Constance tells us, is a “nice, pleasant, middle aged lady,” and she runs a kind of salon off the Rue de Rivoli*, where she does “little services” for ladies, like hair dye, nails and “corn doctoring”. She also pierces ears, and sometimes nipples.
(*The Rue de Rivoli was, and still is, literally one of the most fashionable streets in the world. Just an FYI, so you know this place wasn’t a dump somewhere)
Madame Beaumont has a huge collection of large gold rings specifically for piercing nipples, and she sits down with Constance and Millie and shows them her own nipples, which are pierced. Her daughter also has pierced nipples, and she shows Constance and Millie too, because this was before the internet and how else were they going to see?
Madame Beaumont has also invented a set of clamps specifically for nipple piercing. “Like a sugar tongs in form, but instead of the spoons at the ends of the legs there is a pair of small tubes about one inch long, and in a straight line with each other, so that when the nipple is grasped between the inner ends of the tubes by means of a screw in the handle, a piercer* can be passed through the whole without any chance of deviating from its proper course.”
(*Constance will, regularly, refer to a ‘needle’ as a ‘piercer’)
This semi-medical device freaks Constance out.
“I must confess I felt very qualmish, and almost repented having consented to it.”
But she does it anyway, because she’s the older sister, and Millie is into it and she doesn’t want to chicken out in front of her little sis.