Russia met and sees off.. Augustine Deveria
Actress Augustine Deveria was not outstanding at her motherland France. The only reason was that there were too many charming young beauties in Paris who were talented enough and attractive with their pleasant voice and appearance. But the thirst for fame almost ate up the young woman, and once, one of her acquaintances among actors, offered Deveria travelling to far snowy and wild Russia, where, as he thought, she would shine with beauty among mediocre aborigines. So, Augustine Deveria was clever enough to avail herself of the advice, and in the beginning of winter in 1859 she moved to Saint Petersburg.
The French beauty was invited to the troupe of actors in the Michalowski theatre, where she was given a role in a popular operetta by Jacques Offenbach “Orpheus in the Underworld”. That debut became her triumph; Augustine Deveria immediately became an idol of the rougher sex of Saint Petersburg society. However, because of her absolute freedom of narrow-mindedness, the actress’s fame had rather scandalous air, but still it was enormous! Any time the French actress appeared on public or gave a performance it attracted people’s attention immediately. They loaded the actress with flowers and presents in order to be in the beauty’s good grace. There were rumors that admirers literally threw money at her feet just for the woman to walk up it with her beautiful legs.
All that passion went too far, many of the most active admirers of Augustine took enormous sum of money on credit in order to satisfy the actress’s whims and then they went bankrupt ruining utterly their families. The investigation of court took notice that Augustina Deveria more and more often appeared in court as a witness in proceedings of spending and bankruptcy. Finally that information reached Emperor Alexander II during one of weekly reports.
- Probably we should take that French in hand? – offered the chief of Saint Petersburg gendarmerie carefully.
- Never mind her! – Alexander Nikolayevich waved away. – is that her fault that fools are twining around?
However, soon after that Augustina Deveria’s benefice took place: she played the main role in operetta “Beautiful Helena” by Offenbach. Some of her admirers gave a splendid dinner in the honor of the actress. Tables in the restaurant were overloaded with exquisite appetizers and French vine, and as for Augustine, she sat in a comfortable chair and smiled to everybody who brought her jewelry as a present. By the end of the dinner the actress left the banquet room, but pretty soon she was back lying on a huge plate carried by six hefty waiters. Augustina lay surrounded by fruit and the only thing that covered her naked body was a diamond necklace. However, the most intimate places of her body were hid under grape leaves.
- Ladies and gentleman, – announced the beautiful maenad from the plate. – Now we’re going to conduct an auction! Any of you can buy fruit from this plate and touch my toe! Who’s the highest bidder?
You can image what kind of fever people fell into because of that original pate. Pretty soon all the fruit was sold out and Augustina was left covered by layers of money.
When the emperor was informed about that scandalous event, he didn’t laugh anymore. According to Emperor Alexander’s order Augustina Deveria got a hint that cold climate could be bad for her health. But at the same time there floated a rumor that those, who could not be present at the banquet after the benefice, wanted to pay for another one and for the following exotic dessert too. That time the emperor ordered to inform the impudent actress that in case she dared to repeat the scandalous party, she would be gladly received in Siberia where she could shine as long as she wanted. Augustine took the hint literally and after a week left Saint Petersburg, saying her farewell:
- Oh! Russia met me with heat of hearts despite cold and now sees me off with a threat of Siberian cold!