One white stocking slipping below a shapely knee and a silken gown tied hastily at the waist, she stretches a daintily slippered foot into the night and kisses the cool air, pouting red lips prettily as the smoke writhes before her, and then dissipates. The music has come to a sudden stop. Her eyes widen and she pats her hair down hastily with one hand, as a sinewy arm slips quickly round her waist, pulling her deep into shadows beyond heavily brocaded curtains. Then the music starts up again.

That infernal music!

She’s tried everything, this wily wench; all the oldest techniques whispered by painted ladies of the court in hushed tones, through quickly flicking fans. Loosened stockings, silken scarves – even the mildly painful trick with the ostrich feather. She supposes it doesn’t really matter, as long as he’s paying handsomely for it. Yet there’s still a tiny corner of her haughty little soul that demands he fall to his knees in despair, kiss her well-heeled shoe and beg like the dog that he is for even an inch of her divine love.

But he merely sits there, maddeningly, upon his opulent chair, utterly oblivious to her existence, far away on the wings of some heavenly passion. How many hours will he sit, as strains of melody strange and familiar float about the room, tiny bubbles each with a universe enclosed? How many hours, as she lies, tantalisingly laid out upon the grand bed, while engraved angels mock her insidiously, pulling faces and taunting her cruelly with their huge golden trumpets? He sings, ‘Aprimi il petto!’ How many hours, until she takes his sturdy bow and drives it into his chest, inscribing his heart with her flowered name… “vedrai scritto in cuore!”

She clutches at the curtains and pulls herself into the cold air, her magnificent bosom heaving as she flaps desperately, like a dying swan. She will never understand them, these aristocrats.