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My Double Life


XXX. — MY DEPARTURE FROM THE COMÉDIE FRANÇAISE—PREPARATIONS FOR
MY FIRST FIRST AMERICAN TOUR—ANOTHER VISIT TO LONDON
XXXI. — A TOUR IN DENMARK—ROYAL FAMILIES—THE "TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS"
OF SARAH BERNHARDT
XXXII. — EXPERIENCES AND REFLECTIONS ON BOARD SHIP FROM HÂVRE TO NEW
YORK
XXXIII. — ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK—AMERICAN REPORTERS—THE CUSTOM
HOUSE—PERFORMANCES
XXXIV. — AT BOSTON—STORY OF THE WHALE
XXXV. — MONTREAL'S GRAND RECEPTION—THE POET FRECHETTE—AN
ESCAPADE ON THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
XXXVI. — SPRINGFIELD—BALTIMORE—PHILADELPHIA—CHICAGO—
ADVENTURES BETWEEN ST. LOUIS AND CINCINNATI—CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
XXXVII. — NEW ORLEANS AND OTHER AMERICAN CITIES—A VISIT TO THE FALLS
OF NIAGARA
XXXVIII. — THE RETURN TO FRANCE—THE WELCOME AT HÂVRE
?
I. — CHILDHOOD
My mother was fond of travelling: she would go from Spain to England, from London
to Paris, from Paris to Berlin, and from there to Christiania; then she would come
back, embrace me, and set out again for Holland, her native country. She used to
send my nurse clothing for herself and cakes for me. To one of my aunts she would
write: "Look after little Sarah; I shall return in a month's time." A month later she
would write to another of her sisters: "Go and see the child at her nurse's; I shall be
back in a couple of weeks."
My mother's age was nineteen; I was three years old, and my two aunts were
seventeen and twenty years of age; another aunt was fifteen, and the eldest was
twenty-eight; but the last one lived at Martinique, and was the mother of six
children. My grandmother was blind, my grandfather dead, and my fa ther had been
in China for the last two years. I have no idea why he had gone there.
My youthful aunts always promised to come to see me, but rarely kept their word.
My nurse hailed from Brittany, and lived near Quimperlé, in a little white house with
a low thatched roof, on which wild gilly-flowers grew. That was the first flower
which charmed my eyes as a child, and I have loved it ever since. Its leaves are heavy
and sad-looking, and its petals are made of the setting sun.
Brittany is a long way off, even in our epoch of velocity! In those days it was the end
of the world. Fortunately my nurse was, it appears, a good, kind woman, and, as her
own child had died, she had only me to love. But she loved after the manner of poor
people, when she had time.
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