EFFECT OF THE SPRING
One day, the air was warm, the Luxembourg was inundated with
light and shade, the sky was as pure as though the angels had
washed it that morning, the sparrows were giving vent to little
twitters in the depths of the chestnut-trees. Marius had thrown
open his whole soul to nature, he was not thinking of anything,
he simply lived and breathed, he passed near the bench, the young
girl raised her eyes to him, the two glances met.
What was there in the young girl's glance on this occasion?
Marius could not have told. There was nothing and there was everything.
It was a strange flash.
She dropped her eyes, and he pursued his way.
What he had just seen was no longer the ingenuous and simple
eye of a child; it was a mysterious gulf which had half opened,
then abruptly closed again.
There comes a day when the young girl glances in this manner.
Woe to him who chances to be there!
That first gaze of a soul which does not, as yet, know itself,
is like the dawn in the sky. It is the awakening of something
radiant and strange. Nothing can give any idea of the dangerous
charm of that unexpected gleam, which flashes suddenly and vaguely
forth from adorable shadows, and which is composed of all the
innocence of the present, and of all the passion of the future.
It is a sort of undecided tenderness which reveals itself by chance,
and which waits. It is a snare which the innocent maiden sets
unknown to herself, and in which she captures hearts without either
wishing or knowing it. It is a virgin looking like a woman.
It is rare that a profound revery does not spring from that glance,
where it falls. All purities and all candors meet in that celestial
and fatal gleam which, more than all the best-planned tender
glances of coquettes, possesses the magic power of causing the
sudden blossoming, in the depths of the soul, of that sombre flower,
impregnated with perfume and with poison, which is called love.
That evening, on his return to his garret, Marius cast his eyes
over his garments, and perceived, for the first time, that he had
been so slovenly, indecorous, and inconceivably stupid as to go
for his walk in the Luxembourg with his "every-day clothes," that is
to say, with a hat battered near the band, coarse carter's boots,
black trousers which showed white at the knees, and a black coat
which was pale at the elbows.