for its sweet perfume between the folds of my best 
dress, lay there unstirred ; my black silk scarf, my faMse 
chemisette and ooUars, were unrumpled. Had she creased 



i 




A BNEEZE OUT OF SEASON 



139 



)ne solitary article, I own I should have felt much greater 
difficulty in forgiving her; but fiudiDg atl straight and 
orderly, I said, * Let bygones be bygooes. I am unharmed ; 
why should I bear malice ? * 






W A thing there was which puzzled myselii and I Bought 
io my braiu a key to that riddle almost as sedulously as 
l^adame had sought a guide to useful knowledge in my 
toilet drawers. How was it that Dr. John, if he had not 
l>e6n accessory to the dropping of that casket into the 
^Krden, should have known th at it was dropped, a nd appeared 
mo promptly on the spot to seek it? Ro strong was the wish 
^to clear up this point that I began to entertain this daring 
suggestion I * Why may I not, in case I sViould ever have the 
pportunity, ask Dr. John himself to explain this coioci- 
ioe?* 

And so long as Dr. John was absent* I really believed I 
^ad courage to test him with such a question. 

Little Georgette was now convalescent : and her phyBician 
^iccordingly made his visits very rare : indeed, he would 
liave ceased them altogether* had not Madame insisted 
on his giving an occasional call till the child should be quite 
Tvell, 

She oame into the nursery one evening just alter 1 had 
iteoed to Georgette's lisped and broken prayer, and had 
'"put her to bed. Taking the little one's hand, she said, ' Cette 
enfant a tou jours un peu de fi^vre/ And presently after- 
wards, looking at me with a quioker glance than was 
habitual to her quiet eye, * Le Dooteur John Tat-il vue 
demi^rement ? Non, n'est-ce pa^ ? * 

Of course she knew this better than any other person in 
the house, * Well,' she continued, * I am going out, pour 
f&ire quelques courses en fiacre. I shall cull on Dr. John» 
and send him to the child. 1 will that he sees her this 
evening ; her cheeks are flushed, her pulse is quick ; you 
will receive him— for my part, I shall be from home/ 

' the child was well enough, only warm with the 



^■bi 



^vt 



)tvt 



w^'i 



140 



VILLETTB 






warmth of July ; it was scarcely less oeedM to send fofr a 
priebi to admimster extreme uQctioo than for a doctor to 
prescribe a dose ; also Madame rarely made ' ooui^es/ as 
she called them, in the eveniog : moreover, this was the first 
time she had chosen to absent herself oo the occasion of a 
visit from I)r, John, The whole arrangement indicated 
some plan ; this 1 saw, but without the least anxiety* ' Ha I 
ha ( Madame/ laughed Light-heart the Beggar, 'your crafty 
wits are on the wrong tack/ 

She departed, attired very smartly, in a shawl ol price, 
and a certain cftujmiu vert tendre — hazardous, as to its tint, 
for any complexion less fresh than her own, but, to her, not 
unbecoming. I wondered what she intended : whether she 
really would send Dr. John or not ; or whether indeed he 
would come : he might be engaged. 

Madame had charged me not to let Georgette sleep till 
the doctor came ; I had therefore sii£Qciant occupation in 
teUing her nursery tales and palavering the Uttle language 
for her benefit. I affected Georgette; she was a sensitive 
and a loving child : to bold ber in my lap, or carry heir in 
my arms, was to me a treat. To-night she would have me 
lay my head on tbe piUow of her crib ; she even put her 
little arms round my neck. Her clasp, and the neetliDi^ 
action with which she pressed her cheek to mine, made me 
almost cry with a tendt^r pain. Feeling of no kind abonnded 
in that house ; this pure Uttle drop from a pure little source 
was too sweet : it penetrated deep, and subdued the heart, 
and sent a gush to the eyes. 

Half an hour or an hour passed ; Georgette murmured 
in ber soft lisp that she was growing sleepy. ' And you 
shall sleep,' thought 1. * malgi6 maman and mMecin, if they 
are not here in ten minutes/ 

Hark ! There was the ring, and there the tread, aston- 
ifihing the staircase by the fleetness with which it left the 
steps behind. Rosine introduced Dr, John, and, with a free- 
dom of manner not altogether peculiar to herself, but 
characteristic of the domestics of Villette generally, ahe 



A SNEEZE OUT OP SEASON 



141 






< 



stayed to hear what he had to say. Madam b's preseDce 
would have awed her back to her own realm of the vestihule 
and the cabinet^for mine, or that of any other teacher or 
pupil, she cared not a jot. Smart, trim and pert, she stood, 
& hand in each pocket of her gay grisette apron, eyeing Dr, 
.John with no more fear or shyness than if he had been a 
picture instead of a living gentleman, 

' Le marmot n'a rien, n'est-cepas? * said she, indicating 
Georgette with a jerk of her chin. 

^ Pas beaucoup,' was the answer, as the doctor hastily 
ribbled with his pencil some harmless prescription, 

*Eh bien ! * pursued Bosine, approaching him quite near, 
hile he put up his pencil. ' And the box— did you get it? 
Monsieur went off like a coup-de-ve!lttne other night ; I had 
xiot time to ask him.* 

' I found it : yes/ 

' And who threw it, then ? ' continued Rosine, speaking 
<)mte freely the very words I should so much have wished to 
«ay, but had no address or courage to bring it out : how short 
I some people make the road to a point which, for others, 
seems unattainable ! 

* That may ^ my secret^l, rejoined Dr. John briefly, but 
^th no sort of hantffurT he seemed quite to understand the 

^^ -Bosine or grisette character. 

^fe * Mais enfin,' continued she, nothing abashed, 'monsieur 

^^Ttnew it was thrown, si nee he came to seek it — how did he k now ?*^ 

L * I was attending a little patient in the college near/ said \ 

^^ he. * and saw it dropped out of his chamber window, and so^^ 

^" came to pick it up/ 

f How simple the whole explanation \ The note had 

I alluded to a physician as then examining ' Gustave/ 

I * Ah 9^ ! * pursued Rosine ; * il n'y a donclrlenTi-dessotis : 

pas de myst^re, pas d' amourette, par exemple ? ' 

*Pa8 plus que sur ma main,* responded the doctor, 

Bhowing his palm. 

* Quel dommage ! * responded the grisette : * et moi— & qui 
(oat cela commen^ait & donner des id^es/ 




143 



VILLETTE 



'•1 






* Vraiment I vous en ^tee pour vos frais/ was the doctor a, 
cool rejoinder. 

She pouted. The doctor could not help laughing ai 
sort of ' moue * she made : when he laughed, he had aomor' 
ihing peculiarly good-natured and genial in his look. I saw 
bis hand incline to bis pocket. ^ 

* How many times have you opened the door for malH 
within this last month ? ' he asked. 

* Monsieur ought to have kept count of that/ said Bosine 
quite readily. 

' As if I had not something better to do ! * rejoined he i 
but I saw him give her a piece of gold, which she took un- 
gcnipulously. and then"5an^eii^oflf to answer the door-bell* 
ringing just now every five minutes, as the various servants 
came to fetch the half* boarders. 

The reader must not think too hardly of Rosine ; on the 
whole, she was not a bad sort of person, and had no idea 
there, could be any disgrace in grasping at whatever she 
could get, or any effrontery in chattering like a pie to the 
best gentleman in Christendom. 

I had loahlt sdme thing from the above scene besides 
what concerned the ivory box : viz., that not on the robe de 
]iK»onft8, pink or grey, nor yet on the frilled and pocketed 
apron, lay tbo blame of breaking Dr. John's heart : these 
items of array were obviously guiltless as Georgette's little 
blue tunic. So much the better. But who then was ihe 
culprit? What was the ground— what the origin — what 
the perfect explanation of the whole business? Some points 
had been cleared, but how many yet remjuned obbcuro as 
night ! 

' However,* I said to myself, * it is no afTair of yours * ; 
and turning from the face on which I had been unconsciously 
dwelling with a questioning gaze, I looked through the 
window which commanded the garden below. Dr, John, 
meantime, standing by the bed*side, waa slowly drawing on 
his gloves and watching his little patient, as her eyes closed 
and her rosy lips parted in ooming sleep. I waited till he 



A SNEEZE OUT OF SEASON 



143 



1^ 



^^ heUe 



filioold depart as usu&l, with a quick bow and scarce artiou- 
lata * good-aight* Just as he took his hat» my eyes, fixed 
on the tall houses bomiding the garden, saw the one lattice, 
alxtE^ady commemorated, cautiously^j^pen ; forth from the 
apertore projected a hand and a white handkerchief ; both 
waTed. I know not whether the signal was answered from 
some viewless quarter of our own dwelling ; but immediately 
afler there fluttered from the lattice a faliiog object, white 
and light — billet the second, of course, 

* There I * I ejaculated involuntarily. 

* Where ? ' asked Dr. John with energy, mikking direct 
Cor the window. ' What is it ? ' 

"They have gone and done it again,' was my reply. * A 
hjyadkeiehief waved and something fell; ' and I pointed to 
Ihe lattice, now closed and looking hypocritically blank. 

* Go at once ; pick it up and bring it here,* was bis 
prompt direction ; adding, ' Nobody will take notice of you: 
I should be seen/ 

Straight I went. After some little search, I found a 
fcJiddd paper, lodged on the lower branch of a shrub; I 
eeijoed and brought it direct to Dr. John. This time, I 
believe not even Eosine saw me. 

He instantly tore the biUet into small pieces, without 
ing il 

* It is not in the leastAer^ fault, you must remember^* he 
nidt loddng at me. 

* Whose fault ? ' I asked. * Who is it ?' 
' Yoo don't yet know, then ? ' 

' Not in the least.' 

' Have you no guess ? ' 

'None.' 

' If I knew you better, I might be tempted to risk some 
confidence, and thus secure you as guardian over a most 
iiuaooent and excellent, but somewhat inexperienced being/ 

* As a duenna ? * I asked. 

* Tes,' a^d he abstractedly. ' What snares are round 
I * he added, musingly : and now, certainly for the fiiBt 



144 



VILLETTE 



timCj he examined my face, anxious, doubtless, to see if itnj 
kindly expression there would warrant him in recommending 
to my care and indulgence some ethereal creature, agtanall 
whom powers of darkness were plotting. I felt no particula 
vocation to undertake the surveillance ol ethereal £iBatmc9i] 
but recalling the scene at the bureau, it seemed to me that ', 
owed him a good turn : if I coitld help him then I w^ould 
and it lay not with me to decide how. With as little reluct- 
ance as might be, I intimated that ' I was willing to do what 
I ootdd towards taking care of any person in whom he might 
be interested/ 

' I am 00 farther interested than as a spectator/ said he, 
with a modestyt admirable, as I thought, to witness. 'I 
happen to be acquainted with the rather worthless character 
of the person, who, from the house opposite, has now twice 
invaded the sanctity of this place ; I have also met in societjf 
the object at whom these vulgar attempts are aimed. Hec 
exquisite superiority and innate refinement ought, one would] 
think, to'icare'lmperilnencG from ReFvery idea. It is notl 
80, however ; and innocent, unsuspicious as she is, I would' 
guard her from evil if I could. In person, however, I can 
do nothing : I cannot come near her '—he paused. 

' Well, I am willing to help you,' said I, * only tell me 
how.* And busily, in ray own mind, I ran over the list of 
our inmates, seeking this paragon, this pearl of great price, 
this gem without flaw. ' It must be^aj amer-^ coneluded«fl 
* She only, amongst us all, has the art even to seem superior : 
but as to being unsuspicious, mexperienced, Sec., Dr. John 
need not distract himself about that. However, this is juBl 
his whim, and I will not contradict him ; he shall b& 
humoured : his angel shall be an angeL 

*Ju8t notify the quarter to which my care is to be 
directed,* I continued gravely : chuckling, however, to myself 
over the thought of being set to chaperon Madame Beck or 
any of her pupils. 

Now Dr. John had a fine set of nerves, and he at once 
lelt by instinct, what no more coarsely constituted mind 



36 

am 



I 



A SNEEZE OUT OF SEASON 



145 



would have detected ; namely, that I was a little amused at 
him. The colour rose to his cheek ; with half a smile he i 
iumedand took his hat— he was going. My heart smote I 
me. 

* I will — I will help you,' said I eagerly. ' I will do what ^ 
you wish, I will watch over your angel ; I will take care of J 
her, only tell me who she is/ ^ 

* But you mu&i know/ aaid he then with earnestness, yet 
speaking very low. * So spotless, so good, so unspeakably 
beautiful ! impossible that one house shoi^id contain two like 
her, I allude^ of course- ' Iq ^ 4 

Here the latch of Madame Beck's chamber -door (opening 

into the nursery) gave a sudden click, as if the hand holding 

it had been slightly convulsed ; there was the suppressed 

explosion of an irrepressible sneeze. These little accidents 

will happen to the best of us. Madame^-excellent woman ! 

iFfafi then onjdijly. She had oome home quietly, stolen up- 

stairs on tip-toe ; she was in her chamber. If she had not 

sneezed, she would have heard aU, and so should I ; hut 

that unlucky sternutation routed Dr. John. While he stood 

a^ast, she came forward alert, composed, in the best yet 

most tranquil spirits : no novice to her habits but would 

have thought she had just come in, and scouted the idea of 

lier ear having been glued to the key- hole for at least ten 

xnmutefl. She affected to sneeze again, declared she was 

*enrhumte,' and then proceeded volubly to recount her 

'courses en fiacre/ The prayer-bell rang, and I left herf 

^th the doctor* 



f^ 



fA 






0' 



^aV^'S 



< W 



C^^ 



(/^ 



(/ 



A/V' 



<^' 



CHAFTEB XrV 



THE FftTB 



As soon aB Georgette wa^ well, Madame sent her away iDto 

the country. I was sorry ; I loved the child» and her loss 
made me poorer than hefore. But I inust not complain. I 
lived in a house full of robust hfe ; I might have had com- 
panions, and I chose solitude. Each of the teachers in 
turn made me overtures of special intimacy; I tried them 
alL One I found to be an honest woman, bat a narrow 
thinker, a coarse feeler, and an egotist. The second was 
a PaiisiennCt exli^rnally retined— at heart, corrupt— without 
aj oreedT without a p ^nci£lg^_witK Q^^t an aff Antinn : having 
penetrated the outwaramifit of decorum in this cRaracter, you 
found a slough beneath, She had a wonderful passion for 
presents ; and, in this point, tba-4hkd_teacher — a person 
otherwise characterless and insignificant^ — closely resembli 
her. This last-named had also one other distinoti 
property —that of avarice. In her reigned the love 
money for its own'^^Bake:^ — The sight of a piece of g( 
wotdd bring into her eyes a green glisten, singular to witoeaa. 
She once, as a mark of high favour, took me up^stairs, and* 
opening a secret door, showed me a hoard — a ma&a of coarse, 
large coin — about fifteen guineas, in five-frano pieces. She 
loved this hoard as a bird lovQg^ its eggs. These were bet 
savings. Bhe would come and talk to me about them with 
an infatuated and persevering dotage, stiange to behold in a 
person not yet twenty-five. 

The Farisienne, on the other hand, was prodigal and 



o3^ 



THE FfiTB 



147 



proflig&te (in dispOBition, that is : as to action, I do DOb 

icnow). That latter quality showed its ^ake-hea d to me 

but once, peeping out very cautiously. A ourious kind of 

xeptile it seemed, judging from the glimpse I got ; its 

jiovelty w hetted my curiositj ^ : if it would have come out boldiy, 

perhaps I might philosophically have stood my ground, and 

«soolly surveyed the long thing from forked tongue to scaly 

^ail'tip ; hut it merely rustled in the leaves of a bad novel ; 

^uid, on encountering a hasty and ill-advised demonstration 

^Di wrath, recoiled and vanished, hissing. She bated me 

^rom that day. 

This Parisienne was always in debt; her salary being 
[iticipated, not only in dress, but in perfuunifi, cosmetics, 
anfectionery, and condiments. What a cold, callous epicure 
tie was in all things I I see her now. Thin in face and 
:^Bgure, sallow in complexion, regular in features, with perfect 
~»eeth, lips like a thread, a large, prominent chin, a well- 
'^opened, but frozen eye, of light at once craving and ingrate. 
^Sho mortally hated work, and loved what she called 
:yleasure ; being an insipid, heartless, brainless diasipaiion 
^^of time. 

Madame Beok knew this woman's character perfectly 

^^Brell. She once talked to me about her, with an odd mixture 

'^of discrimination, indifference, and antipathy. I asked why 

^ehe kept her in the establishment. She answered plainly, 

"^ because it suited her interest to do so * ; and pointed out 

-^K fact I had already noticed, namely, that Mademoiselle St, 

-^^Fierre possessed, in an almost unique degree, the power of 

SeeptElgnc»rder amongst her undisciplined ranks of scholars. 

_A csertain petrifying influence accompanied and surrounded 

ier : without passion, noise, or violence, she held them in 

^^eck ae a breezeless frost-air might still a brawUng stream. 

She waa of httle use as far as communication of knowledge 

^"went, but for strict surveillance and maintenance of rules 

she was invaluable. ' Je sais bien qu'elle n a pas de 

principes, ni, peut-^tre, de moaurs,' admitted Madame 

iraoldy ; but added with philosophy, * son maintien en 



A^* 



148 



VILLETTE 



claBse est toujoors oonvenable el rerapli mfime d'une certaine 
dignitd: c'est tout ce qu'il faut. Ni les 616v©s ni tea 
pareotB ne regardent plus loin ; ni, ^r consequent, moi non 
plus.* 



.V 



A strange, frolicsonie, noisy little^^cucld was this school : 
^^reat pains were taken to hide ^chains with flowers : a 
subtle essence of Bomanism pervaded every arrangement; 
large sensualjndulgence (so to speak) was permitted by way 
of counterpoise to jealous spirit ual restrain t. Each mind 
was being reare d in sla^ gry ; but, to prevent reflection from 
dwelling otribis^fact, every pretext for physical recreation 
was seized and made the most of. There, as elsewhere* the 
Church strove to bring up her children robust in body, 
feeble in soul, fat, ruddy, hale, joyous, ignorant, unthinking, 
unquestioning, * Eat, drink, and live T she says. * Look 
after your bodies ; leave your souls to me. I hold their euro 
— guide their course : I guarantee their final fate/ A bar- 
gain, in which every true Catholic deems himself a gainer. 
Lucifer just offers the same terms : * All this power will I 
give thee, and the glory of it ; for that is delivered unto me, 
and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou, therefore, will 
worship me, all shaU be thine ! * 

About this time — in the ripest glow of summer— Madame 
Beck's house became as merry a place as a school could wtell 
be. All day long the broad folding-doors and the two- 
leaved casements stood wide open *. settled sunshine seemed 
naturalized in the atmosphere ; clouds were far off, sailing 
away beyond sea, resting, no doubt, round islands such is 
England — that dear land of mists — but withdrawn wholly 
from the drier continent. We lived far more in the garden 
than under a roof : classes were held, and meals partakea 
of, tn the ' grand berceau/ Moreover, there was a nole of 
holiday preparation, which almost turned freedom into 
licence. The autumnal long vacation was but two months 
distant; but before that, a great day— an imporiani 



^ 



THE FfeTE 



149 



eeromony — none other thao the fdte of Madame—awaited 
celebration. 

The conduct of this ffite devolved chiefly on Mademoiselle 
St. Pierre : Madame herself being supixDsed to stand aloof, 
disinterestedly unconscious of what might be going forward 
in her honour. Especially, she never knew, never in the 
leaet suspected, that a subscription was annually levied on 
ibe whole school for the purchase of a handsome present. 
The polite tact of the reader will please to leave out of the 
account a brief, secret consultation on this point in Madame's 
own chamber. 

* What will you have this year ? ' was asked by her 
Parisian lieutenant. 

* Oh, DO matter ! Let it alone. Let the poor children 
keep their francs/ And Madaaie looked benign and modest. 

The St. Pierre would here protrude her chin ; she knew 
M&dame by heart ; she always called her airs of * bont6 ' — 
' des grimaces.' She never even professed to respect them 
one instant. 

* Vite I ' she would say coldly. ' Name the article. Shall 
it be jewellery or porcelain, haberdashery or silver '? * 

* Eh bien I Deux ou trois cuillers, et autant de fourchettes 
en argent/ 

And the result was a handsome case, containing SOO 
francs worth of plate. 

The programme of the fdte-day*s prooeedinga comprised : 
Presentation of plate, coUation in the garden, dramatic 
performance (with pupils and teachers for actors), a dance 
and supper. Very gorgeous seemed the effect of the 
whole to me, as I well remember. Z^lie St. Pierre under- 
stood these things and managed them ably. 

The play was the main paint ; a month's previous 
drillizig being there required. The choice, too, of the 
actors required knowledge and care ; then came lessons in 
elocution, in attitude, and then the fatigue of countless 
rshearsals. For all this, as may well be supposed, 
8l* Pierre did not suffice : other management, other 



.V 



^ 



W 



V 



160 



VILLETTE 



aceompUshmeiita than hers were requisite here. They 
were supplied in the person of a master — M. Pai 
Emanuel, professor of literature. It was never my lot 
be present at the histrionic lessons of M. Paul^ but I often 
saw him as he crossed the carrd (a square hall between 
the dwelling-house and school -house). I heard him, too, 
in the warm evenings, lecturing with open doors» and his 
name, with anecdotes of him, resounded in one's ears from 
all sides. Especially our former acquaintance, Hiss 
G jpevra Fanshawe ^ — who had been selected to take a 
prominent part m the play— used, in bestowing upon ma 
a large portion of her leisurei to lard her discourse with 
frequent allusions to his sayings and doings. She esteemed 
him hideously plain, and used to profess herself frightened 
almost into hysterics at the sound of his step or voioe. A 
dark little man he certainly was ; pungent and austere. 
EveiTto me he seemed a harsh apparition, with his close- 
shorn, black bead, his broad, sallow brow, his thin cheek, 
his wide and quivering nostril, his thorough glance, and 
huiTied bearing. Irritable he was ; one heard that, as be 
apostrophized with vehemence the awkward squad under 
his orders. Sometimes he would break out on these raw 
amateur actresses with a passion of impatience at their 
falseness of conception, their coldness of emotion, their 
feebleness of deUvery. * Ecoutez I ' he would cry ; and 
then his voice rang through the premises like a trumpet ; 
and when, mimicking it, oame the small pipe of a Ginevra, 
a Mathilde, or a Blanche, one understood why % hollow 
groan of scorn, or a fieroe hiss of rage» rewarded the tame 
echo. 

* Vous n*^tes done que des poup^es/ I heard hii 
thunder. ' Vous n'avez pas de passions— vous autrei 
Vous ne sentez done rien 1 Vfttrft_nh^r ^^fc fl#^ "^'PH^/ ^oi 
ftfl^ g dft ^lfl.ftfi I Moi, je veux que tout oela s'allume, qu 
ait one vie, une ftme I ' 

Vain resolve I And when he at last found 
he suddenly broke the whole business down. Hitherto 



13^ 






f 



THE FftTE 



151 



liad been teaching them a grand tragedy ; be tore the 
'b'&gedy in morsels, and came next day with a compact 
Xittle comic trifle* To this they took more kindly; he 
presently knocked it all into their smooth round pates. 

Mademoiaelle St- Pierre always presided at M. Emanuel's 
Lessons, and I was told that the palish of her manner^ her 
^ieeming attentioD, her tact and grace, impressed that 
^^entleman very favourably. She had, indeed, the art of 
]pleafiing, for a given time, v^hom she would ; but the feeling 
^^vould not last : in an hour it was dried like dew, vanished 
like gossamer. 

The day preceding Madame 's f6te was as moch a 

Sioliday as the tete itself. It was devoted to clearing out, 

^cileaning, arranging and decorating the three schoolrooms. 

^^11 within-doors was the gayest bustle ; neither up-stairs 

:^Kior down could a quiet, isolated person find rest for the 

^Bole of her foot ; accordingly, for my part, I took refuge in 

^he garden. The whole day did I wander or sit there j 

-^lone, finding warmth in the sun, shelter among the treeSp! 

^mjid a sort of companionship in my own thoughts. I well 

jemember that I exchanged but two sentences that day 

^with any living being^not that I felt solitary ; I was glad 

^to be quiet. For ^jf' iobker jjga it sufficed to pass through ♦ 

"Ihe rooms once or twice, observe what changes were being 

wrought, how a green-room and a dressing-room were being 

contrived, a little stage with scenery erected, how M. Paul 

Emanuel, in conjunction with Mademoiselle St. Pierre, was 

direoting all, and how an eager band of pupils, amongst 

them Ginevra Fanshawe, were working gaily under his 

oontroL 

The great day arrived- The sun rose hot and unclouded, 
and hot and unclouded it burned on till evening. All the doors 
and ftll the windows were set open, which gave a pleasant 
senee of summer freedom — and freedom the most complete 
geemed indeed the order of the day. Teachers and pupils 
desoended to breakfast in dressing-gowns and curl-papers: 
anlioipating ' avec d^hces ' the toilet of the evening, they 



163 



VILLETTE 



seemed to take a pleasure in indulging that forenooD in a 
luxury of slovenliness ', like aldermen fasting in preparation 
for a feast. About nine o'clock a.m., an important func- 
tionary, the * coiffeur/ arrived. Sacrilegious to state, ha 
fixed his head-quarters in the oratoiy, and there, in 
presence of b&fiitier, candle, and crucifix, solemnised the 
mysteries of his art. Each girl was summoned in turn to 
pass through his hands ; emerging from them with head aa 
smooth as a shell, intersected by faultless white lines, 
and wreathed about with Grecian plaits that shone aa if 

I lacquered. I took my turn with the rest, and could hardly 
believe what the glass said when I applied to it for informa- 
tion afterwards; the lavished garlandry of woven brown 
hair amazed me — I feared it was not all my own, and it 
required several convincing pulls to give assurance to the 
contrary. I then acknowledged m the coi&ur a first-rate 
X-*" artist— one who certainly made the mcJstofincCrflFerani^ 
materials. |fl 

The oratory closed, the dormitory became the scene of 
ablutions, arrayings and bedizenings ouj'iously elaborate. 
To roe it was, and ever must be an enigma, how they con- 
trived to spend so much time in doing so Uttle. The 
operation seemed close, intricate, prolonged : the resok 
simple. A clear white muslin dress, a blue sash (the 
Virgin's colours), a pair of white, or straw-colour kid 
gloves — such was the gala uniform, to the assumption 
whereof that houseful of teachers and pupils devotad 
three mortal hours. But though simple, it must be 
allowed the array was perfect— perfect in fashion, fit, and 
freshness ; every head being also dressed with exquisite 
nicety, and a certain compact taste — suiting the full, firm 
comeliness of Labassecourien contours, though too stiff for 
any more ffowing and fiexible style of beauty — the general 
effect was, on the whole, commendable. 

In beholding this diaphanous and snowy mass, I well 
remember feeling myself to be a mere shadowy spot on a 
field of light ; the courage was not in me to put on a 




THE FfiTE 



153 



transparent white drgss : something thin I must wear — 
xhe weather^nd Troorae being boo hot to give substantial 
fabrics sufferancOt so I had sought through a dozen shops 
^11 I lit upon a crape-like material of p u rple- gray ^ the 
colour, in short, of dun mist, lying on a moor in blootn, 
^y tailleme had kindly made il as well as she could : 
liecause, as she judiciously observed, it was ' si trist« - si 
;pecL voyant/ care in the fashion was the more imperative : 
jt was well she took this view of the matter^ for I had no 
z^Qwer, no jewel to reheve it : and, what was more, I had 
:xio nattu'al rose of complexion. 

We become oblivious of these dBficiencies in the uniform 
:sroutLne of daily drudgery, but they will force upon us their 
'mcwelcome blank on those bright occasions when beautiy 
sihould shine. 

However, in this same gown of f^hadow. I felt at home 

^mnd at ease; an advantage I should not have enjoyed in 

^^nything more brilliant or striking. Madame Bock, too, 

3(ept me in countenance ; her dress was almost as quiet as 

imnine, except that she wore a bracelet, and a large brooch 

X>nght with gold and fine stones. We chanced to meet on 

'^be stairs, and she gave me a nod and smile of approbation. 

^INot thai she thought I was looking well— a point unlikely 

^<o engage her interest — but she considei^d me dressed 

^ oonvenablement,* ' d^oemment/ and la Convenance et la 

JD^oence were the two calm deities of Madame's worship. 

She even paused, laid on my shoulder her gloved hand, 

liolding an embroidered and perfumed handkerchief, and 

confided to my ears a sarcasm on the other teachers (whom 

she had just been complimenting to their faces), * Nothing 

so absurd,' she said, Vas for des femmes milres **to dress 

themselves like girls of fifteen " — quant & la St. -Pierre, elle 

a Tair d'une vieille coquette qui fwt Ting^nue.* 

Being dressed at least a couple of hours before anybody 
else, I felt a pleasure in betaking myself — not to the garden, 
wbere servants were busy propping up long tables, placing 
, and spreading cloths in readiness for the collation — 



154 



VILLETTE 



i 



but to the Bohoolrooms, now empty, quiet, cool, and cleftD 
their walk fresh stained, their planked floors fresh scoured 
and scarce dry ; flowers fresh gathered adorning the 
recesses in pots, and draperieB» fresh hung, beautifying tho 
great wfdows. 

Withdrawing to the first classe, a smaller and neater 
room than the others, and taking from the glazed bookcase, 
of which I kept the key, a volume whose title promised 
some interest, I sat down to read. The glass-door of this 
* classe,' or schooh"oom, opened into the large berceau ; 
acacia-boughs caressed its panes, as they stretched across 
to meet a rose-bush blooming by the opposite lintel : in 
this rose-bush bees murmured busy and happy. I com* 
menoed reading. Just as the stilly hum, the embowering 
shade, the warm, lonely calm of my retreat were lieginnin 
to steal meaning from the page, vision from my eyes, aa 
to lure mo along the track of reverie, down into some d^ 
dell of dreamland — just then, the sharpest ring of 
street-door bell to which tliat much-tried instrument had 
ever thrUled, snatched me back to consciousness. 

Now the bell had been ringing all the morning, as work- 
men, or servants, or coiffeurs, or tailleiises, went and came 
on their several errands. Moreover, there was good reason 
lo expect it would ring alt the afternoon, since about one 
hundred externes were yet to arrive in carriages or fiacres : 
nor could it be expected to rest durin;^ the evening, when 
parents and friends would gather thronging to the pbky. 
Under these circumstances, a ring — even a sharp ring — was 
a matter of course : yet this particular peal had an accent of 
its own, which chased my dream, and startled my book from 
my knee. 

I was stooping to pick up this last, when— firm, fast, 
straight— -right on through vestibule— along corridor, across 
earr^, through first division, second division, grand salle— 
strode a step, quick, regular, intent. The closed door of the 
first classe— my sanctuary —offered no obstacle, it burst 
open, and a paletot and a bonnet grec filled the void ; alao 



THE FfeTE 



155 



^wo eyes first vaguely struck upon, and then hungrily dived 
iziU> me. 

' 0*681 oelft 1 * said a voice. * Je la oonnais : c est 
% *Aiiglaise. Tant pis. Toute Angl£UBG» et, par cona^uent, 
^oute b^gaeule qu'elle soit — eile fera mon affaire, ou je 
^^Hkurui pourqtioi.* 

Then, with a certain stem politeness (I suppose he 
^lionght I had not caught the drift of his pmvious uncivil 
B:xiutterings), and in a jargon the mo«t execrable that ever 

-^PVAs heard, ' Meoss , play you must: I am planted 

-fcliere/ 

'What can I do for you, M, Paul Emanuel?' 1 
S^nquired : for M, Paul Emanuel it was, and in a state of no 
.Settle excitement. 

*Play you must. I will not have you shrink, or frown, 
^c^^ make the Jgrude. I read your skull that night you came ; 
Jt see your moyens : play you can ; play you must,* 

* But how, M, Paul ? What do you mean ? * 

* There is no time to be lost,* he went on, now speaking 
French ; * and let us thrust to the wall all reluctance, all 

ujLcuses, all minauderies* You must take a part.* 

* In the vaudeville ? ' ~'"~'" ^ 

' In the vaudeville. You have said it.' 

I gasped, horror-struck, JV}i4it did the little man mean ? 

* Listen ! ' he said. ' The case shall be stated, and you 
• liall then answer me Yes, or No ; and according to your 
k^nswer shall I ever after estimate you.' 

The scarce-suppressed impetus of a most irritable nature 

flowed in his cheek, fed with sharp shafts his glances, a 

^^fc^ature— the injudicious, the mawkish, the hesitating, the 

^^^■allen, the affected, above all, the unyielding, might quickly 

^^^"^oder violent and implacable. Silence and attention was 

^^4ie best balm to apply : I listened, 

* The whole matter is going to fail, he began. * Louise 
^^^anderkelkov has fallen ill — at least so her ridiculous 

^^other asserts ; for my part, I feel sure she might play if 
"^hi would : it is only good-will that lacks. She was charged 



156 



VILLETTE 



J 

I 



with a rdle, as yoo know, or do not know— *it is equal ; 
out that rdle the play is stopped. There are now but 
hours in which to iearn it : not a girl in this school would 
hear reason, and acoept the task. Forsooth, it is not an 
interesting, not an amiable, part; their vile amour-propre^ 
that base^ uality of w hich women have so much — would 
revolt from it. Englishwomen are either the best or the 
worst of their sex. Bieu salt que je les d^teste comme la 
paste, ordinairement * (this between his recreant teeth). * I 
apply to an Englishwoman to rescue me. What is her 
answer — Yes, or No ? ' 

A thousand objections rushed into my mind. Th^_ 
foreign language, the limited time, the public display . . * ^^M 
Inclination recoiled. Ability faltered, Self- respect (that * vile 
quality *) trembled. ' Non, non, non I ' said all these ; but 
looking up at M. Paul, and seeing in his ve^ced, fiery, and 
searching eye, a sort of appeal behind all its menace, 
lips dropped the word *oui/ For a moment his rip 
countenance relaxed with a quiver of content : quickly bell 
up again, however, he went on, — 

' Yite k Touviage ! Here is the book : here is yc 
rdU : read.* And I read. He did not commend ; at some* 
passages he scowled and stamped. He gave me a lesson : I 
diligently imitated. It was a disagreeable part^ a-4»uuils — 
an empty-headed fop's. One could put into it neither heart 
nor soul ; I hated it. The play — a mere trifle — ran chiefly 
on the efforts of a brace of rivals to gain the hand of a fair 
coquette. One lover was called the * Qurs,' a good and 
giallant but unpolished man, a sort of diamonH^n the rough ; 
the other was a butterfly, a tal ker, and a traito r ; and I was 
to be the butterfly, talker, and traitor. 

I did my best — which was bad, I know : it provoked 
M. Paul; he fumed. Putting both hands to the work, I 
endeavoured to do better than my best ; I presume he gave 
me credit for good intentions ; he professed to be 
content. * </a ira 1 ' he cried ; and as voices began 
ing from the garden, and whito dresses fluttering among Ab 



and 



partialhH 
n souciJS 







THE FfiTE 



w*ll^^ 



157 



teeea, be added: ' You must withdraw : you must be alone 
4o learn this. Come wtth me/ 

Without being allowed time or power to deliberate, I 
^oand myself in the same breath convoyed along as in a 
s^pecies of whirlwind, up-stairs, up two pair of stairs^ nay, 
^kctually up three (lor this fiery little man seemed as by 
m distinct to know his way everywhere) ; to the solitary and 
Boft y attic was I borne, put in and locked in, the key being 
M -m^i the door, and that key he took with him and vanished. 

The attic was do pleasant place : I believe he did not 

BdBOW bow unpleasant it was, or he never would have locked 

in with so little ceremony. In this summer weather, it 

ras hot as Africa; as in winter, it was always cold as 

rreenlaud. Boxes and lumber filled it ; old dresses draped 

i ^^B unstained wall— cobwebs its unswept ceiling. Well was 

^ % known to be tenanted by rats, by btack-beetiles, and by 

<=^ockroaches— nay« inimour affirmed thai the ghostly nun of 

^blie garden had once been seen here. A partial darkness 

'<i>bBcured one end, across which, as for deeper mystery » an 

«i>ld russet curtain was drawn, by way of screen to a sombre 

^zjand of winter cloaks, pendent each from its pin, like a 

K:iialefactor from his gibbet. From amongst these cloaksi 

^%nd behind that curtaiu, the ^lim was said to issue. I did 

-*^ot believe this, nor was I troubled by apprehension thereof ; 

ftsfil I saw a very dark and lai^ge rat, v^ith a long tail, come 

gliding out from that squalid alcove ; and, moreover, my 

^ye fell on many a black-beetle, dotting the floor. These 

objects discomposed me more, perhaps, than it would be wise 

to say^ as also did the dust, lumber, and stiiing heat of the 

place. The last inconvenience would soon have become 

intolerable, had I not found means to open and prop up the 

sky flight, thus admitting some freshness. Underneath this 

aperture I pushed a large empty chest, and having mounted 

apoD it a smaller box, and wiped from both the dust, I 

gaibered my dress (my best, the reader must remember, and 

tbe(relbre a legitimate object of cai^) fastidiously around me, 

aaoended this species of extempore throne, and being seated, 



158 



VILLETTE 



commeiicdd the a^uisition of my task ; while I learned, not 
forgetting to keep a sharp look-out on the black-beetles and 
oockroaches, of which, more even, I believe, than of the rats, 
I sat in mortal dread. m 

My Impression at first was that I had undertaken whd| 
it really was impossible to perform, and I simply resolved to 
do my beat and be resigned to fail. I soon found, however, 
that one part in so short a piece was not more than memory 
could master at a few hours* notice, I learned and learned 
on, first in a whisper, and then aloud. Perfectly Bdcure 
from human audience, I acted my part before the garret- 
vermin. Entering into its emptiness, frivolity, and false- 
hood, with a spirit inspired by scorn and impatience, I took 
my revenge on this * fat,* by making hiin as fatuitoua as I 
possibly could. 

In this eicercise the afternoon passed : day beg;an to glide 
into evening ; and I, who had eaten nothing sinoe breakfast, 
grew excessively hungry. Now I thought of the collation, 
which doubtless they were just then devouring in the 
garden far below. (I had seen in the vestibule a basketful 
of small pdUs d la crtme, than which nothing in the whole 
range of cookery seemed to me better,) A piU, or a square 
of cake, it seemed to me would come very d propoa ; and as 
my relish for those dainties increased, it began to appear 
somewhat hard that I should pass my holiday fasting 
in prison. Bemote as was the attic from the street-do 
and vestibule, yet the ever- tinkling bell was faintly audible 
here ; and aJso the ceaseless roll of wheels on the tormented 
pavement. I knew that the house and garden were thronged, 
and that all was gay and glad below ; here it began to giow 
dusk : the beetles ^^ere fading from my sight ; I trembled 
lest they should steaTofl^ ine^a march, mount my throne 
unsoen, and, unsuspected, invade my skirts. Impatient and 
apprehensive, I recommenced the rehearsal of my pail 
merely to kill time, lust as I was conoluding, the long 
dela3red rattle of the key in the lock came to my ear — no 
unwelcome sound. M. Paul (I could just see through the 



d^ 



THE FfeTE 



168 



-dusk that it was M. Paul, for light enough bIiU hngered to 
ahoiv the velvet blackness of his close-shorn head and the 
sallow ivory of his brow) looked in. 

*Brava! * cried he, holding fcho door open and remaining 
&t the threshold. ^J'ai tout entendu. G'est assez bien. 
Encore I * 

A moment I hesitated, 

* Encore I ' said he sternly. * Et point de grimaces I A 
bfks la tiniidit^ \ ' 

Again I went through the part, but not half so well as I 
had spoken it alone. 

' Enfin, elle sait/ said he, half dissatisfied* * and one 
cannot be fastidious or exacting under the circumstances/ 
Then he added, * You may yen have twenty minutes for 
preparation : au revoir f * And he was going. 

' Monsieur/ I called out, taking courage. 

' Eh bien 1 Qu*est-C6 que c est, Mademoiselle ? * 

* J ai bien faim/ 

* Comment, vous avez faim I Et la collation? * 

* I know nothing about it. I have not seen it, shut up 
here/ 

* Ah \ C'est vrai/ cried he. 

In a moment my throne was abdicated, the attic 
evacuated ; an inverse repetition of the impetus which had 
brought me up into the attic instantly took me down — down 
—down to the very kitchen. I thought I should have gone 
to the cellar. The cook was imperatively ordered to produce 
food« and I, as imperatively, was commanded to eat. To 
my great joy this food was limited to cofi'ee and cake : I had 
feared wine and sweets, which I did not like. How he 
guessed that I should like a petit pdii d la crime I cannot 
tell; but he went out and procured me one from some 
quarter. With considerable willingness I ate and drank^ 
keeping the petit pdtS till the last, as a bonne hotwhe, 
M. Paul superintended my repast^ and almost forced upon 
me more than I could swallow. 

* A la bonne hem^e/ he cried, when I signified that I 



'y 



160 



VILLETTB 



really could take no more, and, with uplifted hands, 
plored to be spared the additional roll on which he had jt 
spread butter, 'You will set me down as a speciee 
tyrant and Bluebeard, starving women in a garret ; whereas, 
after all, 1 am no such thing. Now, Mademoiselle, do you 
feel courage and strength to appear ? ' 

I said, I thought I did ; though, in truth, I was perfectly 
confused, and could hardly teO how I felt : but this little 
man was of the order of beings who must not be opposed, 
unless you possessed an all-dominant force sufficiep i^ to 
crash him at once. 

* Come, then,* said he, offering his hand. 
I gave him mine, and he set off with a rapid walk, which 

obhged me to run at his side in order to keep pace. In the 
carr6 he stopped a moment : it was lit with large lamps ;^ 
the wide doors of the Glasaes were open, and so were th^H 
equally wide garden -doors ; orange -trees in tubs, and tall 
flowers in pots, ornamented these portals on each side ; 
groups of ladies and gentlemen in evening-dress stood and 
walked amongst the flowers. Within, the long vista of the 
schoolrooms presented a thronging, undulating, murmuring, 
waving, streaming multitude, all rose, and blue, and half 
translucent white* There were lustres burning overhead ; 
far off there was a stage, a solemn green curtain, a row of 
footlights, 

' N/est-ce pas que o'est beau ? ' demanded my companion. 

I should have said it was, but my heart got up into my 
throat. M. Paul discovered this, and gave m& a aida-eoowj 
and a Uttle shake for my pains. 

* I wiU do my best, but I wish it was over,' said I 
I asked : * Are we to walk through that crowd ? * 

* By no meant : I manage matters better : we pass 
through the garden — here.' . 

In an instant we were out of doors : the cool, calm nighl 
revived me somewhat. It was moonless, but the reflex 
from the many glowing windows lit the court brightly, and 
even the alleys— dimly. Heaven was cloudless, and grand 



> my 
oowj|^ 



THE FflTE 



VSk 



clozeD 



ith the quiyer of its living fires. How soft are the 
lights of the ContiDent ! How bland, balmy, sale I No 
rfog ; DO chilling damp : mistless as noon, and fresh o^ 
[lorning. 

Having crossed oourt and garden, we reached the glass 
door of tha first classe. It stood opeQi like all other doora 
that night ; we passed, and then I was ushered into a small 
o&binet, dividing the first classe from the grand saUe. Thi^ 
cabinet dazzled me, it was so fuU of light : it deafened me« 
it was clamorous with voices : it atified me, it was so hot, 
choking, thronged. 

* De Tordre 1 Da silence T cried M. Paul, 'Is this 
««haos ? * he demanded ; and there was a hush. With a 
^ozen words, and as many gestures, he turned out half the 
:)ns present, and ohliged the remnant to (all into rank. 
aose left were all in costume : they were the performers, ' 
ajid this was the green-room. M. Paul introduced me. All 
stared and some tittered. It was a surprise : they had not 
expected the Englishwoman would play in a vaudeville, 
Cinevra Fanshawe, beautifully dressed for her part, and 
looking fascinatingly pretty, turned on me a pair of eyes as 
round as beads. In the highest spirit, unperturbed by fear 
or baslifnlness, dehghted indeed at the thought of shining off 
l}efore hundreds —my entrance seemed to transhx her with 
akumzenient in the midst of her joy. Bhe would have ejc- 
aed, but M. Paul held her and all the rest in check. 
Having surveyed and criticized the whole troop, he turned 
me. 

• You, too, must be dressed for your part/ 

* Dreased — dressed like a man I ' exclaimed Z^lie St* 
ierre, darting forwards ; adding with officiousness, * I will 
rens her myself/ 

To be dressed Eke a man did not please, and would not 
suit me. I had consented to take a man's name and part ; 
as to his dress — halte Id I No. I would keep my own dress, 
come what might, M. Paul might storm, might rage : 1 
would kee p my o wn dress* I said flor~Witlr^"'7aice as 



av. 



c^-^ 



B# dad not 



VILLBPfB V^t 



low, mud 



slotm or 



i«fU< 



Okh^ be mold: he iiood fltknl. Bm 2ffi» 



Bha mU mslie m capital fetU-mmUrf. Bete are tise 
ftB— yi eomplete : aomiewliBt too lufB» fao* I wiB 
imUftbai. Canie,cfatoatiik^-beqsAiiitfttMl- 
And she sneered, for I ww col 'belle.'^ 
iMod, die WAS dittwifig me Away. M. Bud stood imi 



'T0Q IDQ9I not Insist,* pumted SL PieiTe — far 
did. ' Yoii will spoil all, destroj the mtftlt oTIhe piece, 
^QJoyoseni of the cotopany, acrifiee eTerythiog to 
amom'prtfpre. Tbk woald be too bad — moosieor will 
permillliit?* 

Bbe ioQgbt hh eye. I wafeehed, fikewise, for a 
fie ga¥e ber one, and theo he gave ine one. * Slc^ ! ' he 
iiaid ilowty, aireetiog St. Pierre, who conlinaed her elTorts 
to drag me after her. Everybody awaited the deeisioti. 
He wan oat angry, not irritated ; I perceived that, and took 
beart. 

' Yon do not like those dothes ? ' be asked, pointing 
the magculine vestments. """^""^ 

* I don't object to some of theai» bnt I won't have them 
all/ 

* How most it be, tben? Ho w accept a man's part, and 
go on tbe stagti dreaaed a s a wo^mn ? This is an^ amateur 
afTair, it isTme — a TaudevilUde jiensionnat ; certain modiii^ 
oatians I might sanction , yet aou ietbing you mnst have to 
annoanoe you as of ib ejiobler ji^. ' 

' And I will, Monsieur ; bat it must be arranged in my 
own way : nobody must meddle ; the things must not be 
forced upon me. Junfc let me dress myself/ 

MoDsieur, without anotlier word, took the costume from 
Bt. Pierre, gave it to me, and permitted me to pass into tha 
dtiQiJpg'room. Once alone^ I grew calm, and ooUededlj 






I 



TfiE f6tE 



168 



went to work. Retaining my woman's garb withoul the 
aUghteat reLrenchment, I merely aasumeii, in addition, a 
little y gst, a co llar, and cravat, and a paletdt of small dimen- 
sions ; the whole being the costnme of a brother of one of 
the pupils. Having loosened my hair out of its braids, made 
up the long back -hair close, and brushed the front hair to 
one side, I took my hat and gloves in my hand and came ouk 
M. Paul was waitingp and so were the others. He looked at 
ine. 'That may pass in a pensionnat/ he pronounced. 
Then added, not unkindly j ' Courage, mou ami I Un peu de 
fiang-froid — un peu d'aplomb, M. Luoien, et tout ira bien/ 
8t. Pierre sneered again, in her cold snaky manner. 
I was irritable, because excited, and 1 iiOuld nutf^elp 
^tturning upon her and saying, that if she were not a lady and 
^ a gentleman, I should feel dispoeed to call her out. 

* After the play, after the play,* said M. Paul. 'I will 
*iien divide my pair of pistols between you, and we will 
^»ettle the dispute according to form : it will only be the old 
quarrel of France and England/ 

But now the moment approached for the performance to 
^^mmence. M. Paul, setting us before him, harangued us 
tDriefly, hke a general addressing Boldiers about to charge. X 
don't know what he said, except that he recommended each 
l»o penetrate herself with a sense of her personal insignih- 
<2ance. God knows I thought this advice superfluous for 
laome of us. A bell tinkled. I and two mot^ were ushered 
on to the stage. The bell tinkled again. I had to speak 
Vhe very first words. 

' Do not look at the crowd, nor think of it,' whispered M. 

Paul in my ear. * Ima gine yourself in the garret, acting jo j 

th ^rata.' ^' — 

He vanished. The cmrtain drew up — shrivelled to the 
oedlbg: the bright lights, the long room, the gay throng, 
burst upon us. 1 thought of the black-beetles, the old boxes, 
ihe worm-eaten bureau. I said my say badly ; but I said it. 
Th&t first speech was the diUiculty ; it revealed to me this 
^M, that it was not the crowd I feared so much as my own 



\\t *\ ^\ 



164 



VILLETTE 



ette 



voice. ForeignerB and strangers, the crowd were nothing 
me. Nor did I think of them. When my tongue once 
free^ and my voice took its tree pitch, and found its 
tone, I thought of nothing but the personage I represe^ 
and of M. Paul, who was listening, watching, prompting 
the side -see ties. 

By-and-by, feeling the right power come — the spring 
demanded gush and rise inwardly^ — I became suflSciently 
composed to notice my feliow-actors. Some of them played 
very well ; especially Ginevra Fan ah awe, who had to coquette 
between two suitors, and managed admirably : in fact 
was in her etement 1 observedTtFat she once or twice th 
a oertain marked fondness and pointed partiality into her 
manner towards me — t he fop . With such emphasis and 
animation did she favour me, such glances did she dart out 
into the listening and applauding crowd, that to me — who 
knew her — it presently became evident she was actingaf 
some one ; and I followed her eye, her smile, her gestare, 
and ere long discovered that she had at least singled out a 
handsome and distinguished a im jo r her shafts ; full in the 
path of those arrows — taller than other spectators, and there- 
fore more sure to receive them— stood » in attitude quiet but 
intent, a well-known form— t hat of D i% John^ / 

The spectacle seemed someh ow suggesti ve. There was 
language in Dr, John's look, though I cannot tell what be 
said ; it animated me : I drew out of it a history ; I put my 
idea into the part I performed ; I tHrew it into my wooing 
of Ginevra. In the * Qurs/ or sincere lover, I sa w Dr. John. 
Did I pity him, as erstl* Wo, I hardened my heart, rivalled 
and out-rivalled him 1 knew myself but a fop, but where 
was ontsaBtXoQul^please. Now I know I acted as if wli 
ful and resolute to wnn and conquer. Ginevra seconded tm 
between us we half-changed the nature of the rdle, gilding 
from top to toe. Between the acts M. Paul told us he knew 
not what possessed us, and half expostulated. ' C'est peui- 
6tr6 pluf) beau que votre module/ said he, * mais ce n'est pas 
juste/ I know not what possessed me either ; but somehow, 



lad 
git 



THE F^TE 



165 



ly longing was to eclipse the * Ours/ i\e* Dr. John, Gmevra\ 
tender ; how could I be otherwise tliao chivalric ? Re- \ 
^Dg the letter, I recklessly altered the spirit of the rdle, 1 
,/ithout heart, without intereatf I could not play it at all. It 
Eiusi be played — in went the yeamed-for seasoning— thus / 
Tlavoured. I played it with relish. \ 

What I felt that night, and what I did, I no more expected 

to feel and do, than to be lifted in a trance to the seven tb 

heaven. Cold, reluctant, apprehensive, I had accepted a 

part to please another : ere long, warming, becoming intur- 

justed, taking courage, I aGted to please myself. Yet the next 

^Bay, when I thought it over, I quite disapproved of those 

^^^nmateur perform ances ; and though glad that I had obliged 

^^M. Paul, and tried my own strength for once, I took a firm 

resolution never to be drawn into a similar affair. A keen 

relish for dramatic expression had revealed itself as part of 

my nature; to cherish and exercise this newly-found faculty 

might gift me with a world of dehght, but it would not do for 

^^ mere looker-on at life : the strength and longing must be 

^^^ut by ; and I put them by, and fastened them in with the 

lock of a resolution which neither Time nor Temptation has I ' 

siooe picked* ^^ ~ ^~' ' 

No sooner was the play over, and well over, than the 

chAleric and arbitrary M. Paul underwent a metamorphosis. 

I His hour of managerial ro.sponsibility past, he at once laid 

aside his magisterial austerity ; in a moment he stood t 

amongst us, vivacious, kind, and social, shook hands with us \ 

all round, thanked us separately, and announced his deter- 

^Kmination that each of us should in turn be his partner in the 

^^Boming ball. On his claiming my promise, I told him I did 

^^Hk>t dance. ' For once I must,' was the answer ; and if I had 

^Biot shpped aside and kept out of his way, he would have 

^nompelled me to this second performance. But I had acted 

^nnough for one evening; it. was time I retired into myself 

^Bond my ordinary life. My dun -coloured dress did welt 

^Bnough under a paleL6t on the stage, but would not suit a 

^™Walt« or a quidjilie. Withdrawing to a quiet nook, whence 



166 



VILLETTE 



unobserved I could observe — the ball, ita splendonrs and its* 
pleasures t passed before me as a spectacle. 

Again Ginevra Fanshawe was the belle, the fairest and 
tbe gayest present ; she was selected to open the ball : very 
lovely she looked, very gracefully she danced, very joyously 
she smiled. Such scenes were her triumphs — she was the 
child of pleasure. Work or suffering found her listless and 
dejected, powerless and repining ; but gaiety expanded her 
h nffnirfly*m Trnfigrc^ lit up their gold-dust and bright spots, 
made her flash like a gem, and flush like a flower. At all 
ordinary diet and plain beverage she would pout ; but she 
fed on creams and ices like a humming-bird oo honey -paste ; 
sweet wine was her element, and sweet cake her daily 
bread. Ginevra lived her fall life in a hall-room ; elsewhere 
she drooped dispirited. 

Think not, reader, that she thus bloomed and sparkled 
for the mere sake of M. Paul, her partner, or that sh© 
lavished her best graces that night for the edification of her 
companions only, or for that of the parents and grand- 
parents, who filled the caiT6 and lined the ball-room ; under 
circumstances so insipid and limited, with motives so chilly 
and vapid, Ginevra would scarce have deigned to walk one 
quadrille, and weariness and fretfulness would have replaced 
animation and goodhtimotir, but she knew of a leaved in 
the otherwise heavy festal mass which lighted the whole ; 
she tasted a condiment which gave it zest ; she perceived 
reasons justifying the display of her choicest attractions. 

In the ball-room, indeed, not a single male spectator was 
to be seen who was not married and a father — M, Paul 
excepted— that gentleman, too, being the sole creature of his 
sex permitted to lead out a pupil to the dance ; and this 
exceptional part was allowed him, partly as a matter of old- 
established custom (for he was a kinsman of Madame Boek^Sf 
and high in her confidence), partly because he would always 
have his own way and do as he pleased, and partly beoauae — 
wilful, passionate, partial, as he might he— he was the aool 
of honour, and might be trusted with a regiment of the 



THE FfeTE 



167 



I 



aod pur^t, in perfect security that under hiti leader- 
ship ihey would oome to no harm. Many of the girls — it 
may be noted in pventheeis— -were not pure-minded ai all* 
very much olharwiee ; but they no more dare bef ^^^r 
nafcaral ooftHBeoess in M, Pauls presence, than e 

Iread purpoitily on his coms, laugh in his face during a 
slormy apostrophe, or speak above their breath while some 
crisis of irritability was covering his human visage with the 
mask of an intelligent tiger. M. Paul« then, might dance 
with whom he would — and woe be to the interference which 
pal him out of step. 

OtbJBTs there ware admitted as spectators — with (seeming) 
reluctaoce, through prayer^ by inEuence, under restiiction, 
by ^eeml and dMcult e:Kercise of Madame Beck's gracious 
good-oaturet and whom she all the evening— with her own 
pefBonal surveillance— kept far aloof at the remotesli 
dreariesir coldest^ darJcest side of the carr^— a small, forlorn 
band of * jeunes gens * ; these being aU of the best families^ 
grown-up sons of motliers pre^ent^ and whose sisters were 
papils in the school. That whole evening was Madame on 
duty bedde these ' jeunes gens ' — attentive to them as a 
molber, but strict w^ith them as a dragon. There was a 
sort of cordon stretched before them, which they wearied 
ber with prayers to be permitted to pass, and just to revive 
themselvee by one dance with that ' belle blonde,' or that 
* jolie brune/ or * oette jeune fiUe magnifique aux cheveux 
ooirs oomme le jais/ 

* Taiae2-vous I ' Madame would reply, heroically and 
inexorably. * Vous ne passerez pas k moins que ce ne soit 
SOT mon cadavre, et vous ne danserez qu avec la nonnette 
da jardin ' (alluding to the legend). And she aiajestically 
walked to and ko along their disconsolate and impatient 
Eoe. like a little Bonaparte in a mouse-coloured silk gown. 

Madame knew something of the world ; Madame knew 
much of human nature. 1 don't think that another 
direcb^ess in Villette wouU have dared to admit a ' jeune 
homme ' within her walls; but Madame knew that by 



168 



VILLETTE 



granting such admission, on an ocoagion like the present, a 
bold stroke might be stnick, and a great point gained. 

In the first place, the parents were made accomplices to 
the deed, for it was only through their mediation ii was 
brought about. Secondly : the admigsioD of these rattl 
snakes, so fascinating and so dangerous, served to draw oul 
Madame precisely in her strongest character — that of a fi 
rate survMlante, Thirdly : their presence furnished a in< 
piquant ingredient to the entertainment : the papils km 
it, and saw it, and the view of such golden apples shinini 
afar off, animated them with a spirit no other oircumstance 
could have kindled. The children's pleasure spread to the 
parents ; life and mirth circulated quickly round the ball- 
room; the *jeunes gens' themselves, though restrained, 
were amused: for Madame never permitted them to feel 
dull — and thus Madame Beckys ffite annually ensured a 
success unknown to the f^te of any other directress in the 
knd. 

I observed that Dr. John was at first permitted to walk 
at large through the classes : there was about him a manly, 
responsible look, that redeemed his youth, and half-expiated 
his beauty ; but as soon as the ball began, Madame r&n up 
to hlm« 

*CJome, Wolf; come/ said she, laughing: 'yon wear 
6heep*s clothing, but you must quit the fold notwithstanding. 
Gome J I have a fine menagerie of twenty here in the cam6 ; 
let me place you amongst my collection.' 

But first suJBfer me to have one dance with one pupil 
my choice.' 

* Have yon the face to ask such a thing? It is 
it is impiety. Sorters, sortez, au plus vite.* 

She drove him before her, and soon had him enclooed 
within the cordon. 

Ginevra being, I^suppose, tired with dancing, sought me 
out in my retreat. She threw herself on the bench beaide 
me, and (a demonstration I could very well have dis] 
with) cast her arms round my neck. 



3 pupil ot_ 
madii6M9 




THE FETE 



168 



' Lucy Snowe ! Lucy Snowe I she oried in a somewhat 

P Bobbing Toioe, half bysterica.]. 
' What in the world is the matter ? * I drily said. 
'How do I look — how do I look to-night?' she demanded. 
* As usual/ aaid I ; * prep oaterouaty vaJn/ 
* Caustic creature I You never have a kind word for me ; 
but in spite of you, and all other envious detractors, I know 
I am beautiful; I feel it, I see it^for there is a great 
looking-glass in the dresaing-room, where I can view my 
shape from head to loot. Will you go with me now, and 
let us two stand before it ? ' 

' I will, Miss Fanshawe : you shall be humoured even to 
the top of your bent/ 

The dressing-room was very near, and we stepped in. 
Putting her arm through mine, she drew me to the mirror. 
Without resistance, remonstrance, or remark, I stood and let 
her self-love have its feast and triumph : curious to see how 

^much it could swallow — ^whether it was possible it could 

^Beed to satiety— whether any whisper of consideration for 
^■others could penetrate her heart, and moderate its vain- 
^nlorious exultation. 

Not at all. She turned me and herself round; she 

viewed us both on all sides; she smiled, she waved her 

ismrls, she retouched her sash^ she spread her dress, and 
'fcnally, letting go my arm, and curtseying with mock respect, 
she said : ' I would not be you for a kingdom.' 

»The remark was too nau'e to rouse anger : I merely said : 
Yery good.' 
* And what would you give to be ME ? ' she inquired. 
I ' Not a bad sixpence— strange as it may sound/ 1 repUed. 

* You are but a poor creature.' 

t* You don't think so in your heart/ 
* No ; for in my heart you have not the outline of a place : 
only occasionally turn you over in my brain/ 
' Well, but,* said she, in an expogtulatory tone, * just 
Jistan to the difiference of our positions, and then see how 
[, and how miserable are you/ I 



^vpy 






\^ 



I 



0^ 



f 



J.'l^.'^f,*- "*) 



). 



170 



VILLETTE 



* Go on ; I liflten/ 
' lu the first place : I aiD the daughter of a gentleman of 

family^ and though my father ia not rich^I have expectations 
from an uncle. Then, I am juat eighteen, the finest age 
possible* I have had a continental education, and though I 
can*t speU, I have abundant acoompliehments. I am pretty ; 
you can't deny that; I may have as many admirers as I 
choose. This very night I have heen breaking the hearts of 
two gentlemen, and it is the dying look I had from one of 
them just now, which pots me in such spirits. I do so like 
to watch theuj turn red and pale, and scowl and dart fiery 
glances at each other, and languishing ones at me. Tl 
18 me — happy ice ; now for you, poor soul 1 

* I suppose you are nobody's daughter, since you 
care of little children when you first came to Villette : you 
have no relations ; you can't call yourself young at twenty- 
three ; you have no attractive accomplishments— no beauty. 
As to admirers, you hardly know what they are : yo^TTSSU't 
even talk on the subject : you sit dumb when the other 
teachers quote their conquests. I believe you never were ifi^ 

I love, and neve r^ will be : you don't know the feeling : and 
so much the better, for though you might have your own 
heart broken, no living heart will you ever break. Isn't it 
all true ? * ' ' 

* A good deal of it is true as gospel, and shrewd besidee. 
There must be good in you, Ginevra, to speak so honestly : 
that snake, Z61ie St. Pie rre, could not utter what you have 

'uttered. Still, Miss Fan^mwe, hapless as I am, according 
to your showing, sixpence I would not give to purchase yoa, 
body and soul.' 

' Just because I am not clever, and that is all you think 
of. Nobody in the world but you cares for cleverness. ^^ 

' On the contrary, I consider you are clever. In your wtLj 
— very smart indeed. But you were talking of breakiag< 
hearts — ihat edifying amusement into the merits of which 
I don't quite enter ; pray on whom does your vanity lead yoi 
to think you have done execution to-night ? ' 



4 



I 



THE FfcTE 



171 



She approached her lipa to my ear — ' Isidore and AUred 
de ^ amal a re both here ! * she whispered. 

* OETT&ey are ? I should like to see them.' 

* There's a dear creature ! your curiosity is roused at last* 
Follow me, I will point them out/ 

She proudly led the way — *But you cannot see them 
well from the classes/ said she. turning, * Madame keeps 
them too far o£F. Let us cross the garden, enter hy the 
oorridor, and get close to them hehind : we shall be scolded 
if we are seen, but never mind/ 

For once, I did not mind. Through the garden we went 
—penetrated into the corridor by a quiet private entrance, 
and approaching the carr6, yet keeping in the corridor shade, 
commanded a near view of the baud of ' jeunes gens.' 

I believe I could have picked out the conquering de 
Hamal even undirected. He was a straight-nosed, very 
correct- featured little dandy. 1 say liitk dandy, though he 
was not beneath the middle standard in stature ; but his 
lineaments were small, and so were his hands and feet ; and 
he was pretty and smooth, and as trim as a doll : so nicely 
dressed, so nicely curled, so booted and gloved jmd cravated 
— he was charming indeed. I Raid so. * What a dear 
personage I * cried I, and commended Ginevra's taste 
warmly ; and asked her what she thought de Hamal might 
have done with the precious fragments of that heart she had 
broken ^whether he kept them in a scent -vial, and conserved 
them in otto of roses? I observed, too, with deep rapture 
of approbation, that the colonel's hands were scarce larger 
than Miss Fanshawe's own, and suggested that tins circum- 
stance might be convenient, as he could wear her gloves at 
a pinch. On his dear curls, I told her I doated : and as to his 
low, Grecian brow, and exquisite classic headpiece, I oon- 
lee&ed I had no language to do such perfections justice. 

*And if he were your lover?' suggested the cruelly 
exultant Ginevra. -'"'"^ 

' Oh 1 heavens, what bliss t ' said I ; ' but do not be 
tj^uman, MIsb Faushawe : to put Buch thoughts into my 



172 



VILLETTE 



r. 



head is like showmg poor outcast Cain a far glimpse of^ 
Paradise/ ^P 

* You like him, then ? * 
'As I like sweets, and jams, and comfits , and consenratory 

flowers.* 

Ginevra admired my taste, for all these things were ^m 
her adoration ; she could then readily credit that they were ^| 
mine too. ' 

* Now for Isidore/ I went on. I own I felt still more 
curious to see him than his rival ; but Ginevra was absorbed 
in the latter. 

* Alfred was admitted here to-night,* said she, * through , 
the influence of his aunt, Madame la Baronne de Dorlodoij 
and now, having seen him, can you not understand why I havd 
been in such spirits all the evening, and acted so well, and 
danced with such life, and why I am now happy as a queen ?1 
Dieu ! Dieu 1 It was such good fun to glance first at himj 
and then at the other, and madden them both/ 

* But that other — where is he ? Show me Isidore.* 

* I don't like/ 
' Why not ? * 
' I am ashamed of him/ 

* For what reason ? ' 

* Because— because * {in a whisper) 
whiskers, orange— red — ther e now ! * 

'The murder is out,' I subjoined. 
him all the same ; I engage not to faint/ 

She looked round. Just then an English voioe spoke 
behind her and roe. — - — 

* You are both standing in a draught ; you mosl l eftva 
this corridor/ 

* There is no draught, Dr. John,' said I, turning. 

* She takes eold so easily,' he pursued, looking at Gic 
with extreme kindness. ' She is delicate ; she mudi Im^ 
eared for r fetch her a shawl.' 

* Permit me to judge for myself/ said Miss Fansbawe^ 
with hauteur. * I want no shawl/ 



he has such — such 



'Never mind, show 







THE FfeTE 



173 



■^11 
1 



m 



Your dress is thin, yoo have been dancing, you are 
heated/ 

' Always preiMshiDg/ retorted she ; ' always coddling and 
admonishing/ 

The answer Br- John would have given did not come ; 
that his heart was hurt became evident in his eye ; darkened, 
and saddened, and pained, he turned a little aside, but was | 
patient* I knew where there were plenty of shawls near at 
hand ; I ran and fetched one. 

She shall wear this if I have strength to niake her/ 
id I, folding it well round her muslin dress, covering care- 
lly her neck and her arms. ' Is that Isidore ? ' I asked, 
in a somewhat fierce whisper. 

She pushed up her lip, smiled, and nodded, 

* Is that Isidore ? ' I repeated, giving her a shake : I 
uld have given her a dozen, 

* C'est lui-mome/ said she. ' How coarse he h, com- 
pared with the Colonel-Count ! And then — oh ciel I— the 
.whiskers ! ' 

Dr. John now passed on. 

* The Colonel-Count ! ' I echoed- * The doll — the puppet 
— the manikin^ the poor inferior creature 1 A mere liMskey 
(or Dr. John : his valet, his foot-boy ! Is it possible that 
Bne generous gentleman— handsome as a vision — ofifers you 
his honourable hand and gallant heart, and promises to 
protect your flimsy person and feckless mind through the 
storms and struggles of life — and you hang back — you acorn, 

oo stiug, you toi-ture him I Have you power to do this ? 
"Who gave you that power? Where is it? Does it lie all in 
your beauty— your pink and white complexion, and your 
yellow hair? Does this bind his soul at your feet, and bend 
his neck under your yoke? Does Ibis purchase for you his 
afiection, his tenderness, his thoughts, his hopes, his interest, 
his noble, cordial love — and will you not have it? Do you 
scorn it ? You are only dissembling : you are not in earnest : 



^ 



1 



you love hi© ; you bug for him ; but you 
heart to make him more surely yours ? * 



trifle with his ' 



!<«/< 

» 



174 



VILLETTE 



shV 



* Bah ( How you ruD on ! I don't understand half 
have said/ 

I had got her out inki the garden ere this. I now 
her down on a seat and told her she should not stir till 
had avowed which she meant in the end to accept--the man 
or the monkey. 

' Him you call the man/ said she, 'is hourgeois^ sandy- 
haired, and answers to the name of John ! — ce!a suffit : mH 
n*en veox pas. Colonel de Hamal is a gentleman of exoelieni^^ 
I connections, perfect manners, sweet appearance, with pale 
interesting face, and hair and eyes like an Italian. Then 
^ ^^ too he is the most delightful company possible — a man quite 

Vm^ in my way ; not sensible and serious like the other, hut one 

" with whom I can talk on equal terms — who does not plagne 

and bore, and harass me with depths, and heights, and 
passions, and talents for which I have no taste. There qow. 
Don't hold rae so fast/ 

I slackened my grasp, and she darted off. I did not car^ 
to pursue her. 

Somehow I could not avoid returning once more in the 
direction of the corridor to get another glimpse of Dr, John : 
hut I met him on the garden -steps, standing where the light 
from a window fell broad. His well-proportioned figure waa 
not to be mistaken, for I doubt whether there was another 
in that assemblage his equal. He earned his hat in his 
hand ; his uncovered head, his face and fine brow were most 
handsome and manly. His features were not delicate, not 
slight like those of a woman, nor were they cold, frivolous, 
and feeble ; though well cut, they were not so chiaeUed, so 
frittered away, as to lose in expression or signi^canoe what 
they gained in unmeaning symmetry. Much feeling spoke 
in them at times, and more sat silent in his eye. Such at 
least were my thoughts of him : to me he seemed all this. 
An inexpressible sense of wonder occupied me as I looked al 
this man, and reflected that he could not be shghted. 

It was not my intention to approach or address him in 
the garden, our terms of acquaintance not warranting such a 



THE FfeTE 



175 



I 



step ; I had only meant to view him in the crowd — myself 
unseen : coming upon him thuB alone. I witjbdrew. But he 
was looking out for me, or rather for her who bftd been with 
me : therefore he descended the steps, and followed me 
down the alley. 

' You know Miss Fanshawe ? I have often wished to 
ask whether you knew her/ said he. 

* Yes : I know her * 

* Intimately ? * 

' Quite as intimately as I vdsh/ 
' What have you done with her now ? * 

* Am I her keeper ? * I felt inclined to ask ; but I simply 
answered, * I have shaken her well, and would have shaken 
her better^ but she escaped out of my hands and ran away/ 

* Would you favour me,* he asked, ' by watching over her 
this one evening; and observing that she does nothing im- 
prudent — does not, for instance, run out into the night-air 
inunediately after dancing ? ' 

' I may, perhaps, look after her a little, since you wish 
it ; hut she likes her own way too well to submit readily to 
L control/ 

^H ' She is so young, so thoroughly artless,' said he. 
^B * To me she is an enigma,' I responded, 
^m * Is she ? * he asked — much interested, * How ? ' 
^m ' It would be difficult to say how— difficult, at least, to teU 
^^B^mi how.' 
^m^ * And why me ? * 

^K * I wonder she is not better pleased that you are so much 
^K!her friend/ 

^H ' But she has not the slightest idea how much I am her 
^F inend. That is precisely the point I cannot teach her. 
I Tday I in*^uire did she ever speak of me to you ? ' 
^^ ' Under the name of •* Isidore " she has talked about you 
^K often; but I must add that it is only within the last ten 
^m mmutes I have discovered that you and *' Isidore " are 
^m identical. It is only, Dr. John, within that brief space of 
time I have learned that Ginevra Fanshawe is the person, 



^ 



176 



' IrtLLETTE 



kt 



^'^ 



ufidcr this roof, in whom you have long been interested — 
that she is the magnet which attracts you to the B11& 
FoBsette» that for her mMe you venture into this garden^ and 
seek out ca^ets^opped by rivals/ 

* You know ail ? ' 

* I know so much/ 

* For more than a year I have been accustomed to meet 
her in society, Mrs. Cholmondeley, her friend, is an 
acquaintance of mine ; thus I see her every Sunday, But 
you observed that under Ihe name of " Isidore " she often 
spoke of me : may I — without inviting you to a breach of 
confidence — inquire what was the tone, what the feeling of 
her remarks ? I feel somewhat anxious to know, being ii 
little tormented with uncertainty as to how I stand with heu'd 

* Oh, she varies : she shifts and oliangos like the wind** 

* Still, you can gather some general idea ? ' 

* I can,* thought I, ' but it would not do to communicate 
that general idea to you. Besides, if I said she did not love 
you, I know you would not believe me/ 

* You are silent/ he pursued. * I suppose you have no 
good news to impart. No matter. If she feels for me posi* 
ttve coldness and aversion, it is a sign I do not deserve her/ 

* Do you doubt yourself ? Do you consider yourself tlie 
inferior of C olonel de Ham al ? ' 

* I love Miss Fanshawe far more than de Hamal loves 
any human being, and would care for and guard her belter 
than he. Bespecting dc Hamal, I fear she is under an 
illusion ; the man's character is known to me, all his ante- 
cedents, all his scrapes. He is not worthy of your beautiful 
young friend/ 

* My " beautiful young friend *' ought to know that, and 
to know or feel who is worthy of her/ said L * If her 
beauty or her brains will not serve her so far, she merits the 
sharp lesson of experience/ 

* Are you not a little severe ? * 

' I am excessively severe— more severe than I choose to 
show you. You should hear the strictures with which I 



5 



THE FfiTE 



-•/ 



177 



my ** beautiful young friend/' ooly that you would be 
unutterably shocked at my want of teDder considerateness 
for her delicate nature.' 

' She is so lovelyi one cinnnot but be loving towards her. 
You — every woman older than herself, must feel for such a 
dmple, innocent, girlish fairy a sort of motherly or elder- 
sisterly fondness. Graceful angel 1 Does not your heart 
ye&m towards her whin she pours into your ear her pure, 
childlike confidences ? How you are privileged I ' And he 
sighed, 

• I cut short these confidences somewhat abruptly now 
and then/ said I. ' But excuse me, Dr> John, may I change 
the theme for one instant ? What a god4ike person is that 
de Hamal 1 What a nose on his face — perfect ! Model one 
in putty or clay, you could not make a better or straighter, 
or neater; and then, such classio lips and chin — and his 
bearing — sublime/ 

' De Hamal is an iinutterable puppy, besides being a very 
^^ white-livered hero.' 

^K * You, Dr. Johnt and every man of a less-refined mould 
^Klfaan he, must feel for him a sort of admiring affecUon, such 
^EAs Mars and the coarser deities may be supposed to have borne 
the young, graceful Apollo.' 

' An unprincipled, gambling little jackanapes t ' said 

Dr. John curtly, * whom, with one hand, I could lift up by 

the waistband any day, and lay low in the kennel if I liked.* 

^ • The sweet seraph 1 ' said I. ' What a cruel idea ! Are 

^tjoii not a htde severCi Dr. John? ' 

I And now I paused. For the second time that night I was 

I gomg beyond myself — venturing out of what I looked on as 

^Lmy natural habits— speaking in an unpremeditated, impulsive 

^ strain, which startled me strangely when I halted to reflect* 

On rising that morning, had I anticipated that before night 

I should have acted the part of a gay lover in a vaudeville ; 

and an hour after, frankly discussed with Dr. John the 

question of his hapless suit, and rallied him on his iUu- 

Bions^ I had no more presaged such feats than I had 



178 



VILLETTE 



looked forward to an asoent in a balloon, or a voyage to 

Cap6 Horn. | 

The Doctor and I, having paced down the walk, were m 

now returning ; the reflex from the window again lit his -^ 

face : he smiled, but his eye was melancholy. How I wished i 

that he coold feel heart's-ease t How I grieved that he m-^ 

brooded over pain, and pain from such a cause! He, with • 

his great advantages, he to love in vain f I did not then ^i« 

know that the pansiveness^ot revBfSB *b the best phase for ^ 

fiome minds ; nor did I reH'^ct that some herbs, ' though i 

scentless when entire, yield fragrance when they're bruised.' "" 

* Do not be sorrowful, do not grieve,* I broke out. ^ If ^ 

there is in Ginavra one spai'k of worthiness of your affec* — 

tion, she will— she must feel devotion in return. Be cheer- ^ 
ful, be hopeful, Dr. John. Who should hope, if not you? * 

In return for this speech I got — what, it must be sup- — 

posed, I deserved— a look of surprise : I thought also of some ^^ 

disapprobation. We parted, and I went into the house very ^ 

chilL The clocks struck and the bells tolled midnight; -^ 

people were leaving fast: the fdte wag over; the lamps -^ 

were fading. In another hour all the dwelling-house, and - 
all the pensionnat, were dark and hushed. I too was in 
bed, but not asleep. To me it was not easy to sleep after a 
day of such excitement. 




9p66 to 

^ich I 



CHAPTER XV 



TBS TjONG vacation 






ftjjOWD^G Madame Beck's f6te, with its three preceding 
ks of relaxation, its brief twelve hours' btirst of hilarity 
and dissipation, and its one subsequent day of utter languor, 
came a period of reaction ; two months of real application, 
of close, hard study. These two months^ being the last of 
the * ann^ scolaire/ were indeed the only genuine working 
months in the year. To them was procrastinated — into them 
concentrated, alike by professors, mistresses, and pupils — 
the main burden of preparation for the examinations preced- 
ing the distribution of prizes. Oatididates for rewards had 
then to work in good earnest ; masters and teachers bad to 
set their shoulders to the wheel, to urge on the backward, 
and diKgently aid and train the more promising. A showy 
lemonstration— a telling exhibition— must be got up for 
■public view, and all means were fair to this end. 

I scarcely noted how the other teachers went to work ; 
I had my own business to mind ; and my task was not the 
least onerous, being to imbue some ninety sets of brains 
with a due tincture of what they considered a most compli- 
cated and difficult science, that of the English language; 
and to drill ninety tongues in what» for them, was an almost 
possible pronunciation — the lisping and hissing dentals of 
Isles. 

The examination-day arrived. Awful day I Prepared 
if with anxious care, dressed for with silent despatch — 
iOlhing vaporous or fluttering now — no white gauze or 



F 



180 



VTLLETTE 



azure streamerB ; the grave » close, compftct was the order < 
the toilette. It seemed to me that I was this day especially^ 
doomed — the main burden and trial falling on me alone of 
all the female teachers. The others were not expected to 
examine in the studies they taught ; the professor of litera- 
ture, M. Paul, taking upon himself this duty. He, this 
sch^oL-antQCcat, gathered all and sundry reins into the 
hollow of his one hand ; be irefuUy rejected any colleague ; 
he would not have help. Madame herself» who evidently 
rather vrished to undertake the examination in geography^ 
her favourite study, which she taught well— was forced 
succumb, and be subordinate to her despotic kinsman' 
direction. The whole staff of instructors, male and female? 
he set aside, and stood on the examiner's estrade alone. It 
irked him that he was forced to make one exception to this 
rule. He could not m anage En glish: he was obliged to 
leave that branch of education in the English teacher 'i 
hands ; which he did^ not without a flash of nai 
jealousy. 

A constant crusade against the ' amour-propre ' of eve: 
human being but himself, was the crotchet of this able, b 
fiery and grasping little man. He had a strong roUsh fi 
public representation in his own person, but an extrei 
abhorrence of the like display in any other. He quelled, 
kept down when he could ; and when he could not, he funu 
like a bottled storm. 

On the evening preceding the examination-day, I was 
walking in the garden, as were the other teachers and aU 
the boarders. M* Emanuel joined mo io the ' all6$j3i4l£uadiiA^* ; 
his cigar was at his Ups ; his paletAt— a most characterisue 
garment of no particular shape — hung dark and menaciiig ; 
the tassel of his bonnet grec sternly shadowed his left teotpla ; 
his black whiskers curled like those of a wrathful cat; 
blue eye had a cloud in its glitter. 

'Ainsi,' he began, abruptly fronting and arresting ma, 
* vous allez tr^ner comme une reine ; demain— trdner k fxies 
c^t6&? Sans doute vous savourez d'avance lea ddlices de 



i 



THE LONG VACATION 



181 



I'antoril^. Je crois voir en je ne saia quoi de rayonnante, 
petite ambitieuse I * 

Now the fact was he happened to be entirely mistaken. 
I did not — could not— estimate the admiration or the good 
opinion of to-morrow's audience at the same rate he did. 
Sad that audience Dnmbercd as many personal friends and 
acquaintance for me as for him, I know not how it might 
have been : I speak of the case as it stood. On me school- ^ 
triumphs shed hut ». flold loi^trfi. I hiid wondered — ^and 
I wondered now — how it was that for him they seemed 
to shine as with hearth -warmth and hearth -glow. He 
cared for them perhaps too much ; 7, probabiy, too little. 
However, I had my own fancies as well as he. I liked, fdt 
instance* to see M. Emanuel jealous ; it lit up his natural 
and woke his spirit ; it threw all sorts of queer lights and 
shadows over his dun face, and into his violet-azure eyes (he 
Used to say that his black hair and blue eyes were ' une de 
aee beaut^s *). There was a relish io his anger ; it was art- 
lees, earnest, quite unreasonable, but never hypocritical, I 
nttered no disclaimer then of the complacency he attributed 
to me ; I merely asked where the English examination came 
in— whether at the commencement or close of the day ? 

• I hesitate/ said he, ' whether at the very beginning, be- 
Tore many persons are come, and when your aspinng nature 
^^11 not be gratified by a large audience, or quite at the close, 
^vrhen everybody is tired, and only a Jaded and worn-out 
attention will be at your semce.' 

* Que vous ^tes dur, Monsieur V I said, affecting dejection. 

• One ought to be ** dur *' with you. Yon are one of those 
l)eings who must be kept dotvn. I know you f I know you ! 
Other people in this house see you pass, and think that a ] 
^scdourless shadow has gone by. As for me, I scrutinized 
^oar face once, and it sufficed.' 

* Yon are satisfied that you understand me? ' 

Without answering directly, he went on, * Were you not 
gratified when you succeeded in that vaudeville ? T wat-ched 
yoo, and saw a passionate ardour for triumph in your 



182 



VILLETTE 



physiognomy. What fire shot ioto the glance I Not me^ 
light, but flame : je me tie 03 pour averti/ 

* What feeling I bad on that occasion, Monsieur— and 
pardon me, if I say, you immensely exaggerate both its 
quality and quantity — was quite abstract. I did not care for 
the vaudeville. I hated the part you assigned me. I had 
not the slightest sympathy with the audieuoe below the 
stage. They are good people, doubtleasi but do I know 
them? Are they anything to me? Can I care for being 
brought before their view again to-morrow? Will the ex- 
amination be anything but a task to me — a task I wish well 
over ? ' 

* Shall I take it out of your h&nda ? ' 

* With all my heart ; if you do not fear failip»i* 

* But I should fail. 1 only know three phrases of Bng- 
hsh, and a few words : par example, da sonn, de mone, de 
st^je— est-ce bien dit? My opinion is that it would be better 
to give up the thing altogether : to have no EngUsh examina- 
tion, eh ? ' 

' If Madame consents, I oonsent.* 
'Heartily?' 

* Very heartily/ 

He smoked hia cigar in silence. He turned suddenly. 
' Donnez-moi la main/ said he. and the spite and jealousy 

melted out of his face, and a generous kindliness shone there 
instead. 

' Come, we wiU not be rivals, we will be friends/ he pur- 
sued, * The examination shall take place, and I will chooae 
a good moment ; and instead of vexing and hindering, aaT 
felt half- inclined ten minutes ago— for I ^ave my malev olept 
moods : I always had from chOdhood— 1 will aid you""srn^ 
cerely. After all, you are solitary and a stranger, and have 1 
your way to make and your bread to earn ; it may be well 
that you should become known. We veill be friends : do you 
agree?' ' ^ "^ 

' Out of my heart, Monsieur. I am glad of » friend. I ] 
like that better than a triumph.' 



THE LONG VACATION 



183 



* Pauvrette I ' said he, imd tiinied away and left the alley. 
The examination passed over well ; M. Paul was as good 
his wordi and did his best to make iny part easy. The 
U day came the diBtribntioii of prizes ; that also passed ; 
ii6 school hroke up ; the pupils went home, and now began 
16 long^^catioa- 

That vacation! Shall I ever forget it? I think not, 

[adame Beck went, the iirst day of the holidays, to join her 

children at the sea-side ; all the three teachers had parents 

friends with whom they took refuge; every professor 

juitted the city ; some went to Paris, some to B one -Marine; 

"M. Paul set forth oo a pilgrimage to Borne ; the house was 

left quite empty, but for me, a servant, and a pooi deformed 

ad imbecile pupil, a sort ot^y^n, whom her step-mother in 

^u distant province would not altew^ return home. 

