Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/130

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IDALIA

had wondered long at Liramar, what manner of man this was, who confessed himself poor and a mere courier, yet bore himself like a noble; who had the blood of an ancient race, and the habits of a desert chief; who was indifferent and insensible to all women, yet had, for all, a grave and gentle courtesy, for the grape-girl among the vineyards yonder, as for her, the patrician and the queen. of coquettes, leaning here. He was unlike anything in her world—and Lady George would fain have roused in him the forbidden love which she, proud empress though she was, had learned, in her own despite, as her own chastisement.

But Erceldoune lay looking eastward at a lateen-boat cutting its swift track through the waters; so little had her beauty ever caught his eyes, that he never even knew that he had roused her interest. Vanity he had absolutely none; and as for pride in such uncared-for, unsought victories, he would have as soon thought of being proud that a bright Sicilian butterfly had flown beneath his foot, and been crushed by it.

"How beautifully she cuts her way!" he said to the man beside him. "Look how she dips, and lifts herself again—light as a bird! She will be past us like lightning."