There are situations in which the mind insensibly gives credit to impressions, that the reason in common disapproves. The present was one in which Alide de Barberie, though of a resolute and even a masculine understanding, felt disposed to believe there might be truth in those tales, that she had hitherto heard, only to deride. Still keeping her eye on the Motionless vessel, she drew back into her window and wrapped the curtain round her form, undecided whether to alarm the family or not, and acting under a vague impression that, though so distant, her person might be seen. She was hardly thus secreted, before the shrubbery was violently agitated, a footstep was heard in the lawn beneath her window, and then one leaped so lightly into the balcony, and from the balcony into the centre of the room, that the passage of the figure seemed like the flitting of some creature of supernatural attributes.
“Why look you,
how you stare!
I would be friends with you, and have your love.”
The first impulse of Alida, at this second invasion of her pavilion, was certainly to flee. But timidity was not her weakness, and as natural firmness gave her time to examine the person of the individual who had so unceremoniously entered, curiosity aided in inducing her to remain. Perhaps a vague, but a very natural, expectation that she was again to dismiss the commander of the Coquette, had its influence on her first decision. In order that the reader may judge how far this boldness was excusable, we shall describe the person of the intruder.
The stranger was one in the very bud of young and active manhood. His years could not have exceeded two-and-twenty, nor would he probably have been thought so old, had not his features been shaded by a rich, brown hue, that in some degree, served as a foil to a natural complexion, which, though never fair, was still clear and blooming. A pair of dark, bushy, and jet-black, silken whiskers, that were in singular contrast to eye-lashes and brows of almost feminine beauty and softness, aided also in giving a decided expression to a face that might otherwise have been wanting in some of that character which is thought essential to comeliness in man. The forehead was smooth and low; the nose, though prominent and bold in outline, of exceeding delicacy in detail; the mouth and lips full, a little inclined to be arch, though the former appeared as if it might at times be pensive; the teeth were even and unsullied; and the chin was small, round, dimpled, and so carefully divested of the distinguishing mark of the sex, that one could fancy nature had contributed all its growth to adorn the neighboring cheeks and temples. If to these features be added a pair of full and brilliant coal-black eyes, that appeared to vary their expression at their master’s will, the reader will at once see, that the privacy of Alida had been invaded by one whose personal attractions might, under other circumstances, have been dangerous to the imagination of a female, whose taste was in some degree influenced by a standard created by her own loveliness.