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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
now it is impossible to take one’s eyes off her.  She seems to have grown more flower-like with the years, and while her lovely indestructible profile has gathered distinction, and a lifelong habit of thinking beautiful thoughts, and contemplating beautiful things, has drawn honeyed lines as in silver point about her eyes and mouth, the wild-roses of her cheeks still go on blooming—­like wild-roses in moonlight.  And over all glow her great clear witty eyes, the eyes of a grand dame who has still remained a girl.  Her humour, no doubt, has much to do with her youth, and I have seen strangers no little surprised, even disconcerted, at finding so keen a humour in one so beautiful; for beauty and humour are seldom found together in so irresistible a combination.  Is it to be wondered at that often on summer days when I feel the need of a companion, I go in search of Luccia, and take tea with her on the veranda?  Sometimes I will find her in the garden seated in front of her easel, making one of her delicate water-colour sketches—­for she was once a student in Paris and has romantic Latin-quarter memories.  Or I will find her with her magnifying glass, trying to classify some weed she has come upon in the garden, for she is a learned botanist; and sometimes we will turn over the pages of books in which she hoards the pressed flowers gathered by her and her husband in Italy and Switzerland up till but a year or two ago, memorials of a life together that has been that flawless romance which love sometimes grants to his faithful servants.

At other times we will talk politics, and I wish you could hear the advanced views of this “old” lady of eighty.  Indeed, generally speaking, I find that nowadays the only real progressives are the “old” people.  It seems to be the fashion with the “young” to be reactionary.  Luccia, however, has been a radical and a rebel since her girlhood, and, years before the word “feminist” was invented, was fighting the battle of the freedom of woman.  And what a splendid Democrat she is, and how thoroughly she understands and fearlessly faces the problems and developments of the moment!  She is of the stuff the old Chartist women and the women of the French Revolution were made of, and in her heart the old faith in Liberty and the people burns as brightly as though she were some young Russian student ready to give her life for the cause.  When the revolution comes to America, stern masculine authority will be needed to keep her—­her friend Irene too—­from the barricades.

“Stern masculine authority”!  As I write that phrase, how plainly I can hear her mocking laughter; for she is never more delightful than when pouring out her raillery on the magisterial pretensions of man.  To hear her talk!  The idea of a mere man daring to assume any authority or direction over a woman!  Yet we who know her smile and whisper to ourselves that, for all her witty tirades, she is perhaps of all women the most feminine, and really the most “obedient” of wives—­a rebel in all else save to the mild tyranny of the poet she has loved, honoured, and yes! obeyed, all these wonderful years.

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