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animates Fanny Elssler; while the dancing of the other (arrayed in white) possessed more of the pure, dignified gracefulness which I myself had admired in Marie Taglioni. Either of the two might be Selma. The more I regarded the one in white, the more she captivated me, and the more I wished she might be my sister.
But is it possible then, that the somewhat self-willed “little doll”- -as Selma called herself in the days of childhood—could transform herself into this sylph-like being whose countenance beamed with spirit and innocent joy ? The other, on the contrary, had more of the proud “self,” peculiar to the child Selma. “Perhaps it is my sister Selma? Should I be able to love
While the contest between the white and red rose thus continued in my mind, and determined me intentionally not to ask for an explanation from my neighbour, but to leave it to chance, I heard the gentleman who had used the words , "les reines du bal,” congratulated by another, that he was “a rich bachelor!”
“ The life of a rich bachelor," said he, with a sigh, which excited in me the presumption that he might have as many wives and children as Rochus Pumpernickel , "the life of a rich bachelor is after all a continual feast."
“The life of a rich bachelor," rejoined the addressed gentleman, likewise sighing, “is a brilliant dejeuner, an insipid diner, and a most wretched souper."
Whilst listening to the conversation of these two gentlemen, and contemplating "les reines du bal,” I observed that a gentleman of about forty, in naval uniform, with an open and energetic exterior, and a
pair of keen, honest-looking eyes, gazed at me. This gave me pleasure-I know not why. I also remarked that Neptune's son was gradually steering his course nearer and nearer to me, and suddenly he sat by my side. I do not to this very hour rightly know how we fell into conversation, and still less, how I came to communicate to him my conjectures respecting the two most brilliant stars of the ball; but least of all, how I could show myself so communicative and familiar towards a person who was an entire stranger to
He smiled at my confidence, and asked me if I was not also desirous of being irformed about himself. I answered, that I had gone out this evening on a voyage of discovery, taken chance for my pilot, and wished to resign to him the steering of the course. My new acquaintance warned me against the danger of leaving myself to the direction of such a steersman, and inquired in a delicate manner into the motive of my enterprise. I replied evasively; the conversation be
me playful; and I fancied as if a great man-of-war was amusing itself by chasing a little brig which knew how to elude it by rapid unexpected evolutions. Thus we came quite unawares into a very deep channel, namely, into a discussion on the soul and on life, and were soon engaged in a contest respecting that which constitutes our highest weal or woe. Our views on this subject were very opposite; for while I sought the haven of happiness in peace of mind and contentment, Neptune's son maintained that it might be found in mere existence and in the power of feeling. I contended that with this he would never reach the haven, but ever remain in the open tempest-tossed sea. He made no objection to this. It was on that very open tempestuous sea that he had found happiness. I expressed my sentiments against the tumultuous life of a seaman, and he against a life of quiet retirement and comfort. I spoke against the perils of shipwreck under the command of feeling, and reminded him of Oden's words in “ Havamal:" “ Mutable is what man possesses in the breast of another.” The seaman supported his argument by reference to Christianity, and maintained with its apostle, that without charity every thing in the world is but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. I bowed in homage to love of mankind. This was just
But in reference to particular circumstances, I found it highly expedient ever to be able to sing :
“I care for nobody, no, not I,
The seaman laughed, but shook his head and re. joined: “ You would not be able, nor would you wish to sing thus, if you had the happiness—to possess a child.”
“Perhaps so," retorted I, in a tone of indifference, inwardly delighted to discover in my new acquaintance what I had already surmised--a married man, and the father of a family. We were here interrupted by the ending of the galopp; the ladies were seeking resting, places, and my neighbour rose. The dancing-room now became unobstructed, and permitted a view into the saloon through the open doors, in which turbancrowned graces occupied the divan, allowing several gentlemen with stars and orders to stand around them.
“Ah, that is she !" thought I, with hasty emotions when a lady of noble figure and carriage made her
appearance, while conversing with an elderly gentleman she slowly approached the dancing-room. Yes, it was she, still the same as ever in appearance and gracefulness, and in beautiful and tasteful dress. I recognised the string of real pearls and the locket set with brilliants around her neck, and the beautiful arms, which in my childhood I loved to kiss ; I recognised the beautiful countenance, the imposing and yet so charming port
She was still the same as ever, who ten years ago stood before my eyes a demi-goddess in the splendid Presidence saloon, when, as the lady of the Gover. nor of the province, she held her court with the exterior of a queen; yes, she was still the same as I then saw; and any thing more distinguished I have never seen since (though I have seen much in the world) and shall probably see still more, although .... It was my stepmother !
My heart beat not a little when I saw her slowly advancing towards the side on which I sat, and antici. pated the moment of recognition. It arrived. The eyes of my stepmother rested on me; she started, looked at me again, and with riveted attention I rose; she hastened up to me, and soon-we embraced each other; not without mutual embarrassment, which was concealed, however, by the surprise and mutual apologies on my part on account of my premature arrival, and on hers, on account of the condition of my room. My stepmother now called “Selma! Selma !” and the white sylph Aoated towards me, and I clasped my youthful sister in my arms, rejoiced that she was “the white rose," delighted also that so cordial a joy beamed from her bright blue eyes, while, blushing, she bade me a hearty welcome. My glance now involuntarily met that of my former neighbour, who at some distance contemplated us attentively with a gentle, half-melancholy smile. My stepmother then called, “Flora!” and beckoned; but Flora, engaged in a lively conversation with some gentlemen, did not hear immediately. Selma hastened to her, took hold of her arm, and brought her to me. I saw " the red rose," the second queen of the ball before me. Selma whispered—“Sophia ! your and my cousin Flora !”
My cousin, Flora Delphin, whom I saw for the first time, saluted me politely, and after a short and indifferent conversation, returned to the gentlemen.
"No further introductions this evening, my sweet Selma," I entreated. “I know that I must have many relations here yet, with whom I am unacquainted, but I wish to defer a closer acquaintanceship with them for the present."
“So much the better,” replied she, “ I can then have your company quite to myself. I shall not engage in this dance-1 must talk to you.”
And when they were about commencing a française and Selma's cavalier approached, she begged to be excused, and presented him to a young lady sitting near, whom he led to the dance ; then, seating herself next to me, inquired with warm interest about matters concerning myself, and reminded me, with a voice full of tender recollection, “how kind I had been to her in her childhood, related stories to her, played with her, and got up all sorts of little amusements and so forth for her enjoyment."
“Now, Selma,” said I, interrupting her, “you must tell me some stories; but only such as are founded on facts, of course. For I am quite unacquainted with the