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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Professor - Chapter XXII
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The Professor - Chapter XXII Post by :yasmin Category :Long Stories Author :Charlotte Bronte Date :January 2011 Read :2769

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The Professor - Chapter XXII

A WEEK is gone; LE JOUR DES NOCES arrived; the marriage was
solemnized at St. Jacques; Mdlle. Zoraide became Madame Pelet,
NEE Reuter; and, in about an hour after this transformation, "the
happy pair," as newspapers phrase it, were on their way to Paris;
where, according to previous arrangement, the honeymoon was to be
spent. The next day I quitted the pensionnat. Myself and my
chattels (some books and clothes) were soon transferred to a
modest lodging I had hired in a street not far off. In half an
hour my clothes were arranged in a commode, my books on a shelf,
and the "flitting" was effected. I should not have been unhappy
that day had not one pang tortured me--a longing to go to the Rue
Notre Dame aux Neiges, resisted, yet irritated by an inward
resolve to avoid that street till such time as the mist of doubt
should clear from my prospects.

It was a sweet September evening--very mild, very still; I had
nothing to do; at that hour I knew Frances would be equally
released from occupation; I thought she might possibly be wishing
for her master, I knew I wished for my pupil. Imagination began
with her low whispers, infusing into my soul the soft tale of
pleasures that might be.

"You will find her reading or writing," said she; "you can take
your seat at her side; you need not startle her peace by undue
excitement; you need not embarrass her manner by unusual action
or language. Be as you always are; look over what she has
written; listen while she reads; chide her, or quietly approve;
you know the effect of either system; you know her smile when
pleased, you you know the play of her looks when roused; you have
the secret of awakening that expression you will, and you can
choose amongst that pleasant variety. With you she will sit
silent as long as it suits you to talk alone; you can hold her
under a potent spell: intelligent as she is, eloquent as she can
be, you can seal her lips, and veil her bright countenance with
diffidence; yet, you know, she is not all monotonous mildness;
you have seen, with a sort of strange pleasure, revolt, scorn,
austerity, bitterness, lay energetic claim to a place in her
feelings and physiognomy; you know that few could rule her as you
do; you know she might break, but never bend under the hand of
Tyranny and Injustice, but Reason and Affection can guide her by
a sign. Try their influence now. Go--they are not passions;
you may handle them safely."

"I will NOT go was my answer to the sweet temptress. "A man is
master of himself to a certain point, but not beyond it. Could I
seek Frances to-night, could I sit with her alone in a quiet
room, and address her only in the language of Reason and
Affection?"

"No," was the brief, fervent reply of that Love which had
conquered and now controlled me.

Time seemed to stagnate; the sun would not go down; my watch
ticked, but I thought the hands were paralyzed.

"What a hot evening!" I cried, throwing open the lattice; for,
indeed, I had seldom felt so feverish. Hearing a step ascending
the common stair, I wondered whether the "locataire," now
mounting to his apartments, were as unsettled in mind and
condition as I was, or whether he lived in the calm of certain
resources, and in the freedom of unfettered feelings. What! was
he coming in person to solve the problem hardly proposed in
inaudible thought? He had actually knocked at the door--at MY
door; a smart, prompt rap; and, almost before I could invite him
in, he was over the threshold, and had closed the door behind
him.

"And how are you?" asked an indifferent, quiet voice, in the
English language; while my visitor, without any sort of bustle or
introduction, put his hat on the table, and his gloves into his
hat, and drawing the only armchair the room afforded a little
forward, seated himself tranquilly therein.

