G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
I can hear the grating of the
pulley from the house. So I made an excuse, I pretended that the water
in this well boiled the vegetables better. I thought that I might come
here every morning to draw water at the same time as you, so as to say
good morning to you without anyone suspecting it."

She smiled innocently, as though well pleased with her device, and
ended by saying: "But I did not imagine we should see each other in the

It was, in fact, this unhoped-for pleasure which so delighted them. They
only spoke to see their lips move, so greatly did this new frolic amuse
their childish natures. And they resolved to use all means in their
power to meet here every morning. When Miette had said that she must go
away, she told Silvere that he could draw his pail of water. But he did
not dare to shake the rope; Miette was still leaning over--he could see
her smiling face, and it was too painful to him to dispel that smile. As
he slightly stirred his pail, the water murmured, and the smile faded.
Then he stopped, seized with a strange fear; he fancied that he had
vexed her and made her cry. But the child called to him, "Go on! go on!"
with a laugh which the echo prolonged and rendered more sonorous. She
herself then nosily sent down a pail. There was a perfect tempest.
Everything disappeared under the black water. And Silvere made up his
mind to fill two pitchers, while listening to the retreating steps of
Miette on the other side of the wall.

From that day, the young people never missed their assignations. The
slumbering water, the white mirrors in which they gazed at one another,
imparted to their interviews a charm which long sufficed their playful,
childish imaginations. They had no desire to see each other face to
face: it seemed much more amusing to them to use the well as a mirror,
and confide their morning greetings to its echo. They soon came to look
upon the well as an old friend. They loved to bend over the motionless
water that resembled molten silver. A greenish glimmer hovered below,
in a mysterious half light, and seemed to change the damp hole into some
hiding-place in the depths of a wood. They saw each other in a sort
of greenish nest bedecked with moss, in the midst of fresh water and
foliage. And all the strangeness of the deep spring, the hollow tower
over which they bent, trembling with fascination, added unconfessed and
delightful fear to their merry laughter. The wild idea occurred to them
of going down and seating themselves on a row of large stones which
formed a kind of circular bench at a few inches above the water. They
would dip their feet in the latter, converse there for hours, and no
one would think of coming to look for them in such a spot. But when
they asked each other what there might be down there, their vague fears
returned; they thought it quite sufficient to let their reflected images
descend into the depths amidst those green glimmers which tinged the
stones with strange moire-like reflections, and amidst those mysterious
noises which rose from the dark corners. Those sounds issuing from the
invisible made them particularly uneasy; they often fancied that voices
were replying to their own; and then they would remain silent, detecting
a thousand faint plaints which they could not understand. These came
from the secret travail of the moisture, the sighs of the atmosphere,
the drops that glided over the stones, and fell below with the
sonorousness of sobs. They would nod affectionately to each other
in order to reassure themselves. Thus the attraction which kept them
leaning over the brink had a tinge of secret terror, like all poignant
charms. But the well still remained their old friend. It was such
an excellent pretext for meeting! Justin, who watched Miette's every
movement, never suspected the cause of her eagerness to go and draw some
water every morning. At times, he saw her from the distance, leaning
over and loitering. "Ah! the lazy thing!" he muttered; "how fond she is
of dawdling about!" How could he suspect that, on the other side of the
wall, there was a wooer contemplating the girl's smile in the water, and
saying to her: "If that red-haired donkey Justin should illtreat you,
just tell me of it, and he shall hear from me!"

This amusement lasted for more than a month. It was July then; the
mornings were sultry; the sun shone brightly, and it was quite a
pleasure to come to that damp spot. It was delightful to feel the cold
breath of the well on one's face, and make love amidst this spring water
while the skies were kindling their fires. Miette would arrive out of
breath after crossing the stubble fields; as she ran along, her hair
fell down over her forehead and temples; and it was with flushed face
and dishevelled locks that she would lean over, shaking with laughter,
almost before she had had time to set her pitcher down. Silvere, who
was almost always the first at the well, felt, as he suddenly saw her
smiling face in the water, as keen a joy as he would have experienced
had she suddenly thrown herself into his arms at the bend of a pathway.
Around them the radiant morning hummed with mirth; a wave of warm light,
sonorous with the buzzing of insects, beat against the old wall, the
posts, and the curbstone. They, however, no longer saw the shower of
morning sunshine, nor heard the thousand sounds rising from the ground;
they were in the depths of their green hiding-place, under the earth, in
that mysterious and awesome cavity, and quivered with pleasure as they
lingered there enjoying its fresh coolness and dim light.

