Johanna Schopenhauer, in her chiromancer role, is bent over Lord Byron’s hand watching carefully his palm. They are sitting facing each other around a small circular table.
– Who do you see, Mrs. Schopenhauer? The redhead woman, the marchioness or Ludovica?
-I see a man with a mustache.
Lord Byron gets up suddenly knocking over the table:
-Do you make fun of me?!
-If you withdraw your hand, I can not see well …
Byron sits down again with his hand outstretched. The chiromancer looks attentively at the palm.
-Oh geez! The mustached man has boobs!
Byron gets up again.
-What does this mean?
-I can not guess if you don’t show me the palm.
He sits down again. The chiromancer stares again at the palm.
-What’s the matter now?
-It’s a woman disguised as a man!
Bewildered, Byron gets up suddenly, but then he reflects and sits down again breathing a sigh of relief.
-But is the mustache hers or part of the disguise?
The chiromancer’s face is increasingly closer to the palm.
-Wait a minute! He is a man disguised as a woman disguised as a man!
Byron gets up immediately as if impelled by a spring.
-Or maybe it’s a woman posing as a man disguised as a woman disguised as a man.
Byron can’t make up his mind: he sits down again, and then gets up, and then sits down… and finally he stays halfway.
-Calm down, Lord Byron, and let me see the palm.
Byron sits down again holding out his hand and makes a suggestion:
-Focus on the inner thigh and we‘ll find out for sure.
-Please, Lord Byron, don’t be rude. It’s not your style.
-Excuse me, I’m a little nervous …
The chiromancer looks so closely at Byron’s palm that she crushes her nose against it:
Byron jumps startled.
-What? What have you seen? Speak!
Mrs. Schopenhauer suffers a faint and falls to the floor. Byron rushes to give her a few slaps:
-Mrs. Schopenhauer! Mrs. Schopenhauer! Wake up!
A servant in livery breaks into the room provided with a bottle of smelling salts.
-She was reading my palm and suddenly she fainted.
The servant leans over his mistress and applies the bottle to her nose. Mrs. Schopenhauer slightly shakes her head but continues to faint. Then the servant takes her in his arms and goes towards the door: “Milady needs to rest”, he says. And disappears with his mistress, leaving Byron in a state of nervous excitement.
(NOTA BENE: Although it’s well known that Lord Byron was bisexual, in his time that was considered a crime, so the poet took good care to keep his bisexuality hidden. So the outrage that he shows when the palm reading ascribes to him a future love affair with a man, it’s just a performance. Byron acts as a manly man would do, because that is the image he wants to convey of himself.)