Clockwork 1888 Monday, April 22, through Friday, June 14, 1889
Julia Vautrain and Lerwick Shrewsbury met them in New York. The Fellowship had informed them of the team’s pending departure and Julia wanted to spend a little time with her step-father/uncle before he returned to England. They had a few days before their ship, left on April 25. They went over to Manhattan and then Staten Island to see the sights there.
As they walked around, they saw a young woman taking photographs. They asked if she could photograph them. The young woman introduced herself as Alice Austen as she set up her tripod and camera equipment. With them placed as directed, she proceeded to take the photograph. She’d send them prints when she developed it.
They asked what she was photographing. Austen said that her subject was daily life of the people of New York. She documented upper middle-class society on Staten Island and lower-class people living in New York’s Lower East Side. Archibald appreciated the artistic aspect and others the historical value of her work.
They returned to the United Kingdom in saloon class of the SS Celtic, another ship in the White Star line. Archibald spent a lot of the sea journey writing his next theatrical production. Although there was some concern from his shipmates, he was out and about enough to belay their concerns. He really was working on his next production for the theater and wasn’t just under the spell of some fairy creature. The others used the week-long trip to relax after an eventful visit across the pond.
The Celtic arrived at Liverpool on Friday, May 3. Of course, Priscilla was waiting there with Adoline, Brina Adalbjorg, and Fen Chin. As they disembarked, Fredryck heard his name excitedly called out. Nobody was ever more excited to see Fredryck than Adoline. She ran up to Fredryck as he cleared the gangway and threw her arms around him.
Not concerned with formalities, Adoline planted a long kiss upon his lips before whispering how much she missed him. Fen, on the other hand, waited patiently for Bartley to walk from the gangplank to their location before shyly, formally greeting him and the others. To respect her father and herself, she dared not act the unruly schoolgirl like Adoline. But Fen smiled broadly when Bartley gave her the sketch of himself from the Britannic.
Taking carriages to the train station, they made their way to London via train. They chatted about their travels to America until they arrived in London. Resolving to get together soon, Archibald, Evgenia, Dracona and Priscilla boarded the carriage and left with James Stalwart, the Yermak family butler, who met them at the train station.
Fredryck got in the Benz Patent Motowagen with Adoline and Brina, insisting he drive after having not being able to for over three months. Adoline insisted on sitting next to Fredryck. Zhang was at the train station with a carriage to pick up Fen and take Bartley to his residence.
Arriving home, Evgenia found that Priscilla had been able to maintain the appearance that Yermak Investigations was still open for business. As she’d learned in telegrams, the French detective, Remy Louisel, had come in for about 6 weeks to help handle the building case load. They cases were the usual suspecting wife or girlfriend wanting their husband or prospective husband watched and reported on.
Archibald’s theater had made a good run of the last production schedule and was ready for his latest guidance on what shows they would produce next. The play he’d written on his journey still needed some polish but might be ready for the next season. Otherwise, things were in order and the staff had performed well in his absence.
Dracona returned to find her typical public performance spot taken by a young boy that played the harp. The instrument was as tall as the boy but he played with definitive talent. The mime, a block up the road, had apparently joined her routine with a man that performed illusions. She acted as his mute assistant. As Dracona watched the performance, it did have some tricks with fire.
The boy playing the harp seemed to have a natural talent for the instrument. So, Dracona approached him about a possible deal. They could work together, share the spot and time and split the income. “Well, you know that the music can make or break a show,” the young entrepreneur informed.
“I have a fire breathing act,” she informed. “I’ll have to split what I get with you,” he confirmed. “I’ll tell you what,” Dracona said. “I’ll take 20% of the income.” She could tell that the young entrepreneur was surprised by her offer. But, he tried to hide it as he seemed to think.
“Well, the magician down there seems to get a good reaction from the crowd with the little fire things he does.” He seemed to think more. “All right, but if we start drawing more I’ll probably have to increase your share. That would only be fair,” he concluded. “And you only get paid when you perform,” he added.
“And, one more thing,” the boy said. “I have to tell people about the harp shop on High Street.” “Do you have a name,” she inquired. “Ovila,” he stated. “Dracona,” she introduced. “Do you have a surname?” she inquired. He thought a moment. “Do you?” “Good enough,” she smiled as they shook hands on their deal.
