The Professor HTML version

Chapter 25
IN two months more Frances had fulfilled the time of mourning for her aunt. One
January morning--the first of the new year holidays--I went in a fiacre,
accompanied only by M. Vandenhuten, to the Rue Notre Dame aux Neiges, and
having alighted alone and walked upstairs, I found Frances apparently waiting for
me, dressed in a style scarcely appropriate to that cold, bright, frosty day. Never
till now had I seen her attired in any other than black or sad-coloured stuff; and
there she stood by the window, clad all in white, and white of a most diaphanous
texture; her array was very simple, to be sure, but it looked imposing and festal
because it was so clear, full, and floating; a veil shadowed her head, and hung
below her knee; a little wreath of pink flowers fastened it to her thickly tressed
Grecian plait, and thence it fell softly on each side of her face. Singular to state,
she was, or had been crying; when I asked her if she were ready, she said "Yes,
monsieur," with something very like a checked sob; and when I took a shawl,
which lay on the table, and folded it round her, not only did tear after tear course
unbidden down her cheek, but she shook to my ministration like a reed. I said I
was sorry to see her in such low spirits, and requested to be allowed an insight
into the origin thereof. She only said, "It was impossible to help it," and then
voluntarily, though hurriedly, putting her hand into mine, accompanied me out of
the room, and ran downstairs with a quick, uncertain step, like one who was
eager to get some formidable piece of business over. I put her into the fiacre. M.
Vandenhuten received her, and seated her beside himself; we drove all together
to the Protestant chapel, went through a certain service in the Common Prayer
Book, and she and I came out married. M. Vandenhuten had given the bride
We took no bridal trip; our modesty, screened by the peaceful obscurity of our
station, and the pleasant isolation of our circumstances, did not exact that
additional precaution. We repaired at once to a small house I had taken in the
faubourg nearest to that part of the city where the scene of our avocations lay.
Three or four hours after the wedding ceremony, Frances, divested of her bridal
snow, and attired in a pretty lilac gown of warmer materials, a piquant black silk
apron, and a lace collar with some finishing decoration of lilac ribbon, was
kneeling on the carpet of a neatly furnished though not spacious parlour,
arranging on the shelves of a chiffoniere some books, which I handed to her from
the table. It was snowing fast out of doors; the afternoon had turned out wild and
cold; the leaden sky seemed full of drifts, and the street was already ankle-deep
in the white downfall. Our fire burned bright, our new habitation looked brilliantly
clean and fresh, the furniture was all arranged, and there were but some articles
of glass, china, books, &c., to put in order. Frances found in this business
occupation till tea-time, and then, after I had distinctly instructed her how to make
a cup of tea in rational English style, and after she had got over the dismay