Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Unknown Masque: A Sketch of the Crescent City >> Page 201

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription THE UNKNOWN MASQUE201
perhaps, but it seemed to possess its hardness also. The lady had a
habit of looking on you fixedly into your eye, her own glittering
the while with a thousand fires of which she seemed to be unconscious.
Sometimes, while thus gazing upon you, your speech would utterly
fail to command her attention. Her mind seemed to be wandering.
These were peculiarities which I did not conceive to be pleasant
ones. Her hair was of a light brown, her eye was hazel, her com-
plexion dazzlingly fair, and distinguished by the most delicate but
glowing red that ever kindled woman's cheek to loveliness. But there
was something in the frequent quivering of her thin lips which
produced an uncomfortable sensation; and she had a habit of drawing
in her breath, at moments of abstraction, with a slight sobbing sound,
such as an infant gives out, after having cried itself to sleep. I
confess, these were matters, which, however slight they may seem to
others, very much tended to qualify my admiration of her charms.
R. F. did not perceive them himself, or regarded them as beauties.
The affair was one of the most splendid things that I had ever
seen. Indeed, I could not well conceive of any thing in this country
more magnificent. The huge double mansion of Madame de B
in the Rue des was illuminated from attic to cellar, and the
long treble line of carriages which crowded the street at an early hour
in the night, declared, as much as any thing else, for the sensation
which the affair had produced throughout the city. The broad pas-
sage way through which you entered, was crowded as we made our
appearance, and we had come soon in order to secure good places
against the crowd. My eyes were dazzled with the glare of lights,
and the glowing richness and grand varieties of costume. Knights
and Princes, and Cardinals, Earls and Dukes, famous individual
characters of all periods and both sexes, from the time of Solomon to
that of Louis XVI., were encountered at every step, but mine is not
a catalogue, and the reader must conceive them for himself. We
struggled through the dense and shifting masses with great difficulty,
till we reached the dais of reception. Madame de Bshone like
a star of the first magnitude, and as I presented Madame, the sister
of R. F. whom I escorted, I felt very much like falling upon one
knee in an obeisance to her beauty, which had never seemed to me
so completely pure and unqualified as now. R. F. was almost con-