Desdemona seemed to call her name in the cool of the April evening. Otello sang like a murmur of waters. This was a gaudy, gilded theater. Later they passed a waterfall that recalled Sappho drowning, her body turning into a swan as it touched the sea.
THE RIGHT BANK
There were the silver-gilt tea set, the royal Sevres porcelain, the brocade covered chaise, and more. A man two years in Paris already outpaced the aesthetes.
Chopin's rooms were somewhere along the Chaussée d'Antin on the Right Bank. It was newly chic. Now he had hothouse flowers in every room, a silver tray of lemon ices.
You're invited to step inside: the small salon with oyster grey wallpaper and white silk hangings; the delicate facade with a chauffeured cabriolet waiting below, and no one asking to take it anywhere.
Her daughter Solange yawned. She curled a strand of hair around one finger. She taunted the dog. This went on for weeks. One minute she was interrupting the important work of her mother, the next she entered Chopin's room watching him with shining sapphire eyes.
It was the summer she turned thirteen. Her mother was writing in the library; Chopin was entertaining this lazy, bored child, a young dryad escaped from the forest.
Shelley's cousin who believed himself a scholar visited from Geneva for the winter. He had been in the Indian Army, for which he now received a pension. His translations of Dante were amateurish. Mary became irritated when he read aloud in the library.
For her part, she foresaw the future by opening the Aeneid at random, and applying the lines to her own life. She felt as if on shifting sands, she said.
There were the Elgin Marbles to see, the Oriental Library at East India House, opera and theatre boxes. The woman who had travelled to Switzerland rarely went into town.
Her first Mozart opera was in London with Leigh Hunt. He had called her too dark, too serious. She wore a plunging crimson evening gown, cut to reveal her white shoulders.
Soon she was in her library at home: a grand room with sumptuous plum drapes and an unplayed piano, not yet paid for; Shelley reading aloud a line from Plato, Mary translating Cupid and Psyche, their son sitting quietly in a fur hat with gold braid.