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the novel Villette


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Title:Villette
Author:CharlotteBrontë
PostingDate:August23,2010[EBook#9182]ReleaseDate:October,2005
FirstPosted:September12,2003[Lastupdated:March2,2016]
Language:English
***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKVILLETTE***

ProducedbyDelphineLettau,CharlesFranksandDistributedProofreaders


VILLETTE.
BY
CHARLOTTEBRONTË.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER
I.BRETTONII.PAULINAIII.THEPLAYMATESIV.MISSMARCHMONTV.TURNINGANEW
LEAFVI.LONDONVII.VILLETTEVIII.MADAMEBECKIX.ISIDOREX.DR.JOHNXI.THE
PORTRESS'SCABINETXII.THECASKETXIII.ASNEEZEOUTOFSEASONXIV.THEFÊTE
XV.THELONGVACATIONXVI.AULDLANGSYNEXVII.LATERRASSEXVIII.WE
QUARRELXIX.THECLEOPATRAXX.THECONCERTXXI.REACTIONXXII.THELETTER
XXIII.VASHTIXXIV.M.DEBASSOMPIERREXXV.THELITTLECOUNTESSXXVI.A
BURIALXXVII.THEHÔTELCRÉCYXXVIII.THEWATCHGUARDXXIX.MONSIEUR'S
FÊTEXXX.M.PAULXXXI.THEDRYADXXXII.THEFIRSTLETTERXXXIII.M.PAUL
KEEPSHISPROMISEXXXIV.MALEVOLAXXXV.FRATERNITYXXXVI.THEAPPLEOF
DISCORDXXXVII.SUNSHINEXXXVIII.CLOUDXXXIX.OLDANDNEWACQUAINTANCE
XL.THEHAPPYPAIRXLI.FAUBOURGCLOTILDEXLII.FINIS


VILLETTE.

CHAPTERI.
BRETTON.

Mygodmotherlivedinahandsomehouseinthecleanandancienttownof
Bretton.Herhusband'sfamilyhadbeenresidentsthereforgenerations,andbore,
indeed,thenameoftheirbirthplace—BrettonofBretton:whetherby
coincidence,orbecausesomeremoteancestorhadbeenapersonageofsufficient
importancetoleavehisnametohisneighbourhood,Iknownot.
WhenIwasagirlIwenttoBrettonabouttwiceayear,andwellIlikedthevisit.
Thehouseanditsinmatesspeciallysuitedme.Thelargepeacefulrooms,the
well-arrangedfurniture,theclearwidewindows,thebalconyoutside,looking
downonafineantiquestreet,whereSundaysandholidaysseemedalwaysto
abide—soquietwasitsatmosphere,socleanitspavement—thesethingspleased
mewell.
Onechildinahouseholdofgrownpeopleisusuallymadeverymuchof,andin
aquietwayIwasagooddealtakennoticeofbyMrs.Bretton,whohadbeenleft
awidow,withoneson,beforeIknewher;herhusband,aphysician,havingdied
whileshewasyetayoungandhandsomewoman.
Shewasnotyoung,asIrememberher,butshewasstillhandsome,tall,wellmade,andthoughdarkforanEnglishwoman,yetwearingalwaystheclearness
ofhealthinherbrunettecheek,anditsvivacityinapairoffine,cheerfulblack
eyes.Peopleesteemeditagrievouspitythatshehadnotconferredher
complexiononherson,whoseeyeswereblue—though,eveninboyhood,very
piercing—andthecolourofhislonghairsuchasfriendsdidnotventureto



specify,exceptasthesunshoneonit,whentheycalleditgolden.Heinherited
thelinesofhismother'sfeatures,however;alsohergoodteeth,herstature(or
thepromiseofherstature,forhewasnotyetfull-grown),and,whatwasbetter,
herhealthwithoutflaw,andherspiritsofthattoneandequalitywhicharebetter
thanafortunetothepossessor.
Intheautumnoftheyear——IwasstayingatBretton;mygodmotherhaving
comeinpersontoclaimmeofthekinsfolkwithwhomwasatthattimefixedmy
permanentresidence.Ibelieveshethenplainlysaweventscoming,whosevery
shadowIscarceguessed;yetofwhichthefaintsuspicionsufficedtoimpart
unsettledsadness,andmademegladtochangesceneandsociety.
Timealwaysflowedsmoothlyformeatmygodmother'sside;notwith
tumultuousswiftness,butblandly,liketheglidingofafullriverthroughaplain.
MyvisitstoherresembledthesojournofChristianandHopefulbesideacertain
pleasantstream,with"greentreesoneachbank,andmeadowsbeautifiedwith
liliesalltheyearround."Thecharmofvarietytherewasnot,northeexcitement
ofincident;butIlikedpeacesowell,andsoughtstimulussolittle,thatwhenthe
lattercameIalmostfeltitadisturbance,andwishedratherithadstillheldaloof.
OnedayaletterwasreceivedofwhichthecontentsevidentlycausedMrs.
Brettonsurpriseandsomeconcern.Ithoughtatfirstitwasfromhome,and
trembled,expectingIknownotwhatdisastrouscommunication:tome,however,
noreferencewasmade,andthecloudseemedtopass.
Thenextday,onmyreturnfromalongwalk,Ifound,asIenteredmybedroom,
anunexpectedchange.In,additiontomyownFrenchbedinitsshadyrecess,
appearedinacornerasmallcrib,drapedwithwhite;andinadditiontomy
mahoganychestofdrawers,Isawatinyrosewoodchest.Istoodstill,gazed,and
considered.
"Ofwhatarethesethingsthesignsandtokens?"Iasked.Theanswerwas
obvious."Asecondguestiscoming:Mrs.Brettonexpectsothervisitors."
Ondescendingtodinner,explanationsensued.Alittlegirl,Iwastold,would
shortlybemycompanion:thedaughterofafriendanddistantrelationofthelate
Dr.Bretton's.Thislittlegirl,itwasadded,hadrecentlylosthermother;though,
indeed,Mrs.Brettonerelongsubjoined,thelosswasnotsogreatasmightat
firstappear.Mrs.Home(Homeitseemswasthename)hadbeenaverypretty,


