Suddenly the carriage stopped and Aunt Margaret asked him to help her down, which he hastened to do, swearing at himself that he was so clumsy not to have thought of it himself. They entered a small store, at least it appeared that way from the outside. Inside it opened to a large salon, equipped with beautiful antique furniture and a wealth of oriental carpets, lighted by shaded gas jets everywhere. One wall was almost entirely covered with the finest crystal mirrors, and more mirrors in golden stucco frames mounted on little wheels were around everywhere. Two or three groups of deeply upholstered armchairs were arranged around marble-topped tables covered with fashion plates and magazines.
Aunt Margaret was greeted effusively by Madame Heloise, the store owner. She introduced him as her nephew who had just arrived from the province.
“You will best sit down someplace and read something, this may take a while. Do you want something to drink? I am sure Madame Heloise can arrange something for you.”
“Of course,” Madame Heloise volunteered, “what do you want, coffee or tea or some juice?”
“If you don’t mind, I would prefer a cup of tea.”
“Of course not, Suzanne, get the young gentleman some tea please,” she called to her help.
The two women were soon deeply involved in a discussion of the design and material of new dresses that Margaret wanted to have made while he had settled down in one of the large easy chairs and thumbed through a fashion magazine from Paris. He was fascinated by the women in the elegant new fashions.
The next thing he noticed was a cataract of hot tea gushing down over him. He yelped and jumped up. Suzanne in bringing him the tea had evidently caught one foot in the fold of a carpet and stumbled, falling all over him with the full cup and kettle.
Madame Heloise came rushing to the scene, chiding Suzanne for her clumsiness. However, his best suit was soaked like a sponge with tea, and he felt the fluid soak through to his skin.
“Quick, undress yourself and give the clothes to Suzanne. If they are not cleaned at once, the tea stains will remain forever I am awfully sorry, such a clumsy girl,” and turning to her “quick, help the gentleman and clean his things, couldn’t you watch out where you walked, imbecile,” and to him again “go behind this screen to undress, I’ll try and find something for you to cover yourself. Give everything that is stained to Suzanne, she will clean it.”
She turned to Margaret: “I am so sorry to cause such an inconvenience to your escort, Frau Baronin, but I’ll do my best to have the things all cleaned and pressed in no time at all.”
Margaret after Jean-Marie had disappeared behind the screen could hardly contain herself. She almost burst from laughing. It all had gone so smoothly, and without any rehearsal, too. Madame Heloise, when she had told her of her plans, had just said “Leave everything to me, I guarantee you that I shall have him completely undressed and without his clothes within five minutes after you come in and then we shall be able to do with him whatever we choose.”
Suzanne, Margaret thought, was priceless: no actress could have played her role more precisely and to the point.
“Here, take this dressing gown for the moment. I am awfully sorry, but I don’t have any male clothes here. You see, I am dealing in ladies fashions exclusively. And when you are dressed, please make yourself comfortable over there. Suzanne will clean the mess at your table as soon as she finishes with your suit and shirt.”
With this, she handed him a silken dressing gown behind the screen. He was reluctant to put it on at first, it being so utterly feminine with the tulle ruffles around the neck and the bottom and at the wrists. But there really was nothing else available and he couldn’t remain stark naked behind the screen all the time. A shiver finally persuaded him to put on the strange garment. It was a tight fit around his waist and his stomach was well held in after he buttoned the seemingly endless row of little round buttons from his neck to his ankles, but otherwise it was a perfect fit for him.
He was glad that he had the tall screen to hide behind. He did not want anybody to see his secret: During puberty, instead of growing a beard, his nipples had grown and puffed out somehow like a girl’s immature breasts. His voice had not really cracked to a deep male register. It had changed but more than deepened, it had gathered strength and volume. It was in musical terms something between a tenor and a contra-tenor. All of this had led to terrible teasing at the school and he did not want to be ridiculed by complete strangers even before he had had a chance to talk to his aunt about it.
