Category Archives: Gimme butterfly kisses!

Smita Singh: “A page turner. A must read for all.” Read Smita’s full book review

Butterfly by Julie O’Yang, a book review by Smita Singh

{Smita Singh is the Chairperson and Treasurer of Vaani. She initiated the movement called Vaani, a platform for Asian women writers to meet, to exchange, to share ideas. She writes short stories, novels and blogs like mad! At the moment she teaches post graduate class in one of the colleges in London.}


I met Julie O’Yang, author of  Butterfly in Oct 2011. She had flown in from Netherlands to take part in the South Asian literature festival in London. I was pleasantly surprised by her unassuming and modest yet very confident attitude.

 Julie has published fiction and articles in various publications worldwide. Apart from being an author Julie is also a visual artist and Butterfly has some of her own illustrations in it.
The book cover shows a vague woman’s face underwater, a very artistic choice in keeping with the story.
Butterfly is a love story that spans life and death, magic and reality and parallel reality.
The author has woven mythology and history skilfully together to create a mysterious atmosphere in the story that keeps readers hooked till the end.
The butterfly motto has been used repeatedly to create and reinforce the idea that like a butterfly changes its form and gets reborn time and again, so does love in-spite of all the odds against it be it war, Nanking Massacre, or the darkest secret.
“They say butterfly fish was made by Bodhisattva Guan Yin after she had a strange dream. Guan Yin looked at the star-studded body hauling a fantail so black like ink spilled in water. At that moment a butterfly floated past her. One thing other fish don’t do, though. A real butterfly fish can change into a beautiful woman at night.”
The love scenes are infused with Chinese myths and strong imagery that gives it a mystical tinge.
“I decided to love him. I decided I would accept him for everything he was. I learned to forgive and how to forgive. The world happens, we can choose how much it happens. At the end of the day no-one loses or wins. There is no future living in the past. For all I know, we could start finding peace and happiness between two human beings. To love, to be loved is the true gift of our heart. Love is not mediocre. Love is our freedom.”
“You were pregnant by a man-killer, didn’t that bother you?”
The book is littered with metaphors and beautiful imagery that spell binds its readers and gives them wings to take them along on an unpredictable, conflicting journey of a butterfly.
I found it hard to put it down until the very end although the end itself is a bit lacking in clarity may be done so  intentionally by the author to maintain the aura of mystery.
The book Butterfly all in all reads like a Bestseller and the readers will find it a page turner. A must read for all.
Here is the original link of the review on Vaani London:
Order your print copy in Amazon or Barnes&Noble online store. Also available in all eBook formats, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo & all major ebook distributors across the world.
I  hope everyone that is reading me is having a really good day.

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Happy International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013. (Image: The last empress of China, Wan Rong, riding on a bicycle in the Forbidden City, c. 1910, Beijing)


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ODD features of Mega million me.

Check out he link & be sure to visit other tabs as well 🙂!/2013/01/butterfly-by-julie-oyang.html

Don’t be so quick to run, RABBIT, you are not finished with me yet. Here’s the plan.

Go to  Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order your print copy.

Butterfly, a novel by Julie O’Yang is also available in all eBook formats, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie


eSentral, the biggest eBook retailer in Southeast Asia, with stores in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and more countries in the region.

This is me >>>

Julie O’Yang is novelist and visual artist based in The Netherlands.
Born and brought up in China, Julie O’Yang came to Europe in 1990s to study at the University of London. Then she read Japanese Language and Culture at the University of Leiden, Holland, and Tokyo, Japan. Her fiction, short fiction, poetry and articles have appeared in publications worldwide.

She is nominated for 2012 Micro Awards.

Personally I would like to see “Micro” turning into “Mega million”. So see, you are not finished with me yet.

Have a good weekend!

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This town was built on nepotism, the old boy network. Because it is so.

One Imperative is a thematic Art/Lit zine curated by Jeremy Fernando, to which I’m a regular contributor. The past issue, Issue 9′s theme is Literary (re)view, it’s here:  However, I was worried that people didn’t pay attention at all, and still more important, something I read today on Facebook made me feel necessary to repost. This time I even did copy & paste. See how desperate I am to get my message across?