Fredryck had plenty to report to his superior, the Duke of Cambridge. By the time he reported in, the Duke had received word that Deputy Sheriff-Coroner Fabian Williams had been recruited into the Fellowship. As Fredryck had been on “official” business in America, he was due for some time off. But, with Fredryck knowing how anxious Adoline was to attend the World Fair in Paris, he opted to take his leave when she’d be on holiday from Oxford. The Duke agreed and Fredryck returned to his usual Grenadier Guard duties.
Oxford’s summer holiday began on May 31 and Adoline was free from her studies. After seeing the Eiffel Tower under construction, she was anxious to go to the World Fair to see the completed structure. They planned their trip to France and Fredryck’s leave. Adoline’s mother invited them all to stay at the Clemenceau residence while they were in France.
With everything back under normal operations, Evgenia and Archibald decided that they could take a couple weeks off, too. Dracona had decided to move her street performance and it proved painless. So, if somebody took her latest spot while she was gone for two weeks, she’d have no problem moving, again.
Bartley inquired about Zhang and Fen going, too. Zhang insisted that somebody had to stay to take care of the shop. But, he allowed Bartley to take Fen. He would go later, when Fen would take care of the shop.
They arrived on June 8 and got settled in. Adoline’s mother spent time catching up with Adoline and the other women. Adoline’s father, the French statesman George Clemenceau, encouraged the men to visit a cabaret with him. After an adequate amount of formal chit chat with their hosting family, they went to the fair for their first day on Monday, June 10.
They spent the entire first day at the Eiffel Tower. The Clemenceau political pull allowed them to visit Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in his tower top suite. They were surprised to see the Prince of Wales and five members of his family there at the same time. At noon they visited the Figaro Printing House on level 2 where they each signed the register. They took their meals in the first floor restaurants.
The Central Dome was like a huge cathedral with fantastic paintings and architecture throughout. The History of Habitation display featured sample homes from a multitude of cultures including Romanesque, medieval, and Renaissance periods. Countries from all over the world had streets devoted to them.
Various villages and streets represented numerous countries from around the world. This included Argentina, an African village, a Canadian Indian village and a Javanese village, to name only a few. The African village alone used about 400 people. Of special interest were the regional costumes of the indigenous peoples who were brought in to participate in the cultural exhibits. And, native dancing was part of the cultural exhibits, too.
A central attraction in the French section was the Imperial Diamond, the largest brilliant in the world. But, especially popular was Cairo Street. Adoline spent some time on Cairo Street watching the scandalous “la danse du ventre” (belly dancing) by the “almees” and listening to the music which, to some, sounded more like noise. That evening, she whispered to Fredryck as they parted ways for the evening, “Once we’re wed, I’ll do “la danse du ventre” privately for you.”
Conspicuously absent were the English and Germans. They surmised that because England and Germany still had monarchs, and the 1889 exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French revolution, those two chose not to participate. Perhaps it was because England and Germany didn’t see the wisdom in celebrating the decapitation of royalty.
In the expansive Gallery of Machines, they each took home a wax drum recording from Thomas Edison’s booth. They also saw the practical electric lights and took turns turning the hand crank to view the moving pictures through the eyepiece at “The Wizard of Menlo Park” area. And they made sure to travel above all the machinery on the electric powered moving platform around the perimeter.
Bartley insisted on seeing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show with Annie Oakley. He also marveled that only the Canadians had an American Indian display. Archibald wouldn’t miss Jules Massenet’s comic opera, Esclarmonde, and the art displays. Adoline noticed the work of Berthe Morisot, the woman impressionist, which was shown at the Fair. There seemed to be a fascination with ‘l’art du nu’ (the art of the nude or ‘naked art’), too, although the French found it less appalling than most.
It was Thursday when they returned from the fair and a sealed envelope was waiting for them at the Clemenceau household. The Clemenceau butler said that it was delivered by a woman who identified herself as Remy Louisel. Archibald, Bartley, Dracona, Evgenia, and Fredryck excused themselves from the company of the others to examine the contents.
Opening the envelope, Fredryck peered at the letter. “Read this for us, Dracona,” he said holding it out to her. “Oh, wait, you can’t,” he chastised. “That’s why you should go to school.” Evgenia snatched the letter from him and scowled at his chastising Dracona.
“Enclosed is an invitation to a private dance performance at famed actress Sarah Bernhardt’s home at 6 pm on Friday, June 14, 1889,” the she read the enclosed letter. “The performer is a relatively unknown novice, Caroline ‘La Belle’ Otero. That is her stage name.”