butagiddy,carelesswoman,whohadneglectedherchild,anddisappointedand
disheartenedherhusband.Sofarfromcongenialhadtheunionproved,that
separationatlastensued—separationbymutualconsent,notafteranylegal
process.Soonafterthisevent,theladyhavingover-exertedherselfataball,
caughtcold,tookafever,anddiedafteraverybriefillness.Herhusband,
naturallyamanofverysensitivefeelings,andshockedinexpressiblybytoo
suddencommunicationofthenews,couldhardly,itseems,nowbepersuaded
butthatsomeover-severityonhispart—somedeficiencyinpatienceand
indulgence—hadcontributedtohastenherend.Hehadbroodedoverthisidea
tillhisspiritswereseriouslyaffected;themedicalmeninsistedontravelling
beingtriedasaremedy,andmeanwhileMrs.Brettonhadofferedtotakecharge
ofhislittlegirl."AndIhope,"addedmygodmotherinconclusion,"thechild
willnotbelikehermamma;assillyandfrivolousalittleflirtaseversensible
manwasweakenoughtomarry.For,"saidshe,"Mr.Homeisasensiblemanin
hisway,thoughnotverypractical:heisfondofscience,andliveshalfhislifein
alaboratorytryingexperiments—athinghisbutterflywifecouldneither
comprehendnorendure;andindeed"confessedmygodmother,"Ishouldnot
havelikeditmyself."
Inanswertoaquestionofmine,shefurtherinformedmethatherlatehusband
usedtosay,Mr.Homehadderivedthisscientificturnfromamaternaluncle,a
Frenchsavant;forhecame,itseems;ofmixedFrenchandScottishorigin,and
hadconnectionsnowlivinginFrance,ofwhommorethanonewrotedebefore
hisname,andcalledhimselfnoble.
Thatsameeveningatnineo'clock,aservantwasdespatchedtomeetthecoach
bywhichourlittlevisitorwasexpected.Mrs.BrettonandIsataloneinthe
drawing-roomwaitinghercoming;JohnGrahamBrettonbeingabsentonavisit
tooneofhisschoolfellowswholivedinthecountry.Mygodmotherreadthe
eveningpaperwhileshewaited;Isewed.Itwasawetnight;therainlashedthe
panes,andthewindsoundedangryandrestless.
"Poorchild!"saidMrs.Brettonfromtimetotime."Whatweatherforher
journey!Iwishsheweresafehere."
Alittlebeforetenthedoor-bellannouncedWarren'sreturn.Nosoonerwasthe
dooropenedthanIrandownintothehall;therelayatrunkandsomebandboxes,besidethemstoodapersonlikeanurse-girl,andatthefootofthe
staircasewasWarrenwithashawledbundleinhisarms.


"Isthatthechild?"Iasked.
"Yes,miss."
Iwouldhaveopenedtheshawl,andtriedtogetapeepattheface,butitwas
hastilyturnedfrommetoWarren'sshoulder.
"Putmedown,please,"saidasmallvoicewhenWarrenopenedthedrawingroomdoor,"andtakeoffthisshawl,"continuedthespeaker,extractingwithits
minutehandthepin,andwithasortoffastidioushastedoffingtheclumsy
wrapping.Thecreaturewhichnowappearedmadeadeftattempttofoldthe
shawl;butthedraperywasmuchtooheavyandlargetobesustainedorwielded
bythosehandsandarms."GiveittoHarriet,please,"wasthenthedirection,
"andshecanputitaway."Thissaid,itturnedandfixeditseyesonMrs.Bretton.
"Comehere,littledear,"saidthatlady."Comeandletmeseeifyouarecoldand
damp:comeandletmewarmyouatthefire."
Thechildadvancedpromptly.Relievedofherwrapping,sheappeared
exceedinglytiny;butwasaneat,completely-fashionedlittlefigure,light,slight,
andstraight.Seatedonmygodmother'samplelap,shelookedameredoll;her
neck,delicateaswax,herheadofsilkycurls,increased,Ithought,the
resemblance.
Mrs.Brettontalkedinlittlefondphrasesasshechafedthechild'shands,arms,
andfeet;firstshewasconsideredwithawistfulgaze,butsoonasmileanswered
her.Mrs.Brettonwasnotgenerallyacaressingwoman:evenwithherdeeplycherishedson,hermannerwasrarelysentimental,oftenthereverse;butwhen
thesmallstrangersmiledather,shekissedit,asking,"Whatismylittleone's
name?"
"Missy."
"ButbesidesMissy?"
"Polly,papacallsher."
"WillPollybecontenttolivewithme?"
"Notalways;buttillpapacomeshome.Papaisgoneaway."Sheshookherhead


