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He suffered his wife to dress him for the evening, and when she finished, Vanity Florentin checked his tie in the mirror. She brought a flower for the lapel but he brushed it away and she complained, "Vanity, the way you go on staring at yourself, you'd think you were the last human."

He decided his tie was crooked after all and started it over. He told her, "Nietzsche said something about vanity once."

"Come off it. Nietzsche's for juveniles." She found her own mirror. Florentin was halfway through the new knot when he caught sight of her, caught his hand in the entanglement of tie. She was putting flowers in her hair and he watched her hungrily.

vanity is the
fear of appear
ing original. it
is thus a lack of
pride, but not
necessarily a
lack of orig

"My wife, Ven," he said at the party, a little while later, an introduction to several of the female guests.

Who said, "Pleased," but never took their eyes from his face. An amazing, shining face that stemmed from more than just the anthemon, especially when he smiled, as he did then. "I'm getting another drink," Ven said, miffed, walking to the table where Chinese paper flowers floated in wineglasses.

Everywhere they turned they were drowned in sprays of bouquets and wads of wildflowers. Vanity bent to sniff at one of them, unable to identify the flower. He pointed it out to one of the ladies and she said, "Yes, that's one of Mr. d'Art's hybrids. He unveiled it last week, I hear, to get FDA approving just for this party."

"What's so hot about it?"

"He says it has twice the rejuvenating powers as all the others. So much anthemon within it." She said "rejuvenate" with a Y, like a Spaniard. He asked her name.

One of the butlers came by and told them to help themselves.

"I am Antia." She picked one of the hybrids, but hesitated to put it in her mouth.

Florentin, leery of strange foods himself, picked the head instead off of a snapdragon and ate it. Then he remembered his manners. "Sorry, I'm Vanity Floren—" "Oh Mr. Florentin," she said, "everyone knows who you are. The Florentin greenhouse is said to be absolutely beautiful." She ate the hybrid, and that inevitable change settled over her. "To die for."

"Would you like to see it sometime?"

She couldn't answer before a servant appeared at the doorway and announced dinner. Excusing himself from Antia, Florentin followed, snatching more popcorn flowers on the way.

there is no better
for a man
than the
from a wo