페이지 이미지

"It was the name of my beauty-in fact, of the beauty of the University, Mademoiselle de Belmont. Her father, a distinguished officer, had died on the field of battle. She occupied with her mother a large and handsome house in the street in which I lived, on the same side, and a few doors distant. This mother, wise and prudent, obliged by circumstances to inhabit a city filled with young students from all parts, and having so charming a daughter, never suffered her a moment from her sight, either in or out of doors. But the good lady passionately loved company and cards; and to reconcile her tastes with her duties, she carried Amelia with her to all the assemblies of dowagers, professors' wives, canonesses, &c. &c., where the poor girl ennuyed herself to death with hemming or knitting beside her mother's card-table. But you ought to have been informed, that no student, indeed no man under fifty, was admitted. I had then but little chance of conveying my sentiments to Amelia. I am sure, however, that any other than myself would have discovered this chance, but I was a perfect novice in gallantry; and until the moment when I imbibed this passion from Amelia's beautiful dark eyes, mine, having been always fixed upon Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, &c., understood nothing at all of the language of the heart. It was at an old lady's, to whom I was introduced, that I became acquainted with Amelia; my destiny led me to her house on the evening of her assembly; she received me-I saw Mademoiselle de Belmont, and from that instant her image was engraven in lines of fire on my heart. The mother frowned at the sight of a well-looking young man: but my timid, grave, and perhaps somewhat pedantic air, re-assured her. There were a few other young persons-daughters and nieces of the lady of the mansion; it was summer-they obtained permission to walk in the garden, under the windows of the saloon, and the eyes of their mammas. I followed them; and, without daring to address a word to my fair one, caught each that fell from her lips.

"Her conversation appeared to me as charming as her person; she spoke on different subjects with intelligence above her years. In making some pleasant remarks on the defects of men in general, she observed, that what she most dreaded was violence of temper.' Naturally of a calm disposition, I was wishing to boast of it; but not having the courage, I at last entered into her idea, and said so much against passion, that I could not well be suspected of an inclination to it. I was recompensed by an approving smile; it emboldened me, and I began to talk much better than I thought myself capable of doing before so many handsome women; she appeared to listen with pleasure; but when they came to the chapter of fashions, I had no more to say it was an unknown language; neither did she appear versed in it. Then succeeded observations on the flowers in the garden; I knew little more of this than of the fashions, but I might likewise have my particular taste; and to decide, I waited to learn that of Amelia: she declared for the Rose, and grew animated in the eulogy of her chosen flower. From that moment, it became for me the queen of flowers. Amelia,' said a pretty, little, laughing Espiegle, how many of your favourites are condemned to death this winter ?' 'Not one,' replied she; I renounce them their education is too troublesome, and too ungrateful a task; and I begin to think I know nothing about it.'



"I assumed sufficient resolution to ask the explanation of this question and answer: she gave it to me; You have just learned that I am passionately fond of Roses: it is an hereditary taste; my mother is still fonder of them than I am; since I was able to think of any thing, I have had the greatest wish to offer her a rose-tree in blow (as a new year's gift) on the first of January; I have never succeeded. Every year I have put a quantity of rose-trees into vases; the greater number perished; and I have never been able to offer one rose to my mother.' So little did I know of the culture of flowers, as to be perfectly ignorant that it was possible to have roses in winter; but from the moment I understood that it might be, without a miracle, and that incessant attention only was necessary, I promised myself, that this year the first of January should not pass without Amelia's offering her mother a rosetree in blow. We returned to the saloon-so close was I on the watch, that I heard her ask my name in a whisper. Her companion answered, I know him only by reputation; they say he is an author; and so learned, that he is already a professor.' I should never have guessed it,' said Amelia; he seems neither vain nor pedantic.' How thankful was I for this reputation. Next morning I went to a gardener, and ordered fifty rose-trees of different months to be put in vases. 'It must be singular ill fortune,' thought I, if, among this number, one at least does not flower.' On leaving the gardener, I went to my bookseller's purchased some works on flowers, and returned home full of hope. I intended to accompany my rose-tree with a fine letter, in which I should request to be permitted to visit Madame de Belmont, in order to teach her daughter the art of having roses in winter; the agreeable lesson, and the charming scholar, were to me much pleasanter themes than those of my philosophical lectures. I built on all this the prettiest romance possible; my milk-pail had not yet got on so far as Perrette's; she held it on her head; and my rose was not yet transplanted into its vase; but I saw it all in blow. In the mean time, I was happy only in imagination; I no longer saw Amelia; they ceased to invite me to the dowager parties, and she was not allowed to mix in those of young people. I must then be restricted until my introducer was in a state of presentation, to seeing her every evening pass by with her mother, as they went to their parties. Happily for me, Madame de Belmont was such a coward in a carriage, that she preferred walking when it was possible. I knew the hour at which they were in the habit of leaving home; I learned to distinguish the sound of the bell of their gate from that of all the others of the quarter; my window on the floor was always open; at the moment I heard their gate unclose, I snatched up some volume, which was often turned upside down, stationed myself at the window, as if profoundly occupied with my study, and thus almost every day saw for an instant the lovely girl; and this instant was sufficient to attach me to her still more deeply. The elegant simplicity of her dress; her rich dark hair wreathed round her head, and falling in ringlets on her forehead; her slight and graceful figure her step at once light and commanding the fairy foot, that the care of guarding the snowy robe rendered visible, inflamed my admiration ; while her dignified and composed manner, her attention to her mother,