My heart almost died within me ; miserable longings 
trained its chords. How long were the September days I 
low silent, how lifeless I How vast and void seemed the 
desolate premises I How gloomy t ha forsaken garden — grey 
now with the dust of a town summer departed. Looking 
forward at the commencement of those eight weeks, I 
hardly knew how I was to live to the end. My spirits had 
l^long been graduaOyainkin^ now that the prop of employ- 
aent was withdrawHTTKeywent down fast. Even to look 
>rward was not to hope : the dumb future spoke no com- 
fort, offered no promise, gave no inducement to bear present 
bvil in reliance on future good. A sorrowful indii'erence to 
existence often pressed on me — a despairing resignation to 
each betimes the end of all things earthly. Alas! When 
I had full leisnre to look on life as life must be looked ou by 
»ucb as me, I found it but a hopelesg ^sert : tawny sands, 
rith no green fields, no palm-tree, no well in view* The 
'hopes which are dear to youth, which bear it up and lead it < 
ou, I Imew not and dared not know. If they knocked at my 
heart sometimes, an inhospitable bar to admission must be 
inwardly di^wn. When they turned away thus rejected,. 
teajs sad enough sometimes flowed ; but it could not be 



184 



VILLETTE 



helped : I dared not give such guests lodging. So mortally 
did I fear the sin and we akness of presumption. 

Beligious reader^ you will preach to me a long sermoaj 
about what I have just written^ and so will you, moralist :| 
and you, stern sage : you, stoic, will frown ; you, cynic,. 
sneer ; you, epioare» laugh. Well, each and all, take i*^ 
your own way. I accept the aermonp frown, sneer, and 
laugh ; perhaps you are all right : and perhaps, circum-i 
stanced like me, you would have been, like me, wrong. Thai 
first month was, indeed, a long, black, heavy month to me. 
The cretin didjiot segfliunhappy. I did ray best to fe 
her wml and keep her warm, and she only asked food and 
sunsliine, or when that lacked, fire. Her weak facolties 
approved of inertion : her brain, her eyes, her ears, her 
heart slept content ; they could not wake to work, so 
lethargy was their Paradise. 

Three weeks of that vacation were hot, fair, and dry, hat 

the fourth and fifth were tempestuous and wet. I do not 

know why that change in the atmosphere made a cruel 

I impression on me, why the raging storm and beating rain 

I crushed me with a deadlier paraJY sisthan I had experienced 

\ while the air had remained serene ; hut so it was ; and my 

nervous system could hardly support what it had for many 

days and nights to undergo in that huge empty house. How 

I used to pray to Heaven for consolation and support t 

With what dread force the conviction would grasp me thai 

Fate was my permanent foe, never to be conciliated, I did 

I not, in my heart, arraign the mercy or juBtioe of God for 

this ; I concludiid it to be a part of His great plan that some 

must deeply sufier while they live, and I thrilled in the 

certainty that of this number, I was one. 

It was some relief when an^aimtTjf the cretin, a kind old 
woman, came one day, and took away my strange, defonned 
companion. The hapless creature had been at times a heavy 
charge ; I could not take her out beyond the garden, and I 
could not leave her a minute alone : for her poor mind, Uke 
her body, was wai-p^d : its propensity was to evil. A vague 



THE LONG VACATION 



18S 



H«nt to mischief, ao aimless maTevolence, made oongtani 

'V'^Qaiioe indispctisable. As she very rarely spoke, and 

'^wuuld sit for hoars together moping and mowing, and dis- 

^oi^ng her features with indescribable grimaces, it was more 

like being prisoned with some strange tameless animal, than 

asaodattng with a hmnan being. Then there were personal 

ttt^entions to be rendered which required the nerve of a 

liospital nnrse ; my resolution was so tried, it sometimes fell 

dead -sick. These duties should not have fallen on me; a 

servant^ now absent, had rendered them hitherto, and in the 

littrr}* of hoUday departure, no substitute to fill this office 

had been provided. This tax and trial were by no means 

the leasl I have known in life, StiU, menial and distasteful 

aa tliej were, my mental pain was far more wasting and 

wearing. Attendance on the^cr^tifljeprived me oft-en of the 

power and inclination to swallow a meal, and sent me faint 

to the fresh air, and the well or fountain in the court ; but 

this duty never wrung my heart, or brimmed my eyes, or 

scalded my check with tears hot as molten metal. 

The cretin being gone, I was free to walk out. At first I 
.lacked courage to venture very far from the Rue Fossette, 
Ibot by degrees I sought the city gates, and passed them, and 
went wandering away far along chaussdes, thron^-^j 
beyond cemeteries, Catholic and Protestant, beynnl 
Ianii8teads» to lanes and little woods, and I know not where. 
A goad thrust me on, a fever forbade me to rest ; a want of r 
Qompaoiooahip maintained in my soul the cruvings of a most | 
dendly famine. I often walked all day, through the buminf* 
noon and the arid afternoon, and the dusk eveoing, and 
fsame baok with moonrisa. 

While wandering in solitude, I would sometimes picture 
the present probable position of others, my acquaintance. 
There was Madame Beck at a cheerful watering-place with 
her children, her mother, and a whole troop of fiends who 
had Kyught the same scene of relaxation. Z^lie St. Pierre 
was at Paris, with her relatives ; the other teachers were at 
' booies. Tliere was Gine\Ta Fanshawe, whom certain 




AU' 









,C*' 






186 



VILLETTE 



of ber connections had carried on a pleasant tour fiouthwa 
(jin evra seemed to me the happiest. She was on the roul 
of beautiful scenery ; these September suns shone for h€ 
on fertile plains, where harvest and vintage matured und€ 
their mellow beam. These gold and crystal moons rose 
her vision over blue horizons waved in mounted lines. 

But all this was nothing ; I too felt thosa autumn bq 
and saw those harvest moons, and I almost wished to 
covered in v^ith earth and turf^ deep out of their influence j 
for 1 could not li%'eTn~their light, nor make them comrade 
nor }ield them aflTection. But Ginevra had & kind of spir 
with her, empowered to give constant strength and camfor 
to gladden daylight and embalm darkness ; the beat of tho^ 
good genii that guard humanity curtained her with his 
wings, and canopied her head with his bending form. By 
^nie Love was Ginevra follow ed ; never could she be alone. 
was she insensible to ttus presence ? It seemed to me ini^^ 
possible : I could not realize such deadness. I imagineJH 
her grateful in secret, loving now with reserve ; but pur- 
posing one day to show how much she loved : I pictured 
her faithful hero half conscious of her"^toy fondness, and 
comforted by that consciousness : I conceived an electric ! 
chord of sympathy between them, a fine chain of muioal ' 
understanding, subtaining unioa through a separation of m 
hundred leagues— carrying, across mound and hollow, com- 
munioation by prayer and wish, Ginevra gradually became 
with me a sort of heroine. One day, perceiving this growing 
illusion, I said, * I really believe my nerves are getting ov( 
"stretched : my mind has suffered somewhat too much 
malady is growing upon it— what shall I do ? How shall 
keep well ? ' '^ 

Indeed there was no way to keep well under the circum- 
stances. At last a day and night of peculiarly agonizing 
depression were succeed ed by physical illness. iTSbk per- 
loroe to my bed! S^boHr thi B titne Uio -^ndian suminer 
closed and the equinoctial storms began ; and for,ni|^ dark 
and wet days, of which the hours rushed on all turbulent 






THE LONG VACATION 



187 



deaf, dishevelled— bewildered with sounding hurricane— I 
lay in a strange fever of the nerves and blood. Sleep went 
quite away. I used to rise in the night, look round for her, 
beseech her earnestly, to return. A rattle of the window, a 
cry of the blast only replied— Sleep never came I 

I err. She came once, but in anger. Impatient of my 
importunity she brought with her an avenging dream. By 
the clock of St. Jean Baptiste« that dream remained scarce 
fifteen minutes — a brief space, but sufficing to wring my 
whole frame with unknown anguish ; to confer a nameless 
experience that had the hue, the mien, the terror, the very 
tone of a visitation from eternity. Between twelve and one 
that night a oup was forced tojaaxliPSi black, strong, strange, 
drawn from no w^elJ, but filled up seething from a bottomless 
and boundless sea. Suffering, brewed in temporal or cal- 
culable measure, and mixed for mortal lips, tastes not as this 
fiafifering tasted. Having drank and woke, I thought all was 
over : the end come and past by. Trembling fearfully — as 
consciousness returned — ready to cry out on some feUow- 
creature to help me, only that I knew no fellow -creature 
waa near enough to catch the wild summons— Goton in 
her far distant attic could not hear — I rose on my knees 
in bed- Some fearful hours went over me ; indescribably 
was I torn, racked and oppressed in mind. Amidst the 
horrors of that dream I think the worst lay here, Methought 
the well-loved ^ead, who ha«i loved wi^wglUjiJife, met me 
elsewhere, alienated ; galled was my inmost spirit with an 
unutterable sense of despair about the future- Motive there 
was none why I should try to recover or wish to hve ; and 
yet quite unendurable was the pitiless and haughty voice in 
which Death challenged me to engage his unknown terrors. 
When I tried to pray I could only utter these words : ' From 
noy youth up Thy terrors have I sufiFered with a troubled mind,' 

Most true was it. 

On bringing me my tea next morning Goton urged me to 
oall in a doctor. I would not : I thought no doctor oould 
cure me. 



■) 



188 



VILLETTB 



One evening^and I was not delirious : I was in my sa 
mind, I got up— I dressed myself, weak and shaking. T 
solitude and the stillness of the long dormitory could not 
borne any longer ; the ghastly white beds %vere turning in 
speotres — the coronal of each became a death's-head, h 
and sun-hleached — dead dreams of an elder world and 
mightier race lay frozen in their wide gaping eyeholes. 
That evening more firmly than ever fastened into my soul 
the conviction that Fate w as of_§ toQCi and Hope a false 
idol— hljn dj hloftdlfi fifl, n"^ "f gi^"^^^^ no**" I felt, too, that 
the trial God had appointed me was gaining its climax, and 
must now be turned by my own hands, hot, feeble, trembling 
as they were* It rained still, and blew ; but with more 
clemency, I thought, than it had poured and raged all day. 
Twilight was falling, and I deemed its influence pitiful ; I 
from the lattice I saw coming night-clouds trailing low like 
banners drooping. It seemed to me that at this hour there ] 
was affection and sorrow in Heaven above for all pdn j 
suffered on earth beneath ; the weight of my dreadful dream I 
became alleviated— that i nsufferable thought of beinf^ do I 
mpre love d— no more owned, half -yielded to hope of %hi | 
contrary— I was sure this hope would ghine clearer if I got 
out from under this house-roof, which was crushing as th^^ 
slab of a tomb, and went outside the city to a certain qui^^H 
hill, a long way distant in the fields. Covered with a cloa^H 
/ (I could not be delirious, for I had sense and recoUection 1^^ 
/ put on warm clothing), forth I set. The bells of a church 
arrested me in passing; they seemed to call me in ta r^^ 
scdutt and I went in. Any solemn rite, any spectacle 
sincere worship, any opening for appeal to God was 
welcome to me then as bread to one in extremity of wi 
I knelt down with others on the stone pavement. It was 
an old solemn church, its pervading gloom not gilded but 
purpled by light shed through stained glass. 

Fuw worshippers were assembled, and, the aalut over, 
lialf of them departed. I discovered soon that iboee left 
remained to confess. I did not stir. Carefully erory doog 



urch 

le^H 

ranl^ 




THE LONG VACATION 



189 



be church was shut ; a holy quiet sank upon, and a 
ileam shade gathered about us. After a space ^ breathless 
ad spent in prayer» a penitent approached the confessional. 
watched. She whispered her avowal ; her shrift was 
whispered back ; she returned consoled. Another went, 
and another, A pale lady, kneeling near me, said in a low, 
kind voice : — ' Go you now, I am not quite prepared/ 

Mechanically obedient, I rose and went. I knew what I 
was about ; my mind had run ever the intent with lightning- 
speed. To take this step could not make me more wretched 
ihan I was ; it might soothe me. 

The priest within the confessional never turned his eyes 
io regard me ; he only quietly inclined his ear to my lips. 
He might be a good man, but this duty had become to him 
a sort of form : he went through it with the phlegm of 
custom. I hesitated; of the formula of confession I was 
ignorant : Instead of commencing, then, with the prelude 
usual, I said : — ' Mon p^re, je suis Protestante.' 

He directly turned. He was not a native priest : of 
that class, the cast of physiognomy is, almost invariably, 
grovelling : I saw by his profile and brow he was a French* 
oan ; though grey and advanced in years, he did not» I 
think, lack feeling or intelligence. He inquired, not un- 
kindly, why, being a Protestant, I came to him ? 

I said I was perishing for a word of advice or an accent 
of comfort. I had been living for some weeks quite alone ; 

thad been ill ; I had a pressure of affliction on my mind of 
hich it would hardly any longer endure the weight 
* Was it a sin, a crime ? * he inquired, somewhat startled. 
I reassured him on this point, and, as well as I could, I 
bowed him the mere outline of my experience. 
He looked thoughtful, surprised, puzzled. 'You take 
izie unawares/ said he. 'I have not had such a caae ae 
yours before : ordinarily we know our routine, and are 
prepared ; but this makes a great break in the common 
ootUBe of confession. I am hardly furnished with counsel 
fitting the circumstances/ 



c^A'' 



190 



VILLETTE 




Of course, I had not expected he would be ; but 

mere relief of commuoi cation Id an eaj which wafi humaji, 

rand sentient, yet consecrated — the mere pouring out of soma 

[portion of long accumulating, long pent-up pain into 

'vessel wheDoe it could not be aguin di^Fused— had doae 

good. I was already aolaced, 

' Must I go, father ? * I asked of him as he sat silent* 
' My daughter/ he said kindly — and I am sure he was a 
kind man : he had a compassionate eye — ' for the present y< 
had better go : but I assure you your words have struck 
[ Coufeaaion, like other things^ is apt to become formal ancl 
trivial with habit. You have come and poured your heart 
out; a thing seldom done. I would fain think your case 
over, and take it with me to my oratory. Were you of our 
I iaith I should know what to say— a mind ao tossed can find 
I repose but in the bosom of retreat, and the punctual practice 
of piety. The world, it is well known, has no satisfactioa 
for that class of natures. Holy men have bidden penitents 
like you to hasten their path upward by penance, self-denial, 
and difficult good works. Tears are given them here far 
meat and drink— bread of affliction and waters of affiiotioQ 
—their recompence comes hereafter. It is my own coq- 
viction that these impressions under which you are smartiui 
are messengers from God to bring you back to the true Church* 
You were made for oui^ faith : depend upon it our faith 
alone could heal and help you— Protestantism is altogether 
too dry, cold, prosaic for you. The further I look into thia 
matter, the more plainly I see it is entirely out of the 
common order of things. On no account would I lose sigh 
of you. Go, my daughter, for the present ; but return to me 
again/ 

I rose and thanked bim. I was withdrawing when ha 
signed me to return. 

* You must not come to this church/ said he : ' I see jod 
are ill, and this church is too c^ldf you must oome to my 

house : I live ■' (and he gave me his address). ' Be 

to-morrow morning at ten/ 



S 

'i 

r 
a 




THE LONG VACATION 



191 



Keit 



In reply to this appointment, I only bowed ; and puUIng 
my Teil, and gathering round me my cloak, I glided 
Hway. 

Did I« do yon suppose, reader, contemplate venturing 
^again within that worthy priest's reach ? As soon should I 
have thought of walking into a Babylomah furnace. That 
priest had arms which could influence me : he was naturally 
kind, with a sentimental French kindness, to whose softness 
I knew myself not wholly impervious. Without respecting 
some sorts of afiTection, there was hardly any sort having a 
fibre of root in reality, which I ooul J rely on my force 
wholly to withstand. Had I gone to him, he would have 
shown me all that was tender, and comforting, and gentle, 
in the honest Popish superstition. Then he would hav« 
tried to kindle, blow and stir up in me the zeal of gooc 
works. I know not how it would aU have ended. We aL 
think ourselves strong in some points ; we all know ourselves 
weak in many ; the probabilities are that had I visited] 
Numero 10, Bue des Mages, at the hour and day appointed, 
I might just now, instead of writing thiii heretic narra- 
tive, be counting my beads in the cell of a certain Carmelite 
convent on the Boulevard of Cr6cy, in Yillette. There was 
something of F^nelon about that benign old priest, and 
whatever most of his brethren may be, and whatever I may 
think of his Church and creed (and I bke neither), of himself 
I must ever retain a grateful recollection. He was kind/ 
when I needed kindness; he did me good. May Heaveii 
bless him ! 

Twihght had passed into night, and the tamps were lit in 
the streets ere I issued from that sombre church. To turn 
back was now become possible to me ; the vdld longing to 
breathe this October wind on the little hill far without the 
ty walk had ceased to be an imperative impulse, and was 
fteued into a wish with which Reason could cope : she put 
it down, and I turned, as I thought, to the Bue Fossette. 
But I had become involved in a part of the city with which 
X was not familiar ; it was the old part, and full of narrow 






,>^ 



192 



VILLETTE 



streets of picturesque, ancient^ and mouldering houses. l\ 
was much too weak to be very collected, and I was still too] 
careless of my own welfare and safety to be cautious; I 
grew embarrassed ; I got immeshed in a network of turns 
unknown. I was lost, and had no resolution to ask guidaoce 
of any passenger. 

If the storm had lulled a tittle at sunset, it made up now 
for lost time. Strong and horizontal thundered the current 
of the wind from uorth-wesi to south-east; it brought rain lika^ 
spray, and sometimes a sharp hail, like shot ; it was coin 
and pierced me to the vitals. I bent my head to meet it, hn 
it beat me back. My heajt didjiotjail at all in this conflict | 
I only wished that I had wings and could ascend the gale 
spread and repose my pinions on its strength, career in it 
course, sweep where it swept. While wishing this, 
suddenly felt colder where before I was cold, and more 
powerless where before I was weak. Itne3 to reach the 
porch of a great building near, but the mass of frontage and 
the giant spire turned black and vanished from my eyes. 
Instead of sinking on the steps as I intended, I seemed to 
pitch headlong down an abyss. I remember no more. 



\- 



(' 



,Vs* 







CHAPTER XVI 

V ^/*' ' AUU) LASQ 8YNB 

my soul want during that swoon I eanoot tell, 
^atever she saw, or wherever she travelled in her trance 
on that strange eight she kept her own aecret ; never 
whispering a word to Memory, and baffling im agination by 
an indissclnble silanoe. She may have gone upward, and 
come in sight of her eternal home, hoping for leave to rest 
now, and deeming tEaTtrBf^painful union vrith matter was 
at last dissolved. While she so deemed, an angel may 
have WGuned her away from heaven's threshold, and, 
guiding her weeping down, have bound her, onee more, all 
shuddering and unwilling, to that poor frame, cold and 
wasted, of whose companionship she was grown more than 
weary. 

I know she re-entered her prison with pain, with reluct- 
ance, with a moan and a long shiver. The divorced mates, I 
S pjrit and Si^s tance. were hard to re-unite : they greeted 
each other, not in an embraoei bat a racking sort of struggle. 
The returning sense of sight came upon me, red, as if it 
8wam in blood ; suspended hearing rushed back loud, like 
thunder ; consciousness revived in fear : I sat up appalled, 
wondering into what region, amongst what strange beings I 
was waking. At first I knew nothing I looked on : a wall 
was not a waU^ — a lamp not a lamp. I should have under- 
stood what we oaU a ghost, as weU as I did the commonest 
object : which is another way of intimating that all my eye 
rested on struck it as spectral. But the faculties soon 



M^* 



K.^rH 



194 



VILLETTE 



settled each In hiB pla.ce ; the Ufe-machine preaanti 
resumed its wonted and regular working. 

Still, I knew not where I was ; only in time I saw I had 
been removed from the spot where I fell : I lay on no 
portioo-step ; night and tempest were excluded by waUs, 
windows, and ceiUng. Into some house I had been carried 
—but what house ? 

I could only think of the pensionnat in the Rue Fossette. 
Still half-dreaming, I tried hard to discover in what room 
they had put roe ; whether the great dormitory, or one of 
the little dormitories. I was puzzled, because I could not 
make the glimpses of fiimiture I saw accord with my 
knowledge of any of these apartments. The empty while 
beds were wanting, and the long hue of large windows* 
' Surely/ thought 1, ' it is not to Madame Beck's own 
chamber they have carried me ! ' And here my eye fell on 
an easy-choir covered with blue damask. Other seatfi, 
cushioned to match, dawned on me by degrees ; and at last 
I took in the complete fact of a pleasant parlour, with a 
wood fire on a clear-shining hearth, a carpet where 
arabesques of bright blue relieved a ground of shaded fawn ; 
pale walls over which a slight but endless garland of azui^H 
forget-me-nots ran mazed and bewildered amongst myria^l 
gold leaves and tendrils. A gilded mirror fiUed up the spadse 
between two windows, curtained amply with blue damaak. 
In this mirrorl saw myself laid, not in bed^J[Ut^ a fiola. 
I^ looked i^iot^ j^ my eyes larger and more hollow, my hair 
darker tkan^ms natural, by contrast with my thin and 
ashen face. It was obvious, DOt only from the furmtiinQ^ 
but from the position of windows, doors, and fire-plaoe, ihaii 
this was an unknown room in an unknown house. 

Hardly less plain was it that my brain was not je^ 
settled ; for, as I gazed at the blue arm-chair, it appeared to 
grow familiar ; so did a certain scroU-couch, and not lesa so 
the round centre-table, with a blue-covenng, bordered with 
autumn tinted foliage ; and, above aU» two little footstools 
with worked covers, and a small ebony-framed ohair, of 



AULD LAUQ SYNE 



196 



leb the seat and back were also worked with groups of 
flowers on a dark ground. 

Btniok with tfaase things, I e^cplored further. Strange to 
SMjt cM acquaintance were all about me, and ' auld lang s^'ne ' 
wmilBd oQt of every nook. There were two oval miniatures 
o^fer the mantel-pieoe, of which I knew by heart the pearls 
about ibe high and powdered * heads * ; the velvets circling 
the white throate ; the swell of the full muslin kerchiefs : 
the pstleni of the lace sleeve-ruffles. Upon the mantel - 
ahell Ifaers were two china vases, some relics of a <Uminutire 
teft-fiernce» as smooth as enamel and as thin as egg-shell, 
and m while centre ornament, a claBsic group in alabaster, 
piTOOrv ed under glass. Of all these things I could have told 
the peGutiarities, numbered the flaws or cracks, like any 
ck Hrvoya^i U. Above all, there was a pair of handscreens, 
with elaborate pencil-drawings finished like line engravings ; 
my very eyes ached at beholding again, recalling 
when they had followed, stroke by stroke and touch 
ly loacb, a tedious, feeble, finical, school-girl pencil held in 
fingers, now so skeleton -like. 

Where was I ? Not only in what spot of the world, but 
in what year of our Lord ? For all these objects were of 
past days, and of A^ig^nt country . Ten years ago I bade ' 
Ibeoi good-by ; sinoe my fourteenth year they and I had { 
oeter met I gasped audibly, ' Where am I ? ' 

A shape hitherto unnoticed, stirred, rose, came forward : 
t^ shape inharmonious with the environment, serving only 
to complicate the riddle further. This was no more than 
a sort ci native bonne, in a common-place bonne's cap and 
print-dress. She spoke neither French nor English, and I 
eoold gel no intelligence from her, not understanding her 
phiases of dialect. But she bathed my temples and fore- 
bead with some cool and perfumed water, and then she 
brighteiied the cushion on which I reclined, made signs 
tbfti I was not to speak, and resumed her post at the foot of 
Iheio^ 

She waa busy knitting; her eyes thus drawn from me, 

OS 



^B(y too 



J'i' 



196 



VILLETTE 



I csould ga^ze on her withoai interruption. I did mlghRTy" 
wonder how she came there, or wh&t she conld have to do 
among the scenes, or with the days of my girlhood. 8tiU 
more I marvelled what those scenes and days oould now 
have to do with me. 

Too weak to scrutinize thoroughly the mystery, I tried 
to settle it by saying it was a mistake, a dream, a fever-fit ; 
and yet I knew there could be no mi'staSeTlCtrd^tBatTwas 
not sleeping, and I believed I wa8_si^e. I wished the 
room had not been so well lighted, that I might not so 
clearly have seen the Little pictures, the ornaments, the 
screens, the worked chair. All these objects, as well as the 
blue-damask furniture, were, in fact, precisely the same, 
in every minutest detail, with those I so well remembered, 
and with which I had been so thoroughly intimate, in bhe 
drawing-room of my g odmother's house at Bretton , Me- 
thought the apartment only was changed, being of^^ifieraiil 
proportions and dimensions. 

I thought of Bedreddin Hassan, transported in his sleep 
from Cairo to the gates of Damascus. Had a Geoiiis 
stooped his dark wing down the storm to whose stress I 
had succumbed* and gathering me from the church-steps, 
and ' rising high into the air/ as the eastern tale said, had 
he borne me over land and ocean, and laid me qnieUy down 
beside a hearth of Old England? But no; I knew Ifae 
fire of that hearth burned before its Lares no more— it weal 
out long ago, and the household gods had been carried 
elsewhere. 

The bonne turned again to survey me, and seeing my 
eyes wide open, and, I suppose, deeming their expreaaioii 
perturbed and excited, she put down her knitting. I smw 
her busied for a moment at a httle stand ; she poured ool 
water, and measured drops from a phial : glass in hand, 
she approached me. What dark-tinged draught mighl she 
now be offering? what Genii-elixir or Magi-distillation 7 

It was too late to inquire — I had swallowed it passively, 
and at once. A tide of quiet thought now oame genlly 



lA^ 



ac ^a' 



> A 



ADLD LANG SYNE 



197 



V^e 



caressing my brain ; softer and softer rose the flow, with 
tepid undulations smoother than balm. The pain of weak- 
ness left my limbs» my musotes slept. I lost power to 
move; but, losing at the same time wish, it was no priva- 
tion. That kind bonne placed a screen between me and 
the lamp ; I saw her rise to do this, but do not remember 
seeing her resume her place : in the interval between the 
two acts. I * f eUonsleep/ 



At waking, lo ! all was again changed. The light of 
high day surrounded me ; not, indeed, a warm, summer 
light, but the leaden gloom of raw and blustering autumn. 
I felt sure now that I was in the pensionnat — sure by the 
beating rain on the casement ; sure by the * wutherl_o£^ 
wind amongst trees, denoting a garden outside ; sure by the 
chill, the whiteness, the solitude, amidst which I lay. I say 
whdtensss — for the dimity curtains, dropped before a French 
b6ff7"Bouiided my view, 

I lifted them ; I looked out. My eye, prepared to take 
in the range of a long, large, and whitewashed chamber, 
blinked bafiled, on encountering the limited area of a small 
d^inet— a cabinet with sea-green walls ; also, instead of 
five wide and naked windows, there was one high lattice, 
shaded with muslin festoons ; instead of two dozen little 
stands of painted wood, each holding a basin and an ewer, 
there was a toilette-table dressed, like a lady for a hall, in a 
white robe over a pink skirt; a polished and large glass 
crowned, and a pretty pin -cushion frilled with lace, adorned 
it. This toilette, together with a small, low, green and 
white chintz arm-chair, a wash stand topped with a marble 
sUb, and supplied with utensils of pale green-ware, suffi- 
ciently furnished the tiny chamber. 

B eader, I felt alarme d! Why? you will ask. What 
WftB there in this simple and somewhat pretty sleeping-closet 
to startle the most timid ? Merely this — These articles of 
furniture could not be real, solid arm-chairs, looking-glasses, 
waahstands — they must be the ghosts of such articles ; 



7ft9L 



198 



VIIiLETTE 



or, if this were denied as too wild an hypothesis — and, con- 
founded ae I was. I did deny it— there remained bat to 
conclude that I had myself passed in to an abnormal s tate of 
mind ; in short, that I wn^a v^ry ill Anil lifth'tjnnfl : and evec 
then, mine was the strangest figment with which delirim] 
had ever harassed a victim. 

I knew— I was obliged to know — the green chintz of thall 
little chair ; the httle snug chair itself, the carved, ahining^^ 
black, foliated frame of that glass ; the smooth, milky-green 
of the china vessels on the stand ; the very stand too, with 
its top of grey marble, splintered at one comer ;— aU these I 
was compelled to recognise and to hail, as last night I had« i 
perforce, recognised and hailed the 
the porcelain, of the drawing-room. 

Bretton 1 Bretton ! and ten years ago shone reflected in 

And wh^ did Bretton and my fourteenth year 

Why, if they came at all, did they not 

Why hovered before my distempered 



perforce, recognised and hailed the rosewood, the drapery,^ 



that mirror, 
haunt me thus? 
return complete ? 
vision the mere furnitu re, while the rooms and the locality 
were gone ? AstotEaTpincushion made of crimson sati 
ornamented with gold beads and frilled with thread taoe^ 
had the same right to know it as to know the screens-^I h 
made it myself. Rising with a start from the bed, I 
the cushion in my hand and examined it. There was tl 
cipher ' L.L.B.* formed in gold beads, and surrounded wi 
an oval wreath embroidered in white silk. These were tl 
initials of my godmother's name — Louisa Luc^^ Bretton. 

* Am 1 in England? Am I at Bretton? I muttered 
and hastily pulling up the blind mth which the lattice was 
shrouded, I looked out to try and discover wliere I was 
half prepared to meet the calm, old, handsome buildings an 
clean grey pavement of St. Ann's Street, and to see at the 
end the towers of the minster: or, if otherwise, fully ex- 
pectant of a town view somewhere, a rue in Yillette, if not a 
street in a pleasant and ancient" English city. 

I looked, on the contrary, through a frame of leafage, 
clustering round the high lattice, and forth thence to VkgnAsy 



^ 



AULD LANG SYNE 



199 



mead^lUcG level, a Uwn-terrace with trees riaing from the 
lower ground beyond — ^high forest-trees, such as I had not 
seen for many a day. They were now groamng imder the 
gale of October, and between their trunks I traced the line 
of ftQ avenue, where yellow leaves lay in heaps and drifts, or 
were whirled singly before the sweeping west wind. What- 
ever landscape might lie further must have been flat, and 
these tall beeches shut it out. The place seemed secluded, 
and was to me quite strange : I did not know it at all. 

Once more I lay down. My bed stood in a little alcove ; 
on ttimiDg my face to the wall, the room with its bewildering 
aooompaniments became excluded. Excluded ? No t For 
as I arranged my position in this hope, behold, on the green 
space between the divided and looped-up curtains, hung a 
broad, gilded picture-frame enclosing a portrait. It waa 
drawn — well drawn, though but a sketch— in water-oolours ; 
a head, a boy's head, fresh, life-like, speaking, and animated. 
It seemed a youth of sixteen, fair-comploxioned, with sanguine 
health in his cheek ; hair long, not dark, and with a sunny 
sheen ; penetrating eyes, an arch mouth, and a gay smile. 
On the whole a most pleasant face to look at, especially for 
ihoee claiming a right to that youth's afifections— parentB^__^ 
for instancCi or sisters. Any romantic Httle school-givF} 
might almost have loved it in its frame. Those eyes looked 
as if when somewhat older they would flash a lightning- 
res ponaa lp love : I cannot toll whether they kept in store 
the steady-beaming shine of faith. For whatever sentiment 
met him in form too facile, his lips menaced, beautifully but 
siirely> caprice and light esteem. 

Striving to take each new discovery as quietly as I could, 
I whispered to myself — 

* Ah ! that portrait used to hang in the breakfast-roomJ 
over the mantel-piece : somewhat too high, as I thought; 
I well remember how I used to mount a music-stool for the 
p«irpoea of uiihooking it, holding it in my hand, and searching 
into those bonn v wells of ey es, whose glance under their 
ha^el lashes seemed like a pencilled laugh ; and well I 



xn 



VILLBTTE 



^ hwr I 
bUngfl 



liked to note the colouring of the choek» aed the e; 
of the mouth/ 1 hardly believed fancy could improve on 
the curve of that mouth, or of the chin ; even my tgnoranod 
knew that both were beautiful, and pondered perfdaxed over 
this doubt : ' How it was that what charmed so mueh, oould 
at the same time &o keenly pain ? ' Once, by way of test, I 
took httle MiBsxHome, and, lifting her in my arms» told her 
to look at the pictured ' 

* Do you like it, Polly ? ' I asked* She never anawi 
but gazed long, and at last a darkness went trembli] 
through her sensitive eye, as she said, ' Put me down/ 
So I put her down, saying to myself : ' The child leels it 
too.* ^"■— » 

All these things do I now think over, adding, * He had 
his faults, yet scarce ever was a finer nature : liberal, suave, 
impressible/ My reflections closed in an audibly pronounced 
word, ' Gi fthaig J' ^ 

' Graham ! ' echoed a sudden voice at the bedside. ' Do 
you want Graham ? ' 

I looked. The plot was but thickening ; the wonder but 
culminating. If it was strange to see that well-remembered 
pictured form on the wall, stiU stranger was it to turn and 
behold the equally well -remembered living form opposite — a 
woman, a lady, most real and substantial , tall, well-attired, 
wearing widow's siLk, and such a cap as best became her 
matron and motherly braids of hair. Hers, too, was % good 
faoe ; too marked, perhaps, now for beauty, but not for sense 
or character. She was little changed ; something sterner^ 
something more robust — bat she was my godmother: still 
the distinct vision of M rs. Bretton. 

I kept quiet, yet internally / was much agitated: my 
pulse fluttered, and the blood left my oheek, which lamed 
cold. 

* Madam, where am I ? ' I inquired. 
' In a vo ry safe asylum ; well protected for the pn 

make your mind quite easy till you get a little better ; yau 
ill this morning/ 



l< 



^\A<i ^f 



AULD LANG SYNE 



901 



* I am so entirely bewildered, I do not know whether I can 
trust my senses at all, or whether they are misleading me in 
6fTery particular: but you speak English, do you notj 
mftdam?' 

* I should think you might hear that : it would puzzle me 
to hold a long diBOOurse in French/ 

* You do not come from England ? * 

* I am lately arrived thence. Have you been long in this 
country ? You seem to know my son ? ' 

* Do I, madam? Perhaps I cIoT'Tour son— the picture 
there ? * 

* That is his portrait as a youth. While looking at it, 
you pronounced his name/ 

•Graham Bretton?* 
She nodded. 

* I speak to Mrs. Bretton, formerly of Bretton, ^ shire ? * 

* Quite right ; and you, I am told, are an Enghsh teacher 
io a foreign school here : mxaou lecognised you as such/ 

* How was I found, madam, and by whom r~ "" 

* My son shall tell you that by-and-by/ said she ; * but at 
present you are too confused and weak for conversation : try 
Io eat some breakfast, and then sleep/ 

Notwithstanding all I had undergone —the bodily fatigue, 
ibe perturbation of spirits, the exposure to weather — it 
seemed that I was better : the fever, the real malady which 
had oppressed my frame, was abating ; for, whereas during 
the last nine days I had taken no solid food, and suffered 
from continual thirst, this morning, on breakfast being 
ofifered, I experienced a craving for nourishment : an inward 
faintness which caused me eagerly to taste the tea this lady 
o£rered, and to eat the morsel of dry toast she allowed in 
fKOOompamment It was only a morsel, but it sufficed; 
keeping up my strength till some two or three hours after- 
wards, when the bonne brought me a little cup of broth and 
a biscuit 

As evening began to darken, and the ceaseless blast still 



fr' 



va' 



203 



VILLETTB 



blew wild and cold* &&d the rain streamed on, deluge^Uke, I 
grew weary— very weary of my bed. The room, though 
pretty, was small : I felt it confining : I longed for a change. 
The increasing chill and^gaffiSrhlg" gloom, too, depressed me; 
I wanted to see—to feel fire-light. Beuides, I kopt tliioking 
of the son of that tall mati'on : when should 1 see him? 
Certainly not till I left my room. 

At last the bonne came to make my bed for the night. 
She prepared to wrap me in a blanket and place me in tbe 
little chintz chair ; but declining these attentions^ I proceeded 
to dress myaelf. The business was just achieved, and I was 
sitting down to take breath, when Mm. Bji^tton once more 
appeared. 

' Dressed 1 * she exclaimed, smiling with that smile I so 
well knew — a pleasant smile, though not soft. ' You ar^ quite 
better, then ? Quite strong — eh ? ' 

She spoke to me so much as of old she used to speak that 
I almost fancied she was beginning to know me. There was 
the same soit of patronage in her voice and manner th&t, as 
a giri, I had always experienced from her— a pfttTffP^^ I 
yielded to and even liked ; it was not founded on conven- 
tional grounds of superior wealth or station (in the last 
particular there had never been any inequality ; her degree 
was mine) ; but on natural reasons of physical advantage : 
it wa*^ the shelter the tree gives the herb; I put a reqnasl 
without further ceremony. 

' Bo let me go dovni-stairs, madam ; I am so oold and 
here/ 

* I desire nothing better, if you are strong enough to 
the change,* was her reply. * Come, then ; here is an arm 
And she offered me hers : I took it, and we descended one 
flight of carpeted steps to a landing where a tall door, stand- 
ing open, gave admission into the blue-damask room. How 
pleasant it was in its air of perfect domestic comfort I How 
warm in its amber lamp Jighi and vermilion Jire-iuab t To 
render the picture perfect, tea stood ready on the table— -an 
Bnglish tea, whereof the whole shining senvtce glanced at 



[iidsl 



AULD LANG SYNE 



^V 



\,\^^ 



<"• 203 






t" 



me f&Enili&rly ; from the solid silver urn, of antique pattern, 
and the maasive pot of the same metal, to the thin porcelain 
cupBy dark with purple and gilding. I knew the very 
seed-oake of peculiar form, baked in a peculiar mould, which 
always had a place on the tea-table at Bretton. Graham 
liked it, and there it was as of yore— set before Graham's 
plate with the silver knife and fork beside it. Graham was 
then expected to tea : Graham was now, perhaps, in the house ; 
ere many minutes I might see him, 

• Sit down — sit down,* said my conductress, as my step 
faltered a little in passing to the hearth. She seat^ me on 
the sofa, but I soon passed behind it, saying the fire was too 
hot ; in its shade I found another seat which suited me 
better. Mrs* Bretton was never wont to make a fuss about 
any person or anything ; without remonstrance she suffered 
me to have my own way. She maide the tea, and she took 
up the newspaper. I liked to watch every action of my god- 
mother ; aU her movements were so young : she must have 
been now above fifty, yet neither her sinews nor her spirit 
seemed yet touched by the rust of age. Though portly, she 
waa alert, and though serene, she was at times impetuous — 
good health and an excellent temperament kept her green aa 
in her spring. 

While she read, I perceived she hatened— listened for her 
son. She was not the woman ever to confess herself uneasy, 
but there was yet no lull in the weather, and if Graham were 
out in that hoarse wind— roaring still unsatisfied — I well 
knew his mother's heart would be out with him. 

'Ten minutes behind hts time,' said she, looking at her 
watoh ; then, in another minute, a hftiug of her eyes from the 
page, and a slight inclination of her head towards the door, 
denoted that she heard some sound. Presently her brow 
cleared ; and then even my ear, less practised, caught the 
iron clash of a gate swung to, steps on gravel, lastly the 
door-bell. He waa come. His mother filled the teapot from 
the am, she drew nearer the hearth the stuffed and cushioned 
blue chair— her own chair by right, but I saw there was one 



204 



VILLETTB 




who might with irDpunity usurp it. And when tha 
came up the stairs — which he soon did. after, I suppose^ t 
such attenlioD to the toilet as the wild and wet night render 
neoessary, and strode straight in — 

* Is it you, Graham ? * said hia mother, hiding a glad 8xnile_ 
and speaking curtly. 

'Who else should it be, mamma?' demanded the Ui 
punctual^ possessing himself irreverently of the abdicatt 
throne. 

* Don*t yon deserve cold tea, for being late ? * 

* I shall not get niy deserts, for the urn sings cheerily.' 

* Wheel yourself to the table, lazy boy : no seat will ser 
you but mine ; if you had one spark of a sense of propriety 
you would always leave that chair for the Old Lady/ 

* So I should \ only the dear Old Lady peraista itl^ 
leaving it for me. How is your patient, mamma?' ^| 

* Will she come forward and speak for herself ? * said Mrs^^ 
Bretton, turning to my comer ; and, at this invitation, lorw^M^ 

I came. Graham cuuileously rose up to greet me. He 
stood tall on the hearth, a figure justifying his mother's im-j 
concealed pride. 

* So you are come down/ said he ; ' you must be bei 
then — much better. I scarcely expected w*e should me 
thus, or here. I was alarmed last night, and if I bad not 
been forced to hurry away to a dying patieii t, I certainly 
would not have left you : but my mother herself is something 
of a doctress, and Martha an excellent nurse. I saw the case 
was a fainttug-fit, not necessarily dangerous. What brought 
it on I have yet to learn, and all particulars ; meantime, I 
trust you really do feel better ? ' 

' Much better/ I said calmly. ' Much better, I thank yoiL, 
Dr, John.' 

JbfTrealler, this tall young man — this darling son — Ihia 
host of mine — ^Ihis Graham Bretton, was Dr. Jo hn : be, mail 
no other; and, what is more, I ascertamed^his identil 
scarcely with surprise. What is more, when I heard Grahaml 
step on the stairs, I K*new what manner of figure would enter, 



Bitefl 
neelfl 




AULD LANG SYNE 



,.i 



ao5 



lA^ 



Tin*! for whose aspect to prepare my eyes. The discovery 
j w*6 not of to-day; its dawn had penetrated my perceptions 
^loDg since. Of course I remembered young Brotton well ; 
and though ten years (from sixteen to twenty -six) may greatly 
change the boy as they mature him to the man, yet they 
could bring no such utter difference as would suffice wholly 
to blind my eyes, or b raffia my memory. Dr. John Graham 
Bretton retained still an affinity to the youth of sixteen : he 
had his eyes ; he had .'iome of his features ; to wit, all the 
excellently-moulded lower half of the face ; I found him out 
soon. I first recognised him on that occasion ^noted several 
chapters back— when my unguardedly-fixed attention had 
drawn on me the mortification of an implied rebuke. Sub- 
sequent observation confirmed, in every point, that early 
surmise. I traced in the gesture, the port, and the habits of 
his manhopd, all his boy*8 promise. I heard in his now deep 
tones the accent of former days. Certain turns of phrase, 
peculiar to him of old, were peculiar to him still ; and so was 
many a trick of eye and lip, many a smile, many a sudden 
ray levelled from the irid, under his we 11 -charactered brow. 

To &ay anything on the subject, to hint at my discovery, 
had not suited my habits of thought, or assimilated with my 
system of feeling. On the contrary, I had preferred to keep 
the matter to myself. I liked entering his presence covered 
with a cloud he had not seen through, while he stood before 
me under a ray of special illumination vrhich shone all 
partial over his head, trembled about his feet, and cast light 
no farther. 

Well I knew that \<t him it could make little difference 
^were I to come forward and announce, * This is Luc y Snowe T^ 
So I kept back in my teacher s place ; and as he never asked 
axy name, so I never gave it* He heard me called ' Miss,' 
and ' Miss Lucy * ; he never heard the surname, * Snowe.* 
Afl to spontaneous recognition— though I, perhaps, was still 
leas changed than he — the idea never approached his mind, 
and why should I suggest it? 

During tea Dr, John was kind, as it was his nature to 






VM« 



A 



re'*' 




206 



VILLETTE 






^^M^ J that meal over, and the tray carried out, he made 
lyfy'X^ arrangement of the ctiBhions in a corner of the sofa, ton 
M^ / obliged me to settle amongst them. He and hia mother als 
drew to the fire, and ere we had Bat ten minutes I caught^ 
the eye of the latter fastened steadily upon me. Women 
are certainly quicker in some things than men. 

* WeU/ she exclaimed, presently, ' I have seldom seen ft, 
stronger likeness 1 Graham, have you observed it ? ' 

* Observed what ? What ails the Old Lady now ? Hot 
you stare, mamma I One would think you had an attftck i 
second sight.' 

' Tell me, Graham, of whom does that young lady remind 
you ? * pointing to me. 

* Mamma, you put her out of countenance. I often tell 
you abruptness is your fault ; remember, too, that to you she 
18 a stranger, and does not know your ways,* 

* Now, when she looks down ; now, when she turns 
sideways, who is she like, Graham ? * 

' Indeed, mamma, since you propound the riddle^ I think 
you ought to solve it \ ' 

* And you have known her some time, you say — ever 
since you first began to attend the school in the Rue 
Fossette— yet you never mentioned to me that singular 
resem bianco! ' 

* I could not mention a thing of which I never thought 
and which I do not now acknowledge. What can you mean?' 

* Stupid boy ! look at her/ 
Graham difl look : hut this was not to be endured ; I saw 

how it must end, so 1 thought it best to anticipate. ^H 

' Dr. John,* I said, * has had so much to do and think of" 
since he and I shook hands at our last parting in St. Ann's 
Street, that, while I readily found out ^r. Graham Bret ton> 
"Some^months ago, it never^occtnrs^To^e as possible 
he should recognise Lucy Snowe/ 

' Lucy Snowe ! I thought so I I knew it V cried Mr 
Bretton. And she at once stepped across the hearth and 
kissed me. Some ladies would, perhaps, have made a greal 






AULD LANG SYNE 



207 



bustle upon sut^h a, discovery without being particularly glad 
of it ; but it was not my godmother's habit to make a buslle» 
imd she preferred all Bentimeotal demonstrations in bas-relief. 
So she and I got over the surprise with few words and a 
single salute ; yet I daresay she was pleased, and I know I 
was. While we renewed old acquainttLnoe, Graham, sitting 
opposite, silently disposed of his paroxysm of astonishment. 

* Mamma calls me a stupid boy, and I dhink I am so/ at 
length he said ; ' for, upon my honour, often as I have seen 
you, I never onoe suspected this fact : and yet I perceive it 
all now. Lucy Snowe ! To be sure ! I recollect her per- 
fectly, and there she sits ; not a doubt of it. Bui:/ he 
added, ' you surely have not known me as an old acquaint- 
ance all this time, and never mentioned it ? * 

* Th| fct I have/ wag my answer. 

Dr, John commented not. I suppose he regarded my 
silence as eccentric, but he was indulgent in refraining from 
censure. 1 daresay, too, he would have deemed it imperti- 
nent to have interrogated me very closely, to have asked me 
the why and wherefore of my reserve ; and, though be might 
feel a little curious, the importance of the case was by no 
means such as to tempt curiosity to infringe on discretion. 

For my part, I just ventured to inquire whether he 
remembered the circumstance of my once looking at him 

Very fixedly ; for the slight annoyance he had betrayed on 

that occasion still lingered sore on my mind. 

• I think I do ! * said he : 'I think I was even cross with 
yoaJ 

* You considered me a little bold, perhaps ? ' I inquired. 
'Not at all. Only, shy and retiring as your general 

cnanndr was, I wondered what personal or facial enormity 
"in me proved so magnetic to your usuaUy averted eyes/ 

• You see how it was now ? * 

• Perfectly/ 

And here Mrs. Bretton broke in with many, many ques- 
tions about past times ; and for her satisfaction I had to 
TecsQi to gone*by troubles, to explain causes of seeming 



VILLETTB 



estrangement^ to touch on single handed conflict with Life, 
with Death, with Griefp with Fate. Dr. John listened, 
saj-ing little. He and she then told me of changes they h^d 
known : even with them all had not gone smoothly, and 
fortune had retrenched her once ahundant gifts. Bui so 
courageous a mother, with such a champion in her eon, was 
well fitted to fight a good fight with the world, and to pro- 
vail ultimately. Dr. John himself was one of those on 
whose birth benign planets have certainly smiled. Adver- 
sity might Bet against him her most sullen front : he was the 
man to heat her down with smiles. Strong and cheerfnlt 
and firm and courteous ; not rash, yet valiant ; he was the 
aspirant to woo Destiny herself, and to win from her stone 
eyeballs a beam almost loving. 

In the profession he had adopted his success was now 
quite decided. Within the last three months he had taken 
this house (a small ch&teau, they told me» about half a 
league without the Porte de Crdcy) ; this country site being 
chosen for the sake of his mother's health, with which town 
air did not now agree. Hither he had invited Mrs. Bretton, 
and she, on leaving England, had brought with her such 
residue furniture of the former St. Ann's Street mansion as 
she had thought fit to keep ucsold. Hence my bewilder- 
ment at the phantoms of chairs, and the wraiths of looking- 
glasseSt tea-urns, and teacups. 

As the clock struck eleven, Dr. John stopped his mother. 

' Miss Snowe must retire now,* he said ; ' she is beginning 
to look very pale. To-morrow I will venture to put some 
questions respecting the cause of her loss of health. She Is 
much changed, indeed, sinc^J^^t July, when I saw her 
enact with no little spirit the part of a very killing fine 
gentleman. As to last night's catastroptn^. I -sm sure 
thereby hangs a tale ; but we will inquire no further this 
evening. Good-night, Miss Lucy.' 

And so he kindly led me to the door, and holding a wax- ' 
candle, lighted me up the one flight of stairs. 

When I had said my prayers, and when I was undreaiad 



AULD LANG SYNE 



209 



aod Iftid down, I felt that I still had friends* Friends, not 
profeBsing vehement attachment, not^oSering the tender 
solace of well-matched and congenial relationship ; on whom» 
therefore, but moderate demand of afiFection was to be made, 
of whom but moderate expectation formed; but towards 
whom my heart softened instinctively, and yearned with an 
importunate gratitude, which I entreated Beason betimes to 
check. 

• Do not let me think of them too often, too much, too 
fondly,* I implored : * let me be content with a temperate 
draught of this Hving s trea m : let me not run at hirst, and 
apply passionately to its welcome waters : let me not imagine 
in them a sweeter taste than earth's fountains know. Oh! 
would to God I may be enabled to feel enough sustained by 
an Qccasio nah amicable inter course, rare, brief, unengrossing 
and tranquil : qulta^ tranquil ! ' 

Still repeating thisworT, I turned to my pillow ; and still 
repeating it, I steeped that pillow with tears. 



IVu 



,cN-<' 



W' 






eS 



-t^^ ^ ,e0-'^ 















CHAPTEB XVn 



XJ 



,.^^ 

.v^ 



eP 



I 



^; 



LA TERfiASBB 

These struggles with the natu ral chamct er, the strong native 
be nt of the heart , may seem futile and" fruitless, but in the 
end they do good! They tend, however slightly, to give the 
actions, the conduct, that turn which Beason approvee. and 
which Feeling, perhaps » too often opposes : they certainly 
make a difierenoe in the general tenor of a life, and enable 
it to ho better regulated, more equable, quieter on the surf aoe ; 
and it is on the surface only the common gaze will fall. As 
to what lies below, leave that with God, Man, your equal, 
weak as you, and not fit to be your judge, may be shut out 
thence : take it to your Maker — show Him the secrets of the 
spirit He gave— ask BQm how you are to hear the pains He 
has appointed — kneel in His presence, and pray with f&ith 
for light in darkness, for strength in piteous weakneas, for 
patience in extreme need. Certainly, at some hour, though 
perhaps not your hour, the waitingjwaters will stir ; in Mome 
shape, though perhaps not the shape you dreamed^ which 
your heart loved, and for which it hied, the healing herald 
will descend, the cnpple and the bhnd, and the dumb, and 
the possessed will he led to bathe. Herald, coiae qoiokly 1 
Thousands lie round the pool, weeping and despaimg, to see 
it, through slow years, stagnant. Long are the ' times ' ol 
Heaven : the orbits of angel messengers seem wide to mortal 
vision ; they may enring ages : the cycle of one departure 
and return may clasp unnumbered generations ; and dust* 
kindling to brief suffering life, and through pain, passing back 



^^ 




LA TERRA8SE 



211 



to dust, may meanwhile perish out of memory again, and yet 
again. To how many maimed and mourning millions is the 
first and sole angel visitant, him easfcerns call Azrael ! 

I tried to get up next morning, but while I was dregsing, 
and at intervals drinking cold water from the carafe on my 
washstand, with design to brace up thai trembling weakness 
which made dressing so difficult, in came Mrs. Bretton. 

* Here is an absurdity ! * was her morning accost. ' Not 
80,' she added, and dealing with me at onoe in her own 
brusque, energetic fashion^that fashion which I used 
formerly to enjoy seeing applied to her son, and by him 
vigorou^y resisted — in two minutes she consigned me 
captive to the French bed. 

'There you lie till afternoon/ said she, * My boy left 
orders before he went out that such should be the case, and 
I can assiire you my son is master and must be obeyed. 
Presently you shall have breakfast.* 

Presently she brought that meal— brought it with her 
own active hands — not leaving me to servants. She seated 
herself on the bed while I ate. Now it is not everybody, 
OTen amongst our respected friends and esteemed acquaint- 
anoe, whom we like to have near us, whom we like to watch 
OS, to wait on us, to approach us with the proximity of a 
nttrae to a patient It is not every friend whose eye is a 
light in a sick room, whoso presence is there a solace : but 
all this was Mrs. Bretton to me ; all this she had ever been. 
Food or drink never pleased me so well as when it came 
through her hands, I do not remember the occasion when 
her entrance into a room had not made that room cheerier. 
Our natures own predilections and antipathies alike strange. 
There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we 
would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they 
are good people : there are others with faults of temper, &c,, 
evident enoagh, beside whom we live content, as if the air 
about them did us good. My godmother's lively black eye 
and clear brunette cheek, her warm, prompt hand, her self- 
reliant mood, her decided bearing, were all beneficial to me 



212 



VILLETTE 



< 



BA the atmosphere of eome saluhriouB climate. Her son 
used to call her * the old lady ' ; it filled me with pleaBunt 
wonder to note how the alacrity and power of fiye-aQd- 
twenty still breathed from her and around her. 

' I would bring my work here/ she said, as she took froci 
me the emptied teacup, ' and sit with you the whole day» if 
that overbearing John Graham had not put his veto upon 
such a proceeding. ** Now, mamma/' he said, when he 
went out, '* take notice, you arc not to knock up your god- 
daughter with gossip," and he particularly desired mo to 
keep close to my own quarters, and spare you my toe 
company. He says, Lucy, he thinks you have had a nervous 
fever, judging from your look,— is that so?* 

I replied that I did not quite know what my ailment had 
been, but that I had certainly suflfered a good deal, especially 
in mind. Further, on this subject, I did not consider it 
ad>nsable to dwell, for the details of what I had undergone 
belonged to a portion of my edstence in which I never 
expected my godmother to take a share. Into what a new 
region would such a confidence have led that hale, serene 
nature ! The difference between her and me might be 
figured by that between the stately ship cruising safe on 
smooth seas, with its full complement of crew, a captain gay 
and brave, and venturous and provident ; and the Life-boat, 
which most days of the year lies dry and solitary in an old, 
dark boat-house, only putting to sea when the billows run 
high in rough weather, when cloud encounters water, when 
danger and death divide between them the rule of the great 
deep. Noy the * Louisa Bretton ' never was out of harbour 
on such a night, and in such a scene : her crew could not 
conceive it ; so the half-drowned life-boatman keeps his own 
counsel, and spins no yarns. 

She left me, and I lay in bed content : it was good of 
Oraham to remember me before he went out. 

My day was lonely, but the prospect of coming evening 
abridged and cheered it. Then, too, I felt weak* and rest 
seemed welcome ; and after the morning houiis 



I 



i 



J 




LA TBRRA8SE 



ais 



mi 



by, — those hours which always bring, even to the necessarily 
unoccupied, a sense of business to be done, of tasks waiting 
fulfilment, a vague impression of obligation to \>e employed 
^ — when this stirring time was past, and the silent descent of 
ternoon hushed housemaid steps on the stairs and in the 
ambers, I then passed into a dreamy mood» not un- 
pleasant. 

My calm little room seemed somehow like a cave in the 
sea. There was no colour about it« except that white and 
pale green, suggestive of foam and deepw^ater ; the blanched 
oomice was adorned ynih she U-shaped ornaments, and there 
were white mouldings like dolphins in the ceiling-angles. 
Even that one touch of colour visible in the red satin pin- 
cushion bore affinity to coral ; even that dark, shining glass 
might have mirrored a mermaid. When I closed my eyes, 
I heard a gale, subsiding at last, bearing upon the house- 

■ front like a settling swell upon a rock- base. I heard it 
drawn and withdrawn far, far off, like a tide retiring from a 
shore of the upper world— a world so high above that the 
rush of its largest waves, the dash of its fiercest breakers, 
could sound dowia in this submarine home, only like 
murmurs and a lullaby. 

Amidst these dreams came evening, and then Martba 
brought a light ; with her aid I was quickly dressed, and 
stronger now than in the morning, I made my way down to 
the blue saloon unassisted. 

Dr, John, it appears, had concluded hia round of pro* 

fessional calls earlier than usual ; his form was the tirst 

object that met my eyes as I entered the parlour ; be stood 

in that window-recess opposite the door, reading the close 

I type of a newspaper by such dull light as closing day yet 

H gave. The fire shone clear, but the lamp stood on the table 

H unlit, and tea was not yet brought up. 

As to Mrs. Bretton, my active godmother^ — who, I after- 
wards found, had been out in the open air all day — lay half- 
reclined in her deep-cushioned chair, actually lost in a nap. 
Her son seeing me, came forward, I noticed that he trod 



2U 



VILLBTTE 



fovm 



=4 



. Ofbrefully, not to wake the sleeper ; he also spoke low ; hi«" 
J mellow voice never had any sharpness in it ; modulated as 
( at present, it waa calculated rather to soothe than atartie 
slumhor. 

' This is a quiet little ch&teau,' he ohserred, after inviting 
me to sit near the casement. * I don't know whether you 
may have noticed it in your walks : though, indeed, from tb 
chauss^ it is not visible ; just a mile beyond the Porte 
Cr^y, you turn down a lane which soon becomes an avenue^ 
and that leads you on, through meadow and shade, to the 
very door of this house, It is not a modern place, but built 
somewhat in the old style of the Basse-Ville. It is rather a 
manoir than a chAteau ; they call it *' La Terrasae," because 
its front rises from a broad turfed walk, whence steps lead < 
down a grassy slope to the avenue. See yonder ! Tha^ 
moon rises : she looks welt through the tree-boles/ 

Where, indeed, does the moon not look well ? What is 
the scene, confined or expansive, which her orb does not 
hallow? Rosy or fiery, she mounted now above a not 
distant bank; even while we watched her flushed ascent, 
she cleared to gold, and in very brief space floated up stain- 
( less into a now calm sky. Did moonlight soften or sadden 
Dr. Bretton ? Did it touch him with romance ? I think it 
did. Albeit of no sighing mood, he sighed in watching it ; 
sighed to himself quietly. No need to ponder the cause 
the course of that sigh ; I knew it was wakened by beauty : 
I knew it pursued Ginevra. Knowing this, the idea pressed 
upon me that it was in some sort my duty to speak the 
name he meditated. Of course he was ready for the subject : 
I saw in his countenance a teeming plenitude of coounent 
question and interest ; a pressure of language atid sentuneril«.| 
only checked, I thought, by sense of embarrassment how to 
begin. To spare him this embarrassment was my beet, 
\ indeed my sole use. I had but to utter the idol's name, and 
love's tender litany would flow out. I had just found a 
fitting phrase, ' You know that Miss Fanshaw^ is gone on 
a tour with the Cholmondeleys/ and was openi^ my bps lo 









LA TEBBASBE 



215 



speak to it, wben he Bcattered my plana by iotrodaciog 
another theme. 

' The Erst thing this morning/ said he, putting his senti- 
ent in his pocket, tumiog from the ujood, and sitting 
[own, ' I went to the Rue FoBsette. and told the cuiaini^ro 
t you were safe and in good hands. Do you know that I 
tually found that she had not yet discovered your absence 
m the house : she thought you safe in the great dormitory ? 
With what care you must have been waited on I * 

* Oh I all that is very oonceivable/ said I. * Goton could 
do nothing for me but bring me a little tisane and a crust of 
bread, and I had rejected both so often during the past week, 
that the good woman got tired of useless jourueys from the 
dwelling-house kitchen to the school -dormitory, and only 
came once a day at noon to make my bed. I believe, how- 
ever, that she is a good-natured creature, and would have 
been delighted to cook me cotelettes de moutoUi if I could 
have eaten them.' . 

^^ * What did Madame Beck mean by leaving you alone ? \ 
^^P ' Madame Beck could not foresee that I should fall ill/ \ 
^ 'Your nervous system bore a good share of the 
suffering ? ' 

* I am not quite sare what my nervous system is, hut I 
was dreadfully low-spirited/ 

I • Which disables me from helping you by pill or potion. 

' Medicine can give nobody good spirits. My art halts at the 

threshold of Hypochondria: she just looks in and seiss a 

chamber of torture* but can neither say nor do much. 

Cheerful society would be of use ; you should be as little 
L alone as possible ; you should take plenty of exercise/ 
H Acquiescence and a pause followed these remarks. They 
H sounded all right, I thought, and bore the safe sanction of 
^P custom, and the well- worn stamp of use. 
J * Miss Snowe/ recommenced Dn John— my health, ner* 

TOQS system included, being now, somewhat to my relief^ 
I discussed and done with — ' ia it permitted me to ask what 
I yonr religion is ? Are you a Catholic ? ' 




216 



VILIiETTE 



I looked up in some surprise---* A Catholic ? No 1 Wbyl 
suggest such an idea ? ' 

*The manoer in which you were consigned to me kslj 
night made me doubt.' 

' I consigned to you ? But, indeed, I forget. It yet 
remains for me to learn how I fell into your hands/ 

'Why, under circumstances that puzzled me. I had 
been in attendance aU day yesterday on a case of singularly 
iuterBstiog and critical character ; the disease being rBae, 
and its treatment doubtful : I saw a similar and still finer 
case in a hospital in Paris ; but that will not interest you. 
At last a mitigation of the patient s most urgent symptomg I 
(acute pain is one of its accompaniments) liberated me, and 
I set out homeward. My shortest way lay through tho 
Basse-Ville, and as the night was exoessively dark» wild, and 
wet, 1 took it. In riding past an old church belonging to j 
a community of B^guines, I saw by a lamp burning over 
the porch or deep arch of the entrance a priest lifting some 
object in his arms. The lamp w^as bright enough to reveal 
the priest's features clearly, and I recognised him ; he was 
a man I have often met by the sick-beds of both rich and 
poor : and chie% the latter. He is, I think, a good old 
man, far better than nabst of his class in this country; 
superior, indeed, in every way, better informed, as well as 
more devoted to duty. Our eyes met ; he called on me 
to stop ; what be supported was a woman, fainting or dying ; 
I alighted. 

* " This person is one of your countrywomen,** he said : 
** save her, if she is not dead.* 

* My countrywoman, on examination, turned out to be 
English teacher at Madame Beck's pensionnat. She V9\ 
perfectly imconscious, perfectly bloodless, and nearly cold, 

* " What does it all mean ? " was my inquiry. 

* He communicated a curious account ; that you hs 
been to him that evening at confessional ; that your 
exhausted and suffering appearance, coupled with aoai# 
things you had said * 



^(. 'v'^^ 



LA TERRASSE 



217 



* Things I had said ? I wonder what thiJigs I * 

• Awful crimes, no doubt : but he did not tell me what : 
there, you know, the seal of the confessional checked his 
gamilily, and my curiosity. Your confidences, however, 
had not made an enemy of the good father ; it seems he 
was 80 struck, and felt so sorry that you should be out on 
such a night alooe, that he had esteemed it a Christian duty 
to watch you when you quitted the church, and so to man- 
age as not to lose sight of you till you should have reached 
home. Perhaps the worthy man might, half unconsciously, 
have blent in this proceeding some little of the subtlety 
of his class: it might have beeo bis resolve to learn the 
locality of your home — did you impart that in your con- 
fession ? * 

* I did not : on the contrary, I carefully avoided the 
shadow of any indication : and aa to my confession, Dr, 
John, I suppose you will think me mad for taking such a 
atep« but I could not help it : I suppose it was all the fault 
of what you call my " nervous system/' I cannot put the 
case into words, but my days and ni>:hts were grown 
intolerable : a cruel sense of desolation pained my mind : a 
feehng that would make its way, rush out, or kill me — 
like (and this you will understand. Dr. John) the current 
which passes through the heart, and which, if aneurism or 
any other morbid cause obstructs its natural "cEannelR, 
seeks ab^nfiiflaiiLiiiillfit. I wanted companionship, I wanted 
friendship, I wanted counseL I could find none of these in 
closet or chamber, so I went and sought them in 
church and confessionaL As to what I said^ it was no con- 
fidence, no narrative. I have done nothing wrong: my 
life has not been active enough for any dark deed, either of 
romance or reahty : all I poured out was a dreary, desperate 
complaint/ 

• Lucy, you ought to travel for about six months : why, 
yowc calm nature is growing quite excitable I Confound 
Madame Beck I Has the httle buxom v^dow no bowels, to 
ocmdBmn her best teacher to sohtary confinement ?^^^'^-^_^ 



218 



VILLETTB 



* It was not Madame Beck's fault/ said I : * it isDoIiying 
being's fault, and I won't bear any one blamed.* 

' Who is in the wrong, then, Lucy ? * 

* Ma — Dr. John — ijj^; and a great abstraction oo whose 
wide shoulders I like to lay the mou ntaina of blame they 
were sculptured to bear : ^e and Jfate T^ 

* " Me " must take better care m future/ said Dr* John — 
smiling^ I sup pose » at my bad grammar. 

' Change of air— change of scene ; those are my preecrip' 
tions/ pursued the practical young doctor. ' Bat to return 
to our muttons, Lucy. As yet, P^re 8ilas» with all his tact 
(they say he is a Jesuit), is no wiser tlian you choose him to -^cuj 
be; for, instead of returning to the Rue Fossette, your-"^ir| 
fevered wanderings — ^ there must have been high fever— ^ — * ^ 

' No, Dr. John : the fever took its turn that night^now,^^. " ' 
don't make out that I was delirious, for I know differently/ 

* Good I you were as collected as myself at this moment,.^ 
no doubt. Your wanderings had taken an opposite directio 
to the pension nat. Near the B^guinage, amidst the 
of flood and gust» and in the perplexity of darkness, you hi 
swooned and fallen. The priest came to your succour, an^ 
the physician, as we have seen, supervened. Between u^^*^* 
we procured a fiacre and brought you here, P6re Silas, ol£— "^ 
as he is, would carry you up-stairs, and lay you on thaJ^^^ 
couch himself. He would certainly have remained 
you till suspended animation hsbd been restored : and 
should I, but, at that juncture, a hurried messenger arrivi 
from the dying patient I had scarcely left — the last dolip 
were called for— the physician's last visit and the prieBt' ^ 
last rite ; extreme unction could not be deferred. Pfer- ^ 
Silas and myself departed together, my mother was spendin^ ^ 
the evening abroad; we gave you in charge to Marthfi^*) 
leaving directions, which it seems she followed suooerafull^^* 
Now, are you a Catholio ? ' 

' Not yet/ said I, with a smile. ' And never lei P^sr^ 
Silas know where I live, or he will try to oonvert me ; h^Mt 
give him my best and truest thanks when you see him« Mx%d 




LA TEBBAS8E 



919 



I 



if efer I get rich I will sand him money for his oh&ritiee. 
See* Dr. Johii^ your mother wakes ; you oughl to ring for 

Whsob he did ; and, aa Mrs. Bretton sal up — astonished 
and indignant at herseU for the tndtilgenoe to which she 
had Boocimibedt and fully prepared to deny that she had 
depl ai all— her son csame gaOy to the attack* 

' Horiiabyf mamma t Sleep again. You look the picture 
€i innocence in your slumbers.' 

* My slumbers. John Graham t What are you t&Udng 
mfaoui? You know I never do sleep by day : it was the 
aliglitesl doze possible/ 

'BxActly! A seraph's gentle lapse — a fairy's dream. 
Mamms, under such circumstances, you always remind me 
of Titania.' 

* That is because you, yourself, are so like Bottom/ 

* Mim Snowe— did you ever hear anything like mamma's 
wit ? She is a most sprightly woman of her size and age/ 

'Keep your compliments lo yourselfi sir, and do not 
neglect your own size : which seems to me a good deal on 
the iDerease. Lucy, has he not rather the air of an incipient 
John Bull ? He used to be slender as an eel* and now I 
fancy in him a sort of heavy dragoon hent — a beef-eater 
lendenoy. Gniham, take notice ! If you grow fat I disown 
yoiL 

' As tf you could not sooner disown your own personality ! 
I am indispensable to the old lady's happiness, Lucy. She 
would ptne away in gredb snd yellow melfflbholy if she had 
Qol my six feet of iniquity to scold. It keeps her lively — it 
miaintains the wholesome ferment of her spirits/ 

The two were now standing opposite to each other, one 
on each side the fire-place ; their words were not very fond« 
but their mutualjooke-^atoaed for verbal deficiencies. At 
laasl, the beet treasure of Mrs. Bretton's life wa^ certainly 
otflketed in her son's bosom ; her dearest pulse throbbed in 
h» heart. As to him. of course, another love shared his 
with filial love, and, no doubt, aa the new passion 



Y^f^ t)W 



I' 



aao 



VILLETTE 



was Lhe latest bom, so he assigned it in his emotdonB 
Benjamin's portion, Ginevra ! Ginevra I Did Mrs. Bretton 
yet know at whose feet her own young idol had laid his 
homage? Would she approve that choice? I could not 
tell ; but I could well guess that if she knew Miss Fanshawe b 
conduct towards Graham : her alternations between coldness 
and coaxing, and repulse and allurement ; ii she coiiid at 
all suspect the pain with which she had tried him ; if she 
could have seen, as I had seen, his fine spirits subdued and 
harassed, his inferior preferred before him, his subordinate 
made the instrument of his humiliation — then Mrs. Bretton 
would have pronounced Ginevra imbecile, or perverted, or 
both. Well—I thought so too. 

That second evening passed as sweetly as the first — more 
sweetly indeed : we enjoyed a smoother interchange of 
thought ; old troubles were not reverted to, acquaintance 
was better cemented ; I felt happier, easier, more at home. 
That night — instead of crying myself asleep — I went down 
to dreamland by a pathway bordered with ple&sani 
thoughts* 



CHAPTEB XYm 

WE QUABKBL 

fo the first days of my stay at the Terraoe, Graham 
iieT^r took a seat near me, or in Ma frequent padog of the 
room approached the quarter where 1 aat, or looked pre- 
oocupaed, or more grave than uaual, but I thought of Miss 
Fianahawe and expected her name to leap from his lipe. I 
kept my ear and mind in perpetual readiness for the tender 
theme ; my patience was ordered to be permanently under 
arms, and my sympathy desired to keep its oornuoopia re- 
plenished and ready for outpouring. At last, and after a 
little inward struggle which I saw and respected, he one day 
bu3nched into the topic. It waa introduced dehcately; 
anonymously, as it were. 

'Your biend is spending her vacation in travelling, I 
li«ar7' 

' Ftiend. forsooth 1 ' thought I to myself ; but it would 
not do to contradict ; he must have his own way ; I must 
own the soft impeachment : friend let it be. 8till, by way 
oif experiment, I oould not help asking whom he meant. 

He had taken a seat at my work*table ; be now laid 
ha&da on a reel of thread, which he proceeded recklessly to 
unwind. *^ 

* Giaevia — Miss Fanshawe, has accompanied the Chol-V 
Ddeleyaon a tour through the south of France? ' 
*Sbebaa.' 

* Do you and she correspond ? ' 
' It will astonish you to hear that I never once thoughl 

of making application for that privilege.' 



VILLETTE 



* You have seen letters of her writmg?* 

* Yes ; several toTier~imcle/ 
'They will not be deficient in wit v^ndnaiveUl there is 

so much sparkle, and so little art in her soul ? ' 

' She writes comprehensively enough when she writes to 
M. de BagsgB^Ufiixe : he who runs may read/ (In fact» 
Ginevra's epistles to her wealthy kinsmaD were commonly 
business documents, une<|uivooal applications for cash.) 

' And her handwriting ? It must be pretty, light, lady* 
Uke, I should think ? ' 

It was, and I said so. 

*I verily beUeve that all she does is well done/ siud 
Dr. John ; and as I seemed in no hurry to chime in with this 
remark, he added : ' You, who know her, could you name a 
point in which she is deficient?' 

* She does several things very well/ (* Flirtation amongst 
the rest/ subjoined I, in thought.) 

* When do you suppose she will return to town 7 * be 
soon inquired. 

* Pardon me, Dr. John, I must explain. You honoor nae 
too much in ascribing to me a degree of intimacy with 
Miss Fanshawe I have not the felicity to enjoy. I have 
never been the depositary of her plans and secrets. You 
will find her particular friends in another sphere than miDe : 
amongst the Cbolmondeleys, for instance/ 

i He actually thought I was atung with a kind of jealous 
pain similar to his own ! "^^'^^ 

' ' Excuse her,* he said ; ' judge her indulgently ; the glitter 
of fashion misleads her, but she will soon find out that these 
people are hollow, and will return to you with augmented 
attachment and confirmed trust. I know something of the 
Cholmondeleys : superficial, showy, selfish people ; depend 
on it, at heart Ginevra values you beyond a score of such/ 

* You are very kind,' I said briefly. 
A disclaimer of the sentiments attributed to me bume 

OD my lips, but 1 extinguished the flame. I submitted to I 
looked upon as the bumtliated, cast-off, and now piai 




WE QDABREL 

confidante of the distinguished Miss Fanshawe ; but, readerX 
it was a hard submissioD. -^ 

* Yet, you see/ contioued Graham, * while I comfort you^ 
I canoot take the same consolation to myself; I cannot 
bope she will do me justice. De Hamal is most worthless, 
yet I (ear he pleases her : wretched delusion 1 ' 

My patience really gave way, and without notice, aE at 
ODce. I suppose illness and weakness had worn it and made 
it brittle. 
I 'Dr. Bretton,* I broke out, 'there is no delusion like 

your own. On all points but one you are a man, frank, 
healthful, right-thinking, clear-sighted : on this exceptional 
point you arts but a slave. I declare, where Miss Fanshawe 
is concerned, you-tnefiTno respect; nor have you mine/ 

kl got up, and left the room very much excited. 
This little scene took place in the morning ; I had to 
eet him again in the evening, and then I saw I had done 
ischief. He was not made of common clay, not put 
together out of vulgar materials ; while the outlines of his 
nature had been shaped with breadth and vigour, the details 
embraced workmanship of almost feminine delicacy : finer, 
much finer, than you could be prepared to meet with ; than 
» you could believe inherent in him, even alter years of 
I ftcqnaintance. Indeed, till some over-sharp contact with 
his nerves had betrayed, by its effects, their acute aensibility, 
this elaborate construction must be ignored ; and the more 
especially because the sympathetic faculty was not prominent 
in him : to feel, and to seize quickly another's feelings, are 
separate properties; a few constructions possess both, 
some neither. Dr. John had the one in exquisite perfection ; 
and because I have admitted that he was not endowed with 
the other in equal degree, the reader will considerately 
' refrain from passing to an extreme, and pronouncing him 
I ii»sympathizing, unfeehng : on the contrary, he was a kind^ 
generous man. Make your need known, his hand was open. 
at your grief into woi*ds, he turned no deaf ear. Elxpect 
inements of perception, miracles of intuition, and realise 



i>' 



w 



VILLETTE 



disappointment. This night, when Dr. John entered tbaj 
room, and met the evening lamp, I eaw well and at one 
glance his whole mechanism. 

To one who had named him ' a1«^Yn/ and, on any point, 
banned him from respect, he must now have peculiar 
feelings. That the epithet was well applied, and the ban 
juBt, might be ; he put forth no denial that it was 80 : 
his mind even candidly revolved that unmanning possibility. 
He sought in this accusation the cause of that ill-succeBS 
which had got so galling a hold on his mental peace, Aimd 
the worry of a self-condemnator)' soliloquy, his demeanour 
seemed grave, perhaps cold, both to me and his mother. 
And yet there was no bad feeling, no malice, no rancour^ no 
littleness in his countenance, beautiful with a man 'a best 
beauty, even in its depression. When I placed his chair at 
the table, which 1 hastened to do, anticipating the servant, 
and when I handed him his tea, which 1 did vdth trembling 
care, he said : ' Thank you, Lucy/ in as kindly a tone of his 
full pleasant voice as ever my ear welcomed. 

For my part, there was only one plan to be pursued ; I 
must expiate my culpable veheme nce, or I must not sleep^ 
that night. This would not do at all ; I could not stand it 
I made no pretence of capacity to wage war on this footioj 
School solitude, conventual snence and stagnation, anythini 
seemed preferable to living embroiled with Dr. John. As to 
Ginevra, she might take the silver wings of a dove, or any, 
other fowl that flies, and mount straight up to the high* 
place, among the highest stars, where her lover *s highest dighi 
of fancy chose to 6x the constellation of her charms : ne^ 
more be it mine to dispute the arrangement. Long I tiied 
to catch his eye. Again and again that eye just met 
mine ; but, having nothing to say, it withdrew, djud I was 
baffled. After tea, he sat, sad and quiet, reading a boo! 
I wished I could have dared to go and sit near him, but 
seemed that if I ventured to take that step, he would infallibly 
evince hostility and indignation. I longed to speak out, and I 
dared not whisper. His mother left the room ; then, moved b; 



et 




WE QUAREEL 



290 



snBupportable regret, I just murmnred the words, *Dr. 
Bretton.' 

He looked up from his book ; his ©yee were not cold or 
XDalevolent, his mouth was not cynical ; he was ready and 
trilling to hear what I might have to say : bis spirit was of 
'^dntage too mellow and generous to sour in one thunder- 
islap. 

* Dr. Bretton* forgive my hasty words : (fo, do forgive 
tliem.* — ■ — ' 

He smiled that moment I spoke. ' Perhaps I deserved 
iHeiu, Lucy. If you don't respect me» I am sure it is because 
I axn not respectable. I fear I am an awkward fool : I 
must manage badly in some way, for where I wish to please, 
it seems I don't please/ 

* Of that you cannot be sure ; and even if such be the 
caae, is it the fault of your character, or of another's per- 
oeptions? But now, let me unsay what I said in anger. lo 
one thing* and in all things, I deeply respect you. If you 
think scarcely enough of yourself, and too much of others, 
what is that but an excellence ? ' 

' Can I think too much of Ginevra ? ' \ 

*I believe you joay : 4/ m^ believe you can't Let ua \ 

"^ree to differ. Let me be pardoned ; that is what I ask/ \ 

* Do you think I cherish ill-will for one warm word ? ' 

' I see you do not and cannot ; but Just say, ** Lucy, I J 
forgive you I *' Say that, to ease me of the heart-ache/ 

* Put away your heart-ache, as I will put away mine ; 
'ox^ you wounded me a little, Lucy. Now, when the pain is 
Sotie, I more than forgive : I feel grateful, as to a sincere 
^^D-wiaher/ 

* I am your sincere well-wisher : yo u are rig ht/ 
Thus our quarrel ended. 

Reader, if in the course of this work you find that mj 
**tinion of Dr. John undergoes modification, excuse the 
^^eming inconsistency. I give the feeling as at the time~T\ 
^«sU it ; I describe the view of character as it appeared when J 
, <^b<iovered- ^ 



226 



VILLETTE 



V 



V 



He showed the fineness^^-hts nature by being kinder 1 
me after that misunderstanding than before. Nay, the v€ 
incident which, by my theory, must in some degree eat 
me and him, changed, indeed, somewhat our relations; 
not in the sense I painlully anticipated* An invisible^ bu^ 
oold something, very sUght, very transparent, but very cl 
a sort of screen of ice had hitherto, all through our two hi 
glazed the medium through which we exchanged in teroou 
Those few warm words, though only warm with anger, 
breathed on that &ail frost-work of reserve ; about this I 
it gave note of dissolution. I thinlc from that day, j 
as we continued friends, he never in discourse stood 
topics of ceremony with me. He seemed to know it 
he would but talk about himself, and about that in which I 
was most interested, my expectation would always 
answered, my wish always satisfied. It follows, as a matj 
of course, that I continued to hear much of ' Ginevra/ 

' Ginevra I ' He thought her so fair, so good ; he s{ 
so lovingly of her charms, her sweetness, her innocence, t 
in spite of my plain prose knowledge of the reality, a 1 
of reflected glow began to settle on her idea, even for 
<fi Still, reader, I am free to confess that he often 
nonsense ; but I strove to be unfailingly patient with ^ 
rPhad had my lesson : I had leaj*ned how_agyere for m e 
/ the paio of crossing, or grieving, or r^ ^-t - ii^.^ j^qi. 
' a strange and new sense, I grew m and q 

powerless to deny myself the delight uf luduL 
and being pliant to his wilL He still seenir i__ l 

absurd when he obstinately doubted, and desponded ab 
his power to win in the end Miss Fanshawe's prefereE 
The fancy became rooted in my own mind more stubbor 
than ever, that she was only coquetting to goad him, i 
that, at heart, she coveted ever}' one of his words and lo 
Sometimes he harassed me, in spite of my resolution to 1 
and hear ; in the midst of the indescribable gall-haa 
pleasute of thus bearing and hearings he struck so on 
flint of what firmness I owned, that it eoiitted fire once i 



WE QUARBEL 



227 



igmtn. I chanced to assert one day, with a view to stilling 
his impatieooe, thai in my own mind,, I felt positive MibB 
^aiOfihawe must intend eveutuaiiy to acoepb him. 

* Positive ! It was easy to say ao^ bat had I any grounds 
for such assurance ? ' 

* The best grounds/ 

* Now, Lucy, do tell me what I ' 

' You know them as well as I ; and, knowing them, Dr. 
^ohn, it really amazes me that you should not repose the 
^^^nkest confidence in her fidelity. To doubt, under the 
^^^umstances, is almost to insult/ 

' Now you are beginning to speak fast and to breathe 
^liort ; but speak a little faster and breathe a little shorter, 
^^^ you have given an explanation — a full explanation : I 
*^U8t have it/ 

* You ghall« Dr. John. In some oases, you are a lavish, 
IS^iierous man : you are a worshipper ever ready with the 
"^cativ© offering : should P^re Silas ever convert you, you 
^'^ill give him abundance of alms for his poor, you will 
^Xipply his altar with tapers, and the shrine of your 
'^Tourite saint you will do your best to enrich : Ginevra, 
X> J. John ' 

* Hush 1 ' said he, ' don't go on/ 

* Hush I will not : and go on I will : Ginevra has had 
^^r hands filled from your hands more times than I can 
*^^^^unt. You have sought for her the costliest flowers ; you 
^ ^ire busied your brain in devising gifts the most dehcate : 
^^^Kjchj one would have thought, as only a woman could have 
^^^^agined ; and in addition. Miss Fanshawe owns a set of 
*>^t-iiaments, to purchase which your generosity must have^ 
^^^ged on extravagance. 

The modesty Ginevra herself had never evinced in this 
^^=^tt<&r, now flushed all over the face of her admirer. 

' Nonsense ! ' he said, destructively snipping a skein of 
^ilk with my scissors. * I offered them to please myself : I 
*filt she did me a favour in accepting them.' 

'She did more than a favour, Dr. John : she pledged her 



VILLETTE 



very honour that she would make you aome return ; and ^^ 
she aacinot pay you in att'eoiion, she ought to hand out ^ 
business-like equivalent, m the dhan^ of some rouleaux c^^ 
gold pieces.' ^^ 

*But you don't understand her; she is far too disk^^- 
terested to care for my gifts, and too simple -minded to kno^^ 
their value/ 

I laughed out : I had heard her adjudge to every jew^ I 
its price ; and well I kuew money^embarrassment, iiione>^ - 
schemes, money's worthy and endeavours to realise suppli' 
had, young as she was, furnished the most frequent, and thi. 
favourite stimulus of her thoughts for years. 

He pursued. ' You should have seen her whenever I ha' 
laid ou her lap some trifle ; so coolf so unmoved : no eager— 
ness to take, not even pleasure in contemplating, Jos^ 
from amiable reluctaooe to grieve me, she would permit Itio 
bouquet to lie beside her, and perhaps consent to bear is 
away. Or, if 1 achieved the fastening of a bracelet on beir 
ivory arm, however pretty the trinket might be (and I 
always carefully chose what seemed to me pretty, and what- 
of course was not valueless), the glitter never dazzled hef 
bright eyes : she would hardly cast one look on my gift' 

* Then, of course, not valuing it, she would unlooee, aod 
retuin it to you ? * 

' No ; for such a repulse she was too good-natured. Sb9 
would consent to seem to forget what I had done, and retftk' 
the ofiTering with lady -like quiet and easy oblivion. Dfider' 
such circum stances, how can a man build on acceptance ^ 
his presents as a favourable symptom ? For my part, wei^ 
1 to ofifer her all I have, and she to take it, such is her ii^'^ 
capacity to be swayed by sordid considerations, 1 sbooi^ 
not venture to believe the transaction advanced me co^^ 
step/ 

* Dr, John/ I began, * L ove is blind * ; but just then ^^ 
blue subtle ray sped sidaw^g irom Dr. John^ eye : it f^-^ — 
minded me of old days, it reminded me of his picture : i/^? 
half led me to think that part, at^leastj of hJB ijrofesi€<^^ 



WE QUABBEL 



229 



peiBoasion of Miss Eftnshawe*s naiveU was assumed ; it led 
me dubiousTy to 'conjectare th&t perhaps, in spite of his 
passion for her beanty^ his appreciation of her foibles might 
possibly be less mistaken, more clear-sighted, than from his 
general language was presumable. After all it might be 
only a chance look, or at best the token of a merely momen- 
tary impression. Chance or intentional, real or imaginary, it 
doeed the conversation. 



CHAPTEE XIX 

THE CLBOPATEA 

My stay at La Terrasse was prolonged a fortnight beyonc^=l 
the close of the vacation. Mrs. Bret ton's kind managemen t 
procured me this respite. Her son having one d^y delivere^^^ 
the dictum that * Lucy was not yet strong enough to go bac^B 
to that den of a pensionnat/ she at once drove over to ih 
Rue Fossetle, had an interview with the directress, an- 
procured the indulgence, on the plea of prolonged rest an 
change being necessary to perfect recovery. Hereupoc 
however, followed an attention I could very well have 
pensed with, viz. — a polite call from Madame Beck. 

