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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (July 21, 1918)
THE OMAHA SUNDAY BEE: '.. JULY 21, 1918.
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to, jr s- ,
Tins Hat " i
One day The Count, without
knowing why. he says, walked
into a Fifth avenue shop and X
purchased the hat which The
titr Whrn Vi nrfsihted it to
h -1 ' J""
hr o1i 1nii(r1ii1 and said it was
a ridiculous "lid." According to
X friends who were In the room at
4 the time tne countess ten upon
the floor in a faint. When she
regained consciousness The
$ Count was advised that the
T "powers" had told her to wear
the hat and make no compiainr.
After wearing it three times it
took on a helmet shape as joan
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Y gtSriw impl IDieapptair
- Sail Under Assnamed Maipe for Frcniclk PoitWIhr Are TihY?
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. i Mn&r jLiXbrie Ml
Tin EysteiTY o! H:r Art i
A summons to the Countess' apartment one evening without being y
informed as to whether I was to receive advance news on the war or
meet my Fate brought me face to face with the auburn haired woman X
in filmy matinee, coiffure tumbled, bare feet and in a most perplexing T
"Everything is all right now," she smiled as I entered. The
T Powers have been controlling me for six hours and I am limp as a
faded flower. They tell me tha through your influence I shall go to
France and point the way to victory. . For this I am to present to you
a portrait of myself, which 'they' painted through my hand at night
under a dim light. Take it to the art critics if youlike. I know not
whether it is good or bad. I am not responsible. 'They' did it."
To a dozen or more of the famous Fifth avenue art galleries I
took this'queer mixture of paint and oil. The profile was unmistak
ably that of the Countess far better, in fact, than a colorless photo
graph. And yet this fascinating woman claims never to have studied art.
"She is crazy," said one of the noted critics.
"She is marvelous," said another.
"She has cut a beautiful French poster from something and painted
over it," said the third.
Said the fourth, "She has studied art. This is a most wonderful
.H..H..;.. f combinatIon of the old French poster and the Italian clay work I have
it tTRTI N i Ay Ar eoffti Th TTrpTirli nnstpr is tint sn nld hut th Italians 1nnr am
: " r-r 1 o -
Then comes the dashing young Count de Fersen, a member of the Swiss
legation who thought that Fate had a grudge against him or he would never
"AS Joan of Arc been reincarnated?
Has she been hungry in Omaha?
Whether or not this woman, who is now the Countess de Fersen, i3 Joan of Arc rein
carnated, as she claims, there is no doubt about the fact that she was hungry in Omaha three have been sent to horrid America. He left the Waldorf and its crowds
years ago. That fact alone is Of little consequence, however, since this unusual woman hasn't a few days after landing in New York and took an elaborate suite in the
been hungry since then In any city. But the world may soon be eager to know "who" buildins where the woman of mystery was living, in this suite he felt as
and "why" is this Countess de Fersen the self-acclaimed Joan of Arc second. 16n,ely " the hTr' t f a udesperat.e m4d1wen7 Washinston and
resigned his post almost before his mission had been begun.
Scores of dying soldiers on the French battlefield, she describes it, took possession of her and instead of ' SHE was going out for a walk one evening,
with enemy shells thundering over them and hideous gas continuing her trip to Chicago she ordered her trunk HE, a good looking young man of foreign mein, was coming in. They
bombs bursting in their midst, have hysterically cried put off at this point. bowed and smiled a thing quite unusual in a New York apartment each
that they saw Joan of Arc floating in the smoke-laden Her complexion was fresh and her skin lovely so went a different wav-
heavens above. And some, with their last breaths, sent ".within three days she was demonstrating cosmetics in Wh tWS f. adowy eyes? he mentally inquired
. v . . ' it , m , ' . uuuuuhj vusiccau m H powers done this also? inquired the young woman who talked
forth piteous appeals to the once Maid of Orleans, who aTarge department store. The novelty soon wore off. wilh herseif and her "voices" only. N
so mysteriously lead an all but defeated army to victory, ' She lived in a good hotel nd used her money as fast as There was no chance for a formal introduction. How could it be man
to save the allied nations. These visions in the clouds she earned it. Although there were only a few dollars afc"ed, each asked nobody in particular and everybody in general,
have been interpreted by' the comrades of the martyrs in her change purse, to continue her trip loomed uo as Fate arranSed details a few davs later
aa an omh at prest" fortune" fnr th Trench in thU jj i. v t . , . , . In less thn a month Margaret Atterberry became Countess de Fersen,
as an ometo of great fortune for the French in this the largest idea on her horizon of thought. After she wife 0f the Beau Brummel she had met in the doorway-Count de Fersen.
