Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/320

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they followed the flight of the sea-gulls. She thought of what she had been, when only sixteen seasons had warmed the lustre of her hair, yet had made her Hellenic beauty in its early blush and sudden maturity almost, even then, the beauty of her present womanhood; she thought of herself as she had stood one evening at sunset leaning down over the ivy-mantled ruins of an antique bridge in Greece, looking across to the Ægean, flashing in the light, and thinking of the centuries far away in the distance of the past when those wares had broken against the prows of Miltiades' galleys, and been crowded with the fleets of Salamis; she remembered the vivid and decorated eloquence that had wooed her then to her present path, murmuring such bright words of liberty and triumph, while the waters in their melody and the sunset in its splendour seemed filled with the grand dead names of Gracehan Rome and of Socratic Athens; she remembered how the proud imagination of her dawning life had leapt to those subtle temptings as an arrow leaps from the bow into the empyrean, and had seen in its ambitious and still child-like dreams the sovereignty of Semiramis, the sway of Aspasia, the empire of Maria Theresa, waiting in the future for her.

Eight years had gone by since then, and she had