That lady^one fine day^aotually came out in a fiacre 
far as the ch&teau. I suppose she had resolved within h 
self to see what manner of place Dr. John inhabit^^^- 
Apparently, the pleasant site and neat interior suipassfl^s^ 
her expectations ; she eulogized all she saw, pronounced iMne 
blue salon ' une pi^ce magnii<]ue/ profusely congratulat *^ 
me on the acquisition of friends, ' tellement dignes, aimabl^^s, 
et respectables,* turned also a neat compliment in my favo*::*''- 
and^ upon Dr. John coming in, ran up to him with t-l^e 
utmost buoyancy, opening at the same time such a fire of 
rapid language, all sparkling with felicitations and pro tog^te' 
tions about his ' chateau,' — * madame sa m^re, la di^ns 
ch&telaine : * also his looks , which, indeed, were vm^ 
flourishing, and at the moment additionaUy embelliabed ^ 
the good-natured but amused smile with which he alwi^y* 
listened to Madame's fluent and florid French, In shorty 




THE CLEOPATRA 



231 



KadAme shone in her very best phasa that day, and oame 
in and went out quite a living Catherine- wheel of compli- 
SD^ntR, delight, and affabiHty. Half-piirpoHe!y» and half to 
&9k some queBtion about school -bii sin ess » I followed her to 
t^he carriage, and looked in after she was seated and the 
<ioor dosed. In that brief fraction of time what a change 
"had been wrought t An instant ago, all sparkles and jests, 
she now sat sterner than a judge and graver than a sage^ 
Strange little woman ! 

I went back and teased Dr. John about Madame's ' 

davotion to him. How he laughed t What fun shone in 

H^ eyes as he recalled some of her fine speeches, and 

^npeated them, imitating her voluble delivery ! He had an 

acute sense of humour, and was the finest company in the 

'wcM'ld— when he could forget Miss Fansbawe. 



To 'sit in sunshine calm and sweet ' is said to be 
^ucelleni for weak people ; it gives them vital force. When 
H^Ie Georgette Beck was recovering from her illness, I used 
%o take her in my arms and walk with her in the garden by 
_^e hour together, beneath a certain wall bung with grapes, 
^■rhich the Southern sun was ripening : that siin cherished 
"er litUe pale frame quite as effectually as it mellowed and j 

swelled the clustering fruit. .^ / 

There are human tempers, bland, glowing, and genial, 
jpri thill whose influence it is as good for the poor in spirit to 
B^, aa it is for the feeble in frame to bask in the glow of 
'^ooo- 0( the number of these choice natures were certainly 
both T>r ^rfitinn 'a a^nri bjgjiiother^s. They liked to communi- 
cate happiness, as some nice kr occasion misery: they did 
it instinctively ; without fuss, and apparently with little 
consciousness ; the means to give pleasure rose spontaneously 
Mb their minds. Every day, while I stayed with them, some 
^■ttle plan wa>i proposed which resulted in beneficial enjoy- 
^■leDt. Fully otjcupied as was Dr. John's time, be still made 
^t in his way to accompany us in each brief eTtcursion. I 
can hardly tell how he managed his engagements ; they 



232 



VILLETTE 



were Dumerous, yet by dint o! system , he eksaed them i 
an order which left him a daily period of liberty, I oftei 
saw him hard-worked, yet seldom over-driven, and nevei 
irritated* confused, or oppressed. What he did was acoom'' 
plished with the ease and grace of all-sufiBcing strength 
with the bountiful cheerfulness of high and unbroker- 
energieSt Under his guidance I saw, in that one happ>^ 
fortnight, more of Villetbe, its environs, and its inhabitants 
than I had seen in the whole eight months of my previon^K 
residence. He took me to places of interest in the town, ot: 
whose names I had not before so much as heard ; wii 
willingness and spirit he csommunicated much noteworib ^^ M ] 
information. He never seemed to think it a trouble to tall^^Bt 
to me, and, I am sure, it was never a task to me to listetu^Ha. i 
It was not his way to treat subjects coldly and vaguely : ' 

he rarely generalised, never prosed. He seemed t o l^ka ni 




\\i 



dfiiaik almost as much as I liked them myself: he seeme^^B^ 
observant of character: and not superficially observan 
either. These points gave the quality of interest to 
discourse ; and the fact of his speaking direct from his 
resources, and not borrowing or stealing from books 
here a dry fact, and there a trite phrase, and elsewhere 
hackneyed opinion — ensured a fr^^shness, as welcome as 
was rare- Before my eyes, too» his disposition seemed 
unfold another phase; to pass to a fresh day: to rise 
new and nobler dawn. 

His mother possessed a good development of beoevolen c. -r^^ , 
but he owned a better and larger, I found, on accompanyirr^i^^^g 
him to the Basse- Ville — the poor and crowded quarter of ttu^-^<* 
city — that his errands there were as much those of ttrr^^ 
philanthropist as the phymctan. I understood present^^J 
that— cheerfully, habitually, and in single-minded uooo^aV' 
sciousness of any special merit distinguishing his deeds— lrr=3« 
was achieving, amongst a very wretched population, ^ 
world of active good. The lower orders liked him welK- * 
his poor patients in the hospitals welcomed him with tkdxp^^ 
of enthusiasm* 




THE CLEOPATRA 



233 



1. ' 

■\ 



rop— I rrom the faithful narmuns 

into t L ulogist. Well, full well, do 

llmt I>r, John was not perfect, any more than I am 
Qt Hum&n fullibility leavened him throughout : there 
1 no hour, and scarcely a moment of the time I spent 
with him, that in act, or speech, or look, he did not betray 
something thai waa nntn ( a. fs ^nA.. A god could not have 
the cr uel vanity of l5r. John, nor lus sometime levi ty. No 
immortal could have resembled him in his occasional 
temporary oblinon of aU but the present— in his passing 
passion for that present ; shown not coarsely, by devoting it 
to material indulgence, but selfishly, by extracting from it 
whatever it could }ield of nutriment to his m asculine s elf- 
tove : his delight was to feed that ravenous sentiment, with- 
out thought of the price of provender, or care for the cost ' 
of keeping it sleek and high-pampered. 

The reader is requested to note a seeming contradiction 
the two views which have been given of Graham Brettot\ 
— the public and private — the out-door and the m-door new. 
In the firsts the public, he is shown obhvious of self ; as 
modes! in the display of his energies, as earuest m their 
In the aeoond, the fireside picture, there is ex- 
ccmsdousDess of what he has and what he is ;. 
pleasure in homage, some recklessness in exciting, some] 
v&Qity in receiving the same. Both portraits are correct. / 
It was hardly possible to oblige Dr. John quietly and in 
aectet. When yoti thought that the fabrication of some 
.trifle dedicated to his use had been achieved unnoticed, and 
like other men, be would use it when placed ready for 
its use, and never ask whence it came, he amazed you by a 
smOttigily-uttered observation or two, proving that his eye 
had been on the work from commencement to close : thai 
be had noted the design, traced its progress, and marked its 
eomplation* It pleased him to be thus served, and he let his 
pleaeore beam in his eye and play about his mouth. 

This would have been all very well, if he had not added 
to such kindly and unobtrusive evidence a certain wilfulness 



H- 



^r trifle 

Mil I, 



2M 



VILLETTE 



Id discharging what he called dehta. When his motb 
worked for him, he paid her by showering about her 
bright animal spinlB, with even more affluence than 

' gay, taunting, teasing, loving wont. If Lucy Snowe we: 
discovered to have put her hand to such work, he plaim< 
,in recompense, some pleasant recrea tion. 

I often felt amazetTatTIs perfect knowledge of VUlette 
a knowledge not merely confined to its open streete, bul 
penetrating to aU its galleries, salles, and cabinets ; of every' 

, door which shut in an object worth seeing, of every museum 
of every hall, sacred to art or science, he seemed to 
the ' Open I Sesame.' I never had a head for science^ bnl 
an ignora nt, bli nd, f ond instinct in clined me to art. I lii 
to visit the picture-galleries, and I Nearly Uked to be lefl 
thftt^-irfoSa In company, a wretched idiosyncrasy forbada< 

C gte to see much or to feel an^iiiing. In unfamiUar 
company, where it was necessary to maintain a flow of talk 
on the subjects in presence, half an hour would knock me 
up. with a combined pressure of physical lassitude and 
entire mental incapacity. I never yet saw the well- reared 

, ishHd, much less tlie educated adult, who could not put me 
to shamCi by the sustained intelligence of its demeanour 
under the ordeal of a conversable, sociable visitation ot 

. pictures, historical sights or buildings, or any lions of public 

'interest. Dr. Bretton was a cicerone after my o\^ti heart ;^ 
he would take me betimes, ere the galleries were filled, leave 
me there for two or thiee horn's, and call for me when 
his own engagements were discharged. Meantime, I was 

I Jiappy ; happy, not always in admiring, but in eiLaminlng, 
questioning, and forming conclusions. In the commenoe- 
ment of these visits, there was some mJBunderstanding 
consequent struggle between Will and Power. The for 
faculty exacted approbation of that which it was conaideredi 
orthodox to admire ; the latter groan&d forth its utter 
inability to pay the tax ; it was then self -sneered at, apurred 
up, goaded on to reline its taste, aud whet its 2eat* The 
more it was chidden, however, the more it wouldn't {nraiae* 



Ling, 
noe-^j 
and^l 
mef^l 



THE CLEOPATRA 



986 



I 



Disoovering gradually that a wonderful sense of fatigue 
resulted fi-om the»e conscientious efforts, I began to reflect 
whether I might not dispense with that gi^eat labour, and 
conoluded eventually that I might, and so sank supine into 
a luxury of calm before ninety-nine out of a hundred of the 
exhibited frames. 

It seemed to me that an original and good picture was 
just as scarce as an original and good book ; nor did I, in 
tlie end, tremble to say to myself, standing before certain 
chefs-d'cBUvre bearing great names, ' These are not a whit 
like nature. Nature's daylight never had that colour: 
never was made so turbid, either by storm or cloud, as it is 
laid out there, under a sky of indigo : and that indigo is not 
ether ; and those dark weeds plastered upon it are not trees/ 
Several very well executed and complacent*looking fat 
women struck me as by no means the goddesses they 
appeared to consider themselves. Many scores of marvel- 
lously-finished little Flemish pictures, and also of sketches* 
exck^Uent for fashion-books displaying varied costumes in 
the handsomest materials, gave evidence of laudable 
industry whimsically applied. And yet there were frag- 
ments of truth here and there which satisfied the conscience, 
and gleams of light that oheered the vision. Nature's 
power here broke through in a mountain snow-storm ; and 
there her glory in a sunny southern day. An expression in 
tins portrait proved clear insight into character ; a face in 
that historical painting, by its vivid filial likeness, startlingly 
reminded you that genius gave it birth. These exceptions I 
loved : they grew dear as friends. 

One day, at a quiet early hour, I found myself nearly 
alone in a certain gallery, wherein one particular picture of 
portentous size, set up in the best light, having a cordon of 
protection stretched before it, and a cushioned bench duly 
set in front for the accommodation of worshipping con- 
noisseurs, who, having gazed themselves off their feet, 
might be fain to complete the business sitting : this picture, 
I 8fty, seemed to consider itself the queen of the collection. 



VILLETTE 




of 
ndLV 



It represented a woman, considerably larger, I tboi 
lian the life. I caJculAted that this lady, put into a 
^of magnitude, suitable for the raoeption of a commodity of 
bulk, would infallibly turn from fourteen to sixteen Btone^; 
She was, indeed, extremely well fed : very much butcher* 
meat — to say nothing of bread, vegetables, and liquid 
— must she have consumed to attain that breadth &ndL' 
height, that wealth of muscie, that affluence of flesh. Sh^ 
lay haLf-reclined on a oouch : why, it would be difficult to 
say ; broad dayhght blazed round her ; she appeared iu 
hearty health, strong enough to do the work of two plain 
cooks ; slie could not pload a weak spine ; she ought to have 
been standing, or at least sitting bolt upright. She had no 
business to lounge away the noon on a sofa. She o\igh& 
likewise to have worn decent garments; a gown coyering^ 
her properly, which was not the case : out of abundance of 
material — seven -and4wenty yards, I should say, of drapery 
—she managed to make inefficient raiment* Then, for the 
wretched untidiness Burrounding her there could be no ex- 
cuse. Pots and pans — perhaps I ought to say vases and 
goblets — were rolled here iCnd there on the foreground; a 
perfect rubbish of flowers was mixed amongst them, and 
an absurd and di^rderly mass of curt^m upholstery 
smothered the oouch and cumbered the floor. On referrini; 
to the catalogue, I found that this notable production borv 
the name ' Cleopatra** 

Well, 1 was sitting wondering at it (as the bench was 
tliere, I thought 1 might as well take advantage of its accom- 
modation), and thinking that while some of the details — ui 
roses, gold cups, jewels, &c., were very prettily painted, it 
was on the whole an enormous piece of claptrap ; the room, 
almost vacant when I entered, began to 611 Scarcely nolic* 
ing this circumstance (as, indeed, it did not matter lo me) 
I retained my seat ; rather to rest myself than with a view 
to studying this huge, dark-complexioned gipsy -queen ; of 
whom, indeed, I soon tired, and betook myself for re&«sh- 
meat to the contemplation of some exquisite little pictures 




THE CLEOPATRA 



237 




flfill Ufa : wild-flowera, wild -fruit, mossy woodnesta, 
ing eggB that looked like pearls Been through dei^r 
ffjtmon aea- water ; all hung modestly beneath th&t ooarBe and 
pcBposlerotts canyas. 

Suddenly a light lap visited my shoulder. Starting. 
tarntogi I met a face bent to encounter mioe ; a frowoiog, 

rnl a shocked face it was. 
' Que Utee-Toua tci ? ' said a voice. 
'Mais, MoDsiettr, je m 'amuse,' 
'Vous vous amnsezl et k quoi, s'il vous plait? Maifl 
abord, faites-moi le plaisir de vous lever ; prene£ mon 
et aliens de Tautre c6t^/ 
I did precisely as I was bid. M. Panl Emanuel (it was 
he), relumed &om Rome, and now a travelled man^ was uot 
Ekely to be less tolerant of insubordination now, than before 
tlm added distinctioo laurelled his temples. 

'Permit me to conduct you to your party/ said he, as vp6 
croQsed the room. 

* I have no party/ 
' You are not alone ? ' 

* Yea, Monsieur/ 

* Did you come here unaccompanied ? 
' No» Monsieur. Dr. Bretton brought me here/ 
' Dr. Bretton and Madame, bis mother, of course ? ' 

* No ; only Dr. Bretton/ 

* And he told you to look at that pict ure ? ' 
|By no means ; I fotmd it out for myBiM.' 

Pauls hair was shorn close as raven down* or I 
think it would have bristled on his head. Beginning now 
to peroetve his drifts I had a certain pleasure in keeping 
oool« and working him up. 

' Astounding insular audacity t ' cried the Professor. 

Culi&res femmes que ces Anglaises I ' 
^liat is the matter, Monsieur ? ' 
latter I How dare you, a young person, sit coolly 
with the celf possession of a gar^Of and look at thai 
picture ? * 



:T»yr 




VILLETTE 



But you ought nc 



1 a very ugly picture ; but I cannot at all 
should not look at it* 

* Bon i boD ! Speak no more of it. 
to be hare alone/ 

* If » however, I have no society — no party^ as yon sa} 
And then, what does it signify whether I am alone, 
aocompanied ? Nobody meddles with me,' 

* Taisez-vous, et asseyez*vouB 14— li I ' — setting down 
ohair with emphasis in a particularly dull comer, before 
series of most specially dreary ' cadres/ 

* Mais, Monsieur ? ' 
' Mais, Mademoiselle, asseyez-vous, et ne bougez 

entendez-vous ?— jusqu'A oe qu'on vienne vous chercher, oa 
que je vous donne la permission/ 

' Quel feriste coin 1 * cried 1, * et quels laids tableaux ! * 
And * laids,' indeed, they were ; being a set of four, 
denominated in the catalogue ' La vie d*une femme/ They 
were painted rather in a remarkable style — 6at, dead, pale, 
and formal. The first represented a * Jeune Fille/ coming 
out of a church-door, a missal in her hand, her dress verj^ 
prim, her eyes cast down, her mouth pursed up — the image 
of a most villainous little precocious she-hypocrit^. The 
second, a * Mari^,' with a long white veil, kneeUng at a 
prie-dieu in her chamber, holding her hands ^ plastered 
together, finger to finger, and showing the whites of lier 
eyes in a most exasperating manner. The third, a * Jeune 
M^re/ hanging disconsolate over a cl^yejr^iEd^pngjt-Jahy 
with a face like an unwholesome full moon. The fourth, a 
* Veuve/ being a black woman, holding by the hand a black 
little gtrl, and the twain studiously surveying an elegant 
French monument, set up in a comer of some P^re 1* 
Chaise. All these four * Angea ' were grim and grey aa 
burglars, and cold and vapid as ghosts. What women to 
live with I insincere, ill-humoured, bloodless, bnanless 
nonentities ! As bad in their way as the indolent gipsy > 
giantess, the Cleopatra, in hers* 

It was impossible to keep one s attention long confined 



I 



v^'-l 





THE CLEOPATKA 



239 



to these master-pieceR, and bo, by degresB, I veered round 
and surveyed the gallery. 

A perfect crowd of spectators was by this time gathered 
round the Lioness, from whose vicinage I had been 

f banished ; nearly hall this crowd were ladies, but M. Paul 
lalterwards told me these were * des dames/ and it was quite 
rproper for them to contemplate what no * demoiselle ' ought 
to glance at, I assured him plainly I could not agree in 
this doctrine, and did not see the sense of it ; whereupon, 
with his usual absolutism, he merely requested my silence, 
and also, in the same breath, denounced my mingled rash- 
ness and ignorance. A more despotic little man than 
M, Paul never filled a profes8or*8 chair. I noticod, by the 
way, that be looked at the picture himself quite at his ease, 
and for a very long while : he did not, however, neglect to 
glance from time to time my way, in order, I suppose, to 
make sure that T was obeying orders, and not breaking 

■ bounds. By-and-by. he again accosted me, 
* Had 1 not been ill ? ' he wished to know : * he under- 
stood I had.' 

* Yes ; but 1 was now quite well/ 

I* Where had I spent the vacation ? * 
• Chiefly in the Rue Fossette ; partly with Madame 
retton/ 

* He had heard that I was left alone in the Rue Fossette ; 
i^as that so ? ' 

B * Not quite alone : Marie Broc * (the cretin) • was with 

He shrugged his shoulders ; varied and contradictory 
expressions played rapidly over his countenance. Marie 
roc was well known to M. Paul ; he never gave a lesson 
the third division (containing the least advanced pupils), 
that she did not occasion in biro a sharp conflict between 
antagonistic impressions. Her personal appearance, her 
repulsive manners, her often unmanageable disposition, 
irritated his temper, and inspired him with strong antipathy ; 
» feohng he was too apt to conceive when his taste was 






VILLETTE 



offended or his will thwarted. On the other hand, her mis- 
fortunes constitutcMi a stiong claim on hi.^ forbearance aad 
oompassion — such a claim as it was not in his nature to 
deny; hence resulted almost daily drawn battles between 
impatience and disgust on the one hand, pity and a sense of 
justice on the other ; in which, to his credit be it sftid* it 
was very seldom that the former feelings prevailed ; when 
they did, however, M. Paul showed a phase of character 
which had its terrors. His passions were strongs his 
aversions and attachments alike vivid ; the force he exerted 
in holding both in cheek by no means mitigated an 
observer's sense of their vehemence. With such tendencies, 
it may well be supposed he often excited in ordinary minds 
fear and dislike ; yet it was an error to fear him ; nothing 
drove him so nearly frantic as the tremor of an apprehensive 
and distrustful spiht ; nothing soothed him like confidence 
tempered with gentleness. To evince these sentiments* 
however, required a thorough comprehension of his nature ; 
and his nature was of an order rarely comprehended. 

' How did you get on with Marie Broc ? ' he asked, after 
some minutes' silence. 

I * Monsieuri I did my best ; but it was terrilde to be alone 
with her 1 * 

* You have, then, a weak heart ! You lack courage ; and* 
Iperhaps, charity. Yours are not the qualities which might 
constitute a Sister of Mercy/ 

[He y/ms a religious little man« in his way: the self* 
denying and self-sacrificing part of the Cathoho religion 
commanded the homage of his souL] 

' I don't know, indeed : I took as good care of her as I 
could ; but whc^n her aunt came to fetch her away, it wi 
great relief/ 

' Ah I you are ^n^goiAHj^ There are women who 
nursed hospitals- full of similar unfortunates. You could 
do that ? * 

' Could Monsieur do it himself ? * 

' Wo men who are worthy t he name ought infinitely to 



4 




THE CLEOPATRA 



Ml 



^tirpasB our co&raej falti ble» self-indulgent sex, in the power 

to perfor nTsucb dutiea ? ' 

' I washed her, I kept her clean. I fed her, I tried to 
^miiee her; but she made mouths at me instead of 
speaking/ 

^' You think yon did great things V 
• No ; but as great as I could do/ 
* Then liroited are your powers, for in tending one idiot 
^oo fell sick/ 

* Not with that, Monsieur ; I had a nervous fever : my 
micd was ill/ 

* Vraiment l Vous valez pen de chose. You are not 
east in an heroic mould ; your courage will not avail to 
sustajn you in solitude ; it merely gives you the temerity to A 
gaze with sang-froid at pictures of Cleopatra/ ^ 

It would have been easy to show anger at the teasing, 
stile tone of the little man. I had never b*ien angry with 
Tiini yet^ however » and had no present disposition to begin, 

* Cleopatra ! * I repeated, quietly. * Monsieur, too, has 
been looking at Cleopatra ; what does he think of her ? * 

* Cela ne vaut rien/ he responded. * Une femme superbe \ 
— une taille d'imp^ratrice, des formes de Junon, mats une \ 

rsonne dont je ne voudrais ni pour fern me, ni pour fille, I 
HI pour soBur. Aussi vous ne jeterez plus un seul cou p^ y 
d'ceil de sa c6tS/ 

* But I have looked at her a great many times while 
Monsieur has been talking ; I can see her quite weU from 
this corner/ ^-'^- 

*Tum to the wall and study your four jpictures of 
woman's life/ ^ 

* Excuse me, M, Paul; they are too hideous: but if yoi 
admire them, allow me to vacate my seat and leave you to 
their contemplation/ 

' Mademoiselle/ he said, grimaoiDg a half*smilei or what 
he intended for a smile, though it was but a grim and 
hurried manifestation, * you nurslings of Protestantism 
afitcnish me. Yon unguarded Englishwomen walk calmly 



■. 



ft 



Ht-i^ 




1 



rt' 



• L*,^t/ 



mz 



VILLETTB 



V^ 



^<' 



1 



amidst red-hot ploughehares and escape burning. I helte' 
if some of you were thrown into Nebuchadnezzar's hotl 
furnace you would issue forth untraversed by the smell 
fire/ 

' Will Monsieur have the goodness to move an inch 
one side ? * 

* How ! At what are you gazing now ? You are n 
recognising an acquaintance amongst that group of jeua ^$ 
gens ? ' .^M 

* I think so Yes, I see there a person I know.* ^B 

In fact, I had caught a glimpse of a head too pretty to 

belong to any other than the redoubted Colonel de Hamal. 
What a very finished, highly polished little pate it was! 
What a figure, so trim and natty ! What womanish fedl^| 
and hands ! How daintily he held a glass to one of hii^" 
optics I with what admiration he gazed upon th e Cleopat ra ! 
and then, how engagingly he titti^red and whispered a friend 
at his elbow 1 Oh, the man of sense ! Oh^ the refined 
gentleman of superior taste and tact t I observed him forfl 
about ten minutes, and perceived that he was exceedingly^ 
taken with this dusk and p^jyt-ly Vftmin of the Nile. So 
much was I interested in his bearing, »o absorbed rn 
divining his character by his looks and movements, I 
temporarily forgot M, Paul ; in the interim a group came 
between that gentleman and me ; or possibly his soruples 
might have received another and worse shock from my 
present abstraction, causing him to withdraw voluntarily 
at any rate, when I again looked round, he was gone. 

My eye, pursuant of the search, met not him, but anothi 
and dissimilar figure, well seen amidst the crowd, for the' 
height as well as the port lent each its distinc Jon. Thi« 
way came Dr. John, in viaage, in shape, in hue, as unlike the 
dark, acerb, and caustic little professor, as the fruit of the 
Hespendes might be unlike the sloe in the wild thicket ; as 
the high-couraged but tractable Arabian is unlike the rod« 
and stubborn * sheltie/ He was looking for roe, hut had not 
yet explored the comer where the schoolmaster had just 







+''• 



TEE CLEOPATRA 



343 



^c 



pui me, I remained quiet ; yet anoiher mintite I would 
watch. 

He approached d§ Hamal ; he paused near him ; I 
thought he had a pleasure in looking over his head; Dr. 
Bretton, too, gazed on the Cleopatra. I douht if it were to 
his taste : he did not simper like the little Count ; his mouth 
looked fastidious, his eye cool ; without demonstration he 
stepped aside, leaving room for others to approach. I saw 
DOW thai he was waiting, and, rising, I joined him. 

We took one turn round the gallery; with Graham it 
was very pleasant to take such a turn. I always liked dearly 
to hear what he had to say about either pictures or hooks ; 
because, without pretending to he a connoisseur, he always 
spoke his thought, and that was sure to be fresh : very often 
it was alBO just and pithy. It was pleasant also to tell him , 
Bome things he did not know— he listened so kindly, so ' 
teachably ; unformalized by scruples lest so to bend his 
bright handsome head, to gather a woman's rather obscure 
and stammering explanation, should imperil the dignity of 
his manhood. And when he communicated information in \ 
return, it was with a lucid intelligence that left all his words 
clear graven on the memory ; no explanation of his giving, , 
no fact of his narrating, did I ever forget 

As we left the gallery, I asked him what he thought of 
the Cleopatra (after making him laugh by telling him how 
Professor Emanuel had sent me to the right about, and 
taking him to see the sweet series of pictures recommended 
to my attention). 

' JPooh I ' said he- * My mother is a better-looking woman. 
I heard some French fops, yonder, designating her as "le 
type du voluptueux '* ; if so, I can only say, " le voluptueux 
Ia little to my liking. Compare that mulatto with Qiiievra I 



r A 



G 



•N/\ 



f 



v,,.V^ 



CHAPTER XX 

THE CONCERT 

One morningj Mrs. Bretton, coming promptly into roy room 
desired me to open my drawers and show her my dreeem [ 
which I did, without a word. 

' That will do, ' said she, when she had turned them over. 
' You must have a new one/ 

She went out. She returned presently with a dresscnaker. ^ 
She had me measured. * I mean/ said she, ' to follow my 
own taste, and to have my own way in this little matler/ 

Two days after came home — ^a pink dress ! 

*That is not for me,' I said, hurriedlypfeeling thai I^ 
would almost as soon clothe myself in the 'X)Rtume of a | 
Chinese lady of rank. 

* We shall see whether it is for you or not/ rejoined my j 
' godmother, adding, with her resistJess decision : * Mark my' 
words. You will wear it this very evening/ 

I thought I should nob ; I thought no human foroe sboolil 
avail to put me into it. A pink dress ! I knew it nol II 
knew not me. I had not proved it. 

My godmother went on to decree that I was to go with 
her and Graham to a concert that same night : which conceit, 
she explained, was a grand affair, to he held in the large salle, 
or hall, of the principal musical society. The most advanced 
of the pupils of the Conservatoire were to perform : it was 
to be foUowed by a lottery * au bdn^fice des pauvres * ; and, 
to orown all, the King, Queen, and Prince of Labassecour 
were to be present. Graham, in sending tickets, had onjoinad 



THE CONCERT 



M5 






atieDtion to costume as a compliment dye to royalty : he also 
recommended punctual readiness by seven o clock. 

About six I was ushered up -stairs. Without any force 
at all, I found myself led and influenced by another's will, 
unooDsulted, uuperguaded, quietly overruled. In short, the 
pink dress went on, softened by some drapery of black lace. 
I was pronounced to be en grande tenue» and requested to 
look in the glass. I did so with some fear and trembling ; 
vrith more fear and trembling, I turned away. Seven 
o^clock struck ; Dr. Bretton was come ; my godmother and 
I went down. She was clad in brown velvet ; as 1 walked 
in her shadow, how I envied her those folds of gnwe, dark 
ajesty \ Graham^stpod in the drawing*room doorway. 

* I do hope he will not think I have been decking myself 
out to draw attention,' was my uneasy aspiration. -/ 

* Here, Lucy, are some flowers/ said he, giving me a 
lx>uquet. He took no further notice of my dress than was 
conveyed in a kind smile and satisfied nod, which calmed at 
once my sense of shame and fear of ridicule. For the rest, 
t»he dress was made with extreme simplicity, guiltless of 
flounce or furbelow ; it was but the light fabric and bright 
tint which scared me, and since Graham found in it nothing 
absurd, my own eye consented soon to become reconciled. 

I suppose people who go every night to places of public 
amusement can hardly enter into the fresh eala^Jeelmg^ 
with which an opera or a concert is enjoy^^T^ those for 
whom it is a rarity, I am not sure that I expected great 
pleasure from the concert, having but a very vague notion of 
lis nature ; but 1 liked the drive there well The snug com- 
fort of the close carnage on a cold though line night, the 
pleasure of setting out with companions so cheerful and 
friendly, the sight of the stars glinting ^tfully through the 
trees as we rolled along the avenue ; then the freer burst of 
the Dight sky when we issued forth to the open chauss^, 
the passage through the city gates, the lights there burning, 
the guards there posted, the pretence of inspection to which 
we there submitted, and which amused us so much — all 



246 



VILLETTE 



these amall matters bad for me, id their novelty, a pectiliArly 
exhilarating charm. How much of it lay in the atmosphere 
of frieodship diffused about me, I know not : Dr. John and 
his mother were both in their finest mood, contending 
animatedly with each other the whole way, and as frankly 
kind to me as if I had been of their kin. 

Our way lay through some of the best streets of ViUette, 
streets brightly lit, and far more hvely now than at high 
noon. How brilliant seemed the shops 1 How gUd, gay. 
||Lnd abundant flowed the tide of life along the broad pave- 
linentl While I looked, the thought of the Hue Fossette 
came across me-^of the walled-ln garden and school- 
house, and of the dark, vast ' classes,' where, as at this very 
hour, it was my wont to wander all solitary, gating at the 
* stars through the high, blindless windows, and Ustening to 
the distant voice of the reader in the refectory, monoton- 
ously exercised upon the ' lecture pieuse/ Thus must I soon 
i again hsten and wander ; and this shadow of the future 
stole with timely sobriety across the radiant present 

By this time we had got into a current of carriages all 
[ tending in one direction, and soon the front of a great 
I illuminated building blazed before us. Of what I should see 
: within this building I had, as before intimated, but an im- 
perfect idea; for no place of pubhc entertainment had it 
ever been my lot to enter yet. 

We alighted under a portico where there was a great 
bustle and a great crowd, but I do not distinctly remember 
further details, until 1 found myself mounting a majestie 
staircase wide and easy of ascent, deeply and softly carpeted 
with crimson, leading up to great doors closed solemnly^ and 
whose panels were also crimson -clothed. 

I hardly noticed by what magic these doors were made to 
roll back— Dr. John managed these points ; roll back they 
did, however, and within was disj^bsfid a hall— grand, wide, 
and high, whose sweeping circular walls, and domed boUow 
eeiUng, seemed to me all dead gold (thus with nice art wag 
it Btauied}i reUeved by cornicing, fluting, and garlaodry, 




THE CONCERT 



347 



Kba) 



ght, like gold burnished, or snow-white, like 

; or white &Qd gold mingled in wreaihs of gilded 

res and spotless lilies : wherever drapery hang« wherevtir 
sta were spread, or cushions plaoed, the sole colour 
ployed was deep crimson. Peodenl from the dome, 
led a mass that dazzled me - a mass, I thought^ of rock- 
[, sparkling with facets, streaming with drops, abLa/.e 
with stars, and gorgeously tinged with dews of gems dissolved*^ 
or fragments of rainbows shivered. It was only the ehan- 
deUer, reader, but fSr -me tl- ssgmed the work of eastern 
iii : I almost looked to see if a huge, dark, cloudy hand — 
at of the Slave of the Lamp— were not hovering in the 
lustrous and perfumed atmosphere of the cupola, guarding 
its wondrous treasure. 

We moved on — I was not at all conscious whither— but 
al some turn we suddenly encountered another party ap- 
proaching from the opposite direction. I just now stre that 
group, as it flashed upon me for one moment. A handsome 
middle-aged lady in dark velvet ; a gentleman who might be 
hei: son — the best face, the finest figure, I thought, I had ever 
seen ; a third person in a pink dress and black lace mantle. 
I noted them all— the third person as well as the other 
two — and for the fraction of a moment believed them all 
strangers, thus receiving an impartial impression of tbeir 
appearance. But ibe impi'es&ion was hardly felt and not 
fixed, before the consciousness that 1 faced a great mirrort 
fining a compartment between two pillars, dispeUed it : 
the party was our own party. Thus for the first, and per- 
haps only time in my Ufe, I enjoyed the ' giftie * of seeing 
myself as others see me. No need to dweU on the result. 
I& brought a jar of discord, a pang of regiet; it was not 
flattering, yet, after all, 1 ought to be thankful ; it might have 
been worse. 

At last, we were seated in places commanding a good 
general view of that vast and dazzling, but warm and cheer- 
ful halL Already it was filled, and filled with a splendid 
iblage* I do not know that the women were very 



Q^ 



VILLETTE 






beautiful, but their dresses were so perfect : aud foreiguei 
even suob as are ungraceful in domestic pniracyf seem vat 
possess the art of appearing graceful in public : however 
blunt and boisterous those every-day and home movements 
connected with peignoir and papillotes^ there is a slide, a 
bendi a carriage of the head and armsi a mien of the mouth 
and eyes, kept nicely in reserve for gala use — always broughi 
out with the grande toilette, and duly put on with tbi 
* parure/ 

Some fine forms there were here and there, modela of a j 
peculiEur style of beauty ; a style, I think, never seen in 1 
England ; a solid, firm-set, sculptural style. These shapea^H 
have no angles : a caryatid in marble is almost as flexible ;^H 
a Phidian goddess is not more perfect in a certain still and 1 
stately sort. They have such features as the Dutch painters 
give to their madonnas: Low-Country classic features, 
^regular but round,, straight but stolid ; an d for their de^pth of 
)pxpressionless calm, of passionless peaceL_apolar snow^field" 
iould alone offer a type. Women of thisorder need no 
ornament, and they seldom wear any ; the smooth hair, 
closely braided, supplies a sufficient contrast to the smootbi 
cheek and brow ; the dress cannot be too simple ; the 
rounded arm and perfect neck require neither bracelet n 
chain. 

With one of these beauties I once had the honour emd ra] 
ture to be perfectly acquainted : the inert force of the dee 
settled love she b ore herself , was wonderful ; it could onl; 
be surpassed by her proud impotency to care for any othei 
living thing. Of blood, her cool veins conducted no flow 
placid lymph fllled and almost obstructed her arteries. 

Such a.^uno as I have described sat full in our view — a' 
sort of mark Toii^ll eyes, and quite conscious that so she 
was, but proof to the magnetic influence of gaze or glance 
cold, rounded, blonde, and beauteous as the white columi 
capitalled with gilding, which rose at her side. 

Observing that Dr. John's attention was much drawn 
towards her. I entreated him in a low voice ' for the love of 



ihe 





THE CONCERT 



1U9 



I to shield well his heart. You need not fall in love ^ 
' wiih thai lady/ 1 said, ' beoause, I t«ll you beforehand, \ 
yoQ might die at her feet, and she would not lore you J 

*Very weH' said he, *and how do you know that the 
spectacle of her grand insensibility might not with me he the 
slioiigest stimulus to homage ? The sting of desperation is, 
I think* a wonderful irritant to my emotions : but ' (shrugging 
his shoaldcTB) * you know nothing about these things ; 1*11 ^ 
adireas myeelf to my mother. Mamma, I*m in a dangerous 

,^ As if that interested me 1 ' said M>s. Bretton. 

Alas I the cruelty of my lot I * responded her son* 
lev^ oian had a more unsentimental mother than mine : 
she ueTer seems to think that such a calamity can befall 
ber a« a daughter-in-law.' 

'If I don't, it is not for want of having that same 

calamity held over my head : you have threataned me with r 

St for the last ten years. " Mamma, I am going to be married I 

t " was the cry before you were well out ol jackets;^ 

* But. mother, one of these days it will he realised. AU 
of a sudden, when you think you are most secure, I shall go 
forth Uke Jacob or Esau, or any other patriar ch, and take 
rae a wife : perhaps of these which are (he daughters of iba 
lasd.' 

• At your peril, Joh n Graham t that is all.* 
' This mother ot nune means me to be an old bachelor .\ 

What a jealous old lady it is I But now just look at that \ 
^lendid creature in the pale blue satin dress, and hair of i 
paler brown, with *' reflets satln^s '* as those of her robe. 
Would you not feel proud, mamma, if I were to bring that 
home some day, and introduce her to you as Mrs. 

ttloD^ junior ? ' 

' Yoa will bring no goddess to La Terrasse : that little 
will not contain two mistressUH ; eii|p^ally if the 
aeoood be of the height, bulk, and ciroumference of that 
mighty doll in wood and wax, and kid and satin.' 



^r she 
ber a 

calaj 
si for 

_B00« 

miorth 



350 



VILLETTE 



Mamma, she would fill 



your 



blue chair so admirabTyl 

aurper ! a rueful j 



lad 

I 



* Fill my chair? I defy the foreign u 
chair should it be for her : but hush, John Graham ! Holdl 
your tongue, and use your eyes.' 

During the above gkirmiBh, the hall, which, I had 
thought, seemed full at the entrance, continued to admiii 
party after party, until the semicircle before the atag^l 
presented one dense mass of heads, sloping from floor 
ceiling. The stage, too, or rather the wide temporar}^ plal^' 
form, larger than any stage, desert half an hour since, wa« 
now overflowing with life ; round ,two grand pianos, placed 
aboutjhejceatre, a whitgJbfikj^tjro^^ o g^flB. the pupils of 
the Conserva toire, had noiselesslyB oureST Fhad nolaced 
their gathering, while Graham and his mother were 
engaged in discussing the heUe in blue satin, and had 
watched with interest the process of arraying and marshall- 
ing them. Two gentlemen, in each of whom I recogniddd^^ 
an acquaintance, officered this virgin troop. One, ail^| 
artistic-looking man, bearded, and with long hair, was a 
noted pianiste, and also the first music- teacher in Villette,^^ 
he attended twice a week at Madame Beck's pensionnat^ '^'^l 
give lessons to the few pupih who86 parents were rich 
enough to allow their daughters the privilege of his instruc- 
tions : his name was M. Josef Emanuel, and he was half- 
brother to M. Paul : which potent personage was now 
visible in the pSrsbn of the second gentleman, 

M. Paul amused me ; I smiled to myself as I wai 
him, he seemed so thoroughly in his element — stani 
conspicaous in presence of a wide and grand assemhla^i 
arranging, restraining, overawiog about one hum 
young ladies. He was, too, so perfectly i n eyne gl 
energetic, so intent, and, above all, so absolute : and y^ 
what business bad he there? What had he to do wi 
music or the Conservatoire —he who could hardly distin- 
guifth one note from another ? I knew that it was his loi? 
of display and authority which had brought him there- 
love not offensive, only because so nwye. It presently 



THE CONCERT! 



961 



r 



me obviouB that his brother, M. Josef ^ was as much 
under his oontrol as were the girla themselves. Never was 
Buoh a little hawk of a man as that M, Paul ! Ere long, 
some noted singers and musicians dawned upon the plati- 
form ; as these stars rose, the comet-like professor set, 
iQsixfferable to him were all notorieties and celebrities : 
Inhere he could not ootshinei he fled. 

And now sdl was prepared : hut one compartment of the 
ball waited to be filled — a compartment covered with crim- 
son, like the gravid staircase and doors, furnished with 
stuffed and cushioned benches^ ranged on each side of two 
regal chairs, placed solemnly under a canopy. 

A signal was given ^ the doors rolled back, the assembly 
stood up, the orchestra burst out, and, to the welcome of a 
choral burst, enter the King, the Queen, the Court of 

bassecour. . 

Till then, I had never set eyes on living king or queen ; 
It may consequently be conjectured how I strained my 
powers of vision to take in these specimens of European 
royalty. By whomsover majesty is beheld for the first 
time, there will always be experienced a vague surprise 
bordering on disappointment, that the same does not appear 
seated, en permanence, on a throne, bonneted with a crown, 
and fomisbedi as to the hand, with a sceptre. Looking out 
for a king and queen, and seeing only a middle-aged soldier 
and a rather young lady, I felt half cheated, half pleased. 

Well do I recall that King— a man of fifty, a little bowed, 
a Uttla grey : there was no face in all that assembly which 
resembled his. I had never read, never been told anything 
of his nature or his habits : and at first the strong hiero- 
glyphics graven as with iron stylet on his brow, round his 
eyes, beside his mouth, puzzled and baffled instinct. Ere 
long, however, if I did not hum, at least I felt, the meaning 
of those characters written without hand. There sat a silent^^y 
sufferer— a nervous, melancholy man. Those eyes had J 
looked on the visits of a certain ghost— had long waited the 
comings and goings of that strangest spectre, Hypochondria. 



lYILLETTB 



Perhaps he saw her now on that stage, over against hlBv 
amidst all that brilliant throng. Hypochondria has thai 
wonti to rise in the midst of thousands — dark as Doom, 
p^ as Malady, and well-nigh strong as Death, Her 
comrade and victim thinks to be happy one moment — ' Not I 
BO,' says she ; ' I come/ And &he freezes the blood in hia 
heart, and beclouds the light io his eye. ! 

Borne might say it was the foreign crown pressing 
the King's brows which bent them to that peculiar and 
painiul fold ; some mighL quote the effects of early bereave- 
ment. Something there might be of both these ; but these 
as embittered by that darkest foe of humanity — co BBtitnt loiial 
melancholy. The Queen, his wife, knew this : it seemed to 
me, the reflection of her hu&band's grief lay, a s^uhduinfj^d 
shadow, on her own benignant face, A mild, though iful«,^| 
graceful woman that princess seemed ; not beautiful, not at 
all like the women of solid charms and marble feelings de- 
scribed a page or two since. Hers was a somewbat stendar 
shape ; her features, though distinguished enough, were too 
suggestive of reigning dynasties and royal lines to give uq- 
quaiilied pleasure. The expression clothing that profile was 
agreeable in the present instance ] but you could not avoid 
connecting it with remembered efiigies, where similar lines 
appeared, under phase, ignoble; feeble, or eensaal, or 
cunniog, as the case might be. The Queen*a eye, however, 
was her own ; and pity, goodoees. sweet sympathy, blessed 
it with divinest light. She moved no sovereign, but a lady 
— kind, loving, elegant. Her Uttle son, the Prince of 
Labassecour, a young Duo de Dindonneau, aceompaiiiad 
her : he leaned on bis mother's knee ; and, ever and anon, 
in the course of that evening, I saw her observant of the 
monarch at her side, coiiiicious of his beclouded abe4raotifiD» < 
and desirous to rouse him from it by drawing his attentiofi ' 
I to their son. She often bent her head to listen to the boy's 
Iremarks, and would then smilingly repeat them to his sm. 
The moody King started, listened, smiled, hut invariaUy 
relapsed as soon as his good angel ceased speaking. Full 




THE CONOERT 



253 




mournful and significant was that spectacle 1 Not the lead 
80 because, both for the aristocracy and the honest 
'bourgeoisie of Labassecour, its peculiarity seemed to be 
wholly invisible : I could not discover that one soul present 
was either struck or touched. 

With the King and Queen had entered their court, com- 
prising two or three foreign ambassadors ; and with them 
oune the ^lite of the foreigners then resident in Villette. 
eoe took possession of tlie crimson benches ; the ladies 
seated ; most of the men remained standing : their 
raiak, lining the background, looked like a dark foil to 
jhe splendour displayed m front. Nor was this splendour 
without varying light and shade and gradation : the middle 
distance was filled with matrons in velvets and satins, in 
plumes and gems ; the benches in the foreground, to the 
Quaen's right hand, seemed devoted exclusively to young 
girls, the flower — perhaps, I should rather say, the bud— of 
Villette aristocracy. Here were no jewels, no head-dresses, 
no velvet pile or silken sheen : purity, simplicity, and aerial 
grace reigned in that virgin band. Young heads simply 
braided, and fair forms (I was going to write sylph forms, 
but that would have bean quite untrue : several of these 
' jennes filles,* who had not numbered more than sixteen or 
seventeen years, boasted contours as robust and solid as 
those of a stout Englishwoman of five-and-twenty) — fair 
forms robed in white, or pale rose, or placid blue, suggested 
thoughts of heaven and a/ngels. I knew a couple, at Least, 
of these ' rose et blanche ' specimens of humanity. Here 
was a pair of Madame Beck's iate pupils^ Mesdemoiselles 
Mathilde and Ang^lique : pupils who, during their last year 
at school, ought to have been in the first class, but whose 
brains never got them beyond the second division. In 
English, they had been under my own charge, and hard 
work it was to get them to translate rationally a page of 
}The Vicar of Wakefield/ Also during three months I had 
of them for my vis-^-vis at table, and the quantity 
of household bread, butter, and stewed fruit ^he would 



wor 



\ 



351 



VILLETTE 



habitually consume at ' second dejeuner * was a real worM*i 
wonder— to be exceeded only by the fact of her actually' 
pocketing slices she could not eat* Here be truths— whole* 
some truths, too. h 

I knew another of these s eraphs — the prettiest, or, at atiy^ 
rate, the least demure and hypocriGcal-looking of the lot : 
she was seated by the daughter of an Enghsh peer, alao an 
honest, though haugh^ty-looyng girl : both had entered in 
the suite of the British emSassy" She {i.e. my acquaintance) 
had a slight, pliant figurBi not at all Uke the forms of the 
foreign damsels : her hair, too> was not close-braided^ like a 
shell or a &kull-cap of satin ; it looked ^t^ hair, and waved 
from her head, long, curled, and flowing. She chatted away 
volubly, and seemed full of a hght-headed sort of satisfacUoa^ 
with herself and her position. I did not look at Dr. firetton ;m 
but I knew that he, too, saw G^aa^r a Fans hawe : ha had 
become so quiet, he answered so brieflylis motti'er 's remarks, 
he so often suppressed a sigh. Why should b^^^jgh ? He 
had confessed a taste for the p"™iiit ^f love u nder diffi- 
culties ; here was fuU gratification for that taste. His lady-^ 
love beamed upon him from a sphere above his own : hdH 
could not come near her ; he was not certain that lie ooukl 
win from her a look, I watched to see if she would so far 
favour him. Our seat was not far from the crimson benches ; 
we must inevitably be seen thence, by eyes ao quick and 
roving as Miss Fanshawe's. and very soon those optics of 
hers were upon us : at least, upon Dr. and Mrs. Bretton. I 
kept rather in the shade and out of sights not wishing to be 
i mmed iately recognised : she looked quite steadily at Dr, 
Johnrand then sBSTaiaed a glass to examine his mother ; a 
minute or two afterwards she laughingly whispered her 
neighbour ; upon the performance commencing, her ramhUng 
attention was attracted to the platform. 

On the concert I need not dwell ; the reader woold not 
care to have my impressions thereanent : and, indeed, it 
would not be worth while to record them, as they were the 
impressions of an ignorance orasse. The young ladies of the 




THE CONCERT 



966 



Conservatoire y being very much (righteaed, made r&ther a 
tremulous exhibition on the two grand pianos. M. Josef 
Emanuel stood by them while they played ; but he had not 
the tact or influence of his kinsman, who, under similar 
circumstances, would certainly have compelled pupils of hda 
to demean themselves with heroism and self-possession. 
M. Paul would have placed the hysterio debutantes between 
two fires— terror of the audience, and terror of himself — and 
would have inspired them with the courage of desperation, 
by making the latter terror iDcomparably the greater : M. 
Josef could not do this. 

Following the white muslin pianistes came a fine, full- 
grown, sulky lady m white satin. S^e sang. Her singing 
just affected me like the tricka of ^conjurer : I wondered 
bow she did it — how she made her voice ran up and down, 
and cut such marvellous capers ; but a simple Scotch melody, 
played by a rude street minstrel, has often moved me more 
deeply. 

Afterwards stepped forth a gentleman^ who, bending his 
body a good deal in the direction of the King and Queen, 
and 'frequently approaching his white-gloved hand to the 
region of his heart, vented a bitter outci^ against a certain 
' fausse IsabeUe/ I thought he seemed especially to solicit 
the Queen s sympathy ; hut, unless I am egregioualy mis- 
takeOi her Majesty lent her attention rather with the calm 
of courtesy than the earnestness of interest. This gentle- , 
man'fl state of mind was very harrowing, and I was glad/ 
whan he wound up his musical exposition of the same, G^"* 

Some rousing choruses Btmck me as the best part of the 
evening's entertairmient. There were present deputies from 
all the best provincial choral societies; genmne, barrel 
shaped, native Labassecouriens, These worthies gave voice 
without mincing the matter : their hearty exertions had at 
least this good result — the ear drank thence a satisfpug 
sense of power. 

Through the whole performance — timid instrumental 
duets» conceited vocal solos, sonorous, bmss-lunged choruses 



cf 



A (fi* 



256 



VILLETTE 



— my attention gave but one eye and one ear to the a' 
the other being permanently retained in the service of Dr.' 
Bretton : I could not forget him, nor cease to question how 
he was feeling, what he was thinking, whether be was 
amused or the contrary. At last he spoke. 

' And how do yon like it all, Lucy ? You are very quiet,' 
he said, in his own cheerful tone. 

* I am quiet,' I said, * because I am so very, very much 
interested : not merely with the music, but with everything 
about me.* 

He then proceeded to make some further remarks, with 
BO much equaniroity and composure that 1 began to think 
he had really not seen what I had seen, and I whispered- 
• Miss Pans^aFti is ^^^^ ' i^B,7e you noticed her ? * 

* Oh,' yes I and I observed that you noticed her too ? * 

* Is she come with Mrs. Cholmondeley, do you think? * 
' Mrs, Cholmondeley is there with a very grand partyJ 

Yes ; Ginevra was in fier train ; and Mrs. Cholmondele; 

was in Lady 'b train, ivho was in the Queen's train. If 

this were not one of the compact little minor European 
courts, whose very formalities are little more impoaing than 
familiarities, and whose gala grandeur is but homeliness in 
Sunday array, it would sound all very fine/ 

* Ginevra saw you, I tliink ? ' 

'So do I think so. I have had my eye on hor aeversl 
times since you withdrew yours ; and I have had the honour 
of witnessing a little spectacle which you were spared. 

I did not ask what ; I waited voluntary infanxuilio&« 
which was presently given. 

' Miss Fanshawe/ he said, 'has a companion with 
a lady of rank. I happen to know Lady Sara by sight 
noble mother has called me in professionally. She is a 
girl, but not in the least insolent, and I doubt whethi 
Ginevra will have gained ground in her estimation by making 
a butt of her neighbours/ 

* What neighbours ? * 

* Merely myself and my mother* As to me, it is alJ 



I 



proudH 
[lethe^B 




THE CONCERT 



867 



^you 
Hcasl 



Kb. 



natural: noihiog, I suppose, can be fairer game than the 

young bourgeois doctor ; but my mother 1 I never saw her 

iculed before. Do you know, the curling lip, and sar- 

tioally Levelled glass thus directed, gave me a most cuxioUB 

«eQsatioD ? ' 

* Think nothing of it, Dr. John : it is not worth while. If 
Ginevra were in a giddy mood, as she is eminently to-night, 
she would make no scruple of laughing at that mild, pensive 
Queen, or that melancholy Kiug. She is not actuated by 
malevolence, but sheer, heedless folly. To a feather-brained 
Bohool-girl nothing is sacred/ 

' But you forget : I have not been accustomed to look on 
Miss Fanshawe iu the lighi of a feather-brained school-girl. 
Waa she not my divinity ^ — the angel of my career ? ' 

* Hem ! There was your mistake/ 

•To speak the honest truth, without any false rant 
or awiim ed romance, there actually was a momenta six 
months ago, when I thought her di vine . Do you re- 
member our conversation about 'tne presents? I w^as 
not quite open with you in discussing that subject : 
the warmth with which you took it up amused me. 
By way of having the full benefit of your lights, I 
allowed you to think me more in the dark than I really 
was. It waa that test of the presents which first proved 
Ginevra mortal StiU her beauty retained its fascination : 
three days—three hours ago, I was very much her slave* 
a she passed me to*night, triumphant in beauty, my 
^motions did her homage; but for one luckless sneer, I 
lould yet be the humblest of her servants. She might 
have scoffed at rne, and, while wounding, she would not 
Booo have alienated me : through myself, she could not in 
ten years have done what, in a moment, she has done 
through my mother/ 

He held his peace awhile. Never before had I seen so 
much fire, and so little sunshine in Dr. John's blue eye as 
|ttst now. 

' Lucy/ he recommenced^ ' look well at my mother, and 



V^ 



SS8 



VILLETTE 



aod 



sayi without fear or favour, in what light she now ap] 
to you/ 

* As she always does — an EDghsh, middle-class gentle 
woman; weU, though gravely dreaaeflr^ nibi t mm y in 
depeodent of pretence^ coogtitutionally composed and 
cheerful/ 

* So she seems to me — bless her 1 The merry may lai 
with mamma, but the weak only will laugh at her. She si 
not be ridiculed, with my consent, at least; nor without my 
—my scorn— my antipathy — my ' 

He stopped : and it was time — for he was getting excited 
1 — ^more it seemed than the occasion warranted, I did not 
Ithen know that he had witnessed double cause for dis- 
/satisfaction with Miss Fanshawe. The glow of his oozn- 
plexioD, the expansion of his nostril, the bold cui've which 
disdain gave his well-cut under-lip, showed him in a new 
and striking phase. Yet the rare passion of the constitution- 
ally suave and serene is not a p leasant spectacle ; nor did 
1 like the sort of vindiotive thrill which passed throogh his 
strong young framed ~ i 

* Do I frighten you, Lucy ? * he asked. f 

* I cannot tell why you are so very angry/ 

* For this reason/ he muttered in my ear. * Ginevim 
iifiithe£apttreangel, nor a pure-minded woman/ 

* Nonsense 1 yod uiagg^tSte: she has no great harm 
her/ 

* Too much for me. / can see where you are blind. Now 
dismiss the subject. Let me amuse myself by teasttig 
mamma : I will assert that she is flagging* Mamma, pray 
rouse yourself/ 

'John, I wOl certainly rouse you if you are not belter 
oonducted. Will you and Lucy be silent, that I may hmt 
the singing ? ' 

They were then thundering in a chorus, under ooTer o( 
which all the previous dialogue had taken place. 

' You hear the singing, mamma I Now, 1 will wager 
studs, which are genuine, against your paste brooch ' 



4 



THE CONCEKT 



259 



* My paste brooch, Graham ? Profane boy 1 you know 
that it is a stone of value/ 

* Oh i that is one of your Bupdrstitions ; you were cheated 
in the business/ 

' I am cheated in fewer things than you imagine. How 
do you happen to be acquainted uith young ladies of the 
oourt, John ? I have observed two of them pay you no small 
attention during the last half-hour/ 

' I wish you would not observe them/ 

' Why not ? Because one of them satirically levels her 
eyeglass at me ? She is a pretty, silly girl ; but are you 
apprehensive that her titter will "dtscomtit the old lady ? * 

* The sensible, admirable old lady I Mother, you are 
better to me than ten wives yet/ 

* Don't be demonstrative, John, or I shaE faint, and 
you will have to carry me out : and if that burden were laid 
upon you, you would reverse your last speech, and exclaim, 
*' Mother^ ten wives could hardly be worse to me than you 
arer*' 



^" The concert over, the Lottery ' au b6n6fice des pauvres ' 
came next : the Interval between was one of general relaxa- 
tion, aud the pleasantest imaginable stir and commotion. 
The white flock was cleared from the platform; a busy 
throng of gentlemen crowded it instead, making arrange- 
ments for the drawing ; and amongst these — the busiest of 
all — re -appeared that certain well-known form, not tall but 
active, ahve with the energy and movement of three tall 
men. How M. Paul did work t How he issued directions, 
and, at the same time, set his own shoulder to the wheel I 
Half-a*dozen assistants were at his beck to remove the 
pianos, Ac. ; no matter, he must add to their strength his 
own. The redundancy of his alertness was half-vexing, 
ur half -ludicrous : in my mind I both disapproved and derided 
^tnost of this fuss. Yet, in the midst of prejudice and 
annoyance, I could not, while watching, avoid perceiving a 
certain not disagreeable naivete in all he did and said ; nor 



&r 



v^l 



VILLBTTB 






d onl 



could I be blind to certain vigorous characteristics of UU 
physiogDomy, rendered conapicoouB now by tbe contr&at 
with a throng of tamer faces : the deep, intent keenness of 
his eye, the power of his forehead, pale, broad, and full — tbe 
mobility of his most flexible mouth. He lacked the calm of 
force, bat ita moyement and its fire he signally possessed. 

Meantime the whole hall was in a stir ; most people 
and remained standing, for a change ; some walked aboul 
all talked and laughed. The crimson compartment 
sented a peculiarly animated scene. The long cloud 
gentlemen, breaking into fragments, mixed with the rainbow 
line of ladies ; two or three officer-like men approached the 
King and conversed with him. The Queen, leaving her 
chair, glided along the rank of young ladies, who all stood 
up as she passed ; and to each in turn I saw her vouchsafe 
some token of kindness — a gracious word* look, or smila 
To the two pretty English girls, Lady Sara and Ginevra 
Fanshawe, she addressed several sentences; as she lefV 
them, both, and especially the latter, seemed to glow aH 
over with g ratificat ion. They were afterwards accosted, 
by several ladies» and a little circle of gentlemen gathered, 
round them ; amongst these— the nearest to Ginevra— stood 
the Count da HamaU 

'This room is stifiingly hot/ said Dr* Bretton, rising 
with sudden impatience. ' Lucy— mother — will you come & 
moment to the frtsh air ? * 

*Go with him, Lucy/ said Mrs. Bretton. *I would 
rather keep my seal/ 

Willingly would I have kept mine alao» but Graham's 
desire mus t take precedence of my own ; X accompanied 
him. 

We found the night-air keen, or at least I did : he did 
not seem to feel it ; but it was very still, and the st&r-eown 
sky spread cloudless. I was wrapped in a fur aliawh We 
took some tunis on the pavement ; in passing under a Umpv 
Graham encountered my eye. 

* You look pensivei Lacy : is it on my account ? * 



THE CONCEBT 



261 



I 



* I waB only fearing that you were grieved/ 

* Not at all : so be of good cheer — as I am. Whenever 
I die» Lucy, my persuasion is that it will not be of heart- 
complaint. I may be stung, I may seem to droop for a 

.time, but no pain or malady of sentiment has yet gone 
■through my whole system. You have always seen me 
cheerful at home ? ' 

»* Generally.* 
' I am glad she laughed at my mother. I would not 
give the old lady for a dozen beauties. That sneer did me 
all the good in the world. Thank you, Miss Fanshawe ! ' 
I And he lifted his hat from his waved locks, and made a 
Itnock reverence. 

' Yes/ he said, ' I thank her. She has made me feel that 
nine parts in ten of my heart have always been sound as a 
bell# and the tenth bled from a mere puncture : a lance t- 
priok that will heal in a trice.* 

* You are angry just now, heated and indignant ; you 
fi will think and feel differently to-morrow.* 

H * / heated and indignant i You don't know me. On fche 
^ contrary, the heat is gone : I am as cool as the night — 
which, by the way, may be too cool for you. We will go 
hack: 
^^ * Dr. John, this is a sudden change.* 
^B ' Not it : or if it be, there are good reasons for it — two 
^nood reasons : I have told you one. But now let us re- 
^wter.' 

We did not easily regain our seats; the lottery was 
begun, and all was excited confusion ; crowds blocked the 
sort of corridor along which we had to pass : it was necessary 
^^o pause for a time. Happening to glance round — indeed I 
^Rkalf fancied I heard my name pronounced — I saw, quite 
near, the ubiquitous, the inevitable M. Paul. He was 
looking at me gravely and intently : at me, or rather at my 
pink dress — sardonic comment on which gleamed in his eye* 
Now it was his habit to indulge in strictures on the dress, 
. of the teachers and pupils, at Madame Beck's— a habit 



aA 



VTLLETTB 



which the former^ at leasts held lo be an ofiFensive imperti 
nence: a8 yet I had not Buffered from it— my sombre daily 
attire no t being calculated to attract notice. I was in no 
mood to permit any new encroachment to-night : rather 
than accept his banter, I would ignore his presence, and 
i accordingly steadily turned my face to the sleeve of Dr. 
John's coat ; finding in that same black sleeve a prospect 
more redolent of pleasure and comfort* more genial, more 
friendly, I thought, than was offered by the dark little Pro* 
fessor's unlovely visage. Dr. John seemed unconsciously 
to sanction the preference by looking down and saying in 
his kind voice, ' Ay, keep close to my side^ Lucy : these 
crowding burghers are no respecters of persons/ 

I could not, however, be true to myself. Yielding to 
some influence, mesmeric or otherwise— an influence un- 
welcome, displeasing, but effective— I again glanced round 
to see if M. Paul was gone. No, there he stood on the same 
spot, looking still, but with a changed eye ; he had penetrated 
my thought, and read my wish to shun him. The mocl 
but not ill-humoured gaze was turned to a swarthy frownj 
and when I bowed, with a view to conciliation, I got 
the stiffest and stt^rnest of nods in return, 

* Whom have you made angry, Lucy?' whispered Dr. 
Bretton, smiling. * Who is that savage- looking friend of 
yours ? ' 

* One of the professors at Madame Beck's : a very cross 
little man.' 

* He looks mighty cross just now : what have you done 
to him? What is it all about? Ah, Lucy, Lucy! tell me 
the meaning of this.* 

•No mysteiy, I assure you* M. Emanuel is very 
exigeant, and because I looked at your coat-sleeve, instead 
of curtseying and dipping to him, he thinks I have failed in 
respect/ 

*The little ' began Dr. John : I know not what more 

he would ha\e added, for at that moment I was nearly 
thrown down amongst the feet of the crowd M. Paol had 



-ated^ 
ikin|^H 
9wn,^| 
only^ 



THE CONCERT 



263 



rudely pushed past, and was elbowing his way with such 
utter disregard to the convenience and security of all 
around, that a very uncomfortahle pressure was the 
consequence. 

* I think he is what he himsell would oail ** m^ohant/* ' 
said Dr. Bretton. I thought so, too. 

Slowly and with difficulty we made our way along the 
passage* and at last regained our seats. The drawing of the 
lottery lasted nearly an hour ; it was an animating and 
amusing scene ; and as we each held tickets, we shared in 
the alternations of hope and fear raised hy each turn of the 
wheel. Two little girls, of five and six years old, drew the 
numbers : and the prizes were duly proclaimed from the 
platform. These prizes were numerous, though of small 
value. It so fell out that Dr. John and I each gained one : 
mine was a cigar-oase, his a lady*s head-dress— a most airy 
sort of blue and silver turban, with a streamer o! plumage 
^ one side, hke a snowy cloud. He was excessively anxious , 
pti make an exchange ; but 1 could no t he brought to hear 
reaeon, and to this day I keep ray cigar-case : it serves, 
when I look at it, to remind me of old times, and one happy 
evening. 

Dr. John, for his part, held his turban at arm's length 
between his finger and thumb, and looked at it with a 
mixture of reverence and erabarrassment highly provocative 

t laughter. The contemplation over, he was about coolly 
deposit the dehcate fabric on the ground between his 
t : he seemed to have no shadow of an idea of the treat- 
ment or stowage it ought to receive : if his mother had not 
oome to the rescue, I think he would finally have crushed it 
under his arm like an opera-hat; she restored it to the 
bandbox whence it had issued. 

Graham was quite cheerful all the evening, and his 
cheerfulness seemed natural and unforced. His demeanour 
his look, is not easily described ; there was something in it 
peculiar, and, in its way, original. I read in it no common 
xnaBtery of the passions, and a fund of deep and healthy 



\' 






'i! 



264 



VILLETTE 



strength which, without any exhausting effort, bore davm 

Disappointment and extracted her fang. His manner, now, 

reminded me of qualities I had noticed in him when pro- 

feasionajly engaged amongst the poor, the guilty, and the 

suffering, in the Basse-Villo : he looked at once determined. 

■enduring, and b we© t- tampered. Who could help Liking 

him ? He betrayed no weakness which harassed all your 

feelings with considerations as to how its faltering must be 

propped ; from kim broke no irritability which startled calm 

, and quenched mirth ; his lips let fall no caustic that burned 

j to the bone ; his eye shot no morose shafts that went eold* 

I and rusty, and venomed through your heart : beside him 

i was rest and refuge — M*ound him, fostering sunshine- 

And yet he bad neither forgiven nor forgotten Mjss 
Fanshawe. Once angered, I doubt if Dr. Bretton were to 
be soon propitiated— once alienated, whether he were ever 
to be reclaimed. He looked at her more than once; not 
stealthily or humbly, but with a movement of hardy, open 
observation. De Hamal was now a fixture beside her; 
Mrs. Cholmondeley sat near, and they and she were wholly 
absorbed in the discourse, mirth, and excitement, with 
which the crimson seats were as much astir as any plebeian 
part of the ball In the course of some apparently animated 
discussion, Ginevra once or twice lifted her hand and ann ; 
a handsome bracelet gleamed upon the latter. I saw thai 
its gleam flickered tn Dr. John's eye --quickening therein a 
derisive, ireful sparkle ; hoJjui^hed :— 

* I think,* be said, * I will lay my turban on my wonted 
altar of offerings ; there, at any rate, it would be certain to 
find favour : no grisette has a more facile faculty of accept* 
ance. Strange ! for, after all, I know she is a girl of family/ 
'But you don't know her education, Dr. John,* said I. 
* Tossed about all her life from one foreign school to another, 
she may justly proffer the plea of ignoranoe in extenuation 
of most of her faults. And then, from what she says, I 
believe her father and mother were brought up much as she 
has been brought up/ 



I 



h 



THE CONCEBT 




'I always understood she had do fortune; and once 
had pleasui'e m the thought,' said he. 

B, * She tells me/ I answered, ' that they are poor at home ; 

^she always speaks quite candidly on such points : you never 
find her lying, as these foreigners will often lie. Her parents 
have a large family : they occupy such a station and possess 
such connections as, in their opinion, demand display ; 
stringent necessity of circumstances and inherent thought- 
leftsnees of disposition oomhined, have engendered reckless 
unscrupulousness as to how they obtain the means m 
sustaining a good appearance. This is the state of things, 
and the only state of things, she has seen from childhood 
upwards.* 

' I believe it— and I thought to mould her to sonaething 
better : but, Lucy, to speak the plain truth, I have felt a 
new thing to-night, in looking at her and de Hatnal I felt 
it before noticing the impertinence directed at " •■oihen 
I saw a look interchanged between them inini' ifter 

their entrance, which threw a most miweioome light on mv 

■mini* 
' How do you mean ? You have been long awaj;^ of the 
flirtation they keep up ? * 

* Ay, flirtation I That might be an inAjcent girUsh wile 
to lure on the true lover ; but what x refer to was not 
flirtation : it was a look marking oiCit^nl and secret nnder- 
Btanding^t was neither girlish (^q^ innocent. No woman* 
were she as beautiful as Aphrodii^^ who could give or receive 

isuch a glancei shall ever be *aught in marriage by me : I 
would rather wed a paysanrt. i^ « short petticoat and high 
cap — and be sure that she s^^ honest/ 
I could not help smiling, 1 felt sure he now exaggerated 
the case ; Ginevra, I was certain, was honest enough, with 
all her giddiness. I hold him so. He shook his head, and 
said he would not be the pian to trust her with his honour. 

* The only thing/ si^ii [^ ' with which you may safely trust 
her- She would unscnipulously damage a husband's purse 
and property, recklesUy try his patience and temper : I don't 









266 



VILLETTB 



think she would breathe, or lat ftoother breathe, on his 
honour/ 

* You are becoming her advocate/ said he. ' Do yam 
wish me to resume my old chains ? * 

* No : I am glad to see you free, and trust that free you 
will long remain. Yet be» at the same time, just/ 

* I am so : just as Rhadajoianthus, Lucy. When once I 
am thoroughly estranged, I cannot help being severe. But 
^ook ! the King and Queen are risiug. I like that Queen : 
she has a sweet countenance. Mamma» too, is excessively 
tired; we shall never get the old lady home if we «tfty 
longer/ 

* I tired, John ? ' cried Mrs, Bretton, looking at least aa 
animated and as wide-awake as her son. * I would under* 
take to sit you out yet : leave us both here till morningp and 
we should see which would took the most jaded by sunrise/ 

' I should not hke to try the experiment ; for, in truth, 
mamma, you are the most unfading of evergreens and the 
freshest of matrons. It must then be on the plea of your 
soffi delicate nerves and fragile constitution that I found a 
petition'^/??; our speedy adjournment.' 

' Indolent young man ! You wish you were in bed, no 
doubt ; and I su^l^^e you must be humoured. There i» 
Lucy, too, looking q*iit« done up. For shame, Lucy I At 
your age, a week of eve^iogs-out w^ould not have made mo 
a shade paler Come a^&7t both of you ; and you may 
laugh at the old lady as nfich as you please ; but, for my 
part, I shall take charge of ihl bandbox and turban.* 

Which she did accordingly. I offered to relieve her, but 
was shaken off with kindly oont^c^pt : tny godmother opined 
that I had enough to do to ti^e care of myself. Noli 
standing on ceremony now, in th^ oudst of the gay ' oonJ 
fusion worse confounded ' succee'^g ^ the King tmi 
Queen's departure, Mrs, Bretton preceded us, and prompt] 
made us a lane through the crovC<l' Graham follow^ 
apostrophizing his mother as the mos^' flounahing griset; 
had ever been his good fortune to sea charged with 



» 



THE CONCERT 



a bandbox ; he also desired me to mark her affection Cor 
the sky-blue turban, and announced his conviction that she 
intended one day to wear it. 

The night was now very cold and very dark, but with 
little delay we found the carriage* Soon we were packed 
in it, as warm and as snug as at a fire-side ; and the drive 
home was, I think^ still pleasanter than the drive to the 
concert. Pleasant it was, even though the coachman — 
.liaving spent in the shop of a * marchand de vin * a portion of 
the time we passed at the concert — drove us along the dark 
and sohtary chauss^ far past the turn leading down to La 
Terrasse ; we, who were occupied in talking and laughing, 
not noticing the aberration till, at last, Mrs. Bretton 
intimated that, though she bad always thought the ch&teau 
a retired spot, she did not know it was situated at the world's 
end, as she declared seemed now to be the case, for she 
believed we had been an hour and a half en route, and had 

»iiot yet taken the turn down the avenue. 
Then Graham looked outi and perceiving only dim- 
spread fields, with unfamiliar rows of pollards and limes 
ranged along their else invisible sunk fences, began to con- 
jecture how matters were, and calling a halt and descending, 
he mounted the box and took the reins himself. Thanks to 
him, we arrived safe at home about an hour and a half 
beyond our time. 

Martha had not forgotten us ; a cheerful fire was burning, 
ODd a neat supper spread in the dining-room : we were 
glad of both. The winter dawn was actually breaking before 
we gained our chambers. I took off my pink dress and lace^ 
mantle with happ ier feeling s than I had experienced inl 
putting them on " Not all, perhaps, who had shone brightm 
arrayed at that concert could say the same ; for not all ha^ • 
been satisfied with (^e^da^ip — with its calm oomfort and! ,i \ 
modest hope* ^_ . I J 






CHAPTEB XXI 

BBACTION 

Yet three days, and then I must go baok to the penmonnai, 
I almoet oumbered the moments of these days upon the 
clock ; fain would I have retarded their flight ; but thej 
glided by while I watched them : they were already gome 
while I yet feared their departure, 

* Lucy will not leave us to-day,* said Mrs. BreUou, 
ooaziDgly at breakfast ; * she knows we can procure a secood 
respite/ 

' I would uot ask for one if I might have it for a word,* 
eaid I. ' I long to get the good-by over, and to be settled in 
the Hue Fossette again. I must go this moroing : I must 
go directly ; my truuk is packed and corded.* 

It appeared, however, that my going depended upon ^ 
Graham ; he had said he would accompany me, and il so -^ 
fell out that he was engaged all day, and only returned home -^ 
at dusk. Then ensued a little combat of words. Mrs. ^- 
Bretton and her son pressed me to remain 'one night more. - — 

j I could have cried, so irritated and eager was I to be gone. ^ 

' I longed to leave them as the criminal on the scaffold loogs^^^ 
\ for the axe to descend ; that is, I wished the pang over. --^ 
\^ow much I wished it, they could not tell. On these pomtSt 
mine was a state of mind out of their experience. 

It was dark when Dt\ John handed me from the > 
at Madame Beck's door. The lamp above was lit ; it : 
a November drijszle, as it had rained all day : the lampltghl 
gleamed on the wet pavement. Just such a night w^as it aa 



\ 




I 



^ 



RBACnON 



O 



269 



QuU on which, oot a ye&r ago, I had first stopped at this 
viei7 threahold ; jusi similar was the scene, I remembered 
the very shapes of the paving-stones which I had noted with 
idle eydi while, with a ihick-be&ting heart, I waited the un- 
elostng of thai door al which I stood— a solitary and a y^ 
soppU&nt. Od that night, too, I had briefly met him whofU^ 
now aiood with me. Had I ever reminded him of thali 
f«oociilre» or eicplained it? I had not, nor ever felt tbej 
inclination to do so : it was a pleasant thought, laid hj in I 
aiy own mind, and best kept there. ' 

Oreliam rung the bell. The door was inslantly opeoed, 
for it was just that period of the evening when the half- 
boarders took their departure— consequently. Bosine was on 
the alert. 

* Don*t come in/ said I to him ; bat he stepped a moment 
into the well-Ughted vestibule. I had not wished him to see 
ibal * Ibe water stood in my eyes,* for his was too kind a 
nalnre ever to be needlessly shown such signs of sorrow. 
He always wished to heal^ — to relieve— when, physician as 
he was, neither cui« nor alleviation were, perhaps, in his 
power. 

' Keep up your courage, Lucy. Think of my mother 
weA myself as true friends* We will not forget you/ 

' Nor will I forget you, Br, John/ 

My trunk was now brought in. We had shaken hands ; 
he had turned to go, but be was not satisfied : he had not 
done or said enough to content his generous impulses. 

' Lacy/— stepping after me— 'shall you feel very solitary 
here?' 

•AtfirstlshaU/ 

" Well, my mother will soon call to see yoa ; and, mean- [ 
Ume, m tell you what III do. Ill write— yuat any cbeerfol ] 
Doosense that comes into my head — ^shall I ? * 

• Good, gallant heart ! ' thought I to mv'self ; but I shook 
my head, smiling, aud said, ' Never think of it : impose on 
yourBelf no such task. You, write to mt l^youll not have ^ 

tlBlfi/ 



VILLETTE 



W 



i**" 






\^ 



vX 



il find or make time. Good-by ! * 

^e. The heavy door craehQd to : tlie axe bad 



ig was experienced. 



myself 



think 



feel- 



iwaUowiog 

^-r« as if they had beeD wine — I passed to Madame'a 
sitting-room to pay the necessary visit of ceremony and 
respect. She received me with perfectly well -acted cordiality 
—was even demonstrative, though brief, in her welcome. 
In ten minutes I was dismissed. From the salle k manger 
I proceeded to the refectory, where pupils and teachers were 
now assembled for evening study : again I had a weloontie, 
and one not, I think, quite hollow. That over, I was free 
to repair to the dormitory. 

♦ And will Graham really write ? ' I questioned, as I sank 
tired on the edge of the bed. 

Reason, coming stealthily up to me through the twilighi 
of that long, dim chamber, whispered sedately — ' He roa; 
write once. Bo kind is Ms nature, it may stimulate him f^ 
once to make the effort. But it cannot be continued — it ma 
not be repeated. Great were that folly which should boili 
on such a promise — insane that credulity which ahou 
mistake the transitory rain-pool, holding in its hollow on 
draught, for the perennial spring yielding the supply 
seasons/ 

I bent my head : I sat thinking an hour longer. Beasor:^ 
still whispered me, laying on my shoulder a withered han<i> 
and frostily touching my ear with the chill blue lips of eld. 

* U,' muttered she, * if he ihrnild write, what then? D«f 
you meditate pleasure in replying ? Ah, fool I I warn you ! 
Brief be your answer. Hope no delight of heart — no 
indulgence of intellect : grant no expansion to feeling— give 
holiday to no single faculty : dally with no friendly ^x> 
change : foster no genial intercommunion.* 

' But I have talked to Graham and you did not chidej { 
pleaded. * 

'No, said she, 'I needed not Talk for you b fpoA 
discipline. You oonverae imperfectly. While yon speak. 




^.'' 






REACTION 



& 



w&re «an be no oblivion of inferiority — no encoaragemeni 
to delusion: pain, privation, penury stamp your 
lan^age . . .* 

*But/ I again broke in, 'where the bodily preeence is 
^weak^;aja<i the speech contemptible, surely there cannot be 
erroT^in making written language the medium of belter 
utterance than faltering lips can achieve ? ' 

Reason only answered, * At your peril you cherish that 
idea, or suffer its influence lo animate any writing of 
yours I* >> l^ 

' But if I feel, may I mt>er express ?' \\^ ^ J 

* Never I * declared Reason. *^ 

I groaned under her bitter sternness. Never— never — 

oh^ hard word ! This hag, this Reason, would not lei me 

look up, or smile, or hope ; she could not rest unless 1 were 

altogether crushed, cowed, broken-in, and broken down. 

According to her, I was bom only to work for a piece of 

^ bread, to await the pains of death, and steadily through all 

I life to4gspond. Reason mighrEe right; yet no wonder we 

' are glad at times to defy her, to rush from under her rod 

^and give a truant hour to Tjtia,£rinfl.t.iAp-^A^r soft, bright foe, 

' swee tHelp,. our^dmn e Hope ^ We shall and must break 
^rvals, despite the terrible revenge that awaits 
OQT return. Reason is vindictive as a devil: for me efae 
waa always f^^'^narr** ^ ^^ ^ stepmother . If I have obeyed 
her it haa chiefly been with the obedience of fear, not of 
love. Long ago I should have died of her ill-usage : her 
slinl. her ohillt her barren board, her icy bed, her savage, 
ceaseless blows ; but for that kindfir^^ower who holds my 
eeciet and sworn allegiance. Often has Reason turned me 
ool JMHight, in mid-winter, on col d^ sno w, flinging for 
sostflGsice the gnawed bone dogs had forsaken : sternly 
has she vowed her stores held nothing more for me — harshly 
deoied my right to ask better things. . . . Then, looking up, 
have I seen in the sk> la hea^ amidst circling stars, of which 
the midmost and the brightest lent a ray sympathetic and 
altent* A sprnt^softer and better than Human Reason, baa 






272 



VILLETTE 



I 



descended with quiet flight to the waste— bringing all round 
her a sphere of air borrowed of eternal summer ; brining 
perfume of flowers which cannot fade- — fragrance of trees 
whose fruit is life ; bringing breezes pure from a world , 
whose day needs no sun to lighten it. My hunger has this ^ 
good angel appeased with food, sweet and strange^ gathered 
amongst gleaning angels, garnering their dew- white hanresi 
in the first fresh hour of a heavenly day : tenderly has she 
assuaged the insufferable tears which weep away life itself 
— kindly given rest to deadly weariness — generously lent 
hope and impulse to paralyzed despair. Divine, com- 
passionate, succourable ^p^"^^*^^^^ ! When I bend the knee^^ 
to other thau God, it shall be at thywlute and winged feet,^^| 
beautiful on mountain or on plam! TSinples have been ' ' 
reared to the Sun - altars dedicated to the Moon, Oh, 
greater glory ! To thee neither hands build, nor lips con- 
/ seorate: but hearts, through ages, are faithful to thy 
1 worship. A' dweumg mou nasi, too wide for walls* too 
^ I high for dome— a temple whose floors are space— nt 

X/ \ whose mysteries transpire in presence, to the kindling, 

' % I harmony of worlds I 

g^^ ^^^ I Sovereign oomplete ! thou hadst, for endurance^ thy 
^ r/f / army of martyrs ; for achievement, thy chosen hand o(^ 
tf^ / worthies. Deity unquestioned, thine essence foils decay ! 

This daughter of Heaven remembered me to-night ; she 
\ saw me weep, and she came with comfort : * Sleep,* 
\ said. * Sleep, sweetly — I gild thy dreams ! ' """^ ^ 

She kept her word, and watched me through a night't^ 
rest ; but at dawn Beason relieved the guard. I awoki 
with a sort of start ; the rain was dashing against the panesJ 
and the wind uttering a peevish cry at intervals ; fl^night- ' 
lamp was dying on the black circular stand in the middle of 
the dormitory : day had already broken. How I pity tfc 
[ whom mental pcdn stuns instead of rouaing I This momii] 
the pang of waJdng snatched me out of bod like a hand wit 
H giant's gripe* How quickly I dressed in the cold of th« 
raw dawn I How deeply I drank of the ice-cold water 




sh<y| 




k 



BEACTION 



273 



my eanfe ( This was always my oordi&l, to which. like 
other drarn-drinkerB, I had eager recourse when unsetUed by 
chagrin. 

Er© long the hell rang its riveillSe to the whole school 
Bemg dreeeed, I descended alone to the refectory, where the 
8tov« was Ui and the air was warm ; throngh the rest of the 
house it was cold, with the nipping severit}' of a continental 
winter : though now but the beginning of November, a north 
wmd had thus early brought a wintry blight over Earope. 
I remember the black stoves pleased me little when I 
first came ; but now I began to associate with them a 
seose of comfort, and hked them^ as in England we like a 
fireside. 

Sitting down before this dark comforter, I presently fell 
into a deep argument with myself on Bfe and its chances, on 
Destiny and her decrees. My mind« calmer and stronger 
now than last night, made for itself some imperious rules» 
p^f^K; Kroner uudcr deadly penalties all weak retrospect bijil'l 
hh^ vy^i ; commanding a patient journeying through! 

the wilderness of the present, enjoini ng a r eliance on fwth — 
a watdiing of the cloud and pillar whiclTsubdtie wtilethey 
guide, and awe while they illumine^hushing the impulse 
to fond idolatry, checking the longing out-look for a far-off 
prcmbed land whose rivers are, perhaps, never to be reached 
gave in d}ing dreams, whose sweet pastures are to he 
viewed but from the desolate and sepulchral summit of a 
Nebo. 

By degrees, a oompoeite feeling of blended strength and ^ 
paui wotand itself wirily round my heart, sustained^ or at 
least restrained, its thtx>hbiQgs, and made me fit for the 
daj^s worlL I Lifted my head. 

Am I said before, I was sitting near the stove, let into the 
waU beorealh the refectory and the carr6, and thus sufficing 
to heat both apartments. Piercing the same wall, and 
ek»0 beaidd the stove, was a window, looking also into the 
earrft ; aa I looked up a cap-tassel, a brow, two eyes, filled 
A pane of that window ; th6ntBtf''^i26 of those two eyes hit 



374 



VILLETTB 



re OD m| ^ 



light against my own glance : they were w&tchmg cse^ 
hftd not till that moment known that lears were 
cheek, but I felt them now, 

\ This was a strange houBe« where no comer was 
' Hrom intrusion, where not a tear ooold be shed, nor 
'pondered, l^ ni a gpy wag at hnnd {*} n^tr^ anrJ j Q divine . And 
this new» this out-door, this male spy, what business had 
brought him to the premises at this unwonted hour ? Whai 
possible right had he to intrude on me thus ? No other 
professor would have dared to cross the carr6 before the 
class-bell rang- M. Emanuel took no account of hours nor 
of claim B : there was some book of reference in the first- 
class library which he had occasion to consult; be haA^ 
oome to seek it ; on his way he passed the refectory. I^^c 
was very much his habit to wear eyes before, behind, an(^3 
OD each side of him : he had seen me through the littli^H 
window— he now opened the refectory door, and there 
stood, 

' Mademoiselle, vous ^tes triste.* 

' Monsieur, j'en ai hien le droit/ 

'Vous ^tes malade de CGeur et d'humeur/ he parsuei^^ 
* You are at once mournful and mutinous. I see on yoc^u- 
cheek two tears which I know are hot as two sparks, aiwc/ 
salt as two crystals of the sea. While I speak you eye me 
strangely. Shall I tell you of what I am reminded whil^ 
watching you ? * 

' Monsieur, I shall be caUed away to prayers shortly ; my 
time for conversation is very scant and brief at this hc^ur— 
excuse ' 

•I excuse everything,' he interrupted; 'my raood is io 

meek, neither rebuff nor, perhaps, insult couM ruf9e ii 

You remind me, then, of a young she wild creature, new 

< caught, untamed, viewing with a mixture of fire and fear the 

I first entrance of the hreaker>in/ 

I Unwarrantable accost t<— rash and rude if addresfi^ to a 
1 pupil ; to a teacher inadmiasihle. He thought to provoke a 
' wiarm reply ; I had seen him vex the pasaionate to explodoQ 



d 



I 



BE ACTION 



97S 



before now. In nae his malice should find do gratification ; 
I sat siknt. 

