The perfect woman
‘I had made my fortune, as I say, and people knew of it. A man with money is generally welcomed in society, even though he be a sailor, lacking breeding and still showing the coarseness of his origins. For my part such circles, and the antics of the men and women who inhabited them, amused me. I learned to dance, well enough to stand up at a ball, and to bow in something like the right fashion, and to listen to nonsense with no more than an inward smile of contempt. For the rest, my tailor saw that I was turned out to accord with the fashion.
‘These people amused me, and I despised them. Then I met your mother. I was struck by her beauty first. You have grown into a beauty yourself, but though you resemble her somewhat, you do not come up to her. Does this offend you?’
She smiled. ‘It does not offend me.’
‘I watched her, and paid attention to her, but at first I did not court her. I think maybe her beauty discouraged me a little. With such perfection on the surface, what could lie beneath that would not be a disappointment? But as I watched and listened, I found no disappointment. Her sense, her wit, matched her beauty and surpassed it. I realized that I had discovered perfection in a woman, or as near perfection as made no matter. Then I wanted her, and was determined to have her.’