Monday April 2nd Today received a telegram from Elena asking me to please visit her at the villa in Vaulx as soon as convenient as she has important matters to discuss. Does this mean perhaps that she is seeking some new arrangement in our personal relations, would a legal separation be too much to hope for? After all given her strong religious convictions divorce seems too much to ask. I duly set about making my my arrangements and will travel down tomorrow. I intend to stay at a hotel in Lyon. I find that nowadays the villa depresses me and if it wasn't for Elena I would have no hesitation in disposing of it. I intend taking Semiramis along with me if I can detach her from her "spiritual guide" La Pregashvili, the Princess. I will leave her at the hotel whilst I visit Elena. She can do some shopping which will no doubt turn out to be costly for me but worth it I hope for the physical consolations she can offer me. Sent off a telegram to Elena informing her of my travel arrangements........ [goes into code here]
Tuesday April 3rdIn Lyon. Arrived last night and staying at Hotel Boscolo. When I had approached Semiramis about a trip to Lyon The Princess had insisted on accompanying her saying that if she was not present delicate spiritual channels opened by her in Semiramis could become blocked irreversibly whatever that may mean. Somewhat reluctantly I agreed reasoning that as S is a grown woman she could resumably please herself as to what she did when we got to Lyon. In this I reckoned without the Princess; what exactly the nature of the hold she so obviously has over S is I cannot conjecture. The Princess also suggested that it might provide an opportunity to carry out certain "sex magick" rituals known to her from a visit to Haiti. (I was always under the impression that Haiti was the land of Voudoo) In her opinion we would be an ideal couple for this. I stated that in my view a highly respectable bourgeois Hotel like the Boscolo hardly seemed the place for something that presumably involved the sacrifice of chickens and large loud drums. This provoked laughter from S but the Princess was obviously displeased by my levity and muttered something about those walking in the darkness of ignorance should be very careful not to mock those who had reached a far higher and more enlightened plane. According to the Princess the door of heaven is opened by sacred sexual union. But the woman must offer herself to the man without sexual egotism. There lies the great secret of magical love andthe future morality of the woman who would be mother or priestess. If she would be a mother, she gives birth physically;if she would be a priestess, she gives birth to the Light of Sex but if she commits the most abject crimes against nature and the supreme laws of the universe by ignoring this secret, she becomes a prostitute. Adding pointedly that that was why Semiramis must be kept pure and unpolluted by unsanctified sex to enable her to become a channel for the Ineffable Light. Feeling somewhat faitigued not only by journey but also by Princess and her prattle retired early to bed and was later joined by S who had slipped away from the Princess ........ [more coded bits]
Wednesday April 4thDescending to the Reception Desk this morning I found a message awaiting me from Elena. Received by telephone earlier that morning (it being early they had not wished to disturb my rest) it informed me that Madame Saenz de Castillon would be willing to see me tomorrow at any time after 2 o clock in the afternoon and would I please telephone first before I did so. Her telephone number was given. I had no idea that the telephone had been installed in the villa. What had become of Elena's reclusive nature I wondered. So everything seemed to be going along smoothly and I had hopes that our discussion of the "important matters" mentioned in her original telegram could be settled quickly so that I could return to Paris as soon as possible now that there was little chance of enjoying a few amorous days with S. the Princess having enforced upon her the vow of chastity it would appear When I told my companions the news that I hoped my business here would be speedily concluded and that I had to call upon my notary in Lyon thus leaving them to their own devices the Princess informed me that she hoped to renew an acquaintance with an old friend, a Countess Mirzoeff now resident in Lyon, who was an ardent seeker after truth. She had had some correspondence with her recently and been informed by her that Lyon was very promising territory being a centre for Martinism, Neo-Catharism and even Satanism and that useful contacts could be made for Semiramis. She also mentioned a nun, (expelled from a Convent in the Camargue) Sister Evangeline who was preaching the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Holy Prostitute as the Princess described her. This seemed to me to be a conradiction of what she had said the night before that for a woman sex must be sanctified as a woman who gave herself out of lust or for money was unclean but I forebore to comment having by now long experience of the inconsistency of the Princess's weird set of beliefs. So we parted for the day and after telephoning Elena I set out for the notary's. Charles Dubarry the man in question is an old friend from my student days and besides being a very astute and capable notary and a brother Martinist he knows my family history and personal circumstances almost as well as I do. He is also a most cultured man and he and his wife Annabelle held for many years at their summer retreat on Lake Annecy, soirees which were graced with the presence of many eminent figures of the literary and artistic world both French and from a wider Europe and the United States of America. Annabelle sadly died three years ago but he has a grown-up family and his youngest unmarried daughter keeps house for him. Surprisingly when I got there I was shown into the office of Monsieur Robert Dubarry the elder brother of Charles and the senior partner in the firm. Robert is the antithesis of Charles. Upholding the honour and integrity of the firm is everything to him. Dour, upright, unbending, a solid citizen, a life-long bachelor and a staunch and pious Catholic. After the usual exchange of politenesses he informed me that Charles was at present taking a long leave of absence from the practice due to a severe breakdown in his health.I expressed my condolences. Robert did not elaborate on what he had told me, no doubt the principle of remaining tight-lipped about the affairs of his clients applies even more strongly to his family's personal affairs. He informed me that he personally would be only too pleased to take over the management of my legal affairs and had