'You look," said he, *like one who would snatch at a 
draught of sweet poison, and epurn wholesome bitters with 
disguat/ 

* Indeed, I never liked bitters ; nor do I believe them 
wholeflome. And to whatever is sweet, be it poison or food, 
you cannot, at least, deny its own delicious quality — 
sweetness. Better, perhapSt to die quickly a pleasant death, 
than drag on long a c harmle ss IU j^ 

* Yet/ said he. ' you should take your bitter dose duly and| 
daily, if I had the power to administer it ; and, as to the 
well-beloved poison, I would, perhaps, break the very cup I 
which held it/ ' 

I sharply turned my head away, partly because his 
presence utterly displeased me, and partly because I wished 
to shun qnestions : lest, in my present mood, the effort of 
answering should overmaster self-command. 

' Come/ said be, more softly, * tell me the truth — you 
grieve at being parted from friends — is it not so ? * 

The insinuating softness was not more acceptable than 
the inquisitorial curiosity. I was silent. He came into the 
room, sat down on the bench about two yards from me, and 
persevered long, and, for him, patiently, in attempts to draw 
me into conversation - attempts necessarily unavailing^ 
because I could not talk. At last I entreated to be let 
alone. In uttering the request, my voice faltered, my head 
sank on my arms and the table. I wept bitterly, though 
quietly. He sat a while longer. I did not look up nor 
speak, till the closing door and his retreating step told me 
that he was gone. These tears proved a relief. 

I had time to bathe my eyes before breakfast, and I 

r suppose I appeared at that meal as serene as any other 

' person : not, however, quite as jocund-looking as the young 

lady who placed herself in the seat opposite mine, fixed on 

me a pair of somewhat small eyes twinkling gleefully, and 

. iranUy stretched across the table a white hand to be shaken. 



J 



276 



VILLETTB 






Miss Fanshawe^s travels, gaieties^ and flirtations agreed i 
her mightily ; she had become quite plump^ her eheeks' 
looked as round as apples. I had seen her last in elegant 
evening attire. I don't know that she looked less okanning 
now in her Bchool-dress, a kind of careless peignoir of a dark* 
blue material, dimly and dingily plaided with black. I even 
think this dusky wrapper gave her charms a triumph ; en- 
hancing by contrast the fairness of her skin, the freshness of 
[\i^ ^ her bloom, the golden beauty of her tresses. 

* I am glad you are come hack, Timon^ .' said she. 
Timon was one of her dozen names for me. *You donV 
know how often I have wanted you in this dismal hole/ 

* Oh, have you? Then, of course, if you wanted me, yovi^ 
have something for me to do : stockings to mend, perhaps." 
I never gave Ginevra a minute's or a farthing's or 
disinterestedness. 

* Crabbed and crusty as ever T * said she. * I eit 
as much : it would not be you if you did not snub ons_^ 
But now, come, grandmother, I hope you like coflfee a^^ 
muchj and pistolets as little as ever : are you disposed terra 
barter ? ' 

* Take your ovra way.* 
This way consisted in a habit she had of making m€^^ 

convenient. She did not bke the morning cup of coffee ^^^ 
its flchool brewage not being strong or sweet enough *o sui^Hi 
her palate ; and she had an excellent appetite, like any olh«c?^ 
healthy school-girl, for the morning pistolets or rolls, wbic^ 
were new-baked and very good, and of which a oertain^ 
allowance was served to each. This allowance being mor9 
^ than I needed, I gave half to Ginevra ; never varying in my 
I preference, though many others used to covet the superfJuiiy ; 
: and she in return would sometimes give me a portion of her 
.coffee. This morning I was glad of the draught ; htinger I 
had none, and with thirst I was parched. I don't know] 
t why I chose to give my bread racier to Ginevra than 
[another; nor why, if two had to share the convenience 
lone drinking-vessel, as sometimes happened — for insi 



rljJ 
owfl 

si 



^ 



,^^< 



A«^ 



^^ 



f^ 



\^f 



BBACTION 



277 



^^^^ BBi! 

^MAMM^gMluQiMMplk into the couDiry, and halted fori 
^HHPHBlnnnMH^Mt always cOQirived that nh^ should 
be my ooEivive» and rather liked to let her t&ke the Uon's 
share, whether of the white beer, the sweet wine, or the new. 
milk : so U was, however, and she knew it ; and, therefore, 
while we wrangled daily, we were never alienated. / 

Aft<er breakfast my cuBtom was to withdraw to the first 
, and ait and read, or think (oftenest the latter) thara 
e» UU the nine-o clock hell Uirew open all doors, admitted 
the gaihefed rush of extemes and demi-pensionnaires, and 
gaire the signal for entrance on that bustle and hosinesa lo 
which, till five PJi.« there was no relax. 

I was just sealed this morning, when a tap came to the 
door. 

'Butlon, Mademoiselle/ said a peosionnaire, entering 
gently; and having taken from her de&k some necessary 
book or paper, she withdrew od tip-toe, murmnrijig as she 
piased me, ' Que mademoiselle est appUqu^ i * 

Appliqude, indeed! The means of application were 
^tead before me, but I was doing nothing ; and had done 
nolhing, and meant to do nothing. Thus does the world 
ghre us credit for merits we have not. Madame Beck her- 
self desimed me a regular has- bleu, and often and aolenmly 
iMwaH to warn me not to study too much, lest ' the blood 
should all go to my head/ Indeed, everybody in the Bue 
Porssette held a superstition that ' Meess Lucie ' was learned ; 
urtih the notable exception of M* Emanuel, who, by means 
peiniliar to himself, and quite inscrutable to me, had obtained 
a nol tnaoourate inkling of my real qualifications, and used to 
lake quiet opportunities of chuckling in my ear his malign glee 
Qfver their scant measure. For my part, I never troubled 
mjaelf about this pennry. I dearly hke to think my own 
Ibooghle ; I had great pleasure in reading a few books, but 
nol many : preferring always those on whose style or senti- \\ 
mem Iba writer's Individual nature was plainly stamped; \\ 
flagging inevitably over characterless books, however clever 
and meritorious: perceiving well that, as far as my own 



978 



VILLETTE 



zoiiid was coDcerued. God bad limited its powers aod it^ 
action^ — thankful, I trust, for the gift bestowed, but unam* 
bitious of higher endowments^ not reaUessly eager after higher 
culture. 

Tlie polite pnpil was scarcely gone, when, onceremouj* 
ously, without tap, in burst a second intruder. Had 1 beeo 
bhnd I should have known who this was. A con sti tut tonal 
reserve of manner had by this time told with wfaalfisooie 
and, for me, commodious effect, on the manners of my co- 
inmates ; rarely did I now suffer from rude or intrusive treat- 
ment. When I first came, it would happen once and again 
that a blunt German would clap me on the shoulder, and 
ask me to run a race ; or a riotous Labassecourienne seize 
me by the arm and drag me towards the playground * urgent 
proposals to take a swing at the * Pas de G^ant/ or to join 
in a certain romping hide-and-seek game called * Un, deui, 
trois,' were formerly also of hourly occmrence ; but all theat^^ 
little attentions bad ceased some time ago— ceased, too, witli^H 
out my finding it necessary to be at the trouble of point- 
blank cutting them short. I had now no famihar demoo* 
stration to dread or endure, save from one quarter ; aod u 
that was Enghsh I could bear it. Ginevra Fansbawe mAde 
no scruple of— at times — catching me as I was crosatng tht 
caiT^, whirling me round in a compulsory ^g aJiz, and 
heartily enjoying ihe mental and physical discomfiture her 
proceeding induced. Ginevra Fansbawe it was who now 
broke in upon ' my ^earp ed leisure/ She carried a huge 
music- book under her arna. 

* Go to your practising,* said I to her at once : * away with 
you to the httle salon I * 

* Not till I have bad a talk with you, eh^re amle. I Iroow 
where you have been spending your vacation, and how yoi 
have commenced sacnficing to the ^races , and enjoying bf«' 
like any other belle. I saw you at the concert the other 
night, dressed, actually, like anybody else. Who is your 
taUleuse ? * ^"~' — 

* Tittle-tattle : how prettily it begins I My tailleuse 1 



IT 

4 



REACTION 



279 



^ 



fiddlestick ! Come, sheer oflf. Ginevra. I really don't want 
your company/ 

[ ' But when I want yours so much, ange farouche, what 
floes a little reluctance on your part signify ? Dieu merci I 
we know how to manasuvre with our gifted compatriote — 
the IfiarDdd ** ou^e^Bntannique/' And so, Oursou, you know 
Isidore ? ' 

* I know John Brettoii/ 
' Oh, hush ! ' (putting her fingers in her eara) * you crack 

my tympanums with your nide AngMcisms. But, how is 
our well-heloved John ? Do tell me about him. The poor 
man most be in a sad way. What did he say to my be- 
haviour the other night? Wasn't I cruel ? ' 

* Do you think I noticed you ? ' 
' It was a delightful evening. Oh, that divine de Kamal I 

And then to watch the other sulking and dying In the dis- 
tance ; and the old lady— my future mamma-in-law I But I 
am afraid I and Lady Sara were a Little rude in quizzing her.l 

' Lady Sara never quizzed her at all ; and for what you 
did» don't make yourself in the least uneasy : Mrs. Bretton 
will survive ytmr sneer/ 

' She may : old ladies are tough ; hut that poor son 
bers I Do tell me what he said : I saw he was terribly cu 
up.' 

' He said you looked as if at heart you were already 
Madame de Hamai.' 
I ' Did he 7 * she cried with delight. ' He noticed that ? 

I How charming! I thought ht; would be mad with 
jealousy ? ' 

*Ginevra, have you seriously done ^ilh Dr. Bretton? 
Do you want him to give you up ? * 

* Oh 1 you know he can*t do that : hut wasn't he mad ? ' 
^ ' Quite mad/ I assented ; * as mad as a March hare/ 
B ' Well, and how ever did you get hlm^home"? * 

' How ever, indeed I Have you no pity on his poor 
CQOther and me ? Fancy us bonding him tight down in the 
carriage, and he raving between us, fit to drive everybody 



^ 






280 



VILLETTE 



H 



delirious- The very coaehman weut wrong, somehow, and 
we lost our way.' 

* Yon don't say so ? You are laughing at me. Now, 
Lucy Snowe ' 

' I assure you it is fact — ^and fact, also« that Dr. Brettoa 
would 7wt stay in the carriage : Jie hroke from us» aod wctUi^ 
ride outside.' 

' And afterwards ? * 

* Afterwards — when he did reach home — the scene trans 
tends description/ 

' Oh, but describe it — you know it is such fun I * 

' Pun for you, Miss Fanshawa ? but * (with stem gravity ^ 

* you know the proverb — ** What is sport to one may 

death to another.** * 

* Go on, there's a darling Timon/ 

* Conscientiously, I cannot^ unless you assure me 
have some heart/ 

' I have — «uch an immensity, you don*t know I ' 

' Good 1 In that case, you will be able to conceive D zm 

Graham Bretton reject iog his sup^jer in the &rst instance 

the chicken, the sweetbread prepared Cor his refreshmeom t, 

left on the table untouched* Then but it is of no us^^ 

dwelling at length on the harrowing details. Suffice it <io 
say, that never, in the most stormy fits and moments of his 
infancy, had his mother such work to tuck the sheeta abovr 
him as she had that night/ 

* He wouldn't lie still ? ' 
' He wouldn't lie still : there it was. The aheeto miglit 

be tucked in, but the thing was to keep them tucked in.' 

' And what did he say ? * ■ < 

' Say I Can*t you imagine him demanding bis divioA 
Ginevra, anathematizing that demon, de Hamal — raving 
about golden locks, blue eyes, white arms, ghttenng brace- 
lets?* 

* No, did he ? He saw the bracelet ? ' 

* Saw the bracelet? Yes* as plain as I saw it : aod, per- 
haps, for the first time, be saw also the bi^aod-mark witli 



REACTION 



281 



Pt 



which its pressare has encircled your arm. Ginevra * (naing^ 
d changing my tone), * come, we will have an end of this. 

away to your practising/ 

And I oi>ened the door. 
I * But you have not told me all/ 

P * You had better not wait until I do tell you all. Such 
extra communicativeness could give you no pleastire. 
March ! ' 

* Cross thing ! ' said she ; but she obeyed ; and, indeed, 
the first classe was my territory, and she could not there 
legally resist a notice of quittance from roe. 

Yet, to speak the truth, never had I been less dissatisfied 
ith her than I was then. There was pleasure in thinking 
of the contrast between the reality and my description — to 
remember Dr. John enjoyinglhe drive home, eating his 
supper with relish, and retiring to rest with Christian 
composure. It was only when I aaw him really unhappy "^ 
that T felt really vexed with the fair, frail cause of his ) 
guffenne, 

b 

■ A fortnight passed ; I was getting once more inured to 
the harness of school, and lapsing from the passionate pain 
of change to the palsy of custom. One afteiTioon, in cross- 
ing the carr6, on my way to the first classe, where I was 
expected to assist at a lesson of * style and literature/ I saw, 
standing by one of the long and large windows, Rosine, the 
portress. Her attitude, as usual, was quite nonohalante- 
She always * stood at ease * ; one of her hands rested in her 'i * 
apron 'pocket, the other at this moment held to her eyes a 
letter, whereof Mademoiselle coolly perused the address, and 
deliberately studied the seal. i 

A letter! The shape of a letter similar to that had I 
haunted my brain in its very core for seven days past. I \ 
had dreamed of a letter last night. Strong magnetism drew 
me to^^KaTTelter now ; yet, whether I sh5uld have ventured 
to demand of Rosine so much as a glance at that white 
[ivelope, with the spot of red wax in the middle, I know 



VTLLETTE 



not. No ; I think I should have sneaked past in terror of a 
rebufi^ from Dt&appointment : my heart throbbed now as if 
I already heard the tramp of her approach. Nervoua 
mistake t It was the rapid step of the Professor of Lilera- 
ture measuring the corridor. I fled before him. Could I 
but be seated quietly at my desk before his arrival, with the 
class under my orders all in dif^oipUned readiness, he would, 
perhaps, exempt me from notice ; but, if caught lingering in 
the carr6, I should be sure to come in for a special haraogue. 
1 had time to get seated, to enforce perfect silence, to take 
out my work, and to commenoe it amidst the profotmdest 
and best trained hush, ere M. Emanuel entered with hig 
vehement burst of latch and panel, and his deep, redundant 
bow, prophetic of chol^r. 

As usua^l he broke upon us like a clap of thunder ; bat 
instead of flashing lightniog-wise from the door to the estrad«, 
his career halted midway at my desk. Setting his tact 
towards me and the window, his back to the pupils and Ibe 
room, he gave me a look — such a look as might have Itoensed 
me to stand straight up and demand what he meant — a look 
of scowling distrust. 

* Voil4 ! pour vous," said he, drawing his hand from hil 
waistcoat, and placing on my desk a letter— the very letter 
I had seen in Bosin^ hand— the letter whose face oi 
enamelled white and single Cyclop s-eye of vermilion^red 
had printed themselves so clear and perfect on the retinA ^1 
^an inward vision, I knew it, I felt it to be the letter of my 
hope, the fruition of my wish, the release from my dcablt 
the ransom from my terror. This letter M. Paul, with his 
unwarrantably interifering habits, had taken from the portress, 
and now delivered it himself. 

I might have been aQgr}% but had not a second for the 
sensation. Yes : I held in my hand not a slight note, but 
an envelope, whicWnust, at least, contain a sheet : it feh 
not flimsy, but firi^ substantial, satisfying. And here wafi 
the direction, ' Miss Lucy Snowe,' in a clean, clear, 
decided hand ; and here was the seal, round, full, 



i 



REACTION 



k 



383 J 



dropped by ontremuloas fingers, stamped with the well-cat 
unpfBsa of initials, * J. G. B/ I axperieDoed a happy feehng 
— A ^ad emotion which went warm to my heart, atid ran 
Ihrely through all my veins. For odc» a,hop^ was realised. 
I held in my hand a morsel of real solid joy : not a dream, 
not an image of the brain, not one of those shadowy chances 
i muppation pictures, and on which humanity starves bat 
eanoot live ; not a mess of that _manna. I drearily eulogised 
awhile ago — which, indeed, at first melts on the lips with 
imspeakahle and preternatural sweetness, but which, in 
\ ead, our souls full surely loathe ; longing deliriously for 
natural and earth-grown food, wildly praying Heaven's 
Spirits to i^Bcl&im their own spirit-dew and esseooe — an 
aliment divine, but for mortals deadly. It was neither sweet 
hail nor small coriander-seed— neither slight wafer, nor 
luscious honey, I had lighted on ; it was the wild, savoury^ 
I of the hunter, nourishing and salubrious meat, forest- 
l or desert-reared, fresh, healthful, and life- sustaining. It 
what the old dying patriarch demanded of his son Esau, 
ising in requital the blessing of his last breath. It was 
godsend ; and I inwardly thanked the God who had 
chaafed it. Outwardly I only thanked man, crying, 
^Thank you, thaok you. Monsieur I * 

Mqpsieur curled his lip, gave m*i a vicious glance of the 
eye, and strode to his estrade. M. Paul was not at all a good 
Utile oian» though he had good points. 

Did I read my letter there and then 7 Did I consume 
\ Teiuson at once and with haste, as if Esau's shaft flew 

day? 

I knew better. The cover with its address — the seal, 
with its three clear letters — was bounty and abundance for 
the preeent. I stole from the room, I procured the key of 
great dormitory, which was kept locked by day. I 
to my bureau ; with a sort of ha^and trembling lest 
una should creep upstairs and sp^ me, I opened a 
er, unlocked a box, and took out a case, and— having 
ly eyes with one more look, and approached the seal» 



i/ 



284 



VILLETTE 



with a mixture of awe and shame and delight, to my lipa — I 
folded the untasted treasure, yet all fair and mvtolate, in 
silver paper, committed it to the case, shot up box and 
drawer, reclosed, relocked the dormitory, and returned to 
class, feeling as if faiiy tales were true, and fairy gifta no 
dream. Strange, sweet insanity 1 And this letter, the source 
of my joy, I had not yet read : did not yet know the number 
of its lines. 

When I re-entered the schoolroom, hehold M. Paul raging 
like a pestilence ! Some pupil had not spoken audibly or 
distinctly enough to suit his ear and taste, and now she and 
others were weeping, and he was raving from his estrade, 
almost livid. Carious to mention, as I appeared, he fell oo 
me. 

' Was I the mistress of these girls ? Did I profess to 
teach them the conduct befitting ladies? — and did I pennii 
and, he doubted not, encourage them to strangle their 
mother-tongue in their throats, to mince and mash it be- 
tween their teeth, as if they had some base eanae to he 
ashamed of the words they uttered? Was this modesty^ 
He knew better. It was a vile pseudo sentiment— the of! 
spring or the forerunner of evil Rather than submil 
this mopping and mowing, this mincing and grimacing, 
grinding of a noble tongue, this general affectation and siekj 
eniug stubbornness of the pupils of the first class, he wouh 
throw them up for a set of insupportable petites- ma! tress 
and confine himself to teaching the A 6 G to the babies 
the third division/ 

What could I say to all this ? Really nothing ; and I 
hoped ho would allow me to be silent. The storm recocD- 
menced. 

' Every answer to his queries was then refused * 
seamed to be considered in that pl:ice— that conceited bood 
of a first clas^e, wlW its pretentious hook-cases, its 
baized desks, its rubbish of flower- stands, its trash of fnuned 
pictures and maps, and its foreign survcillante, forsooth t — tt 
seemed to ba the Cushion to thinl; Uiere that ihc Professor ol 






EEACTION 



285 



Hleraitira was not worthy of a. reply ! These were new ideas ; 
ffoported^ he did not doubt, strEiglit from *' la Grande 
Bretagne *' ; they savoured of island insolence and arrogancse.* 

Lull the aecond^the girls, not one of whom was ever 
known to weep a tear for the rebnkea of any other master, 
now all melting like snow-statues before the intemperate 
heat of M. Emanuel: I not yet much shaken, sitting down, 
and venturing to resume my work. 

Something— either in my continued silence or in the 
movement of my hand, stitching— transported M. Emanuel 
beyond the last boundary of patience ; he actually sprang 
from his estrade. The stove stood near my desk, he attacked 
it ; the little iron door was nearly dashed from its binges, 
the fuel was made to fly. 

* Est-ce que vous avez I'lntention de m*insulter ? ' said he 
to me, in a low, furious voice, as he thus outraged, under 
prdtenoe of arranging, the fire. 

It was time to soothe him a Uttle if possible. 

• Mais, Monsieur,' said I, ' I would not insult you for the 
world. I remember too well that you once said we should 
be friends/ 

I did not intend my voice to falter, but it did : more, I| 
think, through the agitation of late delight than io any spasm! 
of present fear. Still there certainly was Bomething in M., 
Pauls anger — a kind of passion of emotion^that stx^cially 

^nded to draw tears. I was not unhappy^ nor much afi^aid,. 

Kt I wept. 

H * Allons, allons ! * said he presently, looking round and 

^eing the deluge universal. ' Decidedly I am a monster 
and a ruffian. I have only one pocket-handkerchief,* he 
added, * but if I had twenty, I would offer you each one. 
Your teacher shaU be your representative. Here, Miss 
Lucy/ 

And he took forth and held out to me a clean silk hand- 
kerehief. Now a person who did not know M. Paul, who 
was onused to him and his impulses, would naturally have 
bungled at tliis offer— declined accepting the same — etcetera. 



y/ 



9B6 VILLETTE 

Bat I too plaiDly felt this would never do: the slightest 
hesitatioQ would have been f&tal to the incipient treaty oi 
peace. I rose and met the handkerchief half-way, received 
it with decorum, wiped therewith my eyes, and, resuming 
my seat, and retaining the Eag of truce in my hand and on 
my lap. took especial care during the remainder of the leason 
Id touch neither needle Dor thimble, Bciaaors nor muslin. 
Many a jealous glance did M. Paul cast at these implemente ; 
he hated them mortallyp considering aewing a source of dia* 
traction from the attention due to himself. A very eloquea^ 
lesson he gave, and very kiod and friendly was he to tb^s 
close. Ere he had done, the clouds were dispersed and thj^ 
flUD shining out— tears were exchanged for smiles. 

In quitting the room he paused once more at my desk. 

* And your letter ? ' said he, this time not quite i&ercely^ 
' I have not yet read it, Monsieur/ 

* Ah I it is too good to read at onoe ; you save it, as, wb^ui 
I was a boy, I used to save a peach whose bloom was v^ry 
riper 

The guess came so near the truth, I could not prevent t 
suddenly- nsing warmth in my face from reveaUng as mocfa. 

* You promise yourself a pleasant moment,' said be, * in 
reading that letter; you will open it when alone — n'est-oe 
pas ? Ah 1 a smile answers. Well, well t one shofuld not be 
too harsh ; " la jeunesse n'a qu'un temps.'* * 

' Monsieur, Monsieur ! ' I cried, or rather whispered 
after him, as he turned to go, ' do not leave me under ft 
mistake. This is merely a friend's letter. Without readiiig 
it, I can vouch for that.* 

' Je coD9ois, je con^ois : on salt ce que o^est qu'un tfO^ 
Bonjour, Mademoiselle ! * 

* But, Monsieur^ here is your handkerchief/ 

* Keep it, keep it, till the letter is read, then bring it m6; 
I shall read the billet's tenor in your eyes/ 

When he was gone, the pupils having already poured 
out of the schoolroom into the berceau, and thence into ^ 
garden and court to take their customary recreation befoi* 



REACTION 



287 



the five-o'clock dinner, I stood a moment thinking, and 
absently twisting the handkerchief round my arm. For 
some reason— gladdened, I think, by a sudden return of the 
go lden glimmer of chil dhood , roused by an unwonted 
renewal of its buoyancy, madelnerry by the liberty of the 
eloaing hour, and, above all, solaced at heart by the joyous 
oc»i8ciousne8s of that treasure in the case, box, drawer up- 
stairs — I fell to playing with the handkerchief as if it were 
a ball, casting it into the air and catching it as it felL The 
game was stopped by another hand than mine — a hand 
emerging from a paletdt-sleeve and stretched over my 
ahoiQlder ; it caught the extemporised plaything and bore it 
away with these sullen words : 

* Je vois bien que vous vous moquez de moi et de mes 
effete.' 

Beally that little man waa dreadful: a mere sprite of' 
caprice and ubiquity : one never knew either his whim or i 
his wfaereabout, J 



W»^ 



") 



CHAPTER XXn 



THB I.BTTEB 



f- '■'■ 



Ween all was stdll io the house ; when dinner was over and 
the noiay recreation-hour past ; when darkness had set m, 
and the quiet latxip of study was lit io the refectory ; when 
the externes were gone home, the clashing door anJ 
clamorous bell bushed for the evening ; when Madame wi£ 
Bafaiy settled in the salle k manger in oompany with her 
mother and some friends ; I then glided to ihe kit<>hff», 
begged a bougie for one half-hour for a particular occasion, 
found acceptance of my petition at the hands of my friend 
Goton, who answered, * Mais certainement, chou-chou, yoaa 
en aurez deujc, si vous voulez * ; and, hght in hand^ I 
mounted noiseless to the dormitory. 

Great was my chagrin to find in that apartment a po[ 
gone to bed indisposed, ^ — greater when I recognised, amij 
the muslin nightcap borders, the 'figure chifironn^' of 
Mistress Ginevra Faoshawe ; supine at this momeni, it b 
true — but certain to wake and overwhelm me with chalter 
when the interruption would be least acceptable : indeed, li 
I watched her, a slight twinkling of the eyelids warned ise 
thai the present appearance of repose might be but m ram^ 
assumed to cover sly vigilance over 'Timon^s' movemenU; 
she was not to be trusted. And I had so wished tobealoiie^ 
just to read my precious letter in peace. 

Well, I must go to the classes. Having sought and 
found my prize in its casket, I descended. IIMuck pursued 
ui^. The classes were undergoing sweeping and puriiioatioci 



W3 

4 



THIE LETTER 



by ooAcUeUgbt, flbccording k) hebdomadal custom : benches 

were piled on desks, the air was dim with dusti damp eofifee- 

^rounds (used by Laba^secotirien housematds ioBtead of tea- 

laaveti) darkened the door; all was bc^Ieaa oonfnsion. 

ted, but not beaten, I withdrew, bent as resolutely as 

on Ending solitude sotnewhere* 

Taking a key whereof I knew the repr ;: >ry, I moumeii 

three ataircaaes in succeasion, reached i dai k. Darrow, ailenc 

tiding, opened a worm-eaten door, and dived into the deep, 

cold garret. Here none would follow me — ocme 

interrapt — not Madame herself. I ahut the garnBt-door; 1 

pineed my light on a doddered and mouldv chest of drawers ; 

1 pat on a shawl, for the air was iee-oold ; I took my letter ; 

tpembliiig with sweet impatience, I broke its seal 

'Will it he long— will it be short?' ihoaghi I, passing 
soy hand across my eyes to dissipate the iUvery dimness of 
^ auave, south -wind shower. 
It was long. 

y ill it be cool ?— wiU it be kind ?* 
ras kind. 
my checked, bridled, disciplined expectation, it 
ver>' kind ; to my longing and famished thought it / 
, perhaps, kinder than it was. 

Bo litUe had I hoped, so much had I feared ; there was 
afalneae of deJigbLi n^this taste of fruitio n— such, perhaps^ 
as many a Cuman being passes through life without ever 
knowing. The poor English teacher in the frosty garret, 
UMiding by a dim candle guttering in the wintry ak, a lelter 
aimply gpod-natured — nothing more ; though that good- ^ 
umime then seemed to me godlike — ^was happier than moat 

i in palaces. " ^~" 

Of eonrse, happiness of such shallow origin could be but 

lef ; yel, while it lasted it was genuine and exquisite : a 

ibble — bnt a sweet bubble — of real boney-dew. Dr. John 

written to me at length; he had written to me wi^ 

he had written with benignant mood, dwelling 

ith sonny satisfaction on scenes that had passed before his 

o 



4. 



290 



VILLETTE 






eyes and mine» — on places we had visited together— on cc 
versationa we had held— on all the httle subjtct-matter, i 
1 siiort, of the last few halcyon weeks. But Uie cordial i 
of the dehght was a conviction the bhthe^ genial laJigua^ 
I generously imparted, that it had been poured out not merely to 
1 cont ent m e — but to gi-otj fy hiif j^lf. A gratifioalion he mighl 
never more desirci never more seek — an hypotheaie in every 
point of view approaching the certain ; but that eoncerndd 
the future. This prehent moment had no pain, no bloty xu> 
want ; full, pure^ perfect, it deeply blessed me. A paasiog 
seraph aeemed to h^ave rested beside me> leaned towards my 
heart, and reposed on its throb a softening, cooling, healiDg, 
hallowing wing. Dr. John, you pained me afterwards : for- 
given be every ill— freely forgiven— for tlie sake of that one 
dear remjmbered good I vj^tt^vc^ ^^^ ^^,^ 

Are there wicked things, not human^ which envy humtt 
bliss ? Are there evil influences haunting the air^ usd 
poison ing it fr>r mar^y Whft.t was near me ? 

Something in that vast solitary garret sounded strangelj^ 
Most surely and certainly I heard, as it seemed, a stealthy 
foot on that floor : a sort of gliding out from the direction of 
the black recess haunted by the malefactor cloaks. I 
turned : my light was dim ; the room was long — but ftj) I 
live ) I saw in the middle of that ghostly chamber a figure 
all black and white ; the skirts straight, narrow* black ; the 
head bandaged, veiled, white. 

Say what you will, reader— tell me I was nervous or 
mad ; a&m that I was unsettled by the excitement of th^ 
letter ; declare that I dreamed ; this I vow— Isaw there— 
in that room— on that night — an image like— ^ nuiT^ 

I critd out ; I sickened. Had the shape approached me 
1 might have swooned. It receded : I made for the door. 
How I descended all the stairs I know not By instinct I 
shunned the refectory, and shaped my course to Madaioo'i 
sitting-room : I burst in. I said — 

' There is something in the grenier ; I have bee 
I eaw something. Go and look at it, all of you t ' 




THE LETTER 



»1 



I aaui, 'Alt of 3rou * ; for the room seemed to me fall 
ol people« though in truth there were hut four preseot: 
Mftdmme Beck ; her mother, Madame Kiiit, who was out of 
health, and now staying with her on a visit ; her hrother, 
IC. Victor £int, and another gentlemaui who, when I entered 
the room« waa oonvenang with the old lady, and had hia 
back towards the door* 

Hy mortal faar and faintnese must haye made me 
diMidly pale. I felt oold and shaking. They all rose in 
eongtemation ; Ihey surrounded me. I urged them to go 
to the gremer ; the eight of the gentlemen did me good and 
glKfe me oourage : it seemed as if there were some help and 
hope, with men at hand. I turned to the door, beckoning 
tliecxi to follow. They wanted to stop me« but 1 said they 
must oome this way : they most see what I had seen — 
something strange^ standing in the middle of the gmrrei. 
And, now, I remember ed my le tter, left on the drawers 
with Ibe Ught. T his precious letter! Flesh or spirit 
OQuet be defied for its sake, i flew up*stairs, hastening 
the f^eter ae I knew I was followed : they were obliged to 



Lo t when I reached the garret^oor* all within was dack 

•a a pit : the hght was out Happily some one^ — MadamOi 

I think, with her usual calm sense — had brought a lamp 

from tiie room ; speedily, therefore, as they came up, a ray 

{Microed the opaque blackness. There stood the bougie 

quenched on the drawers ; but where was the letter ? And 

^JLiooked for ihainow, and not for the nun. 

^K * Uy letter 1 my letter 1 ' I panted and plained, almost 

^Bsaide myself. I groped on the floor, wringing my hands 

^Krildly. Cruel, t^^Tigl dopm I T o have my bit of comforl 

pcQlernaturally snatched firom me, ere I had well tasted its 

Tiftoel 

I don't know what the others were doing ; I oould not 
watdi them : they asked me questions I did not answer ; 
they raii»icked all ooruers; they prattled about this and 
thai disarrangement of cloaks, a breach or craok in the si 



sky- 



% 



()>■ 



\? 



292 



VILLETTE 




light— I Lnow not what, * Something or somebody has 1 
here,' was sagely averred, 

* Oh t they have taken mj letter I * cried the groveUiJig, 
groping monomaniac. 

* What letter, Lucy ? My dear girl» what letter ? ' askedi 
a known voice in my ear. Could 1 helieve that ear? No: 
and I looked up. Could I trust my eyes ? Had I recogDiadd 
the tone ? Did I now Look on the face of the writer of thai 
very letter? Was this gentleman near me in this dim 
garret, J ohn Graham — Dr, Bretton himself? 

Yes : it was, HilTad beeii dftll&d in"Hiat very evening 
to prescribe for some access of illness in old Madame Kint » 
he was the second gentleman present in the salla k mangei^ 
when I entered, 

' Was it my l etter, Lucj r ? * 

* Your own : yours — the letter you wrote to me. I 
come here to read it quietly, I could not find another sp 
where it was possible to have it to myself, I had saved i 
all day — never opened it till this evening : it was acaivp^T] 
glanced over : I cantioi bear to lose it. Oh, my letter ! * 

* Hush ! don't cry and distress yourself so cmeLMj. 
What is it worth ? Hush I Come out of this cold rooc 
they are going to send for the police now to exaznij 
further : we need not stay here— come, we will go down.* 

A warm hand, taking my cold fingers, led me down to i 
room where there was a fire. Dr. John and I sat before the 
stove. He talked to me and soothed me with unutteral^k 
goodness, promising me twenty letters for the one loet. If 
there are wcQ:ds and^ wrongs like knives, whose deep*ioBioted 
lacerations never heal — cutting injuries and iosolts of 
serrated and poison-dripping edge— so, too» there are eoo^ 
flolations of tone too fine for the ear not fondly and for evet 
to retain their echo : caressing kindnesses^ — loved, lingered 
over through a whole hfe, recalled with un faded tendenneaf^ 
and answering tlie call with undimmed shine, out of thai 
raven cloud foreshadowing Death himself. I have been lold 
since that Dr. Bretton was liOt nearly so perfect m Ithoughl 



1 



THE LETTEB 



him : that his actual character lacked the depth, height, 
compass, and endurance it possesBed in my creed, I don't 
know : he was as good to me as the well is to the parched 
wayfarer — as the sun to the shivering jail -bird. I remember 
hkn heroic. Heroic at this moment will I hold him to be. 

He asked me, smiling^ why I cared for his letter so very 
moch. I thought » but did not say, that I prized it Hke the 
blood in my veins. I only answered that I had so few 
letters to care for. 



^k ' I am sure you did not read it,* said he ; 'or you would 






1 



ink nothing of it 

* I read it, but only once. I want to read it again. 
am sorry it is lost.* And I could not help weeping afresh 

* Lucy, Lucy, my poor little god-siFiter (if^ there be such 
a relationship), here— ^t^e is your letter Why is it not 
better worth such tears, and such tenderly exaggerating 
faith?' 

Curious, characteristic manceuvre 1 His quick eye had 
aeen the lette r on th e fl oor where I sought i t ; his hand, as 
quick, had snatclie3TrupI He had hidden it in his waist* 
ooat pocket. If my trouble had wrought with a whit less 
stress and reality, I doubt whether he would ever have 
acknowledged or restored it. Tears of temperature one) 
degree cooler than those I shed would only have amuse^ 

John. 

Pleasure at regaining made me forget merited reproach 
for the teasing torment ; my joy was great ; it could not b© 
concealed : yet I think it broke out more in countenance than 
language. I said little. 

' Are you satisfied now ? ' asked Dr* John. 

I replied that I was— satisfied and happy. 

* Well, then,' he proceeded, ' how do you (eel physically? 
Are you growing calmer ? Not much : for you tremble like 
a leaf still.* 

It seemed to me, however, that I was sufficiently calm : 
at least I felt no longer terrified. I expressed myself com* 








VILLETTB 



'You are able, conseqtienUy, to tell me what you saw* 
Your account was quite vague, do you know ? You look 
white ae the wall ; but you only spoke of " Bomething.' 
defining whaL Was it a man ? Was it an animal ? 
wag it?' 



eaid I, 'onleis 
give oorrobomiiTe 



( * I never will tell exactly what I saw 

' some one else sees it too, and then I will 
testimony ; but, otherwise, I shall be dis credite d and aocused 
of dreaming/ , 

' Tell me/ said Dr. Bretton ; ' I will hear it in my pro- 
fessional character : I look on you now from a professioniil 
point of vieWj and I read, perhaps, all you would oonoeal— in 
your eye, which is curiously vivid and restless : in your cheek, 
which the blood has forsaken ; in your hand, which yon 
cannot steady. Come, Lucy, speak and tell me/ 
' You would laugh ? ' 

* If you don't tell me you shaU have no more letters/ 
' You are laughing now/ 

* I will again take away that single epistle : being mine, 
I think I have a right to reclaim it/ 

I felt raillery in his words : it made me grave and quiet; 
but I folded up the letter and covered it from sight. 

* You may hide it, but I can possess it any monwnt 
I choose. You don't know my skill in sleight of hand; 1 
might practice as a conjurer if I liked. Mamma d^p 
sometimes, toov that I have a harmonizing property of tongue 
and eye ; but you never saw that in me — ^dtd you, Lucy?* 

' Indeed^indeed — when you were a mere boy I used to ae© 
both : far more then than now — for now you are strong, and 
strength dispenses with subtlety. But still. Dr. John, you 
have what they call in this country ** un air fin," that uol 
can mistake. Madame Beck saw it, and 

' And liked it/ said he, laughing, * because she his 
herself. But, Lucy, give me that letter^you don*l reaDy 
care for it/ 

To this provocative speech I made no answer. Graham 
in mirthful mood must not be humoured too far Jual now 



i 






THE LETTER 



ihere was a new gorfc of smile playing about his lips — very i 
sweet, hot it grieved mo somehow— a new sort of light 1 
sparkling in his eyes : not hostile, but not reassuring, I rose ) 
to go-^I bid him good-oight a little sadly. 

Hia sensitiveness— that peculiar, apprehensive, detective 
faculty of his — felt in a moment the unspoken complaint— the 
scarce-thought reproa h. He asked quietly if I was offended. 
I shook my head as implying a negative. 

* Permit me, then, to speak a little Beriously to you before 
you go. You are in a highly nervous state. I feel sure from 
what is apparent in your look and manner, however well 
controlled, that whilst alone this evening in that dismal, 
perishing sepulchral garret — that dungeon under the leads, 
smelling of damp and mould, rank with phthisis and catarrh : 
a place you never ought to enter — ^that yo u aaw^ or thoug h i you 
saw, some appearance peculiarly calculated to impress the 
imagination. I know that you are not, nor ever were, subject 
io material terrors, fears of robbers, &c.— -I ara not so sure that 
a visitation, bearing a spectml character, would not shake 
your very mind. Be calm now. This ia all a matter of the 
oerves, I see ; hut just specify the vision/ 

* You will tell nobody * 

* Nobody— most certainly. You may trust me as im- 
plicitly as you did P^re^Sil^s. Indeed, the doctor is perhaps ; 
ihe safer confessor of the two, though he has not grey hair.* / 

* You will not laugh ? ' 

V 'Perhaps I may, to do you good: but not in scom., 
Bttcy, I feel as a friend towards you, though your timid ^ 
nature is slow to trust.* 

He now looked like a friend i that indescribable smile 
and sparkle were gone ; those formidable arched curves of 
lip, nostril, eyebrow, were depressed; repose marked his 
attitude— attention sobered his aspect. Won to confidence, 
I told him exactly what I had seen : ere now I had narrated 
Uj him the legend o f^the house —whiling away with that narra- 
bive an hour of a certain mild October afternoon, when he 
*nd I rode through Bois I'Etang. 



VILLETTE 



He aal and thought, and while he thought, we heard them 
all coming downstairs. 

'Are they going to interrupt?* said he, glaticing at thi 
door with an annoyed expression. 

* They will not come here,' I answered ; for we wore u 
the little salon where Madame never sat m the evening, and 
where it wae by mere chance that heat was still lingering in 
the stove. They passed the door and went on to the sa! 
k manger. 

* Now/ ho pursued. ' they will talk about thiev 
burglars^ and so on : let them do »o — mind you say nothinj 
and keep your resolution of describin g your nun to no bod] 
She may appear to you again : don't start 

* You think then/ I eaid. with secret horror, *&he came 
out of my brain, and is now f^one in there, and may glide out 
again at an hour and a day when I look not for her? * 

* I think it a case of spectral illusion : I fear» following 
and resulting from long-continued mental conflict/ 

* Oh, Doctor John— I shudder at the thought of 
liable to such an illusion I It seemed so real. Is there 
cure ?— no preventive ? * 

* Happiness is the euro— a cheerful mind the preventi\ 
cultivate both/ 

No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow rm 
that of being told to cuUivate happiness. What does such 
advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in 
mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory 
shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine 
dew which the soul, pn^ceHam^of its summer mornings, feels 
dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden 
fruitage of Paradise. 

* Cultivate happiness 1 ' 1 said briefly to the doctor : 
yoti cultivate happiness ? How do you manage ? ' 

' I am a chei^Tful fellow by nature : and then ill-luok h^ 
never dogged me* Adversity gave me and my mother on 
passing somvl and brush, but we defied her, or rather laugh 
at her, and bhe went by. 







THE LETTER 



397 



* There is no cultivation iq all this.* 

* I do not give way to melaricholy.' 
' Yea : I have seen you subdued by that feeUiig/ 

* About Gioevra Fanshawe— eh ? " 

* Did she not sometimes make you miserable ? ' 

* Pooh I stuff f nonseose I You see I am better now.* 
If a laughing eye with a hvely iighl» and a face bright 

with beaming and healthy energy, could attest tliat he was 
better, better he cei-tainly was. 

* You do not look much amiss, or greatly out of condi- 
tion,* I allowed. 

^m * And why, Lucy, can't you look and leel as I do— buoy- 

Hknt, €ourageous, and fit to defy all the nuns and flirts in 

Christendom ? I would give gold on the spot just to see you 

•anap your fingers. Try the mancEUvre.* 
\ ' If I were to bring Miss Fanshawe into your presence 
Just now ? * 

* I vow, Lucy, she should not move me : or, she should 
move me but by one thing — tni0| yes^ and passionate love, 

•1 would accord forgiveness at no less a price/ 
' Indeed I a smile of hers would have been a fortune to 
you a while since/ 

* Transformed, Lucy : transformed ! Bemember, you once 
called me a slave t but I am a free man now ! ' 

He stood up : in the port of his head, the carriage of his 
figure^ in his beaming eye and mien, there revealed itself a 
libeity which was more than ease— a mood which was dis- 
dain of his past bondage. 
^h ' Miss Fanshawe/ he pursued, * has led me through a 
^^phase of feeling which is over : I have entered another con- | 



dilion, and am now much 'jjfipo"^^ ^^ n^ ^t love for love- 
passion for passion — and good measure of it, too. 

* Ah, Doctor ! Doctor ! you said it was your nature to 
iursue Love under difficulties — to be charmed by a proud 
insensjBlBryT* ^" 

He laughed, and answered, ' My nature varies : the mood 
of one hour Is sometimes the mockery of the uext. Well* 



asd 



VILIiETTB 



liQoy' (drawing on his gloves), * will the Ntm ootna agata 
to>night, think you 7 * 

* I don't think she wilL* 
'Give her my compliments, if she does — Dr. John's 

compliments — and entreat her to have the goodness to wait 
a visit from him. Lucy, was she a pretty nun ? Htid she a 
pretty face ? You have not told me that yet ; and that is 
the really important point.' 

* She had a white cloth over her face/ said I, * hut her 
eyes ghttered,' 

' Confusion to her gohlin trappings ! ' cried he, irreve- 
rently : * but at least she had handsome eyes — bright and 
soft' 

* Cold and fixed/ was the reply. 

* No, no, well none of her : she shall not haunt yoo* 
Lucy. Give her that shake of the hand, if she cornea again. 
Will she stand tJutt, do you think ? ' 

I thought it too kind and cordial for a ghost to stand : 
and so was the smila which matched it, and accompanied hia , 
* Goodnight/ ^^_^^ 



Aud had there been anything in the garret? What did' 
iLey discovc^r? I belie ve, on the closest examination, their 
discoveries amounted to very little. They talked, at tivst, of 
the cloaks being disturbed ; but Madame Beck told me after- 
wards she thought they hung much as usual : and as for the 
broken pane in tha skyhght, she affirmed that aperture was 
rarely without one or more panes broken or cracked : and 
besides, a heavy hail-storm had fallen a few days ago. 
Madame questioned me very closely as to what I had seen, 
but I only described an obscure figure rlotbed in black : I 
took oare not to breathe the word ' nun/ certain that this 
word would at once suggesttolier mind an idea of romance 
and unreahty. 8he charged me to say nothing on the subject 
to any servant, pupil, or teacher, and highly commended my 
discretion in couiing to her private salle k manger, instead of 
carrying the tale of horror to th ) school refectory. Thus 




THB LETTEB 



the subject dropped. I was left secretly and sadly to 
wonder, in my own mind, whether that strange thing was of 
this world, or of a realm beyond the grave ; or whether indeed 
it was only the child of malady, and I of that malady the 
prey. 



CHAPTEB XXm 

VilSHTI 



To wonder sadly, did I say ? No : a new infltienoe began 
to act upon my life, and sadness, for a ceitaio space, was 
held at bay, CoDoeive a dell, deep-hollowed in foirest 
secrecy ; it lies in dimness and mist : its turf is dank, ltd 
herbage pale and humid. A storm or an axe makes a wide 
gap amongst the oak-trees ; the breeze sweeps in ; the sun 
looks down ; the sad, cold dell becomes a deep cup of lustre 
high summer pours her blue glory and her golden light ouf 
of that beauteous sky, which till now the starved hoUow 
naver saw. --s,^^ 

k ( A new creed became mine — a belief in happiness, j 

"It w^as three weeks since the adventure of the garret, and 
I possessed in that case, box, drawer up-staire, casketed with< 
that first letter, four companions like to it, traced by t] 
same firm pen, sealed with the same clear seal, full of thi 
same vital comfort. Vital comfort it seemed to me then 
read them io after years ; they were kind letters enough 
pleasing letters, because composed by one well pleased ; in 
the two last there were three or four closing lines half-gay, 
half -tender, * by feding touched, but not subdued/ 
dear reader, mellowed them to a beverage of this mil 
quality ; but when I first tasted their elixir, fi-esh from Ihd 
fount so honoured, it seemed juice of a divine vintage t a 
draught which Hebe might fill, and the very gods approve. 

Does the reader, remembering what was said somepag^ 
back, care to ask how I answered these letters : w bather 





VASHTI ( 301 ) 

Jer the tlry, stinting check of_Beason, or according to^ffie 
[jfull, liberal impulse of j^eelin^? _ 

To speak truth. I compromiged matters ; I served two 

masters : I bowed down in the house of Rimmon, and lifted 

the heart at another shrine. I wrote to these letters twor 

K^answers— one for my own relief, the other for Graham's/ 

R-peruaaL I--* » «^>*--^ I 

^P- To begin with : Feeling and I turned Reason out of 

"doors, drew against her bar and bolt, then we sat down, 

spread our paper, dipped in the ink an eager pen, and. with 

deep eDJoycnent, poured out our sincere heart. When we 

had done^ — when two sheets were covered with the language 

of a strongly- adherent affection^ a rooted and active grati- 

^ttude^(once» for all, in this parenthesie, I dleclalfl'i, wlLtl life 

^Utmost scorn, every sneaking suspicion of what are called 

* warmer feelings ' : women do not entertain these * warmer 

feelings * where, from the commencement, through the 

I whole progress of an acquaintjince, they have never once 

^^been cheated of the con\nction that to do so would be to 

^rommit a mortal absurdity : nobody ever launches into 

Ex)ve unless he has seen or dreamed the rising of Hope's 

Kiiar overJjQvejJrouhled^water^^ then, I bad given 

^rfexpression to a closely-clinging and deeply-honouring 

attachment— an attachment that wanted to attract to itseU 



fcti 



«nd take to its own lot all that was painful in the destiny of 
Its object ; that would, if it could, have absorbed and con- 
[acted away all storms and lightnings from an existence 
lewed with a passion of sohcitude— then, just at that 
moment, the doors of my heart would shake, bolt and bar 
would \ield, Reason would leap in vigorous and revengeful, 
snatch the full sfie^s, read, sneer, erase, tear up, re-write, 
fold, seal, direct, and send a terse, curt missiTO of a page. 
R hft difj rig fht. q V\ 

1 did not live on letters only : I was visited. I was looked 
after ; once a week I was tiiken out to La Terrasse ; always 
I was made much of- Dr. Bret ton failed not to tell me whif 
he was so kind : * To keep away the nun,* he said ; * he was 






I 



302 



YILLETTE 



determined to diBpute with her her prey. He hftd tafcen,' \ 
he declared, ' & thorough dislike to her^ chiefly on nocoimiai 
that white face-cloth ^ and those cold grey eyes : the moment 
he heard of those odious particulars/ he affirmed » ' consuiD' 
mate disgust had incited him to oppose her ; be wu 
determined to try whether he or she was the cleTerest, and 
he only wished she would once more look in upon me wbaa 
he was present ' ; but that she never did. In short, he 
I regarded me scientifically in the light of a patient, and at 
lonoe exercised his professional skill, and gratified his 
nataral benevalence, by a comrse of cordial and attentiYe 
treatment. 

One evenings the first in December, I was walking by 
myself in the carr6 ; it was six o'clock ; the clasde-doors 
were closed, but, within, the pupils, rampant in the UceDoe 
of evening recreation, were counterfeiting a miniature chaos. 
The carr^ was quite dark, except- a red light shining under 
and about the stove; the wide glass-doors and the loog 
windows were frosted over ; a crystal sparkle of aturUght, 
here and there spangling this blanched winter veil« and 
breaking with scattered brilliance the paleness of its 
embroidery, proved tt a clear night, though moonleaa. 
That I should dare to remain thus alone in darimeif 
showed that my nerves ware regaining a healthy tone: I 
thought of the nun, but hardly feared her; though the 
staircase wasBShind me, leading up, through blind, black 
nighl, from landing to landing, to the haunted grenier. Yet 
I own my heart quaked, my pulfte leaped, when I suddenly 
heard breathing and rustling, and, turning, saw in the deep 
shadow of the steps a deeper shadow still— a shape thai 
m oved a nd descended. It paused a while at the olasse-door, 
and then it glided before me. Simultaneously came a cUq^H 
gour of the distant door-belL Life-like sounds bring life-iilJH 
feelings ; this shape was too round and low for my gaunt 
nun : it was only Mi\rftm'm" Beck on duty. 

' Mademoiselle Lucy 1 * cried Bosine, bursting in, lamp in 
hand, from the corridor, ' on est 14 pour vous au salon/ 



VASHTI 



303 



Ma^me snw me, I saw Madame, Bckaine saw oa bolh : 
then was no nmloal recognition. I made straight (or the 
salon. There I found what I own 1 anticipated I should 
find — Br, Bretton ; bat be was in erening-dress. 

' The cairiage is at the door/ said he ; * my mother has 
sent it to take you to the theatre ; &he waa going her8^« 
but an arriTal has prevented her; ehe immediately said, 
••Take Lacy in my place." Will you go?' 

'Jnsi now? I am not dressed,* cried I, glancing 
despairingly at my dark n^erino. 

* You hare half an hour to dress. I should have given 
yoa nodoe, but I only determined on going since five o'clock, 
when T heard there was to be a genuine regale in the 
presence of a great actress.* 

And he mentioned a name that thrilled me — a name that, 
in those days, could thrill Europe, It ib hushed now : its 
oooe lestless echoes are all still; she who bore it went 
yearo a^ to her rest : night and oblivion long since closed 
above her; but then her day — a da y of Sirius— stood at its 
i height, hghl and fervour. 

' m go ; I will be ready in ten minutes/ I vowed. And 
sway I flew« never once checked, reader^ by the thought 
which pefhapa at this moment checks you : n;%n]ely» that to 
gp aoywhere vrith Graham and without Mrs* Bretton could 
be ohfectionable. I could not have conceived, much less 
have expressed to Graham, such thought — such scruple — 
wilhomt risk ol exciting a tyrannous self -contempt : of kind- 
ling an inward foe of shame so quenchl^s, and so devour* 
isgt that I think it would soon have licked up the very life 
in my veins. Besides, my godmother, knowing her son, 
and knowing me, would as soon have thought of chaperoning 
a aister vrith a brother, as of keeping anxious guard over our 
ioonmings and outgoings. 

Tim present was no occasion for showy array ; my dun 
crape would suffice, and I sought the saoie in the great 
wanirobe in the domaitory, where hung no less thxm 
%j dresses. But there had been changes and reforms. 



m 



304 



VILLETTE 



and some innovating hand bad pruned this same crowded 
wardrobe, and carried divers garments to the grenier — my 
crape amongst the rest. I must fetch it. I got the key, 
and went aloft fearless, aloiost thoughtless. I unlocked the 
door, I plunged in. The reader may believe it or not, but 
when I thus suddenly entered, that garret was not wholly 
dark as it should have been : from one point there shone a 
solemn light, like a star, but broader* So plainly it shone, 
that it revealed the 4gep alcove with a portion of the 
tarnished scarlet curtain drawn over it. Instantly, silently, 
before my eyes. itj:a|xished ; so did the curtain and alcove : 
y^ ^ '^ ->. all that end of the garret be came blac k as night I ventured 
I /\ I no research ; I had not time nor will ; snatching my dress. 

t \)t^ which hung on the wall, happily near the door» I rushed 
;\^ ' out, relocked the door with convulsed haste, and darted 
downwards to the dormitory. 

But I trembled too much to dress myself : impossible to 
arrange hair or fasten hooks-and-eyea with such fingers, eo 
I called Bosine and bribed her to help me. .Bosine liked a 
bribe, so she did her best, smoothed and plaited my hair as 
well as a coiffeur would have done, placed the lace collar 
mathematically straight, tied the neck-ribbon accurately — in 
short, did her work like the neat-handed Phillis she could be 
when she chose. Having given me my handkerchief and 
gloves, she took the candle and lighted me down-slairs. 
After all, I had forgotten my shawl ; she ran back to fe4ch 
it; and I stood with Dr. John in the vestibule, waiting, 

'What is this, Lucy?' said he, looking down at mo 
narrowly. 'Here is the old excitement. Hat the aun 

again ? * """'•-- • 

But I utterly denied the charge: I was vexed te» be 
suspected of a second illusion. He was sceptical 

' She has been, as sure as I live,* said he ; * her fii;vii« 
crossing your eyes leaves on them a peculiar gleam and 
expression not to be mistaken.* 

' She has not ^>eeu/ I persisted : for« indeed, I ooold 
deny her appantiou with truth* 



4 




VASHTt 



sm 



' The old symptoms arc there/ he affirmed ; * a particular 
ale, and what the Scotch call a " raised ** look/ 

He was so obstinate, I thought it better to tell him what 
I really hcul^BBtn. Of course with him it was held to be 
another effect of the same cause : it was all optical illusion — 
nervous malady, and so on. Not one bit did I believe him ; 
but I dared not contradict : doctors are so self-opinionated, ^(r\ 
immovable in their dry, materialist views. ■^-^ 

Bosine brought the shawl, and I was bundled into the 
carriage. 




The theatre was full — crammed to its roof : royal anrl 
noble were there : palace and hotel had emptied their 
inmates into those tiers so thronged and so hushed. Deeply 
did I feel myself privileged in having a place before that 
stage ; I longed to see a being of whose powers I had heard 

frts which made me conceive jKiculiar anticipations. I 

dered i( she would justify her renown : with strange 
uriosity, with feelings severe and austere, yet of riveted 
interest, I waited. She was a study of such nature as had 
Doi encountered my eyes yet : a great and new planet she 
was : but in what shape ? I waited her rising, q. 

She rose at nine that December night : above the horizon 
I saw her come. She could shine yet with pale grandeur 
,and steady might; but that__9tar verged already on its 
judgment-day. Seen nearj it was a chaos— hollow, half- 
consumed : an orb perished or perishing— half lava, half 
glow. '""^ 

I had heard this woman termed * plain/ and I expected 
bony harshness and grimness — something largo, angular, 
sallow. What I saw was the shadow of a royal Ysb^ti : a 
queen, fair as the day once, turned pale now like twilight, 
and wasted like wax in flame. 

For awhile— a long while— I thought it was only a 
woman, though an unique woman, who moved in might and 
graoe befoi^e this multitude. By-and-by I recognised my 
mistake. Behold I I found upon her something* neither ol 



^ 



,^' 



806 



VILLBTTE 



I' 




woman nor of man : in each of her ey es sat a devil. Thea 
evil lorcesTjore her iteraUfih th6 tragedy, kept op her feet 
strength— for she was but a frail creature ; and aa the actio 
rose and the stir deepened, how wildly they shook her wit 
their passions of the pit I They wrote hell on her straigh 
haughty brow. They tuned her voice to the note of iof- 
ment. They writhed her regal face to a demoniac 
Hate and Murder and Madness incarnate she stood. 

It was a marvellous sight : a mighty revelation. 

It was a spectacle low, horrible, im moral. ^^_ 

Swordsmen thrust th roughs and dying in their Mood on 
the arena sand ; bulls goring horses disembowelled, made a 
meeker vision for the public — a milder condiment for a 
people's palate — than Vashti torn by seven devils : devils 
which cried sore and rent the tenement they haunted* bul 
still refused to be exorcised. fl 

Buffering had struck that stage empress ; and ste" 
stood before her audienee neither yielding to, nor enduring, 
nor, in finite measure, resenting it : she stood locked in 
struggle, rigid in resistance. She stood, not dresaed, but 
draped in pale fuatique folds, long and regular like sculpture. 
A background and entourage and flooring of deepest criimoQ 
threw her out, white like alabaster— like silver: rather, be il 
said, like Death. 

Where was the artist of the Cleopatra ? Let him come 
and sit down and study this different vision. Let him seek 
here the mighty brawn, the muscle, the abounding blood, the 
full-fed flesh he worshipped : let all materialists draw nigjb 
and look on. '^ " ""^ 

I have said that she does not resent her grief. No ; 
weakness of that word would make it a lie. To her, wh 
hurts becomes immediatelY embodied : she looKson it m a 



niflh 

J 



thing that can be attacked, worried down, torn in shreds. 
Scarcely a substance herself, she grapples to oonflid with 
abstractions. Before calamity she is a tigr^s; she raids 
her woes, shivers them in convulsed abhorrenoe^ Pain, for 
her, has no result in good : tears water no harvest d 






c,^ 




VASHTI 



307 



om : on siclmess, on death itself, ahe looks with the 
Bye of a rebel. Wicked, perhaps, she is» but tiho she is 
strong ; and her strength has conquered Beauty, has over- 
come Grace, and bound both at her aide, captives peerlessly 
£air, and docile as fair. Even in the uttermost frenzy of 
energy is each mesnad movement royally, imperially, in* 
oedingly upborne. Her hair, flying loose in revel or war» is 
still an angel's hair, and glorious under a halo. Fallen, in- 
surgent, banishedi she remembers the heaven where she 
rebelled. Heaven's light, following her exile, pierces its 
confines, and discloses their forlorn remoteness. 

Place now the Cleopatra, or any other slug, before her 
as an obstacle, and see her cut through the pulpy mass as 
the scimitar of Saladin clove the down cushion. Let Paul 
Peter^uhfiiia^wake from the dead, let him rise out 'oPhis" 
cerements, and bring into this presence all th e army of his 
fa t women; the magian power or prophet- virtue gifting thab 
sliglit rod of Moses could, at one waft, release and re- 
mingle a sea spell-parted, whelming the heavy host with the 
down-rush of overthrown sea-ramparts. 

Vashti was not good, I was told ; and I have said she 
did not look good : though a spirit, she was a spirit out of 
Tophgt.,^ We U|Jfs5^muc h of unholy force can arise from^ 
BeiowTmay Mt an egdffl etH uxof sacroci essence de^iC fldadJtt^a^ 
"3ay from above ?Z ^"^~^ " ^""^ - * 

What thought Dr. Graham of this being ? 

For long intervals I forgot to look how he demeaned 
himself, or to question what he thought. The strong mag- 
netism of genius drew my heart out of its wonted orbit ; the 
suniSower turned from the south to a fierce light, not solar 
— a rushing, red, cometary light — hot on vision and to 
sensation. J_^ hfMJ ftf*"^ 'Y^*^'"6 Koff^FP K»t T^a^niF «>»^rfK;>^g 
ke thia^ never anything which astonished Hope Atiij 
Hu shed Desire^; which outstripped Impulse and paled Cq iu^ 

^^n^ r^^^^hi ^"^^-^^ ^f "^flrft^Y irntating imftgin&tior^ 

ith the tho afib t of vvhaL mig/ii be done, at the same time, 

Bvermg thejf^r^*^ because it was rtot done, disclosed power _ 



HOB 



VILLETTE 



^swollen winter rivor, thu ndering in catarac t, 
. jffliriiEe a Ieat» on i be steep and steely aweep^ 
Jts^CfiCgnt^ > . , 

MisB Fan&hawG, with her usual ripeness of jadgmocDt, 
pronounced Dr. Bretton a serious, impassioned man, loo 
grave and too impressible, Not in such light did I ever see 
him : no such faults could I lay to his charge. His naiuial 
attitude was not the meditative, nor his natural mood the 
sentimental ; impresmmiable be was as dimpling wiUer, hul 
almost as water, unimpressibU : the breeze^ the sun» movi 
him— metal could not grave, nor fire brand. 

Dr. John omild think and think well, hut he was rather » 
man of notion than of thought ; he could feel, and feel vividly 
in his way, but his heart had no chord for enthusiasm : to 
bright, soft, sweet influenoes his eyes and lips gave bright, 
soft, sweet welcome, beautiful to see as dyes of rose and silver, 
pearl and purple, imbuing summer clouds ; for what belonged 
to storm, what was wild and intense, dangerous, sudden, and 
tlaming, he had no sympathy, and held with it no 
muni on. When I took time and regained inclination 
glance at him, it amused and enlightened me to discover 
that he was watching that sinister and sovereign Vaahti. 
not with wonder, nor worship, nor yet dismay, but simpK' 
with intense curiosity. Her agony did not pain him, b^ 
wild moan - worse than a shriek— did not much move bim; 
her fury rcvoltc^d him somewhat, but not to the point d 
horror. Cool young Briton \ The pale cliflfs of his own 
England do not look down on the tide* of the Channel mm 
calmly than be watched the Pythian inspiration of thit 
night. 

Looking at his face, I longed to know his exa^ opiniooif 
and at last I put a question tending to elicit them. At the 
sound of my voice he awoke as if out of a dream ; for he hd 
been ihiuking, and very intentJy thinking, his own ihoughu, 
after his own manner. * How did he like Vaabti? * 1 wisb^ 
to know. 
' Hm*m-m,' was the first scarce articulate but expreasifB 



I, and 
coai>J| 

Doverfl 

4 




VASHTI 



309 



answer; and then such a strange smile went wandering 
round hia lips, a smile so ciitieal, so almost callous ! I sop- 
pose that for Datures of that order his sympathies were cal- 
lous. In a few terse phrases he told me his opinion of» and 
feeling towards, the actress : he judff jirl ^'^^ ^"^ ** wnn^An nM 
an j,rfcist : it was a hraydjp ^ jtid g mftnt. 

That night was already marked in my book of lite. not_ 

with white, but with a^deep-red crosB_,_ But I had not done 

with it yet ; and other memoranda were destined to be set 

^pwn in charac1kji*s of tint indt^ible. i 

^g ToM^rde midnight, when the deepening tragedy black-/ 

^ped to the death-scene, and all held their breath, and even 

^■rahaii) bit his under-lip, and knit his brow, and sat still 

and struck — when the whole theatre was hushed, when th(* 

vision of all eyes centred in one point, when all ears listened 

towards one quarter— nothing being seen but the white form 

sunk on a Beat, quivering in conflict with her last, hi-r woi'sl 

hated, her visibly-conquering foe— nothing heani but hei 

throeSf her gaspings, breathing yet of mutiny, panting stil 

defiance ; when, as it seemed, an inordinate will, con^-uLsing^ 

a perishing moilal frame, benti it to battle with doom aud 

Eth, fought every inch of ground, sold every drop of blood, 
sted to the latest tlie rape of evei'y faculty, would see, 
ild hear, tmuld breathe, wovld live, up to, within, Well-I 
nigh beyofid the moment when death says to all sense an^ 

a il being—* Thus far and no farther ! ' * 

^^ Just then a stir, pregnant with omen, rustic behind the 
Hpenes — feet ran, voices spoke. What was it ? demanded 
^be whole house. A flame, a sme ll of smoke replied. 

• Mre I * rang through the gallery. ' Fire I ' was repeated, 
iQ-echoed, yelled forth : and then, :tiid fuadt^r than pen can 
sel il down, came panic, rushing, crushing — a blind, selfish, 
cmal chaos. 

And Dr. John ? Reader, I see him yet, with his look of 
oomely courage and cordiaL£9Jm, 

* Lucy will sit still, I know,* said he. glancing down at me 
wi^ the same serene goodness, the same repose of finnness 



J 




I^ 



310 



VILLETTE 



f. 



r 



be loefl 

30- 

en* 

4 



that I have seen in him when sittiDg at his aide amid 
secure peace of his iiiotber'a hearth. Yea, thus adjured, 
thmk I would have sat still tmder a rooking crag ; but, indeed* 
to ait still in actual circumBttinces was my instinct ; and at 
the price of my very Me I would not have moved to give 
him trouhlOj thw art hi a w ill» or make demands on bis atten* 
tion. Wd ware in the atalB^ and for a few minutea tbasia 
was a most terrible, ruthless pressure about ua, 

' How terriBed are the women 1 ' aaid he ; ' but if the 
were not almost equally so, order might be maini 
This is a sorry scene : I aee fifty selfish brutes at this mo 
meot, each of whom, if I were near, I could conscientiously 
knock down, I see some women braver than some men. 
There is one yonder — Good God I ' 

While Graham was apeatttng, a young girl who had been 
very quietly and steadily clinging to a gentleman before 
was suddenly struck from her protector's arms by a bij 
butcherly introder, and hurled under the feet of the crowd.1 
Scarce two second 8 lasted her disappearance. Oimham 
rushed forwards; be and the gentleman* a poweirfui man 
though grey*haired, united their strength to thrust back the 
throng ; her head and long hair fell back over his shoulder : 
she seemed unconscious. 

'Trust her with me; I am a medical man/ said Or. 
John. 

' If you have no lady with you, be it ao/ was the answer. 
' Hold her, and I will force a passage : we must get her to 
tbaj»ir/ 
y""^ * I have a lady/ said Graham : * but she will be neither 
V^ ^hind ranee nor incumbrance.* 

He summoned me with his eye: we were sepumled 
Resolute, however, to rejoin him, I penetrated the living 
barrier, creeping under where I could not get between 
over. 

' Fasten on me, and don't leave go/ he said ; and 
obeyed him. 

Our pioneer proved strong and adroit; he opened the 



"» 




VA9HTI 



311 



deBse mass like a wedge ; with patience and toil be at last 
bored through the flesh* and -blood rock — bo solid, hot, and 
aijfibcating — and brought ub to the fresh, freezing night, 

* You are an Englishman I * aaid he, turning shortly on 
Dr, Bretton, when we got into the street, 

* An Englishman. And I speak to a countryman ? ' was 
the reply. 

* Right, Be good enough to stand here two minutes, 
whilst I bnd my carriage.' ' \ 

* Papa, 1 am not hurt/ said a girlish voice ; ' am I with / 
papa ? * 

* You are with a friend, and your father is close at 
b&nd/ 

* Tell him 1 am not hurt, except just in my shoulder. 
Oh, my shoulder 1 They trod just here.' 

* Dislocation, perhaps ! ' muttered the Doctor ; ' let us 
hope there is no worse injury done. Lucy, lend a hand 
OD6 instant.' 

And I assisted while he made some arrangement of 
drapery and position for the ease of his suffering burden. 
She suppressed a moan, and lay in his arms quietly and 
patiently. 

* She is very hght/ said Graham, *likift a child ! * and he 
asked in my ear, * Is she a child, Lucy ? Did you notice 
her age ? ' 

* I am not a child — I am a pe rson jof ^vente en.' re- 
sponded the patient, demurely anH^with dignity. Then, 
directly alter : * Tell papa to come ; I get anxious/ 

The carriage drove up ; her father relieved Graliam ; but 
in the exchange from one bearer to another she was hurt, 
I and moaned again. 

* My darUng 1 ' said the father, tenderly ; then turning to 
(Graham^ * You said, air, you are a medical man ? * 

* I am : Dr. Bretton, of L;i Terrasse/ 
' Good. Will you step into my carriage ? * 
' My own carriage ts here : I will seek it, and accompany 



913 



VILLETTE 



^^ 






■rt<*5 



>o) 



St''** 



V 



Z 



Be pleased, then, to follow us/ And he named 
Address: 'The H6tel Cr6cy, iu th<3 Rue Cf6cy/ 

We followed ; the cjirriage drove fast ; myBelf_a gd 
Graham were silent. This seemed like an adventure. 

Borne little time being ioBt in seeking our own equipage, 
we reached the hotel perhaps about ten minutes after thet^M 
Btrangers. It was an hotel in the foreign stinse : acoUeciioisI 
of dwelliog-houses, not an inn— a vast, lofty pile, with a 
huge arch to its street-door» leading through a vaulted 
cuverod way, into a square all built round. 

We alighted, passed up a wide, handsome public stair 
case, and stopped at Num^ro 2 on tfa<:j second landing ; 
firsti floor comprising the abode of I know not wti 
* prince Busse,' as Graham infoi^med me! On ringing thai 
bell at a second great door, we were admitted to a suite i 
very handsome apartments. Announced by a servant mj 
livery, we entered a drawing-room whose hearth glowe 
with an English fire, and whose walls gleamed with foreij 
mirrors. Near the hearth appeared a litUe group : a aligb 
form sunk in a deep arnj-ohair, one or tw^o women bo 
about it, the iron-grey gentleman auKiously looking on. 

' Where is Harriet ? I wish Harriet would come to me,*-^ 
said the girlishvofceTlaintly. 

* Where is Mrs* Hurat ? * demanded the gentleamn im< 
patiently and somewhat sternly of the man-strv:LUt who LhJ 
admitted us. 

' I am sorry to say she is gone out of town, sir ; mj , 
young lady gave her leave till to-morrow/ 

' Yea — I did— I did. She is gone to see her sister ; I 
said she might go : I remember now,' interposf-d the young | 
lady ; * but I am so sorry, for Manon and Loulson cannOl 
understand a word I say, and they hurt me without m€«niD|S^ 
to do so.* 

Dr. John and the gentleman now interchanged greetings;] 
and while they passed a few minutes in consultation, I ap^J 
preached the easy-chair» and seiing what the faint ac 
binking girl wished to have done, I did it for her. 



VASHTI 



313 






«fclU 



I was still occiipied in the arrangoment, when Gmham 

BW near ; he was no less skilled in surgery than medicine, 

'and. on examination, found that no further advice than his 

own was necessary to the treatment of the present case. He 

ordered her to bo carried to her chamber, and whispered to 

_me : — * Go w^ith the women, Lucy ; they seem but dnll ; you 

aan at least direct their movements, and thus spare her some 

pain. She must be touched very tenderly.* 

The chamber was a room shadowy with pale-blue 
hangings, vaporous with eurtainings and veilings of muslin ; 
the bed seemed to me like snow-drift and mist— spotless, 
soft, and gauzy. Making the women stand apart. I un- 
dressed their mistress, without their well-meaning hut olomsy 
aid. I was not in a sufficiently collected mood to note with 
Ejparate distinctness every detail of the attire I removed, 
but T received a gcnenil impression of refinement, delicacy, 
and perfect personal cultivation ; which, in a period of after- 
thought, offered in my reflections a singular contrast to 
I notes retained of Miss Ginevra Fanshawe b appoiutments. 
[ The girl was herself a small, delicate creature, but made 
iUke a model. As I folded back her plentiful yet fine hair, so 
shining and soft, and so exquisitely tended, I had"^mTder my 
observation a young, pale, weary, but hiRh-brod face. The 
brow was smooth and clear ; the eyebrows were distinct, but 
aoft, and melting to a mere trace at the temples ; the eyes 
were a rich gift of nature — fine and full, largOt deep, seeming 
to hold dominion over the slighter subordinate features — 
capable, probably, of much significance at another hour and 
under other circumstances than the present, but now languid 
and suffering. Her skin was perfectly fair, the neck and 
hands veined finely like the petals of a flower ; a thin glaring 
of the ice of pride polished this dedicate exterior, and her lip 
wore a curl — I doubt not inherent and unconscious, hut 
which, if I had seen it first with the accompanimen s of 
health and state, would have struck me as unwarrantt^d, and 
proving in the little lady a quite mistaken view of life and 
^ Jier own consequence. ^ 

1_ 9.K 



314 



VILLETTE 



Her demeanour under the Dootor's hands at first ex( 
a smile ; it was not puerile— rather, on the whole, pati 
and firm — but yet, onoe or twice she addressed him wil 
suddenness and sharpness, saying that he hurt her, 
must contrive to give her less pain ; I saw her lai 
eyes, too, settle on his face tike the solemn eyes of soi 
pretty, wondering child. I know not whether 6r&hai^ 
felt this examination : if he did, he was cautious not to 
check or discomfort it hy any retaliatory look. I tliinj^H 
he performed his work with extreme care and gentIeoe$^^| 
sparing her what pain he could ; and she acknowledge as 
much, when he had done, by the words :— ' Thunk yoo, 
Dootor, and good-night/ very gratefully pronounced; as 
phe uttercMi them, however, it was with a repetition of the 
serions, direct gaze, I thought, peculiar in its gravit y 
intentness. 

The injuries, it seems, were not ditngeroua : an 
which her father received with a smile that almost made 
his friend— it was so glad and gratified. He now exprei 
his obligations to Graham with as much earnestness 
befitting an Englishman addressing one who has sei 
but is yet a stranger ; he also begged him to call the 
day. 

' Papa,* said a voice from the veiled ooueh, * thank Ihi 
lady, too ; is she there ? * 

I opened the curtain with a smile, and looked in at bar. 
She lay now at comparative ease ; she looked pretty, thott^ 
pale ; her face was delicately designed, and if at first ii^ 
it appeared proud, I believe custom might prove it lobt 
soft. 

'I thank the lady very sincerely,' said her father 
fancy she has been very good to my child. I think 
scarcely dare tell Mrs. Hurst who has been her subetii 
and done her work : ^^ will feel at onoe ashamed and 
jealous/ 

And thus, in the moat friendly spirit, parting gfeetiDgs 
were interchanged ; and refreshment having been hoe|iitaUy 



VASHTI 



315 



offered, but by us« ae it waa late, refui^d, we withdrew from 
the H6tel Cr6oy. 

On our way back we repaseed the theatre. All was silence 
and darkness : the roaring, rushing crowd all vanished and 
gone — the lamps, as well as the incipien t^ fire, extinct and 
forgotten. Next morning's papers explainei! that it was hut 
some loose drapery on which a spark had falleOi and which 
blazed up and been quenched in a moment. 



Ll-^ 



CHAPTEE XXIY 



M, DE BASBOMFIEBE& 



Those i^ho live in retiroment, whose lives have falteti amid 
the seclusion of Bchools or of other wallBd-in and guarded 
dwellings, are liable to bo suddenly and for a lon§ whila^ 
dropped out of the memory of their friends, the denizers rfl 
a freer world* Unaccountably, perhaps^ and close upon I 
some space of unusually frequent intercourse— gome con- 
geries of rather exciting little circumstances, whose natunl 
sequel would rather seeoi to be the quickening than iha 
suspension of communication — there falls a stilly pauses i 
wordless silence, a long blank of oblivion, Unbrokenj 
always is this blank ; alike entire and uncKplalned. 
letter, the Sfesiage once frequent, are cut off; the vifiili 
formerly periodical » ceases to occur; the book, paper, 
other token that indicated remembrance, comes no more* 

Always there are excellent reasons for these lapsei, if 
the hermit but knew them. Though he is stagnant in bii 
cell, his connections without are whirling in the very vortei 
of life. That void interv^al which passes for him so slowljf 
that the very clocks seem at a stand, and the wingless hoQfi 
plod by in the likeness of tired tramps prone to rest at mil^ 
stones — that same interval, perhaps, teems with events* aid 
pants with hurry for his friends. 

The henuit -if he bo a sensible hermit — will swallow tm 
own thoughts, and lock up his own emotions doriiig Iheit 
weeks of inward winter. He will know that Desttn; 
designed him to imitate, on occasion, the dormouse, and be 



\t^«'" 



N»\ 



X^ 



IL DB BAB80M PIERRE SIT 

'«rill be oonfoniiable : make a tidy ball of himself, creep iiito 
s hol^jiLliigls waU, and submit deceotly to the drift which 
blowa iu and eoon blocks him up, preserving him in ice (or 







Lit him B^y, ' II is quite right : it o pgbt jo be so , sinoe 
it la.' And, perb&ps, one day his iDO^^Bgpalc^ fc will 
t, spring's softness will return, the gun and souih vnttd 
reach him; the budding of hedgeg, and carolling of 
liirds, and singiog of liberated streams, will call hi in to kindly 
YiBSOiTeetion. Perhaps this may be the case, perhaps not ; 
the Iroat may get into his heart and never thaw wore ; when 
spring csomes, a orow or a pie may pick out of the wail only 
bis dormouse- bones. Well, even in thut ease, all will be 
ti^ii : it is to be supposed he knew from the fii^t he was 
matUdi and must one day go the way of all flesh, * As wi^ 
BQon a* ^rne.' 

Following that eventful evening at the theatre, oame 
for mil seven weeks as bare as seven abe ete ol blank pap^ : 
no word was writteo on one of iham ; not a visit, not 4 



Abont Ihft middle of that time I entertained fancies that 
somelhing had happened to my friends at La Terraaae. 
The mid-bla&k is always a beclouded point (or the soht^y J 
hjB netrvea ache with the strain of long expectancy; the 
doubts hitherto repelled ^ther now to a mass and — strong 
in ananmnlAtion — roll back upon him with a force which 
itvoius of vindictiveness. Night, too, becomes an unkindly 
Ifane, and sleep and hia nature cannot agree : strange stazls 
Mid struggles harase his couch : the sinister band of bed 
with horror o£ calamity, and stok dread of entice 
ion at their head, join the league against him. Poor 
1 1 He does his best to bear up, but be ia a poof f 
iad. wasting wretch, despite that best 
Towards the last of these kmg seven weeks I admitted « 
^hal through the other six I had jealously excluded — ihe 
iviolioii that these blanks weite inevilable : the result of 
rircomstoaces, the fiat of latey & part of my life a lot, and — 



318 



VILLETTE 



'^ 



* 






y 



a^bove all— a matter about whose origiD no question 
ever be asked» for whost; paiaful sequeBce dq murmur ever 
uttered. Of oourBe I did not bkjcae myself for suffering : I 
thank God I had a truer sense of justice than to tall into 
any imbecile extravagance of seU-aocusation ; and as to 
blaming others for siieooe, in my reason I well knew them 
blameless, and in my heart acknowledged them so ; bal il 
was a rough and heavy road to travel* and I longed for 
' better days. 

I tried different expedients to sustain and fiil ^xji tenoe ; 
I oommenced an elaborate piece of laoe-workp j tf budieJ 
German pretty hard, I undertook a course of regular reading 
of the dnest and thicke st boo ks in the library ; in all my 
efforts I was as orthodoi as 1 knew how to be. Was iheie 
error somewhere ? Yeiy likely. I only know the result wu 
aa if I had gnawed a hie to satisfy hunger, or drank brina 
to quench thirst. 

My hour of torment was the post-hour. Unfortunately, 
I knew it too well, and tried as vainly as assiduously to 
cheat myself of that knowledge; dreading the rack d 
expectation, and the sick collapse of disappointment whii^ 
daily preceded and followed upon tliat well -recognised ring. 

I suppose ibnimala kept in cages, and so scantily fed u 
to be always upon the verge of famine, await their food ai I 
awaited a letter. Oh t — to speak truth, and drop that Um 
of^a lals^S^calm which long to sustain, outwears natuie^a 
endurance— 1 underwent in thoaa flav^ y^aka bitter feaA 
and ptiins, strange inward trials, miseraUe^^feotioni of 
hope, in tolerable enoroachments of_despw. This last eame 
BO near me sometimas that her breathwent right Ibroogk 
me* 1 used to feel it Uke a baleful air or sigh, paaelnii 
deep, and make motion pause at my heart, or proceed only 
under unspeakable oppression. The letter— the well- 
letter —wmiMj^tcome ; and it was all of sweetness in lt(e| 
had to look for. 
^ In the very extremity of want, I had recourse again, sod 
/yet again, to ths Utile packet in the ca0&— the^_five lettdn 



M. DE BA9S0MPIERRE 



319 



t 






ndid ibal mootb seamed wboee skies had beheld 
o( th«B«Jivfl gtara t It WAS ftlwaya ai nighl I 
Lited them, and* not daring to aak every evening for % 
eandle in the kitchen, I bought a wax taper and matches to 
light it, and at ihe study-hour stole up to the dormitory and 
feiBted on my crust from the Baimecide's loaf* It did not 
nourish me : I pinod on it^ and got as thin as a shadow : 
otherwise I was not iU. 

Beading there somewhat late one evening, and feeling 
Ibat the power to read was leaving me -for tlie letters from 
ixMSoraani pemsii were losang all sap and significance : my 
gold was withering to leaves before my eyes, and I was sor- 
rowing aver the disillusion^ suddenly a quick tripping foot 
ran up the stairs. I knew Ginevra Fanshawe's step : she 
had dined in town that afternoon rsG^- was now returned* aoS 
would oome here to replace her shawl, Stc. in the wardrobe. 
Yes : in she oame, dressed in bright silk, with her shawl 

I (ailing from her shoulders, and her curls, half -uncurled in 

^^lliti damp of night, drooping careless and heavy upon her neck. 

^■E had hardly time to recasket my treasures and lock them 

^Hip when she was at my side : her humour seemed none of 
the b<»3t. 

^^ * Ii has been a stupid evening : they are stupid people/ 

^H^e bei^au, 

^™ 'Who? Mrs. Cholmondeley ? I thought you always 
found her house charming? ' 

^L ' I have not been to Mrs. Cholmondeley*s.' 

^^^^Indeed I Have you made new acqoaintanoe 7 ' 

^^^^Bdy uncle de Bassompierre is come/ 

^^^^Tour uncle do Ditssompua le I Are 3rott not glad 7— I 
thought he was a favourite.' 

* You thought wrong : the man ia odious ; I hate him.* .^ 

* Because he is a foreigner ? or for what otiier reason of 
equiJ wei^t ? ' 

' He is not a foreigiser. The man is EngUsb enough, 
goodness knows ; and had an EngUsh naii^ till thiee or four 
jenzB ago ; but his mother was a foreigner, a de Bassom- 



fr 






320 



Vll^LETTE 



\ 

•J' 










pierre, and some of ber family are dead aud have left 
bstatea, a title, and this name : he h quite a great man now.' 

* Do you bate him for Lhut rGason ? * 
*Don*t I know what itiamma says about him? 

not my own uncle, but manied miunma*s sister. Mi 
dates ts him ; she says he killed aun' Ginevru. with ui 
neas : he looks Like a bear. Such a dismal eyening i ' shi 
on. * I'U go no more to his big hotel. Fancy me walioBg into 
a room alone, and a great man fifty years old ooming forwards, 
and after a few ounuteB' conversation actually turning hiii 
back upon me, and then abruptly going out of the rooi 
Buch odd ways ! I daresay his conscience smote him* U 
they all say at home I am the picture of aunt Gioevt 
Mamma ofU.ni declares the likeness is quite ndioulous.' 

' Were you the only visitor? ' 

*The only vis i war? Yes; then there was miasy, my 
cousin : little spoiled, p ampered thinj^.' 

^ M. "de BassonipL^rfe has a daughter ? ' 

* Yes, yes : don't tease one with questions. Oh, dear 1 1 
am so tired/ 

K 8he yawned. Throwing herself without oeremcHiy oo 
my bed she added, ' It seei^js Mademoiselle was neariy 
crushed to a jelly in a hubbub at the theatre acme weeb 
ago/ 

* Ah 1 indeed. And they Uve at a large hotel in the Bm 
Cr^cy?* 

* Justement. How do yoa« know ? * 
*I have been there/ 
'Oh, you have? Really! You go everywhere in 

day«r. I suppose Mother Bretton took you. She 
Escuiapiu s have the entr^ of the de Bassompierre apart* 
iDentB : it seems '' my son John *' attended jni^y on theooGi* 

^ sion of her accident — Accident ? Bah ! All afilaelatkm t I 

don't think she was squee?.ed more than she richly deaenrea 

^f or her airs. And now there is quite an intimacy struck up - 

/ 1 heard something about " auld iang syne/' and what not. 

/ Ob, how stupid they all were I * 







.A 



I 



M. DE BASSOMPIEEBB 



S9l 



AU I You said yon were the only visitor/ 

Did I ? You see one forgets to partiouiarise ad old 

wom&u &ad bar boy.' 

