Monday morning came again. The great bell in the cupola of Madam Truxton’s seminary had sounded, and all the pupils, large and small, were gathered to join in the opening exercises. First, the bright-eyed little girls, in tidy aprons, with hair smoothed back in modest braids, or safely gathered under the faithful comb; then, the more advanced scholars, each bearing the impress of healthful vigor and hopeful heart; and last, the big girls, or “finishing class,” as Madam Truxton significantly styled them—all were assembled once more on this bright Monday morning, to begin the duties of another week, and share again the joys and sorrows of school life. It was a lovely sight, this assembled school; for where is the heart that does not see with unspeakable pleasure the dawning beauty of innocent, careless maidenhood?
“Bertha, do you know the French lesson?” said Lizzie Heartwell, as the class of young ladies was passing from the assembly hall to Madam Cond’s room.
“Oh, just well enough, Lizzie, to keep me from a scolding, I guess. Here, won’t you please hold the book open at aimer, so I can get that muss a little straight, in case madam calls upon me to conjugate?”
“Oh, pshaw! of course you won’t. Lizzie Heartwell, you are too conscientious; but Helen, you will, won’t you?”
“Yes, if you will hold it open for me, too. I am not at all prepared in the lesson.”
“Here, Leah,” continued Bertha, laughing, and winking her roguish eyes at Lizzie, “how much do you know of the verb aimer?”
“More than I wish I did,” was the laconic reply of the beautiful Jewess.
“I suppose so, judging from what I saw on last Saturday evening. But here we are at the lion’s den, and our levity had better subside.”
“Bon jour, madame!”
“Bon jour, mesdemoiselles.”
And the door was closed.
At this same hour, in the large, hollow square fronting the Citadel Tower in the upper part of the Queen City, many platoons of young men, dressed in the gray military suits of the cadets, were drilling, drilling, drilling, according to custom, as a part of their daily school routine.
A passer-by would have stopped for a moment, and watched with interest this pleasing spectacle. The varied and intricate evolutions made by these gray-clad figures, as they expanded into broad platoons, and then, as if by magic, fell again into groups of two, four, or six, was, to the unaccustomed beholder, a strange and attractive performance.
The bristling bayonets shining in the bright morning sun, gave evidence of the faithful care with with which their polish was preserved. And these bright polished muskets spoke loudly too, to the reflecting heart, of the wild work they might some day accomplish, when carried into the conflict by these same skilful hands that now so peacefully upheld them—demon-work, that might clothe a land and people in sackcloth and desolation!