Lucy Snow was early lost her parents, but she was lucky with close people who did not leave the girl to the mercy of fate. So, often Lucy lived in the house of her godmother, Mrs. Bretton, an immature widow and a sweet woman. Mrs. Bretton had a son, John, who, however, did not pay any attention to the same age as Lucy. Once in the house of the Brettons appeared another inhabitant – a six-year-old girl, not the year old, Polly Home; her father went to the Continent to dispel the grief after the death of his wife. Despite the great age difference between Polly and John, a tender loyal friendship was established.
Eight years passed. Lucy took the place of either the maid, or the companion to an elderly lady; the family of the Brettones, she by this time lost sight of. When her mistress died, Lucy remembered some words she heard somehow that young and poor English women could well settle on the Continent, and decided to set off, for her life at home promised to be monotonous and joyless. Lucy Snow did not stay long in London, where she fell for the first time in her life, and in a few days she ascended the deck of a ship going to Europe.
On the ship her companion was another young Englishwoman, Miss Ginevra Fenshaw. For several years, this lady who had been singing French phrases spent several years in European boarding schools and was now going to continue her education at the boarding house of Madame Beck in Villette; Ginevra’s parents were by no means wealthy people, and her uncle and godson de Bassompierre paid for the teachings. The purpose of Lucy’s journey was also the capital of the kingdom of Labaskur, the city of Villette, in which Brussels was easily recognized.
In Villette, Lucy knew nothing; at the prompting of a young Englishman she went to look for a hotel, but lost the road and was at the door of the house with the signboard “Guesthouse for the Madam Beck”. The time was later, and the girl decided to knock to get a night’s lodging here, and if she was lucky, she would also work. The owner of the boarding house, who was crazy about everything in English, except for the Protestant faith, immediately took Lucy a bon voyage to her children. Madame Beck was very benevolent, but when Lucy went to bed, unceremoniously examined her belongings and made an impression of the keys from the working casket of the girl. As time showed, Madame Beck was the real Ignatius Loyola in a skirt: kindly with everyone so that in no case anyone against herself could be restored, she compensated for the external softness by steadfast secret supervision;
Soon Madame Beck freed Lucy from the duties of a bonny and appointed her an English teacher. She liked the new position, and she coped with it perfectly. Other teachers did not represent anything particularly remarkable; Lucy did not make friends with any of them. However, among the educators of the boarding school there was one exception: the cousin of the headmistress, the teacher of literature, M. Paul Emanuel. It was a Corsican appearance and a short man of about forty, a quick-tempered, erratic, sometimes irritatingly demanding, but highly educated, kind and noble soul. For a long time he was the only representative of the stronger sex admitted to pupils of the boarding house, but eventually the second one appeared – a young English doctor, Mr. John. With a noble appearance and pleasant appeal, the doctor touched Lucy Snow’s heart, his society began to give her sincere pleasure; and the hostess of the boarding house, although not the first youth, seemed to have some hopes for his account. Dr. John himself, as it turned out, was deeply indifferent to one of the wards Madame – the very Ginevra Fenshaw, with whom Lucy met on the way from England.
Ginevra was a very special looking person and she knew what she wanted; but she wanted to marry a man of wealth and, better yet, titled. At the courtship of the “bourgeois” Dr. John, she responded with a cold mockery – still, because she was fascinated by a man of the highest secular (secular cunt and rake, according to Lucy) Colonel de Amal. No matter how Lucy tried to explain to Ginevra the difference between the polished emptiness of the colonel and the high nobility of the doctor, she did not want to listen to her. Ironically, Lucy had to somehow act as Colonel de Amal – on the day of the birthday of Madame Beck, a holiday was held in the hostel, the highlight of which was a performance staged by the students under the direction of M. Paul. Monsieur Paul nearly forced Lucy to play a secular gentleman, a happy rival of the noble nobleman;
Soon after the holiday, it’s time for a vacation. All the inhabitants of the boardinghouse parted ways, and Lucy was left to herself. In her long meditations, the sense of total loneliness in the world is growing ever stronger; the sensation grew into a mental anguish, and Lucy fell into a fever. As soon as she had enough strength to get out of bed, she walked out of the boarding house and went to the half-wretched and without a purpose to wander through the streets of Villetta. When she entered the church, she suddenly felt an irresistible need to confess, as Catholics do at a grave moment. The priest listened attentively to her, the Protestant, but, struck by the rare sincerity of the words and the depth of the confessional’s experience, he found no words of comfort. Lucy does not remember how she left the church and what happened to her. She woke up in bed in a cozy unfamiliar house. But only at first glance the house was completely unfamiliar – soon Lucy began to distinguish between separate objects, somewhere already seen by her; not...
