The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 562 pages of information about The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax.

The dinner, to which the girls adjourned at a second summons of the bell, was as little appetizing as the breakfast had been.  There was the nauseous soup, a morsel of veal, a salad dressed with rank oil, a mess of sweet curd, and a dish of stewed prunes.  After the fiction of dining, Miss Foster took the two pupils for a walk by the river, where groups of soldiers under shade of the trees were practising the fife and the drum.  Caen seemed to be full of soldiers, marching and drilling for ever.  Louise, the handsome portress at the school, frankly avowed that she did not know what the young women of her generation would do for husbands; the conscription carried away all the finest young men.  Janey loved to watch the soldiers; she loved all manner of shows, and also to tell of them.  She asked Bessie if she would like to hear about the emperor’s fete last month; and when Bessie acquiesced, she began in a discursive narrative style by which a story can be stretched to almost any length: 

“There was a military mass at St. Etienne’s in the morning.  I had only just left father, but Mademoiselle Adelaide took me with her, and a priest sent us up into the triforium—­you understand what the triforium is? a gallery in the apse looking down on the choir.  The triforium at St. Etienne’s is wide enough to drive a coach and four round; at the Augustines, where we went once to see three sisters take the white veil, it is quite narrow, and without anything to prevent you falling over—­a dizzy place.  But I am forgetting the fete....  It was so beautiful when the doors were thrown open, and the soldiers and flags came tramping in with the sunshine, and filled the nave!  The generals sat with the mayor and the prefet in the chancel, ever so grand in their ribbons and robes and orders.  The service was all music and not long:  soldiers don’t like long prayers.  You will see them go to mass on Sunday at St. Jean’s, opposite the school....  Then at night there was a procession—­such a pandemonium! such a rabble-rout, with music and shouting, soldiers marching at the double, carrying blazing torches, and a cloud of paper lanterns that caught fire and flared out.  We could hear the discordant riot ever so far off, and when the mob came up our street again, almost in the dark, I covered my ears.  Of all horrible sounds, a mob of excited Frenchmen can make the worst.  The wind in a storm at sea is nothing to it.”

There was a man gathering peaches from the sunny wall of a garden-house by the river.  Janey finished her tale, and remarked that here fruit could be bought.  Bessie, rich in the possession of a pocketful of money, was most truly glad to hear it, and a great feast of fruit ensued, with accompaniments of galette and new milk.  Then the walk was continued in a circuit which brought them back to the school through the town.  The return was followed by a collation of thick bread and butter and thin tea; then by a

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The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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