expressively.
"HewillreturntoPolly,orsendforher."
"Willhe,ma'am?Doyouknowhewill?"
"Ithinkso."
"ButHarrietthinksnot:atleastnotforalongwhile.Heisill."
Hereyesfilled.ShedrewherhandfromMrs.Bretton'sandmadeamovementto
leaveherlap;itwasatfirstresisted,butshesaid—"Please,Iwishtogo:Icansit
onastool."
Shewasallowedtoslipdownfromtheknee,andtakingafootstool,shecarried
ittoacornerwheretheshadewasdeep,andthereseatedherself.Mrs.Bretton,
thoughacommanding,andingravemattersevenaperemptorywoman,was
oftenpassiveintrifles:sheallowedthechildherway.Shesaidtome,"Takeno
noticeatpresent."ButIdidtakenotice:IwatchedPollyresthersmallelbowon
hersmallknee,herheadonherhand;Iobservedherdrawasquareinchortwo
ofpocket-handkerchieffromthedoll-pocketofherdoll-skirt,andthenIheard
herweep.Otherchildreningrieforpaincryaloud,withoutshameorrestraint;
butthisbeingwept:thetiniestoccasionalsnifftestifiedtoheremotion.Mrs.
Brettondidnothearit:whichwasquiteaswell.Erelong,avoice,issuingfrom
thecorner,demanded—"MaythebellberungforHarriet!"
Irang;thenursewassummonedandcame.
"Harriet,Imustbeputtobed,"saidherlittlemistress."Youmustaskwheremy
bedis."
Harrietsignifiedthatshehadalreadymadethatinquiry.
"Askifyousleepwithme,Harriet."
"No,Missy,"saidthenurse:"youaretosharethisyounglady'sroom,"
designatingme.
Missydidnotleaveherseat,butIsawhereyesseekme.Aftersomeminutes'
silentscrutiny,sheemergedfromhercorner.


"Iwishyou,ma'am,goodnight,"saidshetoMrs.Bretton;butshepassedme
mute.
"Good-night,Polly,"Isaid.
"Noneedtosaygood-night,sincewesleepinthesamechamber,"wasthereply,
withwhichshevanishedfromthedrawing-room.WeheardHarrietproposeto
carryherup-stairs."Noneed,"wasagainheranswer—"noneed,noneed:"and
hersmallsteptoiledwearilyupthestaircase.
Ongoingtobedanhourafterwards,Ifoundherstillwideawake.Shehad
arrangedherpillowssoastosupportherlittlepersoninasittingposture:her
hands,placedonewithintheother,restedquietlyonthesheet,withanoldfashionedcalmmostunchildlike.Iabstainedfromspeakingtoherforsometime,
butjustbeforeextinguishingthelight,Irecommendedhertoliedown.
"Byandby,"wastheanswer.
"Butyouwilltakecold,Missy."
Shetooksometinyarticleofraimentfromthechairathercribside,andwithit
coveredhershoulders.Isufferedhertodoasshepleased.Listeningawhilein
thedarkness,Iwasawarethatshestillwept,—weptunderrestraint,quietlyand
cautiously.
Onawakingwithdaylight,atricklingofwatercaughtmyear.Behold!thereshe
wasrisenandmountedonastoolnearthewashstand,withpainsanddifficulty
incliningtheewer(whichshecouldnotlift)soastopouritscontentsintothe
basin.Itwascurioustowatchherasshewashedanddressed,sosmall,busy,and
noiseless.Evidentlyshewaslittleaccustomedtoperformherowntoilet;andthe
buttons,strings,hooksandeyes,offereddifficultieswhichsheencounteredwith
aperseverancegoodtowitness.Shefoldedhernight-dress,shesmoothedthe
draperyofhercouchquiteneatly;withdrawingintoacorner,wherethesweepof
thewhitecurtainconcealedher,shebecamestill.Ihalfrose,andadvancedmy
headtoseehowshewasoccupied.Onherknees,withherforeheadbentonher
hands,Iperceivedthatshewaspraying.
Hernursetappedatthedoor.Shestartedup.
"Iamdressed,Harriet,"saidshe;"Ihavedressedmyself,butIdonotfeelneat.


Makemeneat!"
"Whydidyoudressyourself,Missy?"
"Hush!speaklow,Harriet,forfearofwakingthegirl"(meaningme,whonow
laywithmyeyesshut)."Idressedmyselftolearn,againstthetimeyouleave
me."
"Doyouwantmetogo?"
"Whenyouarecross,Ihavemanyatimewantedyoutogo,butnotnow.
Tiemysashstraight;makemyhairsmooth,please."
"Yoursashisstraightenough.Whataparticularlittlebodyyouare!"
"Itmustbetiedagain.Pleasetotieit."
"There,then.WhenIamgoneyoumustgetthatyoungladytodressyou."
"Onnoaccount."
"Why?Sheisaveryniceyounglady.Ihopeyoumeantobehaveprettilytoher,
Missy,andnotshowyourairs."
"Sheshalldressmeonnoaccount."
"Comicallittlething!"
"Youarenotpassingthecombstraightthroughmyhair,Harriet;thelinewillbe
crooked."
"Ay,youareilltoplease.Doesthatsuit?"
"Prettywell.WhereshouldIgonowthatIamdressed?"
"Iwilltakeyouintothebreakfast-room."
"Come,then."
Theyproceededtothedoor.Shestopped.