When he emerged reluctantly from behind the screen, he was greeted by “oohs” and “aahs” from Madame Heloise as well as from Aunt Margaret.
“You look great in it my dear,” Aunt Margaret stated with a tone of genuine admiration.
“You shouldn’t walk barefoot here, there may still be some fragments of glass buried in the carpet from a champagne glass that a client broke here last week, put on these mules, I think they will fit you.”
Before he could find an answer she had already knelt down and put a pair of embroidered mules with two inch heels on his feet, making him totter a little bit.
“Do me a favor and come over here, please, I want to have a look at this gown.” Margaret waved her gloved hand at him.
“Madame Heloise, you have never shown this to me. I find this design very intriguing, the full skirt with just the hint of a train, it looks wonderful. Please, Jean-Marie, walk over to the far side again and come back to me, I want to see how it looks in motion. --- Not so fast, you are not on a sports track now, take smaller steps, in a gown like this you should glide, not stomp through the room. Do it again please.”
He did not know what to think or feel, his mind was suddenly absolutely empty, he was all skin, feeling the slithering, rustling material against it, sending peculiar sensations up and down his spine. Automatically he followed Margaret’s instructions.
It was not until he had walked the entire length of the salon for about the fourth time that he became conscious of his image in the mirrors on the wall, and what he saw did not agree with the picture he’d had of himself before. He saw a girl. Well, it was a girl with a peculiar hairdo, but there was a girl, all right. The tulle ruffles high around his neck disguised the missing hair at the sides to a degree and with the slim waist and the full skirt there could not be the slightest doubt that the figure reflected in the mirror belonged to a girl.
He was completely at a loss for what to do or what to say. One part of him wanted to hide in a mouse hole, another part of him told him to act naturally, as if there really wasn’t anything to it, just as if he just had something on to cover himself. But most disturbing of all, somewhere deep within him a cord had been struck that reverberated and sent strange new feelings through him, feelings that he had never known before. Pleasant feelings, he had to concede, reluctantly.
He finally shook this off and managed to sit down in a chair just as Suzanne reappeared, announcing that the stains were all gone and she had put the things out to dry a little before she could press them. She acted as if nothing unusual was around and busied herself cleaning the mess from the table, the chair and the carpets. He tried again to concentrate on his reading, but his mind was constantly distracted by the feeling of the silk against his skin. He even began to make secret little moves to feel the silk slither over his skin again.
Aunt Margaret and Madame Heloise had gone back to their discussion and he heard with half an ear Madame Heloise explain to the “Frau Baronin”, that the gown had been made to order for that Italian girl, that dancer at the opera that suddenly had to leave Berlin after that scandal with the Russian duke and now Madame Heloise was left with that gown and actually a complete new wardrobe for her on which the duke had only made a small down-payment and of course, now that neither of them remained in Berlin, she had no hope to collect the rest, resulting in a heavy loss for her, because of course, all the dresses, coats, even the lingerie had been made to measure and there were not many young girls in Berlin, who could afford to buy at Madame Heloise’s and she could not organize a sale, as this could ruin her standing in the fashion world etc. etc.
She was still rambling about her big loss while pinning a dress on the “Frau Baronin,” when suddenly Suzanne reappeared, hurried to Madame Heloise with a crestfallen expression on her face and whispered something into her ear. Madame Heloise reacted suddenly with a hard slap to the girl’s face and sent her out with a flood of harsh words in French.
“Frau Baronin, I am desolate, more, I am completely desperate. I do not know how to tell you. That stupid girl has put the shirt and the underthings of the young gentleman on the window sill to dry and the vest, coat and trousers on hangers and hung them into the open window and while she was here with us, some thief must have come to our backyard and helped himself to a complete wardrobe. Anyway, everything is gone and I do not know what to say and how to excuse the girl.”
