Concerning The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli by Ronald Firbank

By Ronald Firbank

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It takes a lot to beat aniseed brandy; when it's old. " She remained a moment lost in idle reverie before the brilliant embroideries in her basket. Bits of choice beflowered brocade, multi-tinted, inimitably faded silks of the epoca of Theresa de Ahumada, exquisite tatters, telling of the Basilica's noble past, it gladdened the eyes to gaze on. What garden of Granada could show a pink to match that rose, or what sky show a blue as tenderly serene as that azure of the Saint Virgin? " She had last seen the Cardinal coming from the orange orchard with a dancing-boy and Father Fadrique, who had a mark on his cheek left by a woman's fan.

The One Intellectual smiled obliquely. "Your Eminence I notice has several devout salve-stains already," she murmured, defending her face with her fan. " The One Intellectual glanced away. "The poor Princess! " "Probably not," the Cardinal answered, following her ethereal transit. " Nevertheless some few late sirens were only arriving. Conspicuous among these was Catherine (the ideal-questing, God-groping and insouciant), Countess of Constantine, the aristocratic heroine of the capital, looking half-charmed to be naked and alive.

Return to your broken doze, and dream again of leafy days in leafy Parks, and comfy drives and escapades long ago. What sights you saw when you could see; fountains, and kneeling kings, and grim beggars at Church doors (those at San Eusebio were the worst). And sheltered spas by glittering seas: Santander! And dark adulteries and dim woods at night. " Beneath one of these, like a red geranium, was Cardinal Pirelli. "Oh, your Eminence, the utter forlornness of Society!... " a wizened little woman, mistaken, not infrequently, for "Bob Foy," the jockey, was exclaiming plaintively.

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