Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/175

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ruse man of the world though he was, felt a thrill run through him, and a hot breath seem to pass, sirocco-like, over his life, as he heard the nameless magic of that melodious lingering voice, and found himself, for the first time, in the presence of that Queen of the Silver Ivy, who was known as—Idalia.

Could Erceldoune have seen afar as Surrey saw his mistress, the magic glass would not have brought him such secure and happy peace as came with the vision of Geraldine. Late into the dawn as the night express plunged through the heart of France downward to where Marseilles lay beside the southern sea, through the cold clear night, the plains white with sheeted snow, the black and spectral woods, and the sleeping hamlets, with the pointed towers of chateaux and manoirs rising against the leaden clouds, behind him the City that Julian loved sparkled under a million lights; strangely altered since the days when Julian wrote in adoring phrase of the studious and tranquil retirement of his austere and beloved Lutetia. The bright tide of Parisian life was at its gayest in the first hours of the midwinter morning; and in one of its richest quarters an opera-supper was at the height of its wit and of its brilliancy. The guests had come from the Opera