“Her real name appears to be Agustina Otero Iglesias,” she continued. “She is performing some sort of eastern spiritualist dancing. We are suspect of this woman’s activities as some of the people that have attended her past performances have started to act strangely in their public affairs afterwards.”
“Look into the matter to see if she is doing something supernatural to her audiences and report back to me at the Grand hotel in downtown Paris on Tuesday, June 18. I have booked you rooms at that same hotel for the entire week.” It was signed, “Dr. Bernard Olivert.”
After discussing it, they decided to take Adoline, Brina and Fen to the event. According to Archibald, it wouldn’t be fair to deny them meeting Sarah Bernhardt, “the most famous actress the world has ever known.” When they told Adoline, her father chimed in that he was going to that event, too. So, on Friday they checked into the Grand hotel in Paris and got ready for the formal party at Sarah Bernhardt’s.
When they arrived, they were shown into the enormous greenhouse area out back. There were about 30 guests milling about talking and drinking champagne with more arriving. They had a good hour to talk to the other guests. All of the guests were in formal wear with some, like Fredryck, wearing military uniforms with sabers and side arms.
With their knowledge of various topics and a little listening, they were able to come up with a list of the guests. There was the young literary critic, Rene Boylesve, who was soon to finish law school. The reporter George du Parcq was there as well as Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who ran a daily paper and a French monarchist.
Emile Guimet and his wife, Marthe were there. They opened Musee Guimet in Paris with co-founder Louis-Emile Bertin in 1888. Other guests included Ernst Molier of the French circus, Cirque Molier, Gaston Menier, a chocolate magnate, Maitre Edouard Clunet, a famous lawyer, and Bete Enclairage, a gentleman of 45 years of age who dressed impeccably in the fashion of the day.
Artists included the French Impressionist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his girlfriend, Aline Victorine Charigot, Emilio Sala y Francés, a Spanish painter with art displayed at the fair, Rene Jules Lalique, a French glass artist, and the French opera singer, Emma Calve. Baron Wilhelm Eduard Freiherr Von Schoen, the German ambassador to Russia, was attending as was his friend representing British diplomacy, Charles Hardinge. Baron Etienne van Zuylen and his wife Helene were there. He was a banker who married into the Rothschild family by marrying Helene Rothschild. But then her parents disowned her for marrying a Roman Catholic.
The hostess, Sarah Bernhardt, arrived just before 6 pm. A servant rang a triangle near the front of the seating where she stood. She was dressed in an elegant black gown with long ropes of expensive pearls, a chrysanthemum pinned to her chest and a red hat with tall feathers.
“Thank you all for coming,” she said in French. “I have the pleasure of bringing to you a performance by a lady who I’m sure will captivate Paris. I have had the pleasure of seeing her perform at the Musee Guimet and was most impressed, as I’m sure you will be. Please take your seats and I will present to you, Madam La Belle Otero.”
The guests all filed into the seating and a few minutes later, the lights dimmed. The curtains surrounding the stage area were about to be opened when music started playing from behind the curtains. The music had an Asian flair to it and started softly with a slow tempo featuring flutes, light strings, brass triangles, bells and cymbals. The curtains parted and a woman dressed in brightly colored veils was revealed.
Around her was a realistic recreation of a Hindu jungle temple complete with live vines, archaeological antique pillars, a three foot tall statue of four armed Shiva the Destroyer, and a lit brass candelabrum with a bowl of burning oil below it. To the each side of the woman are two other dancers dressed in black saris. The other dancers were obviously chosen for their facial plainness so as not to compete with La Belle Otero.
Otero was collapsed upon herself on the floor and started moving gently to the music, slowly rising from the floor with the music as a guide. The dance was filled with sensuous movements and the veils twirled with her. Her hypnotizing dance personified the mystic nature of India.
Slowly she discarded veils and eventually revealed a sensuous and curvaceous woman. She was strikingly beautiful and statuesque. Her dance was directed toward the statue. Occasionally the other dancers tried to appeal to Shiva as well, only to be rebuffed by Otero who then intensified her attention on the statue.
While the outfit Otero wore was revealing, it still covered her at that point. The dance continued with a dreamlike quality and they felt a bit tired from watching the movements. Eventually, as she continued to toss away veils, she was nude with the exception of her bejeweled metal brassiere, armbands, headband and a body stocking covering her private area.
