The Professor HTML version

Chapter 21
DIRECTLY as I closed the door, I saw laid on the table two letters; my thought
was, that they were notes of invitation from the friends of some of my pupils; I
had received such marks of attention occasionally, and with me, who had no
friends, correspondence of more interest was out of the question; the postman's
arrival had never yet been an event of interest to me since I came to Brussels. I
laid my hand carelessly on the documents, and coldly and slowly glancing at
them, I prepared to break the seals; my eye was arrested and my hand too; I saw
what excited me, as if I had found a vivid picture where I expected only to
discover a blank page: on one cover was an English postmark; on the other, a
lady's clear, fine autograph; the last I opened first:--
"'Monsieur, -- I found out what you had done the very morning after your visit to
me; you might be sure I should dust the china, every day; and, as no one but you
had been in my room for a week, and as fairy-money is not current in Brussels, I
could not doubt who left the twenty francs on the chimney-piece. I thought I
heard you stir the vase when I was stooping to look for your glove under the
table, and I wondered you should imagine it had got into such a little cup. Now,
monsieur, the money is not mine, and I shall not keep it; I will not send it in this
note because it might be lost--besides, it is heavy; but I will restore it to you the
first time I see you, and you must make no difficulties about taking it; because, in
the first place, I am sure, monsieur, you can understand that one likes to pay
one's debts; that it is satisfactory to owe no man anything; and, in the second
place, I can now very well afford to be honest, as I am provided with a situation.
This last circumstance is, indeed, the reason of my writing to you, for it is
pleasant to communicate good news; and, in these days, I have only my master
to whom I can tell anything.
"A week ago, monsieur, I was sent for by a Mrs. Wharton, an English lady; her
eldest daughter was going to be married, and some rich relation having made her
a present of a veil and dress in costly old lace, as precious, they said, almost as
jewels, but a little damaged by time, I was commissioned to put them in repair. I
had to do it at the house; they gave me, besides, some embroidery to complete,
and nearly a week elapsed before I had finished everything. While I worked, Miss
Wharton often came into the room and sat with me, and so did Mrs. Wharton;
they made me talk English; asked how I had learned to speak it so well; then
they inquired what I knew besides--what books I had read; soon they seemed to
make a sort of wonder of me, considering me no doubt as a learned grisette. One
afternoon, Mrs. Wharton brought in a Parisian lady to test the accuracy of my
knowledge of French; the result of it: was that, owing probably in a great degree
to the mother's and daughter's good humour about the marriage, which inclined
them to do beneficent deeds, and partly, I think, because they are naturally
benevolent people, they decided that the wish I had expressed to do something
more than mend lace was a very legitimate one; and the same day they took me
in their carriage to Mrs. D.'s, who is the directress of the first English school at
Brussels. It seems she happened to be in want of a French lady to give lessons