"Can't you speak?" he inquired in a few moments, in a tone whose
nonchalance seemed to intimate that it was much the same thing
whether I answered or not. The fact is, I found it desirable to
have recourse to my good friends "les besicles;" not exactly to
ascertain the identity of my visitor--for I already knew him,
confound his impudence! but to see how he looked--to get a clear
notion of his mien and countenance. I wiped the glasses very
deliberately, and put them on quite as deliberately; adjusting
them so as not to hurt the bridge of my nose or get entangled in
my short tufts of dun hair. I was sitting in the window-seat,
with my back to the light, and I had him VIS-A-VIS; a position he
would much rather have had reversed; for, at any time, he
preferred scrutinizing to being scrutinized. Yes, it was HE, and
no mistake, with his six feet of length arranged in a sitting
attitude; with his dark travelling surtout with its velvet
collar, his gray pantaloons, his black stock, and his face, the
most original one Nature ever modelled, yet the least obtrusively
so; not one feature that could be termed marked or odd, yet the
effect of the whole unique. There is no use in attempting to
describe what is indescribable. Being in no hurry to address
him, I sat and stared at my ease.

"Oh, that's your game--is it?" said he at last. "Well, we'll see
which is soonest tired." And he slowly drew out a fine
cigar-case, picked one to his taste, lit it, took a book from the
shelf convenient to his hand, then leaning back, proceeded to
smoke and read as tranquilly as if he had been in his own room,
in Grove-street, X---shire, England. I knew he was capable of
continuing in that attitude till midnight, if he conceived the
whim, so I rose, and taking the book from his hand, I said,--

"You did not ask for it, and you shall not have it."

"It is silly and dull," he observed, "so I have not lost much;"
then the spell being broken, he went on. "I thought you lived at
Pelet's; I went there this afternoon. expecting to be starved to
death by sitting in a boarding-school drawing-room, and they told
me you were gone, had departed this morning; you had left your
address behind you though, which I wondered at; it was a more
practical and sensible precaution than I should have imagined you
capable of. Why did you leave?"

"Because M. Pelet has just married the lady whom you and Mr.
Brown assigned to me as my wife."

"Oh, indeed!" replied Hunsden with a short laugh; "so you've lost
both your wife and your place?"

"Precisely so."

I saw him give a quick, covert glance all round my room; he
marked its narrow limits, its scanty furniture: in an instant he
had comprehended the state of matters--had absolved me from the
crime of prosperity. A curious effect this discovery wrought in
his strange mind; I am morally certain that if he had found me
installed in a handsome parlour, lounging on a soft couch, with a
pretty, wealthy wife at my side, he would have hated me; a brief,
cold, haughty visit, would in such a case have been the extreme
limit of his civilities, and never would he have come near me
more, so long as the tide of fortune bore me smoothly on its
surface; but the painted furniture, the bare walls, the cheerless
solitude of my room relaxed his rigid pride, and I know not what
softening change had taken place both in his voice and look ere
he spoke again.

"You have got another place?"

"No."

"You are in the way of getting one?"

"No."

"That is bad; have you applied to Brown?"

"No, indeed."

"You had better; he often has it in his power to give useful
information in such matters."

"He served me once very well; I have no claim on him, and am not
in the humour to bother him again."

"Oh, if you're bashful, and dread being intrusive, you need only
commission me. I shall see him to-night; I can put in a word."

"I beg you will not, Mr. Hunsden; I am in your debt already; you
did me an important service when I was at X----; got me out of a
den where I was dying: that service I have never repaid, and at
present I decline positively adding another item to the account."

"If the wind sits that way, I'm satisfied. I thought my
unexampled generosity in turning you out of that accursed
counting-house would be duly appreciated some day: 'Cast your
bread on the waters, and it shall be found after many days,' say
the Scriptures. Yes, that's right, lad--make much of me--I'm a
nonpareil: there's nothing like me in the common herd. In the
meantime, to put all humbug aside and talk sense for a few
moments, you would be greatly the better of a situation, and what
is more, you are a fool if you refuse to take one from any hand
that offers it."

"Very well, Mr. Hunsden; now you have settled that point, talk of
something else. What news from X----?"