Their knowledge of spell craft told them that Otero was not casting a spell. And, while she wasn’t casting a spell, many of the dance movements and hand gestures were certainly very similar to spell casting. Fredryck could tell that the dance movements, music, and hand gestures had been taken from numerous authentic Hindu and other eastern religious dances and rituals, especially the holy asparas from the Hindu scriptures. Those had been cobbled together into a fluid dance that Otero was performing. However, the parts where she slowly discarded her clothes were not part of any credible religious or spell casting ritual.
In spite of all that, Evgenia could sense that something on the stage was going on. She sensed that some kind of charm was being used. So, Bartley secretly cast a spell to detect magical auras.
The spell initially revealed the presence of magic, then the presence of numerous magical auras and that it was overwhelming. Continuing to concentrate, he noticed auras among the attendees. But, when he focused on the stage he could only detect the overwhelming magic as being from the stage in general. Perhaps that was due to the overwhelming and unusual nature of the magic.
So, he made a mental note about who in the audience had a magical aura. The circus man Ernst Molier, the chocolatier Gaston Menier, and the van Zuylen couple seemed affected. Emma Calve, Baron Meyer and the lawyer Clunet were also affected. So were the reporter George du Parcq, the glass artist Lalique and their hostess, The Divine Sarah.
Observing the audience, some of the men in the group had never seen such an arousing dance and some of the women seemed slightly aghast at the boldness of her dance. Yet some of those same women seemed simultaneously envious. Gasps of pleasure escaped from many of the people in the audience and it was clear why Otero might take Paris by storm.
After the dance, there was much applause as the stage curtains were drawn. The hostess invited everyone to stay in the jungle atmosphere for refreshments and La Belle Otero would join them soon. Almost everyone stayed, hoping to talk to the lady for a few moments and to see if her popularity would rub off on them.
The refreshments and light snacks were served by Sumatran servant girls dressed in traditional Indian saris. People milled about in the strange surroundings for a while. Some left when La Belle Otero didn’t show up right away.
About 30 minutes after the performance, La Belle Otero finally showed up wearing an elegant white dress that was quite risque in the bodice region. She was led around by her hostess, The Divine Sarah, and talked to several people before making her way to your group. Sarah Bernhardt introduced them to La Belle Otero and then looked at them expectantly.
They could tell that Sarah didn’t know them to introduce them to Otero. They could tell that she probably wondered who invited them because she should know everyone there. They also sensed that she was too graceful a hostess to cause a scene because of it.
“Sir Fredryck Stanley of England, son of Lord Stanley of Preston, the 16th Earl of Derby, 6th Governor General of Canada,” Fredryck began. Otero took obvious note of him and his family station. “And my fiance Miss Adoline Clemenceau,” he quickly emphasized as he saw Otero’s reaction. Evgenia, Bartley and Dracona introduced themselves to their hostess and Otero. “Archibald Barisol, owner and manager of the Barisol Theatre in London, playwright, consummate actor, servant to the arts, modest devotee of our hostess, The Divine Sarah, and appreciative admirer of our enchanting dancer, at your service,” Archibald eloquently introduced himself.
Evgenia noticed that Otero politely seemed to ignore them as her attention shifted to and focused on Archibald. Otero introduced herself as “Caroline Otero.” She fawned over Archibald, listening to his every word, taking his arm and holding herself close to him. She was extremely well versed with the upper social class and fit in beautifully with conversation taken along that tact.
She talked to Archibald claiming she was born in India. They could tell that was a fabrication but she must have read about the country extensively. She claimed that her mother was a dancer in a temple dedicated to Shiva the dancer. But, again, she most probably studied the dances and temple diagrams extensively.
Otero claimed to be consecrated to Shiva’s service. Even Dracona knew that claim was not to be believed. Then Otero claimed to be distantly related to royalty. Evgenia recalled hearing that Otero had reportedly married an Italian nobleman, Count Guglielmo, when she was 14.
“My dance is a Hindu poem based on Hindu spirituality and has been performed for over two thousand years in Shiva’s name,” Otero explained to Archibald. “The movements represent the sacred texts of Shiva. The temple that The Divine Sarah has recreated with the help of Monsieur Guimet is a fair representation of the temple I danced in.”