“Well, that should not be such a big problem. I am sure Suzanne meant well and it really is not her fault. I was going to get some new things for him anyway and that suit really was not a thing that Beau Brummell would have cared to wear. Why don’t you send out Suzanne to buy something that will tie him over until he gets his trunk from the station and I can really get him some decent suits? Here, take some money.”
“I am awfully sorry, but I think this is no solution to our problem: look, all the stores have closed about half an hour ago and there is no store with ready-to-wear men’s fashions around here anywhere where I know the owner well enough to be able to persuade him to open the store for us.”
“Well then, we seem to be in a sort of fix. I had not realized that it was that late already. And that makes it worse, because now I have to hurry. I have a box at the opera tonight and I can’t be late, as friends will be waiting for me there. Hmm I have an idea! You just said you had a complete wardrobe ready for that Italian dancer. He is wearing her dressing-gown now and it fits him. Why not dress him in something suitable so he can go outside and I shall take him home as a girl. He already looks like one in only the dressing-gown. That’s it, that’s what we shall do. Suzanne! Suzanne, come here and help us. You caused all this trouble, so you shall act as his ladies’ maid and help him to dress.”
He tried to protest that he was certainly not going to go out dressed as a girl. But it had the same effect on the three women as if he had talked to the wall. They were so busy selecting things from cartons and racks, discussing the pros and cons of certain items, that they did not listen to him at all. Aunt Margaret only turned once to him and asked, “Well, what other suggestion do you have?”
Before he could catch his breath and gather his wits to make one, she continued, “Well, evidently you do not have any. All right, then it is settled: you will come with me dressed as a girl.”
Suzanne suddenly proceeded to strip him of his dressing-gown quite unceremoniously and in a manner that permitted no protests. He tried to cover himself with his hands, but he was no match for the three women who handled him like a puppet. Luckily, they did not react at all to the twin prominences adorning his chest.
First, they slipped a vest of the finest cambric over him. Aunt Margaret then took his hands and held them, while Suzanne and Madame Heloise clasped a corset around his waist, closed the hooks in front and started lacing it. He only hoped they would finish quickly and leave him alone. However, that was still far away, and he had quite another problem to deal with. He did not know what caused it, the deft touches of the women or the feeling of the soft material or the sudden mounting constriction about his waist, but his manly tool chose this worst imaginable moment to raise its head and lift up the hem of the vest. Suzanne was the first to notice it.
“Look who is getting curious, le petit monsieur wants to see what is going on. But unfortunately we have absolutely no use for you at this time.”
He prayed that it would just shrink away. But on the contrary, it stood up like a barge pole and everybody around could get a good look at it.
“A very fine specimen indeed,” commented Madame Heloise, “but this is no time for play. Suzanne, squeeze it under the tip of the corset busk, then get the strap and fasten it in front and pass it to me under the body.”
Suzanne did as she was told, seemingly with reluctance and not without giving the shaft a few soft strokes before she fastened a strong satin ribbon about two inches wide to the corset in front and took the other end between his legs to the back, where Madame Heloise fastened it to another buckle at the back of the corset.
He felt harnessed, but when he looked down, his front was flat and no sign of his manhood could be detected. He was relieved a bit, at least he was decently covered now or was he? Wearing a vest and a corset? Madame Heloise reminded him of the corset immediately as she restarted the lacing with fresh vigor. He wanted to break away, putting an end to the ordeal, but Suzanne had circled his legs with her arms, Aunt Margaret held his hands in an iron grip and Madame Heloise drew at the laces with a power of which he had not imagined her to be capable.
“Please stop it, you are cutting me in half, I shall suffocate, I cant breathe,” he wailed, but to now avail.
“Listen, young man, don’t complain about a little lacing. This is what we girls have to endure every day to look pretty for you men.” Madame Heloise went over the laces from top and bottom to the middle again, taking out another foot or two of laces.
“But it is too tight for me, how can you know how much you can lace me down, you didn’t even measure me before.”