'Dt. and Mrs. BretWn were at M. de Baaaomperre 9 

this evening ? ' 

* Ay, ay ! aa large as life ; and missy played the hostess. 

EWhat a oonoeited doll it is I ' 
Som^ and listless, Mies Fanshawe was beginning to 
disclose the causes of her prostrate condition. There bad 
been a retrenchmeot of inoense, a diversion or a total ^b- 
bolding of homage and attention : coquetry had failed of] 
effect, vanity had undergone mortification. She lay fumiDgj 
in the vapours, -^ 

' Is Miss de Bassompierre quite well now? ' I aaked. 
•As weU as you or I, no doubt; but she is an affected 
little thing, and gave herself invalid airs to attract medical 
notioe. And to see the old dowager making her recline on a 
eoucb^ and '* my son John " prohibiting excitement, etcetera— 
faugh ! the scene wasquite sickening/ 

' It would not have been so if the object of attention had 
been changed : if you had taken Miss de Bassompierre 's 
place.' 

* Indeed ! I hate " my son John 1 " * 

* *• My son John i *' — whom do you indicate by that 
name ? Dr. Bretton's mother never calls him so,' 

* Then she ought, A clownish, bearish John he ia/ 

* You violat-e the tnith in saying so f^d as the^ whole of 
my patience is now spun off the distaff, I peremptorily desire 
you to rise from that bed, and vacate this room/ 

* Passionate thing I Your face is the colour of a coqueli- 
oot, I wonder what always makes you so mighty teaty 
h Tendroit du gros Jean ? " John Anderson, my jo, John 1 ** 
Oh, the distinguished name ! * — ■ — - 

ThriUing with exasperation, to which it would have been 

folly to have given vent — for there was no contending 

that unsubstantial featherj^.^hat^ mealy -winged moih--^ 

exiinguiabed my taperrioc^d u 



32^ 



VILLETTE 



Rince she would not leave me. Small-beer as ahe waSi 
bad turned inauflferably acid. 

The morrow was Thursday aud a half-holiday. Break- 
faBt was over; I had \\ithdrawti to the first claese. The 
dreaded hour, the post-houTp was nearing, and I sat waitiiig 
it, much as a ^hQ^ t-seer might wait his spectre. Leae than 
ever was a letter probable ; still, strive as I wotdd, 1 
could not forget that it was possible. As the moments 
lessened, a restlessness and fear almost beyond the avera^ 
assailed me. It was a day of winter east wind, and I had 
now for some time entered into that dreary fellowship with 
the winds and their changes, so little known, so incompre- 
hensible to the healthy. The north and east owned a ter- 
rific influence, making all piin more poignant, all sorrow 
sadder. The south could calm^ the west sometimes cheer ^ 
unless, indeed, they brought on their wings the burden 
thunder-clouds, under the weight and warmth of which 
energy died. 

Bitter and dark as was this January day, I remember 
leaving the classe, and running down without bonnet to the 
bottom of the long garden, and then lingering amongst the 
stripped shrubs, in the forlorn hope that the postman's ring 
might occur while I was out of hearing, and I might 
thus be spared the thriU which some pe^rticular nerve or 
nerveSi almost gnawed through with the unremitting tooUi 
of a fixed idea, were becoming wholly unfit to support 1 
Lingered as long as I dared without fear of attraoliiig 
attention by my absence. I muffled my head in my aptO]i« 
and stopped my ears in terror of the torturing clang, sure to 
be followed by such blank silence, such barren vacuum for 
me. At last I ventured to re-enter the first classe, where, 
as it was not yet nine o'clock, no pupils had been admitted. 
The first thing seen was a white object on my black desk, a 
white, flat object. The post had, indeed, arrived ; by me 
unheard. Hosine had visitetl my celt, and, like sonid 
angel, had left behind her a bright token of her presenes. 
That shining thing on the desk was indeed a letter, « 



1 



M. DE BASSOMPIERRE 



323 



real letter; I saw ao mnch at the distance of three yards, 
and as I had but one correspondent on earth, from that one 
it must come. He remembered me yet. How deep a pulsej i 
of gratitude sent oew life through my heart 

Drawing near, bending and looking on the letter, in 
trembling but almost certain hope of seeing a known hand, 
it was my lot to find, on the contrar}^ an autograph for the 
moment deemed unknown — a pale female scrawl, instead of 
a firm, masculine character. I then thought fate was too 
hard for me, and I said, audibly, * This is cruel,* 

But 1 got over that pain also. Life is still life, whatever 
its pangs : our eyes and ears and their use remain with us, 
though the prospect of what pleases be wholly withdrawn^ 
and the sound of what consoles be quite silenced. 

I opened the billet : by thia time I bad recognised its 
handwriting as perfectly familiar. It was dated * La 
Terrasse,' and it ran thus : — 



\(^' 



l\^ 



* Dear Lucy, — It occurs to me to inquire what you have 
been doing with yourself for the last month or two ? Not 
that I suspect you would have the least difficulty in giving 
an account of your proceedings, I daresay you have been 
just as busy and as happy as ourselves at La Terrasse. As 
to Graham, his professional connection extends daily : he is 
so much sought after, so much engaged, that I tell him he 
will grow quite conceited. Like a right good mother, as I 
am, I do my best to keep him down.: no flattery does he get 
from me, as you know. And yet, Lucy, he is a fine fellow : 
his mother*8 heart dances at the sight of him. After being 
hurried here and there the whole day, and passing the ordeal 
of fifty sorts of tempers, and combating a hundred caprices, 
and sometimes witnessing cruel sulTerings^perhaps, oc- 
casionally, as I tell him, inflicting them — at night be still 
comes home to me in such kindly, pleasant mood, that 
really, I seem to live iu a sort of moral antipodes, and on 
thfifld January evenings my day rises when other people^a 
night sets in. 



334 



VILLETTE 



cf 



V^ 



xv^ 



* Still he needs keeping in order, and correcting, 
repressing, and I do him that good service ; but the boy i 
so elastic there is no such thing as vexing him thoraughl; 
When I think I have at last driven him to the gullens, 
turns on me with jokes for retaliation ; but you know hi 
and all bis Iniquities* and I am but an elderly simpleton 
make him the subject of this epistle. 

' As for me, I have had my old Bretton agent here on % 
vigit, and have been plunged over head and ears in boBinaBS 
matters, I do so wish to regain for Graham at least Bome 
part of what his father left him. He laughs to sootd roy 
anxiety on this point, bidding me look and see how be can 
provide for himself and me too, and asking what the old 
lady can possibly want that she has not ; hinting about sk; 
blue turbans ; accusing me of an ambition to wear diamoni 
keep livery servants, have an hotel, and lead the fafibioD 
amongst the English clan in Yillette. 

* Talking of sky-blue turbans, I wish you had been with 
us the other evening. He had come in really tired, and 
after I had given him his tea, he threw himself into my 
chair with his customary presumption. To my great de- 
light, he dropped asleep. (You know how he ieasm me 
about being drowsy; I, who never, by any chance, dom 
an eye by dayhght.) While he slept, I thought he look^ 
very bonny, Lucy : fool as I am to be so proud of him ; 
but who can help it? Show me his peer. Look when 
I will, I see nothing h^e him in Villeite. Well^ I took 
i|ri»^d^-ea^[head to play him a trick : so I brought out the 

VqWjr-hlijg fciirkiKf^ aud handling it with gingerly preoautaon, 
I managed to invest his bix»ws with this grand iidoiB- 
ment. I assure you it did not at all misbecome* him ; ht 
looked quite Eastern, eicoept that be is so (air. Nobody, 
however, can accuse him of having red hair now — it 
genuine chestnut — a dark, glossy chestnut ; and when 
put my large cashmere about him, there was as fine 
young bey, dey, or pacha improvised as you would 
to see* 



old , 



M. DE BASSOMPIEERE 



325 



• It was good entertainment ; but only hali-enjoyed, eiiic© 
; waB aJone : yoti should have been there, 

• In due time my lord awoke : the looking-glass above the 
fireplace soon intimated to him Km plight ; as you may 
imagine, I now live under threat and dread of vengeance. 

• But to come to the gist of nny letter, I know Thursday 
is a half-holiday in the Rue Fosaette : be ready, then, by 
five in the afternoon ^ at which hour I will send the carriage 
to take you out to LaTgiEasBe* Be sure to come : you 
may meet some old acquaintauceT (xood-by, my wise, dear, 
grave little god-daughter. — Very truly yours, 

^ "^ * Louisa Bbetton/ 



Now, a letter like that sets one to rights ! I might still 
be sad after reading that letter, but I was more composed ; 
not exactly cheered, perhaps, but relieved. My friends, at 
least, were well and happy: no accident had occurred to 
Graham ; no illness had seized his mother — calamities that 
had so long been my dream and thought. Their feelings for 
me too were — as they had been. Yet, how strange it was 
to look on Mrs. Bretton's seven weeks and contrast them 
with my seven weeks ! Also, bow very wise it is in people 
placed in an exceptional pof^ition to hold their tongues and 
12 o t rashly declare how snch position galls them I The 
world can understand well enough the process of perishing , 
for want of food ; perhaps few persons can enter into or 
follow out that of going mad from solitary confinement. 
They see the long-buried prisoner disinterred, a maniac or 
an idiot f — how his senses left him— how his nerves, first 
inflamed, underwent nameless agony, and then sunk to 
palsy— is a subject too intricate for examination, too abstract 
for popular comprehension. Speak of it I you might almost 
as weU stand u|) in an Europpan market-place, and propound 
dark sayings in that language and mood wherein Nebuchad* 
nezzar, the imperial hypochondriac, communed with his 
baffled Chaldeans. And long» long may the minds to whom 
such themes are no myster}^— by whom their bearings are 



326 



VILLETTE 



sympatliGticaUy seized — bo few in number, and rare of 
rencounter. Long may it be genemlly thougbt that physical 
privations alone merit compaBsioiii and that the rest is a 
figment. When the world was younger and haler than now, 
morflrl trials were a deeper mystory still : perhaps in all the 
land of Israel there was but one Saul — certainly but one 
David to soothe or comprehend him. 




The keeui still cold of the morning was succeededt 
in the day, by a sharp breathing from Russian wastes : the 
cold zone sighed over the temperate zone, and froze it Cafii 
A heavy firmament, dull, and thick with snow, sailed up 
from the north, and settled over expectant Europe. Towardi 
afternoon began the descent. 1 feckred no oarriage wooU 
come, the white tempest raged so dense and wild. Boi 
trust my gpd mother ! Once having asked, she would have 
her guest. About six o'clock I was lifted from the carnage 
over the already blocked-up front steps of the chj^teau, afii! 
put in at the door of La Terrasse. 

Eunning through the vestibule, and up-st&irs to the 
drawing-room, there I found Mrs, Bretton — a aummer-dai 
in her own personi Had I been twice as cold as I was, hst 
kind kiss and cordial clasp would have warmed me. Inurel 
now for 80 long a time to rooms with bure boards, blifik 
benches, desks, and stoves, the blue saloon seemed to me 
gorgeous. In its Christmas-like fire alone there was a d^ 
and crimson splendour which quite dazzled me. '^ 

When my godmother had held my hand for a little whik, 
and chatted with me, and scolded me for having beooow 
thinner than when she last saw me, she professed to discover 
that the snow-wind had disordered my hair, and sent md 
up-Btairs to make it neat and remove my shawL 

Kepairing to my own little sea-green room, thedre also I 
found a bright fire, and candles too were lit : a taU waxlight 
stood on each side the great looking-glass ; but betwoen Iht 
candles, and before the glass* appeared som^ihi^ig dressing i^ 
self — ^an airyja.iry^^ mp'--8ma ll^blight, white — a winter spiril 



M. DB BASSOMFIEBRE 



327 



I declare, for one momeDt I thought of Graham and his 
Bpe<itral illusions. With distrustful eye I noted tlie details 
of this new vision. It wore white, sprinkled slightly with 
drops of scarlet ; its girdle was red ; it had something in its 
hair leafy, yet shinrng^^^^aTlittle wreath with an evergreen 
gloss. Spectral or not, here truly was nothing frightful, and 
I advanced. 

Turning quick upon me, a large eye, under long lashes* 
flashed over me, the intruder ; the lashes were as dark as 
long, and they softened with their pencilling the orh thoy 
guarded* 

* Ah 1 you are come I ' she breathed out, in a soft, quiet\ 

i voice, and she smiled slowly, and gazed intently, ) 

I knew her now. Having only once seen that sort of 
face, with that oast of fine and delicate featuring, I could not 
. but know hor. 

k * Miss de Bassompierre,' I pronounced. 
p 'No,' was the reply, ' not Miss ide Bassompierre for ymi,' 

I I did not inquire who then she might be, but waited voluntary 

information. 
I ' You are changed, but still you are yourself/ she said, 

approaching nearer. * I remember you well— your counte- 
if nanoe, the colour of your hair, the outline of your 
I face. . « / 

I had moved to the fire, and she stood opposite, and 

gazed into me ; and as she gazed, her face became gradually 

more and more expressive of thought and feeling, till at last 

a dimness quenched her clear vision. 
; ' It makes me almost ci*y to look so far back/ said she ; 

* but as to being sorry, or sentimental, don't think It : on 

the contrary, I am quite pleased and glad-' 
\ Interested, yet altogether at fault, 1 knew not what to say. 

At last I stammered, * I think I never met you till that nighl, 

some weeks ago, when you were hurt . . . ? ' ^/ 

^H She Bmiled. * You have forgotten then that I have sat 
^^on your knee, been hfted in your arms, even shared your 
' pillow ? You nf^ longer remember the night when I cama 



328 



VILLETTE 



Go 



crying, like a naughty little child as I was, to your 
and you took me in. You have no memory for the 
and protection by which you soothed an a^^ute dislaresa ? 
back to Bretton. Bemernber Mr. Home/ 

At last I saw it all * And you are little Pblly ? * 

How time can change I Little Pony^WDr^"iS~Ber pab^ 
small features, her fairy symmetry, her varying expreefiioD. 
a certain promise of interest and grace ; but Paulina Mary 
was become beautiful — not with the beauty that stnkes the 
eye like a rose— orbed, ruddy, and replete ; not with iht 
plump, and pint and flaxen attributes of her blond cousIq 
Ginevra ; but her seventeen years had brought her a refined 
and tender charm which did not lie in complex^ion, though 
hers was fair and clear ; nor In outline, though her featura 
were sweet, and her limbs perfectly turned ; but, I %\ 
rather in a subdued glow from the soul outward. This 
not an opaque vase, of material however costly, but a lamp 
chastely lucent, guarding from extinction, yet not hiding 
from worship, a fiame vital and vestal. In speaking of bei i 
attractions, I would not exaggerate language ; Hut* ind^ 
they seemed to me very real and engaging. What 
all was on a small scale^ it was the perfume which gavi> 
white violet distinction, and made it superior to the bipoaM 
camellia — the fullest dahlia that ever bloomed. 

' Ah 1 and you remember the old time at Bretton ? * 

* Better/ said she, * better, perhaps, than you* I re\ 
it with minute distinctness : not only the time, but 
of the time, and the hours of the days:' 

* You must have forgotten some things ? ' 

* Very little, I imagine/ 

* You were then a little creature of quick feelings : 
mustt long ere this, have outgrown the impressions 
which joy and grief, affection and bereavement, atiuuped 
your mind ten years ago/ 

. * You think I have forgotten whom I liked, and in whsl 
degree I hked them when a child? ' 




\f.l\(Hi 



M. DE BASSOMPIEBRB 






«5f 



329 



* The sharpness must be gone — the point, the poignaacy 
— the deep imprint must be softened away and ©ffiiced ? * 

* I have a good memory for those days.* 

She looked as if she had. Her eyes were the eyes of 
one who can remember ; one whose childhood does not fade 
like a dream, nor whose youth vaniah hke a sunbeam. She 
would not take life, loosely and incoherently, in pails, and 
let one season slip as she entered on another: she would 
retain and add ; often review from the commencement, and 
so grow in harmony and consistency as she grew in years. 
Still I oould not quite admit the conviction that all the 
pictures which now crowded npon me were vivid and visible 
to her. Her fond attachments, her sports and contests with 
a well-loved playmate, the patient, true devotion of her 
child's heart, her fears, her delicate reserves, her little trials, 
the last piercing pain of separation. ... I retraced these 
things, and shook my head incredulous. She persisted. 
* The child of seven years lives yet in the girl o! seventeen/ 
said she. 

'You used to be excessively fond of Mrs. Bretton,* I 
remarked, intending to test her. She set me right at once. 

* Not excessively fond,' said sl\e ; *I liked her: I re- 
spected her as I should do now ; she seems to me very littlt; 

Ktered.* 
* She is not much changed/ I assented. 
We were silent a fe%v minutes. Glancing round the room, 
16 said, * There are several things hei*e that used to be at 
Bretton 1 I remember that pincushion and that looking- 

rss/ 
Evidently she was not deceived in her estimate of her 
own niemory ; not, at least, so far. 

»* You think, then, you would have known Mrs. Bretton ? ' 
went on. 

* I perfectly remembered her ; the turn of her features, her 
Itjxion, and bl:Lck hair, 



eorapltj 



height. 



lice- 



' Dr, Bretton, of course/ I pursued, 'would be out of the 



^ 



M 



^ 



\ 



390 



VILLETTE 



fchei— 

boa's 
was 

Wheit^ 



question : and, mdeed, as I saw your first interview with 
iiiiij, I am aware that be appeared to you as a stranger, 

* That first night I was puzzled,' she answered, 
' How did the recognition between him and your taihei 

come about ? ' 

* They exchanged cards. The names Graham Breiton 
Home de Bassompierre gave rise to questions and explana" 
tions* That was on the second day ; but before then I was 
beginning to know something.* 

* How — know something ? ' 

* Why,' ehe said, * how strange it ia that most 
seem so slow to feel the truth — not to see, but ftel ! 
Dr. Bretton had visited me a few times, and sat near and 
talked to me ; when I had observed the look in his eyea, tba 
expression alx>ut his mouth, the form of his chin, II16 
carriage of his head, and all that we do observe in persons 
who approiwh us — how could I avoid l>eing led by assodt- 
tion to think of Graham Bretton? Graham was sUghkr 
than he, and not grown so tall, and had a smoother face, and 
longer and lighter hair, and spoke — not so deeply — more like 
a girl ; but yet /teJa^fixahapa* juat &B I am little Polly, or you 
are Lucy Snowe/ ** ^ tn^'^y 

I thought the same ; but I wondered to find my thoughts 
hers : there are certain things in which wo so rarely met;* 
with our double that it seems a miracle when that el 
befalls. 

' You and Graham were one© playmates/ 

'And do you remember that?' she questioned in 
turn. 

' No doubt be wiU remember it also,' s«ud I. 

' I have not asked him : few things would surprise roe so 
much as to find that he did* I suppose his disposition j| 
still gay and careless ? ' 1 

* Was it so formerly ? Did it 80 strike yon ? Do you 
thus remember him ? * 

* I scarcely remember him in any other light. Some- 
times he was studious; sometimes be waa merry: but 





M. DE BASSOMPIEBRB 



SSL 



whether busy with his books or disposed for play, it was 
chiefly the books or game be thought of ; not much heeding 
those with whom he reB.d or amused himself.' 

• Yet to you he was partial/ 

•Paitialto me? Oh, no! he had other playmates— his 
school-fellows ; I was of little consequence to him, except oii 
Sundays: yes, he was kind on Sundays. I remember 
walking with him hand-in-hand to St. Mary*s, and his finding 
the places in my prayer-book ; and ho%v good and still he 
was on Sunday evenings I So mild for such a proud, lively 
boy; so patient with all my blunders in reading; and so 
wonderfully to be depended on» for he never spent those 
evenings frora home : I had a constant fear that he would 
accept some invitation and forsake us ; but he never did, nor 
seemed ever to wish to do it. Thus, of course, it can be no 
more. I suppose Sunday will now be Dr. Bretton's dining- 
out day. . , . ? ' 

' Children, come down ! * here called Mrs. Bretton from 
below. Paulina would still have lingered, but I inclined to 
descend : we went dosvn. 



CHAPTEB SXV 



THE LITTLB COUNTRflS 



Chbbrful as my godmother naturally was» and entertaining 
aa, for our sakes, she made a point of being, there was do 
true tin joy men t that evening at Lsk TerraBse» till* thiDOgh 
the wild howl of the winter- night, were heard the signal souods 
of arrival. How often, while women and girls sit wann «l 
snug fire-sides, their hearts and iniaginations are doomed to 
divorce from the comfort surrounding their persons* forced 
out by night to wander through dark ways, to dare streas <rf 
weather, to contend with the snow-blast, to wait at loody 
gates and stiles in wildest storms, watching and listdntng 
to see and hear the father, the son, the husband coqud^ 
home. 

Father and son came at last to the eh&teau : for the 
Coimt de Bassompierre that night accompanied Dr. Brel 
I know not which of our trio heard the horses first 
asperity, the violence of the weather warranted our ni 
down into the hall to meet and gi-eet the two riders as thafj 
oame in ; but they warned us to keep our distance : boti 
were white — two mountains of snow; and indeed Mn- 
Bretton, seeing their condition, ordered them instantly to tW 
kitohen ; prohibiting them, at their peril, from setting ft 
on her carpeted staircase tiU they had severally put off 
mask of Old Christmas they now affected. Into the kii 
however, we could not help following them : it was a 
old Dutch kitchen, picturesque and pleasant. The lit 
white Countess danci d in a circle abou^ her equally wh] 




THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



333 



3, clapping her hands and crying, * Papa, papa, you look 
like an enormous Polar bear/ 

The bear shook himself, and the little sprite fled far 
from the frozen shower. Back she came, however, laughing, 
and eager to aid in removing the arctic disguise. The Count, 
at last issuing from his dreadnought, threatened to overwhelm 
her with it as with an avalanche. 

* Come, then,' said she, bending to invite the fall, and 

then it was playfully advanced above her head, bounding 
it of reach like some little chamois. 
Her movements had the supple softness, the velvet grace 
■tf a kitten ; her laugh was clearer than the ring of silver and 
H^stal ; as she took her sire's cold hands and rubbed them, 
and stood on tiptoe to reach his lips for a kiss, there seemed 
to shine round her a halo of loving delig ht. The grave and 
reverend seignior looked down on her as men do look on 
what is tbe apple of their eye. 

• Mrs. Bretton," said he : ' what am I to do with this 
daughter or daughterling of mine? She neither grows in 
wisdom nor in stature. Don't you find her pretty nearly as 
much the child as she was ten years ago ? ' 

' She cannot be more the child than this great boy of 
^^ine,* said Mrs. Bretton, who was in conftict wilh her son about 
^kme change of dress she deemed advisable, and which he 
Hesisted. He stood leaning against the Dutch dresser, 
Hiughing and keeping her at arm'n kngth. 

' Come, mamma/ said hr-, * by way of compromise, and 
to secure for us inward as well as outward warmth, let us 
have a Christmas wassail-cup, and toast Old England 
here, on the hearth,' 

So, while the Count stood by the fire, and Paulina Mary 
still danced to and fro— happy in the liberty of the wide hall- 
like kitchen — Mrs. Bretton herself instructed Martha to spice 
and heat the wassail -bowl, and^ pouring the draught into a 
Bretton flagon, it was served round, reaming hot, by means 
a small silver vessel, which I recognised as Graham s 
istcning*cup. 



334 



VILLETTE 



* Heroes to AuM Lang S>Tie ! ' said the Coant ; holding 
the glancing cup on high. Then, looking at Mrs. Bretton:^ 

* Vfe twa ha' paidlet i' the burn 
Fra morning sun till dine, 
Bai &eas between ua braid ha' roared* 
Bin' aoid iskng syne. 

Aiid Borelj ye'Il be your pini-Btoap, 

And Barely I'll be mine ; 
And weUl taste a cup o" kindnesfl yel 

For auld laag syne.* 



; ' papa is talking Scotch ; 
Home and de 



' Scotch I Scotch I ' cried Paulina 
and Scotch he is, partly. We are 
pierre, Caledonian and Gallic/ 

* And is that a Scotch reel^ou are dancings you Highland 
fairy?* asked her father. 'Mrs. Bretton, there will be » 
green ring growing up in the middle of your kitchen shortly 
I would not answer for her being quifce cannie : she ifl a 
strange little mortal.* 

*Tell Lucy to dance with me, papa; there is Lucy 
Snowe.' 

Mr. Home (there was still quite as much about him 
plain Mr. Home as of proud Count de Bassompieire) heU 
his hand out to me, saying kindly, ' he remembered me well ; 
I and, even had his own memory been less trustworthy, ray 
name was so often on his daughter's lips, and he had 
listened to so many long tales about me, I should seem like 
an old acquaintance/ 

Every one now had tasted the wassalLcup except, 
Paulina, whose pas de f^e, ou de fantaisie, nobody ihouj 
of interrupting to ofifer so profanatory a draught ; bai 
was not to bo overlooked, nor baulked of her mortal' 
privileges. 

' Let me taste/ said she to Graham, as he was palliiig 
the cup on the shelf of the dresser out of her reach. 

Mrs. Bretton and Mr. Homo were now engaged m 
conversation. Dr. John had not been unobservant of the 
fairy's dance ; he had watched it, and he had liked it* To 







THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



335 



Bay nothing ot the softness a^nd beauty of the movements, 
eminently grateful to his graoC'loving ©ye, that ease in his 
moiher*s house charmed him, for it set him at ease : again 
she seemed a child for him^again, almost his playmate. I 
wondered how he would speak to her : I had not yet seen 
him address her ; his first words proved that the old days of 
' little Polly ' had been recalled to his mind by this evening*s 
child-hke light-heartodness, 

t' Youx ladyship wishes for the tankard ? ' 
* I think I said so. I think I intimated as much.' 
* Couldn't consent to a step of the kind on any account. 
Sorry for it, but couldn't do it/ 

• Why ? I am quite well now : it can't break my collar- 
bone again, or dislocate my shoulder. Is it wioe? ' 

■ * No ; nor dew.* 
* I don't want dew ; I don't like dew : but what is it ? ' 

• Ale — strong ale — old October ; brewed^ perhaps, when 

If. wibs bom.' 
I ' It mu^t bo curious : is it good ? ' 
I 'Excessively good.' 
I And he took it down, administered to himself a second 
dose of this mighty elixir, expressed in liia mischievous eyes 
extreme contentmeni with the same, and solemnly replaood 
the cup on the shelf. 

• I should like a little/ said Paulina, looking up ; * I never 
had any ** old October " ; is it sweet ? ' 

M ' Perilously sweet/ said Graham. 

^ She continued to look up exactly with the countenance 
of a child that longs for some prohibited dainty. At last 
the Doctor relented, took it down, and indulged himself in 
the gratiBcation of letting her taste from his hand ; his eyes, 
always expressive in the revelation of pleasurable feelings, 
luminously and smilingly avowed that it waa a gratification ; 
and he prolonged it by so regulating the position of the cup 
that only a drop at a time could reach the rosy, sipping hps 
by which its brim was courted. 

' A little more — a httle more/ said she, petulantly touching 



336 



VILLETTE 



his hand with the forefioger. to make him incline the t 
more generouBly and yieldingly. ' It smells of spice 
sugar, but I can't taste it ; your wrist is so BtifT, and yoo are 
60 stingy.' h 

He indulged her, whispering, however, with gnvityo^ 
* Don't tell my mother or Lucy ; they wouldn't approve/ 

* Nor do 1/ said she. passing into another tone and maniaer 
as soon as she had fairly assayed the beverage^ just as if it 
had acted upon her like some disenchanting draught, nndo-j 
ing the work of a wiziird : ' I find it anything but sweet ; it I 
bitter and hot, and takes away my breath* Your old Ootob 
was only desirable while forbidden. Thank you, no more/ 

And, with a slight bend— careless » but as graceful as bar 
danoe — she glided from him and rejoined her father. 

I think she had spoken truth : the child of seven was iii_ 
the girl of seventeen. 

Graham looked after her, a little baflied, a little puzded; 
his eye was on her a good deal during the rest of the eveoiiifr^ 
but she did not seem to notice him. 

As we ascended to the dravtriog-room for tea, she took her^ 
la1Sber*s arm : her natural place seemed to be at his side ; 
eyes and her ears were dedicated to him. He and 
Bretton were the chief talkers of our little party, and Pattlinft^ 
was their best listener, attending closely to all that wa* said, 
prompting the repetiiion of this or that trait or adventure. 

' And where were you at such a time, papa ? And wbtl 
did you say then ? And tell Mrs. Bretton what happened on 
that occasion/ Thus she drew him out. 

She did not again yield to any efifervesoenoe of glaft ; Ibfl 
Infantine sparkle was eit billed for the night : she waa soil, 
thoughtful, and docile. It was pretty to see her bid good- 
night ; her roannt^r to Graham was touched with dignily : in 
her very slight smile and quiet i>ow spoke the Countes*, and 
Graham could not but look grave, and bend respooaive^ I 
saw he hardly knew how to blend together in his ideaa Ihe 
dancing fiiiry and delicate dame. 

Next day* wheo we were all assembled round the brDftkfaci- 



sbeA 

er 
in 

1 

tmM 



THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



337 



» 



table, shivering and fresh from the morning's chill ablutions, 
Mrs. Bret ton pronounced a decree that nobody, who was not 
forced by dire necesBity, should quit her house that day. 

Indeed, egress seemed next to impossible ; the drift dark* 
ened the lower panes of the casern ent, and, on looking out, 
one saw the sky and air vexed and dim^ the wind and snow in 
angry conflict. There was no faU now, but what had already 
descended was torn op from the earth, whirled round by brief 
shrieking gusts, and cast into a hundred fantastic forms* 

The Countess seconded Mrs. Bretton. 
I * Papa shall not go out,* said she, placing a seat for herself 
beside her father's arm-chair. * 1 will look after him. You 
^won*t go into town, will you, papa ? ' 

I * Ay, and No/ was the answer. ' If you and Mrs, Bretton 
are very good to me, Polly — kind, you know, and attentive ; 
if you pet me in a very nice manner, and make much of me, I 
may possibly be induced to wait an hour after breakfast and 
see whether this razor-edged wind settles. But, you see, 
you give me no breakfast ; you offer me nothing : you let me 
starve.' 

' Quick I please, Mrs. Bretton, and pour out the coffee,* en- 
treated Paulina, * whilst I take care of the Count de Baasom- 
pierre in other respects : since he grew into a Count he 
hM needed so much attention.' 

She separated and prepared a roll, 

* There* papa, are your **piBtolets" charged/ said she. 

* And there is some marmalade, just the same soii; of mar* 
malade we used to have at Bretton, and which you said was 
as good as if it had been conserved in Scotland * 

* And which your little ladyship used to beg for my boy — 
do you remember that?' interposed Mrs. Bretton. *Have 
you forgotten how yon would come to my elbow and touch 
my sleeve with the whisper, " Please, ma'am, something 
good for Graham — a little marmalade, or honey, or jam " ? * 

*No, mamma,' broke in Dr. John, laughing, yet reddening; 

• it surely was not so : I could not have cared for these 
things/ 



338 



VILLETTE 






\ 



* Did ho or did he not, Paulina ? ' 

* He liked them/ asserted Paulina. 
' Never blush for it, John/ said Mr. Home, encsouragingly. 

* I Uke them myself yet, and always did. And PoUy showed 
her sense in oatcriug for a friend's material comforts : it wm 
I who put her into the way of such good manners — ^nor do 
let her forget them. Poily« offer me a small slice of 
tongue/ 

* There, papa : but remember you are only waited upon 
with this assiduity on condition of being persuadable, and 
reconciling yourself to La Terrasso for the day/ ^M 

* Mrs, Brctton/ said the Count, ' I want to get rid of mf^ 
daughter — to send her to school. Do you know of any good 
school ? ' 

* There is Lucy's place — Madame Beck's/ 
' Miss Snowe is in a school ? ' 
' I am a teacher,' I said, and was rather glad of the < 

tunity of saying this. For a little while I had been h 
as if placed in a false position. Mrs. Bretton and son 
my circumstances; but the Count and his daughter did noi" 
They might choose to vary by some shades their hitherto 
cordial manner towards me, when aware of my grade in 
society. I spoke then readily ; but a swarm of thoughts l^ 
had not anticipated nor invoked rose dim at the wordfl 
making me sigh involuntarily. Mr. Home did not lift 
eyes from his breakfast-plate for about two minutes, nor 
he speak ; perhaps he had not caught the words — peHiap 
he thought that on a confession of that nature, politeseoi'^ 
would interdict comment : the Scotch are proverbially proud ; 
and homely as was Mr. Home in look, simple in habits aod 
tastos, I have all along intimated that he was not wiiIiottl_ 
his share of the national quality. Was his a pseudo prida 
was it real dignity ? I leave the question undecided in 
wide sense. Where it conoomed me individually I can 
answer : then, and always, he showed himself a true-l 
gentleman. 

By nature he was a feeler and a thinker; oyer his 




I 



THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



339 



emotiona and his reflections spread a mellowing of melan- 
choly ; more than a mellowing : in trouble and bereavement 
it became a cloud. Ho did not know much about Lucy 
Snowe ; what he knew, he did not very accurately compre- 
hend : indeed his misconceptions of my character often made 
me smile ; but he saw my walk in life lay rather on the 
sha^ly side of the hill : he gave me credit for doing my 
endeavour to keep the course honestly straight ; he would 
have helped me if he could : having no opportunity of 
helping, he still wished me well. When he did look at me, 
his eye was kind ; when he did speak* his voice was bene- 
volent. 

* Yours/ said he, ' is an arduous calling. I wish you 
health and strength to win in it — success/ 

His fair little daughter did not take the information quite 
BO composedly : she fixed on me a pair of eyes wide with 
wonder — almost vrith diamay, 

* Are you a teacher ? ' cried she. Then, having paused 
on the unpalatable idea, ' Well, I never knew what you were, 
nor ever thought of asking : for me, you were always Lucy 
Snowe/ 

^p * And what am I now ? ' I could not forbear inquiring. 
^ * Yourself, of course. But do you really teach here, in 
Villette?* 

If * I really do/ 
I * And do you like it ? ' 
• Not always/ 
* And why do you go on with it ? * 
i Her father looked at, and, 1 feared, was going to check 
her ; but he only said, ' Proceed, Polly, proceed with that 
catechism— prove yourself t to little wiseacre yo u are. If 
Miss Snowe were to blush and look confused, I should have 
to bid you bold your tongue ; and you and I would sit out 
ike present meal in some disgrace ; but she only smiles, so 
push her bard, multiply the cross-questions. Well, Miss 
Snowe, why do you go on with it ? * 

' Chiefly, I fear, for the sake of the money I get/ 




VILLETTE 

* Not then from motives of pure philanthropy ? 
, and I were clinging to that hypothesis as the most 
I way of accounting for your ecoantricity/ 

' No — ^no, sir. Rather for the roof of shelter I ana 
enabled to keep over my head ; and for the comfort of mini 
it gives me to think that while I can work for myself, I am 
spared the pain of being a burden to anybody.' 5J/ k^j W 

' Papa, say what you will, I pity Lucy/ 

* Take up that pity, Miss de Bassompierre ; take it up ii' 
both hands, as you might a little adlow gosling squatteriog 
out of bounds without leave ; put ii back in the warm nett 
of a heart whence it issued, and receive in your ear this 
whisper. If my Polly ever came to know by experience the 
uncertain nature of this world's goods, I should like her kk 

I /act as Lucy acts : to work for herself, that she might burdBQ^ 
1 1 neither kith nor kin/ 

* Yes, papa/ said she, pensively and tractably. • Bui 
' poor Lucy ! I thought she was a rich lady« and had rich 

friends/ 

' You thought like a little simpleton. I never thought 
60. When I had time to consider Lucy's manner and 
aspect, which was not often, I saw she was one w l^n ^^ to 
guard ftTid nj^t hft guarde d ; to act and not be served : and 
this lot Has7 I imagine, helped her to an experience tor 
which, if she live long enough to realise its full benefit, she 
may yet bless Providence, But this school,* he pursufdt 
changing his tone from gi-ave to gay : * would Madame Bed 
ad mit my Po Uy. do you think. Miss Lucy?* 

I said there needed but to tr^' Madame ; it would eoon 
be seen : she was fond of English pupils, * If you, eir,* I 
added, ' will hut take Miss de Bassompierre in your carria^ 
this veiy afternoon, I think I can answer for it that Boeiiie. 
the portress, will not be very slow in answering your ring; 
and Madame, I am sure, will put on her best pair of gloiw 
to come into the salon to receive you.' 

* In that case/ responded Mr. Home, * I see no sori d 
ty there is for delay. Mrs. Hurst can send what sk 



I 



M 



fj'-; '7 



e^ ^ < 4-^ ^ 



THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



341 






I 



oalla her young lady's '* things *' after her; Polly can settle 
down io her hom-book before night ; and you, Miss Luoy, I 
trast, will not disdain to cast an occasional eye upon bei% and 
let me know, from time to time, how she gets on. I hope 
you approve of the arrangement, Countess de Bassompierre ? ' 

The Countess hemmed and hesitated. * I thought/ said 
she,/ I thought I had finished my education * 

'That only proves rrow much we may De mistaken in our 
thoughts : I hold a far different opinion, as most of these 
vrill who have been auditors of your profound knowledge of 
life this morning. Ah, my little girl, thou hast much to 
learn ; and papa ought to have taught thee more than he has 
donet Come, there is nothing for it but to try Madame 
Beck ; and the weather seems settling, and I have fimshed 
my breakfast ' 

* But, papa I * 
^ WeU?' 

* I see an obstacle/ 

* I don't at all/ 

* It is enormous, papa ; 
large as you in your great 
top/ 

1 * And, like that snowdrift, capable of melting ? ' 
I * No I it is of too— too solid flesh : it is just your own 
self. Miss Lucy, warn Madame Jieclk not to listen to any 
overtures about taking me, because, in the end, it would turn 
out that she would have to take papa too : as he is so teasing, 
I will just tell talcs about him. Mrs. Brettou and all of you 
listen : About five years ago, when I was twelve years old, 
he took it into his head that lie was spoiling me ; that I was 
growing unfitted for the world, and I don't know what, and 
nothing vrould serve or satisfy him but I must go to school. 
I criedi and so on ; but M, de Bassompierre proved hard- 
hearted, quite fii-m and flinty, and to school I went. What 
was the result? In the most admirable manner, papa came 
to school likewise : every other day he called to see me. 
Madame Aigredoux grumbled, but it was of no use ; and so, 



it can never be got over ; it is as 
coat, and the suowdnft on the 



343 



VILLETTE 



ly iair to 

i 



4 



at last, papa and I were both, in a manner, expelled. Lmof 
can just teU Madame Beck this little trait : it is only iair to 
lei her know what she has to expect/ 

Mrs. Bretton asked Mr, Home what he had to 
answer to tliis sbatement. As he made no defence, jui 
was given against him, and Paulina triumphed. 

But she had other moods besides the arch and naive. 
After breakfast, when the two elders withdrew^ — I suppose 
to talk over certain of Mrs, Bretton's business matters— and 
the Countess, Dr. Bretton, and I, were for a short time alone 
together — all the child left her ; with us, more nearly her 
companions in age, she rose at once to the little lady : her 
very face seemed to alter ; that play of feature, and candour 
of look, which, when she spoke to her father, made it quite 
dimpled and round, yielded to an aspect more thoughlfult 
and lines distincter and less mobile. 

No doubt Graham noted the change as well as I. 
stood for some minutes near the window, looking out at 
snow ; presently he approached the hearth, and entered into 
conversation, but not quite with his usual ease : fitto^ca did 
not seem to rise to his lips; he chose them fastidiously, 
hesitatingly, and consequently infeiicitoosly : he spoko 
vaguely of Villette — its inhabitants, its notable sights and 
boildiiigs. He was answered by Miss de Bassompierre in 
quite womanly sort ; with intelligence, with a manner not 
indeed wholly disindividualised : a tone, a glance, a gesture, 
here and there^ rather animated and quick than meastuad 
and stately, still recalled little Polly ; but yet there waa so 
fine and even a polish, so calm and courteous a graoe^ 
gilding and sustaining these peculiarities, that a leas eensi^ 
tive man than Graham would not have ventured to eelae 
upon them as vantage points, leading to franker intimacy. 

Yet while Dr. Bretton continued subdued, and, for him, 
sedate, he was still observant. Not one of thoee pMj 
impulses and natural breaks escaped him. He did not mist 
one characteristic movement, one hesitation in language, ot 
one lisp in utterance. At times, in speaking fast, she stiU 



THE LITTLE CODNTESS 



349 



lisped ; but coloured whenever such lapse occurred, and in a 
painstakiDg, conscientious manner, quite as amoaing as the 
slight error, repeated the word more distinctly. 

Whenever she did this, Dr, Bretton smiled. Gradually, 
as they conversedi the restraint on each side slackened : 
might the conference have but been prolonged, I believe it 
would soon have become genial : already to Paulina's lip 
and cheek returned the wreathing, dimpling smile ; she 
lisped once, and forgot to correct herself. And Dr. John, I 
know not how !ie changed, but change he did. He did not 
grow gayer — no raillery, no levity sparkled across his 
aspect — but his position seemed to become one of more 
pleasure to himself, and he spoke his augmented comfort in 
readier language, in tones more suave. Ten years ago this 
pair had always found abundance to say to each other ; the 
intervening decade had not narrowed the experience or 
impoverished the intelligence of either : besides, there are 
certain natures of which the mutual influence is suoh, that 
the more they say, the more they have to say. For these 
out of association grows adhesion, and out of adhesion, 
amalgamation, 

Graham, however, must go : his was a profession whose 
claims are neither to be ignored nor deferred. He left the 
room ; but before he could leave the house there was a re- 
turn. I am sure he came back— not for the paper » or card 
in his desk, which formed his ostensible errand — but to 
assure himself, by one more glance, that Paulina's aspect 
was really such as memory was bearing away : that he had 
not been viewing her somehow by a partial, artificial hght, 
and making a fond mistake. No I he found the impression 
true — rather, indeed, he gained than lost by this return : ho 
took away with him a parting look— shy, but very soft — as 
beautiful, as innocent, as any little fawn could lift out of its 
cover of fern, or any lamb from its meadow -bed. 

Being left alone, Paulina and I kept silence for some 
time : we both took out some work« and plied a mute and dili- 
gent task. The white-wood workbox of old days was now 



844 



VILLETTE 



:saiDaH| 



replaced by one inlaid with precious mosaic, and farnished 
wiLb implements of gold ; the tiny and trembling fingers 
that could scarce guide the needle, though tiny still, were 
now swift and skilful ; but there was the same busy knitting 
of the brow» the same little dainty mannerisms, the 
quick turns and movements — now to replace a stray 
and anon to shake from the silken skirt some imagiDi 
atom of dust— some clinging fibre of thread. 

That morning I was disposed for silence : the austere 
fury of the winter-day had on me an awing, hushing influ- 
ence. That passion of January, so white and so bloodlesi|S 
was not yet spent : the storm had raved itself hoarse, biai^H 
seemed no nearer esthaustion. Had Ginevra Fanshswe 
been my companion in that drawing-room, she would DOi 
have suffered me to muse and listen undistm-bed* The 
presence just gone from us would have been her theme; 
and how she would have rung the changes on one topic ^ 
how she would have pursued and pestered me with questions 
and sur mi St! 3— worried and oppressed me with eommeota 
and contideuces I did not want, and longed to avoid ! 

Paulina Mary cast once or twice towards me a quiet hat 
penetrating glance of her dark, full eye ; her lips half opened 
as if to the impulse of coming utterance ; but she saw and 
delicately respected my inclination for silence. 

* This will not hold long/ I thought to myself ; foir I wai 
not accustomed to find in women or girls any power of aelf- 
coutrol, or strength of self-denial. As far as I knew theia ] 
the chance of a gossip about their usually trivial aeeretSp | 
; their often very washy and paltry feelings, was a treat not 
to be readily foregone. 

The Uttle Countess promised an exception : she mwii | 
till she was tired of sewing, and then she took a book. 

As chance would have it» she had sought itTTTDrTBrettoo's 
own compartment of the bookcase ; and it proved to he as 
old Bretton book— some illustrated work of nutural histor) 
Often had I seen her standing at Graham's side, restisg thAt 
volume on his luiee, and reading to his tuition ; and* whtf 



THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



346 



P 



the lesson was over, begging; &s a treati that he would fcell 
her all about the pictures, I watched her keenly : here was 
a true test of that raemory she had boasted ; would her 
i^ecoUections now be faithful ? 

Faithful ? It could not be doubted. As she turned the 
leaves, over her face passed gleam after glearo of expression, 
the least intelligent of which was a full greeting to the Past. 
And tnen she turned to the title-page, and looked at the 
name written in the schoolboy hand. She looked at it long ; 
nor was she satisfied with merely looking: she gently 
pass^ over the characters the tips of her fingers* accom- 
panying the action with an unconscious but tender smile, 
which converted the touch into a caress. Paulina loved the 
Past ; but the peculiarity of this little scene was, that she 
said nothing: she could feel without pouring out her f&elinga Ji 
in & flux of words. ' 

She now occupied herself at the bookcase for nearly an 
hour ; taking down volume after volume, and renewing her 
acquaintance with each. This done, she seated herself on a 
low stool, rested her cheek on her hand, and thought, and 
8till was mute. 

The sound of the front door opened below, a rush of cold 
wind, and her father's voice speaking to Mrs. Bretton in the 
hall, startled her at last. She sprang up : she was down- 
stairs in one second. 

* Papa ! papa 1 you are not going out ? ' 

* My pet, I must go into town/ 

* But it is too— too cold, papa/ 

And then I heard M. de Bagsompierre showing to her 
how he was well provided against the weather ; and how he 
was going to have the carriage, and to be quite snugly 
sheltered ; and, in short, proving that she Deed not fear for 
his comfort. 

* But you will promise to come back here this evening, be- 
fore it 18 quite dark ;^you and Dr. Bretton, both, in the car- 
riage ? It is not fit to ride/ 

* Well, if r see the Doctor, I will tell him a lady hag laid 



346 



VILLETTE 



on him her oommands to take care of bis preciouB healdil 
come home early under my escort/ 

' Yob, you must say a lady ; and he will think it is bia 
mother, and be obedient. And, p^p^^i miod to cocod 8000, 
for I shall watch and heteru' 

The door closed, and the carriage rolled softly through the 
snow ; and back retiirned the Countess, pensive and anxious. 

She did listen, and watch, when evening closed ; but it 
was in stillest sort: walking the drawing-room with quite 
noiseloBs step. She checked at intervals her velvet march , 
inclined her ear, and consulted the night sounds: I should 
rather say, the night silence ; for now, at last, the wind was 
fallen. The sky, relieved of its avalanche, lay naked and 
palo : through the barren boughs of tlie avenue we oould ac« 
it weO, and note also the polar splendour of the new-year 
moon — an orb white as a world of ice. Nor was it late whuii 
we saw also the return of the carriage, 

Paulina had no dance of welcome for this evening. It 
was with a sort of gravity that she took immodiate poaaeeaioo 
of her father, as he entered the room ; but she at onoe mwit 
him her entir ejrope rty, led him to the seat of her choice, 
and, while softly showering round him honeyed words of 
commendation for being so good and coming home so soon, 
you would have thought it was entirely by ilie power of her 
httle hands he was put into his chair, and settled and nt* 
ranged ; for the strong man seemed to take pleasure in wholly 
yielding himself to this dominion — potent only by love. 

Graham did not appear till some minutes after the Count 
Paulina half turned when his step was heard ; they gpoK 
but only a word or two ; their fingers met a moment, but 
obviously with slight contact. Paulina remained beside hef 
father ; Graham threw himself into a seat on the other side 
of the room. 

It was weH that Mrs. Bretton and Mr. Home had a gnit 
deal to say to each other — almost an inuxhaustible fund of 
discourse in old recollections ; otherwise, 1 think, our parJT 
would have been but a still one that evening. 



THE LITTLE COUNTESS 



S47 



After tea, Faulina'a quick noodle and pretty golden thimble 
' were busily pbed by the lamp-light, but her tongue rested^ 
and her eyes seemed reluctant to raise often their lids, so 
Bmooth and bo fulMringod. Graham, too. must have been 
r tired with his day's work r he listened dutifully to his elders 
^ncTbettere, said very httle himself, and followed with hia 
eye the gilded glance of Paulma*s thimble, as if it had been 
some bright moth on the wing, or the golden head of some 
darting HtUe yellow serpent. 






CHAPTER XXVI 



A Btmui. 



From this date my life did not want variety ; I went out » 
good deal, with the entire consent of Madame Beck, who 
perfectly approved the grade of my acquaiDtxnce. Th*v 
worthy directress had never from the first treated me 
otherwise than with respect ; and when she found that I 
was liahle to frequent invitations from a ch&teau aod ft 
great hotel, respect improved into distinction. 

Not that she was fulsome about it : Madame, in all 
things worldly, was in nothing weak ; there was meafiord 
and sense in her hottest pursuit of self-interest, calm and 
considerateness in her closest clutch of gain ; without, iheOi 
laying herself open to my contempt as a time-server and a 
toadie, she marked with tact that she was pleased peopto 
connected with her establishment should frequent sueh 
associates as must cultivate and elevate, rather than thoee 
who might deteriorate and depress. She never praised 
either me or my friends ; only oaoe when she was sittiDi 
in the sun in the garden, a cup of coffee at her elbow i&d 
the Gazette in her hand, looking very comfortable, and I 
eame up and asked leave of absence for the evening, slid 
delivered herself in this gracious sort : — 

* Oui, oui, ma bonne amie : je vous donne la permis^^ioo 
de ccBur et de gr^. Votre travail dans ma maisoD a toujoars 
&A admirable, rempli de z^le et de discretion : vous avd 
blen le droit de vous amuser, Sortez done tant que voiw 
voudrez. Quant 4 votre choix de connaissances, j eo wii 
ooDtente; c est sage, digne, laudable 



I 



\^\,\ 



A BURIAL 



U9 



k 



She oloaed her lips and resumed the Gtisette. 

The reader will aot too gravely regard ibe Hule circi 
siaii6e that about this time the tripLy-enelosed packet of 
tive letters temporarily disappeared from my bureau. 
Blank dismay was naturally my firsi sensation on making 
the discovery ; but in a moment I took heart of grace. 

'Patience I ' whispered I to myself. ' Let me say nothing. 
bal wait peaceably ; ih ey will come back aeain/ 

And they did oome back: tbey had only been on a short 
Irisit to Madame*® chamber : having passed their examiua- 
tion, they eame back duly and truly : I found them ail right 
Iba next day. 

I wonder whai she thought of my oorrespondenoe ? 
What estimate did she form of Dr. John Bretton*a 
epistolary powers ? In what hght did the often ver>' pithy 
thooghtSi Ihe generally sound, and sometimes original 
opiniona, set, without preteoaioD* in an easily-flowing, 
spirited style, appear to her? How did she like that 
genial, half humorous vein, which to mo gave such delight? 
What did she think of the few kind words scattered here 
and ^re — not thickly, as the diamonds were scattered in 
ihe valley of Sindbad, but sparely, as those gems lie in 
unfabled beds ? Oh, Madame Beck 1 how seemed these 
things to you ? 

I think in Madame Beck's eyes the five letters found a 
oertain favour. One day, after she had borrowed them of 
me (in speaking of so suave a httle woman, one ought to use 
suave terms), I caught her examining me with a steady oon- 
tomplative gaze, a UtUe puzzled, hut not at all malevolent. 
It was during that brief space between lessons, when the 
pupils turned out into the court for a quarter of an hour*3 
recreation; she and I remained in the first clasae alone: 
when I met her eye, her thoughts forced themselves partially 
tliiotigh her lips. 

'B y a/ said she. 'quelque ohoeede bien remarquable 
datis le eajract^tre anglais/ 

'How, Madame?' 



^f^ 



350 



VILLETTE 



She gave ft little laugh, repeating the word 'how' in 
English. 

. . * Je ne saurais vous dire ** how " ; mais, enfin, les Angkis 
out des idSes k enx, en amiti^, en amour, en tout. Mais an 
moins n'ost pas hesoin de lea 3urveiller/ she added, 
getting up and trotting away like the compact little pony 
she was. 

*Then I hope/ murmured I to royseU, 'you will 
graciously let alone my letters for the future/ 

Alas ! something came rushing into my eyes, dimming ^ 
utterly their vifiion, hlotting from sight the schoolroom* tb 
garden, the bright winter sun, as I remembered that neve 
more would lutters, such as she had read, come to me. 
had seon the last of thorn. That goodly river on who 
lianks 1 had sojourned, of whose waves a few revivii] 
drops had trickled to my Ups, was bending to anothe 
course: it was leaving my httle hut and field forlorn and 
sand-dry, pouring its wealth of waters far away, 
change was right, just, natural; not a word could be saidj 
but I loved my Rhino, my Nile ; I had almost worshipp 
my Ganges, and I grieved that the grand tide should roll 
estranged, should vitntsh like a false mirage* Though stoical, 
I was not quite a stoic ; drops streamed fast on my hands,^ 
on my desk : I wept one sultry shower, heavy and brief. 

But soon I aaid to myself, ' The Hope I am heme 
sutiTered and made me sufTer much : it did not die tiU 
was full time : following an agony &o lingering^ death ought 
to be welcome/ 

Welcome I endeavoured to make it. Indeed, long piyn 
had made patience a habit. In the end I closed the eye§ 
of my dead, covered its face, and com[>osed its Umbo witli 
great calm. 

The letters, however, must be put away^ out of sigbi: 
people who have undergone bereavement always jealondf 
gather togiether and lock away mementos : it is nut supporV 
able to be stabbed to the heart eaioh moment by 
revival of regret. 




A BUEIAL 



351 



One vacant holiday afternoon (the Thursday), going to 
ly treasure, with intent to consider its final disposal, I 
Broeived — and this time with a strong impulaa of dis- 
pleasure — that it had been again tampered with : the 
packet was there, indeed, hut the ribhon which secured 
it had been untied and retied ; and by other symptoms I 
knew that my drawer had been visited. 

This was a little too much. Madame Beck herself was 
the soul of. discr etion, besides having as strong a brain and 
sound a judgment as ever furnished a human head ; that she 
should know the contents of my casket^ was not pleasant, but 
might he borne. Li ttl^.jQaiilt ^nq ulgi tress as she was, she 
could see things in a true light, and undefs^STTimhem in an 
unperverted sense ; but the idea that she had ventured to 
communicate information, thus gained, to others ; that she 
had, perhaps, amused herself with a companion over docu- 
mentB, in my eyes most sacred, shocked me cruelly. Yet, i 
that Buch was the case I now saw reason to fear ; I even 
guessed her confidant. Her kinsman, M. Paul Emanoel, 
had spent yesterday evening with her : she was much in 
the habit of consulting him, and of discussing with him 
matters she broached to no one else. This very morning, in 
class, that gentleman had favoured me with a glance which 
he seemed to have borrowed from V ashti, the actress ; I 
bad not at the moment oomprehendedn.hat blue, yet lurid, 
flash out of his angry eye, but I read its meaning now. 
lie, I believed, was not apt to regard what concerned me 
from a fair point of view, nor to judge me with tolerance 
and candour : I had always found him ,_8eve^aiidK-«UB- 
picious : the thought that these letters, mere friendly letters 
as they were, had fallen once, and might fall ^ain, into his 
hands, jarred my very soui 

What should I do to prevent this? In what comer of 
this strange house was it possible to fi^d^ecurity or secrecy? 
Where could a key be a safeguard, or a padlb cLa barrie r ? 

In the grenier? No, I did not like the grenier^ Besides, 
most of the boxes and diawers there were mouldering, and 



362 



VILLETTE 






\ 






did not lock. Hats, too, gnawed their way throxigh' 
decayed wood ; and mice made nests amongst the Utta] 
fcheir contents : m y d^ai- lp>,f^ra ^mnat. dear still, thoug 
Icfaab o^ja ^as written on their covers) might be consumed i 
VSrmIn; certainly the wii ting would soon liecome obliterat 
by damp. No ; the grenier woulfl not do — but whi 

While pondering this problem, I sat in the »i 
window -seat. It was a fine frosty afternoon ; tlie wint 
sun, already satting* gleamed pale on the tops of the garden 
shrubs in the * all^e d^fendue/ One great old pcar^tree- 
th e. nun's pear-tree — stoo d up a tall dryad skeleton, 
gaunt, and stripped, ^Tthought struck mo — one of tbo 
queer fantastic thoughts that will sometimes strike soIibuT 
people. I put on my bonnet, cloak, and fura» and went ooi 
into the city. 

Bending my steps to the old historical quarter of thr 
town, whose hoar and overshadowed precincts I always 
sought by instinct in melancholy moods, I wandered^ 
from street to street, till, having crossed a half deseikd 
* place ' or square, I found myself before a sort of broker » 
shop : an ancient place, full of ancient things. 

What I wanted was a metal box which might be sol- 
dered, or a thick glass jarorHJoItle which might be 
stoppered or ap.alftd bprmBtif-allY. Amongst misceUaneoo* 
heaps, I found and ptirohased the latter article, 

I then made a httle roll of my letters, wrap|)ed them b 
oiled silk, bound them with twine, and, having put them in 
the bottle, got the old Jew broker to stopper, seal, and mik» 
it air-tight. While obeying ray directions, he glaoeed »l 
iBe nflVTtnd then suspiciously from imder his frost-whiti 
eyelashes. I believe he thought there was some evil dded 
on hand. In all this I had a dreary something— noi 
pleasure—but a sad, lonely satisfaotioo. The impulse uodtir 
which I acted, the mood contralling me^ were similar %o itut 
impulse and the mood which had induced me to viiii tba 
confessional With quick walking I regained the pensioDDil 
just at dark, and in time for dinner. 



i 



A BDBIAL 



353 



sue 



At Beren o'clock the moon rose. At h&lf-pftst seveti, 
when the pupils and teachers were ai studyt wd Madame 
Beck waa wilh her mother and children in the eaUe h 
manger, when the half hoarders were all gone home« and 
Boaine had left the vestibule, and all was still — I shawled 
myaelf» and, taking the sealed jar, stole ont through the 
first-classe door, into the berceao, and thence into the 
' all^ ddfendue/ 

Methofielahf the pear-tree, stood at the farther eod of 
Ihls walk, near my seat : he rose up, dim and grey, ahove 

lower shrubB round him. Now Methuselah, though so 
ary old, was of sound timber still ; only there was a hole, 
or rather a deep hollow, oear his root. I knew there was 
such a hollow, hidden partly by ivy and creepers growing 
thick round ; and there I meditated hiding my treasure. 
But I was not only going k) hide a treasure — I meant also^ 
to b ury a gr ief- That grief over which I had lately been 
weeping, ae I wrapped it in its winding-sheet, must 
interred, 

WeQ, I cleared away the ivy, and found the hole ; it 
was large enough to receive the jar, and I thrust it deep in« 
In a tool-shed at the bottom of the garden lay the relics of 
building-materials, left by masons lately employed to repair 
a part of the premises. I fetched thence a slate and some 
mortar, put the slate on the hollow, secured it with cement« 
covered the hole with black mould, and, finally, replaced 
the ivy. This done, I rested, leaning against the tree ; 
lingering, like any other mourner, beside a newly-sodded 
grave. 

The air of the night was very stiU, but dim with a 
peculiar mist, which changed the moonlight into a luminous 
baze« In this air, or this mist, there was some quality — 
electrical, perhaps — which acted in strange sort upon me. 
I felt then as I had fel t a year ago in England— on a night 
when the aurora borealis was streaming and sweeping 
round heaven, when, belated in lonely fields, I had paused 
lo walch that mustering of an army with banners— that 

A A 





mVILLETTE 












7^ 






quivering of serried laaces — that swift ascent ol messengers 
from below the north Btar to the dark« high keystone oi 
he&ven's arch. I fetti not happy, far otherwise, but strong 
with reinforced strength. 

If life be a war, it seemed my destiny to oonduct it 
single-handed. I pondered now how to break up my winter- 
quarters— to leave an encampment where food and fom^ 
failed. Perhaps, to effect this change, another pitched 
battle must be fought wifch fortune ; if so, I had a mind U) 
the encounter : too poor to lose, God might destine me »o 
gain. But what road was open ? — what plan available? 

On tliis question I was still pausing when the moon, so 
dim hitherto, seemed to shine out somewhat brighter: a 
ray gleamed even white before me, and a shadow became 
distinct and marked. I looked more narrowly, to make oui 
the cause of this well-defined contrast appearing a h 
suddenly in the obscure aMey : whiter and blacker it 
on my eye: it took shape with instantaneous 
formation, I stood about three yfti ds from a tall,_a dble- 
r obed, snowy-vei led woman. 

Five minutesTFliBsed. I neither fled nor shridked. Sin 
was there still. 1 spoke, 

* Who are you ? and why do you comg jo *r^ ^ ' 

She stood mute. She had no face^ — no featurefi: iQ 
below her brow was masked with a white doth; but abe 
had eyes, and they viewed nie. 

I felt, if not brave, yet a httle desperate ; and desperaycc^-^ 
will often sufliee to fill the post and do the work of coun^ 
I advanced one step, I stretched out my hand, for ^B 
meant to touch her. 8he seenied to recede. X dren^^ 
nearer : her recession, still silent, became swift, A rrtirf oV^ 
shrubs, full -leaved evergreenSi liiurel and dense yBW« uiler — ^ 
vened between me and what I followed. Having pMMi^^ 
that obstacle, I looked and saw nothing. I waited. I miim^ 
— * li you have any errand to men, come back and delifaf^ 
it,* Nothing spoke or re-appeared. ' 

This time there was no Dr. John to whom ta hafi^^ 



A BUKIAL 



S 



t i 



\^ 



A" 



.-^ 



355 



recourae : there was no one to whom I dared whisper ihe 
, wordsi * I have again seen the nim/ 



I 



Paulina Marj^ sought my frequent presence in the Bue 
Cr6cy. In the old Bretton days, though ehe had never 
profesaed herself fond of me, my society had soon become 
to her a sort of unconacious necessary. I used to notice 
tliat if I withdrew to my room, she would speedily come 
trotting after me, and opening the door and peeping in, say, 
with her little peremptory accent, — ' Come down. Why do \ 
you sit here by youraelf ? You must come into the parlour/ 

In the same spirit she urged me now — ' Leave ihe Bue 
Fosse tte,' she said^ ' and come and live with us. Papa 
would give you far more than Madame Beck gives you.* 

Mr, Home himself offered me a handsome sum— thrioa i 
my present salar y — if I would accept the office of companion ] 
to his daughter. I declined. I think I should have declined f 
had I been poorer than I was, and with scantier fund of 
resource, more stinted narrowness of future prospect. I had 
not that vocation. I could teach ; I could give lessons ; but 
to be eitlier a p rivate governess or a companion was 
unnatural to me. Bather than &li the former post in any 
great house, I would deliberately have taken a housemaid's 
place, bought a strong pair of gloves, swept bedrooms and 
staircases, and cleaned stoves and locks, in peace and 
independence. Bather than be a companion, I would have 
made shirts and starved. 

I was no bright lady's shadow— not Miss de Basaom- 
pidrr6*8. Overcast enough it was my nature often to be ; of 
a subdued habit I was : but the dUmness and depression 
most both be voluntary — such as kept me docile at my desk, 
in the midst of my now well-accustomed pupils in Madame 
Becks 5rst classe; or alone» at my own bedside, In her 
dormitory, or in the alley and seat which were called mine, 
In her garden : my qualilications were not convertible, nor 
adaptable ; they could not be made the foil of any gem, the 
adjunct of any beauty, the appendage of any greatness in 



366 



VILLETTE 



Chriatendom. Madam© Beck and I, without agsimilatiDg* 
understood each other wall, I was not her oompaxiion, nor 
her chndrena governess ; she left me free : »he tied me to 
t nothing— not to herself — not even to her int^ireats: oDoe» 
when she had for a fortnight heen called from home by & 
near relation's illness^ and on her retrnm^ all anxious and 
full of care about her estabhshment, lest something In her 
absence should have gone wrong — finding that matters 
had prooeedt^d much as usual, and that there was no 
evidence of glaring neglect — she made each of the teacben 
a present, in acknowledgment of steadiness. To my bedside 
A she came at twelve o'clock at nighty and told me she had no 
^\ present for me. *I must make fidelity advantageous to the 
St. Pierre/ said she ; ' if I attempt to make it advantageous 
to you, there will arise misunderstanding between us— 
perhaps separation. One thing, however, 1 can do to please 
you — leave you alone with your liberty : c'est ce que je 
feral/ She kept her word. Every slight shackle she bid 
ever laid on me, she, from that time, with quiet baod 
removed. Thus I had pleasure in voluntarily respeeting 
her rules : gratification in devoting double time, in talcfag 
double pains with the pupils she committed to my charge. 

As to Mary de Bassompierre, I visited her with pleasure, 
though I would not live with her. My visits soon taugbt 
me that it was unhkely even my occasional and voluntary 
society would long be indispensable to her. M. de Bassom* 
pierre, for his part, seemed impervious to this conjecture, 
blind to this possibility ; unconscious as any child to t^e 
signs, the likelihoods, the fitful beginnings of what, wbca 
it drew to an end, he might not approve. 

Whether or not he would cordially approve, I tued to 
speculate. Difficult to say. He was much taken up wilh 
scientific interests; keen, intent, and somewhat oppognaiit 
in what concerned his favourite pursuits, but unsuspldoQS 
and trustful in the ordinary affairs of life. Prom all I oould 
gather, he seemed to regard his ' daughterling * as still but 
a child, and probably had not yet admitted the notion thai 



A BURIAL 



357 



^ 



others might look on her in a different light: he would 
epeak of what should be done when ' Polly ' was a worn an i 
when she should be grown up ; and * Polly,' standing beside 
his ohair, would sometimes smile and take his honoured 
head between her little hands, and kiss his iron-grey looks ; 
and, at other times, she would pout and boss her ourls ; but 
she never said^ * Papa, I am grown up/ 

She had different moods for different people. With her 
father she really was still a child, or child-like, affectionate, 
merry, and playful With me she was serious, and as 
w^omanly as thought and feeling could make her. With 
Mrs. Bretton she was docile and reUantj but not expansive. 
With Graham she was shy, at present very shy ; at moments 
she tried to be oold ; on occasion she endeavoured to shun 
him. His step made her start ; his entrance hushed her ; 
when he spoke, her answers failed of fluency ; when he took 
leave, she remEOned self-vexed and disconcerted. Even her 
father noticed this demeanour in her. 

* My little Polly,' he said once, * you live too retired a life ; 
if you grow to be a woman with these shy manners, you will 
hardly be fitted for society. You really make quite a stranger 
of Dr. Bretton : how is this ? Don't you remember that, as 
a little girl, you used to be rather pfLrtial to him ? ' 

* Eat her, papa,' echoed she, with her slightly dry, yet 
gentle and simple tone. 

* And you don't like him now ? What has he done? * 

* Nothing. Y-e-St I like him a little ; but we are grovra 
strange to each other.' 

* Then mb it off* Polly ; rub the rust and the strangeness 
off. Talk away when he is here, and have no fear of him.* 

* He does not talk much. Is he afraid of me» do you 
think, papa ? ' 

* Oh, to be sure, what man would not be afraid of such a 
little silent lady ? ' 

* Then tell him some day not to mind my being silent. 
Say that it is my way, and that I have no unMendly inten- 
tion/ 



358 



VILLETTE 



'Your way» j^ou little chatter-box? So far from being 
youT way, it is only your whim t * 

* Well, 1*11 improve, papa/ 

And very pretty was the grace witb which, the next day, 
she tried to keep her word. I saw her make the effort to 
converse affably with Dr. John on general topics. The 
attention called into her guest 'g face a pleasurable glow ; be 
met her witb caution, and replied to her in his softest tones, 
as if there was a kind of gossamer happiness hanging in the 
air which he feared to disturb by drawing too deep a bna&tb. 
Certainly, in her timid yet earnest advance to friendship^ il 
could not be denied that there was a most exquisite and fairy 
charm. 

When the Doctor was gone, she approached her faifa^r's 
chair. 

* Did I keep my word» papa ? Did I behave better?' 

* My Polly behaved like a queen. I shall become quite 
proud of her if this improvement continues. By-and-by we 
shall see her receiving my guests with quite a calm, grand 
manner. Miss Lucy and I will have to look ai>out us, and 
polish up all our best airs and graces lest we shonld be 
thrown into the shado. Still, Polly, there is a httle flatter, a 
little tendency to stammer now and then, and even to lisp as 
you lisped when you were six years old,* 

*No,papa,' interrupted she indignantly /that can't be true.* 

'I appeal to Miss Lucy. Did she not, in answering Dr. 

Bretton's question as to whether she had ever seen the palace 

of the Prince of Bois TBtang, say, '*yeth,'* she bad 

there ** theveral '* times ? * 

*Papa, you are satirical, you are m^hant I I can 
n ounce all the letters of the alphabet as clearly as you eati 
But tell me this : you are very particular in making me be 
civil to Dr, Bfetton, do you like him yourself? ' 

* To be sure : for old acquaintance sake I like him : then 
he is a very good son to bis mother; besides being a kind- 
hearted IdUow atid clever in his profession ; yes, the oaUanI 
is wbE enough/ 







A BURIAL 

' Oallani f Ah, Scotchman I Papa, is it the Edinl 
or the Aberdeen accent you have ? * 

* Both, ray pet, both : and doubtless the Glaswegian into 
the bargain : it is that which enables me to speak French so 

CI ; a gude Scots tongue always succeeds well at the French,' 
' The French ! Scotch again : incorrigible papa. You, 
, need schooling/ 

* Well, Polly, you must persuade Miss Snowe to under- 
take both you and rae ; to make you steady and womanly, 
and me refined and classic^il/ 

The hght in which M, de Bassompierre evidently regarded 
* Miss Snowe * used to occasion me much inward edification. 
What contradictory attributes of character we sometimes find 
ascribed to us, according to the eye with which we are 
viewed ! M^ijj^rr^i^ Pio»u _ Qgtoemed me le^ j^^^ M\f^ ^^^i 
Miss Fanahawe» cflinati^. irAnif;, , unJ f^y ^^' ir^ i ^T"- Home» a 
model teacher, the essence of the sedate and discreet : some- 
what conventional, perhaps, too strict, limited, and scrupu- 
lous, but still the pink and patt^em of govemess-correatness ; 
whilst another person. Professor Paul Emanuel, to wit, never 
lost an opponunity of intimating his opinion that mine was 
rather a fiery an' I rash nature— adventurous, indocile, and 
audacious, I smiled at them alL If any one knew me, it 

was little Po^nljift Mury 

As I would not be Paulina's nominal and paid com- 
panion, genial and harmonious as I began to find her inter- 
course, she persuaded me to join her in some study, as a 
re^lar and settled means of sustaining communication: she 
proposed the German langusigo, which, hke my self » she 
fouod difficult of mastery. We agreed to take our lessons in 
the Bue Cr^ey of the same mistress ; this arrangement 
threw US together for some hours of every week. M, d© 
BasaoDipierre seemed quite plea*;ed : it perfectly met his 
approbation, that Madame Minerva Gravity should associate 
a portion of her leisure with that of his fair and dear child. 

That other self -elected judge of mine, the professor in 
the Rue Fossette, discovering by some surreptitious spying 



VILLETTE 



e more 
i: htJM 



meansi tbat I was no longer bo stationary as hitherto, bnt* 
went out regularly at ceiiiain hours of certain daya^ took it 
upon himself to place me under surveillance. People said 
M. Emanuel had been brought up amongst Jesuits. I 
should more readily have accredited this report h^d bis 
mancDuvres been better masked. As it was, I doubted it. 
Never was a more undisguised schemer, a franker^ looser 
intriguer. He would analyze his own machinations: 
elaborately contrive plots, and forthwith indulge in explana- 
tory boasts of their skill. I know not w^hether I was more 
amused or provoked by his stepping up to me one mc 
and whispering solemnly that he * had his eye on me : 
least would discharge the duty of a friend, and not levve i 
entirely to my own devices. My proceedings seemed al^ 
present very unsettled : he did not know what to make of 
them : he thought his cousin Beck very much to blame in 
sufferbg this sort of fluttering inconsistency in a teacher 
attached to her house. What had a person devoted bo a 
serious caUing, that of education, to do with Counts and 
Countesses, hotels and chateaux? To him, I seemed 
altogether *' en lair/' On his faith, he believed I went out 
six days in the seven/ 

X said, ' Monsieur exaggerated. I oertainly had enjoyed 
the advantage of a little change lately* but not before it had 
become necessary; and the privilege was by no 
exercised in excess/ 

* Necessary ! How was it necessary ? I was 
enough, ha supposed? Change necessary! He wooU 
recommend me to look at the Catholic-i^Wtgieuses/' and 

sty4xi^*'' liv^Q- ^^ 

I amho Judge oFwhat expression crossed my face when 
ho thus spoke, but it was one which provoked htm : be 
accused me of being reckless, worldly, and eplourean; 
ambitious of greatness, and feverishly athirst for Uie pomps 
and vanities of life* It seems I had no ' d4voQemeiii»* do 
* recueillement ' in my character ; no spirit of grace, faith, 
sacrifice, or self-abasement. Peeling the inutility of i 



meaPi^ 



A BURIAL 



361 



ing these chargeBp I mutely continiiad the correctioB of a 
pile of English exercises. 

' He could see in mo nothing Christian : like many other 
Protestants, I revelled in the pride and self-will of 
paganism/ 

I slightly turned from him, nestling still closer under the 
wing of ailenae. 

A vague sound grumbled between his teeth ; it could not 
siirely be a * juron * : he was too reUgious for that ; but I am 
certain 1 heard the word sacri. Grievous to relate^ the 
same word was repeated, with the unequivocal BwJditioo of 
mille something, when I passed him about two hours after- 
wards in the corridor, prepared to go and take my German 1 
lesson in the Rue Cr6cy. Never was a better little man, in 
some points, than M, Paul : never, in others, a more waspish J 
little despot. 

^^^f Our German mistress, Fraulein A^ua_Braun, was a 
^Eworthy, hearty woman, of about forty-fivelTfie ought, 
V perhaps, to have lived in the days of Queen Elizabeth, as she 
habitually consumed, for her first and second breakfasts, 
beer and beef : also, her direct and downright Deutsch 
nature seemed to suffer a sensation of cruel restr^nt &om 
what she called our English reserve ; though we thought we 
were very cordial with her ; but we did not slap her on the 
shoulder, and if we consented to kiss her cheek, it was done 
quietly, and without any explosive smack. These omissions 
oppressed and depressed her considerably; still, on the 
whole, we got on very well. Accustomed to instruct foreign 
girls, who hardly ever will think and study for themselves — 
who have no idea of grappling with a difficulty, and over- 
oozning it by dint of reflection pr application — our progress, 
, ivhich in truth was very leisurely, seemed to astound her. 
I la her eyes, we were a pair of glacial prodigies, cold, proud, 
and preternatural. 

TheyouBg Countess was a little proud, a little fastidious : 







l\. 



i its 



VILLETTE 

perhaps, with her oative delicacy and beauty, she I 
right to these leeUngs ; but 1 think it was a total mistake to 
ascribe them to me. I never evaddd the morning salu t^J 
wliich Paulina would slip when she could ; nor was a oei-taio^ 
httle maoner of still disdain a weapon known in my armoury 
of defence; whereas, Pauhna always kept it clear, &ie, and 
bright, and any rough German sally called forth at onoe ita 
steely glisten. 

Honest Anna Braun, in some measure, felt this diEEereiiOBi 
and while she hidf -feared, half-woishipped Paulina^ as a 
o£ dainty nymph— an Undine— she took refuge with me, as 
a beiug all mortal, and of easier mood. 

A book we liked well to read and translate was SchilWs 
Ballads; Pauhna soon learned to read them be^uufuU)*; 
tiie Fraulein would listen to her with a broad ami la of 
pleasure, and say her voice sounded hke music. She tran^ 
lated them, too, with a facile flow of language, and in & 
strain of kindred and poetic fervour : her cheek would fluijh- 
lier lips tremblingly smile, her beauteous eyes kindle or mdi 
as she went on. She learnt the best by heart, and wonU 
often recite them when we were alone together. One sbt{ 
hked well was * Des Madohens Klage ' : that is, she Uked 
well to repeat the words, she found plaintive melody m the 
sound ; the sense she would criticise. Bhe murmured, i& 
we sat over the fire one evening :— 



4 



V 



Du Heilige, rate dein Kind zuruek, 
loh habe genossen d&s irdidche GlJick, 
Joh habe gelebt und geliebet 1 



C ' Lived a nd loved P) said she, * is that the summit d 
earthly happmeyu, th^ end of life — to love ? I don*t think i^ 
is. It may be the extreme of mortal misery, it may be sbeer 
waste of time, and fruitless torture of feeling. If ScUUtf 
had said to be loved, h e migbt have come nearer lbs tiulfc- 
Is not that another thing, Lucy, to be loved ? * 

'I suppose it may be: but \vhy consider the subjio*^ 
What is love to you ? What do you know about it?' 



A BDBIAL 



963 



I 



Bhe crimsoned, half in irritation, half in shame. 

' Now, Lucy,* she said, ' I won't take that from you. It 
may \m well for papa to look on me as a baby : I rather 
prefer that he should thus view me ; but you know and shall 
l6aru to aoknowledge that I am verging on my nineiecnili 
year/ 

* No matter if it were your twenty-ninth ; we will antici- 
pate no feehngH l>y discussion and conversation ; we will not 
talk about love/ 

* Indeed, indeed \ * said she — all in hurry and heat — * you 
may think to check and hold me in, as much ha you please ; 
but I have talked about it» and heard about it too ; and a 
great deal and lately, and disagreeably and detrimentally : 
and in a way you wouldn't approve.' 

And the vexed, triumphant, pretty, naughty being laughed. 
I cotdd not discern what she meant, and J would not ask 
her : I was nonplussed. Seeing, however, the utmost inno- 
cence in her countenance — combined with some transient 
perverseness and petulance— -I said at last,— 

* Who talks to you disagreeably and detrimentally on 
such matters? Who that has near access to you would 
dare to do it ? ' 

' Lucy/ replied she more softly, ^ it is a person who makes 
me miserable sometimes ; and I wish she would keep away 
— I don't want her." 

* But who, Paulina, can it be ? You puzzle me much/ 

* It is — it is my oonsinGinevra. Every time she has 
leave to visit Mr?. Uholmondeley she calls here, and when- 
ever she finds me alone she begins to talk about her admi rers. 
Love, mdeed ! You should hear all she has lo^y about 

I * Oh, I have heard it/ said I, quite coolly ; ' and on the 

^ whole, perhaps it is as well you should have heard it too : it 

is not to be rej^etted, it is all right. Yet, surely, Ginevra*a 

mind cannot influence yours. You can look over both her 

head and her heart/ 

' She does influence me very much. She has the art of 






364 



VILLETTE 



disturbing my happiness and xmsottling my optnions. 
hurts me through the feelings and people dearest 
me/ 

'What does she say, Paulina? Give me some idea. 
There may be coanteraction of the damage done/ 

* The people I have longest and most esteemed are de- 
graded by her. She does not spare Mrs. Bretton — she does 
not spare . . . Graham/ 

* No, I daresay : and ho^^d^QS she mix up these with her 
sentiment and hor . • *(love7\ She does mix them, I 
suppose ? * -^ ■ 

* Lucy, sho is insolent ; and, I believe, false. You know" 
Dr. Bretton. We both know him. He may be careless and 
proud ; but when was he ever mean or slavish ? Day after 
day she shows him to me kneeling at her feet, pm^gning her 
like her shadow. She — repulsing him with insult, and he 
imploring ber with infatuation. Lucy, is it true? Is any of 

it true ? ' 

'It may be true that he once thought her handsocD^: 
does she give him out as still ber suitor ? ' 

' She says she might marry him any day : he only waits 
her tjonaent/ 

' It is these tales which have caused that reserve in yoor 
manner towards Graham which your father noticed/ 

'They have certainly made me all doubtful about hifl 
character. As Ginevra speaks, they do not carry with tbein 
the sound of unmixed truth : I believe she exaggeraltt^ 
perhaps invents— ^but I want to know how far/ 

* Suppose we bring Miss Panshawe to some proof- Give 
her an opportunity of displaying the power she boasts.' | 

'I could do that to-morrow. Papa has asked 8on» | 
gentlemen to dinner, all savants, Graham, who, papft i^ 
beginning to discover^ is a savant, too — skilled, they say, io 
more than one branch of science — is among the number^ 
Now I should be miserable to sit at table unsupportiJ«i. 
amidst such a party. I could not talk to Messieurs A — 
and Z , the Pansian AoademiciaDS : all my oew credit 



A BUBIAL 



365 



for manner would be pat in peril. You and Mrs. Bretton 
most oome for my sake : Ginevra, at a word, will join 
you.' 

'Yes; then I will carry a message of invitation, and 
she shall have the ohance of justifying her oharaoter for 
veraoity.' 



CHAPTEB XXVII 

THE HOTEIj UBtCY 

The morrow turned out a more lively and busy day thjui we 
— or than I, at least — had anticipated. It seams it was the 
birthday of one of the young princes of Labassecour — the 
eldest, I think, the Due de Dindoiineau, and a general 
holiday was given in his honour at the schoolsp and espe- 
cially at the prinoipal * Ath^n^e,' or college. The youth of 
that institution had also^Tsmacocted, and were to present a 
loyal address ; for which purpose they were to be assembled 
4ft-ii3d- public building where the yearly examinations were 
conducted, and the prizes distributed. After the ceremony 
of presentation, an oration, or '"Hfioours/ was to follow from 
one of the professors. — "-— -«^ 

Several of M. de Bassompierre's friends — the savaots— 
being more or less connected with the Ath6n6e, they were 
expeoted to attend on this occasion ; together with the wor- 1 
shipful municipality of Villette, M. le Chevalier Staas, the 
burgomaster, and the parents and kinsfolk of the Atheniaiis ; 
in general M. de Bassompierre was engaged by his friends ] 
to accompany them ; his fair daughter would, of course, be 
of the party, and she wrote a Uttie note to Ginerra^ aod 
myaeif, bidding us come early that we might join her. 

As Miss Fanshawe and I were dressing in the dormitory 
of the Bue Fossette, she (Miss F,) suddenly burst into ft 
laugh. 

' What now ? * I asked ; for she had suspended the 
operation of arranging her attire, and was gazing at me, 

* It seems so odd,' she replied, with her asiml half-booesik 



b> 



THE HOTEL CE^CY 



half'insoleBi unreserve, ' that you and I should now be so 
Buch on a Jevel, visiting in the sanxe sphere ; having the 
iaini:^ conneclTonsT*'*'^**^ 

' Why, yes/ said I ; ' I had not much respect for the 
sonnectiona you chiefly frequented awhile ago : Mrs, Chol- 
□aondeley and Co. would never have suit edme at all/ 

* Who are you, Miss Snowe ? * she inquired, in a tone of 
mch undisguised and unsophisticated curiosity, as made me 
tsugh in my turn. 

* You used to call yourself a nursery governess ; when 
^ou first came here you really had the care of the children 
in this house : I have seen you carry little Georgette in 
your arms, like a bonne — few governesses would have con- 
descended 80 far — and now Madame Beck treats you with 
more courtesy than she treats the Parisiemie St. Pierre ; and 
that proud chit, my cousin » makes you h er ifjc^i. ;• friend ! * 

* Wonderful I * I agreed* much amused at her mystifica- 
fcion. * Who am I indeed ? Perhaps a _per80naB e in disguise. 
Kty I don't look the character/ 

* I wonder you are not more flattered by all this/ she 
went on ; * you take it Ti\ith strange composure. If you 
really are the nobody I once thought yoU| you must be a \ 

El hand/ ' 

* The nobody you once thought me I * I repeated, and my 
8 grew a Httle hot ; but I would not be angrj^ : of what 
importance was a school-girl's enide use of the terms no- 
body and somebody ? I conhned myself, therefore. to"^tbe 
remark that I bad merely met with civihty ; and asked 
* what she saw in civility to throw the recipient into a fever 
of confusion ? ' 

* One can*t help wondering at some things/ ghe per- 
sisted. 

'Wondering at marvels of your own manufacture. Are 
you ready at last ? ' 

'Yes ; let me take your arm/ 

* I would rather not : we will walk side hy side/ 
When she took my arm she alwa^ns leaned upon me her 



J 



368 



VILLETTB 



ktifV 



whole weight ; and, as I was not a gentleman, or her lover,' 
I did ttot like it. 

* There, again ! * she cried. • I thought, by oflfering to 
take your arm, to intimate approbation of your dress and 
general appearance : I meant it as a oompliment/ 

' You did ? You meant, in short, to express that yon 
not ashamed to be seen in the street with me? That 
/Mrs. Chohnondeley should be fondling her lapdog at some 
window, or Colonel de Hamal picking his teeth in a balcony, 
and should catch a glimpse o! US, you would not qnite blush 
for your companion ? ' 

' Yes/ said she, with that directness which was her best 
|)oint— which gave an honest plainness to her very fibs 
when she told them-^whioh was, in short, the salt, the 
preservative inexpedient of a character otherwise not forme 
to keep« 

I delegated the trouble of commenting on this ' yes ' 
my CK>untenanoe ; or rather, my under-hp voluntarily antici* 
pated my tongue : of course, reverence and solenmity 
Qot the feelings expressed in the look I gave her. 