Tight-fisted words

(Integrating quotations from a literary text into a literary analysis)

By Julie O’Yang


“…The peonies in front of the entrance suggests something splendidly Chinese,”

spoke Lady Saisho.

“No,” I answered, “now that they dislike me so much, I start to dislike them too.”

“You must try to see the whole thing with a mild eye,” she smiled.

Afterwards I went to visit the Empress. I couldn’t find out what she

really thought about the matter. However, I caught her words when she

whispered to the Ladies: “Well, you know, she is on friendly terms with Minister

of the Left and his circle.”

While I was leaving the room, I saw they were busy gossiping. But as

soon as they saw me, they stopped talking all of a sudden and everyone

went back to work. I was not used to the way they treated me and felt

badly hurt. Since the incident, Her Majesty had sent for me several

times, and I ignored her requests and didn’t visit her again for a long

time. Undoubtedly, the Ladies insisted that I belonged to the side of her

enemies and they spread all sorts of lies about me.

From The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (清少納言), c. 966–1017


It is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him.

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond

reason the opinions of others.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own


I honestly think you should go back to earlier issues to find more one imperatives.  It’s from the energetic, sparkling Asia — because it is so — and it’s right here:

Jeremy Fernando is a Singaporean poet, writer, philosopher and critic, and his latest book, Writing Death, is an almost-perfect combination of these vocations. Recently described in a Singaporean magazine as “Asia’s Sexiest Philosopher”.

Because it is so.

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I thoroughly love online translation tools

Handwriting from 17th century. Nalan Xingde was a Machu poet, scholar and calligrapher.

Handwriting from 17th century. Nalan Xingde was a Machu poet, scholar and calligrapher.











The point is, well, some time back I was assigned by a Dutch TV production company to translate/localise a children’s television series for the Chinese market. A job’s a job, as  usual I started immediately. A few days later, my client telephoned me, and he complained a little bit about the “European” (=my) prices why is it necessary so and so. It turned out that a translation agency in Shanghai had approached him and quoted their current rates.

Of course, I went to check out the agency’s website at once and found an online translator. I typed in the poem by Nalan to be tough in the toughest sport of all ;P. This is the output:

Lights in mountain, “Sauvignon Blanc” (clear) a ride, water, a process the body to the elm off banks OK, late at night, 1,000 accounts lights. Wind, snow one more Mighty broken Township heart dream is not, Brideshead Revisited is no such sound.

Poetry  is what gets lost in translation? I don’t think so.

The moral of the story is I got the job in the end because I told my client I’m the best. He believed me. But I do love Shanghai translation tool!

“Translation is the art of failure.” Yes, Umberto Eco.

“The original is unfaithful to the translation.” Yes, Jorge Luis Borges.

“…but fantastic writing in translation is the summit.” Doubly so.  This line is dedicated to my/all translators.

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Oops I didn’t know I was pregnant

Life is getting more and more (in)tangible nowadays. For instance, this morning when I opened my gmail, I read an annunciation relating to the matter of immaculate faith & heart. It reads like this:






 […names I don’t know, so there’s no point to mention. Sorry.]

Science of Discontent: Julie O’Yang. Issue 68, November, 2012


Doug Mathewson, my dear Editor and good friend, it’s still very early in Holland and I didn’t prepare my Oscar speech before I went to bed last night (don’t have one in my drawer either). However I feel happy and blessed with my surprise pregnancy, I know that people are never convinced of your anything, of your sincerity, except by your death. I’m glad that my sincerity was answered with sincerity. I’m glad that you faked it, Doug, and I hope you don’t regret tomorrow. ;D


{The Micro Award is a literary prize, presented annually for outstanding flash fiction not exceeding 1000 words. The Micro Award was founded in 2008 by author Robert Laughlin to recognize outstanding flash fiction from both print and electronic media. The award is for $500.}

Here are two earlier posts you may want to check out:

1. Short and concise

2. Big and pretentious, but as always, I deserve an effort


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Your profoundly designed life insurance

Creativity is not about a nice interior or a nice wardrobe or a sense of design. It’s about a very subtle way to think and to realize, if this doesn’t work, then I can solve things in another way; confidence and flexibility. Creativity is like life insurance. If you are creative, you are never afraid, because you can design yourself out of any situation and give answers to difficult problems.

