No Name HTML version

Chapter III.3
"MISS GARTH, sir, said Mrs. Lecount, opening the parlo r door, and announcing
the visitor's appearance with the tone and manner of a well-bred servant.
Magdalen found herself in a long, narrow room, consisting of a back parlor and a
front parlor, which had been thrown into one by opening the folding-doors
between them. Seated not far from the front window, with his back to the light,
she saw a frail, flaxen-haired, self-satisfied little man, clothed in a fair white
dressing-gown many sizes too large for him, with a nosegay of violets drawn
neatly through the button-hole over his breast. He looked from thirty to five-and-
thirty years old. His complexion was as delicate as a young girl's, his eyes were
of the lightest blue, his upper lip was adorned by a weak little white mustache,
waxed and twisted at either end into a thin spiral curl. When any object specially
attracted his attention he half closed his eyelids to look at it. When he smiled, the
skin at his temples crumpled itself up into a nest of wicked little wrinkles. He had
a plate of strawberries on his lap, with a napkin under them to preserve the purity
of his white dressing-gown. At his right hand stood a large round table, covered
with a collection of foreign curiosities, which seemed to have been brought
together from the four quarters of the globe. Stuffed birds from Africa, porcelain
monsters from China, silver ornaments and utensils from India and Peru, mosaic
work from Italy, and bronzes from France, were all heaped together pell-mell with
the coarse deal boxes and dingy leather cases which served to pack them for
traveling. The little man apologized, with a cheerful and simpering conceit, for his
litter of curiosities, his dressing-gown, and his delicate health; and, waving his
hand toward a chair, placed his attention, with pragmatical politeness, at the
visitor's disposal. Magdalen looked at him with a momentary doubt whether Mrs.
Lecount had not deceived her. Was this the man who mercilessly followed the
path on which his merciless father had walked before him? She could hardly
believe it. "Take a seat, Miss Garth," he repeated, observing her hesitation, and