Helen's Tower

Helen's Tower

Helen's Tower

Helen's Tower

Excerpt

MY FIRST MEETING WITH LORD DUFFERIN--HERR BEEMELMANS
AND THE BOMBARDMENT OF PARIS--THE GARE DE L'EST--THE
BALLOON EPISODE--MR. NOWELL--THE BENJAMIN CONSTANT
PORTRAIT--MISS PLIMSOLL'S MARITIME BELIEFS--THE BOOK--
THE EMBASSY RECEPTION--MY COUSIN TERENCE'S CRIME.

1

AT breakfast, the next morning, each of the three footmen wore powdered hair. My eyes wandered upwards from their buckled shoes, their silk stockings, their velvet breeches, to the frontage of their upper vesture. Enraptured--my gaze fixed itself upon their heads. The hair of each of them had that morning been drenched in oil; upon the agglutinated foundation thus achieved some early-rising hairdresser had puffed, sprinkled or thrown a preparation of powdered chalk. He had then, with a wide-pronged comb, striated this starched amalgam; parting it ruthlessly on the right side of the head; clawing it backwards above the ears.

The darkest of the three footmen responded ill to this treatment; his pink Auvergnat cheeks had assumed a plum-coloured tinge; the blue of his carefully shaven chin had turned to indigo. As he leant forward to hand me my porridge, the aiglets on his livery emitted a faint chink.

I raised a pointing finger.

"Mummy," I piped, "why has this man got white hair? . . ."

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