Written in the schoolroom

Louis Moore’s doubts, respecting the immediate evacuation of Fieldhead by Mr. Sympson, turned out to be perfectly well founded. The very next day after the grand quarrel about Sir Philip Nunnely, a sort of reconciliation was patched up between uncle and niece. Shirley, who could never find it in her heart to be or to seem inhospitable (except in the single instance of Mr. Donne), begged the whole party to stay a little longer; she begged in such earnest, it was evident she wished it for some reason. They took her at her word; indeed, the uncle could not bring himself to leave her quite unwatched —at full liberty to marry Robert Moore, as soon as that gentleman should be able (Mr. Sympson piously prayed this might never be the case) to reassert his supposed pretensions to her hand. They all stayed.

In his first rage against all the house of Moore, Mr. Sympson had so conducted himself towards Mr. Louis, that that gentleman—patient of labour or suffering, but intolerant of coarse insolence—had promptly resigned his post, and could now be induced to resume and retain it only till such time as the family should quit Yorkshire; Mrs. Sympson’s entreaties prevailed with him thus far; his own attachment to his pupil constituted an additional motive for concession; and probably he had a third motive, stronger than either of the other two; probably he would have found it very hard indeed to leave Fieldhead just now.

Things went on, for some time, pretty smoothly; Miss Keeldar’s health was re-established, her spirits resumed their flow. Moore had found means to relieve her from every nervous apprehension; and, indeed, from the moment of giving him her confidence, every fear seemed to have taken wing: her heart became as lightsome, her manner as careless, as those of a little child that, thoughtless of its own life or death, trusts all responsibility to its parents. He and William Farren—through whose medium he made inquiries concerning the state of Phœbe—agreed in asserting that the dog was not mad; that it was only ill-usage which had driven her from home, for it was proved that her master was in the frequent habit of chastizing her violently. Their assertion might, or might not, be true: the groom and gamekeeper affirmed to the contrary, both asserting that, if hers was not a clear case of hydrophobia, there was no such disease. But to this evidence Louis Moore turned an incredulous ear; he reported to Shirley only what was encouraging: she believed him; and, right or wrong, it is certain that in her case the bite proved innocuous.

November passed; December came; the Sympsons were now really departing; it was incumbent on them to be at home by Christmas; their packages were preparing; they were to leave in a few days. One winter evening, during the last week of their stay, Louis Moore again took out his little blank book, and discoursed with it as follows:

‘She is lovelier than ever. Since that little cloud was dispelled all the temporary waste and wanness have vanished. It was marvellous to see how soon the magical energy of youth raised her elastic and revived her blooming.

‘After breakfast this morning, when I had seen her and listened to her, and—so to speak—felt her, in every sentient atom of my frame, I passed from her sunny presence into the chill drawing-room. Taking up a little gilt volume, I found it to contain a selection of lyrics. I read a poem or two. Whether the spell was in me or in the verse, I know not, but my heart filled genially, my pulse rose; I glowed, notwithstanding the frosty air. I, too, am young as yet; though she said she never considered me young, I am barely thirty. There are moments when life, for no other reason than my own youth, beams with sweet hues upon me.

‘It was time to go to the schoolroom: I went. That same schoolroom is rather pleasant in a morning; the sun then shines through the low lattice; the books are in order; there are no papers strewn about; the fire is clear and clean, no cinders have fallen, no ashes accumulated. I found Henry there, and he had brought with him Miss Keeldar: they were together.

‘I said she was lovelier than ever: she is. A fine rose, not deep but delicate, opens on her cheek; her eye, always dark, clear, and speaking, utters now a language I cannot render—it is the utterance, seen, not heard, through which angels must have communed when there was “silence in heaven.” Her hair was always dusk as night, and fine as silk; her neck was always fair, flexible, polished—but both have now

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