Paris – La ville lumière, the city of light – the city of love!  She glitters in the night like a grande-horizontale bedecked in her most extravagant jewels, like a diamond parure, hard and brilliant, resting on a bed of soft, yielding black velvet. What vices lay hidden in that inky darkness, what temptations lurk unseen in her shadowy folds? But do not concern yourself with what may lie beneath, she whispers seductively, take pleasure only in my beauty and my dress. Look – I have arrayed myself in my finest to greet the new century!

The evidence of the calendar is belied by the magnificence of her display, all the extravagances of the old century have reached a final flowering. The old ways are not ready to die yet, and the young and impressionable Lily, on the threshold of womanhood, is captivated by this glittering façade. She is letting down her defences – and, like a beautiful avaricious woman, Paris reaches out – and grasps her heart.

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