On some mornings, Miette, who by nature could not long maintain a
contemplative attitude, began to tease; she would shake the rope, and
make drops of water fall in order to ripple the mirrors and deface the
reflections. Silvere would then entreat her to remain still; he, whose
fervour was deeper than hers, knew no keener pleasure than that of
gazing at his love's image reflected so distinctly in every feature.
But she would not listen to him; she would joke and feign a rough old
bogey's voice, to which the echo imparted a raucous melodiousness.

"No, no," she would say in chiding fashion; "I don't love you to-day!
I'm making faces at you; see how ugly I am."

And she laughed at seeing the fantastic forms which their spreading
faces assumed as they danced upon the disturbed water.

One morning she got angry in real earnest. She did not find Silvere at
the trysting-place, and waited for him for nearly a quarter of an hour,
vainly making the pulley grate. She was just about to depart in a rage
when he arrived. As soon as she perceived him she let a perfect tempest
loose in the well, shook her pail in an irritated manner, and made the
blackish water whirl and splash against the stones. In vain did Silvere
try to explain that aunt Dide had detained him. To all his excuses she
replied: "You've vexed me; I don't want to see you."

The poor lad, in despair, vainly questioned that sombre cavity, now so
full of lamentable sounds, where, on other days, such a bright vision
usually awaited him amid the silence of the stagnant water. He had to go
away without seeing Miette. On the morrow, arriving before the time,
he gazed sadly into the well, hearing nothing, and thinking that the
obstinate girl would not come, when she, who was already on the other
side slyly watching his arrival, bent over suddenly with a burst of
laughter. All was at once forgotten.

In this wise the well was the scene of many a little drama and comedy.
That happy cavity, with its gleaming mirrors and musical echoes, quickly
ripened their love. They endowed it with such strange life, so filled it
with their youthful love, that, long after they had ceased to come and
lean over the brink, Silvere, as he drew water every morning, would
fancy he could see Miette's smiling face in the dim light that still
quivered with the joy they had set there.

That month of playful love rescued Miette from her mute despair. She
felt a revival of her affections, her happy childish carelessness, which
had been held in check by the hateful loneliness in which she lived.
The certainty that she was loved by somebody, and that she was no longer
alone in the world, enabled her to endure the persecutions of Justin
and the Faubourg urchins. A song of joy, whose glad notes drowned their
hootings, now sounded in her heart. She thought of her father with
tender compassion, and did not now so frequently yield to dreams of
bitter vengeance. Her dawning love cooled her feverish broodings
like the fresh breezes of the dawn. At the same time she acquired the
instinctive cunning of a young girl in love. She felt that she must
maintain her usual silent and rebellious demeanour if she were to escape
Justin's suspicions. But, in spite of her efforts, her eyes retained a
sweet unruffled expression when the lad bullied her; she was no longer
able to put on her old black look of indignant anger. One morning he
heard her humming to herself at breakfast-time.

"You seem very gay, Chantegreil!" he said to her suspiciously, glancing
keenly at her from his lowering eyes. "I bet you've been up to some of
your tricks again!"

She shrugged her shoulders, but she trembled inwardly; and she did all
she could to regain her old appearance of rebellious martyrdom. However,
though Justin suspected some secret happiness, it was long before he was
able to discover how his victim had escaped him.

Silvere, on his side, enjoyed profound happiness. His daily meetings
with Miette made his idle hours pass pleasantly away. During his
long silent companionship with aunt Dide, he recalled one by one his
remembrances of the morning, revelling in their most trifling details.
From that time forward, the fulness of his heart cloistered him yet more
in the lonely existence which he had adopted with his grandmother. He
was naturally fond of hidden spots, of solitary retirement, where he
could give himself up to his thoughts. At this period already he had
eagerly begun to read all the old odd volumes which he could pick up at
brokers' shops in the Faubourg, and which were destined to lead him to
a strange and generous social religion and morality.

Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | Next |

U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.