Hall of Mirrors

Madame, you have requested of your female readership, the members of Heel!, their observations and comments on the recent masked ball that took place in the gardens and palace of Versailles, in case what is already an excellent celebration can be improved upon in future years. I am therefore sending to your Paris offices my written account of the events of that night which I regret are less favourable in outlook than those so far published in your ground-breaking publication and is as follows. Walking on my own in new boots as a guest to your annual celebrations in the Palace of Versailles, feeling a private pleasure in the awkwardness of their first movement and the smoothness of their changing appearance beneath the spraying light of exploding fireworks and of fountains lighted externally by flaming torch and from within the cascading jets of water, by sirens and tritons, I stood alone in contemplation and with the desire to understand what I was seeing.

At the entrance to the Water Avenue which proceeds from the North Parterre to the Fountain of Neptune, I discovered for the first time the fountain of Diana's Bathing Nymphs, being a square pool with three walls adorned with sculpted figures, of which the central rectangular wall, having the appearance of a landscape from a dream, is both wide enough to accomodate a group of reclining nymphs and high enough to contain their tall naked bodies should they prefer to stand the more clearly to observe the outside world through the transparent sheet of overflowing water. Yet, until my arrival there and the distraction from their river-bank scene of the twin presence of my shining leather boots, the eleven nymphs, with a disdaining outward glance, had seemed to disregard the invitation of eleven pairs of shoes placed opposite, in front of each of their quivering, shivering forms, pretending in their splashing game that their earthly view was somehow obscured by the play of moonlight from within their world upon a silvered veil drawn across this otherworldly night. Intending, as I have said, to observe, away from the crowd, and to feel the sensual limits of my new boots, and being unwilling at first to share these properties of mine with an outsider of whatever extreme degree of female beauty, I watched the wriggling method of their extraction from the waters of their world and emergence of eleven glistening women into my own in the two minds of wonder and irritation at their immediate avoidance of the fine footwear left before as gifts within which they were to attend the celebration of Heel! in the Hall of Mirrors within the palace.

Besides, what language would they speak, with which to be greeted by this dominating, incubating woman who wished in these precious moments for no interruptions, to be left in peace, for no human or other speech to interfere with her first communion with new and unbroken boots? Could they not just join and accompany the reanimated statuary of children riding on swans in the Dragon's Fountain at the other end of the tree-lined Water Avenue emerging while I continued to study in privacy the shape and curvature of my two reluctant new boots? And did they all have to crowd so close, along with so many discontented Goddesses in their new shoes, arriving inevitably at this corner of the gardens of Versailles chosen by me for its natural solitude? To which was then added the croaking of slaves turned into frogs and the regular, prolonged cries of agony from the Fountain of Evening. Might I suggest that in future years, stiletto boots be placed beside the female statuary, which is surely more appro- priate for a masked ball than the court shoe. I am, however, grateful for the mercifully quick and brutal removal by the Tourist Police of the dancing Tai-Chi Master. Perhaps, if I may make a second request, it would be that this scientist, unbroken at that time like my own boots, be prevented during his imprisonment from recording the degrees of his suffering by the provision of pen and paper, since his contributions are invariably the dullest made to your fine magazine. And perhaps the eleven nymphs might be encouraged to assist the Goddess Diana with the submersion of the new slaves at the Fountain of Evening. And there should be the clear understanding that ladies wishing to avoid the enervating and fitful appearances and disappearances through the strangely-propertied glass of the Hall of Mirrors - where one Mistress loses her treasured slave to the black night, and another receives from that unearthly source three or more devoted but unwanted slaves - should remain undisturbed through till dawn in a secluded area of the gardens where she may silently address her new boots as her own slaves, which by initation become elevated as a part of her, being indistinguished by any separating identity from her own.

In case this letter made disagreeable by the timing in the female cycle, is considered for publication, perhaps some clarification as to which or whose world the masked ball really belonged, can be printed alongside my listing of complaints. It seemed at the time to be as uncertain and changing as the appearance and ownership of my own new boots. Was I the impostor in the world of naked nymphs or were they released from their seeming dream into my version of the gardens of Versailles? The three thousand candles that lit the seventeen mirrors in the Galerie des Glaces and the furniture so regularly substituted served only to confuse the events of that night.

I understand from my recent conversation with this member of Heel! that the problem that she was experiencing with her stiletto boots and to which regretfully the circumstances of the masked ball appear to have contributed, have been thankfully resolved and their identity as a pair, confirmed and feminised. As to the otherworldly nature of the celebrations frequently commented upon by the new members of Heel!, perhaps my letter titled,
Paradise Lost, will throw valuable light on the matter.

Madame X