I awoke next morning with courage revived and spirits refreshed. Physical debility no longer enervated my judgment; my mind felt prompt and clear.

Just as I finished dressing, a tap came to the door. I said, “Come in,” expecting the chambermaid, whereas a rough man walked in and said,—

“Gif me your keys, meess.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Gif!” said he impatiently; and as he half snatched them from my hand, he added, “All right; haf your tronc soon.”

Fortunately it did turn out all right; he was from the custom-house. Where to go to get some breakfast I could not tell; but I proceeded, not without hesitation, to descend.

I now observed, what I had not noticed in my extreme weariness last night—namely, that this inn was, in fact, a large hotel; and as I slowly descended the broad staircase, halting on each step (for I was in wonderfully little haste to get down), I gazed at the high ceiling above me, at the painted walls around, at the wide windows which filled the house with light, at the veined marble I trod (for the steps were all of marble, though uncarpeted and not very clean), and contrasting all this with the dimensions of the closet assigned to me as a chamber, with the extreme modesty of its appointments, I fell into a philosophizing mood.

Much I marvelled at the sagacity evinced by waiters and chambermaids in proportioning the accommodation to the guest. How could inn-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 what 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 digestion. There were many other people breakfasting at other 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.”

Breakfast over, I must again move—in what direction? “Go to Villette,” said an inward voice, prompted doubtless by the recollection of this slight sentence uttered carelessly and at random by Miss Fanshawe, as she bid me good-bye,—

“I wish you would come to Madame Beck’s. She has some marmots whom you might look after. She wants an English gouvernante, or was wanting one two months ago.”

Who Madame Beck was, where she lived, I knew not. I had asked, but the question passed unheard. Miss Fanshawe, hurried away by her friends, left it unanswered. I presumed Villette to be her residence. To Villette I would go. The distance was forty miles. I knew I was catching at straws, but in the wide and weltering deep where I found myself I would have caught at cobwebs. Having inquired about the means of travelling to Villette, 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,

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