"Oh!Harriet,Iwishthiswaspapa'shouse!Idon'tknowthesepeople."
"Beagoodchild,Missy."
"Iamgood,butIachehere;"puttingherhandtoherheart,andmoaningwhile
shereiterated,"Papa!papa!"
Irousedmyselfandstartedup,tocheckthisscenewhileitwasyetwithin
bounds.
"Saygood-morningtotheyounglady,"dictatedHarriet.Shesaid,"Goodmorning,"andthenfollowedhernursefromtheroom.Harriettemporarilyleft
thatsameday,togotoherownfriends,wholivedintheneighbourhood.
Ondescending,IfoundPaulina(thechildcalledherselfPolly,butherfullname
wasPaulinaMary)seatedatthebreakfast-table,byMrs.Bretton'sside;amugof
milkstoodbeforeher,amorselofbreadfilledherhand,whichlaypassiveonthe
table-cloth:shewasnoteating.
"Howweshallconciliatethislittlecreature,"saidMrs.Brettontome,"Idon't
know:shetastesnothing,andbyherlooks,shehasnotslept."
Iexpressedmyconfidenceintheeffectsoftimeandkindness.
"Ifsheweretotakeafancytoanybodyinthehouse,shewouldsoonsettle;but
nottillthen,"repliedMrs.Bretton.


CHAPTERII.
PAULINA.

Somedayselapsed,anditappearedshewasnotlikelytotakemuchofafancyto
anybodyinthehouse.Shewasnotexactlynaughtyorwilful:shewasfarfrom
disobedient;butanobjectlessconducivetocomfort—totranquillityeven—than
shepresented,itwasscarcelypossibletohavebeforeone'seyes.Shemoped:no
grownpersoncouldhaveperformedthatuncheeringbusinessbetter;no
furrowedfaceofadultexile,longingforEuropeatEurope'santipodes,everbore
morelegiblythesignsofhomesicknessthandidherinfantvisage.Sheseemed
growingoldandunearthly.I,LucySnowe,pleadguiltlessofthatcurse,an
overheatedanddiscursiveimagination;butwhenever,openingaroom-door,I
foundherseatedinacorneralone,herheadinherpigmyhand,thatroom
seemedtomenotinhabited,buthaunted.
Andagain,whenofmoonlightnights,onwaking,Ibeheldherfigure,whiteand
conspicuousinitsnight-dress,kneelinguprightinbed,andprayinglikesome
CatholicorMethodistenthusiast—someprecociousfanaticoruntimelysaint—I
scarcelyknowwhatthoughtsIhad;buttheyranriskofbeinghardlymore
rationalandhealthythanthatchild'smindmusthavebeen.
Iseldomcaughtawordofherprayers,fortheywerewhisperedlow:sometimes,
indeed,theywerenotwhisperedatall,butputupunuttered;suchraresentences
asreachedmyearstillboretheburden,"Papa;mydearpapa!"This,Iperceived,
wasaone-idea'dnature;betrayingthatmonomaniactendencyIhaveever
thoughtthemostunfortunatewithwhichmanorwomancanbecursed.
Whatmighthavebeentheendofthisfretting,haditcontinuedunchecked,can
onlybeconjectured:itreceived,however,asuddenturn.
Oneafternoon,Mrs.Bretton,coaxingherfromherusualstationinacorner,had


liftedherintothewindow-seat,and,bywayofoccupyingherattention,toldher
towatchthepassengersandcounthowmanyladiesshouldgodownthestreetin
agiventime.Shehadsatlistlessly,hardlylooking,andnotcounting,when—my
eyebeingfixedonhers—Iwitnessedinitsirisandpupilastartling
transfiguration.Thesesudden,dangerousnatures—sensitiveastheyarecalled—
offermanyacuriousspectacletothosewhomacoolertemperamenthassecured
fromparticipationintheirangularvagaries.Thefixedandheavygazeswum,
trembled,thenglitteredinfire;thesmall,overcastbrowcleared;thetrivialand
dejectedfeatureslitup;thesadcountenancevanished,andinitsplaceappeared
asuddeneagerness,anintenseexpectancy."Itis!"wereherwords.
Likeabirdorashaft,oranyotherswiftthing,shewasgonefromtheroom.
Howshegotthehouse-dooropenIcannottell;probablyitmightbeajar;
perhapsWarrenwasinthewayandobeyedherbehest,whichwouldbe
impetuousenough.I—watchingcalmlyfromthewindow—sawher,inherblack
frockandtinybraidedapron(topinaforesshehadanantipathy),darthalfthe
lengthofthestreet;and,asIwasonthepointofturning,andquietlyannouncing
toMrs.Brettonthatthechildwasrunoutmad,andoughtinstantlytobe
pursued,Isawhercaughtup,andraptatoncefrommycoolobservation,and
fromthewonderingstareofthepassengers.Agentlemanhaddonethisgood
turn,andnow,coveringherwithhiscloak,advancedtorestorehertothehouse
whencehehadseenherissue.
Iconcludedhewouldleaveherinaservant'schargeandwithdraw;buthe
entered:havingtarriedalittlewhilebelow,hecameup-stairs.
HisreceptionimmediatelyexplainedthathewasknowntoMrs.Bretton.She
recognisedhim;shegreetedhim,andyetshewasfluttered,surprised,taken
unawares.Herlookandmannerwereevenexpostulatory;andinreplytothese,
ratherthanherwords,hesaid,—"Icouldnothelpit,madam:Ifoundit
impossibletoleavethecountrywithoutseeingwithmyowneyeshowshe
settled."
"Butyouwillunsettleher."
"Ihopenot.Andhowispapa'slittlePolly?"
ThisquestionheaddressedtoPaulina,ashesatdownandplacedhergentlyon
thegroundbeforehim.


