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The Broad Highway(Book2,Chapter15)

2006-08-28 22:54

  Book Two. The Woman Chapter XV. Which, Being in Parenthesis, May Be Skipped if the Reader so Desire

  As this life is a Broad Highway along which we must all of us pass whether we will or no; as it is a thoroughfare sometimes very hard and cruel in the going, and beset by many hardships, sometimes desolate and hatefully monotonous, so, also, must its aspect, sooner or later, change for the better, and, the stony track overpassed, the choking heat and dust left behind, we may reach some green, refreshing haven shady with trees, and full of the cool, sweet sound of running waters. Then who shall blame us if we pause unduly in this grateful shade, and, lying upon our backs a while, gaze up through the swaying green of trees to the infinite blue beyond, ere we journey on once more, as soon we must, to front whatsoever of good or evil lies waiting for us in the hazy distance.

  To just such a place am I now come, in this, my history; the record of a period which I, afterwards, remembered as the happiest I had ever known, the memory of which must remain with me, green and fragrant everlastingly.

  If, in the forthcoming pages, you shall find over-much of Charmian, I would say, in the first place, that it is by her, and upon her, that this narrative hangs; and, in the second place, that in this part of my story I find my greatest pleasure; though here, indeed, I am faced with a great difficulty, seeing that I must depict, as faithfully as may be, that most difficult, that most elusive of all created things, to wit——a woman.

  Truly, I begin to fear lest my pen fail me altogether for the very reason that it is of Charmian that I would tell, and of Charmian I understand little more than nothing; for what rule has ever been devised whereby a woman's mind may be accurately gauged, and who of all those wise ones who have written hitherto ——poets, romancers, or historians——has ever fathomed the why and wherefore of the Mind Feminine?

  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.

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