Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

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Translator’s Introduction

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pp. ix-xxii

The lives of nineteenth-century Parisian courtesans sparkled with glamour, splendor, and excitement. Many of these women were ardently pursued by young and not-so-young admirers, some of whose names are found today in history books and literary annals...

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1. My Stepfather

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pp. 1-10

Everything I have not dared say out loud, I am going to put down on paper. I do not plan to transform my life into a novel, and I do not intend to try to clear my name or pretend to be a heroine. As I describe what I have suffered, what ill or good I might have done...

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2. The Hunter and the Hunted

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pp. 11-16

‘‘Well, said M. Pomerais, ‘‘now we need to find you a safe hideout. You would be too exposed here. I am going to send you to one of my friends, a wholesaler. I shall get word to him, and you will leave tonight. In the meantime, go up to my wife’s room...

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3. The Lyon Insurrection

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pp. 17-27

The lodgings M. Mathieu found for us included a cabinet and a bedroom with two large windows looking out on the wharf. The view was splendid.We could see a great number of boats going up and down the Rhône. Across from our windows there was a long bridge...

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4. M. Vincent

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pp. 28-39

Once we were back in Paris we had to live with my grandfather. That was very painful for my mother. After his divorce from his first wife her father had remarried. Maman had much to complain about her stepmother, who did not like the children...

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5. Thérèse

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pp. 40-50

‘‘What am I going to do?’’ I was saying to myself as I woke up shivering from the cold. ‘‘I cannot go back home.My mother wrote five days ago that she would be back in a week. She will be arriving tomorrow or later. But what am I to do for two days?’’...

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6. Denise

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pp. 51-62

I heard a voice shout, ‘‘Here comes the paddy wagon, come see the new ones. Are there many?’’ Another voice, probably that of our driver, answered, ‘‘In fact, I am full up.’’ We got out. One man came toward us...

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7. The Fall

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pp. 63-77

The air seemed fragrant to me. I breathed it in as if it were an intoxicating flower. I was yanked from my rapture by my mother pulling on my arm, who said, ‘‘Where are you going? This is not the way.’’ ‘‘Oh! Forgive me...

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8. Effects of a Hospital Stay

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pp. 78-84

Noticing that I had passed out in his cab, the coachman asked the concierge at the hospice to help him get me out of the carriage. The doctor on call had been summoned and he had me brought to a room where he gave me the necessary care...

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9. The Bal Mabille

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pp. 85-93

It was nine o'clock when we arrived on the Allée des Veuves. . . . Mabille had been a small village dance hall, lighted by oil lamps. . . . Admission cost ten sous. . . . It was a favorite meeting place of butlers and maids in the days when they were less elegant than their masters...

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10. A ‘‘Queen’s’’ Destiny

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pp. 94-103

At eleven o'clock I was at my new friend’s house. I expected to see a luxuriously furnished boudoir, but I was surprised to find myself in a kennel. Anyway that was my reaction to Pomaré’s apartment, it was so messy and dirty...

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11. The Hippodrome

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pp. 104-111

Having the title of equestrienne was just the beginning; now it was a matter of learning the skill. I had as many as two and three lessons a day, including one hour of French trot...

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12. Lise’s Yellow Dress

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pp. 112-133

Whenever something good or something bad would happen to me, my great comfort was to go see Lise, so I could share with her my joy or my distress. Her landlady gave me her new address under condition of secrecy because Lise still refused to see anyone...

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13. A Chariot Race

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pp. 134-139

It was early July and the heat was unbearable, making my task at the Hippodrome very unpleasant. I had already had two or three falls with my horses. Twice I had to be bled. All that had exhausted me...

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14. Travel Impressions

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pp. 140-145

Most men are courteous when they travel. Yet there are many who, when they see a woman in a coach, flee, saying, ‘‘Let us go to another, we would not be able to smoke.’’ Two young men, about to enter...

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15. Acts of Desperation

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pp. 146-153

My mother found everything completed for the move. Our shop was ready. I had saved a little money, but it was not enough. I sold my jewelry, some cashmere garments, and I paid off some small debts. I was not planning to become a prude...

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16. Lise’s Return

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pp. 154-164

For me everything was going from bad to worse! The women to whom we had refused credit were not coming anymore. The rent was due. There was not one red cent saved. The goods had been sold and we had to pay for them...

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17. Dinner at the Café Anglais

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pp. 165-170

Then I got some rather odd news that affected me even more since it had some bearing on the ideas, feelings, and doubts painfully resonating within me since Lise’s death. This bit of news had to do with the poor pianist...

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18. Lionel

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pp. 171-182

Four o'clock took so long in arriving that, to make the time pass more quickly, I went down to the shop. A few days earlier I had written to my friend in Holland.He sent me a note for two thousand francs to be cashed at a bank on Rue d’Hauteville...

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19. In the Country

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pp. 183-188

‘‘Not a moment too soon,’’ said Lionel, who was followed by a young man. ‘‘I was going to ring again! . . . We are frozen! . . .’’ Lionel took me in his arms, kissed me, and drew me inside saying, ‘‘Permit me to introduce you to one of my country neighbors...

