There was a Rembrandt drawing of a lion above Sabina’s bed. When Francesca sleeps there, the lion looks down on Rose White and Briar Rose Slumbering, or some such scene by Burne-Jones. By day the Rembrandt lion beholds Sabina and Francesca getting dressed and undressed (sometimes I’m in the room). They sing Schumann duets and smell of Doblis. Now and then they’re convulsed by certain words only they understand: Baldwin! . . . Pur-ple Heart!. . . Sometimes, through the smoke of my cigarette (in a wooden holder from Dunhill), I see their nipples and pubic hair. The air is warm from the minor labors of young women wearing perfume.

Sabina’s room was filled with books. Something in their arrangement told me that she was lonely and proud. I thought, lonely like me. And, I thought, if we become lovers, as Francesca wants, Sabina’s pride will help keep me from being a failure . . . Sabina was good-looking, with a wonderful figure, lots of blond hair (like her lion) and very small hands and feet.