In a word, those delightful faces, which the flowery pencil of Greuze could alone have painted in all their velvet freshness, were now worthy of inspiring the melancholy ideal of the immortal Ary Scheffer, who gave us Mignon aspiring to Paradise, and Margaret dreaming of Faust. Rose, leaning back on the couch, held her head somewhat bowed upon her bosom, over which was crossed a handkerchief of black crape. The light streaming from a window opposite, shone softly on her pure, white forehead, crowned by two thick bands of chestnut hair. Her look was fixed, and the open arch of her eyebrows, now somewhat contracted, announced a mind occupied with painful thoughts. Her thin, white little hands had fallen upon her knees, but still held the embroidery, on which she had been engaged. The profile of Blanche was visible, leaning a little towards her sister, with an expression of tender and anxious solicitude, whilst her needle remained in the canvas, as if she had just ceased to work.
“Sister,” said Blanche, in a low voice, after some moments of silence, during which the tears seemed to mount to her eyes, “tell me what you are thinking of. You look so sad.”
“I think of the Golden City of our dreams,” replied Rose, almost in a whisper, after another short silence.
Blanche understood the bitterness of these words. Without speaking, she threw herself on her sister’s neck, and wept. Poor girls! the Golden City of their dreams was Paris, with their father in it—Paris, the marvellous city of joys and festivals, through all of which the orphans had beheld the radiant and smiling countenance of their sire! But, alas! the Beautiful City had been changed into a place of tears, and death, and mourning. The same terrible pestilence which had struck down their mother in the heart of Siberia, seemed to have followed them like a dark and fatal cloud, which, always hovering above them, hid the mild blue of the sky, and the joyous light of the sun.
The Golden City of their dreams! It was the place, where perhaps one day their father would present to them two young lovers, good and fair as themselves. “They love you,” he was to say; “they are worthy of you. Let each of you have a brother, and me two sons.” Then what chaste, enchanting confusion for those two orphans, whose hearts, pure as crystal, had never reflected any image but that of Gabriel, the celestial messenger sent by their mother to protect them!
We can therefore understand the painful emotion of Blanche, when she heard her sister repeat, with bitter melancholy, those words which described their whole situation: “I think of the Golden City of our dreams!”
“Who knows?” proceeded Blanche, drying her sister’s tears; “perhaps, happiness may yet be in store for us.”
“Alas! if we are not happy with our father by us—shall we ever be so?”
“Yes, when we rejoin our mother,” said Blanche, lifting her eyes to heaven.