“Experience, my dear boy. And by the way, the dressing-gown fit you and this was meant to be worn without a corset by the same girl whose dress you will be wearing and the dress will only fit if I close the corset to about an inch. And if she, a frail and weak girl, would have been able to stand being laced down to this dimension, I can see no reason why a strong and brave young man should not be able to endure it. So stop complaining and move your body a little bit, it’ll help you and me. I will be done in a minute only another inch and a half. Altogether you will not be taken in more than five inches at the most. But if you insist, I can of course close it completely.”
“Oh no, please stop! I feel as if I am going to faint any second now.” He was already very subdued and could only beg.
“Just a little bit more, my darling,” Aunt Margaret soothed him, and the magic word “darling” from her gave him new strength.
“Look, it has to be done, otherwise the dress won’t fit and if you have to be a girl, I want you to be a pretty one. You will get used to it in a few minutes. The body adjusts very quickly, you will see.”
Finally Madame Heloise was satisfied and he was released from the grip of Aunt Margaret and Suzanne. When they stepped away from him, he caught a look of himself in the big mirror and had to admit, that the corset did wonders for him he had a marvelous girlish figure now. Not only was his waist minimized, he realized that the top of the corset gave him a very realistic bosom and that his backside protruded enticingly.
“Don’t fall in love with yourself,” Madame Heloise interrupted his thoughts, “we are not finished yet.” She beckoned him to sit down. He did so very slowly to avoid any surprises caused by the tight corset. He noticed he could only sit very straight: the corset did not allow any slouching. Suzanne brought a pair of the finest black gauze stockings that she rolled up his legs and fastened to garter straps hanging down from the corset. After that Suzanne brought him a pair of drawers, like the vest, of the finest cambric.
“Hold it a second,” said Margaret, vetoing Suzanne’s moves to put them on him. “I may sound overly conservative to you, but in my opinion drawers, pantaloons, knickers or whatever you may call them are not suitable for a young girl. They are basically masculine items and young girls should not even think about masculine underpants, much less wear anything that is even remotely similar. I know there is a new trend set by rather audacious young women to do away with these traditions and maybe they’ll win ultimately, because these items can be very practical in cold weather however it is not freezing out there today and I am basically against young girls wearing male underpants, even if they are as nice looking as these.”
“You are absolutely right, Frau Baronin, I couldn’t agree with you more,” Madame Heloise seconded Aunt Margaret’s move. “However, if there is this modern trend, I have to be able to supply what is wanted by my customers. But of course we shall leave them out. Suzanne, bring the petticoats.”
Suzanne brought two, one silk, that was very tight around his thighs and allowed very little leg movement. Below the knees it flared a little bit but still allowed only very small steps. Over it came a rustling taffeta petticoat, that had two rows of wide flounces at its bottom. Finally, the dress. It was of light blue taffeta with thick embroidery on the bodice, narrowing toward the small waist. It had a tight and high collar, which was kept up by small stays under the ears. It held his neck very stiff and high. The sleeves were long and tight but were puffed slightly at the shoulders and repeated the embroidered ornaments of the bodice.
The bodice closely followed the lines of his body or rather the lines the corset had created tightly over his bosom and the narrow waist. The skirt accented the hips and the posterior. At its hem, the motif of the embroidery was again repeated all around. It stopped on the floor in front and made him wonder how he would walk in it, as it obviously was too long in front.
Finally, Suzanne put a pair of small, medium blue, high heeled boots on him, which reached almost to his calves, buttoning them on tightly with the help of a button-hook. When he saw the terrible height of the heels, he was sure he would not be able to stand in them, much less walk. After Suzanne had helped him up, however, he was surprised to notice that the skirt came just off the floor and he could walk indeed. Well, not like anything he had called walking before, but he could move around in small mincing steps.
