Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax.

“You are not to care for Miss Hiloe; I shall stand up for you.  I have no notion of tyrants,” said Bessie in a spirited way.  But her feelings were very mixed, very far from comfortable.  This morning it seemed more than ever cruel to have sent her to school at her age, ignorant as she was of school ways.  She shuddered in anticipation of the dreadful moment when it would be publicly revealed that she could neither play on the piano nor speak a word of French.  Her deficiencies had been confided to Janey in a shy, shamefaced way, and Janey, who could chatter fluently in French and play ten tunes at least, had betrayed amazement.  Afterward she had given consolation.  There was one boarder who made no pretence of learning music, and several day-scholars; of course, being French, they spoke French, but not a girl of them all, not madame herself, could frame three consecutive sentences in English to be understood.

In the novelty of the situation Janey was patroness for the day.  Madame Fournier had to be encountered after breakfast, and proved to be a perfectly small lady, of most intelligent countenance and kind conciliatory speech.  She kissed Janey on both cheeks, and bent a penetrating pair of brown eyes on Bessie’s face, which looked intensely proud in her blushing shyness.  Madame had received from Mrs. Wiley (a former pupil and temporary teacher) instructions that Bessie’s education and training had been of the most desultory kind, and that it was imperatively necessary to remedy her deficiencies, and give her a veneering of cultivation and a polish to fit her for the station of life to which she was called.  Madame was able to judge for herself in such matters.  Bessie impressed her favorably, and no humiliation was inflicted on her even as touching her ignorance of French and the piano.  It was decreed that as Bessie professed no enthusiasm for music, it would be wasting time that might be more profitably employed to teach her; and a recommendation to the considerate indulgence of Mademoiselle Adelaide, who was in charge of the junior class, saved her from huffs and ridicule while going through the preliminary paces of French.

At recreation-time in the garden Janey ran up to ask how she had got on. “J’ai, tu as, il a,” said Bessie, and laughed with radiant audacity.  Her phantoms were already vanishing into thin air.

Not many French girls were yet present.  The next noon-day they were doubled.  By Saturday all were come, and answered to their names when the roll was called, the great and dreadful Miss Hiloe amongst them.  They were two, Mademoiselle Ada and Mademoiselle Ellen.  The younger sister was a cipher—­an echo of the elder, and an example of how she ought to be worshipped.  Mademoiselle Ada would be a personage wherever she was.  Already her role in the world was adopted.  She had a pale Greek face, a lofty look, and a proud spirit.  She was not rude to those who paid her the homage that was her

Follow Us on Facebook