' Scornlul» sneering creature ( ' she went on, as 
crossed a great square, and entered the quiet, pleasant park«l 
our nearest way to the Bue Gr^y. * Nobody in this world' 
was ever such a Turk to me as you are t ' 

' You bring it on yourself : let me alone : have the sense 
to be quiet : I wiU let you alone/ 

' As if one could let you alone, when you are so peculiar 
and so mysterious I * 

'The mystery and peculiarity being entirely the con* 

eeption of your own braia — maggots— neither more nor less, 

be so good as to keep them out of my sight/ 

f * But are y ou anybody j_ ' persevered she, pushing her 

I hand, in spile of me, under^y arm ; and that arm pressed 

itself with inhospitable closeness against my side, by way of 

. keeping out the intruder. 

* Yes,' I said, ' I am_ arising ch aracter : once^aji^JdJ^dy^ 
ioD, then a nureery-govemess, now a scbooI-teAcher. 



con^ 



m^amoo 



THE HbTEIi CR^CY 



(m) 



* Do — do tell me who you are ? 1*11 not repeat it/ she 
"lirged, adhering with ludicrous tenacity to the wise notion 
of an incognito she had gob hold of ; and she squeezed the 
arm of which she had now obtained full possession, and 
coaxed and conjured till I was obliged to pause in the park 
to laugh. Throughout our walk she rang the most fanciful 
changes on this theme ; proving, hy her obstinate credulity, 
or iuoreduUty, her incapacity to conceive how any person not 
bolstered up by birth or wealth, not supported by some 
consciousness of name or connection, could maintain an 
attitude of reasonable integrity. As for me, it quite sufficed 
to my mental tranquillity that I was known where it im- 
ported that known I should be ; the rest sat on m© easily : 
pedigree, social position, and recondite intellectual acquisi- 
tion, occupied about the same apace and place in my 
interests and thoughts ; they were my third-class lodgers — 
to whom could be assigned only the small sitting-room and 
the little back bed -room : even if the dining and drawing 
rooms stood empty, I never confessed it to them, as thinking 
minor accommodations better suited to their circumstances. 
The world. I soon learned, hold a different estimate : and I 
make no doubt, the world is very right in its view, yet believe 
also that I am not quite wrong in mine. 

There are people whom a lowered position degrades 
morally, to whom loss of connection costs loss of self- 
respect : are not these justified In placing the highest value 
on that station and association which is their safeguard 
from debasement ? If a man feels that he would become 
contemptible in his own eyes were it generally known that 
his ancestry wprnjirnjTf^ ^r^^ nni gAnflA^ poor and not rich, 
workers and not capitaliats, wp uld it be rignt severely to 
blame him* for keeping these fatal facts out of sight — for 
starting, trembling, quailing at the chance which threatens 
exposure? The longer we live, the more our experience 
widens ; the less prone are we to judge our neighbour's 
conduct, to question the world *b wisdom : wherever an 
accumulation of small defences is found, whether surrounding 



Vj 



1 



370 



VILLBTTE 









the prude s virtue or the man of the world's respectability, 
there, be sure, it is needed. 

We reached the H6tel Cr6cy ; Paulina wa»s ready ; Mrs, 
Bretton was with her ; and, under her eBcort and that of 
M. de Bassompierre, we were soon conducted to the place of 
assembly, mid seated in good seats, at a convenient distanoe • 
from the Tribune, The youth of the Ath6n^ were coarshalledi 
before us, the municipality and their bourgmestre were ini 
places of honour, the young princes, with their tutors^ 
occupied a conspicuous position, and the body of the building 
was crowded \^ith the aristocracy and first burghers of the 
town. 

Concerning the identity of the professor by whom the 
' di s courg e' was to be delivered, I had as yet entertained 
neither care nor question. Some vague expectation I bad 
that a savant would stand up and deliver a formal speech, 
half dogmatism to the Athenians, baU flattery to the princes. 

The Tribune was yet empty when we entered, but in too 
minutes after it was filled ; suddenly, in a second of time, a 
head, chest, and arms grew above the crimson desk. Thii 
head I knew: its colour, shape, port, expression, were 
familiar both to me and Miss Fknshawe : the blackness and 
closeness of cranium, the amplitude and paleness of brow, 
the blueness and fire of glance, were details so domesticated 
in the memory, and so knit with many a whimsical aaaocia- 
tion, as almost by this their sudden apparition, to tmigh 
fancy to a laugh. Indeed, I confess, for my part, I did 
laugh till I was warm ; but then I bent my head, and made 
my handkerchief and a lowered veil the sole confidants of 
my mirth. 

I think I was glad to see M. Paul ; I think it was ratbor 
pleasant than otherwise, to behold^ him set up tbero^ fiaioa 
and frank, dark and candid, testy and fearless, as when 
regnant on his estrade in class. His presence was such a 
surprise : I had not once thought of expecting him, though 
I knew he filled the chair of Belles Lettres in the oolkgaw 
With him in that Tribune, I felt sure that neither formalism 



THE H6TEL CR^CY 



371 



nor flattery would be our doom ; but for what was vouch- 
safed UB, for what wag poured suddenly, rapidly, continuously, 
on our heads — I own I was not prepared. 

He spoke to the princes, the nobles, the tuagistrates, and 
the burghers, with just the same ease, with almost the same 
pointed, choleric earnestness, with which he was wont to 
harangue the three divisions of the Kae Fossette. The 
collegians he addressed, not as schoolboys, but as future 
citizens und embryo patriots. The times which have siaoe 
come on Europe had not been foretold yet, and M. Emanuers 
spirit seemed new to me. Who would have thought the fiat 
and fat soil of Labassecour could yield political convictions 
and national feelings, such as were now strongly expressed? 
Of the bearing of bis opinions I need here give no special 
indication ; yet it may be permitted me to say that I believed 
the little man not more earnest than right in what he said : 
with all bis fire be was severe and sensible ; he trampled 
Utopian theories under his heel ; he rejected wild dreams 
with scorn ; — but when he looked in the face o! tyranny — 
oh, then there opened a light in his eye worth seeing ; and 
when he spoke of injustice, his voice gave no uncertain 
sound, but reminded me rather of the band4rumpet, ringing 
at twilight from the park. 

I do not think his audience were generally susceptible of 
sharing his flame in its purity ; hut some of the college 
youth caught fire as he eloquently told them what should be 
their path and endeavour in their country's and in Europe's 
future » They gave him a long, loud» ringing cheer, as he 
concluded; with all his fierceness, he was their favourite 
professor. 

As our party left the Hall, he stood at the entrance ; he ^ 
saw and knew me, and lifted hia hat ; be offered lus hand 
in passing, and uttered the words ' Qu'en dites-vous ? * — 
question eminently chiiracteristic, and reminding me, even 
in this his moment of triumph, of that inquisitive restless- 
ness, ihat absence of what I considere d des irftj^I g^elf-OQatro l, 
which were amongst his faults. He should noT nave cared 



r 



TL.Voy 



372 



VILLBTTE 



just then to ask what I thonght, or what anybody thong 
but ha did oare, and ho was too natural to conceal, too 
impulBivG to repress his wish* Well 1 if I blamed his over* 
eagerness, I liked his natvetd^ I would have praised him : I 
had plenty of praise in my heart ; but, alas 1 no words on 
my lips. Who ^las words at the right moment ? I Btam* 
mered some lame expressions ; hut was truly glad when 
other people, coming up with profuse oongratulations, 
covered my deficiency by their redundancy. 

A gentleman introduced him to M. de Bassompierre ; and 
the Count, who had likewise been highly gratiBed, aakad 
him to join Ms friends (for the most part M. EniaDtiel*ii 
likewise), and to dine with them at the H6tel CrAcy. He 
declined dinner, for he was a man always somewhat shy al 
meeting the advances of the wealthy : there was a strength 
of sturdy independence in the stringing of his sinews— no* 
obtrusive, but pleasant onough to discover as one advanoed 
in knowledge of his character ; he promised, however, to 

step in with his friend, M. A , a iVench Academician, IB 

the course of the evening. 

At dinner that day, Ginevra and Paidina each looked, io 
her own way, very beautiful ; the former, perhaps, boasted 
the advantage in niatenal charms, but the latter shone pr^^ 
eminent for attractions more subtle and spiritual : for ligk 
and eloquence of eye, for grace of mien, for winning 
of expression. Ginevra^s dress of deep crimson ralie 
well her light curls, and harmonized with her roee*like' 
bloom. ''Psraima^s attire — in fashion close, though faultlessly 
neat, but in texture clear and white — made the eye gnMvi 
for the delicate life of her complexion, for the soft aniioftlioii 
of her countenance, for the tender depth of her eyes, for IIia 
brown shadow and bounteous flow of her hah- — darkar 
than that of her Saxon cousin^ as were also her eyehrowii 
her eyelashes, her full irids, and large mobile papik 
Nature having traced all these details shghtly, and with s 
careless hand, in Miss Fanshawe*s case ; and in Miss dc 
Bassompierre's, wrought them to a high and delicate finish. 



THE HOtEL CR^CY 



37S 






Paulloa waB awed by the savants » but not quite to 
mutism : she conversed modestly, diffidently ; not without 
effort, but VfcHth so true a sweetness, so fine and penetrating 
a sense^ that her father more than once suflpended his o^^na 
discourse to listen, and fixed on hor an eye of proud delight. 

It was a pohte Frenchman, M. Z -^ a very learned, hut 

quite a courtly man, who had dra^vii her into discourse. I 
was charmed with her French ; it was faultless — the 
structure correcti the idioms true, the accent pure ; Ginevra, 
who had lived half her life on the Continent, could do 
Dothlag like it : not that words ever failed Miss Fanshawo^ 
but real accuracy and purity she neither possessed, nor in 
any number of years would acquire. Here, too, M. de 
Bassompierre was gratified ; for, on the point of language, 
he was critical. 

Another listener and observer there was; one who, 
detained by some exigency of his profession, had come in 
late to dinner. Both ladies were quietly scanned by Dr. 
Bretton, at the moment of taking his seat at the table ; and 
that gU£krded survey was more than once renewed. His 
arrival roused Miss Fanshawe, who had hitherto appeared 
listless : she now became smiling and complacent, talked — 
tfioagh what she said was rarely to the purpose— or rather, 
was of a purpose somewhat mortifyingly below the standard 
of the occasion. Her light » disconnected prattle might have 
gratified Grah am once ; perhaps it pleased him still : 
perhaps it wasonty fancy which suggested the thought that, 
while his eye was filled and his ear fed, his taste, his keen 
zest, his Uvely intelligence, were not equally consulted and 
regaled. It is certain that, restless and exacting as seemed 
the demand on his attention, he yielded courteously all that 
was required : his manner showed neither pique nor coolness : 
inevra was his neighbour, and to her, during dinner, he 
most exclusively confined his notice. She appeared 
satisfied, and passed to the drawing-room in very good 
epirits. 

Yet| no sooner had we reached that place of refuge, than 






lW 






aJie again became flat and listlegg : throwing herself oq % 
couch, she denounce3~"^tB' the * disco iirs * and ttie dinner 
as stupid a&irs, and inquired of her cousin how she ooald 
hear such a set of prosaic ' groB-bonnets ' as her father 
gathered about him. The moment the gentlemen wens 
heard to move, her railings cea sed : she started up, flew k> 
the piano,"~a Dd dafihftd at 11 with Rpj ril^- Dr. Breiton 
enteriog, one of the first, took up his station beside her. I 
thought be would not long maintain that post : there waA i 
'position near the hearth to which I expected to see bim 
attracted : this position he only scanned with his eye ; 
while he looked, othei-s drew in. The grace and miiid o( 
Paulina charmed these thoughtful Frenchmen : the fineneis 
orliei' beauty, the soft courtesy of her manner, her 
ture, but real and inbred tact, pleased their national 1 
they clustered about her, not indeed to talk science, which 
would have rendered her dumb, but to touch on many 
subjects in letters, in arts, in actual life, on which it aooa 
appeared that she had both read and reflected, I lislfifidL 
I am sure that though Graham stood aloof, he listened loo: 
his hearing as well as his vision was very fine, quick, dti* 
criminating. I knew he gathered the conversation; I feh 
that the mode in which it was sustained suited him ex- 
quisitely—pleased him almost to pain. 

In Paulina there was more force, both of feeling and 
character, than most people thought — than Graham himself 
imagined — than she would ever show to thoa&j^ho did not 
wish to see it. To speak truth, reader, there is no exoeUeot 
beauty» no accomplished grace, no reliable refinamciiii 
without strength as excellent, as complete, as tmstworthy. 
As well might you look for good fruit and blossom od a 
rootless and sapless tree, as for charms that will endure in 
a feeble and relaxed nature. For a little whUd, (he bloomioi! 
semElance oi heauty^niay flourish round weiUmess ; but ii 
cannot bear a blast : it soon fades, even in serenest sonahiJV' 
Graham would have started had any suggestive tfi^ 
whispered of the sinew and the stamina sustaining tbi 



b^ ) 




THE H6TEL CE^CY 



375 



delicate nature ; but I, who had known her as a child, knew J 
or guessed by what a good and strong root her graces held | 
to the firm soil of reality. 

While Dr- Bretton listened, and waited an opening in 
the magic circle, hig glance restlessly sweeping the room at 
intervals, lighted by chance on me, where I sat in a quiet 
nook not far from my godmother and M. de Basaompierre, 
who, as usual, were engaged in what Mr, Home called * a 
two-handed crack ' : what the Count would have interpreted 
as a tdte-^-t^te. Graham smiled recogoition, crossed the 
room, asked me how I was. told me I looked pale. I alfiO 
had my own smile at my own thought : it was now about i 
three months since Dr. John had spoken to me — a lapse of I 
which he was not even conscious. He sat down, and I 
became silent. His wish was rather to look than converse. 
Ginevra and Paulina were now opposite to htm : he could 
gaze his fill : he surveyed both forms— ^^^tudiedboth faces. 

Several new guests, ladies as well as gentlenien, had 
entered the room since dinner, dropping in for the evening 
conversation ; andamongst the gentlemen, I may incidentally 
obaerve, I had already noticed by glimpses, a severe, dark, 
professorial outline, hovering aloof in an inner saloon, seen 
only in vista. M ^ Ema nuel knew many of the gentlemen 
present, but I think was a stranger to most of the ladies, 
excepting myself ; in looking towards the heartli, he could 
not but see me, and naturally made a movement to 
approach : seeing, however, Dr. Bretton also, he changed / 
his mind and held back. II that had been all, there would | 
have beet) no cause for quarrel ; but not satisfied with 
holding back, he puckered up his eyebrows, protruded his | 
lip, and looked so ugly that I averted my eyes from the 
displeasing spectacle. M. Joseph Emanuel had arrived, as 
well as his austere brother, and at this very moment was 
relieving Ginevra at the piano* What a master-touch suc- 
ceeded her school-girl jingle I In what grand, grateful 
tones the instrument acknowledged the hand of the true 
artist ! 



376 



VIIiLETTE 



^vfv'-' 



* Lucy/ began Dr. Bretton» breaking fiilaooe and 
ae Ginevra glided before him, casting a glance aa she 
by, ' Miss Fansbawe is certainly a fine girl.' 

Of course I assented. 
'Is there/ he pursued, 'another in the room as lovely?' 
' I think there is not another as handsome.* 
' I agree with yoop Lucy : you and I do often agree iq^ 
opinion, in taste, I think ; or at least in judgment.' ^M 

' Do we ? ' I said, somewhat doubtfully, "^^ — 

• I believe if you had been a boy, Lucy, instead of a girl 
— my mother's god-son instead of her god-daughter, we 
should have been good friends : our opinions would hare 
melted into each other/ 

He had assumed a bantering air : a light, half -caressing, 
half4romc, shone aslant in his eye. Ah, Graham I I have 
given more than one soUtary moment to ihonghts and calcti- 
lations of your estimate of Lucy Snowe : was ii always Idud 
or just? Had Lucy been intrinsically the same, trat 
possessing the additional advantages of wealth and statioot 
would your manner to her, your value for her, have been 
quite what they actually were ? And yet by these queailooi 
1 would not seriously infer blame. No ; you might sadden 
and trouble me sometimes ; but then mine was a sooo- 
depressed, an easily -deranged temperament — it fell if a cloud 
crossed the sun. Perhaps before the eye of severs equity I 
should stand more at fault than yon. 

^ Trying, then, to keep down the unreasonable pain wtudii 
thrilled my heart, on thus being made to feel that mhSk 
Graham could devote to others the most grave and eame&t, 
the manliest interest, be had no more than light raillery kc 
Lucy, the friend of lang syne, I inquired calrnry,^-^On wbil 
points are we so closely in accordance ? ' 

' We each have an observant faculty. You, perhaps, don 
give me credit for the possession ; yet I have it/ 

' But you were speaking of tastes : we may see the saoM 
objeets, yet estimate them differently ? ' 

' Let us bring it to the test. Of course, you cannot faol 



if" 



THE H6TEL CRtCY 



STT 



reoder homage to the merits of Miss BWiahawe : now« what 
do yoa ihink of others in the room? — my mother, for 

mstanoe ; or the lions yonder, MessieiirB A and Z ; 

or» let OS 8ay» tliat pa le little Lady, Mis s de Baasompierre ? * 
'Too know whaTTtHink of your fflOlber. I have not 
iboaght of Messieois A and Z / 

I* And the other ? * 
* I think she is, as you say, a pale little lady— pale, oer* 
teinly, just now, when she is fatigued with over-exoitement,' 
* You don't rememher her as a child ? ' 
' I wonder, sometimes, whether yoa do/ 
'I had forgotten her; hut it is noticeable, that circum- 
stances, persons, even words and looks, that had slipped 
your memory, may, under oerteun conditions, oertain aspects 
of your own or another's mind, reviye/ 
*That is possible enough/ 

'Yet/ he continued, 'the revival is imperfect — needs 
confirmation, partakes so much of the dim character of a 
diBam, or of the airy one of a fancy, that the testimony of a 
witness beoomes necessary for corroboration. Were you not 
a gtiest at Bretton ten years ago, when Mr. Home brought 
his little girl, whom we then called " Utile Polly/' to stay 
with mamma?' 

' I was there the night she came, and also the morning 
she went away/ 

' Bather a peculiar child, was she not ? I wonder how I 
treated her. Was I fond of children in those days ? Was 
diere anything gracious or kindly about me — great, reckless« 
sokoolboy as I was ? But you don't recollect me, of ooursa ? ' 
' You have seen your own picture at La Terrasse. It is 
like you personally. In manner, you were almost the same 
yesterday as to-day/ 

* But, Lucy, how is that ? Such an oracle really whets 
my curiosity. What am I to-day? What was I the yester- 
day of ten years back ? * 

* Gracious to whatever pleased you — unkindly or cruel to 



rrl 




a 



VILLETTB 



VsA^ 







* Tliere you are wrong ; I think I was almost a bruie 
^oUt for in^ tan oe . ' 

* A brute I No, Graham : I should never have patianlly 
endurod brutality.' 

* TkiSf however, I do remember ; quiet Lucj 
tasted nothing of my grace/ 

* As little of your cruelty/ 

* Why, had I been Nero himself. I oould not hmve tor- 
mented a being inoff ensive asa ehadow/ 

I smiled ; but I also h^Bhed a groan. Oh I — I jusX 
wished he would let me alone— ce ^e allusion to m e> Thete 
epithets — these attributes I put from me. His 'quiet Lacy 
■ Snowe/ his * inoffensive shadow/ I gave him back ; not wilh 
soom, but with extreme weariness : theirs was the coldness 
land the pressure of lead ; let him whelm me with no such 
weight. Happily, he was soon on another theme. 

* On what terms were '' little Polly " and I ? Unless my 
roooUections deceive me^ we were not foes ' 

'You speak very vaguely. Do you think little Polly '• 
memory not more definite ? * 

* Oh ! we don't talk of " little Polly " now. Pray say, 
MisB de BasBoropierre ; and, of course, such a stately per* 
sonage remembers nothing of Bretton. Look at her Urge 
eyes, Lucy ; can they read a word in the pftge of memory ? 
Are they the same which I used to direct to a hom^book? 
She does not kuow that I partly taught her to read/ 

' In the Bible on Sunday nights ? ' 

* 8he has a calm, delicate, rather fine profile now 
what a little restless, anxious coontenanoe was hers I 
a thing is a child's preference— what a bubble 1 Wotild yoo 
believe it? that lady was ^oiul^gf^e ! ' 

' I think she was in some measure fond of yon,' said I, 
modei-ately. 

* You don't remember then ? / had forgotten ; but I 
remember notv. She liked me the best of whatever thait 
was at Bretton/ 

' You thought so/ 



OOOfK^H 



THE H6TEL CRECY 



379 



[ quite well recall it. I wish I could tell her all I recall , 
rather, I wish someone, you for instance, w^ould go behind 
-Aud whisper it all in her ear, and I could have the delight — 
liere, fts I sit~of watching her look under the intelligence. 
Could you manage that, think you, Luoy, and make me ever 
grateful?' 

' Could I manage to make you ever grateful ? * said I. 

* No, / could not.' And I felt my fingers work and my 
hands interlock : I felt, too, an inward courage, warm and 
resistant. In this matter I was not disposed to gratify 
, Dr. John : not at all With now welcome force, I realized 

his entire misapprehension of my character and nature. He 
wanted always to give me a r61e not ip ine> Nature and I 
opposed him. He did noi-iCt all guess what I felt : he did 
not read my eyes, or face, or gestures ; though, I doubt not. 
all spoke. Leaning towards me coaxingly, he said, softly, ^ 

• Do content me, Lucy/ > 

And I would have contented, or, at leasts I would clearly | 
have enlightened him, and taught him well never again to 
expect of me the part of o fficious soubrette in a love^drnma ; | 
when, following his soft, eager, murmur, meeting almost his * 
pleading, mellow — ' Do content me, Lucy ! ' a sharp hiss 
pieroed my ear. on the other side. 

* Petite chatte, doucerette, coquette I * sibillated the sudden 
boa-constrictor; 'vous avez I'air bien tristo. soumis, rM^eu 
mais V0U8 ne T^tes pas : c'est moi qui vous le dis : Sauvag* 
la flamme 4 T&me, T^clair aux yeux I * <^ ' 

* Oui ; j'ai la flamme & Tftme, et je dois Tavoir I ' retorted 
I, turning in just wrath ; but Professor Emanuel had hissed 
his insult and was gone. 

The worst of the matter was, that Dr, Bretton, whose 
ears, as I liave said, were quick and fine, caught every word 
of this apostrophe ; he put his handkerchief to his face, and 

Ehed till he shook. 
Well done, Lucy,' cried he; 'capitxll petit© chatte, 
e coquette ! Oh, I must tell ray mother ! Is it true, 
[XiOoy, or half-true ? I believe it is : you redden to the colour 



4 



380 



VILLBTTE 



!,t* 



•\\, 



w 



i^ 



of Miss Fan&hawe'B gown. And really, by my word» now I 
examine him, tJiat is t he same ji ttle man who was bo savag^H 
with you at the concert : the very same, and in his soul h^^ 
is frantic at this moment because he sees me laughing. Ohl 
I must teaee him*' ""^ 

And Graham, yielding to his bent for miBchief, laughed, 
jested, and whispered on till I oould bear no more, and my 
eyes filled. 

Suddenly he was sobered : a vacant space appeared near 
Mias de Bassompierre ; the circle surrounding her seemed 
about to dissolve. This movement was instantly caught by 
Graham s eye — evor-vigilant, even while laughing ; he roee, 
took his courage in both hands, crossed the room, and made 
the advauitage his own. Dr. John, throughout his whole 
life, was a m^yn^ of luck — a man of success. And why? 

ms opportunity, the heart to 



Because henad the eye 
prompt to well-timed action, the nerve to consummate a 
f perfect work. And no tyrant-passion dragged him back ; no 
1 enthusiasms, no foibles encumbered his way. How well he 
looked at this very moment ! When Paulina looked up as 
he reached her side, her glance mingled at once with an 
encountering glance, animated, yet modest ; his colour, aa 
he spoke to her, became half a blush, half a glow. He 
stood in her presence brave and bashful : subdued and un< 
obtrusive, yet decided in his purpose and devoted in 
ardour, I gatliered all this by one view. I did not proloi 
my observation — time failed me, had inclination served : 
night wore late ; Giuevra and 1 ought already to have been 
in the Hue Fossette. I rose, and bade good-night to m; 
godmother and M. de Bassompierre. 

I know not whether Professor Emanuel had noticed mi 
reluctant acceptance of Dr. Bretton's badinage, or whethi 
he perceived that I was pained, and that, on the whole, 
evening had not been one flow of exultant enjoyment foi 
the volatile, pleasum-loving MademoiseUe Lucie ; but, as I 
was leaving the room, he stepped up and Inquired whether I 
iO attend me to the Bue Fossette. The profe 



un-^j 




i any ( 



THE h6tel ceii:cy 



381 



spoke politely, and even deferentially, and he looked 
apologetic and repentant ; but I conld not recognise his 
civility at a word, nor meet his contrition with crude, prema- 
ture oblivion. Never hitherto had I felt seriously disposed 
to resent hig brusqiieries, or freeze before his fierceness; 
what he had said to-night, hoveever, I considered unwar- 
ranted : my extreme disapprobation of the proceeding must 
be marked, however slightly. I merely said : — *I am 
provided vrith attendance.' 

Which was true, as Gincvra and I were to be sent home 
in the carriage; and I passed him with the sliding obeisance 
with which he was wont to be saluted in classe by pupils 
Grossing his estrade. 

Having sought my shawl, I returned to the vestibule. 
M. Emanuel stood there as if waifeiog* He observed that the 
night was fine, 

* Is it? ' I said, with a tone and manner whose consum- 
mate chariness and frostiness I could not but applaud. It 
was so seldom I could properly act out my own resolution to 
be reserved and cool where I had been grieved or hurt, that I 
felt almost proud of this one successful effort. That ' Is it? ' 
sounded just like the manner of other people. I had heard 
hundreds of such little minced, docked, dry phrases, from 
the pursed'Up coral lipa of a score of self-possessed, self- " 
fiufBcing misses and mesdemoiselles. That M. Paul would 
not stand any prolonged experience of this sort of dialogue I 
knew ; hut he certainly merited a sample of the curt and 
arid. I believe ho thought so himself, for he took the dose 
quietly. He looked at my shawl and objected to its Lightness. 
I decidedly told him it was as heavy as I wished. Keceding 
atoof, and standing apart, I leaned on the banister of the 
stairs, folded my shawl about me, and fixed my eyes on a 
dreary religious painting darkening the wall* 

Ginevra was long in coming : tedious seemed her 
loitering. M. Paul was still there ; my ear expected from 
his lips an angry tone. He came nearer. * Now for another 
hiss I ' thought I : had not the action been too uncivil I could 



382 



VILLETTE 



have stopped my ears with my fingers in terror o! the thrill 
Nothing happens as we expect ; listen lor a coo or a murmur ; 
it is then you will hear a cry of prey or pain. Await ft 
piercing ahnek, an angry threat, and welcome ao amicable 
greeting, a low kind whisper. M, Paul spoke gently:— 
' Friends,' said he, ' do not quarrel ior -a word. Tell ma 
was it I or ce grand fat d^Apgiais ' (so he prof&nely denooii* 
nated Dr. Brettou), ' who made your eyas so humid^ andyovr 
cheeks so hot as they are even now ? '''"'^^ 

' I am not conscious of you, monsieur, or of any other 
having excited such emotion as you indicate/ waa my answer ; 
and in giving it, I again surpassed my usual self, and achieved 
a neat, frosty falsehood. 

* But what did I say ? * he pursued ; ' tell me : I wii 
angry : I have forgotten my words ; what were they ? ' 

* Such as it is best to forget ! ' said I, still quite oalni and 
chill 

* Then it was my words which wounded you ^ Consider 
them unsaid : permit my retractation; accord my pardcn/ 

*I am not angry. Monsieur/ 

* Then you are worse than angry— grieved. ForgtV$i 
Miss Lucy.' 
'^"'Tff] Emanuel, I do forgive you.' 

* Let me hear you say, in the voice natmral to yoa. w^ 
not in that alien tone, *' Mon ami, je vous pardonne/' ' 

He made me smile. Who could help smiling al bis 
wistfulne ^ his simplicity, his eamestnees? 

* Bon 1 he cried. *yoiUk que le jour va poindri 
done, mon ami/ 

* Monsieur Paul, je vous pardonne/ 
' I will have no monsieur : speak the other word^ or I 

fiball not believe you sincere : another effort — tmm ami, <v 
else in English, — my friend I * 

Now, * my fi-iend ' had rather another sound and mffUr 
cancy than ' tmm ami ' ; it did not breathe tlie same Ksae d 
domestic and intimate affection ; * mon ami * I could not mj to 
M< Paul ; ' my friend/ I could, and did say withool diffieitlty- 



THE HOTEL CR^CY 



383 



I 



This distiuctioii esdated aot for him, howeTdr, and he was 
quite satisfied with the English phrase. He smiled. You 
should have seen him smile, reader ; and you should have 
marked the difference between his countenauoe now, and 
that he wore half an hour ago. I cannot affirm that I had 
ever witnessed the smile of pleasure^ or content^ or kindness 
round M. Paul's lips, or in his eyes before. The iromc, the 
sarcastic, the disdainful, the passionately exultant, I had 
hundreds of times seen him express by what he oalled a 
smile, but any illuminated sign of mildL-r or warmer feelings 
struck oie as wholly new in his visage. It changed it as from 
a mask to a face : the deep lines left his features ; the very 
complexion seemed clearer and fresher ; that swart, sallow, 
southern darkness which spoke his Spanish blood, became 
displaced by a lighter hue. I know not that I have ever 
seen in any other human face an equal metamorphosis from 
a similar cause. He now took me to the carriage : at the 
same moment M. de Bassompierre came out with his niece. 
In a pretty humour was Mistress Fanshawe ; she had 
found the evening a grand failure : completely upset as to 
temper, she gave way to the most uncontrolled moroseness 
as soon as we were seated, and the carriage-door closed* 
Her invectives against Dr. Bretton had something venomous 
in them. Having found herself impotent either to charm or 
sting him, hatred was her only resource ; and this hatrShihe 
©xpressed^D terms so unmeasured and proportion so mon- 
strous, that, after listening for a while with assumed stoicism, 
my outraged sense of justice at last and suddenly caught 
fire. An explosion ensued : for I could be passionate, too ; 
especially with my present fair but faulty associate, who 
never failed to stir the worst dregs of me. It was well that 
the carriage wheels made a tremendous rattle over the flinty 
CboseviUe pavement, for I can assure the reader thei'e was 
neither dead silence nor calm discussion within the vehicle. 
Hftlf in earnest, half in seeming, I made it my business to 
gtonn down Ginevra, She had set out rampant from the 
Bue Cr6cy ; it was necessaiy to tame hur before we reached 



.*>j 






384 



VILLETTB 



the Roe Fossette : to this end it was indispensable to she 
up her sterliog value and high deserts; and this must hfl 
done Id language of which the £delity and homeliness might 
challenge comparison with the compliments of a John Knox 
to a Mai*y Stuart. This was the right discipline for Ginevra ; 
it suited her. I am quite sure she went to bed that night 
all the better and more settled in mind and mood, and slept 
all the more sweetly for having undergone a sound mord 
drubbing* 




CHAPTEE XXVin 

ITHE WATCHGUARD 

M. Paul Emanuel owned an acote ftenBitiveDess to the 
annoyaace of interniption, from whatsoever cau^e occurring, 
dtiring his lessons : t-o pass through the classe under such 
circumstances was considered by the teachers and pupils of 
the school, individually and collectively, to be as much as a 
woman's or girl's life was worth. 

Madame Beck herself, if forced to the enterprise, would 
• skuiry ' through, retrenching her skirts, and carefully 
coasting the formidable estrade, like a ship dreading breakers. 
As to Rosine, the portress— on whom, every half-hour, 
devolved the fearftil duty of fetching pupils out of the very 
heart of one or other of the di™ions to take their music* 
leasons in the oratory, the great or little ealooo, the salle k 
manger, or some other piano-station— she would, upon her 
second or third attempt^ frequently become almost tongue- 
tied from excess of consternation— a sentiment inspired by 
the unspeakable looks levelled at her through a pair of dart- 
dealing spectacles- 
One morning I was sitting in the carr^, at work upon a 
piece of embroidery which one of the pupils had commenced 
but delayed to finish, and while my fingers wrought at the 
frame, my ears regaled themselves with listening to the 
crescendos and cadences of a voice haranguing in the neigh- 
bouring classe, in tones that waxed momentarily more 
nnquiet, more ominously varied. There was a good strong 
partition-wall between me and the gathering storm, as well 
as a facile means of fight ihrough the glass-door to the 

cc 



VILLETTE 



court, in case it swept this way ; so I am nfraid I derive 
more amusement than alarm from thesa thickening Rymp- 
tome. Poor Bosine was not safe : four times that bleased 
moroing ha^d she made the passage of peril ; and now, for 
the fifth time, it became her dangerous duty to snatch, m it 
were, a brand from the burning— a pupil from under M. 
Paul's nose. 

* Mon Dieu I Moo Dieu 1 ' cried she. ' Qne vais-je 
devenir ? Monsieur va me tuer, je suis sllre ; car U est d'ood 
CO 16 re t * 

Nerved by the courage ol desperation, she opened die 
door. 

' Mademoiselle La Malle au piano I ' was her cry. 

Ere she could make good her retreat, or quite close 
door, this voice uttered itself :— 

' D^s ce moment !— la classe est d^fendue. La premito 
qui ouvrira cette porte, ou passera par cette division, sen 
^ pendue — fut-ce Madame Back elle^mfeme I ' 

Tee minutes had not succeeded the promulgation of this 
decree when Eosine's French pantoufies were again h 
shuffling along the corridor. 

* Mademoiselle/ said she, * I would not for a five 
piece go into that classe again just now : Monsieur's lurn 
are really terrible ; and here is a commissionaire oome with 
a message from the Ath6n6e* I have told Madame Beek 
I dare not deliver it, and she saya I am to charge yoa 
with it 

* Me ? No, that is rather too bad 1 It is not in my line 
of duty. Ck)me, come, Bosine ! bear your own burden. Be 
brave^charge once more I ' 

* I, Mademoiselle ?— impossible ! Kve times I haTi 
crossed him this day. Madame must really hire a gendainii 
for this service* Ouf I Je n*en puis plus I * 

' Bah ( you are only a coward. What is the massage 
'Freoisely of the kind with which Monsieur least tikes 
be pestered: an urgent summons to go directly to 
Ath^n6e, as there is an official visitor — Inspector — I know 



4 

len 

if this 
hean^^ 



ram 



THE WATCHGDABD 



387 



not what — arrived, and Monsieur must meet him : you 
know how he hates a must.* 

Yes, I knew well enough. The restive little man detected 
spur or curb : against whatever was urgent or obligatory he 
wae sure to revolt. However, I accepted the responsibility 
— not, certainly, without fear, but fear blent with other 
sentiments, curiosity amongst them. I opened the doori I 
entered, I closed it behind me as quickly and quietly as a 
rather uoBteady band would permit ; for to be slow or bust- 
ling, to rattle a latch, or leave a door gaping wide, were 
aggravations of crime often more disastrous in result than 
the main crime itself. There I stood then, and there he sat; 
his humour was visibly had^ — almost at its worst; he had 
been giving a lesson in arithmetic — for he gave lessons on 
any and every subject that struck his fancy — and arithmetic 
being a dry subject, invariably disagreed with him : not a 
pupil but trembled when he spoke of figures. He sat, bent 
above his desk : to look up at the sound of an entrance, at 
the occurrence of a direct broach of his will and law, was an 
effort he could not for the moment bring himself to make. 
It w^as quite as well : I thus gained time to %valk up the 
long classe ; and it suited my idiosyncrasy far better to 
encounter the near burst of anger like his, than to bear its 
menace at a distance. 

At his estrade I paused, just in front; of course I was 
not worthy of immediate attention : he proceeded with his 
iesaon. Disdain would not do : ha must hear and be most 
answer my message. 

Not being quite tall enough to lift my head over his desk, 
elevated upon the estrade, and thus suffering eclipse in my 
present position, I ventured to p4^ep round, with the design, 
at first, of merely getting a better view of his face, which 
had struck me when I entered as bearing a close and 
picturesque resemblance to that of a black and sallow tiger. 
Twice did I enjoy this side-view with impunity, advancing 
and receding unseen ; the third time my eye had scarce 
dawned beyond the obscuration of the desk, when it was 



388 



VILLETTE 



caught and transfixed through its very pupil— transfixed ^ 
the ' lanettes/ Rosine was right ; these utensils bad mi 
them a blank and immutable terror, beyond the mobile 
wrath of the wearer's own unglazed eyes. 

I now found the advantage of proximity : these short- 
sighted ' lunettes * were useless for the inspection of m 
oritninal under Monsieur's nose ; accordingly, he dofifed them, 
and he and I stood on niore equal terms. 

I am glad I was not really much afraid of him— that, 
indeed, close in his presence, I felt no terror at all ; for upon 
his demanding cord and gibbet to execute the sentence 
recently pronounced, I was able to furnish him with a 
needleful of embroidering thread with such accommodating 
civility as could not but allay some portion at least of hii 
surplus irritation. Of course I did not parade this courtesy 
before public view : I merely handed the thread round the 
angle of the desk, and attached it, ready noosed, to the 
barred back of the Professor s chair, 

' Que me voulez-vous ? ' said he in a growl of which tho 
music was wholly confined to his chest and throaty for ht 
kept his teeth clenched, and seemed registering to himself all 
inward vow that nothing earthly should wring from himasmib. 

My answer commenced uncompromisingly : ' Monsieur/ 
I said, ' je veux rimpossible, des choses inomes; ' and thinking 
it best not to mince matters, but to administer the * doacke' 
with decision, in a low but quick voice, I delivered the 
Athenian message, floridly exaggerating its urgency. 

Of course, he would not hear a word of it. ' He ' 
not go; he would not leave his present class, lei all 
officials of Villette send for him. He would not put himt 
an inch out of his way at the bidding of king, cabinel, 
chambers together.' 

I knew, however, that he must go ; that, talk as he would, 
both his duty and interest commanded an immediate and 
literal compliance with the summons : I stood, therefom, 
waiting in silence, as if he had not yet spoken. He 
what more I wanted. 



I 
( woolly 

el^aa^ 



THE WATCHGXIAED 



389 



* Only MonBi6ur*8 answer to deliver to the commissionaire/ 
He waved an impatient negative* 

I ventured to stretch my hand to the bonnet-grec which 
lay in grim repose on the window-silL He followed this 
daring movement with his eye, no doubt in mixed pity and 
amazement at its presumption. 

* Ah I ' he muttered, *if it came to that — if Miss Lucy 
meddled with his bonnet-grec — she might just put it on her- 
self, turn gar^on for the occasion, and benevolently go to the 
Ath^n^e iir-htrmiBSar ^ 

With great respect, I laid the bonnet on the desk, where 
its tassel seemed to give me an awful nod. 

* 111 write a note of apology — that will do !' said he, still 
bent on evasion. 

Knowing well it would not do, I gently pushed the bonnet 
towards his hand. Thus impelled, it slid down the polishi^d 
slope of the varnished and unbaized desk, carried before it 
the light steel-framed * lunettes/ and, fearful to relate, they 
fell to the estrade. A score of times ere now had I seen them 
fall and receive ft 6 damage — this time, as Lucy Snu^'e's 
hapless luck would have it, *T!ii5y so fell that each clear 
pebble became a shivered and shapeless star. 

Now, indeed, dismay seized mo— dismay and regret 
knew the value of these * lunettes': M. Paufs sight was 
peculiar, not easily fitted, and these glasses suited him. I 
had heard him call them his treasures : as I picked them 
up, cracked and worthless, my hand trembled. Frightened 
through all ray nerves I was to see the mischief I had done, 
but I think I was even more sorry than afraid- For some 
seconds I dared not look the bereaved Professor in the face ; 
he was the first to speak. 

'hk\' said he : ' me voil& veuf de mes lunettes f I think 
Mademoiselle Lucy will now confess that the cord and gal* 
lows are amply earned ; she trembles in anticipation of her 
doom. Ah, traitres*4^aitress ! You are resolved to have 
me quite-tttHT^-^attd helpless in yoiir hands I ' 

I lifted my eyes : his face, insteud of being ifate, lowering, 



:) 



390 



VILLETTB 



and furrowed, was overflowing with ihe smile, coloured with ' 
the bloom I had seen brightening it that evening at the H6tel 
iCr^y. He was not angry— not even grieved. For the real 
injury he showed himself full of clemency ; under the real 
provocatioup patient as a saint. This event, which seemed 
so untoward^ which I thought had ruine^l at once my ohftooe 
of successful persuasion — proved my best help. Difficult of 
management so long as I had done him no harm, he beCAine 
graciously pliant as soon as I stood in his presence a oon* 
scious and contrite ofiFender. 

Still gently railing at me as 'une forte femme — ^une 
Anglaise terrible — une petite casse-tout * — he declared IhAt 
he dared not but obey one who had given such &n uiBtanee 
of her dangerous prowess ; it was absolutely like the * grmnd 
Emperem- smashing the vase to inspire dismay/ So, at la&k 
crowning himself with his bonnet-greo, and taking his ruined 
* lunettes * from my hand with a clasp of kind pardon and 
encouragement, ha made his how, and went off to ihe Atb^o^ 
in first-rate humour and spirits. 



After all this amiability, the reader will be sgrQtJoc-Jay 
sake to hear that I was quarrelling with M, Paul again before 
night ; yet so it was, and I could not help it* 

It was his occasional custom — and a very laudabJt^ 
acceptable custom, too — to arrive of an evening, always & 
I'improvistej unannounced, burst in on the silent hour of 
study, establish a sudden despotism over us and our oocupft^ 
tjons, cause books to be put away, work-bags to be broughl 
out, and, drawing forth a single thick volume, or a baDdfvl 
of pamphlets, substitute for the besotted * lecture pieiiae»' 
drawled by a sleepy pupil, some tragedy made giBod by 
grand reading, ardent by fiery action — some drama, whereoi 
for my part, I rarely studied the intrinsic Eoerit; for 
M. Emanuel made it a vessel for an outpouring, and filled 
it with his native verve and passion like a cup with a vital 
brewage. Or else he would flash through our ooDventQal 



THE WATCHGUARD 



^ 



Co 
391 



h/ 



darkness a reflex of a brighter world, show us a glimpse of 
the current literature of the day, read us passages from some 
enchaoting tale, or the last witty feuilleton which had 
awakened laughter in the saloons of Paris; taking care 
always to expungei with the severest hand, whether from 
tragedy, melodrama, tale, or essay, whatever passage, phrase, 
or word, could be deemed unsulted to an audience of * jeunes 
fiUes.* I noticed more than once, that where retrenchment 
without substitute would have left unmeaning vacancy, or 
introduced weakness, he oould, and did, improvise whole 
paragraphs, no less vigorous than irreproachable; the 
dialogue — the description— he engrafted was often far better 
than that be pruned away. 

Well, on the evening in question, we %VGro sitting silent 
as nuns in a ' retreat,' the pupils studying, the teachers 
working. I remember my work ; it was a slight matter of 
fancy, and it rather interested me ; it bad a purpose ; I 
was not doing it merely to kill time ; I meant it when 
finished as a gift ; and the occasion of presentation being 
near, haste was requisite, and my fingers were busy* * 

We heard the sharp bell-peal which we all knew ; then 
the rapid step familiar to each ear : the words * Voil4 
Monsieur I * had scarcely broken simultaneously from every 
lip, when the two-leaved door split (as split it always did 
for his admission— such a slow word as ' open * is inefficient 
to describe his movements), and he stood in the midst 
of us. 

There were two study tables, both long and flanked with 
benches ; over the centre of each hung a lamp ; beneath this 
lamp, on either side the table, sat a teacher; the girls were 
arranged to the right band and the left ; the eldest and most 
studious nearest the lamps or tropics ; the idlers and little 
ones towards the north and south poles. Monsieur's habit was 
politely to hand a chair to some teacher, generally Z^lio St. 
Pierre, the senior mistress ; then to take her vacated seat ; 
and thus avail himself of the full beam of Cancer or Capri- 
corn, which, owing to his near sight, he needed. 



VILLETTE 




As usual, Z61ie rose with alacrity, smiling to the whob 
extent of her mouth, and the full display of her upper and 
onder rows of teeth— that strange smile which paaaes Iroi 
ear to ear, and is marked only by a sharp thin curve, whidi 
fails to spread over the eoimt^nance, and neither dimples thi* 
cheek nor lights the eye. I suppose Monsieur did not 
\ her, or he had taken a whim that he would not no doe h 
for he T o^as caf trir^^^^'^ °° wnmfi " f^^^ ^aid to ^ ; then h 
' lunettes ' (he had got another pair) served him as an 
for all sorts of little oversights and shortcomings. Wi 
might be his reason, he passed by Z^lie. came to the other 
side of the table, and before I could start up to clear the 
way, whiE^red, 'Ne bougez pas/ and established himself 
between me and Miss Fanshawe» who always would be my 
neighbour, and have her elbow in my side, however of too I 
declared to her, * Ginevra» I wish you were at Jericho 

It was easy to say, ' Ne bougez pas ' ; but how could 
help it? I must make him room, and 1 must request 
pupils to recede that I might recede. It was very well 
Ginevra to be gummed to me, ' keeping herself warm/ aa 
said, on the winter evenings, and harassing my very heart 
with her fidgetings and pokings, obliging me, indeed, some. 
times to put an artful pin in my girdle by way of protectioo 
against her elbow ; but I suppose M. Emanuel was oot 
to be subjected to the same kind of treatment, so I aweplaway 
my working materials, to clear space for his book, anA 
withdrew myself to make room for his person ; not, bowe^ 
leaving more than a yard of interval, just what any 
able man would have regarded as a convenient, resi 
allowance of bench. But M. Emanuel never vhu reaso 
flint and tinder that he was I he struck and took 
directly, 

* Vous ne voulez pas de moi pour vdsin,' he growled, 
'VOU3 vous donnez des airs de caste; vous me traitei 
paria ; ' he scowled* ' Soil 1 je vais arranger la ohcee t 
And he set to work, 

* Levez vous toutes, Mesdemoisellea ! ' cried he. 



sbsV 




THE WATCHQDARD 



393 



The girls rose. He made them all file off to the other 
table. He then placed me at one extremity of the long 
bench, and having duly and carefully brought me cny work- 
basket, silk, 8cisaon?» all my implements, he fixed himself 
quite at the other end. 

At this arrange ment, highly absurd as it was, not a soul 

in the room dared to laugh ; luckless for the giggler would 

have been the giggle. As for me, I took it with entire 

»poolne3s. There I sat, isolated and cut off from human 

^feitercourse ; I sat and minded my work, and was qulet^ and 

uot at all unhappy. 

• • Est-ce assez de distance ? ' he demanded. 
' Monsieur en est I'arbitre/ said I. 

* Vous savei! bien que non. Cost vous qui avez cr6^ oe 
vi J^ ^^HHifnS ft ' "^P^ F ^ y ^ £^^ ™^^ ^^ main/ _^ 
B * And with this assertion he commenced the reading. 

For his misfortune he had chosen a French tmn elation 
of what he called * un drame de Williams Shackspire ; le 
faux dieu/ he further announced, *de ces sots paiens, les 
Anglais.* How far otherwise he would have characterised 
him had his temper not been upset, I scarcely need in- 
timate. 

Of course, the translation being French, was ver}^ 
inefficient ; nor did I make any particular effort to conceal 
the contempt which some of its forlorn lapses were calcu- 
lated to excite. Not that it behoved or beseemed me to say 
anything: but one can occasionally look the opinion it is 
forbidden to embody in words. Monsieur's lunettes being 
on the alert, he gleaned up every stray look ; I don't think 
he lost one : the consequence was, his eyes soon discarded 
a screen, that their blaze might sparkle free, and he waxed 
hotter at the north pole to which he had voluntarily exiled 
himself, than, considering the general temperature of the 
room, it would have been reasonable to become under the 
vertical ray of Cancer itself. 

The reading over, it appeared problematic whether he 
would depart with his anger unexpressed, or whether he 



\ 



394 



VILLETTE 



would give it vent. Suppression was not moeh in hit 
habits ; but still, what had been done to him definite enough 
to afford matter for overt reproof? I had not uttered 
Bound, and could not justly be deemed amenable to repri- 
mand or penalty for having permitted a slightly freer actii 
than usual to the muscles about my eyes and mouth. 

The supper, consisting of bread, and millt diluted wi 
tepid water, was brought in. In respectful consideration of 
the Professor's presence, the rolls and glasses were allowed 
to stand instead of being immediately handed round. 

' Take your supper, ladies/ said he, seeming to be 
occupied in making marginal notes to his * Williami Shack- 
Bpire/ They took it. I also accepted a roll and glass, but 
being now more than ever interested in my work, I kept my 
seat of punishment, and wrought while I munched my 
bread and sipped my beverage, the whole with easy sang* 
froid ; with a certain snugness of composure, indeed, 
scarcely in my habits, and pleasantly novel to my feelings. 
It seemed as if the presence of a nature so restless, chafi] 
tliomy as that ot M. Paul absorbed all feverish and unaetl 
influences like a magnet, and left me none but such as w 
placid and harmonious, 

Ho rose. * Will he go away without saying anoti 
word ? ' Yes ; he turned to the door. 

No : he T-e-tumed on his steps ; but only, perfaapa, to 
take his pencil-case, which had been left on the table* 

He took it^shut the pencil in and out, broke its point 
against the wood, re-cut and pocketed it, and .... walked 
promptly up to me. 

Thi^ girls and teachers, gathered round the other 
were talking pretty freely : they always talked at tneals 
and, from the constant habit of spc^akitig fast and loud 
such times, did not now subdue their voices much. 

M. Paul came and stood behind me. He asked at what 
I was working ; and I said I was making a watch 

He asked, * For whom ? ' And I *2lis^9ered, * For a 
gentleman — one of my friends/ 



I 




teals ^H 
ud a^H 



THE WATCHGUAED 



395 



k 



M. Paul stooped tlown and proceeded— as novel-writers 
say, and, as was literally t rue in his cas e — to * hiss ' into tny 
ear some poignant words. 

He said that, of all the women he knew, I was the one 
who could make herself the most consummately unpleasant: 
I was she with whom it was least possihle to live on 
friendly terms. I had a * caract^re intraitable/ and perverse 
to a miracle. How I managed it, or what possessed me, 
he, for his part, did not know; but with whatever pacific 
and amicable intentions a person accosted me — crac ! I 
turned concord to discord, goodwill to enmity. He was 
sure, he — M. Paul — wished me well enough ; he had never 
done me any harm that he knew of ; he might, at least, he 
supposed, claim a right to be regarded as a neutral acquain- 
tance, guiltless of hostile sentiments : yet, how I behaved to 
him 1 With what pungent vivacities — what an impetus o( 
mutiny — what a * fougiie ' of injustice ! 

Here I could not avoid opening my eyes somewhat wide, 
and even slipping in a alight interjectional observation : 
•Vivacities? Impetus? Fougue? I didn't know . , ,' 

* Chut I k rinstant ! There ; there I went — vive comma 
la poudret* He was sorry — he was very sorry: for my 
sake he grieved over the hapless peculiarity. This ' em- 
portement,' this ' chaleur * — generous, perhaps, but excessive 
— would yet, he feared, do me a mischief. It was a pity : I' 
was not — he believed, in his soul— wholly without good 
qualities : and would I but hear reason, and be more sedate, 
more sober, less ' en Tair,' less ' coqu^ttat' less taken by ' 
show, less prone to set an tmdue value on outside excellence 
— to make much of the attentions of people remarkable chiefly > 
for so many feet of stature, ' des couleurs de poup^e,' * un 
nez plus ou moins bien fait/ and an enormous amount of [ 
fatuity— I might yet prove an useful, perhaps an exemplary 

character. But, as it was And here the little man's 

voice was for a minute choked. 

I would have looked up at him, or held out my hand, or 
said a soothing word ; but I was afraid, if I stirred, I should 



396 



VILLETTE 



either laugh or cry ; ao odd. in all this^ wa s the m ixtare 
the touching and the ah sard. ^~ 

I thought he had nearly done : hut no ; he sat down Ibiit 
he might go on at his ease. 

* While he, M. Paul, waa on these painful topii^ \m 
would dare my angor for the sake of my good, and wotxid 
venture to refer to a change he had noticed in my dreflS* 
He was free to confess that when he first knew me — or, 
rather, was in the hahit of catching a passing glimpse of ms 
from time to time— I satisfied him on this point : the gravily, 
the austere simplicity, obvious in this particular, were such 
as to inspire the highest hopes for my hest interests. What 
fatal influence had impeUed me lately to introduce flowei 
under the brim of my bonnet, to wear " dea cols brod^^ 
and even to appear on one occasion in a scarlet gown — he 
might indeed conjecturei but, for the present, would not 
openly dechire/ 

Again I interrupted, and this time not without an accent 
at once indignant and horror-struck. 

* Scarlet, Monsieur Paul ? It was not scarlet ! It was 
pink, and pUe pink too : and further subdued by black lac^/ 

* Pink or scarlet, yellow or crimson, pea-green or aky* 
blue, it was all one : these were all flaunting, giddy colours ; 
and as to the laoe I talked of, that was but a *' colificbel de 
plus/' ' And he sighod over my degeneracy. ' He ooald 
not, he was sorry to say« be so particular on this theme «i 
he could wish : not possessing the exact names of thase 
'* babiolea," he might run into small verbal errors which 
would not fail to lay him open to my sarcasm, and exdte 
my unhappily sudden and passionate disposition. Ho 
would merely aay, in general terma — and in these general 
terms he knew he was correct^that my costume had 9f 
late assumed "des fafons mondaines," which it wofooddd 
him to see.* 

What * fa90ns mondaines ' he discovered in my preeeol 
winter merino and plain white collar, I own it puzzled ma to 
guess : and when 1 asked him, he said it was all made with 







^-^ 



^-1 



THE WATCHGUABD 



397 



it' 



■pu 



too much attention to effect — and besides, * had I not a bow 
?f ribbon at my neck ? ' 

And if you condemn a bow of ribbon for a lady, 
[ondeur, you would necessarily disapprove of a thing like 
this for a gentleman ? ' — holding up my bright little chainlet 
of silk and gold. His sole reply was a groan— I 8upiK>8e | 
over my levity. 

After sitting some minutes in silence, and watching the 

iprogress of the chain, at which I now wrought more assidu- 

pusly than ever, he inquired : ' Whether what he had 

Just said would have the effect of making me entirely detest 

Inm ? ' "^ 

I hardly remember what answer I made, or how it came 
about; I don*t think I spoke at all, but I know we managed 
to bid good -night on friendly terms : and, even after M. 
Paul had reached the door, he turned back just to explain, 

* that he would not be understood to speak in entire con- 
demnation of the scarlet dress ' (' Pink ! pink I ' I threw in) ; 

* that he had no intention to deny it the merit of looking rather 
well * (the fact was, M. Emanuel's taste in colours decidedly 
leaned to the brilliant) ; * only he wished to counsel me, 
whenever I wore it, to do so in the same spirit as if its 
material were " bure," and its hue " gris de poussifere/' * 

And the flowers under my bonnet, Monsieur ? ' I asked. • 

f They are very little ones^ ? ' 

* Keep them little, then,' said he. ' Permit them not to 
become full-blown,' 

I' And the bow, Monsieur— the bit of ribbon ? ' 
* Va pour le ruban I ' was the propitious answer. 
And so we settled it. 
* Well done, Lucy Snowe t ' cried I to myself ; * you have 
oome in for a pretty lecture — brought on yourself a * rude 
savant,' and all through your wicked fondness for worldly 
vanities 1 Who would have thought it ? You deemed your- 
self a melancholy sober-sides enough t Miss Fanshawe there 



I 



l/ 



396 



VILLETTE 



regards you as a second DiogQUQS. M. de Bassotnpiern^ 
other day, politely turned the conversation when it ran on' 
the %viki gifts of the actress Vashtii because, as he kindly 
saidp * Miss Snowe looked oncomfortable.' Dr, John Bretton 
knows you only as ' quiet Lucy * — * a creature InofiTenstve &£ 
a shadow ; ' he has said, and you have heard him say it : 
I ' Lucy's disadvantages spring from over-gravity in tastes and 
manner — want of colour in character and costume/ Such 
are your own and your friends* impressions; and behold! 
there starts up a little man, differing diametrically from all 
these» roundly charging yon with being i ng aj fy and f't fafiPTy 
—too volatile and versatile— too flowery and coloury. This 
harsh httle man — thia^^gitiless censor— gathers up ail your 
poor scattered sins of vanity, your^uckless chiflfon of roee- 
colour, your small fringe of a wreath, your small scrap of 
ribbon, your silly bit of lace, and calls you to account for 
the lot, and for each item. You are well habituated t-< *- 
passed by as a shadow in Life's sunshine : it is a new t 
to see one testily lifting his hand to screen his eyes, because 
you tease him with an obtr usive ra y/ 



A»^»i 



i^ 



> 



^i^'c 



w 



.yVV 



I 



CHAPTER XXIX 
monbieur'b f£te 



I WAS up the next morning an hour before daybreak, and 
finished my guard, kneeling on the dormitory floor beside 
the centre stand, for the benefit of such expiring gUmmer as 
ihe night-lamp afforded in its last watch. 

All my materials — ^my whole stock of beads and silk— 
were used up before the chain assumed th^Jgjigth and rich- 
nesB I wished ; I had wrought it double, as I knew, by the 
nile of contrarieSi that to suit the particular taste whose 
gratification was in view an effective appearance wan quite 
indispensable. As a finish to the ornament^ a little gold 
clasp was needed ; fortunately I possessed it in the fastening 
of my sole necklace; I duly detached and re-attachod it, 
then coiled compactly the completed guard, and enclosed it 
in a small box I had bought for its brilliancy, made of some 
tropic shell of the colour called ' nacarat,' and decked with I 
a little coronal of sparkling blue stones. Within the lid of 
the box I carefully graved with my scissors* point certain 
initials. 

The reader will, perhaps, remember the description of 
Madame Beck's f6te ; nor will he have forgotten that at each 
anniversary a handsome present was subscribed for and 
offered by the sohooL The observance of this day was a 
distinction accorded to none but Madame^ and, in a modified 
form, to her kinsman and counsellor, M. Emanuel In the 
latter case it was an honour spontaneously awarded, not 



400 



VILLETTE 



plotted and contrived beforehand, and ofifei^ed an additional 
proof, amongst many others, of the esUraation in which— 
despite his partialities, prejudices, and irritabilities — the 
professor of literature was held by bis pupils. No article of 
value was offered to him : he distinctly gave it to be 
understood that he would accept neither plate nor jewellery. 
Yet he liked a slight tribute ; the cost, the monej-valne, did 
not touch him : a diamond ring, a gold snuff-box, presented 
with pomp, would have pleased him less than a flower, or a 
drawing, offered simply and with sincere feelings. Such was 
bis nature. He was a man, not wise in his generation, yet 
could he claim a filial sympathy with ' the dayspring on 

^high; 

M, Paul's f6te fell on the first of March and a Thursday, 
It proved a fine sunny day ; and being likewise the morning 
on which it was customary to attend mass ; being also other- 
wise distinguished by the half-holiday which permitted llie 
privilege of walking*out, shopping, or paying Tisitd in Ifaa 
afternoon ; these combined considerations induced a gieneiil 
smai-tness and freshness of dress. Clean collars were in 
vogue ; the ordinary dingy woollen classe-dress was ex- 
changed for something lighter and clearer. MademotseUs 
^ Z^ie St. Pierre, on this particular Thursday, even asstmifld 
a 'robe de soie,* deemed in economical Labasseoour an 
article of hazardous splendour and luxury ; nay, it was ny 
marked that she sent for a ' coiffeur * to dress her hair Ibal 
morning ; there were pupils acute enough to discover thai 
she had bedewed her handkerchief and her hands with a now 
and fashionable perfume. Poor Z^lie ! It was maoh ber 
wont to declare about this time, that she was tired to deatb 
of a life of seclusion and labour ; that she longed to have the 
means and leisinre for relaxation ; to have some one to work 
for her — a husband who would pay her debts (she was 
wofully encumbered with debt), supply her wardrobe* and 
leave her at hberty, as she said, to ' go(iter un pen les plaisirs.* 
It had long been rumoured thai herj^fijiaftjigonM- 
Emanuel. Monsieur Emanuei's eye was certainly ofieo 



i 



i 



t^^' 



2J>' >'l 



MONSIEUB'S PflTE 



401 



upon her. He would sit and watch her persevermgly for 
minutes together. I h&ve seen him give her a quarter *of*aQ- 
hour's gaze, while the class wad sQently composing, and he 
sat throned on his estrade, unoccupied, CooBcious always 
of this basilisk attention, she would writhe under it, half- 
flattered, half -puzzled, and Monsieur would follow her aen- 
Bations, sometimes looking appallingly acute ; for in some 
csases he had the terrible unening penetration of instinct, 
and pierced in its hiding-place the last lurking thought of the 
heart, and discerned under florid veilings the bare, barren 
places of the spirit : yes, and its perverted tendencies, and its 
hidden false curves— all that men and women would not 
have known — the twisted spine, the malformed limb that 
was born with them, and far worse, the stain or disfigure- 
ment they have perhaps brought on themselves. No 
calamity so accursed but M. Emanuel could pity and 
forgive, if it wAyft ft^r^P^wl ^dged candidly ,; hnt w^iajy^ Kia 
questioning eyes met dishonest denial^where his ruthless 
researches found deceitful concealment — oh» then, he could 
be cruel, and I thought wicked I he would exultantly snatch 
the screen from poor shrinking wretches, passionately hurry 
them to the summit of the mount of exposure, and there 
show them aE naked, all false — poor Hving lies — the spawn 
of that horridLTruth which cannot be looked on unveiled. 
He thought he did justice ; for my part I doubt whether 
man has a right to do such justice on man : more than once 
in these his visitations I have felt compelled to give tears 
to his victims, and not spared ire and keen reproach to 
himself. He deserved it ; but it was difficult to shake him 
in his firm conviction that the work was righteous and 
needed. 

Breakfast being over and mass attended, the school-bell 
r^Dg and the r< oms filled : a very pretty spectacle was pre- 
sented in classe. Pupils and teachers sat neatly arrayed, 
orderly and expectant, each bearing in her hand the bouquet 
of felicitation — the prettiest spring-flowers all fresh, and 
filling the air with their fragrance : I only had no bouquet. 



sr' 



(V 



WU '^ ^"^^ P^ 



u. ^ 



J 



iy^ 



403 



VILLETTE 



I like to §60 flowers p^owinf?, but when they are gal! 
thoy oease to ploaBe. I look on them as tbinga rootless anil 
{KirifthfthlG ; thuir likonesB to life makes me sad. I Dersr 
olTor flowors to thogejjove ; I never wish to receive tbcm 
frfiiiT bandB doar to me. MademoiBelle St. Pierre madced 
my oinpty hands— eho oould not believe I had been 6o 
rumi»s; wit!i avidity her eye roved over and round me: 
Runvly I must have aome solitary symbolic flower some- 
whefo : some small knot of violets, something to vdn myseH 
pmisQ for tastOi commendation for ingenuity. The unimagi- 
nalivo * Anglaise * proved better than the Parisienne's fears : 
sbs sat literally unprovided, as bare of bloom or leaf as the 
wliikir ireo. This aaoertainod, Zdlie smiled, well pleased. 

* How wisely you have acted to keep your money, Hiss 
Lttoio,* she said : * silly I haye gone and thrown away 
fmtios on a bouquet of hot-house flowers f * 

And sh« showed with pride her splendid nosegay* 

Bui hush I a stop : the step. It came prompl^ as 
Iml with a pfomplttiide, we hh disposed to flatter oiii«elv«s^ 
inspired by oltiBr feelings tfiaii mere excttabdhty of dots 
and tatamnas o( intent. We tbmglil ontr Pttrfeesor's 
*ieel4idl' (In qpsak tematttically) had Id il a faieody 
I Uus mendnc ; ^xA no H had. 

He entered in a mood wbUi nacle him ae good ae a new 
m Ibe already i^riMilirildaaBe. The 



;Mi8S 

nsQifl 



faonlLPtars 
(Mm^I don*lfa»ww1ijIshaaU 

01 siBiiift wtttomtst l^mi^Q mot 





MONSIEUB'8 FETE*^^ 403 



well ; there was a clearness of amity in his blue eye, and a 
glow of good feehng on his dark complexion, which passed 
perfectly in the place of beauty : one really did not care to 
observe that his nose, though far from small, was of no 
particular shape, his cheek thio, his brow marked and 
square, his mouth no rose-bud; one accepted him as he 
was, and felt his presence the reverse of damping or insig- 
nificant. 
K He passed to bis desk ; he placed on the same bis liat 
^ and gloves. * Bon jour, mea amies,' said be, in a tone that 
somehow made amends to some amongst us for many a sharp 
snap and savage snarl : not a jocund, good-fellow tone, still 
less an unctuous priestly accent, but a voice he had belonging 
to himself — a voice used when his heart passed the words to 
his hps. That same heart did speak sometimes ; though an 
irritable, it was not an ossified organ : in its core was a place 
tender beyond a man's tenderness ; a place that humbled 
him to little children, that bound him to girls and women : 
to whom, rebel as he would, he could not disown his aflB^nity, 
nor quite deny tliat, on tlie wholoj he was better with them 

I than with his own sex. 
* We all wish Monsieur a good day, and present to him 
our congratulations on the anniversary of his f6te,' said 
Mademoiselle Z^lie, constituting herself spokeswoman of 
the assembly ; and advancing %vith no more twists of aflfec- 
tation than were with her indispensable to the achievement 
of motion, she laid her costly bouquet before him. He 
bowed over it. 

The long train of offerings followed : all the pupils, 
sweeping past with the gliding step foreigners practise, left 
their tributes as they went by. Each girl so dexterously 
adjusted her separate gift, that when the last bouquet was laid 
on the desk, it formed the apex to a blooming pyramid — a 
pyramid blooming, spreading, and towering with such 
exuberance as» in the end, to eclipse the hero behind it. 
This ceremony over, seats were resumed, and we sat in dead 
gileoce, expectant of a speech. 



:/ 



^ 



v.f 



404 



VILLETTE 




I suppose five minuteB might have elapsed, and the te 
remained unbroken ; ten^ — and there was no sound. 

Many present began, doubtle^, to wonder for what 
Monsieur waited : as well they might* Voiceless and view- 
less, stirless and wordless, he kept his station behind th^ 
pile of flowers. 

At last there issued forth a voice» rather deep^ as if it 
spoke out of a hollow :■ — 

* Est-ce E tout? ' 

Mademoiselle Z^lie looked round, 
•You have all presented your bouquets ?' inquiied ahft 

of the pupils. 

Yes ; they had all given their nosegays, from the eldesi 
to the youngest, from the tallest to the most dimi&ntiis. 
The senior mistress signified as much. 

' Est-ce 14 tout ? ' was reiterated in an intonation whkh, 
deep before, had now descended some notes lower. 

* Monsieur/ said Mademoiselle S i. Pie iTe, rising, and Ihi 
time speaking with her own sweet smile7* I have the honoi 
to tell you that, with a single exception, every person i 
classe has offered her bouquet. For Meess Lucie Monsie 
will kindly make allowance ; as a foreigner she probably 
not know our customs, or did not appreciate their signifi^' 
cance. Meess Lucie has regarded this ceremony as too 
frivolous to he honoured by her observanoe/ 

' Famous ! ' I muttered between my teeth : ' yoa are no 
bad speaker, Z6lie, when you begin/ 

The answei'^vou^nsaleJ 16 Maiimnoiselle St. Pierre fronj 
the estrade was given in the gesticulation of a hand from 
behind the pyramid. This manual action seemed to depn* 
oate words, to enjoin silence. 

A form, ere long, followed the hand. Monsieur emerg^ 
from his eclipse ; and producing himself on the front of his 
estrade, and gazing straight and fbtedly before him at a vast 
' mappe-monde * covering the wall opposite, he demanded a 
third time, and now in really tragic tones^ — 

*EBt-oel4tout?* 



MONSIEUR'S P^TE 



4m 






fr 



I mighl yet have made all right, by stopping fonvaTds 
and slipping into his hand the r uddy little she ll-box I at 
that moment held tight in ray own. It^l^a ^Imt I had 
fully purposed to do ; but, first, the comic side of Monsieur's 
behaviour had tempted me to delay, and now, Maclemoiselle 
St. PieiTe*8 affected interference provoked contumacity. "* 
The reader not having hitherto had any cause to ascribe to ^ 
Miss Snowe'a character the most distant pretensions to per- 
fection, will be scarcely surprised to learn that she felt too 
perverse to defend herself from any imputation the 
Parisienne might chooae to insinuate : and besides, M. Paul | 
was so tragic, and took my defectiOQSO serioualy, he j( '^ 
d eserved to^ be vexed . I kept, then, both my'^ox' and my 
countenance, and sat insensate as &ny stone. 

* It is well I ' dropped at length from the lips of M. Paul ; 
and having uttered this phrase, the shadow of some great (/ 
paroxysm — the swell of wratli, scorn, resolve^passed over 
his brow, rippled his lips, and lined his cheeks. Gulping 
down all further comment, he latinched into his customary 
*di8C0urs/ 

I can*t at all remember what this * discours * was* I did 
inot listen to it : the gulping-down process, the abrupt dis- 
missal of his mortifioation or vexation, had given me a 
sensation which half-counteracted the ludicrous effect of 
the reiterated ' Est-ce \k tout? ' 

Towards the close of the speech there came a pleasing 
diversion ; my attention was agaih amusingly arrested, ^ *^o*^t 

Owing to soma little accidental movement— I think I 
droppe d my thimble q d the floor, and in stooping to regain it 
hit the crown of roy head against the sharp comer of my 
desk ; which casualties (exasperating to me, by rights, if to 
anybody) naturally made a sHght bustle — M. Paul became 
irritated, and dismissing his forced equanimity, and casting 
to the winds that dignity and self-control with which he 
never cared long to encumber himself, he broke forth into 
the strain best calculated to give him ease, 

1 don*t know bow, in the progress of his * disoours,* he 



.^.i 



406 



VILLETTE 






k 



had contiived to cross the Channel and land on British 
ground ; but there I found hun when I began to listen. 

Casting a quick, cynical glance round the room — ft gUnoe 
which scathed, or was intended to scathe, as it crossed md 
—he fell with fury upon * les Anglaises/ 

Never have I heard English women handled as M. Piul 
that morning handled themTlio spared nothing — neitber. 
their minds, morals, manners, nor personal appear&noe. 
specially remember his abuse of their tall stature, their long 
necks, their thin arms, their slovenly dress, their pedantic 
education, their impious ^scepticism (I), their insufferable 
pride, their pretentious virtue: over which he ground his 
teeth malignantly, and looked as if, had he dared, he would 
have said singular thhigs. Oh 1 ha was spiteful, aoridt 
savage ; and, as a natural consequence, detestably ugly. 

' Little wicked venomous man I ' thought I ; ' am I going 
to harass myself with fears of displeasing you, or hurting 
ymir feelings ? No, indeed ; you shall be indifferent to me, 
as the shabbiest bouquet in your pyramid.' 

I grieve to say I could not quite carry out this resolution. 
For some time the abuse of England and the Enghsh found 
and left me stolid : I bore it some fifteen minutes stoically 
enough ; but this hissing cockatrice was determined ki 
sting, and he said such things at last— fastening not only 
npon our women, but upon our greatest names and best 
men ; sullying the shield of Britannia, and dabbling the 
Unioo-jack in mud — that I was stung. With vicious relisb 
he brought up the most spicy current continental histocie&l 
falsehoods — than which nothing can be oonoetved mom 
offensive, Z^lie, and the whole class, became one giiii of 
vindictive delight ; for it is curious to discover how theao 
clowns of Labassecour secretly hate England. At laai I 
struck a sharp stroke on my desk, opened my lips, andv 
loose this cry : — 

* Vive r^ngleterre, THistoire et les Htom 1 A baa 
Prance, la Piction'erT^s Faquins I * 

The class was struck of a heap* I suppose they tfaooght 






'I 

I 



si I 



MONSIEUR'S F6tE 



407 






me mad. The Professor put up his handkerchief, and 
fiendiaiily smiled into its folds. Little monster of malice I 
He oow thought ha had got the victory, since he had made 

^e angry. In a second he became good-humoured. With 
oat blandnoss he resumed the subject of his flowers; 
talked poetioally and symbolically of their sweetness, 
perfume, purity, etcetera; made Frenchified comparisons 
between the ' jeunes filles * and the sweet blossoms before 
him ; paid Mademoiselle St, Pierre a very full-blown com- 
pliment on the superiority of her bouquet ; and ended by 
announcing that the first really fine, mild, and balmy 
morning in spring, he intended to take the whole class out 
to breakfast in the country, ' Such of the class, at least/ he 
added, with emphasis, ' as he could count amongst the 
number of his friends/ 

I *Donc je n'y serai pas,' declared I, involuntarily^ 

' ^ Sott I * was his response ; and, gathering his fiowers in 
tis arras, he dashed out of classe ; while I, consigning my 
work, scissors, thimble, and the neglected little box, to my 
desk, swept up-stairs. I don't know whether he felt hot 
and angry, but I am free to confess that I did. 

Yet with a strange evanescent anger, I had not sat an 
hour on the edge of my bed, picturing and repictm'ing his 
look, manner, words, ere I smiled at the whole scene- A 
little pang of regret I underwent that the box had not been 

[cfifered, I had meant to gratify him. Fate wo uld not have 
it so. 

In the course of the afternoon, remembering that desks 
in classe were by no means inviolate repositories, and 
thinking that it was as well to secure the box, on account 
of the initials in the lid, P, C. D. E,, for Paul Carl {or 
Carlos) David Emanuel^such was his full name — these 
foreigners must always have a string of baptismals— I 
descended to the scboolroom. 

It slept in holiday repose. The day pupils were all gone 
home, the boarders were out walking, the teachers, except 
the surveillante of the week, were in town, visiting or 



ij 



ih 



40S 



VILLETTE 




shopping; the suite of divisioiia was vacant; bo was"tB« 
grand Balle» with its huge solemn globe hanging in the 
midst, its pair of many-hranched chandeliers, and h 
horizontal grand piano closed, silent, enjoying ite mid-wi 
Sabbath, I rather wondered to find the first classe d' 
ajar ; this room being usually locked when empty, ai 
being then inaccessible to any save Madame Beck 
myself, who possessed a duplicate key. I wondered still 
more, on approaching, to hear a vague movement as of 
life— a step, a chair stirred, a sound like tbe opening of a 
desk. 

' It is only Madame Beck doing inspection duty,* wu 
the coDclusion following a moment's reflection. The 
partially-opened door gave opportunity for assurance on 
this point. I looked. Behold I not the inspecting garb of 
Madame Beck — the shawl and the clean cap — but the coat 
and tbe close -shorn, dark head of a man. This person 
occupied my chair ; his olive hand held my desk open, hia 
nose was lost to view amongst my papers. His back was 
towards me, but Ihero could not be a moment's questiOD 
about identity. Already waa the attire of ceremony 
discarded ; the cherished and ink-stained palet6t was 
resumed; tbe perverse bonnet-grec lay on the floor, as if 
just dropped from the hand, culpably busy. 

Now I knew, and I had long known, that that hand of 
M. Emanuel's was on the most intimate terms with my 
desk ; that it raised and lowered the Ud, ransacked aoi 
arranged the contents, almost as famiharly ae my owo. 
The fact was not dubious, nor did he wish it to be so 
left signs of each visit palpal)le and unmistakable ; hith 
however, I had never caught hirn in the act : wat^h as 
would, I could not detect the hours and moments of 
coming* I saw the brownie's work in exerciser left on 
night full of faults, and found next morning ^unefi 
corrected : I profited by his capricious good-wiU in 
full welcome and refreshing. Between a sallow diciioQaf]^^ 
and worn-out grammar would magically grow m bmk 




MONSIEUR'S FfiTE 



409 



interesting new work» or a classic » mellow and sweet in 
its ripe age. Out of my work-basket would laughingly 
peep a romanoe, under it would lurk the pamphlet, the 
magazine, whence last evening's reading had been extracted. 
Impossible to doubt the source whence these treasures 
flowed : had there been no other indication, one condemning 
and traitor peculiarity, common to them all, settled the 
question — th^^^_ j7^li_ gl ^cigars. This was very shocking, 
of course: / thought so at first, and used to open the 
window with some bustle, to air my desk, and with 
fastidious finger and thumb, to hold the peccant brochures 
forth to the purifying breeze. I was cured of that formality 
suddenly. Monsieur caught me at it one day, understood 
the inference, instantly relieved my h:ind of itB burden, and, 
in another moment, would have thrust the same into the 
glowing stove. It chanced to be a book^ on the perusal of 
which I was bent ; so for once I proved as decided and 
quicker than himself ; recaptured the spoil, and — having 
saved this volume — never hazarded a second. With all 
this, I had never yet been able to arrest in his visits the 
freakish, friendly, oigar-loviog phantom. 

But now at last I had him : there he was — the very 
brownie himself ; and there, curling from his lips, was the 
pale blue breath of his Indian darling: he was smoking into 
my desk : it might well betray him. Provoked at this par- 
ticular, and yet pleased to surprise him^ — pleased, that is, 
with the mixed feehng of the housewife who discovers at 
last her strange elfin ally busy in the dairy at the untimely 
chum — I softly stole forward, stood behind him, bent with 
precaution over his shoulder. 

My heart smote me to see that — after this morning's 
hostiHty, after my seeming remissness, after the puncture 
experienced by his feelings, and the ruffling undergone by 
his temper — he, all willing to forget and forgive, had 
brought me a couple of handsome volumes, of which the 
title and authorship were guarantees for interest. Now, as 
he sat bending above the desk, he was stirring up its oontents; 




410 



VILIiETTB 



but with gentle and careful hand ; disarrangmg indeed, bat 
not harming. My heart smote me : as I bent over him, a£ 
he sat unconscious, doing me what good he could, and 
I daresay not feeling towards me unkindly, my morn* 
\ ing*8 anger quite melted ; I did not dialike Professor 
Emanu el. 

TThink he heard me breathe. He turned suddenly: 
his temperament was nervous, yet he never started, and 
seldom changed colour ; there was something ^ardy about 
him. 

'I thought you were gone into town with the other 
teachers/ said he. taking a grim gripe of his self-poaaeagjon, 
which half-escaped him^ — * It is as well you are noi. Do 
you think I care for being caught? Not I* I often ?isU 
your desk/ 

* Monsieur, I know it/ 

* You find a brochure or tome now and then ; birf 
don't read them, because they have passed under this 
touching his cigar, 

* They have, and are no better for the process ; but 1 
read them/ 

' Without pleasure ? * 

' Monsieur must not bo contradicted/ 

'Do you like them, or any of them? — are Ihey ac- 
ceptable ? ' 

' Monsieur has seen me reading them a hundred tuMSi 
and knows I have not so many recreations aa to ondemliie 
those he provides/ 

' I mean well ; and, if you see that I mean well, atid 
derive'som^^tle amusement from my efforts, why can no 
not be friends ? ' 

* A fatalist would say — becaus e we cannot/ 

' This morning,' he oantinued, ^ 1 awoke in a bright mood* 
and came into classe happy ; you spoiled my day.' 

' No, Monsieur, only an hour or two of tt, and thai uno* 
tentionally/ 

' Unintentionally ! No. It was my f6te-day ; everybody 



I VISII 



4 



MONSIEUR'S FfiTE 



411 



wished me happiness but you. The little children of the 
third division gave each her itnot of violets, lisped each her 
congratulation : — you — nothing. Not a bud, leaf, whisper — 
not a glance. Was this unintentional ? ' 

■ ' I meant no harm.* 
* Then you really did not know our custom ? You were 
unprepared? You would willingly have laid out a few 
centimes on a flower to give me pleasure, had you been 
B aware that it was expected ? Say so, and all is forgotten, 
and the pain soothed,* 

* I did know that it was expected : I was prepared ; yet I 
laid out no centimes on flowers/ 

* It is weU — you do right to be honest. I should almost 
have hated you had you flattered and bed. Better declare 
at once — '*Paul Carl Emanuel — je te d^teste, mon garijon ! " 
— than smile an interest, look an affection, and be false and 
cold at heart. False and cold I don*t think you are ; but 
you have made a great mistake in life, that I believe ; I 
think your judgment is warped — that you are indifferent * 
where you ought to hfiL^gr^^eful — and perhaps devoted and Jl 
infatuated where you ought to be cool as_yaurname. Don't * 
suppose that I wish you to have a pUssionTof^e, Made- 
moiselle ; Dieu vous en garde 1 What do you start for ? 
Because I said p^^^Rinn 9 Well, I say it again. There is 
such a word, and there is such a thing — though not within 
these walls, thank heaven I You are no child that one 
should not spoak^jaLjEhat^-exiats ! but I only uttered the 
word — the thin^^, I assure you, is alien to my whole hfe and 
views. It died in the past — in the present it lies buried — its 
gra^ve is deep-dug, well-heaped, and many winters old : in 
the future there will be a resurrection, as I believe to my 
soul's consolation 1 but all will then be changed — form and 
feehng: the mortal will have put on immortality — it will 
rise, not for earth, but heaven. All I say to i/ow, Miss 
Lucy Snowe, is — that you ought to treat Professor Paul 
Emanuel decepjlyT^ 

I could not^ and did not contradict such a sentiment. 




w*^ 






.^ 




VILLETTB 



'Tell me/ he pursued, 'when it 18 your f^te-day, &1 
will not grudge a few centimes for a small offering/ 

' You will he like me, Monsieur : this cost more than a 
few centimes, and I did not grudge its price/ 

And taking from the open desk the little hox, I put it into 
his hand. ^* 

* It lay ready in my lap this morning/ I continued ; * and 
if Monsieur had beeo rather more p atien t, and Mademoiaelk 
St Pierre less i nterferi ng — perhaj>s I should say, too, if /had 
be«n calmer and wiser — I should have given it then/ 

He looked at the box: I saw its clear warm tint and 
bright azure circlet pleased his eyes. I told him to open ii 

' My initials ! ' said he, indicating the letters in the hd. 
* Who told you I was called Carl David ? * 

* A httie bird, Monsieur/ 
' Does it fly from me to you ? Then one can tie a xammf^ 

under its wing when needfuL' 

He took out the chain — a trifle indeed as to value, but 
glossy with silk and sparkling with beads. He liked Ihit 
k>0 — admired it artlessly, like a child. 

' For me ? * 

' Yes, for you/ 

* This is the thing you were working at last night ? ' 

* The same/ ■ * 
' You finished it this morning? * 

•I did/ _ 

' You commenced it with the intention that it should be 

mine ? ' 

' Undoubtedly/ 

' And offered on my Mte-day ? * 

* Yea/ 

* This purpose continued as you wove it 7 ' 
i Again I assented, 

' Then it is not necessary that I should cut out any por* 
tioD — saying, this part is not mine : it was plaited under the 
idea and for the adornmejnt of another?' 

'By no means. It is neither necessary, nor would it be joat* 





MONSIEUR'S FETE 



.VsV. 



41S 






* Thifi object is all mine ? ' 1 

* That object is yours entirely.' | 
Straightway Monsieur opened his pal6t6t» arranged the 

d splendidly acroaB his chest, displa3dng as much and 
BuppreBsing as little as he could : for he had no notion of 
concealing what ho admired and thought decorative* As to 
the bos, he pronounced it a superb bonbonni^re — he was 
fond of bonbons, by the way — and as he always liked to share 
with others what pleased himself, he would give his ' drag^es * 
as freely as he lent his books. Amongst the kind brownie s 
gifts left in my desk, I forgot to enumerate many at paper of 
choQ glate comfits. His tastes in these matters were southern, 
and what we think infantine. His simple lunch consisted 
frequently of a * brioche/ which, as often as not, he shared 
with some child of the third division. 

* A present c'est un fait accompli/ said he, readjusting his 
palet6t ; and we had no more words on the subject. After 
looking over the two volumes he had brought, and cutting 
away some pages with bis penknife (he generally pruned 
before lending his books, especially if they were novek, and 
sometimes I was a little provoked at the severity of his cen- 
sorship, the retrenchments interrupting the narrative), he 
rose, politely touched his bonnet-greo, and bade me a civil 
good-day, 

' We are friends now/ thought I, ' till the next time we 
quarrel/ 

We might have quarrelled again that very same evening, 
but^ wonderful to relate, failed, for once, to make the most of 
our opportunity. 

Contrary to all expectation, M. Paul arrived at the study- 
hour. Having seen so much of him in the morning, we did 
not look for his presence at night. No sooner were we seated 
ibi lessons, however, than he appeared, I own I was glad to 
see him, so glad that I could not help greeting his arrival 
with a sjiiil^: and when be made his way to the same seat 
about which so serious a misunderstaoding had formerly 
arisen, I took good care not to make too much room for him ; 







414 



VILLETTB 



(I 



he watched with a jealous, side-long look, to see whether 
shrank away, but I did oot, though the bench was a little 
crowded. I was losing the early impulse to recoil from ^| 
M. Paul. Habituated to the palet6t and bonnet-grec, the 
neighbourhood of these garments seemed no longer uncom- 
fortable or very formidable* I did not now sit restrained, 
* asphyxi^e ' (as be used to say) at hia side ; I stirred when 
I wished to stir, coughed when it was necessary, even 
yawned when I wag tired — did, in short, what I pleased, 
blindly reliant upon his indulgence. Nor did my temerity, 
this evening at least, meet the punishment it perhaps 
merited ; he was both indulgent and good-natured ; not a 
cross glance shot from his eyes, not a hasty word left his 
lips. Tin the very close of the evening he did not indeed 
address me at all, yet I felt, somehow, that he was full of 
friendliness. Silence is of different kinds, and breathet 
different meanings; no words could inspire a pleasanta* 
content than did M. PauFs wordless presence. When the 
tray came in, and the bustle of supper commenced, he jusl^H 
said, as be retired, that he wished me a good-night and sweel^^ 
dreams ; and a good night and sweet dreams 1 had. 