worKJ war. . v t calmed herself, on an eastbound train, the young ad-
And, after 500 yeaA, comes the beautiful young venturess grew panic-stricken and decided, to stop at
. Countess de Fersen, once hungry and looking for work Omaha and cash in the unused portion of her ticket,
' in Omaha, oncea skirt model in New York, but now a which would give her a few dollars for food until she
, member of the noted, titled European family, who claims could earn more. However, Omaha xwas well supplied
to be vested with similar strange powers that are urging with help, so far as she could learn. Nothing was being
her to flee to this hell on earth the battlefield of France, demonstrated.
Like Joan of Arc, she' says, divine "voices" are forcing
her to lead the united armies to victory and everlasting
peace which the whole world awaits.
Psychic? She'doesn't know.
Religious? Not, at all. ' In fact the "Countess of
, Sorrows," as she is affectionately called by those who
are drawn to her, admits that she knows nothing about
creeds and doctrines and cults.
, i Theosophy? Why, theosophy might be theology or
psychology or mythology so far as she knows or cares.
But she relates in detail how the "powers" 'came to hei
after a struggle for bread, in a fourth-flobr-back rotm in
, the great metropolis.
;. ;THE CHILD ;
As little Margaret Perkins, way out on the Paci.".c
coast, she was a temperamental childliving, acting, think-
Wouldn't she make a good model?
Yes, but the merchants of this city seldom use models,
and, besides, this was between seasons; when sale dresses
were not modeled. "
After two days at a good hotel Mrs. Atterberry de
cided, for the first time in her life, to find cheap quar
ters. A rather clean looking place on Twenty-fifth street
was selected from a group of rooming houses and in a
small back room the woman lived for three days with
America, from then on, looked like a beautiful rose to this descendant
of the history-making Count Hans Axel Fersen, whose love letters to
Queen Marie Antoinette are now a part of French and Swedish history.
And like his great uncle, the young count stakes all, he. says, for the woman
Marriage, however, did not interfere with the countess vision, and day
by day she claimed to be given messages about Germany and the traps
and trenches which were being built for the murder of allied soldiers.
The "powers", drew maps and made pictures of battle fronts and traps,
often keeping their victim up days and eights until the work was com
pleted. Then, she says, the powers would put her in a state of coma for
ten or fifteen minutes, during which time her fatigue entirely disappeared.
The countess was growing thin. Her eyes were taking on a strange,
shadowy expression. She never left her room day or night after she began
receiving war messages. Several times she tried to laugh at the "powers"
and shake them off, but each time she was stricken tumb, the countess de-
almost no food and no money. This was between the ciares. j, it any wonder the woman began to fear for her life?
time she wired to her father in California for money and
the day the money was received.
Chicago was her next stop. - There she had no diffi
culty in finding a position as model in a wholesalesuit
house where she earned money enough to take her on
to New York and prosperity.
"His bride was losing her beauty," so Count de Fersen whispered.
He decided to take her away from her environment to visit her parents
on the west coast. While there the "powers" told her of. her mission and
urged her to go to France, where she would be. given information through
"voice V to direct our soldiers in their fighti
V!s.t the mayor cf Los Angeles with this strange tale?
The count said "yes."
The countess said "no "
But she balanced on the scales of her hearl the "yes" and the "no" when
After working as a model in a skirt factory for two
ing according to her emotions of each minute. When months, grieving for her babies, worrying over the
she became a young lady many sought her hand in mar- . strange sensations which were taking possession of her, sh should have used her brain and the count won, of course,
riage, but tVealthy young chap, from the well known Mrs. Atterberry became ill in her fourth-floor-back room To Mayor Woolwine they went to relate in detail to one of his
Atterberry lamily of Pittsburgh, won in the game of in upper New York. One night, she declares, something .secretaries the story of Hie countess and her "powers." She begged
hearts. After a few stormy years their marital ties were began to shake her and she fell to the floor. Without
. brought to parting paths through the divorce court, leav- knowing why she shouted: "If there be a God in Heaven
ing Mrs. Atterberry with bitter memories and two pretty I command you to write with my pencil." And she
child en to love. ' ; .;" ; 'j;- ; 4 wrote many wierd messages to herself.
