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 lose 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 present pleasure—that is to say, when it is of the kind to my taste. I enjoyed that day, though we travelled slowly, though it was cold, though it rained. Somewhat bare, flat, and treeless was the route along which our journey lay; and slimy canals crept, like half-torpid green snakes, beside the road; and formal pollard willows edged level fields, tilled like kitchen-garden beds. The sky, too, was monotonously gray; the atmosphere was stagnant and humid; yet amidst all these deadening influences my fancy budded fresh and my heart basked in sunshine. These feelings, however, were well kept in check by the secret but ceaseless consciousness of anxiety lying in wait on enjoyment, like a tiger crouched in a jungle. 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 sundown to bound ravenous from his ambush.

I had hoped we might reach Villette ere night set in, and that 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 time we gained its suburbs.

I know we passed through a gate where soldiers were stationed—so much I could see by lamplight; then, having left behind us the miry Chaussée, 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 then promptly claim and secure it, I stood apart, my eye fixed on that part of the vehicle in which I had seen my little portmanteau safely stowed, and upon which piles of additional bags and boxes were now heaped. One by one I saw these removed, lowered, and seized 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 case and brown paper parcel. The oil-cloth cover was lifted. I saw with distinct vision that not an umbrella, cloak, cane, hat-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 ask this question now, but I could not ask it then. I could say nothing whatever, not possessing a phrase of speaking French; and it was French, and French only, the whole world seemed now gabbling around me. What should I do? Approaching the conductor, I just laid my hand on his arm, pointed to a trunk, then to the diligence-roof, and tried to express a question with my eyes. He misunderstood me, seized the trunk indicated, and was about to hoist it on the vehicle.

“Let that alone, will you?” said a voice in good English; then, in correction, “Qu’est ce que vous faîtes donc? Cette malle est à moi.”

But I had heard the fatherland accents; they rejoiced my heart. I turned.

“Sir,” said 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 discriminating, for the moment, what sort of face it was to which my eyes were raised and on which they were fixed, 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.

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