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My Lady Ludlow Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter VII.

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"I have told you that I heard much of this story from a friend of the Intendant of the De Crequys, whom he met with in London. Some years afterwards--the summer before my lord's death--I was travelling with him in Devonshire, and we went to see the French prisoners of war on Dartmoor. We fell into conversation with one of them, whom I found out to be the very Pierre of whom I had heard before, as having been involved in the fatal story of Clement and Virginie, and by him I was told much of their last days, and thus I learnt how to have some sympathy with all those who were concerned in those terrible events; yes, even with the younger Morin himself, on whose behalf Pierre spoke warmly, even after so long a time had elapsed.

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"For when the younger Morin called at the porter's lodge, on the evening of the day when Virginie had gone out for the first time after so many months' confinement to the conciergerie, he was struck with the improvement in her appearance. It seems to have hardly been that he thought her beauty greater: for, in addition to the fact that she was not beautiful, Morin had arrived at that point of being enamoured when it does not signify whether the beloved one is plain or handsome--she has enchanted one pair of eyes, which henceforward see her through their own medium. But Morin noticed the faint increase of colour and light in her countenance. It was as though she had broken through her thick cloud of hopeless sorrow, and was dawning forth into a happier life. And so, whereas during her grief, he had revered and respected it even to a point of silent sympathy, now that she was gladdened, his heart rose on the wings of strengthened hopes. Even in the dreary monotony of this existence in his Aunt Babette's conciergerie, Time had not failed in his work, and now, perhaps, soon he might humbly strive to help Time. The very next day he returned--on some pretence of business--to the Hotel Duguesclin, and made his aunt's room, rather than his aunt herself, a present of roses and geraniums tied up in a bouquet with a tricolor ribbon. Virginie was in the room, sitting at the coarse sewing she liked to do for Madame Babette. He saw her eyes brighten at the sight of the flowers: she asked his aunt to let her arrange them; he saw her untie the ribbon, and with a gesture of dislike, throw it on the ground, and give it a kick with her little foot, and even in this girlish manner of insulting his dearest prejudices, he found something to admire.

"As he was coming out, Pierre stopped him. The lad had been trying to arrest his cousin's attention by futile grimaces and signs played off behind Virginie's back: but Monsieur Morin saw nothing but Mademoiselle Cannes. However, Pierre was not to be baffled, and Monsieur Morin found him in waiting just outside the threshold. With his finger on his lips, Pierre walked on tiptoe by his companion's side till they would have been long past sight or hearing of the conciergerie, even had the inhabitants devoted themselves to the purposes of spying or listening.

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My Lady Ludlow
Elizabeth Gaskell

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