So swept on Luciana in the social whirlpool, driving the rush of life along before her. Her court multiplied daily, partly because her impetuosity roused and attracted so many, partly because she knew how to attach the rest to her by kindness and attention. Generous she was in the highest degree; her aunt’s affection for her, and her bridegroom’s love, had heaped her with beautiful and costly presents, but she seemed as if nothing which she had was her own, and as if she did not know the value of the things which had streamed in upon her. One day she saw a young lady looking rather poorly dressed by the side of the rest of the party, and she did not hesitate a moment to take off a rich shawl which she was wearing and hang it over her—doing it, at the same time, in such a humorous, graceful way that no one could refuse such a present so given. One of her courtiers always carried about a purse, with orders, whatever place they passed through, to inquire there for the most aged and most helpless persons, and give them relief, at least for the moment. In this way she gained for herself all round the country a reputation for charitableness which caused her not a little inconvenience, attracting about her far too many troublesome sufferers.
Nothing, however, so much added to her popularity as her steady and consistent kindness toward an unhappy young man, who shrank from society because, while otherwise handsome and well-formed, he had lost his right hand, although with high honor, in action. This mutilation weighed so heavily upon his spirits, it was so annoying to him, that every new acquaintance he made had to be told the story of his misfortune, that he chose rather to shut himself up altogether, devoting himself to reading and other studious pursuits, and once for all would have nothing more to do with society.
She heard of the state of this young man. At once she contrived to prevail upon him to come to her, first to small parties, then to greater, and then out into the world with her. She showed more attention to him than to any other person; particularly she endeavored, by the services which she pressed upon him, to make him sensible of what he had lost in laboring herself to supply it. At dinner, she would make him sit next to her; she cut up his food for him, that he might have to use only his fork. If people older or of higher rank prevented her from being close to him, she would stretch her attention across the entire table, and the servants were hurried off to make up to him what distance threatened to deprive him of. At last she encouraged him to write with his left hand. All his attempts he was to address to her and thus, whether far or near, she always kept herself in correspondence with him. The young man did not know what had happened to him, and from that moment a new life opened out before him.