Not a member?     Existing members login below:

The Europeans


Chapter1
A narrow grave-yard in the heart of a bustling, indifferent city, seen
from the windows of a gloomy-looking inn, is at no time an object of en-
livening suggestion; and the spectacle is not at its best when the mouldy
tombstones and funereal umbrage have received the ineffectual refresh-
ment of a dull, moist snow-fall. If, while the air is thickened by this frosty
drizzle, the calendar should happen to indicate that the blessed vernal
season is already six weeks old, it will be admitted that no depressing in-
fluence is absent from the scene. This fact was keenly felt on a certain
12th of May, upwards of thirty years since, by a lady who stood looking
out of one of the windows of the best hotel in the ancient city of Boston.
She had stood there for half an hourÑstood there, that is, at intervals; for
from time to time she turned back into the room and measured its length
with a restless step. In the chimney-place was a red-hot fire which emit-
ted a small blue flame; and in front of the fire, at a table, sat a young man
who was busily plying a pencil. He had a number of sheets of paper cut
into small equal squares, and he was apparently covering them with
pictorial designsÑstrange-looking figures. He worked rapidly and at-
tentively, sometimes threw back his head and held out his drawing at
arm's-length, and kept up a soft, gay-sounding humming and whistling.
The lady brushed past him in her walk; her much-trimmed skirts were
voluminous. She never dropped her eyes upon his work; she only turned
them, occasionally, as she passed, to a mirror suspended above the toilet-
table on the other side of the room. Here she paused a moment, gave a
pinch to her waist with her two hands, or raised these membersÑthey
were very plump and prettyÑto the multifold braids of her hair, with a
movement half caressing, half corrective. An attentive observer might
have fancied that during these periods of desultory self-inspection her
face forgot its melancholy; but as soon as she neared the window again it
began to proclaim that she was a very ill-pleased woman. And indeed, in
what met her eyes there was little to be pleased with. The window-panes
were battered by the sleet; the head-stones in the grave-yard beneath
seemed to be holding themselves askance to keep it out of their faces. A
3
Remove