University of Virginia Library




I have a passion for fat women. If there is anything I hate
in life, it is what dainty people call a spirituelle. Motion—rapid
motion—a smart, quick, squirrel-like step, a pert, voluble tone—
in short, a lively girl—is my exquisite horror! I would as lief
have a diable petit dancing his infernal hornpipe on my cerebellum
as to be in the room with one. I have tried before now to
school myself into liking these parched peas of humanity. I
have followed them with my eyes, and attended to their rattle
till I was as crazy as a fly in a drum. I have danced with them,
and romped with them in the country, and perilled the salvation
of my “white tights” by sitting near them at supper. I swear
off from this moment. I do. I won't—no—hang me if ever I
show another small, lively, spry woman a civility.

Albina McLush is divine. She is like the description of the
Persian beauty by Hafiz: “her heart is full of passion and her
eyes are full of sleep.” She is the sister of Lurly McLush, my
old college chum, who, as early as his sophomore year, was chosen
president of the Dolce-far-niente Society—no member of which
was ever known to be surprised at anything—(the college law of


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rising before breakfast excepted.) Lurly introduced me to his
sister one day, as he was lying upon a heap of turnips, leaning on
his elbow with his head in his hand, in a green lane in the suburbs.
He had driven over a stump, and been tossed out of his
gig, and I came up just as he was wondering how in the d—l's
name he got there! Albina sat quietly in the gig, and when I
was presented, requested me, with a delicious drawl, to say nothing
about the adventure—“it would be so troublesome to relate
it to everybody!” I loved her from that moment. Miss
McLush was tall, and her shape, of its kind, was perfect. It
was not a fleshy one, exactly, but she was large and full. Her
skin was clear, fine-grained, and transparent: her temples and
forehead perfectly rounded and polished, and her lips and chin
swelling into a ripe and tempting pout, like the cleft of a bursted
apricot. And then her eyes—large, liquid, and sleepy—they languished
beneath their long black fringes as if they had no business
with daylight—like two magnificent dreams, surprised in
their jet embryos by some bird-nesting cherub. Oh! it was
lovely to look into them!

She sat, usually, upon a fauteuil, with her large, full arm embedded
in the cushion, sometimes for hours without stirring. I
have seen the wind lift the masses of dark hair from her shoulders
when it seemed like the coming to life of a marble Hebe—
she had been motionless so long. She was a model for a goddess
of sleep, as she sat with her eyes half closed, lifting up their
superb lids slowly as you spoke to her, and dropping them again
with the deliberate motion of a cloud, when she had murmured
out her syllable of assent. Her figure, in a sitting posture, presented
a gentle declivity from the curve of her neck to the instep
of the small round foot lying on its side upon the ottoman. I


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remember a fellow's bringing her a plate of fruit one evening
He was one of your lively men—a horrid monster, all right an
gles and activity. Having never been accustomed to hold her
own plate, she had not well extricated her whole fingers from her
handkerchief, before he set it down in her lap. As it began
slowly to slide towards her feet, her hand relapsed into the muslin
folds, and she fixed her eye upon it with a kind of indolent
surprise, drooping her lids gradually, till as the fruit scattered
over the ottoman, they closed entirely, and a liquid jet line was
alone visible through the heavy lashes. There was an imperial
indifference in it worthy of Juno.

Miss McLush rarely walks. When she does, it is with the deliberate
majesty of a Dido. Her small, plump feet melt to the
ground like snow-flakes; and her figure sways to the indolent
motion of her limbs with a glorious grace and yieldingness quite
indescribable. She was idling slowly up the Mall one evening
just at twilight, with a servant at a short distance behind her,
who, to while away the time between his steps, was employing
himself in throwing stones at the cows feeding upon the Common.
A gentleman, with a natural admiration for her splendid person,
addressed her. He might have done a more eccentric thing.
Without troubling herself to look at him, she turned to her servant
and requested him, with a yawn of desperate ennui, to knock
that fellow down! John obeyed his orders; and, as his mistress
resumed her lounge, picked up a new handful of pebbles, and tossing
one at the nearest cow, loitered lazily after.

Such supreme indolence was irresistible. I gave in—I—who
never before could summon energy to sigh—I—to whom a declaration
was but a synonym for perspiration—I—who had only


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thought of love as a nervous complaint, and of women but to
pray for a good deliverance—I—yes—I—knocked under. Albina
McLush! Thou wert too exquisitely lazy. Human sensi
bilities cannot hold out forever!

I found her one morning sipping her coffee at twelve, with her
eyes wide open. She was just from the bath, and her complexion
had a soft, dewy transparency, like the cheek of Venus rising
from the sea. It was the hour, Lurly had told me, when she
would be at the trouble of thinking. She put away with her dimpled
forefinger, as I entered, a cluster of rich curls that had fallen
over her face, and nodded to me like a water-lily swaying to the
wind when its cup is full of rain.

“Lady Albina,” said I, in my softest tone, “how are you?”

“Bettina,” said she, addressing her maid in a voice as clouded
and rich as a south wind on an Æolian, “how am I to-day?”

The conversation fell into short sentences. The dialogue became
a monologue. I entered upon my declaration. With the
assistance of Bettina, who supplied her mistress with cologne, I
kept her attention alive through the incipient circumstances.
Symptoms were soon told. I came to the avowal. Her hand
lay reposing on the arm of the sofa, half buried in a muslin
foulard. I took it up and pressed the cool soft fingers to my lips
—unforbidden. I rose and looked into her eyes for confirmation.
Delicious creature! she was asleep!

I never have had courage to renew the subject. Miss McLush
seems to have forgotten it altogether. Upon reflection, too, I'm
convinced she would not survive the excitement of the ceremony
—unless, indeed, she should sleep between the responses and the
prayer. I am still devoted, however, and if there should come


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a war or an earthquake, or if the millennium should commence,
as is expected, in 1833, or if anything happens that can keep her
waking so long, I shall deliver a declaration, abbreviated for me
by a scholar-friend of mine, which, he warrants, may be articulated
in fifteen minutes—without fatigue.