"I have not settled that point, or at least there is another to
settle before we get to X----. Is this Miss Zenobie" (Zoraide,
interposed I)--"well, Zoraide--is she really married to Pelet?"

"I tell you yes--and if you don't believe me, go and ask the cure
of St. Jacques."

"And your heart is broken?"

"I am not aware that it is; it feels all right--beats as usual."

"Then your feelings are less superfine than I took them to be;
you must be a coarse, callous character, to bear such a thwack
without staggering under it."

"Staggering under it? What the deuce is there to stagger under
in the circumstance of a Belgian schoolmistress marrying a
French schoolmaster? The progeny will doubtless be a strange
hybrid race; but that's their Look out--not mine."

"He indulges in scurrilous jests, and the bride was his affianced
one!"

"Who said so?"

"Brown."

I'll tell you what, Hunsden--Brown is an old gossip."

"He is; but in the meantime, if his gossip be founded on less
than fact--if you took no particular interest in Miss Zoraide
--why, O youthful pedagogue! did you leave your place in
consequence of her becoming Madame Pelet?"

"Because--" I felt my face grow a little hot; "because--in
short, Mr. Hunsden, I decline answering any more questions," and
I plunged my hands deep in my breeches pocket.

Hunsden triumphed: his eyes--his laugh announced victory.

"What the deuce are you laughing at, Mr. Hunsden?"

"At your exemplary composure. Well, lad, I'll not bore you; I
see how it is: Zoraide has jilted you--married some one richer,
as any sensible woman would have done if she had had the chance."

I made no reply--I let him think so, not feeling inclined to
enter into an explanation of the real state of things, and as
little to forge a false account; but it was not easy to blind
Hunsden; my very silence, instead of convincing him that he had
hit the truth, seemed to render him doubtful about it; he went
on:--

"I suppose the affair has been conducted as such affairs always
are amongst rational people: you offered her your youth and your
talents-such as they are--in exchange for her position and money:
I don't suppose you took appearance, or what is called LOVE, into
the account--for I understand she is older than you, and Brown
says, rather sensible-looking than beautiful. She, having then
no chance of making a better bargain, was at first inclined to
come to terms with you, but Pelet--the head or a flourishing
school--stepped in with a higher bid; she accepted, and he has
got her: a correct transaction--perfectly so--business-like and
legitimate. And now we'll talk of something else."

"Do," said I, very glad to dismiss the topic, and especially glad
to have baffled the sagacity of my cross-questioner--if, indeed,
I had baffled it; for though his words now led away from the
dangerous point, his eyes, keen and watchful, seemed still
preoccupied with the former idea.

"You want to hear news from X----? And what interest can you
have in X----? You left no friends there, for you made none.
Nobody ever asks after you--neither man nor woman; and if I
mention your name in company, the men look as if I had spoken of
Prester John; and the women sneer covertly. Our X---- belles
must have disliked you. How did you excite their displeasure?"

"I don't know. I seldom spoke to them--they were nothing to me.
I considered them only as something to be glanced at from a
distance; their dresses and faces were often pleasing enough to
the eye: but I could not understand their conversation, nor even
read their countenances. When I caught snatches of what they
said, I could never make much of it; and the play of their lips
and eyes did not help me at all."

"That was your fault, not theirs. There are sensible, as well as
handsome women in X----; women it is worth any man's while to
talk to, and with whom I can talk with pleasure: but you had and
have no pleasant address; there is nothing in you to induce a
woman to be affable. I have remarked you sitting near the door
in a room full of company, bent on hearing, not on speaking; on
observing, not on entertaining; looking frigidly shy at the
commencement of a party, confusingly vigilant about the middle,
and insultingly weary towards the end. Is that the way, do you
think, ever to communicate pleasure or excite interest? No; and
if you are generally unpopular, it is because you deserve to be
so."

"Content!" I ejaculated.

