Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 189

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Page 189

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription THE PRIMA DONNAI89
on him, and after listening to his good-humoured reproaches at
what he was pleased to call my neglect of old friends, I plainly
told him what I came for. I wished an introduction to the Prima
"Ah, ha ! " said he "so you too are among the thousand In the
meshes of Mam'selle."
"She is then unmarried?" I exclaimed "she is not the wife of

"The little old Othello that has her in keeping! Well! of that
the least said the better. We know nothing. Enough to tell you
that she passes for his wife, and for aught that any body knows in
New York, she may be."
"But you call her 'Mam'selle?' "
"True, but that means nothing. A miss is always more attractive
in theatrical parlance than a mistress; and I have known, in Green
Room history, a woman who had buried eleven husbands, more or
less, who never once changed her maiden name in the bills! This
is only a trick of trade, and the stage, as you should know, has,
perhaps, a hundred and one tricks beyond any other craft or profes-
sion. Mam'selle is assuredly married to the little old Italian;
and if not married"
A shrug of the shoulder finished the sentence of my editorial
friend, very little to my satisfaction.
"The story goes," he continued, "that he happened upon the poor
girl in London, while in a state of great destitution, just after she
had lost a mother, or while the mother was in the last stages of
decay. That he provided them with present means, and availing
himself of their necessities, married the girl,"
"Against her will?" I interrupted.
"No not so against her wish, perhaps, but not against her will.
Destitution, and poverty, and hunger, have no will in such a place
as London; and famine will reconcile a girl, however lovely, to a
very strange connection. Mam'selle, who is English by birth, was
thus persuaded to couple with this Italian, who makes himself very
ridiculous here by his jealousies. He has already had a dozen quarrels
where he had no cause for one; for, though the girl is a sort of
rage at present —a distinction which she owes more to me than to
herself yet she is not deluded by applause, and takes it as humbly