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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/278

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CHAPTER V.


QUEEN ANNE.


I.

ABOVE this couple there was Anne, Queen of England. A very ordinary woman was Queen Anne. She was gay, benevolent, august—to a certain extent. No quality of hers amounted either to a virtue or to a vice. Her flesh was bloated, her wit heavy, her good-nature stupid. She was at once stubborn and weak. As a wife, she was both faithless and faithful,—having favourites to whom she gave her heart, and a husband for whom she kept her bed. As a Christian, she was at once a heretic and a bigot. She had one beauty,—the well-developed neck of a Niobe; the rest of her person was indifferently formed. She was a clumsy coquette, and a chaste one. Her skin was white and fine; she displayed a great deal of it. It was she who introduced the fashion of necklaces of large pearls clasped round the throat. She had a narrow forehead, sensual lips, fleshy cheeks, large eyes, short sight. Her short sight extended to her mind. Beyond a burst of merriment now and then, almost as ponderous as her anger, she lived in a sort of taciturn grumble and a grumbling silence. Words escaped from her which had to be guessed at. She was a mixture of a good woman and a mischievous devil. She liked surprises, which is extremely woman-like. She drank. She had fits of rage; she was violent, a brawler. Anne was a pattern, roughly