for many years i attempted, not only to erase all traces of my early life from the eyes of the world, but to obliterate them from my own memory. i found that i could best play the part i wished to on the stage of the world, if i believed in it myself, or at least kept nothing on the surface of my consciousness to contradict it.
i was careful not to overplay my part. thus i never styled myself "countess de this" or "baroness de that" or claimed any aristocratic title at all, leaving to the imagination of my dupes - or should i say dupe, as the whole world was my dupe - the impression that i was incognito, or that i disdained to assume my rightful title in a world swarming with parvenus.
as i made no claims, i could never be accused, in the worst of cases, of professing false ones. even better, i was leaving my interlocutors at the mercy of those most qualified and adept at misleading them - namely, themselves.
so it was that at an age when women born into such circumstances as i had been, are either dead or beaten by fate into shapeless shadows hidden in the dust of the world, and even women born with all advantage are beginning to hear the chilly laughter and feel the first soft caress of mistress time - i, the self-named maxine montfort, having defeated my enemies , survived my friends, and secured my allies, was riding with all contentment down the shady main highway of the province of y-------------.
i had spent the afternoon paying a call on the local eminence madame de n------. a terrible bore, but how could i complain? had i not spent my whole life precisely striving toward the goal of associating with such as madame de n-----------? and she had her good points, such as a cook who produced the most excellent little cream cakes,
and a somewhat overstuffed divan that i was quite fond of, and relaxed on perhaps a trifle too comfortably. but i had paid her at the whist table, playing my usual perfect game - that is, not too well, and not too badly. and now after such exertions i was in no particular hurry to reach my own little house, and was quite enjoying the familiar ride.