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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/263

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THE DUCHESS JOSIANA.

sorption of brilliancy. A woman handed over to you by a notary, how commonplace! The brutality of marriage creates definite situations, suppresses the will, kills choice; has a syntax, like grammar; replaces inspiration by orthography; makes love a dictation; disperses all Life's mysteries; diminishes the rights both of sovereign and subject; by a turn of the scale destroys the charming equilibrium of the sexes: the one robust in bodily strength, the other all-powerful in feminine weakness,—strength on one side, beauty on the other; makes one a master, and the other a servant. While before marriage man is the slave, woman the queen. To make Love prosaically decent, how gross! to deprive it of all impropriety, how dull!

Lord David was no longer young. Forty is an age that tells upon a man. He was not conscious of the fact, however, and really looked only a little over thirty. He considered it more amusing to desire Josiana than to possess her. He possessed others; he had mistresses. On the other hand, Josiana had dreams.

The Duchess Josiana had a peculiarity which is less rare than is generally supposed. One of her eyes was blue and the other black. Her pupils were made for love and hate, for happiness and misery. Night and day were mingled in her look. Her ambition was this: to show herself capable of impossibilities. One day she said to Swift: "You people fancy that you know what scorn is." "You people," meant the human race. She was a skin-deep Papist; her Catholicism did not exceed the amount necessary for fashion. She would have been a Puseyite at the present day. She wore great dresses of velvet, satin, or moire, some composed of fifteen or sixteen yards of material, with embroideries of gold and silver, and round her waist many knots of pearls, alternating with other precious stones. She