"HowisPolly'spapa?"wasthereply,assheleanedonhisknee,andgazedup
intohisface.
Itwasnotanoisy,notawordyscene:forthatIwasthankful;butitwasascene
offeelingtoobrimful,andwhich,becausethecupdidnotfoamuphighor
furiouslyoverflow,onlyoppressedonethemore.Onalloccasionsofvehement,
unrestrainedexpansion,asenseofdisdainorridiculecomestotheweary
spectator'srelief;whereasIhaveeverfeltmostburdensomethatsortof
sensibilitywhichbendsofitsownwill,agiantslaveundertheswayofgood
sense.
Mr.Homewasastern-featured—perhapsIshouldrathersay,ahard-featured
man:hisforeheadwasknotty,andhischeekbonesweremarkedandprominent.
ThecharacterofhisfacewasquiteScotch;buttherewasfeelinginhiseye,and
emotioninhisnowagitatedcountenance.Hisnorthernaccentinspeaking
harmonisedwithhisphysiognomy.Hewasatonceproud-lookingandhomelylooking.Helaidhishandonthechild'supliftedhead.Shesaid—"KissPolly."
Hekissedher.Iwishedshewoulduttersomehystericalcry,sothatImightget
reliefandbeatease.Shemadewonderfullylittlenoise:sheseemedtohavegot
whatshewanted—allshewanted,andtobeinatranceofcontent.Neitherin
miennorinfeatureswasthiscreaturelikehersire,andyetshewasofhisstrain:
hermindhadbeenfilledfromhis,asthecupfromtheflagon.
Indisputably,Mr.Homeownedmanlyself-control,howeverhemightsecretly
feelonsomematters."Polly,"hesaid,lookingdownonhislittlegirl,"gointo
thehall;youwillseepapa'sgreat-coatlyingonachair;putyourhandintothe
pockets,youwillfindapocket-handkerchiefthere;bringittome."
Sheobeyed;wentandreturneddeftlyandnimbly.HewastalkingtoMrs.
Brettonwhenshecameback,andshewaitedwiththehandkerchiefinherhand.
Itwasapicture,initsway,toseeher,withhertinystature,andtrim,neatshape,
standingathisknee.Seeingthathecontinuedtotalk,apparentlyunconsciousof
herreturn,shetookhishand,openedtheunresistingfingers,insinuatedinto
themthehandkerchief,andclosedthemuponitonebyone.Hestillseemednot
toseeortofeelher;butby-and-by,heliftedhertohisknee;shenestledagainst
him,andthoughneitherlookedatnorspoketotheotherforanhourfollowing,I
supposebothweresatisfied.


Duringtea,theminutething'smovementsandbehaviourgave,asusual,full
occupationtotheeye.FirstshedirectedWarren,asheplacedthechairs.
"Putpapa'schairhere,andminenearit,betweenpapaandMrs.
Bretton:Imusthandhistea."
Shetookherownseat,andbeckonedwithherhandtoherfather.
"Benearme,asifwewereathome,papa."
Andagain,assheinterceptedhiscupinpassing,andwouldstirthesugar,and
putinthecreamherself,"Ialwaysdiditforyouathome;papa:nobodycoulddo
itaswell,notevenyourownself."
Throughoutthemealshecontinuedherattentions:ratherabsurdtheywere.The
sugar-tongsweretoowideforoneofherhands,andshehadtousebothin
wieldingthem;theweightofthesilvercream-ewer,thebread-and-butterplates,
theverycupandsaucer,taskedherinsufficientstrengthanddexterity;butshe
wouldliftthis,handthat,andluckilycontrivedthroughitalltobreaknothing.
Candidlyspeaking,Ithoughtheralittlebusy-body;butherfather,blindlike
otherparents,seemedperfectlycontenttoletherwaitonhim,andeven
wonderfullysoothedbyheroffices.
"Sheismycomfort!"hecouldnothelpsayingtoMrs.Bretton.Thatladyhadher
own"comfort"andnonpareilonamuchlargerscale,and,forthemoment,
absent;soshesympathisedwithhisfoible.
Thissecond"comfort"cameonthestageinthecourseoftheevening.Iknew
thisdayhadbeenfixedforhisreturn,andwasawarethatMrs.Brettonhadbeen
expectinghimthroughallitshours.Wewereseatedroundthefire,aftertea,
whenGrahamjoinedourcircle:Ishouldrathersay,brokeitup—for,ofcourse,
hisarrivalmadeabustle;andthen,asMr.Grahamwasfasting,therewas
refreshmenttobeprovided.HeandMr.Homemetasoldacquaintance;ofthe
littlegirlhetooknonoticeforatime.
Hismealover,andnumerousquestionsfromhismotheranswered,heturned
fromthetabletothehearth.Oppositewherehehadplacedhimselfwasseated
Mr.Home,andathiselbow,thechild.WhenIsaychildIuseaninappropriate
andundescriptiveterm—atermsuggestinganypictureratherthanthatofthe
demurelittlepersoninamourningfrockandwhitechemisette,thatmightjust


