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- Mysteries of Paris, V3 - 5/89 -
short petticoat of orange merino, which seems of exaggerated amplitude, although it fits admirably on the contours of sculptural richness, allows a glance at the charming leg of the Creole, in the scarlet stockings with blue clocks, just as it is met with among the old Flemish painters, who show so complacently the garters of their robust heroines.
Never did artist dream of an outline more pure than her limbs; strong and muscular above their full calves, they terminated in a small foot, quite at ease, and well arched in its very small shoe of black morocco with silver buckles. She is standing before the glass on the chimney-piece. The slope of her spencer displays her elegant, graceful neck, of dazzling whiteness, but without transparency.
Taking off her cherry-colored cap, to replace it by a Madras kerchief, the Creole displayed her thick and magnificent hair of bluish black, which, divided in the middle of her forehead, and naturally curled, descended no lower than the junction of the neck with the shoulders. One must know the inimitable taste with which a Creole twists around her head these handkerchiefs, to have an idea of the graceful appearance, and of the piquant contrast of this tissue, variegated purple, azure, and orange, with her black hair, which, escaping from the close folds, surrounds with its large, silky curls her pale, but plump and firm cheeks.
Her arms raised above her head, she finished, with her slender ivory fingers, arranging a large bow, placed very low on the left side, almost on the ear. Her features are of the kind it is impossible ever to forget.
A bold forehead, slightly projecting, surmounted a visage of perfect oval, her complexion of a dead white, the satin-like freshness of a camellia imperceptibly touched by a ray of the sun; her eyes of a size almost immoderate, have a singular expression, for the pupil, extremely large, black, and brilliant, hardly allows the transparent pale blue of the eye ball to be seen from the corners of her eyelids, fringed with long lashes; her chin is perfect; her nose, fine and straight, is terminated by nostrils dilating at each emotion; her lovely impudent mouth is of a lively red.
Let one imagine this pale face, with its sparkling black glances, its red, moist, and glossy lips, which shine like wet coral.
Let us say that this tall Creole, slender, fleshy, strong and active as a panther, was the type of that sensuality which is only lighted up by the fires of the tropics. Such was Cecily.
She was once the slave of a Louisiana planter, who designed her for his harem. Her lover, a slave named David, resisted that design to the only gain of being flogged, while his loved one was borne away. David was no common black; he had been educated in France, and was the plantation surgeon. The story of this high-handed and twofold outrage reached Rudolph, whose yacht was on the coast. The prince, landing in the night with a boat's crew, carried off David and Cecily from the planter's calaboose, leaving a sum of money as indemnity. The two were wedded in France, but Cecily, won away by a very bad man, had become so evil, that her new life was a series of scandals. David would have killed her, but Rudolph, whose physician he had worthily become, induced him to prefer her life-prisonment in Germany. Out of her dungeon she was brought by Rudolph, who knew no fitter implement with which to chastise the notary.
Her detestable predilections, for some time restrained by her real attachment for David, were only developed in Europe; the civilization and climatical influence of the North had tempered the violence, modified the expression. Instead of casting herself violently on her prey, and thinking only, like her compeers, to destroy as soon as possible their life and fortune, Cecily, fixing on her victims her magnetic glances, commenced by attracting them, little by little, into the blazing whirlwind which seemed to emanate from her; then, seeing them lost, suffering every torment of a tantalized craving, she amused herself by a refinement of coquetry, prolonging their delirium; then, returning to her first instincts, she destroyed them in her homicidal embrace. This was more horrible still.
The famished tiger, who springs upon and carries off the prey which he tears with wild roars, inspires less horror than the serpent, which silently charms, attracts by degrees, twists in inextricable folds the victim, feels it palpitate under its deadly stings, and seems to feed upon its struggles with as much delight as upon its blood.
To the foregoing let there be joined an adroit, insinuating, quick mind--an intelligence so marvelous, that in a year she spoke both French and German with the most extreme facility--sometimes even with marked eloquence. Imagine, in fine, a corruption worthy of the courtesan queens of ancient Rome, and audacity and courage above all proof, propensities, diabolical wickedness, and one would have a correct idea of the new _servant_ of Jacques Ferrand--the determined creature who had dared to throw herself into the den of the wolf. And yet (singular anomaly) on learning from M. de Graun the provoking _platonic_ part which she was to play at the notary's and what avenging ends were to be produced by her artifices, Cecily had promised to perform her part with a will; or, rather, with a terrible hatred against Jacques Ferrand, being very indignant at the recital of his having drugged Louise--a recital it was found necessary to make, in order that she should be on her guard against the hypocritical attempts of the monster. Some retrospective words concerning the latter personage are indispensable.
