It was very well for Paulina to decline further correspondence with Graham till her father had sanctioned the intercourse; but Dr. Bretton could not live within a league of the Hôtel Crécy and not contrive to visit there often. Both lovers meant at first, I believe, to be distant; they kept their intention so far as demonstrative courtship went, but in feeling they soon drew very near.

All that was best in Graham sought Paulina; whatever in him was noble awoke and grew in her presence. With his past admiration of Miss Fanshawe I suppose his intellect had little to do, but his whole intellect and his highest tastes came in question now. These, like all his faculties, were active, eager for nutriment, and alive to gratification when it came.

I cannot say that Paulina designedly led him to talk of books, or formally proposed to herself for a moment the task of winning him to reflection, or planned the improvement of his mind, or so much as fancied his mind could in any one respect be improved. She thought him very perfect. It was Graham himself who, at first, by the merest chance, mentioned some book he had been reading; and when in her response sounded a welcome harmony of sympathies, something pleasant to his soul, he talked on, more and better perhaps than he had ever talked before on such subjects. She listened with delight, and answered with animation. In each successive answer Graham heard a music waxing finer and finer to his sense; in each he found a suggestive, persuasive, magic accent that opened a scarce-known treasure-house within, showed him unsuspected power in his own mind, and, what was better, latent goodness in his heart. Each liked the way in which the other talked. The voices, the diction, the expression pleased; each keenly relished the flavour of the other’s wit; they met each other’s meaning with strange quickness, their thoughts often matched like carefully-chosen pearls. Graham had wealth of mirth by nature. Paulina possessed no such inherent flow of animal spirits; unstimulated, she inclined to be thoughtful and pensive, but now she seemed merry as a lark; in her lover’s genial presence she glanced like some soft glad light. How beautiful she grew in her happiness, I can hardly express, but I wondered to see her. As to that gentle ice of hers, that reserve on which she had depended, where was it now? Ah! Graham would not long bear it; he brought with him a generous influence that soon thawed the timid, self-imposed restriction.

Now were the old Bretton days talked over, perhaps brokenly at first, with a sort of smiling diffidence, then with opening candour and still growing confidence. Graham had made for himself a better opportunity than that he had wished me to give; he had earned independence of the collateral help that disobliging Lucy had refused; all his reminiscences of “little Polly” found their proper expression in his own pleasant tones, by his own kind and handsome lips; how much better than if suggested by me!

More than once when we were alone Paulina would tell me how wonderful and curious it was to discover the richness and accuracy of his memory in this matter; how, while he was looking at her, recollections would seem to be suddenly quickened in his mind. He reminded her that she had once gathered his head in her arms, caressed his leonine graces, and cried out, “Graham, I do like you!” He told her how she would set a foot-stool beside him, and climb by its aid to his knee. At this day he could recall the sensation of her little hands smoothing his cheek, or burying themselves in his thick mane. He remembered the touch of her small forefinger, placed half tremblingly, half curiously, in the cleft in his chin, the lisp, the look with which she would name it “a pretty dimple,” then seek his eyes and question why they pierced so, telling him he had a “nice, strange face—far nicer, far stranger, than either his mamma or Lucy Snowe.”

“Child as I was,” remarked Paulina, “I wonder how I dared be so venturous. To me he seems now all sacred, his locks are inaccessible; and, Lucy, I feel a sort of fear when I look at his firm, marble chin, at his straight Greek features. Women are called beautiful, Lucy; he is not like a woman, therefore I suppose he is not beautiful. But what is he, then? Do other people see him with my eyes? Do you admire him?”

“I’ll tell you what I do, Paulina,” was once my answer to her many questions. “I never see him. I looked at him twice or thrice about a year ago, before he recognized me, and then I shut my eyes; and if he were to cross their balls twelve times between each day’s sunset and sunrise, except from memory, I should hardly know what shape had gone by.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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