into music. A gem of many facets and variable hues of fire; a woman who withheld the better portion of her beauty, and then, in a caressing second, flashed it like a weapon full on the beholder; now merely a tall figure and a sallow handsome face, with the evidences of a reckless temper; anon opening like a flower to life and colour, mirth and tenderness:- Madame von Rosen had always a dagger in reserve for the despatch of ill-assured admirers. She met Otto with the dart of tender gaiety.
`You have come to me at last, Prince Cruel,' she said. `Butterfly! Well, and am I not to kiss your hand?' she added.
`Madam, it is I who must kiss yours.' And Otto bowed and kissed it.
`You deny me every indulgence,' she said, smiling.
`And now what news in Court?' inquired the Prince. `I come to you for my gazette.'
`Ditch-water!' she replied. `The world is all asleep, grown grey in slumber; I do not remember any waking movement since quite an eternity; and the last thing in the nature of a sensation was the last time my governess was allowed to box my ears. But yet I do myself and your unfortunate enchanted palace some injustice. Here is the last -- O positively!' And she told him the story from behind her fan, with many glances, many cunning strokes of the narrator's art. The others had drawn away, for it was understood that Madame von Rosen was in favour with the Prince. None the less, however, did the Countess lower her voice at times to within a semitone of whispering; and the pair leaned together over the narrative.
`Do you know,' said Otto, laughing, `you are the only entertaining woman on this earth!'
`O, you have found out so much,' she cried.
`Yes, madam, I grow wiser with advancing years,' he returned.
`Years,' she repeated. `Do you name the traitors? I do not believe in years; the calendar is a delusion.'
`You must be right, madam,' replied the Prince. `For six years that we have been good friends, I have observed you to grow younger.'
`Flatterer!' cried she, and then with a change, `But why should I say so,' she added, `when I protest I think the same? A week ago I had a council with my father director, the glass; and the glass replied, "Not yet!" I confess my face in this way once a month. O! a very solemn moment. Do you know what I shall do when the mirror answers, "Now"?'
`I cannot guess,' said he.
`No more can I,' returned the Countess. `There is such a choice! Suicide, gambling, a nunnery, a volume of memoirs, or politics -- the last, I am afraid.'
`It is a dull trade,' said Otto.
`Nay,' she replied, `it is a trade I rather like. It is, after all, first cousin to gossip, which no one can deny to be amusing. For instance, if I were to tell you that the Princess and the Baron rode out together daily to inspect the cannon, it is either a piece of politics or scandal, as I turn my phrase. I am the alchemist that makes the transmutation. They have been everywhere together since you left,' she continued, brightening as she saw Otto darken; `that is a poor snippet of malicious gossip -- and they were everywhere cheered -- and with that addition all becomes political intelligence.'
`Let us change the subject,' said Otto.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|