havefittedagood-sizeddoll—perchednowonahighchairbesideastand,
whereonwashertoywork-boxofwhitevarnishedwood,andholdinginher
handsashredofahandkerchief,whichshewasprofessingtohem,andatwhich
sheboredperseveringlywithaneedle,thatinherfingersseemedalmosta
skewer,prickingherselfeverandanon,markingthecambricwithatrackof
minutereddots;occasionallystartingwhentheperverseweapon—swerving
fromhercontrol—inflictedadeeperstabthanusual;butstillsilent,diligent,
absorbed,womanly.
Grahamwasatthattimeahandsome,faithless-lookingyouthofsixteen.Isay
faithless-looking,notbecausehewasreallyofaveryperfidiousdisposition,but
becausetheepithetstrikesmeaspropertodescribethefair,Celtic(notSaxon)
characterofhisgoodlooks;hiswavedlightauburnhair,hissupplesymmetry,
hissmilefrequent,anddestituteneitheroffascinationnorofsubtlety(innobad
sense).Aspoiled,whimsicalboyhewasinthosedays.
"Mother,"hesaid,aftereyeingthelittlefigurebeforehiminsilenceforsome
time,andwhenthetemporaryabsenceofMr.Homefromtheroomrelievedhim
fromthehalf-laughingbashfulness,whichwasallheknewoftimidity—"Mother,IseeayoungladyinthepresentsocietytowhomIhavenotbeen
introduced."
"Mr.Home'slittlegirl,Isupposeyoumean,"saidhismother.
"Indeed,ma'am,"repliedherson,"Iconsideryourexpressionoftheleast
ceremonious:MissHomeIshouldcertainlyhavesaid,inventuringtospeakof
thegentlewomantowhomIallude."
"Now,Graham,Iwillnothavethatchildteased.Don'tflatteryourselfthatIshall
sufferyoutomakeheryourbutt."
"MissHome,"pursuedGraham,undeterredbyhismother'sremonstrance,
"mightIhavethehonourtointroducemyself,sincenooneelseseemswillingto
renderyouandmethatservice?Yourslave,JohnGrahamBretton."
Shelookedathim;heroseandbowedquitegravely.Shedeliberatelyputdown
thimble,scissors,work;descendedwithprecautionfromherperch,and
curtsyingwithunspeakableseriousness,said,"Howdoyoudo?"
"Ihavethehonourtobeinfairhealth,onlyinsomemeasurefatiguedwitha


hurriedjourney.Ihope,ma'am,Iseeyouwell?"
"Tor-rer-ablywell,"wastheambitiousreplyofthelittlewomanandshenow
essayedtoregainherformerelevation,butfindingthiscouldnotbedone
withoutsomeclimbingandstraining—asacrificeofdecorumnottobethought
of—andbeingutterlydisdainfulofaidinthepresenceofastrangeyoung
gentleman,sherelinquishedthehighchairforalowstool:towardsthatlowstool
Grahamdrewinhischair.
"Ihope,ma'am,thepresentresidence,mymother'shouse,appearstoyoua
convenientplaceofabode?"
"Notpar-tic-er-er-ly;Iwanttogohome."
"Anaturalandlaudabledesire,ma'am;butonewhich,notwithstanding,
Ishalldomybesttooppose.Ireckononbeingabletogetoutofyou
alittleofthatpreciouscommoditycalledamusement,whichmammaand
MistressSnowetherefailtoyieldme."
"Ishallhavetogowithpapasoon:Ishallnotstaylongatyourmother's."
"Yes,yes;youwillstaywithme,Iamsure.Ihaveaponyonwhichyoushall
ride,andnoendofbookswithpicturestoshowyou."
"Areyougoingtoliveherenow?"
"Iam.Doesthatpleaseyou?Doyoulikeme?"
"No."
"Why?"
"Ithinkyouqueer."
"Myface,ma'am?"
"Yourfaceandallaboutyou:Youhavelongredhair."
"Auburnhair,ifyouplease:mamma,callsitauburn,orgolden,andsodoallher
friends.Butevenwithmy'longredhair'"(andhewavedhismanewithasortof


triumph—tawnyhehimselfwellknewthatitwas,andhewasproudofthe
leoninehue),"Icannotpossiblybequeererthanisyourladyship."
"Youcallmequeer?"
"Certainly."
(Afterapause),"IthinkIshallgotobed."
"Alittlethinglikeyououghttohavebeeninbedmanyhourssince;butyou
probablysatupintheexpectationofseeingme?"
"No,indeed."
"Youcertainlywishedtoenjoythepleasureofmysociety.YouknewIwas
cominghome,andwouldwaittohavealookatme."
"Isatupforpapa,andnotforyou."
"Verygood,MissHome.Iamgoingtobeafavourite:preferredbeforepapa
soon,Idaresay."
ShewishedMrs.Brettonandmyselfgood-night;sheseemedhesitatingwhether
Graham'sdesertsentitledhimtothesameattention,whenhecaughtherupwith
onehand,andwiththatonehandheldherpoisedaloftabovehishead.Shesaw
herselfthuslifteduponhigh,intheglassoverthefireplace.Thesuddenness,the
freedom,thedisrespectoftheactionweretoomuch.
"Forshame,Mr.Graham!"washerindignantcry,"putmedown!"—andwhen
againonherfeet,"IwonderwhatyouwouldthinkofmeifIweretotreatyouin
thatway,liftingyouwithmyhand"(raisingthatmightymember)"asWarren
liftsthelittlecat."
Sosaying,shedeparted.


CHAPTERIII.
THEPLAYMATES.