When Cecily was presented to him by Rudolph's intermediary, Madame Pipelet, as an orphan over whom she wished to have no control, or care, the notary had, perhaps, been less struck with the beauty of the Creole than fascinated by her irresistible glances, which, at the first interview, lighted a fire which disturbed his reason.
This man, ordinarily with so much self-command, so calm, and cunning, forgot the cold calculations of his profound dissimulation when the demon of lust obscured his mind. Besides he had no reason to suspect the _protégée_ of Madame Pipelet.
After her conversation with the latter, Madame Séraphin had proposed to Jacques Ferrand, to take the place of Louise, a young girl almost without a home, for whom she would answer. The notary had gladly accepted, in the hope of abusing, with impunity, the precarious and isolated condition of his new servant. Finally, far from being suspicious, Jacques Ferrand found, in the progress of events, new motives of security.
All responded to his wishes. The death of Madame Séraphin rid him of a dangerous accomplice. The death of Fleur-de-Marie (he thought her dead) released him from the living proof of his crime of child-stealing. He did not fear the Countess M'Gregor now that she was wounded, while La Chouette was dead, as we have related.
We repeat, no sentiment of suspicion came to counterbalance in his mind the sudden, irresistible impression which he had experienced at the sight of Cecily. He seized, with delight, the occasion to receive into his solitary dwelling the pretended niece of Madame Pipelet.
The character, habits, antecedents of Jacques Ferrand known and stated, the provoking beauty of the Creole, such as we have endeavored to paint it, some other facts which we will now expose, will cause to be comprehended, we hope, the sudden frenzied passion of the notary for this seductive and dangerous creature.
Although Jacques Ferrand was never to obtain the object of his wishes, the Creole was very careful not to deprive him of all hope; but the vague and distant hopes which she rocked in the cradle of so many caprices were for him only increased tortures, and riveted more solidly still the burning chain he wore.
If any astonishment is felt that a man of such vigor and audacity had not had recourse to cunning or violence to triumph over the calculated resistance of Cecily, it must not be forgotten that Cecily was not a second Louise. Besides, the next day after her presentation to the notary, she had played quite another part than the simple country lass, under whose semblance she had been introduced to her master, or he would not have been the dupe of his servant for two consecutive days.
Instructed of the fate of Louise by Baron de Graun, and knowing by what abominable means the unfortunate daughter of Morel had become the prey of the notary, the Creole, entering into this solitary house, had taken excellent precautions to pass the first night in security.
The evening of her arrival, remaining alone with Jacques Ferrand, who, in order not to alarm her, affected hardly to look at her, and told her, roughly, to go to bed, she avowed innocently, that at night she was very much afraid of thieves, but that she was strong, resolute, and ready to defend herself.
"With what?" asked Jacques Ferrand.
"With this," answered the Creole, drawing from the ample woolen pelisse in which she was wrapped up a little dagger, of high finish, which made the notary reflect.
Yet, persuaded that his new servant only feared _robbers,_ he conducted her to the room she was to occupy (the former chamber of Louise). After having examined the localities, Cecily told him, trembling, with her eyes cast down, that, from fear, she would pass her night on a chair, because she saw on the door neither lock nor bolt.
Jacques Ferrand, already completely under the charm, but not wishing to awaken the suspicions of Cecily, said to her, in a cross tone, that she was a fool to have such fears; but he promised that the next day the bolt should be arranged. The Creole did not go to bed.
In the morning the notary came to instruct her as to her duties. He intended to preserve, during the first day, a hypocritical reserve toward his new servant in order to inspire her with confidence; but, struck with her beauty, Which, in the broad daylight seemed still more dazzling, blinded, and carried away by his feelings, he stammered forth some compliments on her figure and beauty.
She, with rare sagacity, had judged from her first interview with the notary, that he was completely under the charm, at the avowal which he made of his _flame,_ she thought she would at once throw off her feigned timidity, and change her mask. The Creole then assumed all at once a bold air. Jacques Ferrand went into new ecstasies, on the beauty of features, and the enchanting figure of his new maid.
"Look me full in the face," said Cecily, resolutely; "although dressed as an Alsatian peasant, do I look like a servant?"
"What do you mean to say?" cried Jacques Ferrand.
"Mark this hand--is it accustomed to rude labor?"
And she showed a white and charming hand, with slender and delicate fingers, the long nails polished like agate, but of which the slightly-shaded crown betrayed the mixed blood.
"And is this a servant's foot?"
And she advanced a ravishing little foot, which the notary had not yet remarked, and which he now only desisted from looking at to regard Cecily with amazement.
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