A Curious Custody Case for the Paris Police

A strange case of child trafficking came to light in Paris in 1909. A six- or seven-year-old girl approached the police and eloquently told a story in a language no one at the station could understand. When they determined she was speaking Armenian, an interpreter was brought in. The girl said a woman had kidnapped her from her grandparents' home in Syria. Only after the child's picture appeared in the newspaper did the woman emerge. The American woman said the girl was her daughter, who she had sent to her grandparents' home as an infant when she became a teenage widow, and she had recently retrieved her. The woman spoke a combination of English and French, and she and the child had no common language.  

The child, upon hearing that story, expanded her account by declaring she knew her mother, and had seen her only a year before, and that other parts of the woman's tale were untrue. She said her name was Marianne, although the woman called her Annette.

Another newspaper account has more details on the story, although it may be a little hard to read. The American woman's story was investigated, and apparently she had used several different names in her travels, and had drafted a letter to her husband about bringing home a young servant. Her story then expanded to accommodate that discovery, in that her second husband didn't know about her child from her first marriage, so she concocted the servant story. While we still don't know what happened in the end, it is doubtful that Marianne was allowed to leave Paris with the woman who claimed to be her mother.


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