Mr.Homestayedtwodays.Duringhisvisithecouldnotbeprevailedontogo
out:hesatalldaylongbythefireside,sometimessilent,sometimesreceiving
andansweringMrs.Bretton'schat,whichwasjustofthepropersortforamanin
hismorbidmood—notover-sympathetic,yetnottoouncongenial,sensible;and
evenwithatouchofthemotherly—shewassufficientlyhisseniortobe
permittedthistouch.
AstoPaulina,thechildwasatoncehappyandmute,busyandwatchful.
Herfatherfrequentlyliftedhertohisknee;shewouldsittheretill
shefeltorfanciedhegrewrestless;thenitwas—"Papa,putmedown;
Ishalltireyouwithmyweight."
Andthemightyburdenslidtotherug,andestablishingitselfoncarpetorstool
justat"papa's"feet,thewhitework-boxandthescarlet-speckledhandkerchief
cameintoplay.Thishandkerchief,itseems,wasintendedasakeepsakefor
"papa,"andmustbefinishedbeforehisdeparture;consequentlythedemandon
thesempstress'sindustry(sheaccomplishedaboutascoreofstitchesinhalf-anhour)wasstringent.
Theevening,byrestoringGrahamtothematernalroof(hisdayswerepassedat
school),broughtusanaccessionofanimation—aqualitynotdiminishedbythe
natureofthescenesprettysuretobeenactedbetweenhimandMissPaulina.
Adistantandhaughtydemeanourhadbeentheresultoftheindignityputupon
herthefirsteveningofhisarrival:herusualanswer,whenheaddressedher,was
—"Ican'tattendtoyou;Ihaveotherthingstothinkabout."Beingimploredto
statewhatthings:


"Business."
Grahamwouldendeavourtoseduceherattentionbyopeninghisdeskand
displayingitsmultifariouscontents:seals,brightsticksofwax,pen-knives,with
amiscellanyofengravings—someofthemgailycoloured—whichhehad
amassedfromtimetotime.Norwasthispowerfultemptationwhollyunavailing:
hereyes,furtivelyraisedfromherwork,castmanyapeeptowardsthewritingtable,richinscatteredpictures.AnetchingofachildplayingwithaBlenheim
spanielhappenedtofluttertothefloor.
"Prettylittledog!"saidshe,delighted.
Grahamprudentlytooknonotice.Erelong,stealingfromhercorner,she
approachedtoexaminethetreasuremoreclosely.Thedog'sgreateyesandlong
ears,andthechild'shatandfeathers,wereirresistible.
"Nicepicture!"washerfavourablecriticism.
"Well—youmayhaveit,"saidGraham.
Sheseemedtohesitate.Thewishtopossesswasstrong,buttoacceptwouldbea
compromiseofdignity.No.Sheputitdownandturnedaway.
"Youwon'thaveit,then,Polly?"
"Iwouldrathernot,thankyou."
"ShallItellyouwhatIwilldowiththepictureifyourefuseit?"
Shehalfturnedtolisten.
"Cutitintostripsforlightingthetaper."
"No!"
"ButIshall."
"Please—don't."
Grahamwaxedinexorableonhearingthepleadingtone;hetookthescissors
fromhismother'swork-basket.


"Heregoes!"saidhe,makingamenacingflourish."RightthroughFido'shead,
andsplittinglittleHarry'snose."
"No!No!NO!"
"Thencometome.Comequickly,oritisdone."
Shehesitated,lingered,butcomplied.
"Now,willyouhaveit?"heasked,asshestoodbeforehim.
"Please."
"ButIshallwantpayment."
"Howmuch?"
"Akiss."
"Givethepicturefirstintomyhand."
Polly,asshesaidthis,lookedratherfaithlessinherturn.Grahamgaveit.She
abscondedadebtor,dartedtoherfather,andtookrefugeonhisknee.Graham
roseinmimicwrathandfollowed.SheburiedherfaceinMr.Home'swaistcoat.
"Papa—papa—sendhimaway!"
"I'llnotbesentaway,"saidGraham.
Withfacestillaverted,sheheldoutherhandtokeephimoff.
"Then,Ishallkissthehand,"saidhe;butthatmomentitbecameaminiaturefist,
anddealthimpaymentinasmallcointhatwasnotkisses.
Graham—notfailinginhiswaytobeaswilyashislittleplaymate—retreated
apparentlyquitediscomfited;heflunghimselfonasofa,andrestinghishead
againstthecushion,laylikeoneinpain.Polly,findinghimsilent,presently
peepedathim.Hiseyesandfacewerecoveredwithhishands.Sheturnedonher
father'sknee,andgazedatherfoeanxiouslyandlong.Grahamgroaned.
"Papa,whatisthematter?"shewhispered.


"Youhadbetteraskhim,Polly."
"Ishehurt?"(groansecond.)
"Hemakesanoiseasifhewere,"saidMr.Home.
"Mother,"suggestedGraham,feebly,"Ithinkyouhadbettersendforthedoctor.
Ohmyeye!"(renewedsilence,brokenonlybysighsfromGraham.)
"IfIweretobecomeblind——?"suggestedthislast.
Hischastisercouldnotbearthesuggestion.Shewasbesidehimdirectly.
"Letmeseeyoureye:Ididnotmeantotouchit,onlyyourmouth;and
IdidnotthinkIhitsoveryhard."
Silenceansweredher.Herfeaturesworked,—"Iamsorry;Iamsorry!"
Thensucceededemotion,faltering;weeping.
"Havedonetryingthatchild,Graham,"saidMrs.Bretton.
"Itisallnonsense,mypet,"criedMr.Home.
AndGrahamoncemoresnatchedheraloft,andsheagainpunishedhim;and
whileshepulledhislion'slocks,termedhim—"Thenaughtiest,rudest,worst,
untruestpersonthateverwas."
*****
OnthemorningofMr.Home'sdeparture,heandhisdaughterhadsome
conversationinawindow-recessbythemselves;Iheardpartofit.
"Couldn'tIpackmyboxandgowithyou,papa?"shewhisperedearnestly.
Heshookhishead.
"ShouldIbeatroubletoyou?"
"Yes,Polly."


