Friday, July 21, 2006

Boil 1.97 continued

After ten weeks, Caraboo's former employer read about, and recognized, her. She was Mary Baker, an unemployed servant who could read and write a little and possessed a vivid fantasy life (she was recalled as a teller of alarmingly exciting bedtime stories for children). Adrift and workless, she had noticed some French lace-makers with a "peculiar head-dress", and had emulated them by putting a shawl on her head. Prompted by this "turban", the rest had followed. Baker was forgiven by her hosts, travelled to America (where she appeared on the public stage as "Caraboo", her imposture now accepted as dramatic performance), and wrote an autobiography doubtless as unreliable as the conjectures of the literati about her Oriental origins. Portraits drawn after her unmasking show an ordinary woman with full lips, dark eyes and a large nose. The fascinating, angelic countenance had been a product of the cross-cultural mystery evoked by her masquerade.
G. Lindop, ibid.


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