Whether for adventure or because some sort of power From this time on she heard strange voices, saw queer
urged her forth, she started on her search for work, pictures in her mirror. She began to paint and draw
When she reached Denver an emotion, or a "spasm," as tnd do many odd things
to be sent to France to hasten world peace. But the executive sent word
that he had no department for dealing with the supernatural, his work
being entirely with the material.
Then to the Red Cross the young count took the message from his
countess, but the officials of that body winked and referred him to the
New York headquarters. Then the countess said "no" and the count
"We will take our message to Colonel Collardet's office, French at
tache militaire, at Washington," said the count, and they hastened east-
worked in clay and .painted the colors in afterward. There are but a
few left and they are in the Vatican at Rome. This, however, is pure
oil and paint, because it isyet a little soft."
And the fifth said he could not call her a great artist, because there X
was nothing like her work by which to compare it. Yet none called it
trash, as art critics are likely to do, and all admitted that it was a most r
fascinating and unusual piece ot wont.
ward. But at Washington they found deaf ears for the woman who pro
claimed her willingness to sacrifice her life, if necessary, in the effort to
save our soldiers from slaughter and defeat. Nor would they hear the
count, whose love and faith' in his beautiful, mysterious, American wife,
prompted him to give up title, wealth, position even to become an Ameri
can citizen if necessary, that the Countess de Fersen should be given an
opportunity to carry on the work which her "voices" had urged. '
In the office of the French attache militaire there were only pooh-poos
"But wasn't Joan of Arc thought crazy at first until she succeeded
in convincing the army's commander that sh"e was inspired?" asked the
And we ask: "Was the life of Joan of Arc so different, after all from the
Countess de Fersen?
To her friends in New York she predicted losses and gains on the bat
tle front before the papers printed them. March 22, 1918, in the presence
of two friends and the wnter, the countess jumped from her couch on
which she had been reclining, and screamed: "Those reports are lies!
We are not holding our own in the new drive. Those fiendish Germans
are winning I tell you! For two week they will mow us down like chaff. ,
Networks of hell everywhere. Traps and pits at every turn. Oh, my God!
I must go to France and show them the way."
Several hours later the same day, headlines in New York papers read:
"German Troops Hurled Back." And, "Allied Troops Holding. Their
Own Against German Attack." )
March 23, again without having seen the paper, she fell from the
chair at her dressing table shrieking: "I told you so! Those German
devils dare not retreat. My God! How they are beating us. Why don't
they send me to France?" They are bringing collapsible airplanes in sub
marines. They will shell New York. Hell awaits us unless they are
checked immediately. I see it all in my mirror."
Friends of Count and Countess de Fersen are dazed; They make no
statement, but merely ask: "Has Joan of Arc been reincarnated? Will
she, through her "voices" to be fable to do what our greatest generals
and strategists have beeaunable to do?
But the Departments of Justice in New York and Washington ask quite
another question. ;
The department was informed, Apnl 4. that the Fersens had sailed for
France under an assumed name, at 1 :30 p. m. that day ; that no one was .
notified that they were leaving until 1 o'clock, 30 minutes before sail
ing. Friends could tell nothing, to the agents from the department who
inquired, except what had been told to them. But they turned over photo
graphs of this mysterious couple with the sincere hope that they would
be sufficient evidence to clear the mind of Charles DeWoddy, chief of the
Department of Justice in New York and also the department at Washington.
However, up to this date, the countess family have not heard from herv
since arriving at Bordeau. '
Now a certain group of newspaper writers in the metropolis are asking:
Have they been interned at Bordeau?
Was the countess' "power" just a ruse to cover her queer actions?
Did the count come t6 America as a Swiss diplomat in order that his
passport should be recognized?
Will he try to reach Berlin through Switzerland?
Is this another notorious spy case which may startle the world?
Or is the countess really, as she claims, the reincarnated Joan of Arc,
once hungry in Omaha?
Nobody really knows and the Department of Justice, if they know.
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