•r 



CHAPTER XXX 

M. PAUL 

*der is advised not to be in any hurry with his 
kindly conclusions, or to suppose, with an over*haaty charity, 
that from that day M, Paul became a changed character — 
easy to live with, and no longer apt to flash danger aod 
discomfort round him. 

No; he was naturally a little man of tinreaflonable 
moods. When over-wroughtT^wttCti he often was, he 
became acutely irritable; and, besides, his veins were dark 
with a livid belladonna tincture, the essence of jealousy. 
I do not mean merely the tender jealousy of the h^aiL 
but that sterner, narrower sentiment whose seat is in the 
ha^. 

I used to think, as I sat looking at M. Paul, while he 
was knitting his brow or protruding his lip over some 
exercise of mine, which had not as many faults as he wished 
(for he liked me to commit faults : a knot of blunders was 
sweet to him as a cluster of nuts), that he had points of 
resemblance to (Napoleon Bonaparte* IthiniLSO stilL 

In a shamel ess -dlarei ^ard of magnanimity, he resembled 
the great Emperor. M. Paul would have quarrelled with 
twenty learned women, would have unblushingly carried on 
a system of petty bickering and recrimination with a whole 
capital of coterien, never troubhng himself about loss or lack 
of dignity. He would have exiled fifty Madame de Staels, if 
they had annoyed, offended, outri vailed, or opposed him. 

I well remember a hot episode of his with a certain 



416 



VILLETTE 






Madame Pai^acbe — a lady temporarily employed by Ma 
Beck to give lessons in history. She was clever — ih&l iflil 
she knew a good deal ; and, besideSi thoroughly possessed 
the art of making the most of what she kne^ ; of words and 
oonfidence she held unlimited command. Her porsoDAl 
appearance was far from destitute of advantages ; I believe 
many people would have pronounced her * a fi ne wom an ' ; 
and yet there were points in her robust and "Smple^attrac- 
tions, as w^ell as in her bustling and demonstrative presence. 
which, it appeared^ the nice and capricious tastes of M. Ptaol 
could not away with. The sound of her voice» echoing 
through the oan'6, would put him into a strange talcing; 
her long free step — almost stride — along the corridor would 
often make him snatch up his papers and decamp on the 
instant. 

With malicious intent he bethought himself, one day, 
intrude on her class ; as quick as hghtning be gathered 1 
method of instruction ; it differed from a pet plan of his 
With little ceremony, and less courtesy, he pointed out what 
he termed her errors. Whether he expected submission and 
attention^ I know not ; he met an acrid opposition, acoom- 
panied by a round repnmand for his certainly unjustifiabi^H 
interference. ^| 

Instead of withdrawing with dignity, as he might stiU 
have done, he threw down the gauntlet of defiance. Ma 
Panache, bellicose as a Penthesilea, picked it up in a mtn^ 
She snapped her hngers in the intermeddler^s face ; 
mahed upon him with a storm of words. M. Enaanuel * 
eloquent ; but Madame Panache was voluble. A system d 
fierce antagonism ensued. Instead of laughing in his sleeve 
at his fahr foe, with all her sore amour-propre and lood self- 
assertioni M. Paul detested her with intense seriousness; h« 
honoured her with his earnest fury ; he pursued her 
dictively and implacably^ refusing to rest peaoeably in 
bed, to derive due benefit from his meals, or even serenely ( 
relish his cigar, till she was fairly rooted out of the estall 
ment. The Professor conquered, but I cannot say thai 



fat StlU 
fadaxa^^ 
tntnol^l 
e; alS 
ael tnM 



M. PAUL 



417 



I ^^' 



laurels of this victory shadowed gracefully his temples. 
Once I ventured to hint as much. To my great surprise 
he allowed that I might be right, but averred that when 
brought into contact with either men or women of the coarse, 
self-complacent quality, whereof Madame Panache was a 
specimen, he had no control over his own paasious ; an 
unspeakable and active aversion impelled him to a war of 
extermination. 

Three months afterwards, hearing that his vanquished 
foe had met with reverses, and was likely to be really 
distressed for want of employment, he forgot his hatred, and 
alike active in good and evil» he moved heaven and earth till 
he found her a place. Upon her coming to make up former 
differences, and thank him for his recent kindness* the old 
voice — a little loud^ — the old manner — a little fonvard — so 
acted upon him that in ten minutes he started up and bowed 
her, or rather himself, out of the room^ in a transport of 
nervous irritation. 

To pursue a somewhat audacious parallel, in a love of 
power, in an eager grasp after supremacy, M. Emanuel was 
like Bonaparte. He was a man not always to be submitted 
to. Sometimes it was needful to resist ; it was right to 
stand still, to look up into his eyes and tell him that 
requirements went beyond reason— that his absolutism 
verged on tyranny. 

The dawnings, the first developments of peculiar talent 
appearing within his range, and under his rule, curiously 
excited, even disturbed him. He watched its stmggle into 
life with a scowl ; he held back his hand— perhaps said, 
' Come on if you have strength,* but would not aid the hiHh. 

When the pang and peril of the first convict were over, 
when the breath of life was drawn, when he saw the lungs 
expand and contract, when he felt the heart beat and 
discovered life in the eye, he did not yet offer to foster. 

* Prove yourself true ere I cherish you,' was his ordi- 
nance ; and how difficult he made that proof l What thorns 
id briers, what iiintSi he strewed in the path of feet not 



his 1 
ismj 



416 



VILLETTE 



inured to rough travel I He watched tearlessly — c 
that he exacted should be passed through —fearlessly* Ha 
followed footprints that, as they approached the bourne. 
were sometimes marked in blood — followed them giimly, 
holding the austerest police-watch over the pain-preesed 
pilgrim. And when at last he allowed a rest, before slumber 
might close the eyelids, he opened those same lids widev 
with pitiless fiuger and thumb, and gazed deep throogh the 
pupil and the irids into the brain, into the heart, to seArch 
if Vanity, or Pride, or Falsehood, in any of its eubllest 
forms, was discoverable in the furthest recess of existence. 
If, at last, he let the neophyte sleep, it was but a moment . 
he woke him suddenly up to apply new tests : he sent him 
on irksome errands when he was stagg3ring with wearioeis; 
he tried the temper, the sense, and the health ; and it wa« 
only when every severest test had been apphed and cDdured. 
when the most corrosive aquafortis had been used, and failed 
to tarnish the ore, that he admitted it genuine, and, 8^ ill 
clouded silence, stamped it with his deep braud of approval 

I speak not ignorant of these evils. 

Till the dute at which the last chapter closes, M. Paal 
had not been my professor— he had not given me lessons, boi 
about that time, accidentally hearing me one d&y acknowied^ 
an Ignorance of some branch of education (I think ti wa^ 
arithmetic), which would have disgraced a charity-school 
boy, as he ver}^ truly remarked, he took me in haaii, 
examined me first, found me^ I need not say, abtmdaiillT 
deficient, gave me some books and appointed me 
tasks. 

He did this at first with pleasure, indeed with unconc 
exultation, condescending to say that he believed 
* bonne et pas trop faihle' (ie, well enough disposed, isl 
not wholly destitute of parts), but, owing he supposed to 
adverse circumstances; 'as yet in a state of wretohsdl; 
imperfect mental development* 

The beginning of all efiTort has indeed with me 
marked by a preternatural imbecility. I never ooold. 



luaou* 



M. PAUL 



419 



in forming a common aoqn&intance, assert or prove a claim 
to average qmokneas^ A depressing and difficult passage 
has prefaced every new page I have turned in life. 

So long as this passage lasted, M, Paul was very kind, 
very good, very forbearing; he saw the sharp pain inflicted, 
and felt the weighty humiliation imposed by my own sense 
of incapacity : and words can hardly do justice to his 
tenderness and helpful uess. His own eyes would moisten, 
when tears of shame and effort clouded mine ; burdened as 
he was with work, he would steal half his brief spaoe of 
recreation to give to me. 

But, strange grief 1 when that heavy and overcast dawn 
began at last to yield to day ; when my fEicuIties began to 
struggle themselves free, and my time of energy and fulfil- 
ment came ; when I voluntarily doubled, trebled, quadrupled 
the tasks he set, to please him as I thought, his kindness 
became sternness ; the light changed in his eyes from a 
beam to a spark ; he fretted, he opposed, he curbed me 
imperiously; the more I did, the harder I worked, the less 
he seemed content* Sarcasms of which the severity amassed 
and puzzled me, harassed my ears ; then flowed out the 
bitterest innuendoes against the * pride of intellect.' I was 
vaguely threatened with I know not what doom, if I ever 
trespassed the limits proper to my sex, and conceived a 
contraband appetite for unfeminine knowledge. Alas 1 I 
had no such appetite. What I loved, it joyed me by any 
effort to content : but the noble hunger for science in the 
abstract — the godlike thirst after discovery— these feelings 
were known to me but by briefest fishes. 

Yet, when M. Paul sneered at me, I wanted to possess 
them more fully ; his injustice stirred io me ambitious 
wishes— it imparted a strong stimulus — it gave wings to 
aspiration. 

In the beginning, before I had penetrated to motives, 
that uncomprehended sneer of his made my heart ache, but 
by-and-by it only warmed the blood in my veins, and sent 
added action to my pulses. Whatever my powers — feminine 






VILLETTE 



or the contrary — God had given them, and I felt resolnl 
be ashamed of no faculty of His bestowal, 

Tho combat was vei-y sharp for a time. I seemed to 
have lost M. Paul's affection ; he treated me strangely. In 
his most unjust moments he would losinuate that I had 
deceived him when I appeared what he called *f«ble*— 
that is incompetent ; he said I had feigned a false iacapaeity. 
Again, he would turn suddenly round and accuse me of th 
most far-fetched imitations and impossible plagiarid 
asserting that I had extracted the pith out af hooks . 
had not so much as heard of — ^and over the perusal of 
I should infalhbly have fallen down in a sleep as 
that of Eutychus. 

Once, upon his preferring such an accusation, I turned 
upon him — I rose against him. Gathering an armful of his 
books out of my desk, I 6lJed my apron and poorod them 
in a heap upon his estrade, at his feet. 

' Take them away, M. Paul/ I said, * and teach roe no 
more. I never asked to be made learned, and you eompel 
me to feel very profoundly that learning is not hap^nefs.* 

And returning to my desk, I laid my head on my anus, 
nor would I speak to him for two days afterwards. H0 
pained and chagrined nae. His affection had be ^q yeiy 
sweet and dear — a pleasure new and incomparable: 
that this seemed withdrawn, I cared not Tor his lessons. 

The books, however, were not taken away ; they ' 
all restored with careful hand to their places, and be ( 
as usual to teach me. He made his peace sotpebow — ten 
readily, perhaps : I ought to have stood out 
when he looked kind and good, and held out hi" »^^".| ; 
amity, memory refused to reproduce with d 
oppressive moments. And then, reconcilement iti atiMf^ 
sweet 1 

On a certain morning a message came from my goi- 
mother, invitmg me to attend some notable leetuie to be 
delivered in the same public rooms before described, Df- 
John had brought the message himself, aod dalivend it 




*rtM 



M, PAUL 



421 



iTerhally to Bosine, who had nob scrapled to follow the 
steps of M. Emanuel, then passing to the first clasBOi and, 
in his presence, stand * carr^ment * before my desk, hand in 
aproD*pocket, and rehearse the same, saucily and aloud, 
concluding with the words, * Qull est vraiment beau, 
Mademoiselle, oe jeune docteur ! Quels yeux— quel regard I 
Tenez ! J^en ai le ccEur tout 6mu 1 ' 

When she was gone, my professor demanded of me why 
I suffered ' cette fiUe effrout^e, cette cr^ture sans piideur/ 
to address me in such terms. 

I had no pacifying answer to give. The terms were 
precisely such as Bosine^a young lady in whose skull the 
organs of reverence and reserve were not largely developed 
— was in the constant habit of using, BesideSi what she 
said about the young doctor was true enough. Graham 
was handfiome ; he had fine eyes and a thrilling glance. 
An observation to that effect actually formed itself into 

k sound on my lips. 
* Elle ne dit que la v6rit6/ I said, 
* Ah ! vous trouvez ? ' 
* MaiSi sans doute/ 

The lesson to which we had that day to submit was 
such as to make us very glad when it terminated. At its 
close the released pupils rushed out, half-trembling, half- 
exultant. Ip too, was going. A mandate to remain anested 
me, I muttered that I wanted some fresh air sadly — the 
stoire was in a glow, the classe over-heated. An inexorable 
voice merely recommended silence ; and this salamander^ — 
for whom no room ever seemed too hot — sitting down 
between my desk and the stove — a situation in which he 
ought to have felt broiled, but did not — proceeded to con- 
front me with — a Greek quotation ! 

In M. EmanueFs soul rankled a chronic suspicion that i 
I knew both Greek and Latin. As monkeys are said to . 
have the power of speech if they would but use it, and 
are reported to conceal this faculty in fear of its being 
turned to their detriment so to me was ascribed a fund of 



439 



VILLETTE 



V 



t^ 



itOf^P^ 



knowledge which I was supposed criminally and ciuf 
conceal. The privileges of a ' classical education/ It 
insinuated p had been mine ; on flowers of Hymettus I bad 
revelled ; a golden store, hived in memory, now silenllj 
sustained my efiforts, and privily nurtured my wits. 

A hundred expedients did M. Paul employ to 
my secret^to wheedle, to threaten, to startle it out 
Sometimes he placed Greek and Latin books in my way» 
and then watched me. as Joan of Arc's jailers tempted her 
with the warrior's accoutrements, and lay in wait lor the 
issue. Again he quoted I know not what authors ani 
passages, and while rolling out their sweet and soundin 
liues (the classic tones fell musically from his lips— for 
had a good voice — remarkable for compass, modulation, aud 
matchless expression), he would fix on me a vigilAaC 
piercing, and often malicious eye. It was evident he 
©ometimea expected great demonstrations ; they never 
occurred, however ; not comprehending, of course I could 
nether be charmed nor annoyed. 

Baffled — almo«t angry — he still clung to his JQ^ed idea ; 
my susceptibilities were pronounced marble— my f&oe a 
mask. It appeared as if he could not be brought to aeeepl 
the homely truth, and taJte me for what I was : men, uid 
women too, must have delusion of some sort ; if not made 
ready to their hand, they will invent exaggeration far 
themselves. 

At moments I did wish that his suspicions had 
better founded. There were times when I would 
given my right hand to possess the treasures he ascribed to 
me. He deseryed condign punishment for his testy 
crotchets. I could have gloried in bringing home to hiiD 
his worst apprehensions astoundingly realised. I coQld 

(have exulted to hurst on his vision, confront and confound 
his 'lunettes.' one blaze of acquire meats. Oh 1 why 
nobody undertake to meike me clever while I 
enough to learn, that I might, by one grand, 
inhuman revelation— one cold, cruel, overwhehning lnum]ih 



nacie 
i far^ 

bavflfi 




M, PAUL 



423 



— have for ever crushed the mocking spirit out of Paul/ 
Carl Dand Emanuel I f 

Alas I no such feat was in my power. To-day, as usual, 
his quotations fell ineffectual : he soon shifted his ground. 

' Women of iDtellect ' was his next theme : here he was 
at home. A 'woman of intellect,* it appeared, was a sort of 

• lusus natujrae/ a luckless accident, a thing for which there 
was neither place nor use in creation, wanted neither as wile 
nor worker. Beauty anticipated her in the first ofiBce. He 
beheved in his soul that In vgly^ plaj^j^l^ n^nd pasaive f^p tinine 
mediocrity was the only pillow on which manly thought and 
sense could find rest for its aching temples ; and as to w^ork, 
male mind alone could work to any good practical result — 
hein? 

This * hein ? ' was a note of interrogation intended to di Jiw 
from me contradiction or objection. However, I only said-— 

* Cela ne me regarde pas : Je ne men soucie pas ; * and 
presently added — * May I go, Monsieur? They have rung 

tthe bell for the second "dejeuner *' * (Le, luncheon), 
I * What of that ? You are not hungry ? * 
' Indeed I was/ I said ; * I had had nothing since break - 
tBSi, at seven, and should have nothing till dinner, at five, if 
I missed this bell/ 

' Well, he was in the same plight, but I might share with 
him.' 

And he broke in two the ' brioche ' intended for his own 
refreshment, and gave me half. Truly his bark was worse 
than his bite ; but the really formidable attack was yet to 
I come. While eating his cake. 1 could not forbear expressing 
my secret wish that I really knew all of which he accused 
me* 

* Did I sincerely feel myself to be an ignoramus ? ' he 
asked, in a softened tone. 

If I had replied meekly by an unqualified affirmativ*?. I 
believe he would have stretched out bis hand, and we should 
fcire been friends on the spot, but I answered — 
' Not exactly. I am ignorant, Monsieur, in the know- 



424 



VILLETTE 



ledge you aBcribe to me, but I sometimes, not akoaigi 
knowledge of my own/ 

* What did I mean ? ' he inquired, sharply. 

Unable to answer this question in a breath, I eTaded it 
by change of subject. He had now finished bis half of the 
brioche : feeling sure that on so trifling a fragment he could 
not have satisfied his appetite, as indeed I had not appeased 
mine, and inhaling the fragrance of baked apples afar fromfl 
the refectory, I %'entured to inquire whether he did not also ™ 
perceive that agreeable odour. He confessed that he did 
I said if ho would let me out by the garden-door, and p: 
mo just to run across the com't, I would fetch him a pLit€i_ , 
and added that I believed they were exoellent, as Goton bid 
a very good method of baking, or rather stewing fniii. 
putting in a little spice, sugar, and a glass or two of Tin 
blanc — might I go ? 

' Petite gourmande \ * said he, smiling, * I have not for- 
gotten how pleased you were with the pM k la cr^me I 
once gave you, and you know very well, at this momeuu 
that to fetch the apples for me will be the same as getting 
them for yourself. Go, then, but come back quickly.* 

And at last he liberated me on parole. My own plioj 
was to go and return with speed and good faith, to put 
plate in at the door, and then to vanish incoDtineni^ laavinf; 
all consequences for future settlement. 

That intolerably keen instiBct of his seemed to have 
anticipatod my scheme : he met me at the ihreahold, 
hurried me into the room, and fixed me in a minute in xnj 
former seat. Taking the plate of fruit from my hand* be 
divided the portion intended only for himself, and ordered 
me to eat my share. I complied with no good grace, aod 
vexed, I suppose, by my reluctance, he opened i 
and dangerous battery. All he had yet eaid I oould < 
as mere sound and fury, signifying Dothing : not so ol Ibe 
present attack. 

It consisted in an unreasonable proposition with which 
he bad before af^icted me : namely^ that on the next paUie 



,Uni£ 

i 

planfl 



M, PAUL 






Cu f^< 



I 425 



I exammation-day I should engage — foreigner as I was— to 
take my placo on the firat "fOlrm of fll'M-dlimi ^jwpiUi L»>d 
with them improvise a composition" m~'I?n?ncti, on any 
snhject any speotator might dictiatOi without henefit of 
grammar or lexicon, 

I Itnew what the result of such an experiment would be, 
I, to whom nature had denied the impromptu faculty ; who, 
in public, was b)' ^natuve a cypher: w hose time of mental 
activity^ even when alone, was not under the meridian sun ; 
who needed the fresh silence of morning, or the recluse 
peace of evening, to win from the ^^^iJYf T^rnpnlRfi one 
evidence of his^presence, one proof of hi^ force ; I, with 
whom that li]iQ;|iJse was the most inti^actable, the most 
capricious, the most maddening of masters (him before me 
always excepted) — -^ deity which sometimes, under circum- 
stances apparently propitious, would not speak when 
questioned, would not hear when appealed to, would 
not, when sought, be found ; but would stand, all cold* 
all indurated, aU granite, a dark Baal with carve n lips 
and blank eyeballs, and breast like the stone face of a 
tomb; and again, suddenly, at some turn, some sound, 
some long-trembling sob of the wind, at some rushing past 
of an unseen stream of electricity, the irrational demon 
would wake unsolicited, would stir strangely alive, would 
rush from its pedestal like a perturbed Dagon, calling to its 
votary for a sacrifice, whatever the hour— to its victim for 
some blood or some breath, whatever the circumstance or 
scene— rousing its priest, treacherously promising vaticina- 
tion, perhaps filling its temple with a strange hum of 
oracles, but sure to give half the significance to fateful 
winds, and grudging to the desperate listener even a miser- 
able remnant— yielding it sordidly, as though each word had 
been a drop of the deathless ichor of its own dark veins. 
And this tja^ant I was to compel into bondage, and make it 
improvise a theme, on a school estrade, between a Mathilda 
and a Corahe, under the eye of a Madame Beck, for the plea- 
Bare, and to the inspiration of a bouigeois of Lahassecour t 



4se 



VILLETTE 



M, Paul and I did battle 



I than 



Upon this argument 
once— strong battle, with conluaed noise of demand and 
rejection, exaction and repulse. 

On this particular day I was soundly rated. *The 
obstinacy of niy whole sex,* it seems, was concentrated in 
me ; I had an ' orgueil de diable/ I feared to fail, forsooth I 
1 What did it matter whether I faOed or not? Who was I 
J that I should not fail, like my betters? It would do me 
good to fail. He wanted to see me worsted (I knew be did), 
and one minute he paused to take breath. 

' Would I speak now, and be tractable ? 

* Never would I be tractable in this matter. Law itaelf 
should not compel me. I would pay a fine, or undergo an 
imprisonment, rather than write lor a show and to ordar, 
perched up on a platform/ 

* Could softer motives influence me ? Would I yield f( 
friendship s sake ? ' 

* Not a whit, not a hair-breadth. No form of friendship 
under the sun had a right to exact such a conoeesion* Ni 
true friendship would harass me thus/ 

He supposed then (wiLh a sneer — M. Paul could sne^ 
supremely, curling his lip, opening his nostrils, contraetiDg 
his eyelids)— he supposed there was but one form of appeil 
to which I would listen, euid of that form it was not for him 
U) make use. 

' Under certain persuasions, from certain quarters, 
vous vois d'ici,* said be, * eagerly subscribing to the aadrifioe^ 
passionately arming for the effort/ 

'Making a simpleton, a warning, and an example of 
myself, before a hundred and fifty of the "papas'* and 
" mammas '* of Villette/ 

And here, lijsiug patience, I broke out afresh with a ery 
that I wanted to be hberated — to get out into the air — I wis 
almost in a fevwi "" 

' Chut I ' said the inexorable, ' this was a mere prataxi lo 
run away ; h£ was not hot, with the stove 
how could I suffer, thoroughly screened bj 



I 

forfl 

"^ 

a 

■8 
•I 

m 

I 



M. PAUL 



427 



' I did not understand his constitution. I knew nothing 
of the natural history of salamanders. For my own part, I 
was a phlegmatic islander, and sitting in an oven did not 
agree with me ; at least, might I step to the well, and get a 
glass of water — the sweet apples had made me thirsty ? ' 

' If that was all, he would do my errand.' 

He went to fetch the water. Of course, \rith a door only 
on the latch behind me, I lost not my opportunity. Ere his 
return his half-worried prey had escaped. 



CHAPTER XXXI 



THE DBTAD 



The faring wae advancing, and the weather bad 
suddenly warm. This change of temperature brought with 
it for me, as probably for many others, temporary deereaae 
of strength. Shght exeii;ion at this time left me overcome 
with fatigue — ^sleepless nights entailed languid days. 

One Sunday afteraoon, having walked the distanoe d 
half a league to the Protestant church, I came back weary ' 
and exhausted ; and taking refuge in my sohtary 8anotuar|;^| 
the first classe, I was glad to sit down, and to make of tnf^^ 
desk a pillow for my arms and head. 

Awhile I listened to the lullaby of bees humming in thi^M 
bereeau, and watched, through the glass door and tb^^ 
tender, lightly-strewn spring foliage, Madame Beck and i 
gay party of friynds, whom she had entertained thai day al 
dinner after tiiortiing mass» walking in the centre aU<$y uodef 
orchard houghs dressed at this season in blosaooi^ and 
wearing a colouring as pure and warm as mountain *sdow il 
sunrise. 

My principal attraction towards this group of guests Lijr, 
I remember, in one figure^ — that of a ha ndsome y oung giri 
whom I had seen before as a visitor at Madame Beck'i^ 
and of whom I had been vaguely told that she wm a 
'fiileule/ or god-daughter, of M* Bmanuers, and IbU 
between her mother, or aunt, or s(9!neother female rdalioii 
of hers, and the Professor, had existed of old a special 
friendship. M. Paul was not of the holiday band to^day^ 
but I had seen this young girl with him ere now, and as 



j^ ^,1 iT >A' f^^ 



THE DRYAD 



499 



I 



distant observation could enable me to judge, she seemed 
to enjoy him with the frank ease of a ward with an indul- 
gent guardian* I bad seen hef " mil Utj^to him, put her 
arm through his, and hang upon him. Once, when sb© did 
so» a curious sensation had struck through me— a disagree- 
able anticipatory sensation — one of the family of presenti- 
ments, I suppose — bjit I refusedto analyse or f^wftl! iipon 
it. While watching this girl, Mademoiselle Sauveur by 
name, and following the gleam of her bright silk robo (she 
was always richly dressed, for sho was said to be wealthy) 
through the flowers and the glancing leaves of tonder 
emerald, my eyes became dazzled— they closed ; my lassi- 
tude, the warmth of the day* the hum of bees and birds, all 
lulled me, and at last I slept. 

Two hours stole over me. Ere I woke the sun had 
declined out of sight behind the towering houses, the 
jgarden and the room were grey, bees had gone homeward, 
snd the flowers were closing ; the party of guests, too, had 
fanished ; each alley was void. 

On waking, I felt much at ease — not chill, as I ought to 
have been after sitting so still for at least two hours ; my 
cheek and arms were not benumbed by pressure against the 
hard desk. No wonder. Instead of the bare wood on which 
I had laid them, I found a thick shawl, carefully foldoftr^ 
substituted for support, and another shawl (both taken from \ 
the corridor where such things hung) wrapped warmly J 
round me* ^i^ 

Who had done this? Who was my friend? Which of 
the teachers ? Which of the pupils ? None* except St. 
Pierre, was inirjaiijal^to me ; but which of them had the art, 
the thought, the habit, of benefiting thus tenderly ? Which 
of them had a step so quiet, a hand so gentle, but I should 
have heard or felt her if she had approached or touched 
me in a day -sleep ? 

As to Ginevra Fanshawe, that bright young creature was 
not gentle at all, and would certainly have pulled mo out of 
my chair, if she had meddled in the matter. I said at last : 






tf.{V^ 



i*t 



430 



VILLETTE 



' It is Madame Beck's doing ; she hos come m» seen dm 
asleep, and thought I might take cold. She oonaiders ine n 
ueefid machine^ answering well the purpose for which it WM 
hired ; so would not have me needlessly injured. And 
now,' methought, 'I'll take a walk; the evening is fresh, 
and not very chill:' 

Bo I opened the glass door and stepped into the beroeao. 

I went to my own^^O^y : had it been dark, or even dusk, 
I should have hardly ventured there, for I had not yet for- 
gotten the curious illusion of vision (if illusion it were) 
espertenced in that place some months ago. But a ray of 
the setting sun burnished still the grey crown of Jean 
Baptiste ; nor had all the birds of the garden yet vanishecl 
into their nests amongst the tufted shrubs and thick wall* 
ivy. I paced up and down, thioldng almost the 
thoughts I had pondered that night w hen I buried my 
jar — how I should make some advance mrneT 
step towards an independent position; for this train of 
1 reflection, though not lately pursued, had never by me beea 
' wholly abandoned ; and whenever a certain eye waa ave iirf 
from me, and a oerUiin countenance grew dark with unkii^i 
D6SS and injustice, into that track of speculation did_I^ 
{ once strike ; so that» Uttle by httle, I had laid half a plan. 

' Li\'ing costs little/ said I to myself, * in this economical 
town of Villette, where people are more sensible than I 
understand they are in dear old England — infinitely lees 
worried about appearance, and less emulous of display— 
where nobody is in the least ashamed to be quite as homely 
and saving as he finds convenient. House-rent, in a pro* 
dently chosen situation, need not be high. When I 
have saved one thousand francs, I will take a tenement f 
one large room, and two or three smaller ones, fumisli 
first with a few benches and desks, a black tableau, 
estrade for myself ; upon it a chair and table, with a sponge 
and some white chalks; begiu with takinffda^pupOst loi 
BO workjn v way upwards. Madame Beck s oommentoamaBi 
was — as I have often heard her say — from no higher start- 



i 








THE DBYAD 

ing-point, and where is she oow ? All these premises ani 
this garden are hers, bought with her money; she has a 
conipetenoy already secured for old age, and a flourighing 
establishment under her direction, which will furnish a 
career for her children. 

* Courage, Lucy Snowe I With self-denial and economy 
now, and steady exertion by - and- by ^ an object in life need 
Dot fail you. Venture not to complain that such an object 
is too Belfish, too h mi ted, and lacks interest ; he content to 
labour for independence until you have proved, by winning 
ihat prize, your right to look higher* But afterwards, is 
there nothing more for me in life — no true home — nothing to 
be dearer to me than myself, and by its paramount precious- » 
nesB, to draw from me better things than I care to culture \ 
for myself only ? Nothing, at whose feet I can willingly lay I 
down the whole burden of human egotism, and gloriously 
take up the nobler charge of labouring and living for others ? 
I suppose, Lucy Snowe, the orb of your Ufe is not to be so 
rounded : for you the crescent -phase must suffice. Very 
good, I see a huge mass of my fellow-creatures in no betrer 
circumstances, I see that a great many men, and more 
women , hold their span of Mfe on conditions of denial and 
privation. I find no reason why I should be of the few 
favoured. I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine 
sweetening the worst lots. I believe that this life is not all ; 
neither the beginning nor the end. T^fih*^^"*^ while I tremble ; 
X trust while I weep/ 

Bo this subject is done with. It is right to look our life- 
accounts bravely in the face now and th'in, and settle them 
honestly. And he is a poor self- swindler who lies to himself 
while he reckons the items, and sets down under the head — i 
happiness that which is misery. C^U^angmahi=an^iiiah. 
jespair— de spair ; write both down in stron g characters with 
a resolute pen : you will the bett er pa^ y our debt to DoomjJ 
Falsify : insert ' privilege' whero you should have written 
I j^da ' ; and see if your mighty creditor will allow the fraud 
to pass, or accept the coin with which you would cheat him. 



1/ 



•J 



^^ 



VILLETTE 



.\0 



r/ 



to the strongegt — il the darkest angel of God*a host- 
water, when he has asked blood — will he take it? Not 
a whole pale sea for one red drop. J settled another 
account. 

Pausing before Methuselah — ^the giant and patriarch of 
' the garden — and leaning rny brow against his kno tty trnp k» 
my foot rested on the atone sealing the s mall sep^ chre ftt 
his root; and I recalled the passage of feelmg therein 
bnried; I tw^IWI Dr inhn- my Tgftrm a.ffpfttin n for hi m: 
TTijy^fn^ffjji^l^ia nirmviUTii^i^ ^ f py delight in hjs grac e> What 
wasoecome of that curious one-sided friendship which wia 
half marble and half life ; only on one band truth, and on 
the other perhaps a jest ? 

Wai^ thiH ffi plin^ d ead? _ I do noL know, but it was 
buj^fiJ. Sometimes I thought the tomb unquiet, and 
drefimed strangely of disturbed earth, and of hair, sliU 
golden, and living, obtruded through coffin^chinks. 

Had I been too hasty ? I used to ask myself ; and Ihm' 
question would occur with a cruel sharpness after some brief 
chance interview with Dr. John. He had still such km4 
looks, such a warm hand ; his voice still kept bo pleasant 
a tone for my name ; I never liked * Lucy * so weQ as when 
he uttered it. But I learned in time that this beni^ity, 
this cordiality, this music, belonged in no shape to me : il 
w^E Lft paJ^i oj himsel f ; it wa g^the honey of his temper ; 
was the balm of his mellow^ood ] he imparted it, as thi 
ripe fruit rewards with sweetness the rifliiig bee ] he dififuse^ 
it about him, as sweet plants shed their perfume. Does the 
nectarine love either the bee or bird it feeds ? Is the sweet* 
briar enamoured of the air? ' ^ 

v ou are not mine. Good night, and God bless youj 

closed my musings. * Good-night * left my lips 

sound ; I heard the words spoken, and then I heard a& 
echo— quite close. 

' Good-nightj^ Mademoiselle ; or, rather, good-ermiog— 
the sun is scarce set ; I hope you slept well ? ' 



1 



I 




the swee^^j 

Lbea^ ifal^B 

i you 1 1 W 



F 



THE DRYAD w^ 



f 



433 



I started, but was only discomposed a moment ; I knew 
4he voice and speaker. 

I* Slept» Monsieur t When ? where ? * 
*Yoii may well inquire when^ — where. It seems yon 
turn day into night, and choose a desk for a pillow ; rather 
liard lodging ? ' 

* It was softened for mej Monsieur, while I slept. That 
unseen, gift-bringing thing which haunts my desk, remem- 
bered me. No matter how I feO asleep ; I awoke pillowed 
aod covered/ 

■ ' Did the shawls keep you warm ? ' 
* Very warm. Do you ask thanks for them? * 

* No. You looked pale in your slumbers : are y6u 
home-sick ? * 

K * To be bome-sick, one must have a home ; which I have 
■^not/ 

* Then you have more need of a careful friend. I scarcely 
know any qdc , Miss Liicy/whj&jpe gd g^*V^y^ft«d T^rn nhenlnt el y 
tiian you ;^ your veiT faults imperatively require it. You 



P 



want so much checking, regalafcing, a nd kee ping down,* 

This idea of ' keeping down * never left M . PauFs head 
the most habitual subjugation would, in my ca5 
to reKeve him of it. No matter; what did it signify? I 
listened to him, and did not trouble myself to be too 
submissive ; his occupation would have been gone had I | 
left him nothing to * keep down.* • 

'You need watching, and watching over,' he pursued; 
• and it is well for you that I see this, and do my best to 
discharge both duties. I watch you and others pretty 
closely, pretty constantly, nearer and oftener than you or 
they think. Do you see that window with a light in it ? * 

He pointed to a lattice in one of the college boarding* 
houses. 

* That,' said he, * is a room I have hired, nominally for a 
study — virtually for a post of observation. There I sit and 
read for hours together r it is my way— my taste. My book 
is this gardeu ; its contents are human nature — female 



., V.V'V.'^- 







434 



VILLETTE 



human na ture. I know you all by heart, 
Pierre, the Parisienne— cette 



Ah ! I know yoo 
in&}tres86^feaiuii0| 



Ml' 



r 






well—St 

my cousin Beck herself/ 

* It is not right. Monsieur/ 
*CJomment? it ia not right? By whose creed? 

some dogma of Calvin or Luther condemn it? Whmt k 
that to me? I am no Protestant, My rich father (for, 
though I have known poverty, and once starved for a year 
in a gairet in Borne — starved wretchedly, often on a meal » 
day, and sometimes not that — yet I was bom to wealth)— 
my rich father was a good Catholic ; and he gave me i 
priest and a Jesuit for a tutor. I retain his lessons ; and to 
what discoveries^ grand Dieu I have they not aided me I ' 

* Discoveries made by stealth seem to me dishonourabk 
discoveries/ 

' Puritaine ! I doubt it not. Yet see how my Jesuit's 
system works. You know* the 8fe. Pierre ? * 

' Partially/ 

He laughed. *You say right — ** partially ; '* whereas 
know her thormujhly ; there is the difference. She pU] 
before me the amiable ; offered me patte de velours ; caressed, 
flattered, fawned on me* Now, I am accessible to a woman'i 
flattery— accessible against my reason. Though never prettfi 
she was— when I first knew her — young, or knew bow 
look young. Like aE her countr 
oi-dj:essing — she had a certain cool, easy, social 
which spared me the pain of embarrassment 



U»9 

i 



Monsieur, that must have been unnecessary. I iief»r_ 
saw you embarrassed in my life/ 

* Mademoiselle, you know little of me ; I 
embarrassed as a petite pensionnaire ; there id a fund 
modesty and diflSdence in my nature ' 

'Monsieur; I never saw it/ 

* Mademoiselle, it is there. You ought to have seen ii*| 

* Monsieur, I have observed you in public—on plfttfi 
in tribunes, before titles and crowned heads — and yoa 
as easy aa you are in the third division/ 



THE DRYAD 



485 



* Mademoiaelle, neither titles nor crowoed heads excite 
ly modesty ; and publicity is very much my element. I 

is it well, and breathe in it quite freely; — ^but— biit» in 
^Bhort, here is the sentiment brought into action, at this very 
moment ; however, 1 disdain to be worsted by it. If, Made- 
raoiselle* I were a marrying man (v^hich I am not ; and you 
may spare yourself the trouble of any sneer you may be 
contemplating at the thought) » and found it necessary to ask 
a lady whether she could look upon me in the light of a 
future husband, then would it be proved that I am as I say 

I quite believed him now ; and, in believing, I honoured 
hitn with a s incenty of esteem which madf^ my hf>fl. rt aL!he. 

* As to the St. Pierre, ne went on^ recovering himself, for 
his voice had altered a little/ she once intended to be Madame 
Emanuel ; and I don't know whither I might have been led, 
but for yonder little lattice with the light. Ah, magic lat- 
tice ! what miracles of discovery hast thou wrought ! Yes,* 
he pursued, * I have seen her rancours, her vanities^ her 
levities — not only here, but elsewhere : I have witnessed 
what bucklers me against all her arts : I am safe from poor 
Z^lie/ 

'And my pupils,' he presently recommenced, 'thoee 
blondes jeunes filles — ao mild and meek^I have seen the 
most reserved — romp hke boys, the demurest ^snatch grapes 
from the walls, shake pears from the trees. When the Eng- 
h teacher came, I saw her, marked her early preference 
r this alley, noticed her taste for seclusion, watched her 
long before she and I came to speaking terms ; do you 
llect my once coming silently and offering you a little 
ot of white violets when we were strangers ? * 
*I recollect it, I dried the violets, kept them, and have 
m still.* 

'It pleased me when you took them peacefully and 
mpUy, without, prudery —that sentiment which I ever 
nd to excite, and which, when it is revealed in eye or 
<«i6ture, I vindictively detest. To return. Not only did I 



r 



"^ 



436 



VILIiETTE 




watch you, but often— especially at eventide^ another gui 
dian angel was noiselessly hovering near : night after nighl 
my cousin Beck has stolen down yonder steps, and glidingly 
pursued your movements when you did not see her.' 

' Buti Monsieur, you could not from the distance of thai 
window see whiit passed in this garden at night ? * 

*By moonlight I possibly might with a glass — I use i 
glass — but the garden itself is open to me. In the sbe^ mX 
the bottom, there is a door leading into a court, which com- 
municates with the college ; of that door I possess the key, 
and thus come and go at pleasure. Ttiis afternoon I came 
through it, and found you asleep in classe ; again this eve 
I have avGkiled myscU of the same entrance/ 

I could not help saying, * If you were a wicked, desij 
man, bow terrible w^ould all this be I * 

His attention seemed incapable of being arrested by 
view of the subjoct : ho lit bis cigar, and while he puffed 
leaning against a tree, and looking at me in a cool, amut 
way he bad when his humour was tranquil, I thought propef 
to go on sermonizing him : he often lectured me by the hour 
together— I did not see why I should not speak my mind 
once. So I told him my impressions concerning his J 
system. 

'The knowledge it brings you is bought too di 
sieur ; this coming and going by stealth degradtt yx^««4 
dignity.* 

* My dignity I * be cried, laughing ; * when did yott 
see me trouble my head «boul my dignity? It is yoti, 
Lucy, who are ** digne/' How often, in your high in 
presence, have I taken a pleasure in trampling upoOi 
you are pleased to call, my dignity ; tearing it, soai 
to the winds, in those mad transports you witness w? 
hauteur, and which I know you think very like the ra^ 
of a third-rate London actor.* 

* Monsieur, I tell you every glance you cast from 
lattice is a wrong done to the best part of your own tial 
To study the^4ium^_heart thus, is to banquet sec 



hourj 
dfqH 



THE DBYAD 



437 



Bacrilegioualy on Eve's apples. I wish you were a Pro- 
testant/ 

Indiflferent to the wish» he smoked oo. After a space of 
smiling yet thoughtful silence, he said, rather suddenly—' 1 
have seen other things/ 

' What other things ? ' 

Taking the weed from his lips, he threw the remnant 
amongst the shrubs* where, for a moment, it lay glowing in 
the gloom, 

* Look at it/ said he : * is not that spark like an eye 
watching you and me ? * 

He took a turn down the walk; presently returaing, he 
went on : — ' I have seen, Miss Lucy, things to me un- 
accountable, that have made tne watch all night loT^ 
soliltj on, and I b§ £fi iiQ.t ypt fnnnff if, ' 

'The tone was peculiar; my veins thrilled: he saw me 
shiver. 

'Are you afraid? Whether is it of my words or that 
red jealous eye just winking itself out ? * 

' I am cold ; the night grows dark and late, and the air is 
changed ; it is time^tocoin.' ^ 

* It is httle pastdgtt, but you shall go in soon. Answer 
me only this question/ 

Yet he paused ere he put it. The garden was truly 

growing dark ; dusk had come on with clouds, and drops of 

^aiu began to patter through the trees, I hoped he would 

this, but, for the niuni-jiit, he seemed too much absorbed 

"to be sensihie of the change. 

' MademoiBelle, do you Protestants believe in the super- 
latural ? ' 

' There is a difference of theory and belief on this point 
imongf^t Protestants as amongst other sects/ I answered. 
Monsieur, do you ask sucli a question ? * 
iiy do you shrink and speak so faintly? Are you 
brstitious ? ' 

' I am constitutionally nervous. I dishke the discussion 
ti subjects. I dislike it the more because ' 



VILLETTE 



\' 






^siA 



oil _ 

i 



* You believe ? ' 

* No : but it has happened to me to experience Impr^* 
sions — — * 

' Since yoa came here ? * 

* Yes ; not many months ago.' 

* Here ?— in this house ? ' 
*Yes; 
*Botit I am glad of it. I knew it, somehow, before 

you told me. I was conscious of rapport between you 
and myself. You are patient, and I am^choleric ; yi 
^are quiet and pale. ancTT^ am tanned and fiery; y< 
are a strict Protestant, and I am a sort of lay Jesuit : h 
we are alike — ^there is affinity between us. Do you see it? 
Mademoiselle, when you look in the glass ? Do you observe 
that your forehead is shaped like mine— that your eyes are 
cut like mine? Doyou hear TEat you have some of my 
tones of voice ? Do you know that you have many of my 
looks? I perceive all this, and believe that you were born 
under my ^^tafc — Yfln^ y^ii .wt^ro ^born^ j^Tldffr ^y t!f-^ I 
Tremble 1 for where that is the case with mortals, the 
threads of their destinies are difficult to disentangle; 
knottings and catchings occur — sudden breaks leave damagd 
in the web. But these *' impressions/* as you say, with 
English caution. I, too, have had my ** impressjona." * 
' Monsieur, tell me tbi 

* I desire no better, aua intend no less. You know 
legend of this house and garden ? ' 

* I know it. Yes. They say that hundreds of years 
[f^iiiin wftii laninl Imm . alive at the foot of this very 
I b eneath tjifi grpnnr^ wKi^ii j^^^ hffi^'^ ^^^ ' 

' And that in former day^^anun's ghost used to oomei 
go here.' ^ 

* Monsieur, what if it comes and goes here still?* 
'Something comes and goes here: there is a fihaj 

frequenting this house by night, dififerent to any forms 
show themselves by day, I have indisputably sean 
something, more than once ; and to me its oonventuAl 



THE DRYAD 



439 



were a strange sight, saying more than they oan do to any 
other living being, A nun ! ' 

* Monsieur, I. too, havg~5e©n it.' 

'I anticipated that. Whether this nun be flesh and 
blood, or something that remains when blood is dried, and 
flesh is wasted, her business ia aa much with you as with 
me, probably. WeU, I mean to make it out ; it has baffled me 
so far, but I mean to follow up the mystery. I mean * 

Instead of telling what he meant, he raised his head 
suddenly ; I made the same movement in the same instant ; 
we both looked to one point — the high tree shadowing the 
great berceau, and resting some of its boughs on the roof 
of the flrst classe. There had been a strange and inex* 
plicable sound from that quarter, as if the arms of that 
tree had swayed of their own motion, and its weight of 
foliage had rushed and cr ushed against t he massive trunk. 
Yes ; there scimjH stirred a breeze, and that Heavy tree was 
convulsed, whilst the feathery shrubs stood still. For some 
minutes amongst the woooTillcl le&fftge a rending and 
heaving went on. Dark as it was, it seemed to me that 
something more aoHd than either night-shadow, or branch- 
shadow, blackened out of the boles. At last the struggle 
ceased. What birth succeeded this travail ? What Dryad^^ 
was born of these throes ? We watched fixedly. A su'33en 
bell rang in the honss^ the prayer-bell. Instantly into our 
alley there came, out of the ber ceau, an appaiition, all black 
and white* With a sorTof angTy ruuh^-close, dose past 
our faces — swept swiftly the very Nitn herself I Never had 
^I seej her so clearly. SEeHoblt^d taU'oTstature and fierce 

gesture. As she went, the \nnd rose sobbing ; the rain 
wild and cold ; the whole night seemed to feel her. 



1 




5 to-JL f '-^ 




^^^r 



CHAPTEB XXXII 

THE FIRST I*BTTER 

Where, it becomes time to inquire, was ^aplina Mar y I 
How fared my intercourse with the aumptuoSs H6tel 
That intercourse had, for an ioteryal, been suspended bx 
absence ; M. and Miss de Baasompierre had been traveUio^ 
dividing some weeks between the provinces and capital of 
France. Chance apprised me of their return very shortty 
after it took place. 

I was walking one mild afternoon on a quiet bouleviri 
wandering slowly on, enjoying the benign April sun, aa^ 
BomQ thoughts not unpleasing, when I saw before me % 
group of riders, stopping as if they had just encountered. 
and exchanging greetings in the midst of the broad, esnoodk, 
liudeo -bordered path ; on one side a middle-aged gendesaaii 
and young lady, on the other — a young and handsome auiD. 
Very graceful was the lady's mien, choice her appointmetiti, 
delicate and stately her whole aspect. Still, as I looked, I 
felt they were known to me, and, drawing a little oaaxBr, I 
fully recognised them all : the Count Home de Has 
his daughter, and Dr. Graham Bretton. 

How animated was Graham's face I How 
warm, yet how retiring the joy it expressed I This 
state of LhingSp this the combination of circumstaDoea, at 
once to attract and enchain, to subdue and excite Dr. John, 
The pearl he admired was in itself of great price and IniisI 
purity, but he was not the man who, in appreciating lh« 
gem, could forget its settiiag. Had he seen Paulina wHl^ 
the same youth, beauty, and grace, but on foot, 
unguarded, and in simple , attirep a dependent woir 



>ie oaaxBT, i 
rhis wi^HH 



\ 
-X- 




THE FIRST LETTER 



441 



demi-grisette, h& would have thought her a pretty Uttlei 
creature, and would have loved with his eye her movements ] 
and her mien, but it required other than this to conquer 
him as he was now vanquished, to bring him safe under 
dominion as now, without loss, and even with gain to his 
manly honour, one saw that he was reduced ; there was 
about Dr* John all the man of the world ; to satisfy himself 
_did not suffice ; society must approve — the world must ad- 
re what he did^ or he counted his measures false and futile, 
liis victrix he required all that was here visible — the im- 
int of high cultivation, the consecration of a careful and 
ithoritative protection, the adjuncts that Fashion decrees, 
iTealth purchases, and Taste adjusts ; !or these conditions 
spirit stipulated ere it surrendered : they were here to 
utmost fulfilled ; and now, proud, impassioned, yet 
fearing, he did homage to Paulina as his sovereign. As for 
her, the smile of feeling, rather than of conscious power, 
slept soft in her eyes. 

They parted. He passed me at speed, hardly feeling the 
earth he skimmed, and seeing nothing on cither hand. He 
looked very handsome ; mettle and purpose were roused in 
him fuUy. 

* Papa, there is Lucy ! * cried a musical, friendly voice. 
* Lacy, dear Lucy — do come here 1 * 

I hastened to her. She threw back her veil, and stooped 
Dm her saddle to kiss me- 

* I was coming to see you to-morrow,* said she ; ' but now 
-morrow you wiU come and see me.' 

She named the hour, and I promised compliance. 

The mon-ow's evening found me with her — she and I shut 

J to her own room. I had not seen her since that occasion 
ben her claims were brought into comparison with those of 
inevra Fanshawe, and HaH rq aifjnnH y^ prevailed ; she had 
ach to tell me of her_tra:talaJithe interval A moStr^ani- 
ated, rapid speaker was she insucfiTtdte-^-tfite, a most 
rely describer ; yet with her artless diction and clear soft 
voice, she never seemed to speak too fast or to say too muck 







^' 



449 



VILLETTE 



My own attention I think would not soon have flagged, 1 
by-and-by she herself seemed to need some change of suli 
jeot; she hastened to wind up her narrative brieflj. Y« 
why she terminated with so concise an abridgment did no 
immediately ttp|jear ; silence followed — a restless silence, not 
vHthout syniptoins of abstraction. Then, tnrmsgto me,in a 
diffident, half -appealing voiee^* Lncy — ' 

* Weil, I am at your side.' 

' Is my cousin Ginevra still at Madame Beck's?* 
' Your cousin is still there ; you must be loogiiig to_ 

her.' 

' No— not much.* 

* You want to invite her to spend another evening? 1 
'No. ... I suppose ahe still talks aboul 

married ? ' 

' Not to anyone you care for.* 

* But of course she still thinks of Dr. Breiton 7 She < 
not have changed her mind on that point, beoause it 
fixed two months ago.' 

* Why, you know, it does not matter. You saw the 1 
on which they stood/ 

* There was a little mistinderstanding that evening, 
tainiy ; does she seem unhappy ? * 

*Not she. To change the subject. Have you heard 
or seen nothing of or from Qr^bam during your abaeiioe f * 

' Papa had letters from him once or twice about bostaata, 
I think. He undertook the management of same idfiyr 
which required attention while we were away. Dr. BroHoa 
Sdems to respect papa, and to have pleasure in obligiiig 
him,' 

' Yes : you met him yesterday on the boulevard : yoo 
would be able to judge from his aspeot that his friends Mai 
not bt3 painfully anxious about hia health.' 

' Papa seems to have thought with you. I could nolhdp 
smiling. He is not partioularly observant, you know, I 
he is often thinking of other things than what pi 
his eyea ; but he said, as Dr. Bretton rode away, " BmUj il 



THE FIEST LETTER V ^ ^ J? /%43 

does a man good to see the spirit and energy of that boy," 
He called Dr. Bretton a boy ; I believe be almost thinks 
him so, just as he thinks me a little girl ; he was not speak- 
ing to me, but dropped that remark to himself. Lucy . . . / 

Again fell the appealing accent, and at the same instant 
she left her chair, and came and sat on the stool at my feet. 

I liked her. It is not a declaration I have often made 
conceirdng m^acquaintancaiii^th^ucaursa^^ : the 

reader will bear with It foimnce. Intimate intercourse, close 
inspection, disclosed in Paulika only what was delicate, intel- 
ligent, and sincere ; therefore my regard for her lay deep. 
An admiration more superficial might have been more 
demonstrative ; mine, howt^ver, was quiet. , 

* What have you to ask of Lucy ? * said I ; ' be brave, and 
speak out/ 

But there was no courage in her eye ; as it met mine, it 
fell ; and there was no coolness on her cheek — not a tran- 
sient surface-blush, but a gathering inward excitement 
raised its tint and its temperature, 

* Lucy, I do wish to know your thoughts of Pn Bratton. 
Do, do give me your real opinion of his character, his 
disposition.' 

' His character stands high, and^deservgdljL-high.' 
'And his disposition? Tell nie about his disposition, 
she urged ; * you know him well/ 

* I know him pretty well/ 

* You know his home side. You have seen him with his 
mother ; speak of liim as a son/ 

'He is a fine-hearted son ; his mother's comfort and 
hope, her pride and pleasure/ 

She held my hand between hers, and at each favourable 
word gave it a little caressing stroke. 

' In what other way is he good, Lucy ? * i 

* Dr. Bretton is benevolent — humanely disposed towards I 
all bis race, Dr, Bretton would have bemgnity for thei 

C»W6st savage or the worst criminal/ 

'I heard aome gentlemen, some of papas friends^ 






n 



444 



VILLETTE 



II I^ 



who were talklDg about him, say the same. They say 
of the poor patients at the hospitals, who tremble 
some pitiless and selfish surgeons, welcome him/ 

* They aae right ; I have witnessed as much. He once 
took me over a hospital ; I saw how he was received : your 
father s friends are right/ 

The softest gratitude animated her eye as she lifted h 
moment She had yet more to say, but seemed hesitatini 
ab Hit time and place. Dusk was beginning to reign ; 
parlour fire already glowed with twilight ruddiness ; Nil 
thought she wished the room dimmer, the hour later. 

* How quiet and sooluded we feel here I * I remarked, to 
reassure her. 

' Do we ? Yes ; it is a still evening, and I shall not be 
called down to tea ; papa is dining out.' 

Still holding my hand» she played with the fingers un- 
consciously, di'essed them, now in her own rings, and now 
circiod them with a twine of her beautiful hair ; she patted 
the palm against her hot cheek, and at last, having cleared 
a voice that was naturally liquid as a lark s, she said : — 

* You must think it rather strange that I should talk so 
much about Dr. Bretton, ask so many questions, take vmdk 
an interest, but-- — * 

* Not at aU strange ; perfectly natural ; you Uke kiin,* 

' And if I did/ said she, with slight qoicknesa^ * is Ifaal 
a reason why I should talk? I suppose you think meiroak, 
like my cousin Ginovra ? ' 

* If I thought you one whit like Madame Ginevnii 
would not sit here waiting for your oommunicaUooa. 
would get up, walk at my ease about the room, and 
pate all you had to say by a round lecture. Go on/ 

' I mean to go on,' retorted she ; ' what elae do 70s 
suppose I mean to do ? * 

And she looked and spoke — the little Polly of BroMOD — 
petulant, sensitive. _ _ 

'If,* said she, emphatically, 'if I liked Dr. John tiU I 
WTia fi^ t^j^ for liking him, that alone could not H<MfflMie mi 



zM 




THE FIBST LETTEB 



^40 



be otherwise than dumb — dumb as the grave — dumb a a 

'ou, Lucy Snowe — you know it — aod you kuow you would 

despise me if I failed m self-control, and whined about 

I some rickety liking that was aU on my side/ 
' It is true I little respect women or girls who are'^ 
loquacious either in boasting the triumphs, or bemoaning 
the mortifications, ol feelings. But as to yoti^ Paulina, 

L speak, for I earnestly wish to hear you. Tell me all it wiD 
give you pleasure or relief to tell : I ask no more/ 
' Do you care for me, Ijtrcy? ' 
* Yes J I do, Paulina/ r \^ ^\ 

* A nd I love y ou. I had an odd content in being with / \ 
yon even when I was a little, troublesome, disobedient 
girl; it was charming to me then to lavish on you my 
naughtiness and whims* Now you are acceptable to me, 
and I like to talk with and trust you. So listen, Lucy/ 

And she settled herself, resting against my arm^^resting 
gently, not with honest Mistress Fanshawe's f align] Dg and 
selfish weight. 

* A few minutes since you asked whether we had not 
heard from Graham during our absence, and I said there 
were two letters for papa on business ; this was true, but I 
did not tell you all/ 

•You evaded?' 

* I shuffled and equivocated, you know. However, I am 
going to speak the truth now ; it is getting darker ; one can 
talk at one's ease. Papa often lets me open the letter-bag 
and give him out the contents. One morning, about three 
weeks ago, you don't know how surprised I was to find, 
amongst a dozen letters for M, de Bassompierre, a note 
addi'essed to Miss de Bassoni^ erre. I spied it at once, 
amidst all the rest; the handwriting was not strange; it 
attracted me directly. I was going to say, ** Papa, here is 
another letter from Dr. Bretton ** ; but the *' Miss ** struck 
me mute, I actually never received a letter fi^BUTa gentle- ( 
man before. Ought 1 to have showTi it to papa, and let him ^ 
open it and read it first ? I could not for my lif Oi Lucy. I 



446 



VILLETTE 



F > 



U 



know 60 well papa's ideas about me : he forgetB my 
thinks I am a mere school -girl ; ha is not aware th 
people see I am grown up as tall as I shall be : eo, with a 
curious miKture of feelings, some of them self-repiVMchluL 
and some so fluttering and strong, I cannot describe Ibem, I 
gave papa his twelve letters — his herd of pos6es8ioTi&-HUid 
kept back my one^ m y ewe -I amb. It lay in my lap doritig 
breakfast, looking up at me with an inexplicable meajiing. 
making me feel myself a thing double-existent — a child to 
that dear papa, but no more a child to myself. After break- 
fast I carried my letter up-stairs, and having secured myself 
by turning the key in the (Iqqt, I began to study the outside 
of my treasure : it was some minutes before I could get 
over the direction and pa^g ^ate th e seal ; one does not tdE« 
a strong place of this kiDd by instant storm — one sita dawn 
awhile before it, as beleaguers say. Graham's hand is like 
himself, Lucy, and so is his seal — all clear, firm^ and 
rounded— no slovenly splash of wax — a full, solid, steady 
drop— a distinct impress ; oo pointed turns harshly pndmig 
the optic nerve, but a clean, mellow, pleasant maDUSGripl* 
that soothes you as you read* It is like bis face — just 
like the chiselling of his features : do yon know his «qKk 
graph ? ' 

• I have seen it : go on/ 

* The seal was too beautiful to be broken, so X ctti it 
round with my scissors* On the point of reading the leHv 
at lastp I once more drew back voluntarily ; it was too soon |il 
to drink that draught — the sparkle in the cup was so beaoti* 
ful — I would watch it yet a minute* Then I remembend 
all at once that I had not said my prayers that moniiagp 
Having heard papa go down to breakfast a little eariier Ibaa 
usual, I had been afraid of keeping him waiting, mod had 
hastened to join him as soon as dressed, thinking no bafn 
lo put off prayers till afterwards. Some people wo^ld say I 
ought to have sei^^ed God first, and then man ; but I doal 
think heaven could be jealous of an^^hing I might do lor 
papa. I believe I am superstitious. A voice Bftftmed oem 



^^L. 



THE FIRST LETTER 



447 



I 



1 



to say that another feeling than filial affection was in 
question— to urge me to pray before I dared to read what I 
BO longed to read — to deny myself yet a moment, and 
remember first a great duty. I have had these impulses 
eversinoo I can rememlier. I put the letter down and said 
my prayers, adding, at the end, a strong entreaty that what- 
ever happened, I might not be tempted or led to cause papa 
any sorrow, and might never, in caring for others, neglect 
him. The very thought of such a possibility so pierced my 
heart that it made me cry. But still, Lucy, I felt that in 
time papa would have to be taught the truth, managed, and 
induced to hear reason. 

* I read the letter. Lucy, life is said to be all disappoint- 
ment. / was not disappointed. Ere I read, and while I 
read, my heart did more than throbs t trembled fast— every 
quiver seemed like the pant of an animal athirst, laid down 
at a well and drinking ; and the well proved quite full, 
gloriously clear ; it rose up munificently of its ownjmpulse ; 
I saw the sun through its gush, a nd not a mote , Lucy, 
no moss, no insect^ no atom in the ilmoe-refined golden 
gurgle. 

* Life,' she went on, * is said to he full of pain to some. 
I have read biographies where the wayfarer seemed to 
journey on from suffering to sufifering ; where Hope flew 
before him fast, never alighting so near, or lingeiing so long, 
as to give his hand a chance of one realising grasp. I have 
read of those who sowed in tears, and whose harvest, so 
far from being reaped in joy, perished by untimely blight, 
or was borne off by sudden whirlwind ; and, alas I some of 
these met the winter with empty gamers, and died of utter 
want in the darkest and coldest of the year/ 

""Was it their fault, Paulina, that they of whom you speak 
thus died?' 

*^ * Not always their fault. Some of them were good 
endeavouring people, I am not endeavouring, nor actively 
good, yet God has caused me to grow in sun, due moisture, 
and safe protection, sheltered, fostered, taught, by my dear 




448 



VILLETTE 



father ; and now— now — another comes. Graham 



me. 





>!> 



For some miout ea we both pauaed on this climftx. 

* Does your father know ? ' I inquired, in a low voioe.^ 
' Graham spoke with deep respect of papa, but implied 

that he dared not approach that quarter as yet ; he mu^ first 
prove his worth : he added that he must have some lighl 
respecting myself and my own feelings ere he ventured to 
risk a step in the matter ebewhero.' 

* How did you reply? ' 
\ ^ * I replied bnefly» but I did not repulse him. Yel I 

\)Kimost trembled for fear of making the an sw er too cordial: 

K Graham's tastes are so fastidious. I wrote it three times — 

y \fJ^ chastening and subduing the phrases at every rescript; al 

last, having confecied it till it seemed to me to resemble a 

morsel of ice flavoured with ever so slight a zest of fruit or 

sugar, I ventured to seal and despatch it.' 

' Excellent, Paulina t Your instinct is fine ; you cinder- 
stand Dr, Bretton,* 

' But how must I manage about papa? There I am 
in pain.' 

' Do Dot manage at all. Wait now. Only fnajntain 
further correspondence till your father knows all, and 
his sanction/ 

* Will he ever give it ? * 

* Time will show. Wait/ 
' Dr. Bretton wrote one other letter, deeply gHkl 

my calm, brief note ; but I anticipated your advioe, 
saying, that while my sentiments continued the saoM 
could not, without my father*s kp owled^eT^PTitg aga in/ 

' You acted els you ought to have done; so Dr. BreMoQ 
will feel r it will increase his pride in you, his love far yoii« 
if either be capable of increase* Paulina, that gentld boar* 
fr oBt of yourg;^ surrounding so much pure, fine flame 
pnoeless pn yilege o f nature/ 

* You see I feel Graham's disposition/ said s 
Ibat DO delicacy can be too exquisite for his trea 




I 



THE FIEST LETTER 



449 



* It is perfectly proved that you comprehend him, and 
then— whatever Dr. Bretton^s disposition, were he one who 
expected to be more nearly met — you would still act trutb- 
fuUy, openly, tenderly, with your father.' 

' Lucy, I trust I shall thus act always. Oh, it will be 
pain to wake papa from his dream, and tell him I am no 
more a little girl I ' 

' Be IrTno hutTy to do so, Paulina. Leave the revelation 
to Time and your kind Fate. I also have noticed the gentle- 
ness of her cares for you ; doubt not she will benignantly 
order the circumstances, and fitly appoint tlie hour. Yes : I 
have thought over your hfe just as you have yourself 
thought it over; I have made comparisons like those to 
which you adverted. We know not the future, but the past 
has been propitious, — -" — 

'As a child I feared for you ; nothing that has life was> 
ever more susceptible than your nature in infancy : under 
harshness or neglect, neither your outward nor your inward 
self would have ripened to what tliey now are. Much pain, 
much fear, much struggle, would have troubled the very 
hues of your features, broken their regularity, would have 
harassed your nerves into the fever of habitual irritation : 
you would have lost in health and cheerfulness, in grace and 
sweetness. Providence has protected and cultured you, not 
only for your own sake, but I believe for Graham's, His 
star, too, was fortunate : to develop fully the best of his 
nature, a companion Uke you was needed : there you are, 
ready. You must be united. I knew it the first day I saw 
you together at La Termsse. In all that mutually concerns 
you and Graham there seems to me promise, plan, harmony^ 
I do not think the sunny youth of either will prove the fore- 
runner of stormy age. I think it is deemed good that you 
two should live in peace and be happy— not as angels, but as 
few are happy amongst mortals. Some lives are thus 
blessed : it is God's will : it is the attesting trace and linger- 
ing evidence of Eden. Other Hves run from the first another 
course. Other travellers encounter weather fitful a»nd gusty, 



450 VILLETTE 

wild, and variable — breast adverse winds, are belated and 
overtaken by the early closing winter night. Neither can 
this happen without the sanction of Gk>d ; and I know that, 
amidst His boundless works, is somewhere stored the seerei 
of this last fate's justice : I know that His treasures oontaiD 
the proof as the promise of its mercy.' 



CHAPTER XXXni 



M* PAUL KEEPS HIS PROmSB 



On the first of May wg had all — ix, the twenty boarders 
and the four teachers — notice to rise at five o'clock of the 
nxoming, to be dressed and ready by six, to put ourselves 
under the commaod of M. le Profesaeur Emanuel, who was 
to heEid our march forth froin Villetio, for it was on this day 
he proposed to fQlfil his promise of taking ua to breakfast in 
the country* I, indeed, as the reader may perhaps remem- 
ber, had not had the honour of an invitation when this 
excursion was first projected— rather the contrary ; but on 
my now making allusion to this fact, and wishing to know 
how it was to be, my ear received a pull, of which I did not 
venture to challenge the repetition by raising further 
difficulties. 

' Je vous conseille de vous faire prier,' said M. Emanuel, 
imperially menacing the other ear. One Napoleonic com- 
pliment, however, was enough, so I made up oiy mind to be 
of the party. 

The morning broke calm as summer, with singing of 
birds in the garden, and a light dew-mist that promised heat. 
We all said it would be warm, and we all felt pleasure in 
folding away heavy garments, and in assuming the attire 
suiting a sunny season* The clean fresh print dress, and 
the light straw bonnet, each made and trimmed as the 
French workwoman alone can make and trim, so as to unite 
the utterly unpretending with the perfectly becoming, was 
the rule of costume. Nobody flaunted in faded silk ; nobody 
wore a second-hand best article. 



452 



VILLETTE 




At six the bell rang merrily, and we poured dowi^ 
staircase, through the carr^, along the corridor, into 
vestibule. There stood our Professor, wearing, not bis 
savage -looking palet6t and severe bonnet -grec, but a young* 
looking belted blouse and cheerful straw hat. He had for 
us all the kindest good-morrow» and most of us for him had 
a thanksgiving smile. We were marshalled in order* 
soon started. 

The streets were yet quiet, and the boulevards 
[ fresh and peaceful as fields. I believe we were very 
; as we walked along. This chief of ours had the aeoret of 
giving a certain impetus to happiness when he would ; jiut 
' &8, in an opposite mood, he could give a thrill to fear. 

He did not lead nor follow us, but walked along the 
Une, giving a word to every one, talking much to hi^ 
favouriteSf and not wholly neglecting even those he disliked 
It was rather my wish, for a reason I had, to keep slightly 
aloof from notice, and being paired with Ginevra Fanshftwe» 
bearing on my ai^m the dear pressure of that angel's noi 
unsubstantial Emb— (she continued in excellent case, and I 
can assure the reader it was no trifiing business to bear the 
burden of her loveliness ; many a time in the couJBe of thfti 
warm day I wished to goodness there had been leas of Ibe 
charming commodity) ^however, having her, as I aaid, I 
tried to make her useful by interposing her always betwaea 
myself and M. Paul, shifting my place, according as I baaed 
him coming up to the right hand or the left. My private 
motive for this manceuvre might be traced to the ciroiim* 
stance of the n ewLJ)riDt dress I wore being pink i n colour— 
a fact which, under our present convoy* made me leel'gcSe* 
thing as I have felt when, clad in a shawl with a led 
border, necessitated to traverse a meadow where paatui^ a 
bijil. 
^ For awhile the shifting system, together with soma 
modifications in the arrangement of a bUck ailk seaci, 
answered my purpose ; but* by-and-by, he found out^ thai 
whether he came to this side or that, Miss Fanshawa was 



M. PAUL KEEPS HIS PEOMISE 



453 



still his neighbour. The course of ftoquaintance between 
Ginevra and him had never run so smooth that his temper 
did not undergo a certain crisping process whenever he 
heard her Enghsh accent: nothing in their dispositions 
fitted ; they jarred if they oame in contact ; he held her 
empty and affected ; she deemed him bearish, meddling, 
repellent. 

At last, when he had changed his place for about the 
sixth time, finding still the same untoward result to the 
experiment— he thrust his head forward, settled his eyes on 
mine, and demanded with impatience, * Qu'est-ce que c'est ? 
Voug me joues5 des tours ? ' 

The words were hardly out of his mouth, however, ere, 
with his customary quickness, he seized the root of this 
proceeding : in vain I shook out the long fringe, and 
spread forth the broad end of my scarf. * Ah— h — h I c'est 
la robe rose ! * broke from his lips, affecting me very much 
like the sudden and irate low of some lord of the meadow. 

* It is only cotton/ I alleged, hurriedly ; * and cheaper, 
and washes better than any other colour/ 

* Et Mademoiselle Lucy est coquette com me dix 
Parisiennes/ he answered. * A-t-on jamais vu une Anglaise 
pareille. Regardez plutAt son chapeau, et ses ganta, et ses 
brodequins ! ' These articles of dress were just like what 
my companions wore : certainly not one whit smarter ^ — 
perhaps rather plainer than most — ^but Monsieur had now 
got hold of his text, and I began to chafe under the expected 
sermon. It went off, however, as mildly as the menace of a 
storm sometimes passes on a summer day. I got but one 
flash of sheet lightning in the shape of a single bantering 
smile from his eyes ; and then he said, ' Courage 1 — k vrai 
dire je ne suis pas f&chd, peut-^tre m6me suis-je content 
qu'oD 8*est fait si belle pour ma petite f^te/ 

' Mais ma robe n'est pas belle, Monsieur — elle n'est que 
propre/ 

' J'aime la propret^/ said he. In short, he was not to he 
dissatisfied ; the sun of good humour was to triumph on 



454 



VILLETTE 



this auspicious mormng ; it oousumed scudding dotidii i 
they sullied its diak. 

And now we w©re in the country, amongst whfti tboy 
called ' IcB boia et les petits sentiers.* These woods Bxid 
Unas a month later would offer hut a dusty and doubtful 
seclusion : noW| however, in their May greemieae and 
mormng repose, they looked very pleasant* 

We reached a certain well, planted round, in die tasle 
of LabassecouTt with an orderly circle of linae-treet : bne 
a halt was caOed ; on the green swell of groftnd for* 
rounding this well we ware ordered to be seated, MomflieaT 
taking bis place in our midst, and Buffering us to gather to a 
knot round him. Those who Uked him more than they 
feared, came close, and these were chiefly little ones ; those 
who feared more than they liked, kept somewhal aloof; 
/ those in whom much affection had given, even to wl»t 
[ remained of fear, a pleasurah lg^ zest, obeerved the greftlegl 
distance. 

He began to tell us a story. Well could he narrate : in 
such a diction as children love, and learned men emolate ; a 
diction simple in its strength, and ^Irojjg in its aimplidty. 
There were beautiful touches in that little tale ; aweel 
ghmpses of feehng and hues of description that, whik I 
listened, sunk into my mind, and since have oerer fadecL 
He tinted a twilight scene— 1 hold it in memory stiU — such 
a picture I have never looked on from artist's pencil. 

I have said that, for myself, I had no imprompta lacolfy ; 
and perhaps that very deficiency made me marvel the move 
at one who posseaaad it in perfection* M. Kmanuel vnB not 
a man to write books ; but I have heard him laTiah, widi 
careless, unconscious prodigality, such mental wealth m 
books seldom boast ; his mind was indeed my libcaiy, §ai 
whenever it was opened to me, I entered bliss. Inlellei^ailly 
imperfect as I was, I could read Hllle ; there wexB few bound 
and printed volumes that did not weary me — wboee pocittil 
did not fag and blind — but his tomes of lluNight wen 
eoUyrium to the spirit s eyes ; over their oooteiitSft timrd 



M. PAUL KEEPS HIS PROMISE 



sight I 



clear and 




strong. I iisod to think what a delight 
it would be for one who loved him better than ho loved 
hiniself, to gather and store up those handfule of gold-dust, 
BO recklessly flung to heaven's reckless winds. 

His story done, he approached the httle knoll whero I 
and Gincvra sat apart. In his usnal mode of demandiiig an 
opinion (he had not reticence to wait till it was voluntarily 
offered) he asked, * Wore vi mi mtefes ^ ody-L 

According to my ^gtedui^dexaonstrative fashion^ I 
simply answered — * Yes/ 

'Was it good?' 

k* Very good/ 
• Yet I could not write that down/ said he, 
* Why not, Monsieur ? ' 
• I hate the mechanical labour ; I hate to stoop and sit 
still. I could dictate it, though, with pleasure, to an 
amanuensis who suited me. Would MademoiseUe Lucy 
write for me if I asked her ? ' 

* Monsieur would bo too quick ; he would urge me, and 
be angry if my pen did not keep pace with his lips/ 

• Try some day ; let us see the monster I can make of 
myself under the circumstances. But just now there is no 
question of dictation ; I mean to make you useful in another 
office. Bo you see yonder farm-house ? ' 

^H * Surrounded with trees ? Yes/ 

^y ' There wo are to breakfast ; and while the good fermi^re 
' makes the caf6 au lait in a caldron, you and five others, 
whom 1 shall select, will spread with butter half a hundred 
roUs/ 

Having formed his troop into line once more, he raarched 
tL8 straight on the farm, which, on seeing our force, sur- 
rendered without capitulation. 

Clean knives and plates, and fresh butter being provided, 
haIf-a*dozen of us, chosen by our Professor, set to work 
under his directions to prepare for breakfast a huge basket 
of rolls, with which the baker had been ordered to provision 
the farm, in anticipation of our coming. Coffee and chocolate 



4S6 



VILLETTE 



\ 




A 



were already made hot ; cream and new-laid eggs 
added to the treat, and M. Emanuel, always generous* wotdd 
have given a large ord^r for * jambon * and * cjonfitt: 
addition, but that some of us, who presumed perhapa 
our influence, insisted that it would be a most reckless wasi 
of victual He railed at us for our pains, tormiog tis * im * 
m^nag^res avarea* ; but we let him talkt and managed Ibe 
economy of the repast our own way. 

With what a pleasant countenance he stood on tha fann- 
kitchen hearth looking on I He was a man whom it mada 
happy to see otherg happy ; he liked to have movement, 
animation, abundance, and enjoyment round him. We ask^ 
where he would sit. He told us, we knew well he was our 
slave, and we his tyrants, and that he dared not so modi as 
choose a chair without our leave ; so we set him the farmer's 
great chair at the head of the long lable, and put him into it 

Well might we like him, with all his passions and 
hurricanes, when he could be ro benignant and docile si 
timeSt as he was just now. Indeed, at the worst, it wis 
only his nerves that were irriiablef not his temper tkal was 
radically bad ; soothe, comprehend, comfort him, and ha 
was a lamb ; he would not harm a fly. Only to the rmj 
stnpid, perverse, or uns^mpathising, -was he in the 3ligfa:tesi 
degree dangerous. 

Mindful always of his religion, he made ibe yonngeai of 
the party say a little prayer before we began hreakfaat, eross- 
ing himself as devotedly as a woman. I had never seen him 
pray before, or make that pious sign ; he did it ao aimplj, 
with such child-like faith, I could not help smiluig |Jea* 
surably as I watched : his eyes met my smile ; he jusl 
stretched out bis kind hand, sa^^^ing, 'Donnez-moi la main! 
I see we worship the same God, in the same spirit, thoogfa 
by different rites.* 

Most of M. Bmanuers brother Professors W€Bia i 
pated free-thinkers, infi^^, atheists ; and many of tfami i 
whose lives would not bear scrutiny ; he was mora like a 
knight of old, religious in his way, and of spotless 



^aJ^fuSl l(^ iQc^^-- 



M. PADL KEEPS HIS PROMISE 



457 



■ 



Itinocent childhood, beautiful youth were safe at his siJe.*^ 
He had vivid passioDS, keen feelings, but hi8 pure honoiir| 
and his artless piety were the strong charm that kept the ! 
lions couchant. 

That breakfast was a merry meal, and the merriment was 
not mere vacant clatter : M. Paul originated, led, controlled, 
and heightened it; his social, lively temper played unfettered 
and unclouded ; surrounded only by women and children 
there was nothing to cross and thwart him ; he had his own 
way, and a pleasant way it was* 

The meal over, the party were free to run and play in the 
meadows ; a few stayed to help the farmer's wife to put away 
her earthenware. M. Paul called me from among these to 
ooroe out and sit near him under a tree — whence he could 
view the troop gambolling oveFa' wlde^asture — and read to 
him whilst he took his cigar. He sat on a rustic bench, and 
I at the tree-root. While I read (a pocket -classic — a Cor- 
neille — I did not like it, but he did, finding therein beauties 
I never could be brought to perceive), he listened-"witn a 
sweetness of calm the more impressive from the impetuosity 
of his general nature ; the deepest happiness filled his blue 
eye and smoothed his broad forehead. I, too, was happy — 
happy with the bright day, happier with his presence, happiest 
with his kindness. 

He asked, by-and-by, if I would not rather nm to my 
oompanions than sit there? I said, no ; I felt content to be 
where he was. He asked whether, if I ^firgLhisgister, I 
should always be content to stay with a brother BucK"&s4Tff. 
I said, I believed I should ; and I felt it. Again, he inquired 
whether, if he were to leave .Yillet tg^ and go far away, I 
should be sorry ; and I dropped Corneille, and made^o 
reply. 

'Petite soeur/ said he; *how long could you remember 
me if we were separated ? ' 

' That, Monsieur, I can never tell, because I do not know 
bow long it will be before I shall cease to remember every- 
thing earthly/ 



4d8 



VILLETTE 



^^nM 



* If I were to go beyond seas for two — three — &ve yeaiB, 
should you welcome me on my return ? ' ~^~^ 

' Monsieur, how could I live in the interval? * 

* Pourtant j'ai 6t^ pour vous bien dur. bien exigeant. 
r hid niy ^* vce with the book.jor it was oovered with 

I aaked him why he talked so ; and he said he would taflTfo 
no more, and cheered me again with the kindest encourage- 
ment. Still, the gentleness with which he treated me dtnin^ 
the rest of the day went somehow to m y^<& art« It was too 
tender. It was mournful. I would rather he had been 
abrupt, whiiMical, and irate as was his wont. 

When hot noon arrived — for the day turned out as we 
hud anticipated, f^lowing as June — our shepherd ooUected bis 
sheep from the pasture, and proceeded to lead us all softly 
home. But we had a whole league to walk, thus far from 
Villette was the farm where he had breakfasted ; the childrea, 
especially, were tired with their play ; the spirits of dk»I 
flagged at the pros|>ect of this mid-day walk over chaonte 
flinty, glaring, and dusty. This state of things had beeo 
foreseen and provided for. Just beyond the boundary of the 
farm we met two spacious vehicles coming to fetch us — such 
conveyances as are liired out purposely for the acoommoda- 
tion of school -parties ; hare, with good management, room 
was found for all, and in another hour M. Paul made mh 
consignment of his charge at the Bue Fossette. It hail been 
a pleasant day: it would have been perfect, but for the 
breathing of melancholy which had dimmed its sunshine a 
moment, 

That tarnish was renewed the same evening. 

Just about sunset, I saw M. Emanuel come out af 
front door, accompanied by Madame Beck. They paced 
centre alley for nearly an hour, talking earnestly : he^ 
grave, yet restless ; she — wearing an amazed, expostolalory, 
dissuasive air. 

I wondered what was under discussion; and wbeo 
Madame Beck re-entered the house as it darkened, leaviiif 
her kinsman Paul yet lingering in the garden^ I $mid lo 





M, PAUL KEEPS HIS PEOMISB 



459 



myself^ — * He called me ** xjetite scBur " this morning. If he 
were really my brother, how I should like to go to him just 
DOW, and ask what it is that presses on his mind. See how 
he leans against that tree, with his arms crossed and his 
brow bent. He wants consolation, I know : Madame does 
not console : she only remonstrates* What now ? * 

Slarting from qmescence to action, M. Paul came striding 
ereol and quick down the garden* The carrS doors were 
yet open: I thought he was probably going to water the 
onmge* trees in the tubs, after his occasional custom ; on 
reaching the court, however, he took an abrupt torn and 
made for the berceau and the first-classe glass door. There, 
in that first classe, I was, thence I had been watching him ; 
bat them I could not find courage to await his approach. 
He had turned so suddenly, he strode so fast* he looked so 
strange ; the coward within me grew pale, shrank and — 
not waiting to listen to reason, and hearing the shrubs crush 
and the gravel crunch to his advance— -she was gone on the 
wtng9of panic. 

Nor did I pause till 1 had taken sanctuary in the oratory, 
DOW empty. Listening there with beating pubes, and an 
tmaccouDtable, undefined apprehension, I heard him pass 
through all the schoolrooms, clashing the doors impatiently 
aa he went ; I beard him invade the refectory which the 
'lecture pieuae' was now holding under hallowed constraint; 
I heard him pronounce these words — ' Oi^ est Mademoiselle 
liude?' 

And just aa, summoning my courage, I was preparing to 
go down and do what, after all, I most wished to do in the 
world — viz., meet him — ^the wiry voice of St. Pierre replied 
gUhly and falsely, ' Elle est au lit/ And he passed, with 
Ibe stamp of vexation, into the corridor. There Madame 
Beck met, captured, clud, convojred to the street-door, and 
finally dismissed him. 

As that street-door closed a sudden amazement at my 
own perverse proceeding struck like a blow upon me* i 
fell from the first it was me he wanted — me he was 



460 



VILLETTE 



— an d had not I wanted hira too? What, then, had canM 
me away ? What had rapt me beyond his reach ? He had 
something to tell : he was going to tell me that something : 
my ear strained its nerve to hear it, and I had made the 
Go pfidenofi inip oaiiihle. Yearning to listen and console, 
wmle^I thought audience and solace beyond hope's reach — 
no sooner did opportunity suddenly and fully amver tban I 
evaded it as I would have evaded the levelled ahiA ol 
mortality, 

Weil, my insane inconsistency had its reward. Instead 
of the couifort, the certain satisfaction, I might have won — 
could I but have put choking panic down, and stood firm 
two minutes— here was dead blank, dark doubt, and draar 
suspense, 

I took my wages to my pillow, and passed the nigbd 
counting them. 



CHAPTER XXXrV 



MALEVOLA 



Madame Beck called me on Thurt^day afternoon, and asked 
whether I had any occupation to hinder me from going into 
town and executing some little oommissions for her at the 
shops. *-- 

Being disengaged, and placing myself at her service, I 
was presently furnished with a list of the wools, silks, em- 
broidering thread, etcetera, wanted in the pupils' work, and 
having equipped myself in a manner suiting the threaten - 
g aspect of a cloudy and sultry day, I was just drawing 
the spring-bolt of the street-door, in act to issue forth, 
when Madame's voice agalii summoned me to the aalle k 
manger. 

' Pardon, Meess Lucie ! ' cried she, in the seeming haste 
of an impromptu thought, ' I have just recollected one more 

nd for you, if your good-nature will not deem itself 
er-burdened ? ' ^ 

Of course I ' confounded myself * in asseverations to the 
contrar)^ ; and Madame, running into the little salon, brought/ 
thence a pretty basket, filled with fine hothouse fruit, rosyJ 
perfect, and tempting, reposing amongst the dark green, wax J 
like leaves and pale yellow stars of, I know not what, 
exotic plant. 

'There,' she said, it is not heavy, and will not shame 
your neat toilette as if it were a household, servant-like detail. 
Do me the favour to leave this little basket at the house 
of Madame Walravens, with my felicitations on her f^te. 
Bhe lives down in the old town, Num6ro 3, Bue des Mages, 



■^ 

^fK 



oi a: 
^urrai 
Pver 



462 



VILLETTE 



{9 ^^*^*y^- ^ ^6 
9' ^^ \/i/%^<^ 



I fear you will find the wdk rather long, but jon ha^e the 
whole afternoon before you, and do not hurry ; if you are 
not back in time for dinner, I will order a portion to be 
saved, or Goton, with whom you are a favourite, will hmvi 
pleasure in tossing up some trifle, for your especial beuefiV 
You shall not be forgotten, ma bonno Me^s. And oh! 
please ! ' (calling me back once more) * be sure to insist on 
seeing Mad ame Walrave ns herself, and giving the boskel 
into her own hands, in order that there may be no mistake, 
for she is rather a punctilious personage. Adieu! An 
revoir I ' 

And at last I got away. The shop commissions took 
some time to execute, that choosing and matching of stlks 
and wools being always a tedious business, but at last I 
got throug}) my list. The patterns for the slippers, the bell- 
ropes, the cabas were setected^the shdes and tassels for the 
purses chosen — the whole ' tripotage/ in short, was off my 
mind ; nothing but the fruit and tho felicitations remminacl 
to be attended to. 

I rather liked the prospect of a long walk, deep into Hie 
old and grim Basse -Ville ; and I liked it no worse because 
the evening sky, over the city, was settling into a maes of 
hlack^blue metal, heated at the rim, and inflaming slowly k> 
a heavy rod. 