been familiarising himself with my dossier to that end. After thanking him I said that would be perfectly acceptable to me and e discussed the matter which had brought me to Lyon namely Elena's "important matters" and I added that I hoped that I would shortly be instructing him to negotiate some kind of separation agreement which I hoped would eventually lead to a divorce. Despite his Church's teachings on the subject he did not baulk at this. On the way out after the consultation ended I had a word with Philippe Morel the Dubarrys' Head Clerk also a friend from student days. I arranged to meet him that evening for dinner at the Brasserie Georges, the Princess and S could well take care of themselves I reasoned. The evening passed off very pleasantly, Philippe is excellent company and the food was well up to the standard I remembered. Philippe as Head Clerk knows most of the secrets of the Dubarry Chambers which makes him so indispensible to them. He told me more about the circumstances which had led to the absence of Charles. It appears that Charles had not really been himself since the death of Annabelle and of late his behaviour had become more and more erratic so that Robert had had to take almost complete responsibility for keeping the business going with the invaluable assistance of Philippe of course. Then Charles had developed what Philippe described as religious mania frequenting the meetings of various extreme sects and finally had become a follower of an unfrocked Jesuit priest called Boulez or Boullan or some such name. Anyway this chap had teamed up with a disgraced nun Sister Evangeline who reckons she is a reincarnation of the Mary Magdalene and was behaving accordingly. She latched on to Charles as an avatar of the Redeemer and this unholy (Morel's word) trio went about distributing leaflets and preaching and finally got themselves taken into police custody for blasphemy and outraging public morals. Robert managed to use his not inconsiderable influence to get Charles turned over to him and took him off to Switzerland where he is now being treated at a private clinic in Berne. The nun Sister Evangeline was handed over to the Catholic Church because although expelled from her convent she was still regarded as their responsibility and she is now languishing in some holy nuthouse location unspecified (his words again) from which it is unlikely she will ever again emerge alive (Philippe is violently anti-clerical). As for the ex-priest Father Boulez, Boullan or whatever (it turned out that he is not an unfrocked priest but a plausible confidence trickster with many aliases) he was bound over to keep the peace and promptly decamped for parts unknown. We rounded off with a visit to a cafe-chantant where the star attraction was a large wonderfully blowsy blonde lady singer called Babette who Philippe informed me was quite willing to entertain favoured clients in her rooms upstairs. In the event I did not sample her charms but left Philippe there and took a cab back to the hotel. No sign of Princess or S so took myself off to bed where I lay awake for some time in reverie.
Thursday April 5thTo Vaulx, the Villa Ara Coeli. Three years since I was here last. Seemed to me as gloomy as ever. Ghost-ridden and one in particular, that of the child Paolina, my beloved daughter. Elena received me in the library. She is still a very attractive woman. All that thick, lustrous, red-gold hair and that erect upright carriage and she still has her beguiling smile. Ah I thought if only Paolina had lived - but what is the good of repining? Elena was at her disarmingly cordial best and after a few conventional politenesses got down to the "important matters;" our matrimonial relationship or perhaps I should say the lack of the same. However I cannot say that I was not surprised by what she had to say on the matter. First of all she surprised me by saying that within the last two years or so she hadtaken to going out and about in society much more. In particular frequenting the salons of the Duchesse de Louvencieres, Madame de Courbouleix and other well known Lyonaisses all patrons of literature and the arts. There she had met a most charming and cultured man an English milord no less (well not exactly a Lord but the younger son of one and an Honourable; how seriously the rosbifs take their nobility, here in France we have titles yes but officially no aristocracy only the aristocracy of hard cash!) well educated, cultured and a dabbler in art and literature and the author of a well-received collection of poetry. A perfect paragon of all the virtues and not lacking in either land or lucre apparently thanks to the generosity of his dear departed mamma who had been an heiress in her own right. He is apparently besotted with Elena and she with him and he has behaved in a truly honourable fashion towards her (in the true English manner!) but he wishes to make an honest woman of her and is prepared to wait until she is free. Well well what a change in her attitude but I welcome it although I cannot in all honesty say that I did not feel a sudden pang of jealousy as she related all this to me. I did point out however that we would have to have an official legal separation for three years before divorce became possible adding that if she had not been so obstructive in the past she would by now have been a free woman. She agreed with that so I replied that I would put the matter into Dubarry's hands without delay and that of course the financial arrangements between us would continue unchanged until such time as she was free. She thanked me and said that when it is possible they intend eventually to make their home in England the Honourable Selwyn having a mansion London's West End as well as a country seat. We parted amicably enough and I returned to Lyon. No sign of the Princess or of S when I returned to the hotel.
Friday April 6thHave returned to Paris alone having received a note from the Princess saying that she and S had, at the Countess's suggestion moved into The Mirzoeff residence for a few weeks. That Princess could certainly charm the birds from out of the trees! So I returned feeling greatly relieved both in the matter of Elena and at getting rid of the Princess. Her wild and exotic and I am beginning to think unhealthy beliefs are fast beginning to pall on me. Having perhaps run the gamut of the exotic myself I am beginning to think that perhaps the purely spiritual as embodied in the teachings of La Diva's Indian teacher the Swami could very well be the true path to enlightenment. Then of course I am honest enough to admit that it is more than likely that my animal nature will sooner or later reassert itself........
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