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La Constantin

Chapter 3
ANGELIQUE-LOUISE DE GUERCHI was a woman of about twenty-eight years of age,
tall, dark, and well made. The loose life she had led had, it is true, somewhat staled her
beauty, marred the delicacy of her complexion, and coarsened the naturally elegant
curves of her figure; but it is such women who from time immemorial have had the
strongest attraction for profligate men. It seems as if dissipation destroyed the power to
perceive true beauty, and the man of pleasure must be aroused to admiration by a bold
glance and a meaning smile, and will only seek satisfaction along the trail left by vice.
Louise- Angelique was admirably adapted for her way of life; not that her features wore
an expression of shameless effrontery, or that the words that passed her lips bore
habitual testimony to the disorders of her existence, but that under a calm and sedate
demeanour there lurked a secret and indefinable charm. Many other women possessed
more regular features, but none of them had a greater power of seduction. We must add
that she owed that power entirely to her physical perfections, for except in regard to the
devices necessary to her calling, she showed no cleverness, being ignorant, dull and
without inner resources of any kind. As her temperament led her to share the desires
she excited, she was really incapable of resisting an attack conducted with skill and
ardour, and if the Duc de Vitry had not been so madly in love, which is the same as
saying that he was hopelessly blind, silly, and dense to everything around him, he might
have found a score of opportunities to overcome her resistance. We have already seen
that she was so straitened in money matters that she had been driven to try to sell her
jewels that very, morning.
Jeannin was the first to 'break silence.
"You are astonished at my visit, I know, my charming Angelique. But you must excuse
my thus appearing so unexpectedly before you. The truth is, I found it impossible to
leave Paris without seeing you once more."
"Thank you for your kind remembrance," said she, "but I did not at all expect it."
"Come, come, you are offended with me."
She gave him a glance of mingled disdain and resentment; but he went on, in a timid,
wistful tone--
"I know that my conduct must have seemed strange to you, and I acknowledge that
nothing can justify a man for suddenly leaving the woman he loves--I do not dare to say
the woman who loves him--without a word of explanation. But, dear Angelique, I was
jealous."
"Jealous!" she repeated incredulously.
 
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