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40. The Happy Pair
The day succeeding this remarkable midsummer night, proved no common day. I
do not mean that it brought signs in heaven above, or portents on the earth beneath; nor
do I allude to meteorological phenomena, to storm, flood, or whirlwind. On the contrary:
the sun rose jocund, with a July face. Morning decked her beauty with rubies, and so
filled her lap with roses, that they fell from her in showers, making her path blush: the
hours woke fresh as nymphs, and emptying on the early hills their dew vials, they stepped
out dismantled of vapour: shadowless, azure and glorious, they led the sun's steeds on a
burning and unclouded course.
In short, it was as fine a day as the finest summer could boast: but I doubt whether I was
not the sole inhabitant of the Rue Fossette, who cared or remembered to note this pleasant
fact. Another thought busied all other heads; a thought, indeed, which had its share in my
meditations; but this master consideration, not possessing for me so entire a novelty, so
overwhelming a suddenness, especially so dense a mystery, as it offered to the majority
of my co-speculators thereon, left me somewhat more open than the rest to any collateral
observation or impression.
Still, while walking in the garden, feeling the sunshine, and marking the blooming and
growing plants, I pondered the same subject the whole house discussed.
What subject?
Merely this. When matins came to be said, there was a place vacant in the first rank of
boarders. When breakfast was served, there remained a coffee cup unclaimed. When the
housemaid made the beds, she found in one a bolster laid lengthwise, clad in a cap and
nightgown; and when Ginevra Fanshawe's music-mistress came early, as usual, to give
the morning lesson, that accomplished and promising young person, her pupil, failed
utterly to be forthcoming.
High and low was Miss Fanshawe sought; through length and breadth was the house
ransacked; vainly; not a trace, not an indication, not so much as a scrap of a billet
rewarded the search; the nymph was vanished, engulfed in the past night, like a shooting
star swallowed up by darkness.
Deep was the dismay of surveillante teachers, deeper the horror of the defaulting
directress. Never had I seen Madame Beck so pale or so appalled. Here was a blow struck
at her tender part, her weak side; here was damage done to her interest. How, too, had the
untoward event happened? By what outlet had the fugitive taken wing? Not a casement
was found unfastened, not a pane of glass broken; all the doors were bolted secure. Never
to this day has Madame Beck obtained satisfaction on this point, nor indeed has anybody
else concerned, save and excepting one, Lucy Snowe, who could not forget how, to
facilitate a certain enterprise, a certain great door had been drawn softly to its lintel,
closed, indeed, but neither bolted nor secure. The thundering carriage-and-pair