"No, you are not content; you see beauty always turning its back
on you; you are mortified and then you sneer. I verily believe
all that is desirable on earth--wealth, reputation, love--will
for ever to you be the ripe grapes on the high trellis: you'll
look up at them; they will tantalize in you the lust of the eye;
but they are out of reach: you have not the address to fetch a
ladder, and you'll go away calling them sour."

Cutting as these words might have been under some circumstances,
they drew no blood now. My life was changed; my experience had
been varied since I left X----, but Hunsden could not know this;
he had seen me only in the character of Mr. Crimsworth's clerk--a
dependant amongst wealthy strangers, meeting disdain with a hard
front, conscious of an unsocial and unattractive exterior,
refusing to sue for notice which I was sure would be withheld,
declining to evince an admiration which I knew would be scorned
as worthless. He could not be aware that since then youth and
loveliness had been to me everyday objects; that I had studied
them at leisure and closely, and had seen the plain texture of
truth under the embroidery of appearance; nor could he,
keen-sighted as he was, penetrate into my heart, search my
brain, and read my peculiar sympathies and antipathies; he had
not known me long enough, or well enough, to perceive how low my
feelings would ebb under some influences, powerful over most
minds; how high, how fast they would flow under other influences,
that perhaps acted with the more intense force on me, because
they acted on me alone. Neither could he suspect for an instant
the history of my communications with Mdlle. Reuter; secret to
him and to all others was the tale of her strange infatuation;
her blandishments, her wiles had been seen but by me, and to me
only were they known; but they had changed me, for they had
proved that I COULD impress. A sweeter secret nestled deeper in
my heart; one full of tenderness and as full of strength: it
took the sting out of Hunsden's sarcasm; it kept me unbent by
shame, and unstirred by wrath. But of all this I could say
nothing--nothing decisive at least; uncertainty sealed my lips,
and during the interval of silence by which alone I replied to
Mr. Hunsden, I made up my mind to be for the present wholly
misjudged by him, and misjudged I was; he thought he had been
rather too hard upon me, and that I was crushed by the weight of
his upbraidings; so to re-assure me he said, doubtless I should
mend some day; I was only at the beginning of life yet; and since
happily I was not quite without sense, every false step I made
would be a good lesson.

Just then I turned my face a little to the light; the approach of
twilight, and my position in the window-seat, had, for the last
ten minutes, prevented him from studying my countenance; as I
moved, however, he caught an expression which he thus
interpreted:--

"Confound it! How doggedly self-approving the lad looks! I
thought he was fit to die with shame, and there he sits grinning
smiles, as good as to say, 'Let the world wag as it will, I've
the philosopher's stone in my waist-coat pocket, and the elixir
of life in my cupboard; I'm independent of both Fate and
Fortune'"

"Hunsden--you spoke of grapes; I was thinking of a fruit I like
better than your X---- hot-house grapes--an unique fruit, growing
wild, which I have marked as my own, and hope one day to gather
and taste. It is of no use your offering me the draught of
bitterness, or threatening me with death by thirst: I have the
anticipation of sweetness on my palate; the hope of freshness on
my lips; I can reject the unsavoury, and endure the exhausting."

"For how long?"

"Till the next opportunity for effort; and as the prize of
success will be a treasure after my own heart, I'll bring a
bull's strength to the struggle."

"Bad luck crushes bulls as easily as bullaces; and, I believe,
the fury dogs you: you were born with a wooden spoon in your
mouth, depend on it."

"I believe you; sad I mean to make my wooden spoon do the work of
some people's silver ladles: grasped firmly, and handled nimbly,
even a wooden spoon will shovel up broth."

Hunsden rose: "I see," said he; "I suppose you're one of those
who develop best unwatched, and act best unaided-work your own
way. Now, I'll go." And, without another word, he was going; at
the door he turned:--

"Crimsworth Hall is sold," said he.

"Sold!" was my echo.

"Yes; you know, of course, that your brother failed three months
ago?"

