The Subtle Attraction of the Older Woman - The Limitations of the Butterfly - The Comrade
Woman - Magnetic Personality - The Perfect Friendship
' Che has grey hair, she is not good looking, but if 1 don't marry her - well, I won't marry any woman."
When a man, a young man, gravely makes this assertion, and when one realises that the woman in question has reached the age when feminine charms are supposed to wane, one feels just a little startled.
What is this great power that so often attracts a young man to a woman some years his senior ? Her subtle spell is all the more formidable because so often the woman does not rely upon mere physical charms, and thus she proves a serious rival to the butterfly. A pretty smile, a baby-curl, a new frock - the butterfly is quite content, and would scorn any other wiles than these ephemeral baubles. And Adonis, for the moment, is enamoured by their glamour.
The Butterfly, andit is both folly and madness to say that beauty is not of quite inestimable value to a woman, no matter what her walk in life may be. But it is also the greatest folly to believe that a perfect profile will hold a man's affections.
A pretty woman at the commencement of the game of life has a better start than her less handsome sister, for her beauty arrests attention. How often has one not heard a man exclaim, with almost amusing eagerness, " Who is 'that pretty girl ? " One instinctively follows his gaze to the attractive pink-and-white vision. Behind her there is a woman many years older. The man has not even noticed her !
It is interesting to watch the development of this admiration. Often an introduction follows, the pretty pink-and-white vision smiles sweetly, but the smile is the inane one she flashes upon every male. The baby-curls ripple around a snowy brow, and the blue eyes are just two " perfect lakes of sapphire," but they have no soul in their depths, and they express no subtle possibilities of anything beyond their perfect colouring. The butterfly simpers and uses all her little arts - the new frock, the dainty curls - and she talks incessantly of herself.
- the Woman
One day, slightly bored, Adonis suddenly finds himself placed side by side at dinner with that other woman whom he had not even noticed when his eyes first rested on the pink-and-white vision. He, up to now something of a connoisseur as to feminine attire, finds himself so entertained by the woman's conversation that he is absolutely ignorant as to what she is wearing. Probably he does not even know the colour of her hair. But just as two wires attuned to each other vibrate to the same note, the man feels as he never felt when under the glamour of the butterfly. There is no resort to the banalities of small-talk, no
I Y fear of treading on delicate susceptibilities. Here is a woman, flesh and blood, the real thing. His natural reserve breaks away from him. The man feels as if he is on the top of a mountain, drinking in draughts of pure, intoxicating air, for this woman understands life - and understands him.
Veneer is cast aside. He talks of his boyhood, his aims and ambitions - of his follies, maybe - and of those episodes which with startling suddenness he now knows had nothing to do with the vocabulary of love. And the woman listens. Perhaps there is just a touch of the divinity of motherhood about her silent sympathy; he almost sees a halo round her head. And even if her eyes are not " lakes of sapphire blue," they betray a soul, and hint at a thousand entrancing mysteries.
Meanwhile, the pink-and-white vision toys with her ribbon, but the other woman has obliterated completely her very existence. Beauty attracts, but personality holds ; and yet both of these gifts are valuable, for neither can be bought. But beauty fades, whilst personality survives the ravages of years. How deadly is the spell of this woman! For it is not the attraction of the eye, but of the soul, and such bonds know not time nor age. If the pink-and-white vision is blessed with any imagination at all, how she must envy the woman ! But so often she, with the rest of the world, exclaims, " I cannot imagine what he can see to admire in her."
That is just the whole secret - the secret of superficial existence, and the secret of " his " infatuation for the woman. The world so often cannot understand anything beyond what it can see. It hates to feel, to drink of any deep emotion. But the man who loves his ideal being suddenly realises what is true and what is false, what is worth while and what is worthless.
Oh, blessed moment when he finds himself at her side ! How he treasures her sweet, encouraging tones, especially after a hard day's work or when sore pressed with some personal worry ! How soothing is this woman's sympathy ! To her the man freely imparts his ideas and talks of his ambitions. The pink-and-white vision would be bored to tears, and he would never dare to whisper the unvarnished truth with regard to his hopes and fears into that delicate, shell-like ear. The butterfly, happily sipping the honey from the flowers, can never really reach the heart of man, and so she misses one of the best things in life, whilst the older woman finds herself in possession of an enchanting kingdom.
Is there anything so exquisite as this elusive magnetism, which not only attracts but holds love ? This is usually the secret of the fascination of the older woman. In the stress and bustle of modern life the need for a comrade as well as a wife presses itself upon the soul of man ; and the woman who herself has drunk of the cup of bitterness evolves naturally into a perfect mate for him.
No one can sympathise until she has truly known sorrow. The woman who has suffered, therefore, must be better able to understand the everyday trials in the life of a man.
It is the secret sympathy, The silver link, the silver tie, Which heart to heart and mind to mind In body and in soul can bind.
"Age Cannot Wither"
Then there is still another fascinating trait about the older woman. Her outlook on life is broadened. She is far less self-conscious than the pink-and-white vision, and she is not afraid of expressing her opinions. She treats a man as a friend and not as an admirer, and is therefore charmingly natural; and so she unconsciously makes the younger woman by comparison seem artificial and uninteresting in the eyes of the man. He is charmed at the versatile temperament of the older woman, and he quite appreciates the attractiveness of a woman who is a good and interested listener as well as a good talker.
It is said that Cleopatra was forty when Antony fell a victim to her charms, and many famous women have held the souls of men in the palms of their hands at this age. The woman who charms by her personality is far more fascinating than she who only attracts by beauty. When a man loves a woman for herself, for the elusive, delicate magnetism which we will call soul-attraction, that woman need fear no other rival. She knows that time and age will pass her by and leave her unde-throned, for she has wedded the man himself. In a thousand ways she realises the durability of the mystic link that binds them. She has given of her best, the best of her true self, and the man has found not only a true woman but a true friend. And her charm increases as their lives become still more entwined, for " friendship is one mind in two bodies," and there is no perfect love without also perfect friendship. The older woman appreciates this truth, and the knowledge makes her valuable to the man, for he agrees with the saying of Jeremy Taylor :
" By friendship I mean the greatest love and the greatest usefulness, and the most open communication, and the noblest sufferings, and the most exemplary faithfulness, and the severest truth, and the heartiest counsel, and the greatest union of mind of which brave men and women are capable."
The man knows that this soul-companion with whom he desires to share his life will be all these things to him; and herein lies the supreme power of her fascination.