With the almost impatient quickness which marked every thing he did—a quickness which did not seem in any way allied to slovenliness or inaccuracy, however—the young man pushed through the gate, which protested loudly against such rough usage, and walked hastily up to the porch-steps. He paused a moment ere ascending.
“Are you Professor Valeyon?” he asked.
Again the professor bowed his head in assent. “And are you—?” began he.
The young man sprang up the steps, and grasping the other’s half-extended hand, gave it a brief, hard shake.
“I’m Bressant,” said he.
Sophie and Cornelia enter into A covenant.
When Cornelia left her father on the balcony, she danced up-stairs, and chasseed on tiptoe up to the door of Sophie’s room. There she stopped and knocked.
Somehow or other, nobody ever went into that room without knocking. It never entered any one’s head to burst in unannounced. The door was an unimposing-looking piece of deal, grained by some village artist into the portraiture of an as yet undiscovered kind of wood, and considerably impaired in various ways by time. It could not have been the door, therefore. Nor was the bolt ever drawn, save at certain hours of the morning and night. Sophie was not an ogre, either. Cornelia, who was very trying at times, would have found it hard to recall an occasion when Sophie had answered or addressed her sharply or crossly. If she exerted any influence, or wielded any power, it was not of the kind which attends a violent or morose temper. But no vixen or shrew, how terrible soever she may be, can hope at all times or from all people to meet with respect or consideration; while to Sophie Valeyon the world always put on its best face and manner, secretly wondering at itself the while for being so well-behaved.
As to the affair of knocking, Sophie herself had never said a word about it, one way or another. She always took it as a matter of course; indeed, had she been loquacious on the subject, or insisted upon the observance, Cornelia for one would have been very likely to laugh to scorn and disregard her, therein acting upon a principle of her own, which prompted her to measure her strength against any thing which seemed to challenge her, and never to give up if she could help it. But she had never had a trial of strength with Sophie, and possibly was quite contented that it should be so. She would have shrunk from thwarting or crossing her sister as she would from committing a secret sin: there might be no material or visible ill-consequence, but the stings of conscience would be all the sharper.
So Cornelia knocked and entered, and the quiet, cool room in which her sister lay seemed to glow and become enlivened by the joyous reflection of her presence. Yet the effect of the room upon Cornelia was at least as marked. She hushed herself, as it were, and tried, half unconsciously, to adapt herself to the tone of her surroundings; for, although her physical nature was sound and healthy, almost to boisterousness, her perceptions remained very keen and delicate, and occasionally rallied her upon the redundancy of her animal well-being with something like reproof.