Li Edelkoort

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Top Japanese movies of the decade or your 2012/13 holiday survival kit

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakuishi ( Spirited Away) by Hayao Miyazaki

With the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Japanese English-language Metropolis magazine has put together a list of the best 10 Japanese films of the decade. And while most of them might be available with English-language variations outside of Japan, the others remain homegrown secrets – which movie experts here consider something of a shame.

The Japanese production Okuribito ( Departures) caught the movie world by surprise in February when it won the Oscar for best foreign language film, becoming the first Japanese movie to win in the category for more than 50 years and bringing international attention to other domestic productions. The subject matter of Okuribito also caught the industry by surprise – it is the tale of a classical musician who loses his job and goes to work in a funeral parlor – but it does serve to underline the depth and breadth of a domestic industry that is today a great deal more than Godzilla and sword-wielding samurai warrior titles.


Top of Metropolis list is Daremo Shiranai, which was released in 2004 and is known abroad as Nobody Knows. The work of famed director Hirokazu Koreeda, it tells the tale of two children who have to fend for themselves after being abandoned by their mother. Yuya Yagira was just 14 when he walked away from the Cannes Film Festival with the Best Actor award for his performance.

Second place was awarded to Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakuishi ( Spirited Away) by Hayao Miyazaki, the undisputed master of Japan’s animated movie scene. Released overseas as Spirited Away, it is Japan’s highest-growing movie of all time and was widely acclaimed as a masterpiece when it came out in 2001.

The 2008 title Tokyo Sonata is a powerful drama that starts out as the tale of a salaryman who loses his job and addresses many of the problems of contemporary Japan. Another animated film comes in fourth, with 2004’s Mind Game described as “mesmerizing” and “astounding.”

The oddly-named Fish Story opened in Japan in 2009 and wends together numerous strands into a single plot line, while the late director Kei Kumai oversaw the sixth film on the list, Nihon no Kuroi Natsu ( Darkness in the Light) in 2001. Vibrator, the tale of a promiscuous and confused women trying to come to terms with life, is in seventh place and won the Grand Prix for director Ryuichi Hiroki at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2003. Gururi no Koto ( All Around Us) was the work of Ryosuke Hashiguchi, Japan’s first openly gay filmmaker, and hit big screens to widespread acclaim here in 2008.

The final two places in the list of the best Japanese films of the decade go to Shinya Tsukamoto for Vital, the story of a medical student who loses his girlfriend and is then required to perform the autopsy on her after she is involved in a car accident, and Eureka, directed by Shinji Aoyama.

Source: The Independent

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When you have something to accomplish as an artist or a person, you have to trust yourself as if you were someone else. It’s selfish, it’s tough, it’s…fragile. 5 minutes of glory equals 10 hours of patience. It’s our inheritance. Don’t judge in haste or unfairly condemn the ego that is in fact a frightened child having too much responsibilities.

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Attraction/Aversion, a hairy X-mas tale

The Necklace

Guy de Maupassant

(Translated by eastoftheweb)

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman’s envious longings.

When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: “Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?” she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver,
tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.


One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand.

“Here’s something for you,” he said.

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words:

“The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th.”

Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring:

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“Why, darling, I thought you’d be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Every one wants one; it’s very select, and very few go to the clerks. You’ll see all the really big people there.”

She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: “And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?”

He had not thought about it; he stammered:

“Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me . . .”

He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth.

“What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with you?” he faltered.

But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wet cheeks:

“Nothing. Only I haven’t a dress and so I can’t go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall.”

He was heart-broken.