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20. Gust of Wind at Le Havre and Masked Ball at the Opera

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pp. 189-196

Once in Le Havre, I figured out that I had been unaware of one of my reasons for leaving Paris. It was a pretext for writing to him. Postmarked Le Havre, and motivated by a journey, my letter would appear more natural....

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21. Hooray for Reform!

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pp. 197-200

The next day I went for a walk with Frisette.There were many people in the streets, all whispering. I approached several groups and listened, and did not understand a word they were saying...

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22. Roulette

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pp. 201-204

Back in Paris, I was in a bind. I did have a few pieces of jewelry that Lionel had given me, but to part with them seemed impossible. One evening I was at a dinner with Lagie and Frisette. ‘‘Come gambling with us,’’ they said...

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23. La Pépine

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pp. 205-210

Three days had gone by since my evening on Rue de l’Arcade, and I was continually torn between the desire to go back and my better judgment, which told me not to. The fear of being caught at this house or of losing was stopping me, but the lure of winning drew me...

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24. The June Insurrection

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pp. 211-215

Summer was coming. Lionel finally returned to Paris. In spite of the ominous rumors going around, everything seemed lovely and cheerful to me. It was becoming clear that there was going to be more fighting...

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25. Château Life

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pp. 216-220

Once I was at his château I set up my embroidery frame and started ambitious projects. My stay at Lionel’s no longer had a transitory quality. I had to create for myself an occupation that would help me pass the long solitary hours. Thus, everyone who passed...

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26. Richard

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pp. 221-230

The expeditions into the forest took place three times a week. For a while I went along so I would not be alone, but they were too strenuous for a woman, and, because of my health, I had to give them up. I spent almost all my days and evenings...

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27. Cholera Gives Me a Godchild

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pp. 231-234

I went to see Caroline at the hospice. She was in pain, and the doctor handed me such a frail little girl that I said to myself, ‘‘She will never live.’’ The father was present. He asked me to hold the little girl at the baptismal fonts...

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28. Dramatic Follies and Folies-Dramatiques

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pp. 235-241

I had given up my apartment, which was too far away, and had rented a pretty one facing the street on the third floor at number 24 of Boulevard Poissonnière. I decided to go back on the stage...

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29. Proud Women, Passionate Men

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pp. 242-248

Richard had diligently courted Mlle Ozy, then he suddenly stopped.1 She had inquired into the reason for such an abrupt cooling. She hated me without knowing me. One day Richard and one of his friends...

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30. London

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pp. 249-255

I went to see the nursemaid unannounced. I entered the house and found, alone in a cradle, a poor little creature so pale, so weak that she seemed on the verge of death. I recognized her clothes as the ones I had bought for my godchild. The nursemaid was in the fields...

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31. Unfortunate Encounter

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pp. 256-261

The next day, at ten o’clock, the doctor who had taken care of me when I lived at Place de la Madeleine, and whom Lionel still saw, asked to speak to me. After coldly greeting me, he said, ‘‘Strange as my endeavor might...

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32. The Girl from the Provinces

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pp. 262-268

‘‘Let us go to the Cirque,’’ Richard suggested. ‘‘It will distract you. There is a beautiful benefit performance.’’ The room was resplendent with lights and costumes. Sadly . . . it all seemed dreary tome. Suddenly the room lit up...

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33. Death Throes of a Fortune

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pp. 269-275

A week later Lionel was entertaining. The stakes were high; he was losing. Although he was a good sport about it, I noticed little beads of perspiration on his forehead. By the end of the party, he had lost eighteen thousand francs...

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34. To the Antipodes

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pp. 276-286

Six days later I received another letter from Lionel. It gave me a shock from which I did not recover for a long time: Your prediction will come true: we will not be square until my last sou. I just learned I am ruined...

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35. My Law Lesson

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pp. 287-290

Today, after rereading Lionel’s letters, I am happy and proud to have inspired in this kind and brave man such a tender and devoted passion. But in those days my heart was too confused to know what it could love or hate...

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36. The Variétés Theater

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pp. 291-296

I worked diligently at my craft of acting, but managers and actors insisted on casting me as a soubrette, a grisette, or a dancer. I did not have the voice, the height, or the look for these roles. I was not pleased at all with the role...

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37. A Dead Woman and a Ghost

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pp. 297-301

This young man was a woman, and I do not understand how I could have been fooled even for one minute. I asked her if she wanted to get in my carriage so we could be comfortable to talk. She accepted after telling me that she was coming to take me to a woman who wanted...

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38. A Miner’s Diary

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pp. 302-308

I left Sydney at eight in the morning with a Frenchman, M. Malfilâtre, who, like me, is going to the mines. The road to Paramatta is charming. Lunch in Paramatta at an inn full of drunken natives...

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39. Let My Destiny Be Done!

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pp. 309-316

My poor Lionel, I just received such a sad letter from you that right now I feel so downhearted, so guilty, it is impossible to find the words to express my sorrow, my pain, my remorse. You repeatedly accuse me of being ungrateful...

Notes

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pp. 317-322

Works by Céleste de Chabrillan

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pp. 323-325