Marie Antoinette’ s puppy dog

Ariel the papillon

Some say the butterfly-dog breed originated in France, but I have my doubts. An arbiter of good taste and fashion, Marie Antoinette had, throughout her merry life, a bevy of Papillons, and I am not disputing this claim (except the part about her happy life). And, on a sun-clad afternoon, amid the singsong of peasants, she was paraded, merrily (see what I mean), on a squeaky-wheeled tumbril heading to the guillotine clutching a small dog, though this little nugget is only extant in the highly sanitized version of events: she cared not a whit about her own life, so it went, but made certain the boisterous little pooch wouldn’t lose his head over the pomp and circumstance of the festivities at Place de la Concorde, and so she had, clandestinely, lovingly, made meticulous arrangements for the cossetted canine to be housed indefinitely in palatial comfort, where he would forever convalesce after becoming aware of her bloody and untimely death. But historical accounts are unreliable, and facts are as malleable as clay in the hands of good writers–and but unruly gelatin in the hands of novices–yet unmistakably, history is written by the victors, leaving the vanquished in a bit of a spot, as usual.

But important evidence is being omitted. Marie Antoinette’s Papillon, as well as those depicted in paintings of the old masters, was an Epagneul Nain, a cute as a button, drop-eared progenitor of the butterfly-eared Papillon. But, in the good and revered name of science, try to offer a modern day Papillon the choice between Ratatouille, Quiche Lorraine, and Escargots–or Chop Suey, and you will learn something. The breed is most likely Chinese in origin. My experiments have consistently proven this point.




  1. ibuprophen? metamizole? acetaminophen? no thank you!!! who needs that, and all the potential side-effects, when one can have, merrily, a delightful ride in the luxurious garden full of postmodern paths where ariel meets marie-antoinette and chop suey?!!! 🙂
    (and what kind of germinated seeds are in those intriguing jars?)


    • (Chop Suey sprouts, naturally. Vigna radiata to the botanist and mung bean to the rest of us!)

      Of course Ariel does not actually meet Marie Antoinette in this piece, but it is a good subject for a kitsch-revolutionary novella. Have you heard of the new genre? It’s really catching on in Europe and should soon end up on my shores, probably in the form of a ‘long short story/short novel’ message in a bottle. I’ll be on the lookout for one. And if you are thinking of dropping a bottle in the Danube yourself (yes, yes), please carefully explain to the tinted glass (incidentally I like violet tints) how to get here. Talk slowly as glass is quite dense (literally and figuratively). Don’t forget words like Atlantic Ocean, Sargasso Sea, and giant squid (I always like a wild card).



    It would be a slur
    to call you a cur
    or maybe even a dog—
    and strictly taboo
    to inquire of you:
    are you a chink or a frog?

    You are too adorable
    to bother with labels
    all definitions are out—
    for you are a sprite
    a most delicate spirit who
    dines upon tendrils and sprouts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Cynthia!

      You speak now in your mother tongue–the language of Parnassian grace. I am honored and undisputably pleased. And so too is Ariel, but, and I say this with some trepidation, given the choice between a plate of half-cooked beans (Chinese style) and a few glorious lines of poetry, she would in all likeliness gobble up the sprouts. But I guess you can’t have beauty and incomparable literary critiquing skills bundled in the same seraphic fur ball (old Chinese proverb).

      Liked by 1 person

      • As one who has nearly always included someone of the canine persuasion in my household, I am quite aware of that proclivity of which you speak. It’s what I like about ’em!


      • True, but just once I ‘d like to know that one of our pooches thought fleetingly about the boldly resonant color of a Gauguin or about some nauseating trompe l’oeil in a Magritte, but it’s futile–dog are so much smarter than we, and have frankly no time for the conceits that plague artists (good ones and bad ones, makes no difference) daily. A hard lesson to learn. But follow the real masters and find a good bone to chew or a lovely moth to chase (Papillons are exceedingly adept at this).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As I’m new to your incredible blog, Prospero, I don’t know all the stories behind the life of your adorable partner in crime. She looks adorable and very mischievous. I’d definitely prefer Chop Suey to Escargots or Ratatouille, but the odd bit of Quiche Lorraine is OK. I’m not Chinese though, or French.
    The story about Marie Antoinette and her Papillons was interesting too.
    Excuse any typos – I can’t type on this tablet. Laptop’s packed until we get to Spain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have a wonderful trip, Millie.


  4. personne ne m’a dit pour marie antoinette et le petit chien lol
    et pourtant je suis française !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Il est vain de croire que plutĂ´t que d’ĂŞtre d’une couleur Ă©clatante ou criarde, la vĂ©ritĂ© est quand mĂŞme assez pâle. Merci pour ton joli commentaire, Marty.


  5. Well it’s about time Ariel gave a performance – she is such a princess and knows it too. Obviously Ariel knows what she likes, Chop Suey! Loved your story of Marie Antoinette and her Papillons – great tale. Happy weekend to you ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, Ariel gives performances daily and calming the seas or whipping up a tempest is tiring and histrionic work, but add to that her ability to travel at the speed of light, and you have some entertaining mishaps. Never a dull day. (If you like dull, best to wait till she is napping–but even then there are no guarantees as she can hear a pin drop even in the thrall of a deep sleep.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well she is certainly a star performer, hyper-active with only creating joy and perhaps being a little mischievous too – yes, these have to be her goals. One can tell from the photograph that she is totally satisfied with her life ~ thank you Prospero!!


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