"BecauseIamlittle?"
"Becauseyouarelittleandtender.Itisonlygreat,strongpeoplethatshould
travel.Butdon'tlooksad,mylittlegirl;itbreaksmyheart.Papa,willsooncome
backtohisPolly."
"Indeed,indeed,Iamnotsad,scarcelyatall."
"Pollywouldbesorrytogivepapapain;wouldshenot?"
"Sorrierthansorry."
"ThenPollymustbecheerful:notcryatparting;notfretafterwards.
Shemustlookforwardtomeetingagain,andtrytobehappymeanwhile.
Canshedothis?"
"Shewilltry."
"Iseeshewill.Farewell,then.Itistimetogo."
"Now?—justnow?
"Justnow."
Sheheldupquiveringlips.Herfathersobbed,butshe,Iremarked,didnot.
Havingputherdown,heshookhandswiththerestpresent,anddeparted.
Whenthestreet-doorclosed,shedroppedonherkneesatachairwithacry
—"Papa!"
Itwaslowandlong;asortof"Whyhastthouforsakenme?"Duringanensuing
spaceofsomeminutes,Iperceivedsheenduredagony.Shewentthrough,inthat
briefintervalofherinfantlife,emotionssuchassomeneverfeel;itwasinher
constitution:shewouldhavemoreofsuchinstantsifshelived.Nobodyspoke.
Mrs.Bretton,beingamother,shedatearortwo.Graham,whowaswriting,
lifteduphiseyesandgazedather.I,LucySnowe,wascalm.
Thelittlecreature,thusleftunharassed,didforherselfwhatnoneothercoulddo
—contendedwithanintolerablefeeling;and,erelong,insomedegree,repressed
it.Thatdayshewouldacceptsolacefromnone;northenextday:shegrewmore


passiveafterwards.
Onthethirdevening,asshesatonthefloor,wornandquiet,Graham,comingin,
tookherupgently,withoutaword.Shedidnotresist:sherathernestledinhis
arms,asifweary.Whenhesatdown,shelaidherheadagainsthim;inafew
minutessheslept;hecarriedherupstairstobed.Iwasnotsurprisedthat,the
nextmorning,thefirstthingshedemandedwas,"WhereisMr.Graham?"
IthappenedthatGrahamwasnotcomingtothebreakfast-table;hehadsome
exercisestowriteforthatmorning'sclass,andhadrequestedhismothertosend
acupofteaintothestudy.Pollyvolunteeredtocarryit:shemustbebusyabout
something,lookaftersomebody.Thecupwasentrustedtoher;for,ifrestless,
shewasalsocareful.Asthestudywasoppositethebreakfast-room,thedoors
facingacrossthepassage,myeyefollowedher.
"Whatareyoudoing?"sheasked,pausingonthethreshold.
"Writing,"saidGraham.
"Whydon'tyoucometotakebreakfastwithyourmamma?"
"Toobusy."
"Doyouwantanybreakfast?"
"Ofcourse."
"There,then."
Andshedepositedthecuponthecarpet,likeajailorputtingaprisoner'spitcher
ofwaterthroughhiscell-door,andretreated.Presentlyshereturned.
"Whatwillyouhavebesidestea—whattoeat?"
"Anythinggood.Bringmesomethingparticularlynice;that'sakindlittle
woman."
ShecamebacktoMrs.Bretton.
"Please,ma'am,sendyourboysomethinggood."


"Youshallchooseforhim,Polly;whatshallmyboyhave?"
Sheselectedaportionofwhateverwasbestonthetable;and,erelong,came
backwithawhisperedrequestforsomemarmalade,whichwasnotthere.
Havinggotit,however,(forMrs.Brettonrefusedthepairnothing),Grahamwas
shortlyafterheardlaudinghertotheskies;promisingthat,whenhehadahouse
ofhisown,sheshouldbehishousekeeper,andperhaps—ifsheshowedany
culinarygenius—hiscook;and,asshedidnotreturn,andIwenttolookafter
her,IfoundGrahamandherbreakfastingtête-à-tête—shestandingathiselbow,
andsharinghisfare:exceptingthemarmalade,whichshedelicatelyrefusedto
touch,lest,Isuppose,itshouldappearthatshehadprocureditasmuchonher
ownaccountashis.Sheconstantlyevincedtheseniceperceptionsanddelicate
instincts.
Theleagueofacquaintanceshipthusstruckupwasnothastilydissolved;onthe
contrary,itappearedthattimeandcircumstancesservedrathertocementthan
loosenit.Ill-assimilatedasthetwowereinage,sex,pursuits,&c.,they
somehowfoundagreatdealtosaytoeachother.AstoPaulina,Iobservedthat
herlittlecharacterneverproperlycameout,exceptwithyoungBretton.Asshe
gotsettled,andaccustomedtothehouse,sheprovedtractableenoughwithMrs.
Bretton;butshewouldsitonastoolatthatlady'sfeetalldaylong,learningher
task,orsewing,ordrawingfigureswithapencilonaslate,andneverkindling
oncetooriginality,orshowingasinglegleamofthepeculiaritiesofhernature.I
ceasedtowatchherundersuchcircumstances:shewasnotinteresting.Butthe
momentGraham'sknocksoundedofanevening,achangeoccurred;shewas
instantlyattheheadofthestaircase.Usuallyherwelcomewasareprimandora
threat.
"Youhavenotwipedyourshoesproperlyonthemat.Ishalltellyourmamma."
"Littlebusybody!Areyouthere?"
"Yes—andyoucan'treachme:Iamhigherupthanyou"(peepingbetweenthe
railsofthebanister;shecouldnotlookoverthem).
"Polly!"
"Mydearboy!"(suchwasoneofhertermsforhim,adoptedinimitationofhis
mother.)


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