Marthe Troly-Curtin.

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I 9 I I

1 ,^






Have you forgotten, father dear, all the wonderful
stories with which you used to enchant our long
country walks, when my tiny legs were unwilling,
but when I forgot to complain of fatigue, asking
you instead: "Et alors, /if/;/ //rr, what did the
Princess do ? "

I often promised you that when I would be
♦'quite big and you quite httle" it would be my
turn to hold your hand very tight and tell you
beautiful long stories with ogres in them.

Well, I am quite big now, much against my
will, and here is a whole book for you, my dear,
good, patient father ; but I am still your little girl,
you know.


(There is no ogre, just an ordinary husband.)
London, 1911.



I. Who I AM AND WHY I'm here 9

II. Cromwell Road 17

III. Je m'ennuie a8

IV. A Foot on the Sand 40

V. I RECEIVE A Call 5a

VI. In a London Street 57

VII. My first Englishman 65

VIII. In Rotten Row 73

IX. The Ma.n from Battersea 79

X. Tea and Strawberries on the Terrace ... 88

XI. My first real Ball 96

XII. I lunch out 108

XIII. At Prince's 123

XIV. My Ex-Fianc6 126

XV. The Divine Sense of Humour 132

XVI. Dr Macnamara SAYS IT IS pronounced "Goff" 142

XVII. The " Paradou " 1 50

XVIII. Bond Street 157

XIX. A Patriarch and a Cad 171

XX. A Family Dinner at Bayswater 185

XXI. London and our Penates 196

XXII. Souvent femme varie 208

XXIII. Ou LBS Affaires ne sont pas lks Affaires 215

XXIV. At a Liberal Meeting 231

XXV. The modern Sarah Gamp 237



XXVI. On an English River 245

XXVII. Vive la Reine 252

XXVIII. A "bully" Bow of Black Velvet 257

XXIX. The Bachelor Girl 267

XXX. At Mount Hazel 273

XXXI. Election Time 288

XXXII. Three Women in a Galere (without even

A Doc) 322

XXXIII. The End of the Beginning 327





« /^^ RACIEUSE, she does not like me."

" You do not know, man petit ange; with
those Enghsh you never can tell whether they
like you or not, IMadame your aunt certainly is not
demonstrative, hut that proves nothing,"

We had arrived at Cromwell Road the night hefore
from Paris, I and Gracieuse. Gracieuse had been, in
succession and sometimes together, my nurse, maid,
chaperon, foster-mother and watch-dog, during the
seventeen years of my life — I shall be eighteen in Sei>-
tember. As for me, Phrynette, you will get to know
me by-and-by, and perliaps, like my Aunt Barbara,
you will not like me,

Gracieuse may say to the contrary, but I know my
Aunt Barbara has taken me en grippe. I can feel
whether I please or not, even where English people
are concerned. I knew a few of them in Paris, and
underneath their " Englishism " they are pretty much
as we are.

But then those English whom 1 knew in Paris were
petit pcre's friends, and ix^riiaps not so English as the
others here. Petit phe^s friends somehow never did
seem to have any nationality. They were ^lU artists.



Petit pere is dead. He died three months ago : that's
why I am here. I won't say much about his death, but
I feel as if I could never forgive Gracieuse and the
doctors for pulling me through when I had meningitis.
I don't believe any other girl had such a father — such
a dear, handsome, kind, clever father — or loved him
as much as I did mine, or was loved as he loved me.

He was an artist and painted only pretty, fashion-
able women. Every pretty woman in Paris among
actresses, fcmmes du mondc and others, has sat for
petit pcre. He never painted ugly old things, even
when they were duchesses or bankers' wives. He said
he could afford to choose his sitters. I think he was
rich, because we had such a lovely flat, and Doucet
made all my frocks. And certainly father had a very
brilliant, subtle brush, like your Sargent here; only
he was more conscientious. Perhaps he took his pub-
lic more seriously. Or, is it that it is only a French-
man who knows and loves woman well enough to
be her ideal portraitiste? Petit pcre painted women
caressingly, if I may say so.

However, I don't want you to think of him as the
typical Frenchman — the Frenchman of your comic
papers with the disgraceful neckties and hair cut
en brossc. My father was very much like that M.P.
of yours, Mr. Wyndham (it w^as he Sarah Bernhardt
thought so handsome, wasn't it?) plus the circumflex
eyebrows of Mr. Chamberlain, but he wore no eyeglass,
and had an amiable expression.

Petit phe and I were always together, except when
he dined at his club and came back late, but then he
always brought me what he called a propitiatory pres-



ent. However late he returned he would come to kiss
me good-night, and next morning I would find some-
thing so pretty under my pillow. In this way I got
such a lot of things — my pearl necklace, my silver
powder-box from Lalique, the painted fan which they
say belonged to Rachel, and lots of other sweet things.

In England, where, I am told, club life is a large part
of a man's existence, if English fathers follow petit
pore's system they must find it ruinous, with the
amount of daughters they all seem to have. I have
always noticed that the English have a speciality for
turning out girls. And yet they prefer boys, don't
they ? They are — at least they appear to be — so much
prouder of sons than of daughters. Now in France
it is not so. If the parents have 'a preference at all,
it is generally the daughters who profit by it. I
know petit pcre often told me he was so much more
pleased tiiat I was a girl. He said girls were prettier,
and better too, when they were in good hands; that
woman was very much like an automobile de luxe,
often capricious, and liable to run away from the
right road. But then so much depended on the

I long to make the acquaintance of an English fam-
ily and to see what the rapports between parents and
children are like. In my compartment, coming over,
there was a gentleman with his daughter, and they
did not seem very tender towards eacli other. Rut of
course you cannot judge a whole race by two individ-
uals. They did not exchange ten words altogether
during the whole time. I decided that this English-
man must be a general : at least he looked like one.