"What! Edward Crimsworth?"

"Precisely; and his wife went home to her fathers; when affairs
went awry, his temper sympathized with them; he used her ill; I
told you he would be a tyrant to her some day; as to him--"

"Ay, as to him--what is become of him?"

"Nothing extraordinary--don't be alarmed; he put himself under
the protection of the court, compounded with his creditors
--tenpence in the pound; in six weeks set up again, coaxed back
his wife, and is flourishing like a green bay-tree."

"And Crimsworth Hall--was the furniture sold too?"

"Everything--from the grand piano down to the rolling-pin."

"And the contents of the oak dining-room--were they sold?"

"Of course; why should the sofas and chairs of that room be held
more sacred than those of any other?"

"And the pictures?"

"What pictures? Crimsworth had no special collection that I know
of--he did not profess to be an amateur."

"There were two portraits, one on each side the mantelpiece; you
cannot have forgotten them, Mr. Hunsden; you once noticed that of
the lady--"

"Oh, I know! the thin-faced gentlewoman with a shawl put on like
drapery.--Why, as a matter of course, it would be sold among the
other things. If you had been rich, you might have bought it,
for I remember you said it represented your mother: you see what
it is to be without a sou."

I did. "But surely," I thought to myself, "I shall not always be
so poverty-stricken; I may one day buy it back yet.--Who
purchased it? do you know?" I asked.

"How is it likely? I never inquired who purchased anything;
there spoke the unpractical man--to imagine all the world is
interested in what interests himself! Now, good night--I'm off
for Germany to-morrow morning; I shall be back here in six weeks,
and possibly I may call and see you again; I wonder whether
you'll be still out of place!" he laughed, as mockingly, as
heartlessly as Mephistopheles, and so laughing, vanished.

Some people, however indifferent they may become after a
considerable space of absence, always contrive to leave a
pleasant impression just at parting; not so Hunsden, a conference
with him affected one like a draught of Peruvian bark; it seemed
a concentration of the specially harsh, stringent, bitter;
whether, like bark, it invigorated, I scarcely knew.

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow; I slept little on the
night after this interview; towards morning I began to doze, but
hardly had my slumber become sleep, when I was roused from it by
hearing a noise in my sitting room, to which my bed-room
adjoined--a step, and a shoving of furniture; the movement lasted
barely two minutes; with the closing of the door it ceased. I
listened; not a mouse stirred; perhaps I had dreamt it; perhaps a
locataire had made a mistake, and entered my apartment instead of
his own. It was yet but five o'clock; neither I nor the day were
wide awake; I turned, and was soon unconscious. When I did rise,
about two hours later, I had forgotten the circumstance; the
first thing I saw, however, on quitting my chamber, recalled it;
just pushed in at the door of my sitting-room, and still standing
on end, was a wooden packing-case--a rough deal affair, wide but
shallow; a porter had doubtless shoved it forward, but seeing no
occupant of the room, had left it at the entrance.

"That is none of mine," thought I, approaching; "it must be meant
for somebody else." I stooped to examine the address:--

"Wm. Crimsworth, Esq., No --, -- St., Brussels."

