A woman’s counsel brought us first to woe.—Dryden.
“Wait!” she said. “We shall have candles.” She clapped her hands sharply, and again there entered the silent old serving-woman, who, obedient to a gesture, proceeded to light additional candles in the prism stands and sconces. The apartment was now distinct in all its details under this additional flood of light. Decently as I might I looked about. I was forced to stifle the exclamation of surprise which rose to my lips.
We were plain folk enough in Washington at that time. The ceremonious days of our first presidents had passed for the democratic time of Jefferson and Jackson; and even under Mr. Van Buren there had been little change from the simplicity which was somewhat our boast. Washington itself was at that time scarcely more than an overgrown hamlet, not in the least to be compared to the cosmopolitan centers which made the capitals of the Old World. Formality and stateliness of a certain sort we had, but of luxury we knew little. There was at that time, as I well knew, no state apartment in the city which in sheer splendor could for a moment compare with this secret abode of a woman practically unknown. Here certainly was European luxury transferred to our shores. This in simple Washington, with its vast white unfinished capitol, its 杭州桑拿按摩信息 piecemeal miles of mixed residences, boarding-houses, hotels, restaurants, and hovels! I fancied stern Andrew Jackson or plain John Calhoun here!
The furniture I discovered to be exquisite in detail, of rosewood and mahogany, with many brass chasings and carvings, after the fashion of the Empire, and here and there florid ornamentation following that of the court of the earlier Louis. Fanciful little clocks with carved scrolls stood about; Cupid tapestries had replaced the original tawdry coverings of these common walls, and what had once been a dingy fireplace was now faced with embossed tiles never made in America. There were paintings in oil here and there, done by master hands, as one could tell. The curtained windows spoke eloquently of secrecy. Here and there a divan and couch showed elaborate care in comfort. Beyond a 杭州按摩最放松的地方 lace-screened grille I saw an alcove—doubtless cut through the original partition wall between two of these humble houses—and within this stood a high tester bed, its heavy mahogany posts beautifully carved, the couch itself piled deep with foundations of I know not what of down and spread most daintily with a coverlid of amber satin, whose edges fringed out almost to the floor. At the other extremity, screened off as in a distinct apartment, there stood a smaller couch, a Napoleon bed, with carved ends, furnished more simply but with equal richness. Everywhere was the air not only of comfort, but of ease and luxury, elegance and sensuousness contending. I needed no lesson to tell me that this was not an ordinary apartment, nor occupied by an ordinary owner.
One resented the liberties England took in establishing this manner of 杭州水磨拉丝 ménage in our simple city, and arrogantly taking for granted our ignorance regarding it; but none the less one was forced to commend the thoroughness shown. The ceilings, of course, remained low, but there was visible no trace of the original architecture, so cunningly had the interior been treated. As I have said, the dividing partitions had all been removed, so that the long interior practically was open, save as the apartments were separated by curtains or grilles. The floors were carpeted thick and deep. Silence reigned here. There remained no trace of the clumsy comfort which had sufficed the early builder. Here was no longer a series of modest homes, but a boudoir which might have been the gilded cage of some favorite of an ancient court. The breath and flavor of this suspicion floated in every drapery, swam in the faint 杭州足浴女技师图片 perfume which filled the place. My first impression was that of surprise; my second, as I have said, a feeling of
resentment at the presumption which installed all this in our capital of Washington.
I presume my thought may have been reflected in some manner in my face. I heard a gentle laugh, and turned about. She sat there in a great carved chair, smiling, her white arms stretched out on the rails, the fingers just gently curving. There was no apology for her situation, no trace of alarm or shame or unreadiness. It was quite obvious she was merely amused. I was in no way ready to ratify the rumors I had heard regarding her.
She had thrown back over the rail of the chair the rich cloak which covered her in the carriage, and sat now in the full light, in the splendor of satin and lace and gems, her arms bare, her throat and 杭州4197龙凤论坛 shoulders white and bare, her figure recognized graciously by every line of a superb gowning such as we had not yet learned on this side of the sea. Never had I seen, and never since have I seen, a more splendid instance of what beauty of woman may be.
She did not speak at first, but sat and smiled, studying, I presume, to find what stuff I was made of. Seeing this, I pulled myself together and proceeded briskly to my business.
“My employer will find me late, I fear, my dear baroness,” I began.
“Better late than wholly unsuccessful,” she rejoined, still smiling. “Tell me, my friend, suppose you had come hither and knocked at my door?”
“Perhaps I might not have been so clumsy,” I essayed.
“Confess it!” she smiled. “Had you come here and seen the exterior only, you would have felt yourself part of a great mistake. You would have 杭州夜生活去哪里 gone away.”
“Perhaps not,” I argued. “I have much confidence in my chief’s acquaintance with his own purposes and his own facts. Yet I confess I should not have sought madam the baroness in this neighborhood. If England provides us so beautiful a picture, why could she not afford a frame more suitable? Why is England so secret with us?”
She only smiled, showing two rows of exceedingly even white teeth. She was perfect mistress of herself. In years she was not my equal, yet I could see that at the time I did scarcely more than amuse her.
“Be seated, pray,” she said at last. “Let us talk over this matter.”
Obedient to her gesture, I dropped into a chair opposite to her, she herself not varying her posture and still regarding me with the laugh in her half-closed eyes.
“What do you think of my little place?” she asked finally.