THE Flirt who has failed to find a husband during the London season may recruit her health in travelling for a fresh campaign, and perhaps pick up what she wants into the bargain. In foreign hotels marriages are arranged as frequently as in London drawing-rooms.
But the tourist season is more suitable to the married Flirt than to the girl. The latter, held in bondage by her family - accompanied often by a cohort of brothers and younger sisters - and inclined, for prudence sake, to be more demure abroad than in England, stands at something of a disadvantage towards the married Flirt, who looks upon touring as a period of complete liberty. She may have her husband with her, or may be travelling alone with her maid and a dame de compagnie. Perhaps her husband is dead, or perhaps he has ceased to care for her - jinks in any case the married Flirt, being removed from the control of prudish English eyes, plunges with delight into the freedom of incognita existence. As her objects are not similar to the girl Flirt's, she has not the same reasons to be particular. It matters little whether her neighbour at the table d'hôte be eligible as a husband, since she has no thought of marrying him. So long as he is agreeable, gallant, enterprising, she can get out of him all the fun she wants. In this way the married Flirt picks up cavalieri serventi wherever she goes - to-day a Frenchman, to-morrow a Russian Prince, next week a Wallachian shiny with hair-oil and diamonds. She has a smattering of all languages, or, at least, can understand a compliment in any tongue.
To some of these married Flirts autumn travelling is really the most pleasurable business. Look at the pretty blue-eyed English-woman who steps out of her hotel on the Rhigi to watch the sun rise on a crisp September morning. She is wrapped in a fur cloak to keep the cold off, and a polite Italian with moustache who stands beside her arranges its folds, and lends his arm that she may steady herself on the rocky ground. She had never seen that Italian before yesterday, when he sat next her at the table d'hôte; but it turns out that they are both going the round of Switzerland, and it is tacitly agreed that they shall go together.
Why not? There is no spoken convention on the subject, and they do not drive up to the station in the same cab, nor, on arriving at their destinations, repair to their hotel in company; but they contrive to travel in the same railway carriages, and in the different hotels where they alight their rooms are often contiguous. One week you may find them at the Hôtel National of Geneva, whence they proceed on steamboat trips about Lake Leman as far as Ouchy or Vevy. The week after behold them at Lucerne or at Berne, sauntering together under the arcades of the picturesque old streets, or feeding the bears in the municipal bear-pit. But suddenly there is a dissolution of partnership; for in another few days our married Flirt turns up at either Ems or Homburg, but this time with a Bavarian Count to escort her when she goes to drink the waters.
The German watering-places have much declined from their gaiety since the gambling- tables have been closed; and those who go to them in the hope of finding any vestige of the old revelry are disappointed. Ten years ago they were the casinos of the plutocracy throughout Europe. Now they have become the resort of a good many people who positively require the waters for purposes of health, and whose Bath-chairs are not an enlivening feature in the gardens of the Kursaals.
Nevertheless, the beautiful scenery remains, and the bands of music, and the attraction of an occasional crowned head, who comes with a large suite, and causes crowds of aristocratic families to come also.
The married Flirt at Ems will possibly find it convenient to declare that her health is delicate. Her physician has prescribed her the waters that taste of steel, and she must mind and take two hours' walking exercise every day. These are fine opportunities for the Bavarian Count. By a happy coincidence he is always loitering near the ferruginous spring when the lady comes down at eight, at noon, and at four P.M. to take her drink. He passes her the goblet which the German attendant wench hands up brimming with the tepid stuff; he laughs with her at the grimaces she makes; and then when the jorum has been gulped down he is ready to attend her in her walk at a quick march through the gardens, or out into the country among the woods and fields of maize.
As all this whets the appetite, the Bavarian is delighted to see how his fair England-erin tackles the viands and wines at the hotel dinner. The Italian might not have been so pleased, for men of his nation like to see a woman feed herself with pastry and confett; and perhaps that was why she parted from him. Honeymooning in Germany requires that both should be of one mind about eating.
Besides, eating forms one of the chief resources of flirting. On the Mediterranean steamers that ply between Marseilles and Civita Vecchia, and thence to Brindisi and Alexandria, the Flirt, freshened by the salt breezes, makes her four or five meals a day; and half the time of her lovers is spent in fetching her ices or glasses of sugared water on deck between whiles. For you can get ices on board these Mediterranean boats; and when the blue sea is calm as a lake, and the sun not too hot to prevent the passengers from sitting under an awning, the Flirt finds it not disagreeable to relieve the trouble of returning answers to foolish questions of the soft sort by trifling with one of those many-hued blocks of Neapolitan ice which look like soap.
However, even the Mediterranean is apt to tumble about; and in such rough conjunctures all continental gallants, whether Frenchmen, Bavarians, or Greeks, dive hastily into their cabins, leaving the English tourists masters of the deck. The Englishman is not very prone to sea-sickness, and for this reason makes a better maritime companion to the Flirt than any other. Being adventurous, too, he will, perhaps, prolong his acquaintance with the lady who has struck his fancy at Brindisi by accompanying her to Egypt, where they steam up the Nile together as far as the second cataract, and do the Pyramids on their way back. Everybody knows that doing the Pyramids with a lady involves nothing less than lifting her continually in one's arms, to assist her ascent from stone to stone until the platform on the summit is reached. There are, to be sure, black Nubians, whose business it is to do this for money: but the tourist who would win a pretty Flirt's regard will not surrender such delicious labour to hirelings.
|About Flirts||Flirt's Power||Season Flirt||Example And Precept|
|Plain Sisters||Ecclesiastical Flirt||Home Regimental Flirts||Foreign Regimental Flirt|
|Seaside Flirt||Tourist Flirt||Country-Town-House Flirts||Sentimental Flirt|
|Taken from original text, as written. May contain OCR errors.|