The corset, the tight skirts and the high heels all worked together, making him move in a way entirely different from anything he had done before. He couldn’t just swing his legs from the hips down, he had to move his entire body from the waist, undulating his hips in rhythm with his thighs. The fact that he stood almost on tip-toes prohibited his falling from one foot to the other with every step in the way most men walk. Instead, he was forced to keep his legs straight and close together and take small steps. He actually was gliding more than walking, just as Aunt Margaret had requested before.
When they stepped away from him, he caught a look of himself in the big mirror and had to admit that the corset did wonders for him: he suddenly had the curves of a real girl. Not only was his waist minimized, he really stood straight now, not slouching anymore, and the high collar made him carry his head proudly with his chin up.
“Come over here, let me fix your hair and pretty up your face a little bit, though it really doesn’t need much.”
With that, Madame Heloise made him sit down at a table covered with all kinds of combs and brushes and cosmetics. Again, he could only sit bolt upright. Aunt Margaret stepped closer, watching Madame Heloise with interest. She started to unwrap and undo his queue, brushing out his fine blond hair.
“I shall just fix it here, high on the back, and let it tumble down. Nothing fancy is possible right now.”
She took a curling iron and produced a wealth of little curls in the part hanging down.
“Now that doesn’t look too bad, or does it? All right then, now for the face. A little blue on the lids it accentuates the color of your eyes and goes well with the dress a little mascara on the lashes. That is great. Now some rouge at the cheekbones and open your mouth just a little a little “rouge de l vres” on your lips. Finally a dab of powder all over and voila: A BEAUTY!”
“By God, you are right, she is a beauty. I never expected her to look so good. You look magnificent, fantastic, glorious!” Aunt Margaret bubbled over with excitement.
“But I can’t call you Jean-Marie if you look like this. Let me think, I shall call you Gloria. Just take a good look at yourself: you are Gloria there cannot be any doubt about it. Here,” she rummaged in her purse, “here is something that you deserve to wear. I just got it back from rethreading.”
She produced a marvelous double row pearl necklace, which she fitted around his neck.
“Isn’t she pretty?” Madame Heloise asked of no one in particular. At first he didn’t even notice, that they had spoken of him in the feminine gender, because from what he saw in the big mirrors, the creature looking back at him could only be spoken of in this way. But when it dawned on him that they had meant him, it made him shiver. Protests welled up within him but one look into the mirror told him that they were right. For all intents and purposes he now was a pretty girl.
Actually, that was what he had expected to find in Berlin: girls who looked like the models in the fashion plates. But he had not expected to be turned into one.
He looked at himself in the mirror, and couldn’t take his eyes off his reflection, as he tried to understand what had happened. It was all so unreal, happened so unexpectedly, yet so smoothly, and there was nothing really that he would have been able to object to. And yet, he felt that this was utterly wrong.
He was NOT a girl, that he knew for sure. He was a boy and he wanted to stay one. Girls were always the objects of his love and admiration, yet now as the image in the mirror proved beyond any doubt there he was, turned into a girl. He stood up cautiously, steadying himself on the armrest of his chair and then, with the small steps that his skirts and high heels allowed, walked over closer to the mirrored wall, watching himself all the time.
He could not avert his stare. It was too unreal to believe. Just a few hours ago, he had come to the big city of Berlin, a young man, eager to enter a new life of freedom, unrestrained, free from the pressures of school and small town conventions, looking for adventures, and here he was in the middle of a totally unexpected adventure. Unexpected because in this adventure he did not have to fight with the outside world, with other people or with dangerous circumstances around him. This adventure took place deep within him and troubled, disturbed and uprooted his entire self.
He was always a boy with the tastes of a boy, acting like a boy, running around with other boys, playing their games and sports like any other boy. All right, he always had had trouble in games and sports, which relied on brute force and power to keep up with the taller and heavier boys, but what he had lacked in height and weight he had always successfully made up in agility and dexterity. And after that stage when all boys made fun of girls and teased them, he had begun to love and desire them.
