**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Monde And Demi Monde
by [?]


Once upon a time in the city of Detroit there lived a society woman who was very wealthy. Her home was one of the most regal of the Woodward avenue mansions. Her aristocratic limbs were clothed in the softest of silks, her delicate hands were weighed down with costliest jewels, her retinue of servants were worthy the princely hospitalities she extended to those of her august order, and her charities–upon occasion–were as munificent as the gifts of gods.

This woman was very fair to look upon, and her life seemed a path of rose leaves upon which all the graces smiled. But there was a canker at the heart of all this loveliness, the deadly breath of the Upas tree sometimes pierced its incense, the hidden head of a coiled asp now and then stirred the laces nestling at her breast. And the tiny asp that slept on her heart was Rumor, that she could not kill, yet whose sting meant death. And when it moved, her lips whitened with fear, but she soothed it back to the warmth of slumber and strewed lavish gifts on the altar of charity. And then for awhile, the asp slept. And so it was that upon one of these occasions the asp moved restlessly, through the soft music of the cultured voices around her there crept an ominous hiss as the little green head parted the perfumed lace.

And the woman knew that her frailties were many and the hiss was Truth, and that all her loveliness was but a whited sepulcher that hid the ghastly bones of a murdered womanhood.

So with her jeweled hand she soothed the asp and gathered about her the women of her kind and told them that as the man of Nazarath had walked among the fallen so ought they. And these women arranged that they should go to the Magdalens of their city and teach them the error of their way and lead them gently into the treadmill of factory and sweat-shop to earn their daily bread and butter and olives.

So in a holy band of six they sought the gilded haunt of sin and asked Madame R—-if they might talk for a while with her-er-young ladies. The former smilingly acquiesced and they were courteously ushered into a stately drawing-room, where a number of the-er-young ladies listened with equally smiling interest to their dissertations on the beauties of a moral life. She of the asp moved to the rear of the drawing-room, where a woman with a delicate, refined face was sitting at a grand piano. Her eyes had a touch of tragedy and a great weariness in their depths, but as they rested gravely on her guest there was the faintest soupcon of amusement under their drooping lids. “My dear,” quoth the grande dame, very gently, “forgive me if I intrude on delicate ground, but I want to ask–to know–that is–,” very regretfully, “just tell me why do you lead a sinful life?”

The other woman was silent for a moment, then she spoke with equal gentleness:

“Madame, I was deserted when a girl-wife with a little child to support. I led this sinful life to support my baby and myself. And now, may I ask in return what is your reason?”

Here the chronicle ended, but the incident is still fresh in the memories of the City of the Straits’ most exclusive 150. It is reluctantly admitted by those who labor sincerely among the world’s unfortunates that the reformation of a fallen woman is more difficult than the twelve labors of Hercules. They are of two classes–the naturally depraved and the victim of circumstances. The former is utterly hopeless because her nature is too coarse-fibred to even realize, let alone heed, her own infamy. The latter is equally hopeless because she realizes too much. And how reform the half-world when society leads so gaily? “We dance along Death’s icy brink, but is the dance less fun?” If morals are lax for sheer amusement, among those of the purple, what wonder if Moses’ tablet grew dim to the people! Did the glorious and glittering sin of the French patricians teach the grisette patience with her lowly lot? Or did not her frantic fingers twist in the soft, perfumed tresses of proud heads, with shrieks for the guillotine the more fierce because of the toil-worn hands?