and the affability with which she saluted her inferiors, touched my heart yet more. I began too to fancy, that, limited as were my opportunities of attracting her notice, I was not entirely indifferent to her. For example, on leaving home, she usually crossed to the opposite side of the street; for had she passed close to my windows, she guessed, that, intently occupied as I chose to appear, I could not well raise my eyes from my book; then as she came near my house, there was always something to say, in rather a louder tone, as, Take care mamma; lean heavier on me; do you feel cold?' I then raised my eyes, looked at her, saluted her, and generally encountered the transient glance of my divinity, who, with a blush, lowered her eyes, and returned my salute. The mother, all enveloped in cloaks, and hoods, saw nothing. I saw every thing and surrendered my heart. A slight circumstance augmented my hopes. I had published An Abridgment of Practical Philosophy.' It was an extract from my course of lectures-was successful, and the edition was sold. My bookseller, aware that I had some copies remaining, came to beg one for a customer of his, who was extremely anxious to get it; and he named Mademoiselle Amelia Belmont. I actually blushed with pleasure; to conceal my embarrassment, I laughingly inquired, what could a girl of her age want with so serious a work? To read it, sir,-doubtless;' replied the bookseller; • Mademoiselle Amelia does not resemble the generality of young ladies; she prefers useful to amusing books,' He then mentioned the names of several that he had lately sent to her; and gave me a high opinion of her taste. • From her impatience for your book,' added he, I can answer for it, that it will be perused with great pleasure; more than ten messages have been sent; at last I promised it for to-morrow, and I beg of you to enable me to keep my word.' I thrilled with joy, as I gave him the volumes, at the idea that Amelia would read my sentiments, and that she would learn to know me.

"October arrived, and with it, my fifty vases of rose-trees; for which, of course, they made me pay what they chose ;-and I was as delighted to count them in my room, as a miser would his sacks of gold. They all looked rather languishing, but then it was because they had not yet reconciled themselves to the new earth. I read all that was ever written on the culture of roses, with much more attention than I had formerly read my old philosophers; and I ended as wise as I began. I perceived that this science, like all others, has no fixed rules, and that each vaunts his system, and believes it the best. One of my gardener authors would have the rose-trees as much as possible in the open air ; another recommended their being kept close shut up; one ordered constant watering; another absolutely forbade it. It is thus with the education of man,' said I, closing the volumes in vexation. • Always in extremes let us try the medium between these opposite opinions." I established a good thermometer in my room; and, according to its indications, I put them outside the windows or took them in; you may guess that fifty vases, to which I gave this exercise three or four times a-day, according to the variations of the atmosphere, did not leave me much idle time; and this was the occupation of a professor of philosophy! Ah! well might they have taken his chair from him, and sent

him back to school, a thousand times more childish than the youngest of those pupils to whom I hurried over the customary routine of philosophical lessons: my whole mind was fixed on Amelia and my rose


The death of the greater number of my eleves, however, soon lightened my labour; more than half of them never struck root. I flung them into the fire; a fourth part of those that remained, after unfolding some little leaves, stopped there. Several assumed a blackish yellow tint, and gave me hopes of beautifying; some flourished surprisingly, but only in leaves; others, to my great joy, were covered with buds; but in a few days they always got that little yellow circle which the gardeners call the collar, and which is to them a mortal malady-their stalks twisted-they drooped and finally fell, one after the other, to the earth-not a single bud remaining on my poor trees. This withered my hopes; and the more care I took of my invalids the more I hawked them from window to window, the worse they grew. At last, one of them, and but one, promised to reward my troublethickly covered with leaves, it formed a handsome bush, from the middle of which sprung out a fine vigorous branch, crowned with six beautiful buds that got no collar-grew, enlarged, and even discovered, through their calices, a slight rose tint. There were still six long weeks before the new year; and certainly, four, at least, of my precious buds would be blown by that time. Behold me now recompensed for all my pains: hope re-entered my heart, and every moment I looked on my beauteous introducer with complacency.

