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.

Had she, indeed, floating visions of adopting Dr. John as a husband, taking him to her well-furnished home, endowing him with her savings, which were said to amount to a moderate competency, and making him comfortable for the rest of his life? Did Dr. John suspect her of such visions? I have met him coming out of her presence with a mischievous half-smile about his lips, and in his eyes a look as of masculine vanity elate and tickled. With all his good looks and good nature he was not perfect; he must have been very imperfect if he roguishly encouraged aims he never intended to be successful. But did he not intend them to be successful? People said he had no money, that he was wholly dependent upon his profession. Madame, though perhaps some fourteen years his senior, was yet the sort of woman never to grow old, never to wither, never to break down. They certainly were on good 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 he waited I do not know, 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 disagreed with her, and I doubted whether it ought to be continued. I waited impatiently for the doctor’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 portresse. It was his custom to mount straight to the nursery, taking about three degrees of the staircase at once, and coming upon us like a cheerful surprise. Five minutes elapsed—ten—and I saw and heard nothing of him. What could he be doing? Possibly waiting in the corridor below. Little Georgette still piped her plaintive wail, appealing to me by her familiar term, “Minnie, Minnie, me very poorly!” till my heart ached. I descended to ascertain why he did not come. The corridor was empty. Whither was he vanished? Was he with madame in the salle à manger? Impossible. I had left her but a short time since, dressing in her own chamber. I listened. Three pupils were just then hard at work practising in three proximate rooms—the dining-room and the greater and lesser drawing-rooms, between which and the corridor there was but the portresse’s cabinet communicating with the salons, and intended originally for a boudoir. Farther off, at a fourth instrument in the oratory, a whole class of a dozen or more were taking a singing lesson, and just then joining in a barcarolle (I think they called it), whereof I yet remember these words, “fraîchë brisë” and “Venisë.” Under these circumstances, what could I hear? A great deal, certainly, had it only been to the purpose.

Yes, I heard a giddy treble laugh in the above-mentioned little cabinet, close by the door of which I stood—that door half-unclosed; a man’s voice, in a soft, deep, pleading tone, uttered some words, whereof I only caught the adjuration, “for God’s sake.” Then, after a second’s pause, forth issued Dr. John, his eye full shining, but not with either joy or triumph, his fair English cheek high coloured, a baffled, tortured, anxious, and yet a tender meaning on his brow.

The open door served me as a screen; but had I been full in his way, I believe he would have passed without seeing me. Some mortification, some strong vexation, had hold of his soul—or rather, to write my impressions now as I received them at the time, I should say some sorrow, 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 house 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 portresse’s sole use; and she, Rosine Matou, an unprincipled though pretty little French grisette, airy, fickle, dressy, vain, and mercenary—it was not, surely, to her hand he owed the ordeal through which he seemed to have passed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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