He had fierce blue eyes, a moustache a la Kitchener,
and a snorting voice.

I was more puzzled by the girl. She had a refined,
well-bred face, and her hands were all right too ; but
she was dressed so strangely that I did not know what
to make of her. She had a green silk blouse, with a
lot of lace on, and horrid little bows everywhere.
Then she had a sort of flat cap of mauve cloth, a white
serge skirt, a long grey tweed coat like a man's, brown
stockings, and the most horrible shoes I ever saw.
If one might judge by her hands, her feet must have
been shapely, but with those brown horrors the poor
things had no chance. Why, even Gracieuse's feet
seemed slender and dainty by their side. As for her
jewellery, I wonder her father could let her wear such
rubbish. I know my father would not have tolerated
it for a moment. She had a lot of bangles, with hearts
of all kinds and sizes hanging from them; necklaces
with more hearts ; a hideous swallow brooch such as
are sold in our village fairs; and she wore her watch
pinned up on her blouse, where a faint swelling indi-
cated where her bust should have been. What class
of girl was she, I wonder? In France I should have
known, but here it seems more difficult to guess. She
was such a contrast to the man with her, who was
so well-groomed. Yet I am sure I heard her say
" father " to him. . . .

Gracieuse has just called me "mademoiselle"!
That means that she is cross, because I have been
scribbling instead of going to bed.

But what is the good of going to bed? I know I
sha'n't sleep, the mattress is so terribly hard, thin and



full of lumps ; and there is no box spring like we have
in our beds in France (Gracieuse says hers is just the
same), and it feels as if it had not been remade for
several years. Why, in the smallest and poorest of
houses in France the mattresses are thoroughly remade
at frequent intervals. How is it that English people
who study comfort so much ignore that of sleeping
on fluffy, elastic beds?

And then I am so disappointed with Aunt Barbara !
That alone is enough to keep me awake at night. As
the only child of her sister, 1 looked for a warmer
welcome from her. I have not said anything yet of
my mother, have I ? Well, I remember her so vaguely,
for I was quite a gamine when she died. But we had
a portrait of her at home — by my father, of course —
so I know that she was very beautiful. She had the
loveliest light auburn hair — at least it is considered
lovely now — but I remember when I was a little girl
it was not yet in fashion — it was called carottc then,
and deemed a real misfortune. I used to suffer such
impotent rages under the gibes of my little friends in
my young days for having been born a roiissc. How
often then did I wish that petit pcre had not married
into the tribe of the MacGuinnesses! They were my
mother's people — Scotch, as their name shows, of
course. It seems by what I have heard that they all
had red manes, and the men wore tliosc funny short
skirts — kilts, 1 think, they arc called. Those little
skirts were the only redeeming feature in my eyes. I
used to boast of my bare-legged ancestors to my little
friends and feel that, at least, if I were a roussc I was
no ordinary child.



I traced the family characteristic in my Aunt Bar-
bara — that is, so far as the red mane was concerned.
As for her skirts, unfortunately, they are not nearly so
dashing as the kilts. They are just ordinary skirts,
very ordinary indeed, and rather short in front —
though that is no concession to the national costume,
but simply because they are so horribly cut and hooked
on all wrong. Who is responsible for Aunt Barbara's
clothes, I wonder? I always denied that there could
be such a thing as an English hat. I could more
readily believe in French tea or London claret, and yet
the concoction of my aunt's hats cannot — no, no, it is
impossible — have been committed on our side of the
Channel. I really think she could afford to be decently
dressed and hatted. This house is a big, fine house,
and the furniture must have cost a lot of money. It
is heavy, solid, British-looking furniture, nothing like
father's things, but good in its genre.

And she keeps six servants. Imagine six servants
for one old maid ! Why, we had only two, father's
valet and the cook — and Gracieuse, of course, but
then Gracieuse is not an ordinary servant. Before
now I had noticed already that all the English people
we met in Paris, Trouville, or Biarritz, had far more
servants than French people of the same class with
as much money. I think the English are rather

The eldest chambermaid here belongs to the Salva-
tion Army — the Salvation Army is an institution that
takes upon itself the duties a sluggard State refuses
to perform. It does sublime work, I am told, only the



members will sing at street corners, and I don't see why
decent hats should be incompatible with goodness,
do you?

But to go back to my mother, about whom I was
speaking, I don't think petit pcrc and she lived very
happily together, and somehow, since I have seen Aunt
Barbara, I understand many things. My aunt often
tells me that she was like a motlier to her younger sis-
ter, and perhaps she mentally modelled her on herself.

It was because of the MacGuinness hair that petit
ptrc married mother. They met at a ball at the
English Embassy. Mother was sitting in front of a
dull green portiere and petit pcre said her hair was just
glorious with such a background. And he fell in love
there and then. He often remarked how careful a
woman should be to choose a judicious setting. I won-
der if such things would be noticed by the majority
of men. I have my mother's hair, at least I had, until
Gracieuse cut it, under the doctor's orders, when I
had meningitis after father died. It is not quite close
cropped, but it is still too short for any kind of
chignon. I would much have preferred they had let
me die rather than cut my pretty hair, but I was not

I don't want to know anybody, nor go any^vhere
before it grows again and that I can hairdress nicely,
though a b

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