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was symmetrical, and her deportment extremely graceful. She was radiant with joyousness and animation
“A subtle, wild, yet gentle being ;
Graceful without design, and unforeseeing;
She was the star of whatever circle she moved in, and the admiration she had received from all casual visitors to Florence, together with the soft flattery and sweet incense offered daily to her charms by her own intimates, had conspired to spoil her, and a spirit of coquetry had grown up in her heart, unnoticed and unreproved.
There is an immeasurable difference between exuberance of spirits, and the animation arising from a desire to attract, yet is one often mistaken for the other. Many sweet, innocent girls, who, from the gladness of their own hearts and the cheerfulness arising from inward approval, smile on all around, and talk and laugh gaily and indiscriminately, are immediately set down as flirts and coquettes by the envious and splenetic. It may doubtless be far more dignified to treat half the world with silent contempt, and reserve our smiles for one or two favoured individuals, but it becomes a question whether goodness of heart and delicacy of feeling are compatible with such hauteur? We should think not. It may be argued by these dignified beings that they really cannot throw away their time and words by talking to people whose ideas never soared beyond a valse or a galopade, who consider Weippert the first of men, and a ballroom a terrestrial paradise, who invariably begin by asking them if they have been much to the Opera lately, and end by observing with peculiar pathos, how intolerably warm the rooms are, and who never have originated an idea in their lives.
Even animals are gentle and affable to their inferiors, in proportion to their size ; surely, therefore, these superior beings might condescend to tolerate the innocent prattle of those with whom they associate ! The coquette, on the other hand, uses the most fatiguing exertions to gain the good will of every one; she can accommodate herself to every capacity, and be either grave, gay, sentimental, or a delightful compound of all these characters. And the perfection of her art is to keep her numerous adorers in good humour with her and each other.
Chiara was rapidly becoming of the latter class, and yet she was by no means wanting in feeling. She had never attempted to captivate Sedley, because she saw plainly that even her powers of fascination would be thrown away on him, and therefore she contented herself with the brotherly kindness he evinced towards her.
Some English friends of Lady Sedley's arrived in Milan, on their way to Genoa, and prevailed on her to accompany them back to that city. The whole party proceeded to Genoa, and Chiara found amongst her new acquaintance an object worth fixing her attention.
One evening Sedley rode some miles out of Genoa to a small village situated at the foot of a rugged mountain, and composed entirely of fishermen's huts. The day had been intensely hot, and the sea-breeze, fanning his temples, was peculiarly delightful to him. With difficulty, he found a place where he could put up his horse, and then he strolled for some distance along the beach, and seated himself on a large mass of rock which lay embedded in the sands.
There is perhaps no sound at once so exciting and soothing as the unceasing murmur of a vast body of water. As Sedley listened to the splashing and rippling of the waves, advancing and receding, all the events of his past life rose up in his memory, and he viewed them with calm composure. The stillness was unbroken save by the splash of water, which can scarcely be called a sound, so completely does it harmonise with a vast solitude. The sun had lost its fierce power and threw its slanting rays mildly over sea and land. On the far horizon was discernible many a white sail, causing vague, dreamy wishes and visions of distant lands. A soft haze overshadowed the mountain tops, and their stupendous bases offered every variety of shape, caverns, rugged rocks, and promontories.
The sweet, fresh smell of the sea-breeze came at intervals across Sedley's sense, and he felt, in its fullest extent, the luxury of being alone in such a spot.
A rude cross had been erected near the coast, for the benefit of the fishermen passing to and fro, and Sedley gazed with emotion at this simple emblem, at whose foot so many had prayed or poured out joyful thanksgivings.
At length Sedley observed a young woman approaching, followed by a little girl. He retreated to a place from which he could watch her without being observed, as he conjectured that she was coming to pray for a husband or brother at sea.
He had observed this young woman as he rode through the village, and had been much struck with her interesting appearance. She was very young and yet wore a look of extreme dejection. Her dress, though of coarse mate