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A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP (9)

2006-09-08 20:01

    HE

    YORK, June  The Black Swan.

    Kitty Schuyler is the concentrated essence of feminine witchery. Intuition strong, logic weak, and the two qualities so balanced as to produce an indefinable charm; will-power large, but docility equal, if a man is clever enough to know how to manage her; knowledge of facts absolutely nil, but she is exquisitely intelligent in spite of it. She has a way of evading, escaping, eluding, and then gives you an intoxicating hint of sudden and complete surrender. She is divinely innocent, but roguishness saves her from insipidity. Her looks? She looks as you would imagine a person might look who possessed these graces; and she is worth looking at, though every time I do it I have a rush of love to the head. When you find a girl who combines all the qualities you have imagined in the ideal, and who has added a dozen or two on her own account, merely to distract you past all hope, why stand up and try to resist her charm? Down on your knees like a man, say I!

    * * *

    I'm getting to adore aunt Celia. I didn't care for her at first, but she is so deliciously blind! Anything more exquisitely unserviceable as a chaperon I can't imagine. Absorbed in antiquity, she ignores the babble of contemporaneous lovers. That any man could look at Kitty when he could look at a cathedral passes her comprehension. I do not presume too greatly on her absent- mindedness, however, lest she should turn unexpectedly and rend me. I always remember that inscription on the backs of the little mechanical French toys,——"Quoiqu'elle soit tres solidement montee, il faut ne pas brutaliser la machine."

    And so my courtship progresses under aunt Celia's very nose. I say "progresses," but it is impossible to speak with any certainty of courting, for the essence of that gentle craft is hope, rooted in labor and trained by love.

    I set out to propose to her during service this afternoon by writing my feelings on the fly-leaf of the hymn-book, or something like that; but I knew that aunt Celia would never forgive such blasphemy, and I thought that Kitty herself might consider it wicked. Besides, if she should chance to accept me, there was nothing I could do, in a cathedral, to relieve my feelings. No; if she ever accepts me, I wish it to be in a large, vacant spot of the universe, peopled by two only, and those two so indistinguishably blended, as it were, that they would appear as one to the casual observer. So I practiced repression, though the wall of my reserve is worn to the thinness of thread-paper, and I tried to keep my mind on the droning minor canon, and not to look at her, "for that way madness lies."

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