“Look here, Mathilde,” he persisted. “What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?”

She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk.

At last she replied with some hesitation:

“I don’t know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs.”

He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays.

Nevertheless he said: “Very well. I’ll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nice dress with the money.”

The day of the party drew near, and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy and anxious. Her dress was ready, however. One evening her husband said to her:

“What’s the matter with you? You’ve been very odd for the last three days.”

“I’m utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear,” she replied. “I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party.”

“Wear flowers,” he said. “They’re very smart at this time of the year. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses.”

She was not convinced.

“No . . . there’s nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women.”

“How stupid you are!” exclaimed her husband. “Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that.”

She uttered a cry of delight.

“That’s true. I never thought of it.”

Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble.

Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took up a large box, brought it to Madame Loisel, opened it, and said:

“Choose, my dear.”

First she saw some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror, hesitating, unable to make up her mind to leave them, to give them up. She kept on asking:

“Haven’t you anything else?”

“Yes. Look for yourself. I don’t know what you would like best.”

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetously. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon her high dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself.

Then, with hesitation, she asked in anguish:

“Could you lend me this, just this alone?”

“Yes, of course.”

She flung herself on her friend’s breast, embraced her frenziedly, and went away with her treasure. The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her.

She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart.

She left about four o’clock in the morning. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room, in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away, so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs.

Loisel restrained her.

“Wait a little. You’ll catch cold in the open. I’m going to fetch a cab.”

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the staircase. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab; they began to look for one, shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance.

They walked down towards the Seine, desperate and shivering. At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.

It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. It was the end, for her. As for him, he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten.

She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck!

“What’s the matter with you?” asked her husband, already half undressed.

She turned towards him in the utmost distress.

“I . . . I . . . I’ve no longer got Madame Forestier’s necklace. . . .”

He started with astonishment.

“What! . . . Impossible!”

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it.

“Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?” he asked.

“Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry.”

“But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall.”

“Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?”

“No. You didn’t notice it, did you?”


They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again.

“I’ll go over all the ground we walked,” he said, “and see if I can’t find it.”

And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought.

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing.

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies, everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him.

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe.

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing.

“You must write to your friend,” he said, “and tell her that you’ve broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. That will give us time to look about us.”

She wrote at his dictation.


By the end of a week they had lost all hope.

Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

“We must see about replacing the diamonds.”

Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. He consulted his books.

“It was not I who sold this necklace, Madame; I must have merely supplied the clasp.”

Then they went from jeweller to jeweller, searching for another necklace like the first, consulting their memories, both ill with remorse and anguish of mind.

In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand.

They begged the jeweller not to sell it for three days. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs, if the first one were found before the end of February.

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow the rest.

He did borrow it, getting a thousand from one man, five hundred from another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes of hand, entered into ruinous agreements, did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, risked his signature without even knowing if he could honour it, and, appalled at the agonising face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller’s counter thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in a chilly voice:

“You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it.”

She did not, as her friend had feared, open the case. If she had noticed the substitution, what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief?


Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof.

She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to get her breath. And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money.

Every month notes had to be paid off, others renewed, time gained.

Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant’s accounts, and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page.

And this life lasted ten years.

At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer’s charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago, of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired.

What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!

One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.

Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not?

She went up to her.

“Good morning, Jeanne.”

The other did not recognise her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman.

“But . . . Madame . . .” she stammered. “I don’t know . . . you must be making a mistake.”

“No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel.”

Her friend uttered a cry.

“Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed! . . .”

“Yes, I’ve had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on your account.”

“On my account! . . . How was that?”

“You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?”

“Yes. Well?”

“Well, I lost it.”

“How could you? Why, you brought it back.”

“I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realise it wasn’t easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it’s paid for at last, and I’m glad indeed.”

Madame Forestier had halted.

“You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”

“Yes. You hadn’t noticed it? They were very much alike.”

And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.

“Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . ”

Kerry Howley, necklace made from human hair

Kerry Howley, necklace made from human hair

Merry Christmas!


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