A fool indeed were I to attempt a thing impossible; I do but seek to show her to you as I saw her, and to describe her in so far as I learned to know her.
And yet, how may I begin? I might tell you that her nose was neither arched nor straight, but perfect, none the less; I might tell you of her brows, straight and low, of her eyes, long and heavy-lashed, of her chin, firm and round and dimpled; and yet, that would not be Charmian. For I could not paint you the scarlet witchery of her mouth with its sudden, bewildering changes, nor show you how sweetly the lower lip curved up to meet its mate. I might tell you that to look into her eyes was like gazing down into very deep water, but I could never give you their varying beauty, nor the way she had with her lashes; nor can I ever describe her rich, warm coloring, nor the lithe grace of her body.
Thus it is that I misdoubt my pen of its task, and fear that, when you shall have read these pages, you shall, at best, have caught but a very imperfect reflection of Charmian as she really is.
Wherefore, I will waste no more time or paper upon so unprofitable a task, but hurry on with my narrative, leaving you to find her out as best you may.
Concerning, among other matters, the price of beef, and the lady Sophia Sefton of Cambourne
Charmian sighed, bit the end of her pen, and sighed again. She was deep in her housekeeping accounts, adding and subtracting and, between whiles, regarding the result with a rueful frown.
Her sleeves were rolled up over her round, white arms, and I inwardly wondered if the much vaunted Phryne’s were ever more perfect in their modelling, or of a fairer texture. Had I possessed the genius of a Praxiteles I might have given to the world a masterpiece of beauty to replace his vanished Venus of Cnidus; but, as it happened, I was only a humble blacksmith, and she a fair woman who sighed, and nibbled her pen, and sighed again.
“What is it, Charmian?”
“Compound addition, Peter, and I hate figures I detest, loathe, and abominate them—especially when they won’t balance!”
“Then never mind them,” said I.
“Never mind them, indeed—the idea, Sir! How can I help minding them when living costs so much and we so poor?”
“Are we?” said I.
“Why, of course we are.”
“Yes—to be sure—I suppose we are,” said I dreamily.
Lais was beautiful, Thais was alluring, and Berenice was famous for her beauty, but then, could either of them have shown such arms—so long, so graceful in their every movement, so subtly rounded in their lines, arms which, for all their seeming firmness, must (I thought) be wonderfully soft to the touch, and smooth as ivory, and which found a delicate sheen where the light kissed them?