and any girl setting foot there would have rendered herself liable to as severe a penalty as the mild rules of Madame Beck’s establishment permitted. Teachers might indeed go there with impunity; but as the walk was narrow, and the neglected shrubs were grown very thick and close on each side, weaving overhead a roof of branch and leaf which the sun’s rays penetrated but in rare checkers, this alley was seldom entered even during day, and after dusk was carefully shunned.

From the first I was tempted to make an exception to this rule of avoidance; the seclusion, the very gloom of the walk attracted me. For a long time the fear of seeming singular scared me away; but by degrees, as people became accustomed to me and my habits, and to such shades of peculiarity as were engrained in my nature—shades certainly not striking enough to interest, and perhaps not prominent enough to offend, but born in and with me, and no more to be parted with than my identity—by slow degrees I became a frequenter of this strait and narrow path. I made myself gardener of some tintless flowers that grew between its closelyranked shrubs. I cleared away the relics of past autumns choking up a rustic seat at the far end. Borrowing of Goton, the cuisinière, a pail of water and a scrubbingbrush, I made this seat clean. Madame saw me at work and smiled approbation, whether sincerely or not I don’t know; but she seemed sincere.

“Voyez-vous!” cried she, “comme elle est propre cette demoiselle Lucie! Vous aimez donc cette allée, meess?”

“Yes,” I said; “it is quiet and shady.”

“C’est juste,” cried she, with an air of bonté; and she kindly recommended me to confine myself to it as much as I chose, saying, that as I was not charged with the surveillance, I need not trouble myself to walk with the pupils, only I might permit her children to come there, to talk English with me.

On the night in question I was sitting on the hidden seat reclaimed from fungi and mould, listening to what seemed the far-off sounds of the city. Far off, in truth, they were not. This school was in the city’s centre, hence it was but five minutes’ walk to the park, scarce ten to buildings of palatial splendour. Quite near were wide streets brightly lit, teeming at this moment with life; carriages were rolling through them, to balls or to the opera. The same hour which tolled curfew for our convent, which extinguished each lamp, and dropped the curtain round each couch, rang for the gay city about us the summons to festal enjoyment. Of this contrast I thought not, however. Gay instincts my nature had few. Ball or opera I had never seen; and though often I had heard them described, and even wished to see them, it was not the wish of one who hopes to partake a pleasure if she could only reach it, who feels fitted to shine in some bright distant sphere, could she but thither win her way; it was no yearning to attain, no hunger to taste—only the calm desire to look on a new thing.

A moon was in the sky—not a full moon, but a young crescent. I saw her through a space in the boughs overhead. She and the stars, visible beside her, were no strangers where all else was strange. My childhood knew them. I had seen that golden sign with the dark globe in its curve leaning back on azure beside an old thorn at the top of an old field in old England in longpast days, just as it now leaned back beside a stately spire in this Continental capital.

Oh, my childhood! I had feelings. Passive as I lived, little as I spoke, cold as I looked, when I thought of past days I could feel. About the present it was better to be stoical; about the future—such a future as mine—to be dead. And in catalepsy and a dead trance I studiously held the quick of my nature.

At that time, I well remember, whatever could excite—certain accidents of the weather, for instance, were almost dreaded by me, because they woke the being I was always lulling, and stirred up a craving cry I could not satisfy. One night a thunderstorm broke; a sort of hurricane shook us in our beds. The Catholics rose in panic and prayed to their saints. As for me, the tempest took hold of me with tyranny; I was roughly roused and obliged to live. I got up and dressed myself, and creeping outside the casement close by my bed, sat on its ledge, with my feet on the roof of a lower adjoining building. It was wet, it was wild, it was pitchdark. Within the dormitory they gathered round the night-lamp in consternation,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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