Madame De Treymes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 73 pages of information about Madame De Treymes.
meant.  It was not in the exquisite mildness of the old Marquise, a little gray-haired bunch of a woman in dowdy mourning, or in the small neat presence of the priestly uncle, the Abbe who had so obviously just stepped down from one of the picture-frames overhead:  it was not in the aspect of these chief protagonists, so outwardly unformidable, that Durham read an occult danger to his friend.  It was rather in their setting, their surroundings, the little company of elderly and dowdy persons—­so uniformly clad in weeping blacks and purples that they might have been assembled for some mortuary anniversary—­it was in the remoteness and the solidarity of this little group that Durham had his first glimpse of the social force of which Fanny de Malrive had spoken.  All these amiably chatting visitors, who mostly bore the stamp of personal insignificance on their mildly sloping or aristocratically beaked faces, hung together in a visible closeness of tradition, dress, attitude and manner, as different as possible from the loose aggregation of a roomful of his own countrymen.  Durham felt, as he observed them, that he had never before known what “society” meant; nor understood that, in an organized and inherited system, it exists full-fledged where two or three of its members are assembled.

Upon this state of bewilderment, this sense of having entered a room in which the lights had suddenly been turned out, even Madame de Treymes’ intensely modern presence threw no illumination.  He was conscious, as she smilingly rejoined him, not of her points of difference from the others, but of the myriad invisible threads by which she held to them; he even recognized the audacious slant of her little brown profile in the portrait of a powdered ancestress beneath which she had paused a moment in advancing.  She was simply one particular facet of the solid, glittering impenetrable body which he had thought to turn in his hands and look through like a crystal; and when she said, in her clear staccato English, “Perhaps you will like to see the other rooms,” he felt like crying out in his blindness:  “If I could only be sure of seeing anything here!” Was she conscious of his blindness, and was he as remote and unintelligible to her as she was to him?  This possibility, as he followed her through the nobly-unfolding rooms of the great house, gave him his first hope of recoverable advantage.  For, after all, he had some vague traditional lights on her world and its antecedents; whereas to her he was a wholly new phenomenon, as unexplained as a fragment of meteorite dropped at her feet on the smooth gravel of the garden-path they were pacing.

She had led him down into the garden, in response to his admiring exclamation, and perhaps also because she was sure that, in the chill spring afternoon, they would have its embowered privacies to themselves.  The garden was small, but intensely rich and deep—­one of those wells of verdure and fragrance which everywhere sweeten the air of Paris by wafts blown above old walls on quiet streets; and as Madame de Treymes paused against the ivy bank masking its farther boundary, Durham felt more than ever removed from the normal bearings of life.

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Madame De Treymes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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