Under a Charm: A Novel (Complete)
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The hot summer day was drawing to its close. The sun had already set; but the rosy flush of evening still lingered on the horizon, casting a radiant glow over the sea, which lay calm, scarce moved by a ripple, reflecting the last splendour of the departing day.
Close to the shore on the outskirts of C----, the fashionable watering-place, but at some little distance from the promenade, which at this hour was thronged by a brilliant, many-coloured crowd of visitors, stood a plain country house. Unpretending in appearance, compared with the other, for the most part, far larger and grander houses and villas of the place, it was remarkable for nothing save only for the beauty of its situation, its windows commanding a limitless view over the sea. Otherwise it stood there secluded, almost solitary, and could certainly only be preferred by such guests as wished rather to avoid, than to court, the noisy, busy life of C---- during the bathing season.
At the open glass-door, which led out on to the balcony, stood a lady dressed in deep mourning. She was tall and imposing of stature, and might still pass for beautiful, although she had more than reached life's meridian. That face, with its clear regular lines, had, it is true, never possessed the charms of grace and loveliness; but, for that very reason, years had taken nothing from the cold severe beauty it still triumphantly retained. The black attire, the crape veil shading her brow, seemed to point to some heavy, and probably recent, loss; but one looked in vain for the trace of past tears in those eyes, for a touch of softness in those features so indicative of energy. If sorrow had really drawn nigh this woman, she had either not felt it very deeply, or had already overcome its pangs.