Chapter 45 opens what is officially the second part of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, although Reynolds didn’t exactly choose a natural break in the story: this is the second chapter of a new plot thread involving Alessandro’s meeting with a beautiful Turkish woman. The novel plunges headlong into Arabian Nights territory with its description of the woman’s exotic attire:
Half seated, half lying upon cushions of scarlet brocade, the glossy bright hue of which was mellowed by the muslin spread over it, appeared the beauteous creature whose image was so faithfully delineated in his memory. She was attired in the graceful and becoming dualma, a purple vest which set close to her form, and with a species of elasticity shaped itself so as to develop every contour.
But in accordance with the custom of the clime and age, the dualma was open at the bosom, sloping from each lovely white shoulder to the waist, where the two folds joining, formed an angle, at which the purple vest was fastened by a diamond worth a monarch’s ransom. The sleeves were wide, but short, scarcely reaching to the elbow, and leaving all the lower part of the snowy arms completely bare. Her ample trousers were of purple silk, covered with the finest muslin, and drawn in tight a little above the ankles, which were naked. On her feet she wore crimson slippers cut very low, and each ornamented with a diamond. Round her person below the waist she wore a magnificent shawl, rolled up, as it were, negligently, so as to form a girdle or zone, and fastened in front with two large tassels of pearls.
Diamond bracelets adorned her fair arms; and her head-dress consisted of a turban or shawl of light but rich material, fastened with golden bodkins, the head of each being a pearl of the best water. Beneath this turban, her rich auburn hair, glowing like gold in the light of the perfumed lamps, and amidst the blaze of diamonds which adorned her, was parted in massive bands, sweeping gracefully over her temples and gathered behind the ears, then falling in all the luxuriance of its rich clustering folds over the cushion whereon she reclined. Her finger-nails were slightly tinged with henna, the rosy hue the more effectually setting off the lily whiteness of her delicate hand and full round arm.
But no need had she to dye the lashes of her eyes with the famous kohol, so much used by Oriental ladies, for those lashes were by nature formed of the deepest jet—a somewhat unusual but beauteous contrast with the color of her hair. The cheeks of the lovely creature were slightly flushed, or it might have been a reflection of the scarlet brocade of the cushion on which, as we have said, she was half-seated, half-lying, when Alessandro appeared in her presence
Continue reading “Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 17″