If he had had time enough now to dig deeper into his feelings and analyze them, he would have discovered that he had always been most attracted to the girls who were dressed best or in a special way, either very elegantly or with a certain knack for fashion or what fashion had filtered down to the small town where he had lived. He had loved to look at the fashion plates of magazines and had pictured himself taking out a girl like the models in the plates.
He did not have time now for such reveries, however. Aunt Margaret’s coachman had entered the store and respectfully addressed himself to her.
“Madame Heloise,” Aunt Margaret said after hearing the coachman’s message and sending him out again, “I fear we have yet another problem to overcome tonight. My coachman has just informed me that the young gentleman’s trunk has not arrived yet, and is not expected to arrive until tomorrow around noon. But I think this really should not be a big problem, after what you have created. He just will have to remain Gloria until then. The only question is, do you have a suitable evening gown for her tonight? You know, we planned to go to the opera with friends.”
“But of course I have I told you, I have an entire spring wardrobe made for that Italian dancer and if this dress fits him, all the others must too naturally. There is everything a girl could wish. This Russian duke was so crazy for her that he filled her every wish and I tell you did she wish!”
“Alright then, Suzanne should pack everything you have ready and have my coachman put it into the carriage. We can select it at my house, because I have to get myself ready, too, and we cannot stay here any longer to attend to Gloria’s needs.”
“Then I shall send Suzanne with you. The shop closes now anyway and she would go home, but after she caused all this trouble to you, she can supply her time and act as Gloria’s maid tonight or, come to think of it, for as long as you need her tomorrow. As tomorrow is a holiday, I do not need her here.”
“Splendid idea! Go ahead Suzanne, hurry up, girl!”
Madame Heloise turned to Jean-Marie. “I shall get you a wrap and a hat, so you can go home. Here, put on these gloves in the meantime,” and she gave him a pair of small, delicate, medium blue kid gloves. He slowly worked them onto his hands. They had long, narrow fingers and were very tight. He was afraid he would break their seams if he made a fist.
When she came back, she fixed a little, dark blue straw hat, decorated with flowers, on his head and pulled a veil that was fastened to the brim over his face and fastened it under his chin. He was really thankful for this addition, because he hoped he could somehow hide behind it. Then she stepped behind him and held out a cape for him.
“Here, slip your arms into these armholes. This cape has some kind of inside sleeves so it cannot slide off your shoulders if it is worn open. Just put your arms back and I’ll slip it on. There you are.”
And with that, Madame Heloise pulled the cape up and over his shoulders and immediately buttoned it in front. His arms seemed to be caught inside. They were actually folded against his back.
“Hey, there is something wrong here, my arms did not slip out, help me out of it please,” he begged, but Margaret steered him to the exit already.
“No time for this now, you are fine, we have to hurry. Good bye now, Madame Heloise, and thank you for your help. We shall take everything along with us and make our selection as soon as possible and return everything we do not need immediately,” Aunt Margaret said, already walking to the door.
“Goodbye Frau Baronin. There is no hurry with these things take your time. And please excuse again the foolishness of Suzanne. Keep her as long as you want.”
She had put one arm around Jean-Marie’s shoulders and was steering him to the door.
They had almost reached it, when she explained, “There is nothing wrong with the cape. It was designed this way. The duke wanted his girlfriend to be restrained a little bit when she wore it, he loved to have her helpless and in bondage without anybody knowing it. Your aunt can tell you all about the scandal on your way home. Have a good time in Berlin, and tonight at the opera, and good night.”
With that, she had pushed him outside and closed the door behind him. Aunt Margaret was already proceeding to the carriage that was waiting about 60 feet away at the curbside. Jean-Marie heard the key turning in the lock behind him, and he knew there was no turning back.
Suddenly, he felt very lonely, and very miserable. There he stood, dressed as a girl, not dressed inconspicuously, but rather the opposite or so he thought. He was afraid that everybody would be staring at him it simply had to be that way. Everyone surely had to see through his disguise, and there could only be two more seconds until the whole world would come jeering at him. He closed his eyes for a moment and waited for the inevitable to happen. He counted slowly “One, two, three . . ..”