I fear a high wind, because storm demands th»t ««■♦ 
tion of strength and use of action I always yield willt 
pain ; but the sullen down -fall, the thick snow-desiseiil^ or 
dark rush of rain, ask only resignation — the quiet 
ment of garments and person to bo drenched. In 
sweeps a great capital clean before you; it makes you s 
quiet path through broad, grand streets ; it petriflos a liviag 
city as if by eastern enchantment ; it transforms a VtlkHi 
into a Tad^or. Let, then, the rains fall, and the floodf 
descend— only I must first get rid of this basket of fruit 

An unknown clock from an unknown tower (J«aii 
Baptiste*s voice was now too distant to be audible) waf 
lolling the third quarter past five, when I reftobed Ihsl 



MALEVOLA 



463 



'I 



Btreet and house whereof Mada.me Beck had given me the 
iiddresa. It was do street at all ; it seemed rather to be 
part ol a square : it was quiet, grass gi^ew between t!ie 
broad grey flags> the houses were large aud looked very old 
—behind them rose the appearance of trees, indicating 
gardens at the back. Antiquity brooded above this region, 
business was banished thence. Bich men had once 
possessed this quarter, and once grandeur had made her 
seat here. That church, whoso dark, half-ruinous turrets 
overlooked the square, was the venerable and formerly opu- 
lent shrine of the Magi. But wealth and greatness bad 
long sinoe stretched their gilded pimons and fled hence, 
leaving these their ancient nests, perhaps to house Penury 
for a time, or perhaps to stand cold and empty, moulder- 
ing untenanted in the course of winters. 

As I crossed this deserted ' place,' on whose pavoment 
drops almost as large as a five-franc piece were now slowly 
darkening, I saw, in its whole expanse, no symptom or 
evidence of life, except what was given in the figure of an 
infirm old priest, who went past, bending and propped on a 
staff— 'the type of eld and decay. 

He had issued from the very house to which I was 
directed ; and when I paused before the door just closed 
after him, and rang the bell, he turned to look at mo. Nor 
did he soon avert his gaze ; perhaps he thought mo, with 
my basket of summer fruit, and my tack of the dignity age 
confers, an incongruous figure in such a scene* I know, had 
a young ruddy -faced bonne opened the door to admit me, I 
should have thought such a one little in harmony with her 
dwelling ; but when I found myself confronted by a very old 
woman, wearing a very antique peasant costume, a cap alike 
hideous and costly, with long flaps of native lace, a petticoat 
and jacket of cloth, and sabots more like little boats than 
shoes, it seemed all right, and soothingly in character. 

The expression of her face was not quite so soothing as 
the cut of her costume ; anything more cantankerous I have 
seldom seen ; she would scarcely reply to my inquiry after 



4M 



VILLBTTE 



<«" 



,.k> 






Madame W^ave ns ; I believe she would have snatched ibd 
basket of Suit £r^ my hand, had not the o ld prie gj, 
hobbling up, checked her, and himself lent an ear to iha 
meB&age with which I wae charged. 

His apparent deafness rendered it a httle diMculi to 
make him fully understand that I must see Madame 
Walrave ns, and consign the fruit into her own hands. At 
last, however, he comprehended the fact that such were my 
orders, and that duty enjoined their literal fuMlment. 
Addressing the aged bonne, not in French, but in the 
aboriginal tongue of Labassecour, he persuaded her, at last^ 
to let me cross the inhospitable threshold, and himself 
escorting me up-stairs, I was ushered into a sort of aaloa, 
and there left. 

The room was large, and had a fine old ceiling, and 
almost church-like windows of coloured glass; but it was 
desolate, and in the shadow of a coming storm, looked 
strangely lowering. Within — opened a smaller room ; there, 
however, the blind of the single casement was closed; 
through the deep gloom few details of furniture were appa> 
rent. These few I amused myself by puzzling to make out 
and, in particular, I was attracted by the outhne of a pii 
on the wall. 

By-and-by the picture seemed to give v^ray : to 
l)e^vilderment, it shook, it sunk, it rolled back into nolhinig 
its vanishing left an opening arched, leading into an aicfaed 
passage, with a mystic winding stair ; both passage and 
stair were of oold stone, unciirpeted and unpainted. Down 
this donjon stair descended a tap, tap. like a stick; sood 
there fell on the steps a shadow, and last of all, I wag anvaii 
of a substance* 

Yet, was it actual substance, this appearance approaching 
me? this obstruction, partially darkening the arch? 

It drew near, and I saw it well. I began to oompreheiid 
where I was. Well might this old square be named quartor 
of the Magi —well might the three towers, overiookiisg )!• 
own for godfathers three mystic sa^s of a dead and daci 



! ouk; 

n 

timg:V 






MALEVOLA 



^466 



art- Hoar enchantment here prevailed ; a spell haid opened 
for m0 elf -land^ that cell-Uke room, that vanishing picture, 
that arch and passage, and stair of stone^ were all parts of a 
fairy tale. Distincter even than these scenic details stood 
the chief figure— Cnnegonde, the sorceress I Male vol a, the 
evil fairy. How was she ? ~ ^ 

She might be three feet high, but she had no shape ; her 
skinny hands rested upon each other, and pressed the gold 
knob of a wand*like ivory stafif. Her face was large, set, 
not upon her shoulders, but before her breast ; she seemed 
to have no neck ; I should have said there were a hundred 
years in her features, and more perhaps in her eyes^ — her 
malign, unfriendly eyes, with thick grey brows above^ and 
livid lids all round. How severely they viewed me, with a 
sort of dull displeasure 1 

This being wore a gown of brocade, dyed bright blue, 
foil-tinted as the gentianella flower, and covered with satin 
foliage in a large pattern ; over the gown a costly shawl, 
gorgeously bordered, and so large for her,, that its many- 
coloured fringe swept the floor. But her chief points were her 
IQwels : she had long, clear earrings, blazing with a lustre 
whicK could not be borrowed or false ; she had rings on her 
skeleton hands, with thick gold hoops, and stones— purple, 
green, and blood-red. Hunchbacked, dwarfish, and doting, 
she was adorned like a barbarian queenr^ 

* Que me voulez-vous ? ' said she, hoarsely, with the voice 
rather of oyj^e than of female old age ; and, indeed, a silver 

rrd bristled her chin, 
I delivered my basket and my message* 

* Is that all ? * she demanded. 
' It is aH,* said I, 

H * Truly, it was well worth while,' she answered. * Eetum 
^0 Madame Beck, and tell her I can buy fruit when I want 

it, et quant k ses felicitations, je m'en moque ! * And this 

courteous dame turned her back. 

Juat as she turned, a peal of thunder broke, and a flash 

of lightning blazed broad over salon and boudoir. The tale of 



466 



VILLBTTE 






the 




magic seemed to proceed with due acoompftniment of 
elements. The wanderer^ decoyed into the enchanted castlflli'^ 
heard rising, outside, the spell-wakened tempest. 

What, in all this, was I to tliink of Madame Beck? 
She owned strange acquaintance ; she offered measa^a aod 
gifts at an unique shrine, and inauspicious seemed the 
bearing of the uncouth thing she worshipped. There went 
that sullen Sidonia, tottering and tremhltng like palsy incar^ 
nate, tapping her ivory staff on the mosaic parquet^ and 
muttering venomously as she vanished. 

Down washed the rain, deep lowered the welkin ; 
clouds, ruddy a while ago^ had now, through all their 
ness, turned deadly pale, as if in terror. Notwithsi 
my late boast about not fearing a shower, I hardly lifa 
go out under this waterspout. Then the gleams of llghim: 
were very fierce, the thunder crashed very near ; this stono 
had gathered immediately above Villetto ; it seemed to have 
burst at the zenith ; it rushed down prone ; the forked, slani 
bolts pierced athwart vertical torrents ; red zigzags interlaced 
a descent blanched as white metal : and all broke from a sk 
heavily black in its swoUen abundance. 

Leaving Madame Walravens' inhospitable salon, I bei 
myself to her cold staircase^*-^ore was a seat on the lam 
— there I waited. Somebody came gliding along the gallery 
just above ; it was the old priest. 

' Indeed Mademoiselle shall not sit there/ smd he. 
would digpleasuro our benefactor if he knew a stranger 
so treated in this house.' 

And he begged me bo earnestly to return to the salon, ihak 
without discourtesy, I could not but comply. The smaUer 
room was better furnished and more habitable than the 
larger; thither he introduced me. Partially withdrawing 
the blind, he disclosed what seemed more like an oral 
than a boudoir, a very solemn little chamber, looking as if 
were a place rather dedicated to relics and remoinl 
than designed for present use and comfort. 

The good father sat down, as if to keep me oompany ; 



aocQ 

6hJM 
•Jery* 

4 



MALEVOLA 



467 



but iDstead of convorsing, he took out a book» fastened on 
the page his eyes, and oai ployed his lips in whispering — 
what sounded like a prayer or litany, A yellow electric 
light from the sky gilded his bald head ; his figure remained 
in shade — deep and purple ; he sat still as sculpture ; he 
seemed to forget me for his prayers; he only looked up 
when a fiercer bolt, or a harslier, closer rattle told of nearing 
danger ; even then, it was not in fear, hut in seeming awe, 
he ''aised his eyes. I too was awo^stnick ; being, however, 
under no pressure of slavish terror, my thoughts and obser- 
vations were free. 

To speak truth, I was beginning to fancy that the old 
priest resembled thiit Pere Silas, l>efore whom 1 had kneeled 
in the church of the B^guinago. The idea was vague, for I 
had seen my confessor only in dusk and in profile, yet stfU 
I seemed to trace a likejiess : I thought also I recognized 
the voice. While I watched him, ho betniyed, by one lifted 
lookt that he felt my scrutiny ; I turned to note the room ; 
that too had its half mystic interest. 

Beside a cross of curiously carved old ivory, yellow 
with time, and sloped above a dark-red pric-dteii, furnished 
duly with rich missal and ebon rosary — hung the picture 
whose dim outline had drawn my eyas before — the pictui'e 
which moved, fell away with the wall and let in phantoms. 
Imperfectly seen, I had taken it for a Mtulonna ; re vended by 1 
dearer light, it proved to be a woinaj >'ji_ portrai t in a nun's 1 
dress. The face, though not beautiful, was pleasing ; pale, 
young, and shaded with the dejection of grief or ill health. 
I say again it was not beautiful ; it was not even intellectual ; 
its very amiability was tlie amiability of a weak frame, in- 
active passions, acquiescen^iiabitis : yet I looked long at that 
picturSn^nd could not choose but look- 

The old priest, who at first had seemed to me so deaf 
and infij-m, must yet have retained his faculties in tolerable 
preservation ; absorbtsd in his book as ho appeared, without 
once lifting his head, or, as far as I knew, turning his eyes, 
he perceived the point towards which my attention was drawn^ 



468 



VILLETTE 




Mid, in a slow distlDct voice, dropped, concerning it, 
four observations :^ 

* She was much beloved. 
' She gave herself to God. 

* She died young. 

* She is stEl remembered, B till jg ept/ 
' By that aged lady, Madame Walravens ? * I mquifeJL 

fancying that I had discovered in the incurable grief of 
bereavement a key to that same aged lady s desperate iU< 
humour. 

The father shook his head with half a smile. 

' No, no,' said he ; * a grand-danic*8 affection for hef 
children's children may be great, and her sorrow for tl 
loss lively ; but it is only the aflBanced lover, to whom Fat^ 
Faiths and Death have trebly denied the bliss of union, who 
mourns what he has lost, as Justine Marie i s still moilfned/ 

I thought the father rtfther wish&d to be questioned, 
and therefore I inquired who had lost and who still moumed 
' Justine Marie,' I got, in reply » quite a little rom&nti^ 
narrative, told not unimpressively, with the accompaninieni 
of the now subsiding storm. I am bound to say it might 
have been made much more truly impressive* if there htd 
been less I^Venoh, Eousseau4ike sentimentalising and wire- 
drawing ; and rather more healthful carelessness of efleot 
But the worthy father was obviously a Frenchman bom uti 
bred (I became more and more persuaded of his reMB* 
blance to my oonfessor)^ — he was a true son of Borne ; wlm 
he did lift his eyes, he looked at me out of their oormsrc 
with more and sharper subtlety than, one would bara 
thought, could survive the wear and tear of seventy yoAim. 
Yet, I believe, he was a good old man. 

The hero of his tale was some former pupil of his, wtiOOl 
he now called his benefactor, and who, it appears, had lofted 
this pale Ju stjne_ M arie, the daughter of rich paretnte, al a 
time when his own worldly prospects were such as to joslt^ 
his aspiring to a well-dowered hand. The pupirs falher^- 
once a rich banker — ^had failed, died, and left K31ind hsiD 



MALEVOLA 



409 



lebts and destitution. The f*on was then forbidden to 
think ofSklarie ; especially thiU old witch of a ^and-dftiiie 
I had seen, M adame Wttkaveps, oppos ed the match \^ith all 
the violence of a temper which deformity made sometimes 
demoniac. The mild Marie had neither the treachery to b© 
false, nor the force to be i^uite staunch to her lover; she 
gave up her first suitor, but, refusing to accept a seoond with "" 
a heavier purse^ withdrew to a convent, and there died in 
her noviciate, ^>^_ , - — ■ 

Lasting anguish, it seems, had taken possession of the 
faithful heart which worshipped her, and the truth of thai 
lo ve and g rief had been shown in a manner wliich touched 
evenmeTai I listened. 

Some years after Justine Marie^s death, ruin had come 
on her house too ; her father, by nominal calling a jeweller, 
but who also dealt a good deal on the Bourse, had been 
concerned in some fi^nancial transactions which entailed 
exposure and ruinous fine^. He died of grief for the loss, 
and shame for the infamy. His old hunchbacked mother 
and his bereaved wife were left penniless, and might have 
died too of want ; but their lost, daughter's once-despised, 
yet most tr m^-hep .rted suitor, hearing of the condition of 
these ladies, came with singular devotedness to the rescue. 
He took on their insolent pride the revenge of the purest 
charity — housing, caring for, befriending them, so as no son 
ooald have done it more tenderly and efficiently. The 
mother — on the whole a good woman — died blesaipg him ; 
the 8tra ne;e) podless^ lovel ess, misanthrope grandmother 
lived still, entirely supportea o^ this 56lf-saCTlfl gfnR_ mtiD^ 
Her» who had been the bane of his Hie, blightmg^s hopi~ 
and awarding him, for love and domestic happiness, long 
mourning and cheerless solitude, he treated with the respect 
a good son might ofifer a kind mother. He had brought her 
to this house, *aud/ oontmued the priest, while genuine 
tears rose to his eyes, * here, too, he shelters me, his old 
tator, and ^^es, a superannuated ser\'ant of his father's 
family. To our sustenance, and to other charities, 1 know 






f470 VILLETTE^ >i.4^ V^Ji<^*-i 

ho devotes thr&e-parts of his tticome, keeping only the 
fourth to provide l^maelf with bread and the most modest 
accommodations. By this arrangement ha has rendered tl 
impossible to himself ever to marry : he has given hintself to 
God and to his angol-bride as much as if be were a priest, 
like me/ 
The father had wiped away his tears before he altered 
these last words, and in pronouncing them, he for ooe 
instant raised his eyes to mine. I caught this gl&neef 
despite its veiled character ; the momentary gleam shot a 
meaning which struck me. 

These Romanists are strange beings. Such a one among 
them — whom you know no more than the last Inca of Fern, 

tH or the first Emi>eror of China — knows you and all your 
NA concerns ; and has his reasons for saying to you so and sa 
when you simply thought the communication sprang tm- 
protnptu from the instant's impulse: his plan in hrr 
about that you shall come on such a day, to such a plat ._ , _ :. 
■ such and such circumstances, when the whole arrangement 
H seems to your crude apprehension the ordinance of chance, ^M 
H or the sequel of exigency. Madame Beck's suddenly* ^^ 
V recollected message and present, my artless embaesy to the ^ 
' Place of the Magi, the old priest accidentally descending tht 
steps and crossing the square, his interposition on my 
behalf with the bonne who would have sent me away, hi§ 
reappearance on the staircasei my introduction to this room^ 
the portrait, the narrative so affably volunteered — all these 
*N. little incidents, taken as they fell out, seemed each hide- 
VP \ pendent of its successor ; a handful of loose beads ; but 
V * threaded through by that quick-shot and crafty glanee of « 
-^ M Jesuit-eye, they dropped pendent in a long string, like thai 
( JV rosary on the prie-dieu. Where lay the link of junction, 
^^^ where the little clasp of this monastic necklace 7 I saw or 

^V^ felt union, but could not yet find the spot, or deleel the 

I ^ means of connection. 

Perhaps the musing-fit into which I had by Hits limt 
fallen appeared somewhat suspicious in its abelncHoo; 







StS^cry^ ^ //0f /^^ C^ 



fri^ 



MALEVOLA 



471 



h© gently interrupted : ' Mademoiselle/ said he, * I trust 
you have not far to go through these inundated streets ? 

' More than half a league.' 

'You live -?' 

* In the Bue Fossette.' 

'Not' (with animation), *not at the pensionnat of 
Madame Beck ? ' 

* The same/ 

' Done ' (clapping his hands), * donCi vous devez connattre 
mon noble ^Ifeve, mon Paul ? * 

' Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Professor of Literature ? ' 
) * He and none other.* 

■ A brief silence fell. The spring of Junction seemed 
suddenly to have become palpable ; I felt it yield to 
pressure. 

' Was it of M. Paul you have been speaking ? ' I presently 
inquired. ' Was he your pupil and the benefactor of Madame 
Walravens ? * 

*Ye8, and of Agnes, the old servant: and moreover 
(with a certain fimphafliaV h& was rmd is the lover, tru^, cftn._, 
slant and eternal of tfhft^ °"^^"^ "^ htmvrn — JuBtine MfLrig / 

* And who, father, are you ? ' I eontinoed ; and though 
I accentuated the question, its utterance was well-nigh 
superfluous ; 1 was ere this quite prepared for the answer 
which actually came. 

' I, daughter, am^P^re^Bilaa^that unworthy son of Holy 
Chui*ch whom you once honoured with a noble and touching 
Gonfidence, showing me the core of a heart, and the inner 
shrine of a mind whereof, in solemn truth, I coveted the 
direction, in behalf of the only true faith. Nor have I for 
a day lost sight of you, nor for an hour failed to take in you 
a rooted interest. Passed under the discipline of Borne, 
moulded by her high training, inoculated with her salutary 
doctrines, inspired by the zeal she alone gives — I realise 
what then might be your spiritual rank, your practical value ; 
a nd 1 envy Heresy her prey/ .< — " 

This struck me as a special state of things — I half- 



472 



VILLETTE 



realised myself in that condition also ; paeaed under 
pliDe, rnoulded, trained, inoculated, and so on. * Not so/ 
thought I, but I re8train6d deprecation, and sat quiedy 
enough. 

' I suppose M. Paul does not live here ? * I pesmnadL 
pursuing a theme which I thought more to the purpose than 
any wild renegade dreams. 

' No ; he only comes ocLasionally to worship his belored 
saint, to make his confession to me, and to pay his respeda 
to her he calls his mother. His own lodging ooosiBte tmi 
of two rooms : he has no aervaat, and yet he will not 
Madame Walxavens to dispose of those splendid jewela^'^ 
which you see Jier adorned, and in which she takes a 
puerile pride as the ornaments of her youth, and the lost 
relics of her son the jeweller's wealth.' 

* How often/ murmured I to myself, ' has this man, 
M. Emanuel, seemed to me to lack magnanimity in 
yet how great h e is in great thiji gs ! * 

I own I did not reckon amongst the proofs of his great- 
ness either the act of confession or the saint- worship. 

* How long is it since that lady died ? * I inquired, looking 
at Justine Marie. 

'Twenty years. She was somewhat older ihao M. 
Emanuel; he was then very young, for ho is qoI 
beyond ^forj^-^ 

* Does he yet weep her ? * 

* His heart will weep her always : the essence of 
nature is — constancy.' 

This was said with marked emphasis. 
And now the sun broke out pallid and waterish ; 
yet fell, but there was no more tempest : that hot 
had cloven and poured out its hghtnings. A longer dolif 
would scaroe leave daylight for my return, so I rose, Ihftaioal 
the father for his hospitality and his tale, was benignaittly 
answered by a ' pax vohisoum,* which I made kinrfiy wietooma 
because it seemed uttered with a true benevolence; hrt 1 
liked leas the mystic phrase accompanying it. 



kes a 
lue lost 

"3 




MALEVOLA 



478 



Daughter, you shnll be what you shall he \ ' an oracle 



you 
Bnnig 



* 



that~made me ehnig my Bhoulders as soon as I had got out- 
side the door. Few of us know what we are to come to cer- f 
tainly, but for all that had happened yet, I had good hopes 
of living and dying a Bober-minded Protestant : there was a 
hoUowness within, and a flourish aronnd * Holy Church * 
which tempted me but moderately* I went on my way 
pondering many things. Whatever Bomanism may he, there 
are good Romanists : this man, Emanuel, seemed of the best ; 
touched with superstition, influenced by priestcraft, yet 
wondrous for fond faith, for pious devotion, for sacrifice of 
self, for charity unbounded. It remained to see how Rome, 
by her agents, handled such qualities ; whether she cherished 
them for their own sake and for God*s, or put them out to 
usury and made booty of the interest. 

By the time I reached home it was sundown. Goton had 
kindly saved me a portion ol dinner, which indeed I needed. 
She called me into the little cabinet to partake of it, and 
there Madame Beck soon made her appearance, bringing me 
a glass of wneT" 

' Well,' began she, chuckling, * and what sort of a recep- 
tion did Madame Walravens give you ? EUe est drdle, n*e6t- 
ce pas ? ' 

I told her what had passed, delivering verbatim the 
courteous message with which I had been charged. 

* Oh la singuli^re petite bossue 1 * laughed she. * Et figurez- 
voua qu'elle me d^teste, parcequ'elle me croit amoureuae 
de moQ cousin Paul ; ce petit d6vat qui n'ose pas bouger, k 
moins que son confesseur ne lui donne la permisdon i Aa 
reste * (she went on), * if he wanted to marry ever so much — 
soit moi, soit une autre — he could not do it ; he has too large 
a family already on his hands : ^j^^^-Wnhf Yftng, Pfar^lni, 
Dame Agnes, and a whole troop of nameless pallets. 
There never was a man like him for laying on himself bur- 
dens greater than he can bear, voluntarily incurring needless 
responsibilities. Besides, he harbours a romantic idea about 
some pale-faced Marie Justine— personnage asaez niaise k 



4T4 



VILLETTE 



ce que je pense ' (such was Madame's irreverent remark^i 
'who has been an angel in heaven » or else where» this score i£\ 
years, and to whom he means to go, free from all earthly ties* 
pure comrae un lis, k ce qu'il dit. Oh, you would laugh ooold^ 
you but know half M* Emanuers crotchets and eccentricities I 
But I hinder you from taking refreshmenti ma bonne Me 
which you must need ; eat your supper, drink your wina^^ 
oubliez lea anges, les bossues, et sixrtout, jes P rof esaeurB — ek 
boo soir I ' 



CHAPTER XXXV 



PBATEENITY 



*OtTBLlBa" I cafl^^fes& eurs.' So SFiid Madame Beck. 
Madame Book was a wiso woman, but she should not have 
uttered those words. To do bo was a ml stake. That 
night she should have left me calm — not excited^ indiSerentp 
not interested, isolated in my own estimation and that of 
others^not connected, even in idea, with this second person 
whom I was to forget. " 

Forget him? Ah I they took a sage plan to make me 
forget him — th e wiseh eads ! They showed me how good he 
was ; they made of my dear Uttle man a stainless httle hero. 
And then they had prated about his manner of loving. 
What means had I, before this day, of being certain whether 
he could lo ve at all or notj^ 

I had known him jealous, suspicious ; I had seen about 
him certain tendernesses, fitfulnesses — a softness which came 
like a warm air, and a ruth which passed hke early dew, 
dried in the heat of his irritabihties : this was all I had seen. 
And they, P6re Silas and Modeste Maria Beck (that these 
two wrought in concert I could not doubt) opened up the 
ad}"t um of his heart — showed me o ne grand I oYe> the child of 
thissoutHem nature's youth, born so strong and perfect, that 
it had laughed at Death himself, despised his mean rape of 
matter, clung to immortal spirit, and in victory and faith 
had watched beside a tomb twenty years. 

This had been done^^ — not idly : this was not a mere 
hollow indulgence of sentiment ; be had proven his idelity by 



•^ 



^ vvy ^ 



Y 



VILLETTK 

the consecratioD of his best energies to an unselfiBb 
and attested it by limitless personal sacrifices : for tboee * 
dear to her he prized — he had laid down vengeance, and takeii 
up a cross. 

Now, as for Justine Marie, I knew what she was as iml 

> ^\ as if I had seen her. I knew she was well enough ; lber« 

'"'^' u were girls like her in Madame Beck's school — phlR g mikt acs— 

a\*^ I P^®» slow, inert, but kind-natured, neutral of evil, uadistm- 

guished for good. 

If she wore angels* wings, I knew whose poet- fancy con- 
ferred them. If her forehead shone luminous with the reflex 
of a halo» I knew in the fire of whose irids that circlet of holj 
flame had generation. 

Was I, then, to be frightened by Justine Marie 7 Wai 
the picture of a pa le dead miii^ to rise, an eternal barrier? 
And what of the (Harities which abeorbed his worldly goods t 
What of his heart sworn to virginity ? 

Madame Beck— Pere Silas — you should not have sof- 
gested these questions. They were at onoe the deepest 
puzzle* the strongest obBtrtiction.and the keenest stimnlng^ I 
had ever felt. For a vjeek of nights and days I feU asleep— 
I dreamt, and I-woko upon these two questions. Inthewbob 
world there was no answer to them, except where one dftrl 
little man stood, sat, walked, lectured, under the head>ptfi:« 
of a bandit bonnet-grec, and within the girth of a sorry pal^ 
t6t, much be-itiked, and no little adust. 

After that visit to the Rue des Mages I did want to sat 
him again. I felt as if — knowing what I now knew^-hii 
countenance would ofifer a page more lucid, more inlesrestiii^ 
than ever ; I felt a longing to trace in it the imprint of IImiI 
primitive devotedness, the signs of that half-knig-htty, 
saintly chivalry which the priest's narrative imputed to 
nature. ^ l ^ft d_bftg^piP mv Christian hero : lander 
character fwanted to view him. "~ 

Nor was opportunity slow to favour ; my new impreesioiii 
underwent her test the next day. Yes : I was granted 
interview with my /CfensE 



nsuan herdV-an intenriew not fefj 



JraV-i 



FRATERNITY 



477 



heroio, or sentimental, or biblioal, but lively enough in its 

About three o'clock of the afternoon, the peace of the 
flrgt classe — safely established, as it seemed, under the 
serene sway of Madame Beck, who in proprid. persottd was 
giving one of her orderly and useful lessons— this peace, 
I say, sufiTered a sudden fracture by the wild inburst of a 
paletdt. 

Nobody at the moment was quieter than myself* Eased 
of responsibility by Madame Beck*s presence, soothed by her 
uniform tones, pleased and edified with her clear exposition of 
the subject in hand (for she taught we 11)* I sat ben t over my desk, 
drawing —that is, copying an elaborate line engraving, tedi- 
ously working up my copy to the finish of the original, for that 
was my practical notion of art ; and, strange to say, I took 
extreme pleasure in the labour, and could even produce 
ourioualy finical Cliiuese fac-similes of steel or mezzotint 
plates— things about as valuable as so many achievements 
in worsted-work, but I thought pretty well of them in those 
days» 

What was the matter ? My drawing, my pencils, my 
precious copy, gathered into one crushed -up handful, perished 
from before my sight ; I myself appeared to be shaken or 
emptied out of my chair, as a soMtary and withered nutmeg 
might be emptied out of a spice-box by an excited oook. 
That chair and my desk, seized by the wild palet6t, one 
under each sleeve, were borne afar ; in a second, I followed 
the furniture ; in two minutes they and I were fixed in the 
centre of the grand salle — a vast adjoining room, seldom 
used save for dancing and choral si aging -lessons — fixed 
vsrith an emphasis which seemed to prohibit the remotest 
hope of our ever being permitted to stir thence again. 

Having partially collected my scared wits, I found 
myself in the presence of two men, gentlemen, I suppose I 
should say— one dark, the other light — one having a stiff, 
half -military air, and wearing a braided surtout ; the other 
partaking, in garb and bearing, more of the careless aspect 



478 



VILLETTB li?t."J 



UDUt 



of the student or artist ckss : both flotirishiog in 
magnificence of moustaches, whiskers^ and imperial 
M. Emanuel stood a little apart from these ; his counien- 
anoe and eyes expressed strong choler ; he held forth hi« 
hand with his tribune gesture. 

* Mademoiselle/ said he, * your business is to prove to 
these gentlemen that I am no han You will answer, to the 
best of your ability, such questions as they shall put. Too 
wi ll also w rite on such theme as they shah seieciT In their 
eyes, it appears, I hold the position of an unprmcipM 
impostor. 1 write essays ; and, with deliberate forgery, sign 
to them my pupils* names, and boast of them as their woric* 
You will disprove this charge/ 

Grand ciel I Here was the show trial, so long evaded^ 
come on me like a thunder-clap. These two fine, braided* 
mustachioed, sneering personages, were none other thi 
dandy professors of the ooUege — Messieurs ggisaee 
Bo^hemorte — a pair of cold-blooded fops and pedanl 
sceptics, and scofiPers. It seems that M* Paul had been 
rashly exhibiting something I had written — something he 
had never onco praised, or even mentioned, in my hearing 
and which I deemed forgotten* The essay was not re- 
markable at all ; it only seeme^l remarkable, compared wilis 
the average productions of foreign school-girls; in an 
English establishment it would have passed scarce nolioed. 
Messieurs Boissec and Bochemorte had thought proper to 
question its genuineness, and insinuate^ cheat ; I was tMW 
to bear my testimony to the truth, and to be pal Id 
torture of their examination. 

A memorable scene ensued* 

They began with classics. A dead blank. Tliey 
on to French history. I hardly knew M^rovAe from Phank 
mond. They tried me in various 'ologies, and still only gol 
a shake of the head, and an unchanging ' Je n'en sais rieo,* 

After an expressive pause, they proceeded to mslters of 
general information, broaching one or two subjects whieh I 
knew pretty well, and on which I had oftt^n reflaoled. 



noir 
wentfl 



PRATERNITT 



^ -^.r^. 



M. Emanuel, who had hitherto atood looking on, dark as the 
winter-fiolstice, brightened up somewhat ; he thought I 
should now show mysolf at least no fool. 

He learned his error. Though answers to the questions 
surged up fast, my mind filling like a rising well, ideas were 
there, but not words. I either could not, or would not 
speak — I am not sure which : partly, I think, my nerves 
had got wrong, and partly my humour was crossed, 

I heard one of my examinera^he of the braided aurtout 
^^^whisper to Ma co-professor, ' Es t-elle done uhote ? * 
^P ' Yes/ I thought, * an idiot she is, and always will be, for^ 
^Buch as you/ ^ 

But I suffered — suffered cruelly ; I saw the damps 
gather on M. Paul's brow, and his eye spoke a passionate 
yet sad reproach. He would not believe in my total lack of 
pon ular ^l ex§£Dflfie ; he thought I c(mld be prompt if I 
would. 

At last, to relieve him, the professors, and myself I 
stammered out : 

* Gentlemen, you had better let me go ; you will get no 
good of me ; as you say, I am an idiot/ 

I wish I could have spoken with calm and dignity, or I 
wish my sense had sufficed to make me hold my tongue ; 
that traitor tongue tripped, faltered. Beholding the judges 
cast on M. Emanuel a hard look of triumph, and hearing 
the distressed tremor of my own voice, out I burst in a fit of 
choking tears. The emotion was far more of anger than 
grief ; had I been a man and strong, I could have challenged 
that pair on the spot^ — but it was emotion, and I wouid 
rather have been scourged than betrayed it. 

The incapables f Could they not see at once the crude 
hand of a novice in that composition they called a forger y ? 
The subject was classical. When M- Paul dictated the trait 
on which the essay was to turn, I heard it for the first time ; 
the matter was new to me, and I had no material for its 
treatment. But I got books, read up the facts, laboriously 
[ constructed a skeleton out of the dry bones of the real, and 



••"Ih" 



480 



VILLETTE 



then clothed tiiem^ and tried to breathe into them life, and 
in this last aim I had pleasure* With me it wfts a difllcull 
and anxious time till my facts were found, selected^ and 
properly jointed ; nor could I rest from research and efbrt 
till I was satisfied of correct anatomy ; the strength of my 
inward repugnance to the idea of flaw or falsity sometimei 
enabled me to shun egregious bionders i but the knowled^ 
was not there in my head, ready and mellow ; it had not 
been sown in Spring, giown in Summer, han^ested in 
Autumn, and garnered through Winter ; whatever I wanted 
I must go out and gather freah ; glean of wild herbs my 
lapful, and shred them green into the pot. Mefisieiufi 
Boissec and Bochemorte did not perceive this. Tbdy mii> 
took my work for the work of a ripe scholar* 

They would not yet let me go : I must sit down luid write 
before them. As I dipped my pen in the ink with a shaking 
hand, and surveyed the \\hite paper with eyes half-bliodad 
and overflowing, one of my judges began minotogtyto 
apologise for the pain he caused. 

' Nous agissons dans Tint^rdt de la v^t6, Nooa ne 
voulons pas vous blesser/ said he. 

Scorn gave me nerve. I only answered, — 

* Dictate f Monsieur.* 

Bochemorte named this theme : * H uman Just ice^ 

Human Justice 1 What was I to make of it? Blan k, 
cold abstraction ^ unsu^gesti ve to me of one inspiring tSai 
and there stood M. Emanuel, sad .ae Sa ul, and stem as Jcab, 
and there triumphed Mb accusers. """^ *• 

At these two I looked. I was gathering my courage |o leU 
them that I would neither write nor speak another word for 
their satisfaction, that their theme did not suit, nor th^ir 
presence inspire me, and that, notwithstanding, wiioever 
threw the shadow of a doubt on M. Emanuel's honour^ out- 
raged that truth of which they had announced themselret 
the champions : I f neant to u tter all this, I say, when sod* 
denly a Ught darted on memory. 

Those two faces looking out of the forest of Umg hair, 



19 UD 




.IJU-J 



FRATERNITY 






481 



moustache, and whisker — those two cold yet bold, trustless 
yet preBumptuous visages— were the same faces, the veryy 
same that, projected in full gaslight from behind the pillai'E 
of a portico, had half fright ened me to death on the night of my 
desolate arrival in Villetta These, I felt morally certain, 
were the very heroe B who had driven a friendless foreigner 
beyond her reckoning^ and her strength, chased her breath- 
less over a whole quarter of the town. 

t* Pious mentors t ' thought I. * Pure guides for youth I 
If "Human Justice" were what she ought to be, you two 
would scarce hold your present post» or enjoy your present 
credit* 

An idea once seized, I fell to work* * Human Justice • 
rushed before me in novel guise, a red, ra ndo m beldame, w ith 
a rms akim bo. I saw her in her house, theden~of confusion : 
servants called to her for orders or help which she did not 
give ; beggars stood at her door waiting and starving un- 
noticed ; a swarm of children, sick and quarrelsome, crawled 
round her feet, and yelled in her ears appeals for notice, 
sympathy, cure, redress. The honest woman cared for none 
of these things. She had a warm seat of her own by the lire, 
she had her own solace in a short black pipe, and a bottle of 
Mrs. Sweeny's soothiogjyrup ; she smoked and she sipped, 
and she enjoyed her paradise ; and whenever a cry of the 
suflferiug souls about her pierced her ears too keenly — my 
jolly dame seized the poker or the hearth-brush : if the 
offender was weak, wronged, and sickly, she effectually 
settled him : if he was strong, lively, and violent, she only 
menaced, then plunged her hand io her deep pouch, and 
flung a hberal shower of suga^:plums. 

Such was the sketch of ' Human Justice/ scratched 
hurriedly on paper, and placed at the service of Messrs. Bois- 
Sec and Rochemorte. M. Emanuel read it over my 
shoulder. Waiting no comment, I curtsied to the trio, and 
withdrew. 

After school that day, M* Paul and I again met. Of 
course the meeting did not at first run smooth ; there was a 

II 



^4-i7 



(•l<re. 






6^' 






No 






Pr VILLETTE 

crow to pluck with him ; that forced examination oould n 
be immedtately digeated. A crabbed dialogue terminated 
my being called * une petite moqneuse et sans-coeur/ and 
Monsieur's temporary departure. 

Not wishing him to go quite away, only desirii^ be 
should feel that aucb a transport as he had that day given 
way to, could not be indulged with perfect impunity, I wm 
not sorry to see him, soon after, gardening in the berceaa. 
He approached the glass door ; I drew near also. We spolce 
of some flowers growing round it. By-and-by Monsieur 
laid down his spade ; by-and-by he recommenced con versa- 
tion, passed to other subjects, and at last touched a poinl of 
interest. 

Conscious that his proceeding of that day wag specially 
open to a charge of exkavagance, M. Paul half apologised ; 
he haK regrett^, too, the Btfulness of his moods at all time&, 
yet he hinted that some allowance ought to be made for him. 
' But/ said he* ' I can h&rdly expect it at your hands, Wm 
Lucy ; you know neither me, nor my position, nor my 
history.' 

His history. I took up the word at once ; I pursued the 
idea. 

* No, Monsieur,' I rejoined. ' Of course, aa you aay, i 
know neither your history, nor your position, nor your 
sacrifices, nor any of your sorrows, or trials, or aSectioos, or 
fidelities. Oh, no ! I know nothing about you ; you are lor 
me altogether a stranger/ "*— — ^ 

* Hein ? * he murmured, arching his bix>wi in surpriae* 

' You know. Monsieur, I only see you in clasae — steni 
dogmatic, Itasty. imperious. I only hear of you in towo m 
active and wilful, quick to originate, hasty to lead« bui slow 
to persuade, and hard to bend. A man like you, wilboQl 
ties, can have no attachments; without dependants^ do 
duties. All we, with whom you come in contaGli an 
machines, which you thrust here and there, inconsidarala dt 
their feelings. You seek your recreations in public, by tb^ 
light of the evening chandelier: this school and yonder 



M 



FRATEBNITY 



483 



oolle^e are your workshops, where you fabricate the ware 
called pupils. I don't 80 much as know where you live ; it 
is natural to take it for granted that you have no home, and 
need none/ 

* I am judged,' said he. * Your opinion of me is just 
what I thought it was. For you I am neither a man nor a 
Christian. You see me void of affection and religion, un- 
attached by friend or family, unpiloted by principle or 
faith. It is well, Mademoiselle ; such is our reward in this 

,life.' 

I ' You are a philosopher, Monsieur ; a cynic philosopher * 
(and I looked at his paletot, of which he straightway brushed 
the dim sleeve with hia hand), * despising the foibles of 
humanity— above its luxuries — independent of its com* 
farts.' 

' Et vous, Mademoiselle ? vous dtes proprette et douiUette, 
et affireusement insensible, par-dessus le march6/ 

* But, in short, Monsieur, now I think of it, you viust live 
Bomewhere ? Do tail me where ; and what estabhshment of 
servants do you keep ? ' 

With a fearful projection of the under-lip, implying an 
impetus of scorn the most decided, he broke out^ — 

* Je vis dans uo trou ! I inhabit a den. Miss — a cavern, 
where you would not put your dainty nose. Once, with base 
shame of speaking the whole truth, I talked about my 
" study " in that college : know now that this " study " is my 
whole abode ; my chamber is there and my drawing-room. 
As for my ** establishment of servants " ' (mimicking my voice) 
' they number ten ; les voil4/ 

And he grimly spread, close under my eyes, hia ten 
fingers. 

' I black my boots/ pursued he savagely. ' I brush my 
palet6t/ 

* No, Monsieur, it is too plain ; you never do that,' was 
my parenthesis. 

* Je fais moo Ut et mon manage ; I seek my dinner in a 
restaurant; my supper takes care of itself; I pass days 




laborious 
ferocious, 



VILLETTE 



nights long 
and monkiBh 



and lonely ; 
; and nothing 
old hearts 



ftlfi 



: no^^ 

i 



beamed 
living in this world loves me, except some 
like my own^ and some few beings, impoverished, snfli 
poor in purse and in spirit, whom the kingdoms of 
world own not, but to whom a will and testament not to 
disputed has bequeathed the kingdom of heaven.* 

* Ah, Monsieur ; but I know \ ' 
' What do you know ? many things, I verily believe ; 

not me, Lucy I ' 

' I know that you have a pleasant old house in a pleasant 
old square of the Basse-Ville — why don't you go and Uve 
there ? * 

* Hein ? * muttered he again. 

' I liked it much, Monsieur ; with the steps ascending 
the door, the grey flags in front, the nodding trees beliiod 
real trees, not shrubs— trees dark, high, and of old 
And the boudoir -oratoire — you should make that room y 
study ; it is so quiet and solemn.* 

He eyed me closely ; ho half-smUed, half^ooloured. 
'Where did you pick up all that? Who told you?* he 
asked. 

'Nobody told me. Did I dream it, Monsieur, do 
think?* 

' Can I enter into your visions ? Can I guess a womiD^ 
wakiog thoughts, much less her sleeping fantiLai^ ?' 

' If I dreamt it« I saw in my dre^m human beingi it 
well as a house. I saw a priest, old, bent, and grey, and i 
domestics-old, too, and picturesque ; and a lady, splendid but 
strange; her head would scarce rejich to my elbow — hif 
magnificence might ransom a duke. She wore a gcywn 
bright as lapis-lazulj — ^a shawl worth a thousand francs : Ao 
was decked with ornaments so brilliant, I never saw w 
with such a beautiful sparkle ; but her figure looked as if 
had been broken in two and bent double ; she fleemed 
to have outlived the common years of humanity^ and to hm 
atUined those which are only labour and sorrow. She mil 



^ 



FEATEENITY 



485 



I 



become morose — almost nialevoleiit ; yet somebody ^ it appears, 
cared for her in her infirmities — somebody forgave her tres- 
passes, hoping to have his trespasses forgiven. They lived 
together, these three people — the mistress, the chaplain, the 
aervant^all old^ all feeble, all sheltered under one kind 
wing/ 

He covered with his hand the upper part of his face, but 
did not conceal his month, where I saw hovering an expres- 
sion I liked. 

* I see you have entered into nay secrets,' said he, * but 
how was it done ? ' 

So I told him how — the commission on which I had been 
sent, the storm which had detained me, the abmptnoss of the 
lady, the kindness of the priest. 

'As I eat waiting for the rain to cease, P&ra Silas whiled 
away the time with a story,* I said. 

A story ! What story ? P6re Silas is no romancist.* 

Shall I tell Monsieur the tale?' 

Yes : begin at the beginning. Let me hear some of Miss 
Xiucy's French — her best or her worst — I don*t much care 
which: let us have a good poign^e of barbarisms, and a 
bounteous dose of the insular accent.' 

* Monsieur is not going to bo gratified by a tale of 
ambitious proportions, and the spectacle of the narrator 
sticking fast in the midst. But I will tell him the title — the 
" Priest's Pupil." * 

* Bah I ' said he, the swarthy Oush again dyeing his dark 
cheek. * The good old father could not have chosen a worse 
subject; it is his weak point. But what of the "Priest^s 
PupO"?' 

* Oh ! many things.* 

*You may as well define w)uit things, I mean to 
know/ 

' There was the pupil's youth, the pupil's manhood, — 
his avarice, his ingratitude, his implacability, his incon- 
stancy. Such a bad pupil, MonsiQur ! — so thankless, cold- 
hearted, unchivalrous, unforgiving I ' 



486 



VILLETTB 



' Et puis ? ' said ha, takiog a cigar. 

*Et puis/ I pursued, *h© underwent calamities which 
one did not pity— bore them in a spirit one did not admir 
— endured wrongs for which one felt no sympathy ; finalljr' 
took the unchristian revenge of heaping coals of fire on hig 
adversary's head.* 

' You have not told ma all/ said he. 

' Nearly aU, I think : I have indicated the heads of 
Silas's chapters/ 

* You have forgotten one — that which touched on ths 
pupils lack of affection — on his hard, cold, monkish 
heart/ 

* True ; I remember now. P6re Silas did say that hii 
vocation was almost that of a priest — that his life wm" 
considered consecrated. ' 

* By what bonds or duties ? ' 
' By the ties of the past and the charities of the present'^ 

* You have, then, the whole situation?' 

* I have now told Monsieur all that was told me/ 
Some meditative minutes passed. 
' Now, Mademoiselle Lucy, look at me. and with thai tratl 

which I believe you never knowingly violate, answer me " 
question. Raise your eyes; rest them on mine; have 
hesiUtion ; fear not to truet me — I am a man to be tmsted,^ 
I raised my eyes. 

* Knowing me thoroughly now — all my aoteoedeola. all 
my responsibilities — having long known my faults, can yoa 
and I still be friends ? ' 

' If Monsieur wants a friend in me, I shall be glad to 
have a friend in him.' 

' But a close friend I mean— intimate and real — ^kindred 
in all but blood. Will Miss Lucy be the sister of m irery 
poor, ffttt^Tfig^ burdened, encumbered m an ? * 

I could not answer him m words, yet I suppoae I did 
answer him ; he took my hand, which found comfort in the 
shelter of his. Hi^ friendship was not a doubtful, havering 
benefit — a cold, distant hope — a sentiment so brittle as nol 



FRATEBNITY 



487 



to bear the weight of a finger : I at once felt (or thought 1 
felt) its support like that of some rook. 

* When I talk of friendship, I mean true frieodship/ he / \/^\ 
repeated emphatically ; and I could hardly believe that V ^ I 
words 80 earnest had blessed nay ear ; I hardly could credit \j^ 

I the reality of that kind, anxious look he gave. M he rmlbj 
wished for my confidence and regard, and rtaUy would give 
me his — why, it seemed to me that life could offer nothing 
more or better. In that case, I was become strong and^ 
rich \jm a moment I was made su'Bstantially happy. To 
aecertain the fact, to 6^x and seal it, I asked — 

* Is Monsieur quite serious ? Does he really think he 
^^needs me, and can take an interest in me as a sister ? ' 5 ' 5 
^1 * Surely, surely,' said he ; * a lonely man like me, who 
^■liaB no sister, must be but too glad to §nd in some woman's 
^Bieart a sister's pure affection/ 

^p ' And dare I rely on Monsieur's regard ? Dare I speak 
^■to him when I am so inclined ? ' 

L * My little sister must make her own experiments/ said 

^^he ; * I will give no promises. She roust tease and try her 
^■wayward brother till she has drilled him into what she 

wishes. After all, be is ho inductQe material in some 
hands/ 

While he spoke, the tone of his voice, the light of bis 
now afitectionate eye, gave me such a pleasure as, certainly, 
I had never felt. I envied no girl her lover, no bride her 
bridegroom, no wife her husband ; I was content with this 

, my voluntary, self -offering friend. If he would but prove 
reliable, and he looked reliable, what, beyond his friendship, 
oould I ever covet ? But, if all melted like a dream^ as once 

I before bad happened^ ? 

j 'Qu'est-ce done? What is it?* said he, as this thought 

tbrew its weight on ray heart, its shadow on my countenance. 
I told him ; and after a moment's pause, and a thoughtful 
^mile, be showed me how an equal fear — lest I should wear}^ 
of him, a man of moods so difficult and fitful— had haunted 
his mind for more than one day, or one month. 



488 



VILLETTE 



On hearing this, a quiet courage cheered me. I venl 
a word of re-assurance. That word was not only toleraied ;^ 
its repetition was courted* I grew quite happy — strangely 
happy — in making him secure, content, tranquil. Yesterday, 
I oould not have believed that earth held* or life afforded, 
moments like the few I was now passing. Countlefis times 
it had been my lot to watch apprehended sorrow close 
darkly in ; but t o see unhop ed-fo r happiness take f orip^ fipd 
^_plaoe^and |rrow more real as the seooii da sped, was ipdogd ^ 

* Lucy/ aaid M. Paul, speaking low, and still holding my 
hand, ' did you see a picture in the boudoir of the old 
house ? * 

' I did ; a picture painted on a panel/ 

* The portrait of a nun ? * 

* Yes/ 

* You heard her history ? * 

' Yes/ 

'You remember what we saw that night in 

oeau?' 

* I shall never forget it/ 
'You did not connect the two ideas; that would 

foUy?' 

' I thought of the apparition when I saw the portnui,' 
said I ; which was true enough. 

' You did not, nor will you fancy,' pursued he, 
saint in heaven perturbs herself with rivalries of 
Frotestanls are rarely superstitious; these morbid 
will not beset you f ' 

* I know not what to think of this matter ; but I 
a perfectly natural solution of this seeming mystery wQl 
on© day be arrived Ski.l^ 

' Doubtless, doubtless. Besides, no good-living woman — 
much less a pure, happy spirit — would trouble amity like 
ours— n ost-il pas vrai ? ' ^ ^ 

Ere I could answer, \Mne Beokpurst in, rosy and 
abrupt, calling out that I waT^^Trnxtgdr Her moUier 




'that a 
earth? 
fancies 

ba&rti 



FRATEENITY 



489 



going into town to call on some English family, who had 
applied for a prospeoiuB: my servioes were needed as 
interpreter. The interruption was not miseasonable : suffici- 
ent for the day is always the evil ; for this hour, its good 
sufficed. Yet I should have liked to ask M. Paul whether 
the ' morbid fancies/ against which he warned me, wrought 
in his own brain. 



(^ <'>•■') 



V'' 



i-Oi 



itv«^ 



CHAPTEB XXXVI 



THE APPLE OP DISCORD 



Bebideb Fifine Beck's mother, another power had & 
to say to M. Paul and me, before that covenant of frieudsliip 
could be ratified* We were under the surv^eillaiace of « 
filgegless eye : R ome w atohed jealously her Bon through 
that mystic lattice' at \^hich I had knelt once, and to which 
M. Emanuel drew oigh month by month — the sliding paod 
of the confessional. 

* Why were you so glad to be friends with M. Plaul?* 
asks the reader. ' Had he not long been a friend to you? 
Had he not given proof on proof of a certain partiality in 
his feelings ? * ^- 

Yes. be had ; but still I liked to hear him say so eameatly 
-that be was my olose, true friend; I liked his modeit 
doubts, his tender deference— that trust whioh longed to 
rest, and was ^^teful when taught how. He had called me 
' sister/ It was well. Yes ; he might call me whai ht 
pleased, so long as he con^ded in me. I was williag lo \m 
his sister, on condition that he did not invite me I0 ED 
that relation to some future wife of his ; and tacitly vowed 
as he was to celibacy, of this dilemma there seemed Ikt 
danger. 

Through most of the succeeding night I pondered 
evening's interview, I wanted much the morning to break; ^ 
and then listened for the bell to ring ; and, after rising and 
dressing, I deemed prayers and breakfast slow, and aU the 
hours lingering, till that arrived at last which brooglil mc 



THE APPLE OP DISCORD 



491 



h 



the lesson of literature. My wish was to get a more 
thorough comprehension of this fraternal alliance : to note 
with how much of the brother he would demean himself 
when we met again ; to prove how much of the sister was 
in my own feelings ; to discover whether I could summon 
a sister's courage, and he a brother's frankness. 

He came. Life is so constructed, that the event does not, 
cannot, will not, match the expectation. That whole day 
he never accosted me. His lesson was given rather more 
quietly than usual, more mildly, and also more gravely. 
He was fatherly to his pupils, but he was not brotherly 
to me. Ere he left the classe, I expected a smile, if not a 
word ; I got neither : to my portion fell one nod — hurried, 
shy. 

This distance, I argued, is accidental — it is involuntaiy ; 
patience, and it will vanish. It vanished not ; it continued 
for days ; it increased. I suppressed my suiprise, and swal* 
lowed whatever other feeUngs began to surge. 

Well might I ask when he offered fraternity—* Dare I rely 
on you ? * Well might he, doubtless knowing himself, with- 
hold all pledge. True, he had bid me make my own experi- 
ments — tease and try him. Vain injunction ! Privilege 
nominal and unavailable i Some women might use it I 
Nothing in my powers or instinct placed me amongst this 
brave band. Left alone, I was passive ; repulsed, I withdrew^ ; 
forgotten — my hps would not utter, nor my eyes dart a re- 
minder. It seemed there had been an error somewhere in 
my calculations, and I wanted for time to disclose it. 

But the day came when, as usual, he was to give me a 
lesson. One evening in seven he had long generously be- 
stowed on me, devoting it to the examination of what had 
been done in various studies during the past week, and to 
the preparation of work for the week in prospect. On these 
occasions my schoolroom was anywhere, wherever the 
pupils and the other teachers happened to be, or in their 
close vicinage, very often in the large second division, where 
il was easy to choose a quiet nook when the crowding day 



493 



VILLETTE 



Ha' 



XCf^ 



boor 



pupils were absent, aod the few boarders gathered in a 
about the anrveillante's estrade. 

On the customary evenings hearing the customary hcmr 
strike, I collected my books and papers, my pen and ink, 
and sought the large division. 

In cLasse there was no one, and it lay all in eool 
shadow ; but through the open double doors was seen 
carr4, filled with pupils and with light ; over hall and ij 
blushed the westering sun. It blushe<l so ruddily and TiTidly, 
that the hues of the walls and the variegated tints of tiie 
dresses seemed all fused in one warm glow. The girls wero 
seated, working or studying; in the midst of their cifek 
stood M. Emanuel, speaking good-humouredly to a tettoher* 
His dark palet6t, his jetty hair, were tinged with many a 
reflex of crimson ; his Spanish face, when he turned it 
momcntarity, answered the sun's animated kiss with an 
animated smile. I took my place at a desk. 

The orange-treea, and several plants, full and bright with 
bloom, basked also in the sun's laughing bounty ; they had 
partaken it the whole day, and now as ked wa ter. M* 
E gianucl had aj aste for gardening; he hked to tend and 
foster plants. I used to think that working amongst shrubs 
with a spade or a watering-pot soothed his nerves ; it was a va- 
creation to which he often had recourse ; and now he looked 
to the orange-trees, the geraniums, the gorgeous eacteses, 
and revived them all with the refreshment their drooglil 
needed. His lips meantime sustained his precious cigar, 
that (for him) first necessary and prime luxury of life ; its 
blue wreaths curled prettily enough amongst the flowers, ami 
in the evening light. He spoke no more to the pupils, nor 
to the mistresses, but gave many an endearing word k> a 
small spaniolesfl (if one may coin a word), that nominAlty 
belonged to the house, but virtually owned him aa masiler, 
being fonder of him than any inmate* A delicate, ailkj, loiing, 
and lovable little doggie she was. trotting at his sidep 
*with expressive, attached eyes into his face; and 
he dropped his bonnet-grec or his handkerchief, wfaidi he 



THE APPLE OF DISCORD 



493 



^ 



I 



^ 



occasionally did in play, crouching beside it with the air of 
a Eniniature lion guarding a kingdom's flag. 

There were many plants, and as the amateur gardener 
fetched all the water from the well in the court, with his 
own active hands, his work spun on to some length. The 
great school-clock ticked on. Another hour struck* The 
carr6 and the youthful group lost the illusion of sunset- 
2^yLW^B_drpoping, My lesson, I perceived, must to-night 
be very short ; but the orange-trees, the cacti, the camelias 
were all served now. Was it my turn ? 

Alas 1 in the garden were more plants to be looked after, 
— favourite rose-buBheB, certain choice flowers ; little Sylvic's 
glad bark and whine followed the receding palet6t down the 
alleys. I put up some of my books; I should not want 
them all; I sat and thought, and waited, involuntarily 
deprecating the creeping invasion of twilight. 

Sylviei gaily frisking, emerged into view once more, 
heralding the returning paletot; the watering-pot was 
deposited beside the well; it had fulfilled its office; how 
glad I was ( Monsieur washed his hands in a little stone 
bowL There was no longer tiuie for a lesson now ; ere long 
the prayer-bell must ring ; but still we should meet ; he 
would speak ; a chance would be offered of reading in his 
eyes the riddle of his shyness. His ablutions over, he stood, 
slowly rc-arranging his cuffs, looking at the horn of a young 
moon, set pale in the opal sky, and glimmering faint on the 
oriel of Jean Baptiste. Sylvie watched the mood contem- 
plative; its stillness irked her; she whined and jumped to 
break it. He looked down. 

* Petite esigeantc,' said he; * you must not be forgotten 
one moment, it seems-* 

He stopped, lifted her in his arms, sauntered across the 
court, within a yard of the line of windows near one of which 
I sat : he sauntered hngoringly, fondling the spaniel io his 
bosom, calling her tender names in a tender voice. On the 
front-door steps he turned ; once again he looked at the 
moon^ at the grey cathedral^ over the remoter spires and 



494 



VILLETTE 



\ 



house-roofs fading into a blue sea of night-mist ; he tasted 
the sweet breath of dusk, and noted the folded bloom of tha 
garden ; he suddenly looked round ; a keen beani out of his 
eye rased the white facade of the classes, swept the hmg 
line of crois^s. I think he bowed ; if he did, I had no tiiue 
to return the courtesy^ In a moment he was gone ; the 
moonlit threshold lay paie and shadowless before the closed 
front door. 

Gathering in my arms all that was spread on the desk 
before me, I carried back the unused heap to its plaee in the 
third classe. The prayer-beU rang ; I obeyed its summooB. 

The morrow would not restore him to the Bue Foaaelte, 
that day bemg devoted entirely to his oollege. I gel 
through my teaching : I got over the intermediate hours ; 
I saw evening approaching, and armed myself for its heavy 
ennuis* Whether it was worse to stay with my co* inmates, 
or to sit alone » I had not considered ; I naturally took up 
the latter alternative ; if there was a hope of comfort for any 
moment, the heart or head of no human being in this hoose 
could yield it; only under the hd of my desk could li 
harbour, nestling between the leaves of some book^ 
a pencil-point, the nib of a pen, or tingeing the black flui 
that ink-glass. With a heavy heart I opened my desk*lid 
with a weary hand I turned up its contents. 

One by onet well -accustomed books, volumes sewn in 
familiar covers, were taken out and put back hopeless : they 
had no charm ; they could not comfort. Is this somethii 
neWf this pamphlet in lilac ? I had not seen it before, and 
I re-arranged my desk this very day — this very aftemooo; 
the tract must have been introduced within the last 
while we were at dinner. 

I opened it. What was it ? What would it say to 

It was neither tale nor poem, neither essay nor historjf ; 

it neither sung, nor related, nor discussed. It wa tja tbaa - 

lo^fiaLacc^rk ; it preached and it persuaded. 

'" I lent to it my ear very willingly, for, smaU as it was^ 

its own speU, and bound my attention al 



I 



THE APPLE OF DISCORD 



496 



It preached Romanism; it persuaded to conversion. The 
voice of that sly little book was a honeyed voice ; its accents 
were all unction and balm. Here roared no utterance of 
Rome*8 thunders, no blasting of the breath of her dis- 
pleasure. The Protestant was to turn Papist, not so much i 
fear of the heretic's heU, as on account of the comlortj 
the indulgence, the tenderaess Holy Church offered ; far 
be it from her to threaten or to coerce ; her wish was to 
guide and win. She persecute ? Oh dear no 1 not on any 
account! 

This meek volume was not addressed to the hardened 
and worldly ; it was not even strong meat for the strong : it 
wa^ ^ilk for bfl-h^s ' the mild effluence of a mother*s love 
towards her ten de rest and her youngest ; intended wholly 
and solely for those whose head is to be reached through the 
heart. Its appeal was not to intellect ; it sought to win the 
affectionate through their affections, the sympathising 
through their sympathies : St. Vincent de Paul, galhering 
his orphans about him, never spoke more sweetly. 

I remember one capital inducement to apostasy was 
held out in the fact that the Cathohc who had lost dear 
friends by death could enjoy the unspeakable solace of praying 
them out of purgatory. The writer did not^uch Oil Tfte 
firmer peace of those whose behef dispenses with purgatory 
altogether : but I thought of this, and, on the whole, pre- 
ferred the latter doctrine as the most consolatory. 

The httle book amused, and did not painfully displease 
me. It was a canting, sentimental, shallow little book, yet 
something about it cheered m y^loom and made me smile ; 
I was amused with the gambols of this unHcked wolf-cub 
muffled in the fleece, and mimicking the bleat of a guileless 
lamb. Portions of it reminded me of certain Wesleyan 
Methodist tracts I had once read when a child ; they were 
flavoured with about the same seasoning of excitation to 
fanaticism. He that had written it was no bad man, and 
while perpetually betraying the trained cunning — the cloven 
hoof of his system^I should pause before accusing himself 



auj 



496 



VILLETTE 



of msincerity, Hig jadgmeut, however, wanted surged j 
props ; it was rickety. 

I Bmiied then over this dosa of matem&l teadeaneai^l 
Gomiiig from the ruddy old lady of the Seven Hills ; smiledi 
too, at my own diBmclination, not to say diEability* to 
meet these melting favourB. Glancing at the title-page, I 
found the name of * F $ya E llas.' A fly-leaf bore in small, 
but clear and well-known pencil characters : ' Prom F. C. 
D. E. to L— y.* And when I saw this I laughed : but noi 
in my former spirit. I was revived. '*'''* — 

A mortal bewilderment cleared suddenly from my bead 
and vision ; the solution of the Sphiux-riddle was won ; IIsb 
conjunction of those two names^ P6re Silas and FImxI 
Emanuelj gave the key to all. The penitent had been with 
his director ; permitted to withhold nothing ; sufTered to keep 
no corner of his heart sacred to God and to himself; tho 
whole narrative of our late interview had been drawn bom 
him : he had avowed the covenant of fraternity, and spoken 
of his adopted sister. How could such a covenant, sneh 
adoption, be sanctioned by the Church? Fraternal com* 
munion with a heretic 1 I seemed to hear F^re Bllas annulliiig 
the unholy pact ; warning his penitent of its perils ; entreftl- 
ing, enjoining reserve, nay. by the authority of his offioet 
and in the name« and by the memory of all M. Bmaiioel 
held most dear and sacred, commanding the enforoemeol cl 
that new system whose frost had pierced to the marrow o( 
my bones. 

These may not seem pleasant hypotbeflea ; yet, by oom* 
parison, they were welcome* The vision of a ghostly tnmbkr 
hovering in the background was as nothing, matohad ifiA 
the fear of spontaneous change arising in M. Paul himselL 

At this distance of Mme, I cannot be sure how far the 
above conjectures were self-suggested : or in what meaffOJii 
they owed their origin and conErmation to another qiuirlsr. 
Help was not wantbg. 

This evening there was no bright snnaet : west and eail 
were one cloud ; no summer night-mist, blue, yet roee-lisigol. 



THE APPLE OF DISCORD 



497 



softened tbe distanoe; a clammy fog from the marshes 
crept grey round ViUette. To-night the watering-pot 
might rest in its niche by the well : a small rain had been 
drizzling all the afternoon, and still it fell fast and quietly. 
This was no weather for rambling in the wet alleys, under 
the dripping trees ; and I started to hear Sylvie's sudden 
bark in the garden — her bark of welcome. Surely she was 
not accompanied ; and yet this glad, quick bark was never 
uttered, save in homage to one presence. 

Through the glass door and the arching berceau, I 
commanded the deep vista of the all^ d^fendue : thither 
rushed Sylvie, glistening through its gloom like a white 
guelder-rose. She ran to and fro, whining, springing, 
harassing little birds amongst the bushes. I watched five 
minutes; no fulfilment followed tbe omen. I returned to 
my books ; Sylvie's sharp hark suddenly ceased. Again I 
looked up. She was standing not many yards distant, 
wagging her white feathery tail as fast as the muscle would 
work, and intently watching the operations of a spade, plied 
fast by an indefatigable band. There was M. Emanuel, 
bent over the soil» digging in the wet mould amongst the 
rain -laden and streaming ShfUfis, working as hard as if his 
day's pittance were yet to earn by the Hteral sweat of his 
brow. 

Id this sign I read a ruffled mood. He would dig thus 
in frozen snow on the^oldest^ winter day, when urged 
inwardly by painful emotion, whether of nervous excitation, 
or Bad thoughts of self -reproach. He would dig by the 
hour, with knit brow and set teeth, nor once lift bis head, 
or open his lips. 

Sylvie watched till she was tired. Again scampering 
devious, bounding here, rushing there, snuffing and sniffing 
everywhere ; she at last discovered me in classe. Instantly 
she flew barking at the panes, as if to urge me forth to 
share her pleasure or her masters toil; she had seen me 
^occasionally walking in that alley with M. Paul; and I 



198 



VILLETTE 




doubt not, considered it my duty to join him now, 
was* 

She made saeh a bustle that M, Paul at last looked u^ 
and of course perceived why, and at whom she barked. Hel 
whistled to call her oflf ; she only barked the louder. 8b« ] 
aeemed quite bent upon having the glass d^r opened. 'Hred, 
I suppose, with her importunity, he threw down hirf spade. 
approached, and pushed the door ajar* Sylvie hural in all 
impetuous, sprang to my lap, and with her paws at my neck, 
and her little nose and tongue somewhat overpoweringly 
busy about my face, mouth, and eyes, flourished her bushy 
toll over the desk, and scattered books and papers far 
wida. ^ 

M. Emanuel advanced to still the clamour and Te^ 
disarrangement. Having gathered up the books, he cap 
Sylvie, and stowed her away under his paletdt, where she 
nestled as quiet as a mouse, her head just peeping forth. 
She was very tiny, and had the prettiest little innocent faos, 
the silkiest long ears, the finest dark eyes in the world. I 
never saw her, but I thought of Paulina de Bassompierre : 
forgive the association, reader, it vftnitd^occur, 

M. Paul petted and patted her ; the endearments she 
received were not to be wondered at ; she invited afCection 
by her beauty and her vivacious life. 

While caressing the spaniel, his eye roved over the 
papers and books just replaced; it settled on the religious 
tract. His lips moved ; he half checked the impulsa tti 
speak. What t had he promised never to address me mofs? 
If so, his better nature pronounced the vow * more honourad 
in the breach than in the observance,* for with a seoocid 
effort he spoke :— * You have not yet read the broohons, I 
presume ? It is not sufficiently inviting? ' 

I replied that I had read it. 

He waited, as if wishing me to give an opinioct apoii 
unasked. Unasked, however, I was in no mood to do oral 
anything, If any concessions were to be made — if ul4 
advances were demanded— that was the affair ot the 



I 



\A.h 



C^i^V 



i 



THE APPLE OF DISCOED 



499 



docile pupil of Pere Silas, not mine. His eye settled upon 
me gently : there was mildness at the moment in its biee 
ray^ — there was solicitude— a shade of pathos ; there were 
meanings ooraposite and contrasted — reproach melting into 
remorse. At the moment probably, he would have been 
glad to see something emotional in me. I could not show 
it. In another minute, however, I should have betrayed 
confusion, had I not bethought myself to take some quill-pens 
from my desk^ and begin soberly to mend them. 

I knew that action would give a turn to his mood. He 
never liked to see me mend pens ; my knife was always 
dull-edged— ray hand, too, was unskilftd ; I hacked and 
chipped. On this occasion 1 cut my own finger — half on 
purpose. I wanted to restore him to his natural state, to 
set him at his ease, to get him to chide. 

' Maladroit 1 ' he cried at last, * she will make mincemeat 
of her hands/ 

He put Sylvie down, making her he quiet beside his 
bonnet-grec, and, depriving me of the pens and penknife, 
proceeded to slice, nib, and point with the accuracy and 
celerity of a machine. 

* Did I like the Httle book ? * he now inquired. 
Suppressing a jfLvm, I said I hardly knew. 

* Had it moved me ? * 

* I thought it had made me a little sleepy/ 

(After a pause : ) ' Allons done 1 It was of no use 
taking that tone with him. Bad as I was — and he should 
be sorry to have to name aU my faults at a breath — God and 
nature had given me '* trop de sensibility et de sympathio '* 
not to be profoundly affected by an appeal so touching.* 

' Indeed I ' 1 responded, rousing myself quickly, * I was 
not affected at aU — not a whit/ 

And in proof, I drew from my pocket a perfectly dry 
handkerchief, still clean and in its folds. 

Hereupon I was made the object of a string of strictures 
rather piquant than polite, I hstened with zest. After 
those two days of tmnatural silence, it was better than 



600 



VILLETTB 



^ 



(1 



An^ 



.\ 



\ 




music ki hear M. Paul haranguing again just in his oU 
fashion, I listened, and meantime solaced myaelf and 
Sylvio with the contents of a bonbonnidre, which M* 
EnQanueFs gifts kept well supplied with chocolate comfila. 
It pleased him to sae even a small matter from his hand 
duly appreciated. Ha looked at me and the spaniel while 
we shared the spoil ; he put up his penknife. Touching mj 
hand with the bundle of new-cut quills, he said : — * Dite 
donc» petite soeur — speak fraukly-'What have you tboo^t 
of me during the last two days ? ' 

But of this question I would take no manner of notioe ; 
its purport made my eyes fill. I caressed Sylvie aeaiduoiifily. 
M. Paul, leaning over the desk, bent towards me : — ' I called 
myself your brother,* he said : * I hardly know what I am— 
brother^ — frie nd— I canno t tell. I know I think of yoti — I 
feel I wish you well— but I must check myself ; you are ta 
be feared. My l>e&t friends point out danger, and whisi 
caution.* 

* You do right to listen to your friends. By all mi 
be cautious. 

* lb is yourreligion — your strange, self-reliant, involnar 
able creed, whose inluence seems to clothe you in, I know 
not what, unblessed panoply, You are good— P^re Silu 
calls you good, and loves you— but your terrible, proiad, 
earnest Frotestanygm, there ts the danger. It expressol 
itself by your eye at times ; and again, it gives you oertAio 
tones and certain geaturos that make my flesh creep. You 
are not demonstrative, and yet, just now — when you handled 
that tract — my God I I thought Luciler smiled.' 

* Certainly I don't respect that traot — what then ? 
' Not respect that tract ? But it is the pure 

aith, love, charity I I thought it would touch you ; in 
gen^em;^, I trusted that it could not faiL I laid it in your 
desk with a prayer. I must indeed be a sinner: Heiaven 
will not hear the petitions that come warmesi from mj 
heart. You scorn my little offering. Oh, cel% xna fail 



re te 



I 



malt* 



fyJ<Z 



THE APPLE OP DISCOED 



501 



* Monsieur, I don*t scorn it — at least, not as your gift. 
Monsieur, sit down ; listen to me. I am not a heathen, I 
am not hard-hearted, I am not unehrislian, I am not 
dangerous, as they tell yon ; I would i5^st-iroiiblB your faith ; 
you believe in God and Christ and the Bible, and so do 1/ 

' But do you believe in the Bible ? Do you receive 
Revelation? What limits are there to the wild, careless 
daring of your country and sect ? P6re Silas dropped dark 
hints/ 

By dint of persuasion, I made him half define these 
hints ; they amounted to crafty Jesuit-slanders, That night 
M* Paul and I talked seriously and closely. He pleaded, he 
argued, I could not argue — a fortunate incapacity ; it needed 
but triumphant, logical opposition to effect, all the director 
wished to be effected ; but I could talk in my own way — 
the way M. Paul was used to^ — and of which he could follow 
the meanderings and fill the hiatus, and pardon the strange 
stammerings, strange to him no longer. At ease with him, 
I could defend my creed and faith in my own fashion ; in 
some degree I could lull his prejudices. He was not 
satisfied when he went away, hardly was he appeased ; but 
he was made thoroughly to feel that Protestants were not 
necessarily the irreverent Pag ans his director had inaigu ated ; 
he was made to comprehend something of their mode of 
honouring the Light, the Life, the Word ; he was enabled 
partly to perceive that, while their veneration for things 
venerable was not quite like that cultivated in his Church, it 
had its own, perhaps, deeper power — its own more solemn 
awe. 

I found that Pfere Silas (himself, I must repeat, not a 
bad man, though the advocate of a bad cause) had darkly 
stigmatised Protestants in general, and myself by inference, 
with strange names, had - a ecrib ed to us strangeJJ^nm ' ; 
Monsieur Emanuel revealed all this in his franFfashion, 
which knew not secretiveness, looking at me as he spoke 
with a kind, earnest fear, almost trembling lest there should 
be truth in the charges* P6re Silas, it seems, had closely 



002 



VILLETTE. 



\ 



watched me, had ascertamed that I went by tuma, 
indiscriminately, to the three Protestant Chapels of Villetti 
the French, German, and Enghsh — id est^ the Presbytent 
Lutheran, Episcopahan, Such li berahty argued in the tatbei^ 
eyes profound indifference — who tolerates all. he 
can be attached to none. Now, it happened thai I 
often secretly wondered at the minute and unimportaDt 
character of the differences between these three S6Ct»— a 
the unity and identity of their vital doctrines : I saw nothing 
to hinder them from being one day fused into one grind 
Holy Alliance, and I respected them ail, though I thoo^t 
that in each there were faults of form ; IncumbraDceQ aod 
trivialttiea. Just what I thought, that did I (ell M, 
Emanuel, and explained to him that my own laai appeal* 
the guide to which I looked, and the teacher which I owned* 
must always be the Bible itself, rather than any aeet* 
whatever name or nation. , - fi -. ^, . 

He left me soothed, yet full of solicitude, breathing { 
wish, as strong as a prayer, that if I were wrongs Hoaf 
would leiid me right. I heaid. poured forth on the l 
some fervid murmuringg to * Marie. Keine du Ciel/ 
deep aspiration that his hope might yet be mitu. 

Strange t I had no such feverish wish to turn him bom 
the faith of his fathers. I thought Komaniam wrong, a fgPsA 
miTfrfL iiBftgr of gold and clay ; but it seemed to me thil 
ilm Eomaoist held the purer elements of bis creed willi ao 
innocency of heart which God must love. 

The preceding conversation passed between eagbt and 
nine o'cloek of the evening, in a schoobnoom of the quial 
Hue Fossette, opening on a sequestered garden. ProbaUy 
about the same, or a somewhat later hour of the succeedtof 
evening, its echoes, collected by holy obedience, w«ni 
breathed verbatim in an attent ear, at the panel of a oooJce- 
sional, in the hoary church of the Magi. It ensued that P^re 
Silas paid a visit to Madame Beck« and stiiTed by I know 
not what mixture of motives, persuaded her to let bljn under- 
take for a time the Englishwoman's spiritual direotioo. 



W 



fi ^^ 



\ 



^ OD 




.V 



THE APPLE OP DISCORD 



503 



Hereupon I was put through a course of reading— that 
is, I just glanced at the hooka lent me ; they were too little 
in my way to be thoroughly read» marked, leamed» or 
inwardly digested. And besides, I had a book up-stairs, 
under my pillow, whereof ceitain chapters satisfied my 
needs in the article of apiritual lore, furnishiDg such precept 
and example as, to my heart's core, I was convinced could 
not be improved on. 

Then P6re Silas showed me the fair side of Borne, her 
good works, and bade me judge the tree by its fruits. 

In answer, I felt and I avowed that these works were 
not the fi-uits of Rome : they were but her abundant blossom- 
ing, but the fair promise she showed the world. That bloom, 
when set, savoured not of charity ; tlie apple full formed 
was Ignorance, abasement, and bigotry. Out of men's 
afflictions and affections w ere forged the rivets of their 
servitude. Poverty was fed and clothed, and sheltered, to 
bind il by obligation to * the Church ; ' orphanage was reared 
and educated that it might grow up in t!ie fold of ' the 
Church ; ' sickness was tended that it might die after the 
formula and in the ordinance of * the Church ; ' and men 
were overwrought, and women most murderously saorificeJ, 
and all laid down a world God made pleasant for His 
creatures' good, and took up a cross, monstrous in its galling 
weight, that they might serve Rome, prove her sanctity, 
confirm her power, and spread the reign of her tyrant 
* Church; 

For man a good was little done ; for God's glory, less. 
A thousand ways were opened with pain, with blood-sweata, 
with lavishing of life ; mountains were cloven ttirough their 
breasts, and rocks were split to their base ; and all for 
what? That a Priesthood might march straight on and 
straight upward to an all-dominating eminence, whence 
they might at last stretch the sceptre of their Moloch 
' Church/ 

It will not be. God is.jaqt"mtt ^BQme, an d, were human 
sorrows still for the Son of God, would Me not mourn over 



504 



VILLETTE 



^^ 



> 



her cnielties aod ambitions, as once He mourned over 
crimeB and woes of doomed Jerusalem ! 

Oh, lovers of power t Oh, mitred aspirants for tUs 
world's kingdoms 1 an hour will come, even to you, when h 
will be well tor your hearts — pausing faint at each broken beal 
— that there is a Mercy beyond human compaseions^jLl^Kre 
stronger than this strong death which even yon must faoa> 
and before it, fall ; a Charity more potent than any siiti i 
yours ; a Pity which redeems worlds — nay, abaolvee : 



My third temptation was held out in the pomp of Boise 
— the glory of her kingdom. I was taken to the charohei 
on solemn occasions — days of f^te and state ; I was shown 
the Papal ritual and ceremonial, I looked at it. 

Many people — men and women — no doubt far my 
^superiors in a thousand ways, have felt this display impreaam, 
have declared that though their Reason protested, their Ima* 
gination was subjugated. I cannot say the same. Neither fol 
procession, nor high mass, nor swarming tapers, nor swin^og 
censers, nor ecclesiastical millinery, nor celestial jewellery, 
touched my imagiiui^inn. a whit. What I saw struck me m 
ta wdry, not g rand; as grossly material, not 
spiritual. 

This I did not tell P6re Silas ; he was old, he tool 
venerable : through every abortive experiment, under 
repeated disappointment, he remained personally Idiid 
me, and I felt tender of hurting his feelings. But oo 
evening of a certain day when, from the balcony of 
house, I had been made to witness a huge mingled procefiddo 
of the church and the army — priests with relics, and dddiefB 

\with weapons, au obese and aged archbishop, habited is 
cambric and laoe, looking strangely like a grey daw ia bM* 
of-paradise plumage, and a band of young girls fantastieiDy 
robed and garlanded — iken I spoke my m ind to M. FaaL 
' I did not like it,* I told him ; * I did not respeoH iHek 
ceremonies ; I wished to see no more/ 

And having relieved my conscience by this declaration, I 




THE APPLE OF DISCORD 



SOB 



able to go od, and» speaking more currently and clearly 
Ihan my wont, to show him that I had a mind to keep to my 
Informed creed ; the more I saw of Popery the closer I clung 
to Protestantism ; doubtless there were errors in every church, 
but I now perceived by^ contrast how severely pure was my 
own, oompared with her whose painted and meretricious 
&U38 had been unveiled for my admiration. I told him how 
we kept fewer forms between us and God ; retaining, indeed, 
no Qsore than, perhaps, the nature of mankind in the mass 
rendered necessary for due observance. I told him I could 
not look on flowers and tinsel, on wax-lights and embroidery, 
at such times and under such oircumstances as should be 
devoted to Ufting the secret vision to Him whose home is 
Infinity, and His being— Eternity. That when I thought 
of sin and sorrow, of earthly corruption, mortal depravity, 
weighty temper^ woe — ^I could not care for chant ing pri ests 
or mumming officials ; that when the pains of existenoe^anH 
the terrors of dissolution pressed before me — when the 
mighty hope and measureless doubt of the future arose in 
view — therit even the scientific strain, or the prayer in a 
tangoBge learned and dead, harassed with hindrance a heart 
which only longed to cry — ' God be merciful to me a 
sinnert* 

When I had so spoken, so declared my f^th, and so 
widely severed myself from him I addressed— then, at last, 
eama a tone accordant, an echo responsive, one sweet chord 
of harmony in two conflicting spirits. 

'Whatever say priests or controversialists,' murmured 
M. Emanuel, ' God is good, and loves all the sincere. Believe, 
then, what you can ; believe it as you can ; one prayer, at 
least, we have in oommon ; I also cry — " O Dieu^sois apaisd 
envers moi qui suis p^cheur \ '* ' 

He leaned on the back of my chair* Alter some thought 
he again spoke : 

' How seem in the eyes of that God who made all firma- 
meota, from whose nostrils issued whatever of life is here, or 
in the stars shining yonder— how seem the differenoea of 



*/»l 



=>fl 



f M 



^c-^ 



%f 






606 VILLETTB 

man ? But as Time is not for Gk>d, nor Space, so neither is 
Measure, nor Comparison. We abase oorselvea in oor 
littleness, and we do right ; yet it may be that the constancy 
of one heart, the truth and faith of one mind according to 
the light He has appointed, import as much to Him as the 
just motion of satellites about tiieir planets, of planets about 
their suns, of suns around that mighty unseen centre 
incomprehensible, irrealisable, with strange mental effort 
only divi^fid- 

' God guide us all ! God bless you, Lucy ! ' 



CHAPTER XXXVII 



eUNSHINB 



It was very well for Paulina to decline further correspondence 
with Graham till her father had sanctioned the intercourse. 
But I>r. BrettoQ oould not live within a league of the H6tel 
Cr^cy, and not coBtrive to visit there often. Both lovers 
meant at first, I believe, to he distant ; they kept their 
intention so far as demonstrative courtship went, but in 
feeling they soon drew very near. 

All that was best in Giu ham sough fe Paulina ; whatever 
in him was noble, a^oke, "and grew in^her presence. With 
his past admiration of Miss Fanshawe, I suppose his intellect 
had little to do, but his whole intellect, and his highest 
tastes^ came in question now. These, hke all his faculties, 
were active, eager for nutriment, and alive to gratiication 
when it came. 

I cannot say that Paulina designedly led him to talk of 
books, or formally proposed to herself for a moment the task 
of winprng^hi g^to refl ection, or planned the improvement of 
his mmd, orso much as ftlhcied his mind could in any one 
respect he improved. She thought him very perfect ; it was 
Graham himself who, at first by the merest chance, men- 
tioned some book he had been reading, and when in her 
response sounded a welcome harmony of sympathies, some- 
thing pleasant to his soul, he talked on, more and better 
perhaps than he had ever talked before on such subjects. 
She listened with dehght, and answered with animation. In 
each successive answer^ Graham heard a music waxing finer 



i'^ 



SOB 



VILLBTTE 



;=0 



A- 



.4K<^ '^ 



and finer to his sense ; in each be foond a _ 
persuasive, oiagtc accent thai oponed a Bcarce-kooiffii 
treasure-house within, showed him unsuspeoted power in 
his own mind, and, what was better, latent goodness in hit 
heart. Each liked the way in which the other talked ; the 
voice, the diction, the expression pleased; each keenly 
relished the flavour of the other's wit; they met each other's 
meaning with strange quickness, their thoughts often 
matched like care fully -chosen pearls. Graham had wealth 
of mirth by natuj-e ; Paulina possessed no such inherent flow 
of animal spirits — unatimulated, she inclined to be thoughtful 
and pensive — but now she seemed merry as a lark ; in her 
lover 8 genial presence, she glanced like some sof t» glad tight 
How beautiful she grew in her happiness, I can hardly 
express, but I wondered to see her. As to that gentle ice of 
hers — that reser\^e on which she had depended ; where ' 
it now? Ah! Graham would not long bear it ; hehro 
with him a generous influence that soon thawed (he 
self-imposed restriction. 

Now were the old Bretton days talked over; 
brokenly at first, with a sort of smiling diffidence^ then with 
opening candour and gliU growing confidence, Graham had 
made for himself a better opportunity than tha^t he had 
wished me to give ; be had earned independence ol Ibe 
collateral help that disobliging Lucy had refused ; all hit 
reminisoenoes of ' little Polly ' found their proper expfponioa 
in his own pleasant tones, by his own kind and hmndsomf 
lips ; how much hotter than if suggested by me. 

More than once when we were alone, Paulina would ItO 
me how wonderful and curious it was to discover the riofaneii 
and accuracy of his memory in this matter. How, while be 
was looking at her^ recollections would seem to be suddenly 
quickened in his mind. He reminded her that she hid OHM 
gathered his head in her arms, caressed his leonine giaoei^ 
and cried out, ' Graham, I do like you 1 ' He told bar hom 
she would set a footstool beside him, and climb by ilA aid lo 
Ms knee. At this day he said ha could recall the 



here wu * 
ihrongfa^^ 
he timii^M 



SUNSHINE 



509 



of her lit tie hands smoothing his cheek, or burying themselveB 
in his thick mane, lie remembered the touch of her amall 
forefinger, placed half tremblingly, half curionaly, in the cleft 
in his chin, the lisp, the look with which she would name it 
• a pretty dimple/ then seek his eyes and question why they 
pierced 8o> telling him he had a ' nice, strange face ; far 
nicer, far stranger, than either his mamma or Lucy Snowe.* 

* Child as I was/ remarked Paulina, ' I wonder how I 
dared be so venturous. To me he seems now all sacred, his 
locks are inaccessible, and, Lucy, I feel a sort of fear when 
I look at his firm, marble chin, at his straight Greek features. 
Women are called beautiful, Lucy ; be is not like a woman, 
therefore I suppose he is not beautiful, but what is he, then ? 
Do other people see him witEmy eyes ? Do you admire 
him?* 

' I'll tell you what I do, Paulioa,' was once my answer 
to her many questions. * I never^ see him^ I looked at him 
twice or thrice about 



,/e*i 



a year ago, before he recognised me, 
and then 1 ahiit my eyes ; and if he were to cross their balls 
twelve times between each day*s sunset and sunrise, except 
from memory, I should hardly know what shape had gone 
by.' 

* Lucy, what do you mean ? ' said she, under her breath, 

' I mean that I value vision, and dread