“It is only cotton,” I alleged hurriedly, “and cheaper, and washes better, than any other colour.”

“Et Mademoiselle Lucie est coquette comme dix Parisiennes,” he answered. “A-t-on jamais vu une Anglaise pareille. Regardez plutôt son chapeau, et ses gants, et ses brodequins!” These articles of dress were just like what my companions wore—certainly not one whit smarter—perhaps rather plainer than most; but monsieur had now got hold of his text, and I began to chafe under the expected sermon. It went off, however, as mildly as the menace of a storm sometimes passes on a summer day. I got but one flash of sheet lightning in the shape of a single bantering smile from his eyes, and then he said,—

“Courage!—à vrai dire je ne suis pas fâché, peutêtre même suis je content qu’on s’est fait si belle pour ma petite fête.”

“Mais ma robe n’est pas belle, monsieur—elle n’est que propre.”

“J’aime la propreté,” said he. In short, he was not to be dissatisfied; the sun of good-humour was to triumph on this auspicious morning. It consumed scudding clouds ere they sullied its disc.

And now we were in the country, amongst what they called “les bois et les petits sentiers.” These woods and lanes, a month later, would offer but a dusty and doubtful seclusion; now, however, in their May greenness and morning repose they looked very pleasant.

We reached a certain well, planted round, in the taste of Labassecour, with an orderly circle of lime- trees. Here a halt was called. On the green swell of ground surrounding this well we were ordered to be seated, monsieur taking his place in our midst, and suffering us to gather in a knot round him. Those who liked him more than they feared came close, and these were chiefly little ones; those who feared him more than they liked kept somewhat aloof; those in whom much affection had given, even to what remained of fear, a pleasurable zest, observed the greatest distance.

He began to tell us a story. Well could he narrate, in such a diction as children love and learned men emulate—a diction simple in its strength and strong in its simplicity. There were beautiful touches in that little tale, sweet glimpses of feeling and hues of description that, while I listened, sank into my mind, and since have never faded. He tinted a twilight scene; I hold it in memory still. Such a picture I have never looked on from artist’s pencil.

I have said that, for myself, I had no impromptu faculty; and perhaps that very deficiency made me marvel the more at one who possessed it in perfection. M. Emanuel was not a man to write books; but I have heard him lavish, with careless, unconscious prodigality, such mental wealth as books seldom boast. His mind was indeed my library, and whenever it was opened to me I entered bliss. Intellectually imperfect as I was, I could read little. There were few bound and printed volumes that did not weary me, whose perusal did not fag and blind; but his tones of thought were collyrium to the spirit’s eyes. Over their contents inward sight grew clear and strong. I used to think what a delight it would be for one who loved him better than he loved himself to gather and store up those handfuls of gold-dust, so recklessly flung to heaven’s reckless winds.

His story done, he approached the little knoll where I and Ginevra sat apart. In his usual mode of demanding an opinion (he had not reticence to wait till it was voluntarily offered) he asked,—

“Were you interested?”

According to my wonted undemonstrative fashion, I simply answered, “Yes.”

“Was it good?”

“Very good.”

“Yet I could not write that down,” said he.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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