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


              CHAPTER XVI.

THERE is no denying it, I have led a life of
far more than ordinary happiness. The white
squares in the chequer of my existence have
certainly equalled the black ones, and it is not
every man can say as much. I suspect I owe a
great share of this enjoyment to temperament,
to a disposition not so much remarkable for
opposing difficulties, as for deriving all the
possible pleasure from any fortunate conjuncture.
This gift I know I possess. I am not one of
those strong natures which, by their intrinsic
force, are ever impressing their own image on
the society they live in. I am a weak, frail,
yielding creature, but my very pliancy has
given me many a partnership in emotions which,
with a more rugged temperament, I had not
partaken of. When one has wept over a friend's
misfortunes and awakes to the consciousness
that no ill has befallen himself, he feels as some
great millionnaire might feel when he has
bestowed a thousand pounds in charity and yet
knows he is never the poorer. With the proud
consciousness of this fresh title to men's admiration,
he has the secret satisfaction of knowing
that he will go clothed in purple as before, and
fare to-day as sumptuously as yesterday. Do
not, most generous of readers, call this selfishness.
It is the very reverse. It is the grand
culminating point of human sympathy.

I have a great deal more to say about myself.
It is a theme I am really fond of, but I am not
exactly sure that you are like-minded, or that
this is the fittest place for it. I return to

It was on a bright, breezy morning of the
early autumn that a heavy old German travelling
carriagea waggon!—rattled over the
uneven pavement of Kalbbratenstadt, and soon
gaining one of the long forest alleys, rolled
noiselessly over the smooth sward. Within sat
an elderly lady with a due allowance of air
cushions, toy terriers, and guide-books; in the
rumble were a man and a maid; and in the
cabriolet in front were a pale but placid girl,
with large grey eyes and long lashes, and he who
now writes these lines beside her. They who
had only known me a few months back as a freshman
of Trinity would not have recognised me
now, as I sat with a long-peaked travelling-cap,
a courier's belt and bag at my side, and the opening
promise of a smail furry moustache on my
upper lip; not to say that I had got up a sort of
supercilious air of contemptuous pity for the
foreigner, which I had observed to be much in
favour with the English abroad. It cost me
dear to do this, and nothing but the consciousness
that it was one of the requirements of my
station could have made me assume it, for in
my heart of hearts I revelled in enjoyment of
all around me. I liked the soft, breezy, balmy
air, the mellow beech wood, the grassy turf
overgrown with violets, the wild notes of the
frightened wood-pigeon, the very tramp-tramp
of the massive horses, with their scarlet tassels
and their jingling bells, all pleased and interested
me. Not to speak of her who, at my
side, felt a very child's delight at every novelty
of the way.

"What would I have said to any one who,
only a fortnight ago, had promised me such
happiness as this?" said I to my companion, as
we drove along, while the light branches rustled
pleasantly over the roof of the carriage, darkening
the shade around us, or occasionally deluging
us with the leaves as we passed.

"And are you then so very happy?" asked
she, with a pleasant smile.

"Can you doubt it? or rather is it that, as
the emotion does not extend to yourself, you do
doubt it?"

"Oh, as for me," cried she, joyfully, "it is
very different. I have never travelled till now
seen nothing, actually nothing. The veriest
common-places of the road, the peasants' costumes,
their wayside cottages, the little shrines
they kneel at, are all objects of picturesque
interest to me, and I am ready to exclaim at
each moment, 'Oh! why cannot we stop here?
shall we ever see anything so beautiful again as

"And hearing you talk thus, you can ask me
am I so very happy!" said I, reproachfully.

"What I meant was, is it not stupid to have
no companion of your own turn of mind, none
with whom you could talk without condescending
to a tone beneath you, just as certain stories
are reduced to words of one syllable for little

"Mademoiselle is given to sarcasm, I see,"
said I, half peevishly.

"Nothing of the kind," said she, blushing
slightly. "It was in perfect good faith. I