I was puzzled, but concluding that the best way to obtain
information was to ask within, I cut the cords and opened the
case. Green baize enveloped its contents, sewn carefully at the
sides; I ripped the pack-thread with my pen-knife, and still, as
the seam gave way, glimpses of gilding appeared through the
widening interstices. Boards and baize being at length removed,
I lifted from the case a large picture, in a magnificent frame;
leaning it against a chair, in a position where the light from
the window fell favourably upon it, I stepped back--already I had
mounted my spectacles. A portrait-painter's sky (the most sombre
and threatening of welkins), and distant trees of a conventional
depth of hue, raised in full relief a pale, pensive-looking
female face, shadowed with soft dark hair, almost blending with
the equally dark clouds; large, solemn eyes looked reflectively
into mine; a thin cheek rested on a delicate little hand; a
shawl, artistically draped, half hid, half showed a slight
figure. A listener (had there been one) might have heard me,
after ten minutes' silent gazing, utter the word "Mother!" I
might have said more--but with me, the first word uttered aloud
in soliloquy rouses consciousness; it reminds me that only crazy
people talk to themselves, and then I think out my monologue,
instead of speaking it. I had thought a long while, and a long
while had contemplated the intelligence, the sweetness, and
--alas! the sadness also of those fine, grey eyes, the mental
power of that forehead, and the rare sensibility of that serious
mouth, when my glance, travelling downwards, fell on a narrow
billet, stuck in the corner of the picture, between the frame and
the canvas. Then I first asked, "Who sent this picture? Who
thought of me, saved it out of the wreck of Crimsworth Hall, and
now commits it to the care of its natural keeper?" I took the
note from its niche; thus it spoke:--

"There is a sort of stupid pleasure in giving a child sweets, a
fool his bells, a dog a bone. You are repaid by seeing the child
besmear his face with sugar; by witnessing how the fool's ecstasy
makes a greater fool of him than ever; by watching the dog's
nature come out over his bone. In giving William Crimsworth his
mother's picture, I give him sweets, bells, and bone all in one;
what grieves me is, that I cannot behold the result; I would have
added five shillings more to my bid if the, auctioneer could only
have promised me that pleasure.

"H. Y. H.

"P.S.--You said last night you positively declined adding another
item to your account with me; don't you think I've saved you that
trouble?"

I muffled the picture in its green baize covering, restored it to
the case, and having transported the whole concern to my
bed-room, put it out of sight under my bed. My pleasure was now
poisoned by pungent pain; I determined to look no more till I
could look at my ease. If Hunsden had come in at that moment, I
should have said to him, "I owe you nothing, Hunsden--not a
fraction of a farthing: you have paid yourself in taunts!"

Too anxious to remain any longer quiescent, I had no sooner
breakfasted, than I repaired once more to M. Vandenhuten's,
scarcely hoping to find him at home; for a week had barely
elapsed since my first call: but fancying I might be able to
glean information as to the time when his return was expected.
A better result awaited me than I had anticipated, for though
the family were yet at Ostend, M. Vandenhuten had come over to
Brussels on business for the day. He received me with the quiet
kindness of a sincere though not excitable man. I had not sat
five minutes alone with him in his bureau, before I became aware
of a sense of ease in his presence, such as I rarely experienced
with strangers. I was surprised at my own composure, for, after
all, I had come on business to me exceedingly painful--that of
soliciting a favour. I asked on what basis the calm rested--I
feared it might be deceptive. Ere long I caught a glimpse of the
ground, and at once I felt assured of its solidity; I knew where
it was.

M.Vandenhuten was rich, respected, and influential; I, poor,
despised and powerless; so we stood to the world at large as
members of the world's society; but to each other, as a pair of
human beings, our positions were reversed. The Dutchman (he was
not Flamand, but pure Hollandais) was slow, cool, of rather dense
intelligence, though sound and accurate judgment; the Englishman
far more nervous, active, quicker both to plan and to practise,
to conceive and to realize. The Dutchman was benevolent, the
Englishman susceptible; in short our characters dovetailed, but
my mind having more fire and action than his, instinctively
assumed and kept the predominance.

This point settled, and my position well ascertained, I addressed
him on the subject of my affairs with that genuine frankness
which full confidence can alone inspire. It was a pleasure to him
to be so appealed to; he thanked me for giving him this
opportunity of using a little exertion in my behalf. I went on
to explain to him that my wish was not so much to be helped, as
to be put into the way of helping myself; of him I did not want
exertion--that was to be my part--but only information and
recommendation. Soon after I rose to go. He held out his hand
at parting--an action of greater significance with foreigners
than with Englishmen. As I exchanged a smile with him, I thought
the benevolence of his truthful face was better than the
intelligence of my own. Characters of my order experience a
balm-like solace in the contact of such souls as animated the
honest breast of Victor Vandenhuten.

