Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/170

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IDALIA

she is pleased to term "adventurers," whereby she loses all men of genius, and gets only trained men of business: hence he had thrown himself, partly in pique, more in ambition, into the interests of a certain ultra political party abroad. Bred in Venetia, he hated Austria with a cold but very virulent hatred. Rash only in the height and unscrupulousness of his ambitious, he adopted politics—or, perhaps, to give them their true and naked name, conspiracies—as the scaling-ladder for his own advancement. If all the waters round him were lashed into a tempest, he knew so cautious and tried a swimmer as himself would have a fair chance to come uppermost while other men went down. He loved intrigue for mere intrigue's sake, and power for the simple pleasure of holding it. Serene, sunny, impassive, and even indifferent in bearing, and, indeed, in temperament, he could seize savagely, and hold pitilessly. In deceiving any one, Vane had no sort of scruple—it was only an artistic kind of exercise; but kill anybody, or provoke anybody, he would not think of doing—it was a barbaric, blundering style of warfare. He never went out of his way in wrath; but all the same, he never missed his way to revenge. He had a good deal of ice in his nature; but it was, perhaps, the most dangerous of ice—that which