Villette HTML version

16. Auld Lang Syne
Where my soul went during that swoon I cannot tell. Whatever she saw, or wherever she
travelled in her trance on that strange night, she kept her own secret; never whispering a
word to Memory, and baffling Imagination by an indissoluble silence. She may have
gone upward, and come in sight of her eternal home, hoping for leave to rest now, and
deeming that her painful union with matter was at last dissolved. While she so deemed,
an angel may have warned her away from heaven's threshold, and, guiding her, weeping,
down, have bound her, once more, all shuddering and unwilling, to that poor frame, cold
and wasted, of whose companionship she was grown more than weary.
I know she re-entered her prison with pain, with reluctance, with a moan and a long
shiver. The divorced mates, Spirit and Substance, were hard to re-unite: they greeted each
other, not in an embrace, but a racking sort of struggle. The returning sense of sight came
upon me, red, as if it swam in blood; suspended hearing rushed back loud, like thunder;
consciousness revived in fear: I sat up appalled, wondering into what region, amongst
what strange beings I was waking. At first I knew nothing I looked on: a wall was not a
wall - a lamp not a lamp. I should have understood what we call a ghost, as well as I did
the commonest object: which is another way of intimating that all my eye rested on
struck it as spectral. But the faculties soon settled each in his place; the life-machine
presently resumed its wonted and regular working.
Still, I knew not where I was; only in time I saw I had been removed from the spot where
I fell: I lay on no portico-step; night and tempest were excluded by walls, windows and
ceiling. Into some house I had been carried - but what house?
I could only think of the pensionnat in the Rue Fossette. Still half-dreaming, I tried hard
to discover in what room they had put me; whether the greater dormitory or one of the
little dormitories. I was puzzled, because I could not make the glimpses of furniture I
saw, accord with my knowledge of any of these apartments. The empty white beds were
wanting, and the long line of large windows. 'Surely,' thought I, 'it is not to Madame
Beck's own chamber they have carried me!' And here my eye fell on an easy chair
covered with blue damask. Other seats, cushioned to match, dawned on me by degrees;
and at last I took in the complete fact of a pleasant parlour, with a wood fire on a clear
shining hearth, a carpet where arabesques of bright blue relieved a ground of shaded
fawn; pale walls over which a slight but endless garland of azure forget-me-nots ran
mazed and bewildered amongst myriad gold leaves and tendrils. A gilded mirror filled up
the space between two windows, curtained amply with blue damask. In this mirror I saw
myself laid, not in bed, but on a sofa. I looked spectral; my eyes larger and more hollow,
my hair darker than was natural, by contrast with my thin and ashen face. It was obvious,
not only from the furniture, but from the position of windows, doors and fireplace that
this was an unknown room in an unknown house.
Hardly less plain was it that my brain was not yet settled; for, as I gazed at the blue
armchair, it appeared to grow familiar; so did a certain scroll couch, and not less so the