lie close to those shop windows where commerce offers to 
a world of old women laid on doorsteps, of blind men, of 
hobbling dwarfs, sofas which are supported by the gilt 
necks of proud swans; tables inlaid with baskets of many
colored fruit, sideboards paved with green marble the 
better to support the weight of boars' heads, gilt baskets, 
candelabra; and carpets so softened with age that their 
carnations have almost vanished in a pale green sea.

Passing, glimpsing, everything seems accidentally but 
miraculously sprinkled with beauty, as if the tide of trade 
which deposits its burden so punctually and prosaically 
upon the shores of Oxford Street had this night cast up 
nothing but treasure. With no thought of buying, the eye is 
sportive and generous; it creates; it adorns; it enhances. 
Standing out in the street, one may build up all the cham-
bers of a vast imaginary house and furnish them at one's 
will with sofa, table, carpet. That rug will do for the hall. 
That alabaster bowl shall stand on a carved table in the 
window. Our merrymakings shall be reflected in that thick 
round mirror. But, having built and furnished the house
one is happily under no obligation to possess it; one can 
dismantle it in the twinkling of an eye, build and furnish 
another house with other chairs and other glasses. Or let 
us indulge ourselves at the antique jewellers, among the 
trays of rings and the hanging necklaces. Let us choose 
those pearls, for example, and then imagine how, if we put 
them on, life would be changed. It becomes instantly be-
tween two and three in the morning; the lamps are burning 
very white in the deserted streets of Mayfair. Only motor
cars are abroad at this hour, and one has a sense of empty-
ness, of airiness, of secluded gaiety. Wearing pearls, wear-
ing silk, one steps out on to a balcony which overlooks the 
gardens of sleeping Mayfair. There are a few lights in the 
bedrooms of great peers returned from Court, of silk-
stockinged footmen, of dowagers who have pressed the 
hands of statesmen. A cat creeps along the garden wall.