Villette HTML version

7. Villette
I awoke next morning with courage revived and spirits refreshed: physical debility no
longer enervated my judgment; my mind felt prompt and clear.
Just as I finished dressing, a tap came to the door; I said, 'Come in', expecting the
chambermaid, whereas a rough man walked in and said:
'Gif me your keys, Meess.'
'Why?' I asked.
'Gif!' said he impatiently; and as he half-snatched them from my hand, he added, 'All
right! haf your tronc soon.'
Fortunately it did turn out all right: he was from the custom-house. Where to go to get
some breakfast I could not tell; but I proceeded, not without hesitation, to descend.
I now observed, what I had not noticed in my extreme weariness last night, viz., that this
inn was, in fact, a large hotel; and as I slowly descended the broad staircase, halting on
each step (for I was in wonderfully little haste to get down), I gazed at the high ceiling
above me, at the painted walls around, at the wide windows which filled the house with
light, at the veined marble I trod (for the steps were all of marble, though uncarpeted and
not very clean), and contrasting all this with the dimensions of the closet assigned to me
as a chamber, with the extreme modesty of its appointments, I fell into a philosophising
Much I marvelled at the sagacity evinced by waiters and chambermaids in proportioning
the accommodation to the guest. How could inn-servants and ship-stewardesses
everywhere tell at a glance that, I for instance, was an individual of no social significance
and little burdened by cash? They did know it evidently: I saw quite well that they all, in
a moment's calculation, estimated me at about the same fractional value. The fact seemed
to me curious and pregnant; I would not disguise from myself what it indicated, yet
managed to keep up my spirits pretty well under its pressure.
Having at last landed in a great hall, full of skylight glare, I made my way somehow to
what proved to be the coffee-room. It cannot be denied that on entering this room I
trembled somewhat; felt uncertain, solitary, wretched; wished to Heaven I knew whether
I was doing right or wrong; felt convinced it was the last, but could not help myself.
Acting in the spirit and with the calm of a fatalist, I sat down at a small table, to which a
waiter presently brought me some breakfast; and I partook of that meal in a frame of
mind not greatly calculated to favour digestion. There were many other people
breakfasting at other tables in the room; I should have felt rather more happy if amongst
them all I could have seen any women; however, there was not one - all present were
men. But nobody seemed to think I was doing anything strange; one or two gentlemen