BY JOHN STRANGE WINTER (1856 - 1911)
She was called Gervaise Lecourt, and, as her name tells you, she was French. She was young, pitifully young, slight of form, transparently fair of skin, with blue eyes, and golden hair. Eleven years had gone over her sunny head, but in size she was not larger than a child of seven. Kith and kin she had none-to her knowledge. Rumor in the circus which made her world said that she had been sold by her parents for thirty francs: sometimes rumor put it that she had been stolen from her parents without any consideration of money.
If that was so, they had very little chance of tracing her, for she was described in the bills as "the little English Equestrienne," under the name of Maude Carrington. Ever since she could remember she had been Maude Carrington in the bills which announced the details of the performance given in the circus, and equally long she had been Gervaise in private life. Most of the people by whom she was surrounded had no knowledoe of her name of Lecourt: they called her "la petite," or "petite Gervaise» and sometimes "the little Englishwoman": but Gervaise knew no word of English, excepting her fanev name of Maude.
How shall I describe to vou what a life it was? Hard, yes: cruel, no; for, as a rule, French people are not cruel to children. À poor life, a wretched life, squalid and desolate in ...