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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
and, like the lorelei and the lamia, it does beckon its votaries to enchanted realms away and afar from “all the uses of the world.”  Therefore, to them also it brings the thrill of a different and nobler fear—­the thrill of the mortal in presence of the immortal.  A strange feeling of destiny seems to come over us as we first look into the beautiful face we were born to love.  It seems veritably an apparition from another and lovelier world, to which it summons us to go with it.  That is what we mean when we say that Love and Death are one; for Death, to the thought of Love, is but one of the gates to that other world, a gate to which we instinctively feel Love has the key.  That surely is the meaning of the old fairy-stories of men who have come upon the white woman in the woodland, and followed her, never to be seen again of their fellows, or of those who, like Hylas, have met the water-nymph by the lilied spring, and sunk with her down into the crystal deeps.  The strange earth on which we live is just such a place of enchantment, neither more nor less, and some of us have met that fair face, with a strange suddenness of joy and fear, and followed and followed it on till it vanished beyond the limits of the world.  But our failure was that we did not follow that last white beckoning of the hand—­

And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill’s side.

VIII

THE MANY FACES—­THE ONE DREAM

Among the many advantages of being very young is one’s absolute certainty that there is only one type of beautiful girl in the world.  That type we make a religion.  We are its pugnacious champions, and the idea of our falling in love with any other is too preposterous even for discussion.  If our tastes happen to be for blondness, brunettes simply do not exist for us; and if we affect the slim and willowy in figure, our contempt for the plump and rounded is too sincere for expression.  Usually the type we choose is one whose beauty is somewhat esoteric to other eyes.  We are well aware that photographs do it no justice, and that the man in the street—­who, strangely enough, we conceive as having no eye for beauty—­can see nothing in it.  Thank Heaven, she is not the type that any common eye can see.  Heads are not turned in her wake as she passes along.  Her beauty is not “obvious.”  On the contrary, it is of that rare and exquisite quality which only a few favoured ones can apprehend—­like the beauty of a Whistler or a Corot, and we have been chosen to be its high-priest and evangelist.  It is our secret, this beautiful face that we love, and we wonder how any one can be found to love the other faces.  We even pity them, those rosy, rounded faces, with their bright unmysterious eyes and straight noses and dimpled chins.  How fortunate for them that the secret of the beauty we love has been hidden from their lovers.  Sheer Bouguereau!  Neither more nor less.

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