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33. M. Paul Keeps His Promise
On the first of May, we had all -- i.e., the twenty boarders and the four teachers -- notice
to rise at five o'clock of the morning, to be dressed and ready by six, to put ourselves
under the command of M. le Professeur Emanuel, who was to head our march forth from
Villette, for it was on this day he proposed to fulfil his promise of taking us to breakfast
in the country. I, indeed, as the reader may perhaps remember, had not had the honour of
an invitation when this excursion was first projected -- rather the contrary; but on my
now making allusion to this fact, and wishing to know how it was to he, my ear received
a pull, of which I did not venture to challenge the repetition by raising further difficulties.
'Je vous conseille de vous faire prier,' said M. Emanuel, imperially menacing the other
ear. One Napoleonic compliment, however, was enough, so I made up my mind to be of
the party.
The morning broke calm as summer, with singing of birds in the garden, and a light dew-
mist that promised heat. We all said it would be warm, and we all felt pleasure in folding
away heavy garments, and in assuming the attire suiting a sunny season. The clean fresh
print dress, and the light straw bonnet, each made and trimmed as the French work-
woman alone can make and trim, so as to unite the utterly unpretending with the perfectly
becoming, was the rule of costume. Nobody flaunted in faded silk; nobody wore a
second-hand best article.
At six the bell rang merrily, and we poured down the staircase, through the carré; along
the corridor, into the vestibule. There stood our Professor, wearing not his savage-looking
paletôt and severe bonnet-grec, but a young-looking belted blouse and cheerful straw hat.
He had for us all the kindest good-morrow, and most of us for him had a thanksgiving
smile. We were marshalled in order and soon started.
The streets were yet quiet, and the boulevards were fresh and peaceful as fields. I believe
we were very happy as we walked along. This chief of ours had the secret of giving a
certain impetus to happiness when he would; just as, in an opposite mood, he could give a
thrill to fear.
He did not lead nor follow us, but walked along the line, giving a word to every one,
talking much to his favourites, and not wholly neglecting even those he disliked. It was
rather my wish, for a reason I had, to keep slightly aloof from notice, and being paired
with Ginevra Fanshawe, bearing on my arm the dear pressure of that angel's not
unsubstantial limb -- (she continued in excellent case, and I can assure the reader it was
no trifling business to bear the burden of her loveliness; many a time in the course of that
warm day I wished to goodness there had been less of the charming commodity) --
however, having her, as I said, I tried to make her useful by interposing her always
between myself and M. Paul, shifting my place, according as I heard him coming up to
the right hand or the left. My private motive for this manoeuvre might be traced to the
circumstance of the new print dress I wore being pink in colour -- a fact which, under our