+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

on the rippling water, the steady ruby-fire
glowing on cottage windows that reflected the
level sunlight, led the eye onward and
onward, along the windings of the Seine, until
it rested upon the spires, towers, and broadly-
massed houses of Rouen, with the wooded
hills rising beyond them for background.
Lovely to look on at any time, the view was
almost supernaturally beautiful now, under
the gorgeous evening light that glowed upon
it. All its attractions, however, were lost on
the valet; he stood yawning, with his hands
in his pockets, looking neither to the right nor
to the left; but staring straight before him
at a little hollow, beyond which the ground
sloped away smoothly to the brink of the
cliff. A bench was placed here, and three
personsan old lady, a gentleman, and a
young girlwere seated on it, watching the
sunset, and by consequence turning their
backs on Monsieur Justin. Near them stood
two gentlemen, also looking towards the river
and the distant view. These five figures
attracted the valet's attention, to the exclusion
of every other object around him.

"There they are still," he said to himself
discontentedly. "Madame Danville in the
same place on the seat; my master, the
bridegroom, dutifully next to her; Mademoiselle
Rose, the bride, bashfully next to him;
Monsieur Trudaine, the amateur apothecary
brother, affectionately next to her; and
Monsieur Lomaque, our queer land-steward,
officially in waiting on the whole party.
There they all are indeed, incomprehensibly
wasting their time still in looking at nothing!
Yes," continued Monsieur Justin, lifting his
eyes wearily, and staring hard, first up the
river, at Rouen, then down the river, at the
setting sun; "yes, plague take them, looking
at nothing, absolutely and positively at
nothing, all this while."

Here Monsieur Justin yawned again; and,
returning to the garden, sat himself down in
an arbour and resignedly went to sleep.

If the valet had ventured near the five
persons whom he had been apostrophising from a
distance, and if he had been possessed of some
little refinement of observation, he could
hardly have failed to remark that the bride
and bridegroom of the morrow, and their
companions on either side, were all in a
greater or less degree, under the influence of
some secret restraint, which affected their
conversation, their gestures, and even the
expression of their faces. Madame Danville
a handsome, richly-dressed old lady,
with very bright eyes, and a quick
suspicious mannerlooked composedly and
happily enough, as long us her attention
was fixed on her son. But when she turned
from him towards the bride a hardly-
perceptible uneasiness passed over her face
an uneasiness which only deepened to positive
distrust, and dissatisfaction whenever she
looked towards Mademoiselle Trudaine's
brother. In the same way, her son, who was
all smiles and happiness while he was speaking
with his future wife, altered visibly in manner
and look, exactly as his mother altered, whenever
the presence of Monsieur Trudaine
specially impressed itself on his attention. Then,
again, Lomaque, the land-stewardquiet,
sharp, skinny Lomaque, with the submissive
manner, and the red-rimmed eyes never
looked up at his master's future brother-in-law,
without looking away again rather
uneasily, and thoughtfully drilling holes in
the grass with his long sharp-pointed cane.
Even the bride herself, the pretty innocent
girl, with her childish shyness of manner,
seemed to be affected like the others. Doubt,
if not distress, overshadowed her face from
time to time, and the hand which her lover
held trembled a little, and grew restless, when
she accidentally caught her brother's eye.
And yet, strangely enough, there was nothing
to repel, but, on the contrary, everything to
attract, in the look and manner of the person
whose mere presence seemed to exercise such
a curiously constraining influence over the
wedding party. Louis Trudaine was a
remarkably handsome man. His expression
was singularly kind and gentle; his manner
irresistibly winning in its frank, manly firmness
and composure. His words, when he
occasionally spoke, seemed as unlikely to give
offence as his looks; for he only opened his
lips in courteous reply to questions directly
addressed to him. Judging by a latent
mournfulness in the tones of his voice, and by
the sorrowful tenderness which clouded his
kind earnest eyes whenever they rested on
his sister, his thoughts were certainly not of
the happy or the hopeful kind. But he gave
them no direct expression; he intruded his
secret sadness, whatever it might be, on no
one of his companions. Nevertheless, modest
and self-restrained as he was, there was
evidently some reproving or saddening influence
in his presence which affected the spirits of
everyone near him, and darkened the eve
of the wedding to bride and bridegroom

As the sun slowly sank in the heaven, the
conversation flagged more and more. After
a long silence the bridegroom was the first to
start a new subject.

"Rose, love," he said, "that magnificent
sunset is a good omen for our marriage, it
promises another lovely day to-morrow."
The bride laughed and blushed.
"Do you really believe in omens, Charles?"
she said.

"My dear," interposed the old lady, before
her son could answer; "if Charles does
believe in omens, it is nothing to laugh at. You
will soon know better, when you are his wife,
than to confound him, even in the slightest
things, with the common herd of people. All
his convictions are well-foundedso well, that
if I thought he really did believe in omens, I
should most assuredly make up my mind to
believe in them too."