Lola’s husband was violently in love with her, but, unfortunately, others were no less susceptible to her charms. She was presented at the vice-regal court, and everybody there became her victim. Even the viceroy, Lord Normanby, was greatly taken with her. This nobleman’s position was such that Captain James could not object to his attentions, though they made the husband angry to a degree. The viceroy would draw her into alcoves and engage her in flattering conversation, while poor James could only gnaw his nails and let green-eyed jealousy prey upon his heart. His only recourse was to take her into the country, where she speedily became bored; and boredom is the death of love.
Later she went with Captain James to India. She endured a campaign in Afghanistan, in which she thoroughly enjoyed herself because of the attentions of the officers. On her return to London in 1842, one Captain Lennox was a fellow passenger; and their association resulted in an action for divorce, by which she was freed from her husband, and yet by a technicality was not able to marry Lennox, whose family in any case would probably have prevented the wedding.
Mrs. Mayne says, in writing on this point:
Even Lola never quite succeeded in being allowed to commit bigamy unmolested, though in later years she did commit it and took refuge in Spain to escape punishment.
The same writer has given a vivid picture of what happened soon after the divorce. Lola tried to forget her past and to create a new and brighter future. Here is the narrative:
Her Majesty’s Theater was crowded on the night of June 10,1843. A new Spanish dancer was announced—“Dona Lola Montez.” It was her debut, and Lumley, the manager, had been puffing her beforehand, as he alone knew how. To Lord Ranelagh, the leader of the dilettante group of fashionable young men, he had whispered, mysteriously:
“I have a surprise in store. You shall see.”
So Ranelagh and a party of his friends filled the omnibus boxes, those tribunes at the side of the stage whence success or failure was pronounced. Things had been done with Lumley’s consummate art; the packed house was murmurous with excitement. She was a raving beauty, said report—and then, those intoxicating Spanish dances! Taglioni, Cerito, Fanny Elssler, all were to be eclipsed.
Ranelagh’s glasses were steadily leveled on the stage from the moment her entrance was imminent. She came on. There was a murmur of admiration—but Ranelagh made no sign. And then she began to dance. A sense of disappointment, perhaps? But she was very lovely, very graceful, “like a flower swept by the wind, she floated round the stage”—not a dancer, but, by George, a beauty! And still Ranelagh made no sign.
Yet, no. What low, sibilant sound is that? And then what confused, angry words from the tribunal? He turns to his friends, his eyes ablaze with anger, opera-glass in hand. And now again the terrible “Hiss-s-s!” taken up by the other box, and the words repeated loudly and more angrily even than before—the historic words which sealed Lola’s doom at Her Majesty’s Theater: “Why, it’s Betty James!”