When he reached ten and nothing had happened, he opened his eyes a little, just as he heard Aunt Margaret call from the carriage.
“Gloria! Don’t just stand there and gather dust! Hurry up, get in here.”
He noticed that, except for an occasional appreciative glance from a passing man, nobody paid any attention to him. He came to the conclusion that these big city people were too blase or too jaded to take notice of anything less extraordinary than a calf with two heads, although he almost felt like one.
So, when Aunt Margaret urged him again, he gathered all of his courage and slowly proceeded to the carriage, his head raised high in defiance of the cruel world. As a matter of fact, he could not have done otherwise as his skirts and heels forbade any longer stride and the corset and high collar kept him from slouching or even lowering his head. But much to his surprise, nobody took any notice of him. He was evidently accepted as a well dressed, pretty young lady, and when he reached the carriage, his anxiety had almost left him.
Aunt Margaret had been waiting for him and helped him to mount the two steps into the carriage. What a change it was from their arrival, when he’d had to help her. He felt as if it had happened not just an hour or two before, but years ago, in another century; another life.
Jean-Marie wondered where Suzanne had gone, and he nourished a small hope that someone may have found another solution and brought him some male clothes, so that Suzanne’s coming was not necessary at all.
His hope was shattered at once when Aunt Margaret remarked, “Suzanne had too many things with her to come with us, so the coachman sent her home in a cab. She will be waiting for us at the house.”
He tried to sit comfortably, but the moment he let himself just a little bit down from a bolt upright position, the lower edge of the corset dug unpleasantly into his thighs. Aunt Margaret was in her former exuberant mood again and when they turned into the “Linden” again, she showed him the famous cafes, the “Kranzler” and the “Bauer,” and she succeeded in making him almost forget his predicament. After a short trip, they passed the “Hotel Adlon” (“The only place to stay if you are somebody,” Aunt Margaret remarked), rode though the “Brandenburg Gate” and turned left into “Tiergarten Street”.
Aunt Margaret explained that this was a most fashionable part of the city lots of the foreign embassies and consulates were located here. It bordered the “Tiergarten”, a magnificent park with old trees, little lakes and beautiful lawns that now were studded with yellow and blue crocuses. Aunt Margaret told him that the Tiergarten was a huge park formerly just outside of the city gate, but now right in the middle of the city that in the very last year had spread out beyond it. It was bigger even than the Hyde Park in London, reaching all the way to Charlottenburg, formerly a suburb, but now more and more becoming part of the city.
He was very impressed, and would really have enjoyed the ride, had he not with his every movement been reminded of his confining clothes. He noticed that several gentlemen walking along the road were tipping their hats to them. At first, he believed them to be acquaintances of Aunt Margaret, until he noticed that she was looking the other way, and the reverences were apparently paid to him.
After a ride of about 15 minutes, the driver turned the carriage into a big wrought iron gate that was just opened at their arrival, and pulled up a short driveway to an impressive building.
“Here we are, my dear, finally at home. I hope you will like it here. Welcome!”
He got off the carriage, but as he jumped down the last step, he slipped from the step and would have fallen, had not the coachman, who had wanted to help him get down, swiftly caught him. But instead of setting Jean- Marie on his feet, the coachman simply took him in his arms and carried him up the few steps leading to the front door and inside.
“Careful! Careful with the young horses, my dear. You could have broken your ankle there,” he said as he let him down on the floor and stood him up on his high heels very cautiously. Then taking off his cap respectfully and bowing to him, the coachman returned to the carriage.
“Now wasn’t this a great entrance, being carried over the threshold of your new home in the strong arms of a man like a blushing bride?” aunt Margaret observed as she came in behind them, “Look, she really is blushing” she turned to Suzanne, who had suddenly appeared.
“Go upstairs with Suzanne and get dressed for the evening. I shall be expecting you here shortly.”