“Monsieur Guimet most graciously provided the authentic columns, candelabra, statue, costumes, jewelry and sarongs for the stage and dancers,” Sarah confirmed. “But, the true temple of Shiva is my body,” Otero informed as she pressed her body against Archibald. “So, my dance can be performed anywhere and it is still as spiritual as it would be in an original temple.”
“The dance movements, music, and hand gestures were from numerous authentic Hindu and Asian dances,” Fredryck informed, “that you’ve cobbled together. But I don’t think disrobing was part of any credible religious ritual.” Adoline squeezed Fredryck’s arm slightly, hoping his words would not offend the dancer or their hostess.
Otero seemed to ignore Fredryck’s comments. “I’ve been invited to perform at the garden of a villa in Neuilly in three weeks for a group of women who call themselves Amazons,” she told. Archibald could tell that Otero was very excited about that. “At my premiere at the Musee Guimet last month, I met many interesting people who are here tonight as well.”
Maintaining her grip on Archibald, she ran through the list of those in her prior audience. “Ernst Molier, from Cirque Molier, a very successful circus, Gaston Menier the chocolate magnate, Baron van Zuylen, he’s in banking and his wife Helene, she’s … interesting. Emma Calve the opera singer; Baron Arthur Meyer, a journalist who runs a daily newspaper and a French monarchist; George du Parcq, a reporter, not very famous, but very nice; Maitre Clunet, a very talented lawyer; Rene Lalique, a glass artist, and of course, our hostess Sarah Bernhardt.”
Eventually, Otero reluctantly excused herself from Archibald’s arm. “It looks like there are many more important people here tonight. I’d best keep mingling, but I’d love to see you again!” “I’d be delighted for your company afterwards,” she said. “I’m staying at the Grand hotel,” she whispered as she left Archibald.
Otero sauntered over to where the two ambassador types were conversing. Archibald rejoined the others to discuss what they’d observed so far. Some of the people from Otero’s prior performance were being influenced in an unusual way.
After a minute or so, Charles Hardinge started yelling at the German ambassador to Russia. “You will apologize this instant,” Hardinge demanded. “How dare you speak so inappropriate to Lady Otero!” he shouted in indignation.
Fredryck and the others quickly made their way over to the two ambassadors. Adoline, Brina and Fen encouraged other guests to go in the opposite direction, intent on taking cover if shooting started. Otero seemed genuinely surprised and took a step back. They could tell that she had no idea what was going on.
The two men traded barbs for barely a moment before they both pulled pistols and pointed them at one another. “Gentlemen, this is not the place for this,” Fredryck said as he moved up next to the two men and tried to diplomatically diffuse the situation. “We can settle this properly outside, away from our hostess and her guests, if you really must do this now.”
It was enough to delay their shooting each other for the moment he needed. He quickly snatched the pistol away from the German and then the Englishman before they could react. In outraged frustration, the German pulled his saber. “You will rue the day you insulted me,” he claimed as he wildly waved the saber at the Englishman.
Archibald tried his best to diplomatically calm the two men. If it were a normal situation, he was sure they’d have ceased their hostilities. But, things were far from usual. The Englishman drew his saber and stabbed the German in the shoulder.
As the stabbing occurred, Emilio Sala y Francés, the Spanish painter, was no longer able to contain his excitement. He gesticulated with his hands and yelled in French, “Maintenant ce est un parti (Now it’s a party)!” Dracona moved in to protect and shield Otero and Bernhardt as Bartley got close enough and readied his sword cane to parry future blows.
Fredryck dropped the pistols behind him and Evgenia quickly kicked them away and into the corner of the greenhouse. Then, he attempted the same feat he’d accomplished with the pistols. Striking German’s grip, he snatched the saber from him. But the Englishman had seen the trick and stabbed Fredryck in the arm as he attempted to snatch the second saber.
The German readied to start fisticuffs against his sword wielding opponent. The Englishman went to stab at the German but Bartley parried the blow with his sword cane and disarmed him. With diplomacy, civility and reason clearly lost on the two crazed diplomats, Archibald roughly bull rushed the German, shoving him away from the Englishman, out of the way of further harm and to the ground.
“The Gendarmes have been summoned,” Sarah informed as one of her servants made haste away from the greenhouse. The German sat up, apparently confused as to why he was on the ground. The Englishman, too, looked disoriented and confused. “Monsieur von Shoen, are you all right?” the Englishman said with utmost concern and civility toward his friend. The two seemed to have little recollection of the prior moments.