To wonder sadly, did I say? No; a new influence began to act upon my life, and sadness, for a certain space, was held at bay. Conceive a dell, deep-hollowed in forest secrecy; it lies in dimness and mist; its turf is dank, its herbage pale and humid. A storm or an axe makes a wide gap amongst the oak-trees; the breeze sweeps in; the sun looks down; the sad, cold dell becomes a deep cup of lustre; high summer pours her blue glory and her golden light out of that beauteous sky, which till now the starved hollow never saw.

A new creed became mine—a belief in happiness.

It was three weeks since the adventure of the garret, and I possessed in that case, box, drawer upstairs, casketed with that first letter, four companions like to it, traced by the same firm pen, sealed with the same clear seal, full of the same vital comfort. Vital comfort it seemed to me then. I read them in after years. They were kind letters enough—pleasing letters, because composed by one well-pleased. In the two last there were three or four closing lines half gay, half tender, “by feeling touched, but not subdued.” Time, dear reader, mellowed them to a beverage of this mild quality; but when I first tasted their elixir, fresh from the fount so honoured, it seemed juice of a divine vintage, a draught which Hebe might fill, and the very gods approve.

Does the reader, remembering what was said some pages back, care to ask how I answered these letters—whether under the dry, stinting check of Reason, or according to the full, liberal impulse of Feeling?

To speak truth, I compromised matters; I served two masters; I bowed down in the house of Rimmon, and lifted the heart at another shrine. I wrote to these letters two answers—one for my own relief, the other for Graham’s perusal.

To begin with, Feeling and I turned Reason out of doors, drew against her bar and bolt; then we sat down, spread our paper, dipped in the ink an eager pen, and, with deep enjoyment, poured out our sincere heart. When we had done—when two sheets were covered with the language of a strongly-adherent affection, a rooted and active gratitude (once for all, in this parenthesis, I disclaim, with the utmost scorn, every sneaking suspicion of what are called “warmer feelings:” women do not entertain these “warmer feelings” where, from the commencement, through the whole progress of an acquaintance, they have never once been cheated of the conviction that to do so would be to commit a moral absurdity; nobody ever launches into Love unless he has seen or dreamed the rising of Hope’s star over Love’s troubled waters)—when, then, I had given expression to a closely-clinging and deeply-honouring attachment,—an attachment that wanted to attract to itself and take to its own lot all that was painful in the destiny of its object—that would, if it could, have absorbed and conducted away all storms and lightnings from an existence viewed with a passion of solicitude,—then, just at that moment, the doors of my heart would shake, bolt and bar would yield, Reason would leap in vigorous and revengeful, snatch the full sheets, read, sneer, erase, tear up, rewrite, fold, seal, direct, and send a terse, curt missive of a page. She did right.

I did not live on letters only: I was visited, I was looked after; once a week I was taken out to La Terrasse; always I was made much of. Dr. Bretton failed not to tell me why he was so kind—“to keep away the nun,” he said. “He was determined to dispute with her her prey. He had taken,” he declared, “a thorough dislike to her, chiefly on account of that white facecloth and those cold gray eyes. The moment he heard of those odious particulars,” he affirmed, “consummate disgust had incited him to oppose her; he was determined to try whether he or she was the cleverest, and he only wished she would once more look in upon me when he was present.” But that she never did. In short, he regarded me scientifically in the light of a patient, and at once exercised his professional skill, and gratified his natural benevolence, by a course of cordial and attentive treatment.

One evening, the first in December, I was walking by myself in the carré. It was six o’clock, the classe doors were closed, but within, the pupils, rampant in the license of evening recreation, were counterfeiting a miniature chaos. The carré was quite dark, except a red light shining under and about the stove; the

  By PanEris using Melati.

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