A Blupete Biography Page

A Foreign Trip, Part 6
Adele Hugo

Adele for most of 1862, steamed; her family fretted. At the first of that year, as we have seen, she and her mother had undoubted evidence that Pinson was not only not interested in marrying her but effectively deserted her by traveling far away to Halifax, then a British military outpost on the eastern coast of Canada. The year passed into the following year. It is not known whether there was any correspondence between Adele and Pinson. In that year, 1863, Adele refused yet another marriage proposal by an Italian poet.43 That summer, Adele, it seems, made up her mind to go to Halifax and face Pinson. Before July, Adele, again with her family thinking she was to meet up with a family member in Europe, took ship for Weymouth, England. Then she took passage for New York on the Great Eastern.44 At the end of July, she took the New York mail packet for Halifax.

So it was, that in late July of 1863, a woman checked into the Halifax Hotel on Hollis Street. She registered herself as "Miss Lewly." Those who took notice of her, came to know her as "the mysterious French Miss," in time, as "Madame Pinson." Adele did not stay long at the Halifax Hotel. Likely with a view to preserving her money, she went and boarded with a Halifax family, the Saunders. Apparently she befriended a French cook at the hotel and it was through this French cook that she was introduced to Mrs Saunders.45 Her room in the Saunders home was furnished by Adele herself. She ate little and her diet consisted mainly of "bread, butter and chocolate." At first the Saunders had no idea that Miss Lewly was the daughter of the famous Victor Hugo; she was, to them, a poor lady who they often assisted with a free meal. She spent much time in her room, alone, filling up reams of paper with her writings. ("Her handwriting was most beautiful, -- like copper-plate impressions.") "She took no care of her room, and utterly neglected her person and clothing." It seems that when she first arrived at Halifax she arrived with trunks of fine clothing, "silks, velvets, and ball-dresses."

Adele wrote to her family at Guernsey to advise of her new situation. The family was led to believe that she had married Pinson in England before coming out to Halifax, though in time she advised her brother, Fancois-Victor, that in fact no marriage had taken place.46 Money was sent to her on a monthly basis.

Adele devoted all her time seeking Pinson. She sent notes to him daily, but without effect. Gradually she drove herself insane trying to return to the halcyon days when she had first met Pinson. Not a thing worked for her; the more she tried to regain the love of Pinson, the more he spurned her. At first, Pinson did deal with her, his servant delivered his letters to her, and, indeed, he did make visits to her in her room. While history has bolted the door as to what passed between them, what seems clear is that eventually Pinson refused to respond to her entreaties. During her two year stay in Halifax "she was chiefly engaged in dogging her lover by night and by day, but without success. ... She was eccentric to a remarkable degree. In going out of the house she was invariably closely veiled. Sometimes at night she used to disguise herself in male apparel, and walk through the streets wearing a tall hat and flourishing a delicate cane."47

Dow wrote of Adele's radical changes in her behaviour:

"She had become virtually incapable of caring for herself and was so obviously unbalanced that the Mottons [another couple Adele came to stay with, her lawyer's parents] wrote a frank letter to Francois-Victor [her brother] describing her symptoms. Adele, they said, was refusing almost all food out of share parsimony, would not allow a fire to be lit in her room, and bathed infrequently. She lived, they said, very nearly like an animal. Her magnificent hair, which had once hung to the floor, had become so matted, dirty, and vermin-infested that Robert Motton, Sr., had called not only a hairdresser, but a doctor as well. Nothing could be done, he reported to Francois-Victor, but to cut it. Even more disturbing was Adele's recently acquired habit of pacing almost continually back and forth in her room, often talking to herself in a loud voice. More than once the Mottons endured her shouting far into the night, and their hearts went out to the troubled young women whom they did not know how to help."48


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