Usually she wore heels of not more than three inches, because it was less tiring and under the long skirts the height of the heels was rarely seen, if at all, so there really was little sense in punishing herself, but today she had a special reason to go to the extreme. She wanted to assert a physical superiority from the first moment of her encounter and part of it was to appear taller. And then she expected to arrange it that he would see her legs later on and of course really high heeled boots would certainly make him pay a lot of attention to her looks and distract him from what was going on around him. And that was part of her scheme.
She turned away from the mirror, giving herself a last approving look over her shoulder and called for her maid to tell the groom to get the carriage. On the way to the train station she went back over the last six years, and her marriage at 16 to a man who was almost four times her age at the bidding of her parents. It was true, her husband would have been a most desirable suitor for many girls, as he not only belonged to old nobility he was a Baron actually but through shrewd industrial investments and dealings with real estate in and around Berlin after the war with France 1870/71, he had amassed a huge fortune that seemed to grow endlessly.
But a girl at 16 had dreams other than sharing her time and bed with a man whose mind seemed to function mostly like an adding machine. It was true, she had every luxury imaginable, but she could not love him. She had come to accept the inevitable, however, and had made the best of it. At first her husband had thought he could rejuvenate himself through living with her and through her love, but his advances in bed were really not encouraged by her and soon he gave up his attempts. She had felt this unwanted relationship to be degrading and humiliating and longed for the moment, when she would be in a position to rule. She was by far not the submissive, shy little girl that her husband had hoped to find.
However she finally had made the marriage a success, although not quite in the way her husband had hoped for. She succeeded in making her husband accept her as a kind of business partner. She had used the six years of her marriage to learn as much as possible, taking the marriage to the unbeloved man as a kind of school and instead of being a lover, he became her teacher, which he had to concede at one time pleased him almost as much. When he had died of heart failure the previous January, he had left her not only an immense fortune but had given her the education to stand on her own feet and be completely independent, a truly emancipated woman.
She had no intention to marry again, at least none of the men that crowded her doorsteps almost immediately after the funeral. She knew that she had more money and certainly more brains than the whole bunch of them together. And all in all, they were the same inconsiderate brutes with the same chauvinistic attitudes toward women. What she longed for, because she had to forego this through all of her marriage, was tenderness, a man with an almost feminine approach to love.
She had once read a novel by a french author of the 18th century, Louvet de Couvray, “The Adventures of the Chevalier de Faublas” and found the hero much to her liking. He had been introduced to the ways of love by an experienced woman while he was disguised as a girl. A man like this she wanted to possess, young he had to be, one she still could mold to her liking.
During the first days after her husband’s sudden demise she had had no opportunity to follow these dreams, but they were suddenly revived when a letter, still addressed to her husband, arrived, a letter sent to him by his nephew Jean-Marie from somewhere in the provinces, telling him that he would graduate from his school at Easter-time and that he would like to go to the university in Berlin. Jean-Marie was the son of her late husband’s brother and his French wife, which accounted for his name, rather unusual in Germany, but quite common in France. He had been born 17 years ago in a godforsaken little town in one of the United States western Territories, where his father was an engineer for a railroad company. The family had not approved of the marriage to the French girl and had sent him abroad.
She knew of course, that this nephew existed. He had been at a boarding school that was paid for by his uncle, as he had been an orphan for two years and there was no money left by his parents to sustain him. Immediately, she saw the danger that could come from this nephew. He would have inherited his uncle’s entire fortune, had his uncle died as a bachelor, and half of it if he had not made a will in favor of his wife. And under the will he would inherit a substantial portion of his uncle’s estate after her death. The will contained a legacy which required that she pay for his education, and give him an additional yearly income. She could be in real trouble, if the boy would successfully contest the will. Even without this, he could prove a real nuisance and hamper her in the administration of the estate. Fortunately, her husband had also arranged for her to become his guardian, which she now was for about four years, until he turned 21.
When she had looked at the photograph of the boy, an idea slowly began to take shape. Why not try to turn the boy into her “Chevalier de Faublas”? He was certainly the type for it. At 17, he evidently was the smallest in his class, as the photograph showed, and he had delicate features. The school had its uniform modeled after the military uniforms of the times of Frederick the Great of Prussia and the boys were required to wear their hair long in a queue in the back. But even in this martial getup he looked dainty.
She had decided that she would try to make the boy totally dependent upon her, much more than her guardianship allowed anyway. Thus she would not only be able to eliminate the danger, but it could also provide her with the special kind of lover she longed for. The idea seemed perfect and with all of her energy she had formed a plan and immediately begun with its realization. Every step, every detail she had carefully planned and prepared.
Today was the big day. The trap was set with herself as the bait.
“Does Frau Baronin want me to go and meet her guest or shall I accompany Frau Baronin to the train?” the groom interrupted her stream of thoughts.
“Yes, please go and fetch him, I’ll stay here.” She wanted to impress the boy with her authority from the first moment. She would calmly and majestically sit and wait for him in the open carriage, so that he would have to look and climb up to her.
When the coachman returned with the boy, she purposely did not see them and turned to the boy from above only when he greeted her.
“Hello, I am Jean-Marie.” He took a deep polite bow.
“Of course, and I am your Aunt Margaret. Hello and welcome to Berlin. Do you have any bags?”
“No I packed everything into a big trunk and shipped it separately, as you had suggested. I just have this little bag with some books and stuff.”
“Very well then, give your ticket to the coachman and he shall collect your trunk later. Now tell me, did you have a good trip?”
“Excellent, and I am not at all tired, I want to see the big city right away, I am very excited to be here with you.”
“Well, climb in and sit down.”
He did, never leaving an eye off her. It was obvious that he was very impressed by her.
“Let’s go then and take a ride through the streets. I am glad you are not tired, as I wanted to keep an appointment at my favored fashion salon and I hope you will accompany me.”
She watched him intensely and noticed that her tactics obviously were successful. She had intended to appear to him as the most desirable woman he had ever seen, yet give him the impression that his adoration could only be hopeless, as he had nothing that could make him attractive to her, who obviously had everything she could desire.
He could hardly take his eyes off her and tried to hide his impolite stare. He had only known his uncle, and somehow expected his aunt to be of the same generation, although he knew that his uncle had married a younger wife. The fact that she evidently was not much older than he, took him by surprise. It opened an entirely new world for him and he immediately adored her.
This was exactly what she wanted. He should worship her without hope. After they started, he was silent for a moment, even appeared a little gloomy as he believed to understand the situation correctly, but she brought him out of his thoughts by starting to chat lightly and point out the points of interest to him as they were passing them. He thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the city, which seemed to overflow with people and traffic coming, going, rushing everywhere. He never had imagined Berlin to be so big and so busy.
When they crossed “Unter den Linden”, a street almost 300 feet wide with a wide walk-way down the middle under the linden trees, he marveled at the elegant women and men and the colorful uniforms of the officers leisurely strolling down the avenue. To him this was life at its best and he hoped he would be part of it soon.