Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Unknown Masque: A Sketch of the Crescent City >> Page 200

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 200THE UNKNOWN MASQUE
also. He did not withhold them from me. But he knew the object
of his desires. That portion of the romance which arises from the
mystery, was wanting to his case. His eye was fixed on no less a
person than the widow herself, by whom the masquerade was given.
He already knew her, and flattered himself that he had found
favor in her sight. I can answer for it that she looked upon him
graciously. He was not without his attractions. A more manly fellow
never went from Tennessee —a more graceful never trode the apart-
ments of splendor. Brave, frank, generous, R. F. was not wanting
in other accomplishments. But he lacked wealth, and this deficiency
most usually produces hesitation and doubt, in the sensitive mind,
when approaching the woman who is endowed with it. Such is the
result of our present modes of thinking in society.
I have said that Madame Elinor de B was a belle. She de-
served to be so, and would have been so in spite of her fortune. She
was but twenty-three at the time of which I speak, and never did
more beautiful or princely creature glide through the measured
majesty of dance. Her form was large and eminently symmetrical
her carriage was equally easy and dignified. Her features were not
regular, but their united expression carried you away from any analy-
sis of details which might have resulted in an unfavorable decision
upon them. You saw not the deficiency of charms which dazzled
the glance, and baffled the colder judgment, and the mind submitted
with the eye, and the heart yielded, at the first summons, to a name-
less influence which was always irresistible to enslave. Such was
the effect of this lady's beauty upon others. In this way it won my
companion. R. F. was her captive when he first visited New-Orleans.
He had always been her worshipper. He had yielded to her beauty
without resistance, and prudent and resolved in almost every other
matter in all affairs of dissipation for example—in his passion for
Elinor de B, he was quite as rash as the least prudent youngster
that ever started from the leash at twenty-one.
Strange to say, the beauty of this lady had never satisfied myself.
That she was a woman of many and imposing beauties, I could easily
see and admit. It was the style and character of her beauty that
did not please me. I felt that there was something strange in the
very intensity of her glance. The eye was brilliant, but the effect
upon myself was chilling. It was the brilliancy of the diamond,