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11 o The Hippodrome Equestrienne—The Reverse of Fame—The Baron’s Narrow Failure—Timid Léon—Coin Toss for Me    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. I did not have much time for my friends. Brididi was the one who suffered most from this neglect. A song had just been written about Pomaré. It was attributed to a very witty man.1 It was sung to the tune of Rosita’s waltz: Oh, Pomaré, young and beautiful queen, Do not ever lose your zest and vigor. May you forever reign over the cancan And may Chicard grow pale under your gaze! Adorned with flowers, your Mabille throne Rests solidly on the shoulders of young revelers. Better by far to rule here than on the island Where our colors will cease to shine. I too had my poets. Brididi sent me an epistle in verse. Unfortunately he was a better dancer than he was a singer. My work at the Hippodrome was taking me away from the world where I had met him.  Finally my big moment arrived. On opening day I was supposed to participate in three exercises. The first one was a horse walk, the second a speed race, and the third a deer hunt. I was the first to enter ahead of a row of four horses. I wore a Jewish-  The Hippodrome style costume like all equestriennes. I could hear my name making the rounds: ‘‘Where is Mogador?’’ ‘‘Oh, there is Mogador!’’ There must have been at least eight thousand people present. All of elegant Paris was there. The sun, which on that day was shining on the flashy decor, warmed everyone’s heart and cheered the audience, which was applauding wildly. I was trembling, afraid I would not be able to hold on to my horse. My body was leaning forward when I felt a sharp blow on my back, and I heard M. Laurent Franconi admonish me, ‘‘Are you going to stand like that? Straighten up, please.’’ I jerked myself erect. ‘‘Good! Now we look like a broomstick,’’ he told me. ‘‘Sit deep in your saddle, body straight but not stiff, elbows in, head forward. Press your fingers gently . . . good! And do not be afraid, you have a good horse.’’ He patted it on the neck, then, walking by some man, he told him, ‘‘This one is my student. She is doing fine, but she has been studying for only two months.’’ This compliment pleased me but did not stop my heart from beating so hard I thought I would stop breathing. ‘‘Go!’’ My horse took me away. I rested against his neck, like jockeys do. I spoke to him out loud and he speeded up. . . . I was about to overtake mycompanions, maybe even win the race! I made my horse swerve toward the rope in a curve. . . . I cut in front of the one nearest me and passed her! I let my horse take the lead and I spurred his left side. I squeezed my knees tighter. I went around one more time. I was stopped and handed the bouquet. I had won! My instructor shared my joy. Once off their horses, my companions tried to pick a quarrel with me. They insinuated that I had almost knocked them over, that it was against the rules to cut in front. . . . I think they were right, but I dismissed them and went to dress for the hunt. I mounted a stable horse named Aboukir. I made him prance. A deer was released. This hunt attained the sort of success the organizers of this spectacle probably had not imagined. When the dogs were loosed, instead of rushing after the deer, they began to run in all directions, committing acts of impropriety on our dress hems and our horses’ legs. We were doubled over with laughter. Finally the deer was put on the right track and the dogs followed the trail.  The Hippodrome The deer, tired, retraced its steps and strode toward the dogs. Now they were being chased! After the performance I was more triumphant than a conquering general. I was holding my bouquet in my arms so everyone could see it.     Back home I asked my doorman to put up a notice; I could not live so far away. The next day I found a little fifth...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803202139
MARC Record
OCLC
50753843
Pages
325
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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