The Happy Pair

The day succeeding this remarkable midsummer night proved no common day. I do not mean that it brought signs in heaven above, or portents on the earth beneath, nor do I allude to meteorological phenomena, to storm, flood, or whirlwind. On the contrary, the sun rose jocund, with a July face. Morning decked her beauty with rubies, and so filled her lap with roses that they fell from her in showers, making her path blush. The hours woke fresh as nymphs, and emptying on the early hills their dew-vials, they stepped out dismantled of vapour; shadowless, azure, and glorious, they led the sun’s steeds on a burning and unclouded course.

In short, it was as fine a day as the finest summer could boast; but I doubt whether I was not the sole inhabitant of the Rue Fossette who cared or remembered to note this pleasant fact. Another thought busied all other heads—a thought, indeed, which had its share in my meditations. But this master consideration, not possessing for me so entire a novelty, so overwhelming a suddenness, especially so dense a mystery, as it offered to the majority of my co-speculators thereon, left me somewhat more open than the rest to any collateral observation or impression.

Still, while walking in the garden, feeling the sunshine, and marking the blooming and growing plants, I pondered the same subject the whole house discussed.

What subject?

Merely this. When matins came to be said, there was a place vacant in the first rank of boarders. When breakfast was served, there remained a coffee-cup unclaimed. When the housemaid made the beds, she found in one a bolster laid lengthwise, clad in a cap and nightgown; and when Ginevra Fanshawe’s music-mistress came early, as usual, to give the morning lesson, that accomplished and promising young person, her pupil, failed utterly to be forthcoming.

High and low was Miss Fanshawe sought; through length and breadth was the house ransacked—vainly. Not a trace, not an indication, not so much as a scrap of a billet rewarded the search. The nymph was vanished, engulfed in the past night, like a shooting star swallowed up by darkness.

Deep was the dismay of surveillante teachers, deeper the horror of the defaulting directress. Never had I seen Madame Beck so pale or so appalled. Here was a blow struck at her tender part, her weak side; here was damage done to her interest. How, too, had the un-toward event happened? By what outlet had the fugitive taken wing? Not a casement was found unfastened, not a pane of glass broken; all the doors were bolted secure. Never to this day has Madame Beck obtained satisfaction on this point, nor indeed has anybody else concerned, save and excepting one, Lucy Snowe, who could not forget how, to facilitate a certain enterprise, a certain great door had been drawn softly to its lintel. closed, indeed, but neither bolted nor secure. The thundering carriage-and-pair encountered were now likewise recalled, as well as that puzzling signal, the waved handkerchief.

From these premises, and one or two others, inaccesible to any but myself, I could draw but one inference. It was a case of elopement. Morally certain on this head, and seeing Madame Beck’s profound embarrassment, I at last communicated my conviction. Having alluded to M. de Hamal’s suit, I found, as I expected, that Madame Beck was perfectly au fait to that affair. She had long since discussed it with Mrs. Cholmondeley, and laid her own responsibility in the business on that lady’s shoulders. To Mrs. Cholmondeley and M. de Bassompierre she now had recourse.

We found that the Hôtel Crécy was already alive to what had happened. Ginevra had written to her cousin Paulina vaguely signifying hymeneal intentions. Communications had been received from the family of De Hamal. M. de Bassompierre was on the track of the fugitives. He overtook them too late.

In the course of the week the post brought me a note. I may as well transcribe it. It contains explanation on more than one point:—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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