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35 o My Law Lesson Courtesan, Actress, and Litigant—Hôtel de la Promenade: Sanctuary for Integrity—Return from San Francisco ,   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. When, like Lionel, one has held a lofty social position, been a rich noble, it is possible to face ruin without despair.To fall from high causes vertigo, but there is always the hope of rising again. But when a poor creature like me, without the protection of a family and with a past like mine, is ruined, it is forever. I had no illusions about a courtesan’s future. Aware of the disdainful way my kind is spoken of, I had promised myself that I would not undergo the humiliations of old age. I had always told myself that if by age thirty I had not found a way to be independent, I would seek refuge in suicide. Therefore I had to either fight or die. But to fight, I needed courage and experience I did not have then. , ,   As I expected, my apartment on Rue Joubert, my carriages on Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin, and my house in Berry were seized, and there was opposition to the mortgage Lionel had left in payment for the money I had lent him. All his possessions were divided up, and I was being sued everywhere. Lionel’s departure and the fanfare of my liaison with him had made a lot of noise around my life. Bad reputations are like good ones: they are acquired slowly, but past a certain amount of time they take on a life of their own.  My Law Lesson The world was seeking me out, and out of necessity I climbed a few more rungs up this ladderof elegant corruption, when in fact I no longer possessed the heart my character required. My life depended on a double lie: a financial lie and a moral lie. It was thought I was rich, and the ground under my feet was mined. It was thought that I was more wicked than ever, and my soul was worth more than my life. So I had four proceedings to deal with. My future and that of my little daughter depended on justice. My attorney in Paris, M. Picard, gave me some excellent advice. He sent me to see M. Desmarest, whowas willing to plead mycase, or rather my cases. In Châteauroux my attorney was M. Berton-Pourriat. I asked that my rights be explained to me; I researched the code of laws, I listened, I asked questions. Somewhat defiant by nature, I asked people for clarifications to be sure that the moneymen were not taking advantage of me, because one of them, having shown too much zeal for my adversaries, was about to go before a judge. I spent my life in bailiff offices, in attorney offices, in magistrate offices. Over a period of six months I became acquainted with every room of the courthouse. When all my proceedings finallycame to court and I could rest a little from my quibbling activities, I occupied myself seriously with acting. Acclaim no longer went to my head. I knew that this lifewas not going to last. Courtesan, actress, and litigant—more than enough to fill a lifetime . I was running from the Bois to a waiting room, from a waiting room to the Variétés. It was then that I got some very sad news. A woman told me that Deligny had been killed in a duel. I won my proceeding on the Rue Joubert furniture. This victory gave me some confidence.    :    The proceedings on the Poinçonnet property would be pleaded in August in a Châteauroux courthouse. I had to travel to Poinçonnet. It was a painful trip because of all the memories flooding back with each turn of the wheels. I ran into some difficulties when I tried to go inside. A guard had been assigned to it upon its seizure. I had to wait in the courtyard an hour before I was allowed to enter my own house.  My Law Lesson A few days later my adversaries came to search the house. They poured over Lionel’s most secret papers. They hoped to find proof that...


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