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Villette

38. Cloud
But it is not so for all. What then? His will be done, as done it surely will be, whether we
humble ourselves to resignation or not. The impulse of creation. forwards it; the strength
of powers, seen and unseen, has its fulfilment in charge. Proof of a life to come must be
given. In fire and in blood, if needful, must that proof be written. In fire and in blood do
we trace the record throughout nature. In fire and in blood does it cross our own
experience. Sufferer, faint not through terror of this burning evidence. Tired wayfarer,
gird up thy loins; look upward, march onward. Pilgrims and brother mourners, join in
friendly company. Dark through the wilderness of this world stretches the way for most
of us: equal and steady be our tread; be our cross our banner. For staff we have His
promise, whose 'word is tried, whose way perfect': for present hope His providence, 'who
gives the shield of salvation, whose gentleness makes great'; for final home His bosom,
who 'dwells in the height of Heaven'; for crowning prize a glory, exceeding and eternal.
Let us so run that we may obtain: let us endure hardness as good soldiers; let us finish our
course, and keep the faith reliant in the issue to come off more than conquerors: 'Art thou
not from everlasting mine Holy One? WE SHALL NOT DIE!'
On a Thursday morning we were all assembled in classe, waiting for the lesson of
literature. The hour was come; we expected the master.
The pupils of the first classe sat very still; the cleanly written compositions prepared
since the last lesson lay ready before them, neatly tied with ribbon, waiting to be gathered
by the hand of the professor as he made his rapid round of the desks. The month was
July, the morning fine, the glass door stood ajar, through it played a fresh breeze, and
plants, growing at the lintel, waved, bent, looked in, seeming to whisper tidings.
M. Emanuel was not always quite punctual; we scarcely wondered at his being a little
late, but we wondered when the door at last opened and, instead of him with his swiftness
and his fire, there came quietly upon us the cautious Madame Beck.
She approached M. Paul's desk; she stood before it; she drew round her the light shawl
covering her shoulders; beginning to speak in low, yet firm tones, and with a fixed gaze,
she said --
'This morning there will be no lesson of literature.'
The second paragraph of her address followed, after about two minutes' pause.
'It is probable the lessons will be suspended for a week. I shall require at least that space
of time to find an efficient substitute for M. Emanuel. Meanwhile, it shall be our study to
fill the blanks usefully.
'Your Professor, ladies,' she went on, 'intends, if possible, duly to take leave of you. At
the present moment he has not leisure for that ceremony. He is preparing for a long
 
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