My destiny was to be born in London short after the beginning of the
German-French war 1865. My birth happened without any complications. I did not
even cause any undue interest, as I belonged to a family which numbered 14
people. At the gentle age of five, when I reached my home after school, I had
to give up swaggering and alter my correct school attitude. Who could be stiff
and well educated among a flock of overwhelming, lively children who were
brought up by humorous, courageous and understanding parents. We had no butler
or a nanny to calm us down and teach us to behave like well brought up
main memory is of happiness but there were few luxuries. Our father was a
writer and an artist. He also worked as a graphic artist for a London news
paper, but he didn’t earn enough to meet the needs of such a large family.
The celebration of the traditional Sunday meal followed a precise family
pattern. We children fetched from the pantry a shiny tin dish, which my mother
put into a sort of tub. Into this she poured boiling water. Doing this kept the
meat warmer for far longer time and especially helpt the unforgettable smell of
the roast to spread. The head of the family now started to share the tasty
slices of meat peaces between the 14 greedy mouths. These so called Sunday
feasts were the highlights in our live. At that time few other entertainments
were possible for children who came from a poorer families level. It was not
possible to amuse oneself in ways we now take for granted. To-day if somebody
feels lonely or bored they switched on the radio or the television.
When I reached the age of 8 years my
parents did send me to a convent school in St.James Square. To grow-up in this
carefree and well guarded world one had only one wish, to become a nun. My broad-minded
parents smiled and recommended patience.
At the age of 17 years I became more
and more restless and I wanted to earn my own living. At that time it was a
very difficult task to convince parents about the idea of independence for women.
This was an almost insolvable situation, of which my parents had no
understanding They strongly opposed my wish. My destiny was to be the same as
all other girls. I had to wait and to be patient until a man will crop up in my
life. Time passed and no Adonis applied for my heart even of my beauty and
prettiness. Already in the second last century the male creature had the instinct
and feeling ,for the so called, sound of money. Beside my education, I did not possess
any money !
had to turn over a new leaf in my live and so I searched help by questioning a
want to work” That was my simple request. “What are your ambitions ?” questioned
Mrs. Adams in a superior way staring into her tall book and thoughtfully
continuing to turn over one page after the other. Now I had to search for an
answer. Helplessly, I sorted out my ambitions and abilities and finally brought
more daylight into my thoughts. I tried to find out the most spectacular and
convincing answer.” I must put my shoulder to the wheel” was my conclusion but
I answered to Mrs Adams: “Praying is my ambition!”
The bitterness in Mrs. Adams face
turned into a ghostly expression as if she wanted to throw a veil over the
truth, but she continued to turn over the pages in her mysterious book.
she grasped with amazement, “is not a job one can lean on”.
Her fingers didn’t stop turning the pages over and over until : “In this
case your wish could be very helpful. I have here an occupation where praying
could be of great use. The Duchesse of Blois Kerseaten is searching for a girl
coming form a convent school and act as her companion. The village Finistère is
in the very west of France surely the most pretty spot on earth but cold and
“Oh ! I do not mind” I interrupted what she was saying with my emotional
enthusiasm by building castles in the air. I already saw myself fighting against
wind and weather. Not impressed by my interjection she continued: “The
conditions are favourable and the opportunity of living with a Baroness in a
castle offers an attractive and hopeful future ”.
I accept at once !” and again I interrupted her speech, with overwhelming
!”. She stared at me and my heart fell almost into my mouth. “You own me half a
crown for giving you this job ,for the correspondence and the recommendations”.
I was a little at a loss as I did not have one penny. I was as poor as a church
mouse. I had to forget the idea of the Baroness and the castle. To find such a
sum was at that time a dream. My pocket money was so little and I could in no
way ask my parents to lend me the money, as, a few days before, I had explained
to them that I wished to stand on my own feet.
lady did not let the cat out of her bag immediately and enjoyed my plight.
After an incredibly long time a slow smile spread over her face. She confessed
that the Baroness had already sent the money for a first class train-ticket and
that, as it would also be possible to travel by third train-class, and the
price difference would well cover Mrs. Adams costs.
the country of the blind the one eyed man is king” and not even my fathers fearful
warnings of hell and fire nor my mothers tears, could change my wish and vision
of living in a castle.
Click here for the second and third parts.