Page:Villette.djvu/27

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
20
VILLETTE.

at his elbow, and sharing her fare: excepting the marmalade, which she delicately refused to touch, lest, I suppose, it should appear that she had procured it as much on her account as his. She constantly evinced these nice perceptions and delicate instincts.

The league of acquaintanceship thus struck up was not hastily dissolved; on the contrary, it appeared that time and circumstances served rather to cement than loosen it. Ill-assimilated as the two were in age, sex, pursuits, &c., they somehow found a great deal to say to each other. As to Paulina, I observed that her little character never properly came out, except with young Bretton. As she got settled, and accustomed to the house, she proved tractable enough with Mrs. Bretton; but she would sit on a stool at that lady's feet all day long, learning her task, or sewing, or drawing figures with a pencil on a slate, and never kindling once to originality, or showing a single gleam of the percularities of her nature. I ceased to watch her under such circumstances: she was not interesting. But the moment Graham's knock sounded at the evening, a change occurred; she was instantly at the head of the staircase. Usually her welcome was a reprimand or threat.

"You have not wiped your shoes properly on the mat. I shall tell your mama".

"Little busybody! Are you there?"

"Yes—and you can't reach me: I am higher up than you" (peeping between the rails of the banister; she could not look over them).

"Polly!"

"My dear boy!" (such was one of her terms for him, adopted in imitation of his mother).

"I am fit to faint with fatigue," declared Graham, leaning against the passage wall in seeming exhaustion. "Dr Digby" (the head-master) "has quite knocked me up with over-work. Just come down and help me to carry up my books".

"Ah! You're cunning!"

"Not at all, Polly—it is positive fact. I'm as weak as a rush. Come down".

"Your eyes are quite like the cat's, but you'll spring".

"Spring? Nothing of the kind: it isn't in me. Come down".