It is many years since I met the wonderful Claudine, and I really should have sought you out back then.
Paris at the turn of the century was always going to be wonderful, but it was the people who made this trip so special.
Your family was marvellous, and I was particularly entranced as I watched your Great Aunt Alicia, a courtesan of the old school, try to mould you in her own image. I shall remember so many of your exchanges with a wry smile.
She only wanted what was best for you but, of course, you grew up in a different world. You were much too bright for that and I always knew that you would follow your own heart.
The greatest pleasure was watching you grow from a schoolgirl into a young woman ready to step into a wonderful future.
I’m only sorry that we had just sixty pages together. They were such beautiful pages, and they just flew by.
So now we much say goodbye, but please know that you will always have a place in my heart and that I wish you happiness always.
Translated by Roger Senhouse