Coquette! – Lady with a Fan by Anthony van Dyck

Lady with a Fan by Anthony van Dyck

They call her coquette! Them! The King’s court! The young and the not so young men!

She laughs at the sound of the word. Flattered, she blushes and a charming peach colour appears on both her cheeks. ‘I sound so French!’ She loves the attention but cannot fathom the envy and hate behind the compliment. Women in particular feel delight  when men in their presence admire Cecil’s beauty, her sense of style and her charming traits. They call her coquette.

She doesn’t seem to know what is concealed underneath all that appraisal. Her innocence is baffling, almost disconcerting.

‘How can she not be conscious of this masquerade?’ the maid Meredith asks the assistant cook Rosetta during a break.

‘She must know! The poor thing, she is as sensitive as a lamb underneath those layers of ballooning satin dresses from France. If Parisians were to see her now, in this attire   they would not even laugh, they would honour their French rudeness, turn they feet away, and leave the room without a doubt!’

Meredith who was close to Cecil’s sister, for some unknown reasons always had her best interest at heart.

Cecil, with her round opulent silhouette, her thin curlyish hair and her transparent skin does not deserve the title of coquette. Far from being a model of elegance and refinement, she would be better suited to be part of a farming lifestyle. She likes to pick an apple from a tree, rub it on her dress and bite it feverishly. She favours long strolls in wheat fields rather than in a dancing ballroom. Of course, she would rather wear comfortable luxurious fabrics instead of a rugged worn-out apron. Meredith is right, she lives as she intends and carries the innocence of a lamb.

They still call her a coquette just because they are accustomed to it now. Her sister is too. She giggles while covering the bitterness for a sister whose the confidence and naivety she always envied. As Cecil hears them shout ‘Coquette!’ across the room, branding their glasses as if they were toasting their gratitude for her presence amongst them, she pinches her lips and looks down on the side, blushing as a charming peach colour surfaces on both cheeks.

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