At sixteen years of age she had a child by an unknown father, and two years later was installed in a flat in Boulevard Haussmann by a rich merchant of Moscow, who had come to pass the winter in Paris. Bordenave, the director of the Theatre des Varietes, gave her a part in a play called La Blonde Venus, and though her voice was poor and she was ignorant of acting, she was by the sheer force of her beauty an immediate and overwhelming success. All Paris was at her feet; Comte Muffat, Steiner, the Prince of Scots himself, came in turn to offer homage. It seemed as if this girl, born of four or five generations of drunkards and brought up on the pavements of Paris, was to revenge her race upon the idle rich by the wild extravagances into which she dragged them. Muffat and Steiner were her lovers, and ruined themselves by the vast sums which she squandered; Georges Hugon killed himself from jealousy of his brother Philippe, who embezzled for her sake, and brought himself to imprisonment and disgrace; Vandeuvres too, after courting dishonour, met death at his own hand; and Foucarmont, stripped bare and cast off, went to perish in the China seas. The procession was unending; more money was always required. After a successful appearance in a play called Melusine, Nana suddenly left Paris and went to the East. Strange stories were told of her—the conquest of a viceroy, a colossal fortune acquired in Russia—but nothing definite was known. When she returned to Paris in 1870 she found that her son Louiset had been attacked by small-pox, and she herself contracted the disease from him. A few days later she died in a room in the Grand Hotel, nursed only by Rose Mignon, who had come to her in her trouble. The war with Germany had just broken out, and as she lay dying the passing crowds were shouting ceaselessly, “A Berlin, A Berlin.” Nana.
COUPEAU (LOUIS). See Louiset.
COUPEAU (MADAME), mother of Coupeau the zinc-worker. She was an old woman, and, her sight having given way, was unable to support herself. Her daughter, Madame Lorilleux, refused anything but the most trifling assistance, and ultimately Gervaise Coupeau took the old woman into her own home and supported her till her death, which occurred some years later. L’Assommoir.
COURAJOD, a great landscape painter, whose masterpiece, the Pool at Gagny, is in the Luxembourg. Long before his death he disappeared from the world of art, and lived in a little house at Montmartre surrounded by his hens, ducks, rabbits, and dogs. He refused to speak of his former fame, and when Claude Lantier called on him the old man seemed to be entering into a second childhood, forgetful of his past. L’Oeuvre.
COUTARD, a soldier of infantry who belonged to the Second Division of the First Army Corps, which was defeated at Wissembourg on 4th August, 1870. He and his companion Picot were slightly wounded, and were left behind, not being able to rejoin their regiments for three weeks, most of which they spent tramping the country through wet and mud, endeavouring to overtake the vanquished army of France. La Debacle.