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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 1
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The Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 1 Post by :edwinc Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2739

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The Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 1

BOOK IX CHAPTER I

On waking some morning, have you ever felt, reader, as if a change for the brighter in the world, without and within you, had suddenly come to pass-some new glory has been given to the sunshine, some fresh balm to the air-you feel younger, and happier, and lighter, in the very beat of your heart-you almost fancy you hear the chime of some spiritual music far off, as if in the deeps of heaven? You are not at first conscious how, or wherefore, this change has been brought about. Is it the effect of a dream in the gone sleep, that has made this morning so different from mornings that have dawned before? And while vaguely asking yourself that question, you become aware that the cause is no mere illusion, that it has its substance in words spoken by living lips, in things that belong to the work-day world.

It was thus that Isaura woke the morning after the conversation with Alain de Rochebriant, and as certain words, then spoken, echoed back on her ear, she knew why she was so happy, why the world was so changed.

In those words she heard the voice of Graham Vane--nor she had not deceived herself--she was loved! she was loved! What mattered that long cold interval of absence? She had not forgotten--she could not believe that absence had brought forgetfulness. There are moments when we insist on judging another's heart by our own. All would be explained some day--all would come right.

How lovely was the face that reflected itself in the glass as she stood before it, smoothing back her long hair, murmuring sweet snatches of Italian love-song, and blushing with sweeter love-thoughts as she sang! All that had passed in that year so critical to her outer life--the authorship, the fame, the public career, the popular praise--vanished from her mind as a vapour that rolls from the face of a lake to which the sunlight restores the smile of a brightened heaven.

She was more the girl now than she had ever been since the day on which she sat reading Tasso on the craggy shore of Sorrento.

Singing still as she passed from her chamber, and entering the sitting-room, which fronted the east, and seemed bathed in the sunbeams of deepening May, she took her bird from its cage, and stopped her song to cover it with kisses, which perhaps yearned for vent somewhere.

Later in the day she went out to visit Valerie. Recalling the altered manner of her young friend, her sweet nature became troubled. She divined that Valerie had conceived some jealous pain which she longed to heal; she could not bear the thought of leaving any one that day unhappy. Ignorant before of the girl's feelings towards Alain, she now partly guessed them--one woman who loves in secret is clairvoyante as to such secrets in another.

Valerie received her visitor with a coldness she did not attempt to disguise. Not seeming to notice this, Isaura commenced the conversation with frank mention of Rochebriant. "I have to thank you so much, dear Valerie, for a pleasure you could not anticipate--that of talking about an absent friend, and hearing the praise he deserved from one so capable of appreciating excellence as M. de Rochebriant appears to be."

"You were talking to M. de Rochebriant of an absent friend--ah! you seemed indeed very much interested in the conversation--"

"Do not wonder at that, Valerie; and do not grudge me the happiest moments I have known for months."

"In talking with M. de Rochebriant! No doubt, Mademoiselle Cicogna, you found him very charming."

To her surprise and indignation, Valerie here felt the arm of Isaura tenderly entwining her waist, and her face drawn towards Isaura's sisterly kiss.

"Listen to me, naughty child-listen and believe. M. de Rochebriant can never be charming to me--never touch a chord in my heart or my fancy except as friend to another, or--kiss me in your turn, Valerie--as suitor to yourself."

Valerie here drew back her pretty childlike head, gazed keenly a moment into Isaura's eyes, felt convinced by the limpid candour of their unmistakable honesty, and flinging herself on her friend's bosom, kissed her passionately, and burst into tears.

The complete reconciliation between the two girls was thus peacefully effected; and then Isaura had to listen, at no small length, to the confidences poured into her ears by Valerie, who was fortunately too engrossed by her own hopes and doubts to exact confidences in return. Valerie's was one of those impulsive eager natures that longs for a confidante. Not so Isaura's. Only when Valerie had unburthened her heart, and been soothed and caressed into happy trust in the future, did she recall Isaura's explanatory words, and said, archly: "And your absent friend? Tell me about him. Is he as handsome as Alain?"

"Nay," said Isaura, rising to take up the mantle and hat she had laid aside on entering, "they say that the colour of a flower is in our vision, not in the leaves." Then with a grave melancholy in the look she fixed upon Valerie, she added: "Rather than distrust of me should occasion you pain, I have pained myself, in making clear to you the reason why I felt interest in M. de Rochebriant's conversation. In turn, I ask of you a favour--do not on this point question me farther. There are some things in our past which influence the present, but to which we dare not assign a future--on which we cannot talk to another. What soothsayer can tell us if the dream of a yesterday will be renewed on the night of a morrow? All is said--we trust one another, dearest."

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