A few weeks later, Lucy and Mrs. Bretton and John went to the concert again. Suddenly, in the middle of the performance, there were shouts of “Fire!” and panic began. From the crush, John rescued a young lady, whom the crowd pushed back from the man accompanying her. Both were English, and not just English, but long-standing, but not immediately recognized, familiar to our heroes – Polly Home, now Countess de Bassompier, and her father, who inherited the title of Count and this name along with a solid estate from his French relative. This unexpected meeting, in fact, put an end to the tender friendship of John and Lucy. The long-standing affection between John and Polly broke out with renewed vigor; some time passed and they got married. They were people whose whole life is a series of bright moments, not overshadowed by too much suffering.
In the meantime, the relationship between Lucy and Monsieur Paul has changed greatly. They became warmer, calmer; Lucy realized that often the annoyance of the teacher of literature that was annoying her was not due to the absurdity of his character, but from the fact that he was not indifferent to her. In short, they became close friends. This friendship, which threatened eventually to end in marriage, caused serious anxiety to Madam Beck, who in fact herself did not mind becoming Madame Emanuel, and their entire family clique. A real conspiracy was set up to prevent the possible harmful marriage of the good Catholic Monsieur Paul on the heretic. The conspirators, being Catholics, acted very strange from the point of view of a normal human method. The priest Silas, the same Jesuit to whom Lucy once confessed, told her the story of Paul Emanuel. In his youth, Monsieur Paul was in love with Justine-Marie, the daughter of a prosperous banker. But since by that time his own father had gone bust on some dark deals, his beloved’s parents rebelled against marriage and forced the girl to go to the monastery, where she soon died. Keeping, in spite of everything, the faithfulness of his love, Monsieur Paul Emanuel took a vow of celibacy, and when Justine-Marie’s father also went bankrupt, began to spend all his earnings for the maintenance of people who had broken his happiness. He himself lived modestly, did not even hold servants. This story of selfless nobility could, of course, turn someone from the desire to connect fate with Monsieur Paul, but not Lucy Snow. the parents of his beloved rebelled against marriage and forced the girl to go to the monastery, where she soon died. Keeping, in spite of everything, the faithfulness of his love, Monsieur Paul Emanuel took a vow of celibacy, and when Justine-Marie’s father also went bankrupt, began to spend all his earnings for the maintenance of people who had broken his happiness. He himself lived modestly, did not even hold servants. This story of selfless nobility could, of course, turn someone from the desire to connect fate with Monsieur Paul, but not Lucy Snow. the parents of his beloved rebelled against marriage and forced the girl to go to the monastery, where she soon died. Keeping, in spite of everything, the faithfulness of his love, Monsieur Paul Emanuel took a vow of celibacy, and when Justine-Marie’s father also went bankrupt, began to spend all his earnings for the maintenance of people who had broken his happiness. He himself lived modestly, did not even hold servants. This story of selfless nobility could, of course, turn someone from the desire to connect fate with Monsieur Paul, but not Lucy Snow.
Seeing that the plan failed, the family clique resorted this time, it would seem, to the right way to upset the unwanted marriage. Using the self-sacrificing nobility of Monsieur Paul, he was conceived to be sent to West India for three years, where after the ruin his relatives left some lands that could have made a profit on condition that they would be occupied by a trustworthy manager. Monsieur Paul agreed, all the more so as his father, Silas, one of the inspirers of the clique, insisted on it. On the eve of the separation, Lucy and Monsieur Paul gave each other an oath in three years to unite their destinies.
At parting, Lucy received from the noble fiancé a royal gift – with the help of rich friends, he rented a house for her and adapted it for school; Now she could get away from Madame Vek and start her own business.
A long separation dragged on. Paul often wrote to Lucy, but she did not waste time, worked tirelessly, and soon her boarding school became quite successful. And now three years have passed, this autumn Paul must return from exile. But, apparently, it’s not the fate of Lucy to find happiness and comfort. For seven long days the storm raged over the Atlantic until it smashed all the ships that were in its power.