The Blue Room

Prosper Mérimée

A young man was walking about agitatedly in the entrance hall of a railway station. He wore blue spectacles, and though he did not have a cold, he raised his handkerchief continually to his nose. In his left hand he carried a little black bag which contained, as I learned later, a silk dressing-gown and a pair of Turkish trousers.

From time to time he went to the door at the entrance, looked into the street, then pulled out his watch, and consulted the station clock. The train did not leave until an hour later; but there are people who are always afraid of being late. This train was not one of those that take people in a hurry: there were few first-class compartments. The time of day was not such as allowed members of the Stock Exchange to set out after business so as to dine in their country houses. When the passengers began to put in an appearance a Parisian would have recognized them from their style of dress as farmers or petty tradesmen from the suburbs. Yet every time that a man came into the station, every time that a carriage stopped at the door, the heart of the young man in the blue spectacles swelled like a balloon, his knees began to tremble, his bag was ready to slip from his hands, and his spectacles to fall from his nose where, to mention it in passing, they were set askew.

It was even worse when, after a long wait, there appeared, through a side door, coming just from the only quarter that was not the object of his continual watching, a woman dressed in black, with a thick veil over her face, who was holding in her hand a brown morocco bag containing, as I discovered later on, a wonderful dressing-gown and bedroom slippers of blue satin. The woman and the young man advanced towards one another, glancing right and left, never in front. They met, touched hands, and remained several minutes without saying a word, panting, gasping, in the grip of one of those poignant emotions for which I myself would give a hundred years of a philosopher’s life.

When they found strength to speak:

‘Leo,’ said the young woman (I have forgotten to say that she was young and pretty), ‘Leo, splendid! I would never have recognized you behind those blue spectacles.’

‘Splendid!’ said Leo. ‘I would never have recognized you behind that black veil.’

‘Splendid!’ she went on. ‘Let’s take our seats quickly; if the train were to go without us!’ (and she squeezed his arm hard). ‘Nobody has the least suspicion. I am at this moment with Clara and her husband, on the way to her country house, where I’m supposed to say good-bye to her to-morrow. And’, she added laughing and hanging her head, ‘she has gone away an hour ago, and to-morrow—after having spent my last evening with her!’ (again she squeezed his arm)—‘to-morrow in the forenoon, she will leave me at the station where I shall find Ursula, whom I have sent in advance to my aunt’s. Oh, I have foreseen everything. Let us get our tickets! It is impossible for any one to guess about us! Oh! if we are asked our names in the inn? I’ve forgotten already.’

‘M. and Madame Duru.’

‘Oh no! Not Duru. There was a bootmaker at the boarding-house called that.’

‘Well then, Dumont?’


‘That’s settled, but we won’t be asked.’

The bell rang, the door of the waiting-room opened, and the young woman, still carefully veiled, darted into a coach with her young companion. For the second time the bell rang; the door of the compartment was shut.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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