Her mother? I am baffled. I think I can barely distinguish a slender shape moving towards me. Or maybe it is what is left of my failing intuition that leads me to believe she is a tall and elegant woman.
"Enchantée" she says. It feels as if a cloud passes through the hallway. Obscuring every shade, movement or colour. Her voice is breathy, soft but supple, like a singer’s.
Instinctively I put out my hand and feel a soft palm and slender fingers pressing mine. She is wearing silk gloves.
"I’m sorry," she continues, "but I have a problem with light."
She has a peculiar Parisian accent not resembling any I know and speaks slowly, stressing every syllable.
"Let us move forward into the lobby." she pauses, breathes, but then decisively continues."But first I must ask you to leave your watch at the hallstand at your right."
I am seized by a feeling of general uneasiness. My watch is not a common article of use you find in the shops. I use it to calculating the position of the stars. Without it I am lost.
"This watch is the sole object of value I posses." I reply "I have been carrying it around for centuries. It’s worth is priceless to me."
"I know," She answers reassuringly, "but in this house it is a dangerous instrument."
I hesitate. Should I fulfill her request or not? Of course I am curious about what is going on here, but Parisian con artists are known for their skills of delusion and false pretence. I have heard stories of robbery and theft bordering on the fantastical.
As if she can read my mind she tells me. "Don’t worry, no one finds this place without being invited and few leave through the same door. However,the purpose of your visit is a different one. This will all become clear when I tell you my story."
Her voice fades and the thump-click noise starts again. She has turned away from me and is slowly retreating into the corridor. Meaning I have to make up my mind now.