The next fortnight was a period of many alternations; my
existence during its lapse resembled a sky of one of those
autumnal nights which are specially haunted by meteors and
falling stars. Hopes and fears, expectations and
disappointments, descended in glancing showers from zenith to
horizon; but all were transient, and darkness followed swift each
vanishing apparition. M. Vandenhuten aided me faithfully; he set
me on the track of several places, and himself made efforts to
secure them for me; but for a long time solicitation and
recommendation were vain--the door either shut in my face when I
was about to walk in, or another candidate, entering before me,
rendered my further advance useless. Feverish and roused, no
disappointment arrested me; defeat following fast on defeat
served as stimulants to will. I forgot fastidiousness, conquered
reserve, thrust pride from me: I asked, I persevered, I
remonstrated, I dunned. It is so that openings are forced into
the guarded circle where Fortune sits dealing favours round. My
perseverance made me known; my importunity made me remarked. I
was inquired about; my former pupils' parents, gathering the
reports of their children, heard me spoken of as talented, and
they echoed the word: the sound, bandied about at random, came
at last to ears which, but for its universality, it might never
have reached; and at the very crisis when I had tried my last
effort and knew not what to do, Fortune looked in at me one
morning, as I sat in drear and almost desperate deliberation on
my bedstead, nodded with the familiarity of an old acquaintance
--though God knows I had never met her before--and threw a prize
into my lap.

In the second week of October, 18--, I got the appointment of
English professor to all the classes of ---- College, Brussels,
with a salary of three thousand francs per annum; and the
certainty of being able, by dint of the reputation and publicity
accompanying the position, to make as much more by private means.
The official notice, which communicated this information,
mentioned also that it was the strong recommendation of M.
Vandenhuten, negociant, which had turned the scale of choice in
my favour.

No sooner had I read the announcement than I hurried to M.
Vandenhuten's bureau, pushed the document under his nose, and
when he had perused it, took both his hands, and thanked him with
unrestrained vivacity. My vivid words and emphatic gesture moved
his Dutch calm to unwonted sensation. He said he was happy--glad
to have served me; but he had done nothing meriting such thanks.
He had not laid out a centime--only scratched a few words on a
sheet of paper.

Again I repeated to him--

"You have made me quite happy, and in a way that suits me; I do
not feel an obligation irksome, conferred by your kind hand; I do
not feel disposed to shun you because you have done me a favour;
from this day you must consent to admit me to your intimate
acquaintance, for I shall hereafter recur again and again to the
pleasure of your society."

"Ainsi soit-il," was the reply, accompanied by a smile of
benignant content. I went away with its sunshine in my heart.

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The Professor - Chapter XXIII
IT was two o'clock when I returned to my lodgings; my dinner,just brought in from a neighbouring hotel, smoked on the table; Isat down thinking to eat--had the plate been heaped withpotsherds and broken glass, instead of boiled beef and haricots,I could not have made a more signal failure: appetite hadforsaken me. Impatient of seeing food which I could not taste, Iput it all aside into a cupboard, and then demanded, "What shallI do till evening?" for before six P.M. it would be vain to seekthe Rue Notre Dame aux Neiges; its inhabitant (for me it had butone) was
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DIRECTLY as I closed the door, I saw laid on the table twoletters; my thought was, that they were notes of invitation fromthe friends of some of my pupils; I had received such marks ofattention occasionally, and with me, who had no friends,correspondence of more interest was out of the question; thepostman's arrival had never yet been an event of interest to mesince I came to Brussels. I laid my hand carelessly on thedocuments, and coldly and slowly glancing at them, I prepared tobreak the seals; my eye was arrested and my hand too; I saw whatexcited me, as if
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