"On the 27th of November, a day which I can never forget, the sun rose in all its brilliance; I thanked Heaven, and hastened to place my rose-tree, and such of its companions as yet survived, on a peristyle in the court. (I have already mentioned that I lodged on the ground floor.) I watered them, and went, as usual, to give my philosophical lecture. I then dined-drank to the health of my rose and returned to take my station in my window, with a quicker throbbing of the heart.


"Amelia's mother had been slightly indisposed; for eight days she had not left the house, and consequently I had not seen my fair On the first morning I had observed the physician going in ; uneasy for her, I contrived to cross his way, questioned him, and was comforted. I afterwards learned that the old lady had recovered, and was to make her appearance abroad on this day at a grand gala given by a baroness, who lived at the end of the street. I was then certain to see Amelia pass by, and eight days of privation had enhanced that thought; I am sure Madame de Belmont did not look to this party with as much impatience as I did. She was always one of the first: it had scarcely struck five, when I heard the bell of her gate. I took up a book-there I was at my post-and presently I saw Amelia appear, dazzling with dress and beauty as she gave her arm to her mother; never yet had the brilliancy of her figure so struck me; this time there was no occasion for her to speak to catch my eyes; they were fixed on her, but her's were bent down; however, she guessed that I was there, for she passed slowly to prolong my happiness. I followed her with my gaze, until she

entered the house; there only she turned her head for a second; the door was shut, and she disappeared; but remained present to my heart. I could neither close my window, nor cease to look at the baroness's hotel, as if I could see Amelia through the walls; I remained there till all objects were fading into obscurity-the approach of night, and the frostiness of the air, brought to my recollection that the rose-tree was still on the peristyle: never had it been so precious to me; I hastened to it; and scarcely was I in the anti-chamber, when I heard a singular noise, like that of an animal browsing, and tinkling its bells. I trembled, I flew, and I had the grief to find a sheep quietly fixed beside my rose-trees, of which it was making its evening repast with no slight avidity.

"I caught up the first thing in my way; it was a heavy cane: I wished to drive away the gluttonous beast; alas! it was too late; he had just bitten off the beautiful branch of buds; he swallowed them one after another; and in spite of the gloom, I could see, half out of his mouth, the finest of them all, which in a moment was champed like the rest. I was neither ill-tempered, nor violent; but at this sight I was no longer master of myself. Without well knowing what I did, I discharged a blow of my cane on the animal, and stretched it at my feet. No sooner did I perceive it motionless than I repented of hav1 ing killed a creature unconscious of the mischief it had done. Was this worthy of the professor of philosophy, the adorer of the gentle Amelia ? But thus to eat up my rose-tree, my only hope to get admittance to her! When I thought on its annihilation, I could not consider myself so culpable. However, the night darkened; I heard the old servant crossing the lower passage, and I called her. 'Catherine,' said I,

bring your light, there is mischief here; you left the stable door open, (that of the court was also unclosed,) one of your sheep has been browsing on my rose-trees, and I have punished it.'

"She soon came with the lanthorn in her hand. It is not one of our sheep,' said she; I have just come from them; the stable gate is shut, and they are all within. O, blessed saints! blessed saints! What do I see!'-exclaimed she, when near, it is the pet sheep of our neighbour Mademoiselle Amelia de Belmont. Poor Robin! what bad luck will be.' I nearly dropped Amelia !' said I in a trembO! good Lord! no; she has

brought you here! O! how sorry she
down beside Robin. • Of Mademoiselle
ling voice; has she actually a sheep ?'
none at this moment-but that which lies there, with its four legs up
in the air: she loved it as herself; see the collar that she worked for
it with her own hands.' I bent to look at it. It was of red leather,
ornamented with little bells, and she had embroidered on it in gold
thread Robin belongs to Amelia de Belmont; she loves him, and
begs that he may be restored to her.' What will she think of the
barbarian who killed him in a fit of passion-the vice that she most
detests; she is right, it has been fatal to her; yet if he should be only
stunned by a blow; Catharine, run, ask for some æther, or Eau de Vie,
or hartshorn,-run, Catharine, run!'

"Catharine set off; I tried to make it open its mouth, my rosebud was still between its hermetically-sealed teeth; perhaps the

« 이전계속 »