LET everyone leave the court " was the order of one of
the judges of the Kammergericht, or Supreme Court of
"You need not remove the doll," said the usher to its
owner; "I will prop it up against the rail of the desk
The court was cleared and the doors were locked, and
facing the five judges, resplendent in their judicial
robes-but wigless, and severe of face-stood the doll,
the real plaintiff in the case. she was a dainty,
lifesize, but petite figure, costumed in the latest
Parisian fashion-a real "Bebe Jumeau," with bead-like
eyes and absolutely impassive features. She gradually
dying soft whirr of machinery within, or without, her
provided an out-of-the-way accompaniment to an important
The doll in court was an American, and her right and
title had been usurped by a cheap imitation, "Made in
Germany." Naturally no self-respecting doll could permit
this; hence the case, which had already passed through
three courts, where the verdict was given against her.
Finally, the onus of decision as to patent between the
American and German was left to the High Court.
The doll, impassive as she looked, was not happy, for she
had been conveyed in a basket on the top of a cab in
pouring rain to the courL She was feeling damp and
depressed, and, adding insult to injury, the porters had
dumped her upside down and carried her up flights of
stairs in the same condition. Her debut ore this occasion
was marred, but her manager soothed her feelings,
straightened out her rumpled finery, and wound her up.
Even then her troubles were not at an end; for two mortal
hours she had to listen to the legal controversy of five
judges, but their ten astute eyes failed to detect a wink
or blink in the bead-like eyes of the lovely waxen
plaintiff. Even when the verdict was given in favour of
her "home-made" rival and imitator, she was still the
doll, with every feature calm and reposeful. What
mattered it to her that five hundred pounds had been
swallowed up by these actions? Rumour with its thousand
tongues only added fresh lustre to her name and
wonderful, skill-baffling performance.
In less than a week her triumph was complete, for all
Berlin was ringing with the news-that these solemn
judges had been hoodwinked by a slim, "cute" little
American girl, whose marvellous impersonation of a doll
had puzzled half the world. Moreover, she could boast of
the fact that she, and she only, had the unique
experience of having been closeted with her judges while
they were in solemn conclave, hearing and understanding
every word they said, for her mother was a native of
Berlin, and she herself had been educated at a German
To go back to the beginning of things, Miss Doris
Chertney, the girl-doll - for she was an ordinary infant
and precocious child before she became a doll - was
descended from well-to-do parents, smart society people
living within a stone's throw of Central Park, New York.
>From her earliest girlhood little Doris delighted in
amusing and startling her child friends with her
marvellous impersonation of mechanical toys. she had
phenomenal facial control, and could assume at will the
immobility or the peculiarity of movement of an
automaton. So realistic were the impersonations that her
companions often felt more awed than amused.
After the death of her parents she was adopted by their
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Melville, and went to live with
them at their home in Havana. While there she made her
first appearance in public-an amusing incident which was
the result of a wager.
A steam merry-go-round was one of the great amusements in
Havana. It had an organ attached, the manipulator being a
grotesque automaton nigger boy. It was necessary that he
should have a new suit of clothes, which his tailor could
not complete for two or three days; so young "Miggs"
could not appear in public, and the merry-go-round
without him was a failure. Miss Doris volunteered, for a
wager, to fill his part at a moment's notice. She was
coloured and clothed to resemble "Mr. Miggs", and
fastened to the organ, wound up, and for the time being
became a black boy. So mechanical and stiff - were her
movements that only those "in the know" dreamed that she
was not the original figure.
Her marvellous power of self-control and complete
absorption of self became the talk of the place, and
resulted in another wager- that she should tour the
world as a doll, returning to America in three years'
time with six thousand pounds clear profit.
The idea was at once taken up by her adopted parents, but
the scheme wanted careful thinking out on their part and
hard work for the embryo doll. she studied her role for
ten hours a day for nearly a year. "And now," she says,
"I feel my dual personality rather puzzling, for I find
it hard to remember when I cease being a girl and become
a doll, and vice versa."
Her experiences had been varied, and sometimes alarming,
before she made her debut in Europe, and when she toured
through America. The make-up was realistic in the
extreme; she was a dainty doll, and no one who saw or
even closely scrutinized her believed she was anything
Known as "The Motogirl," she attracted immense audiences
wherever she appeared. Encased in machinery, charged with
two hundred and fifty volts of electricity, she is an
alarming little lady to meddle with; her copper-soled
shoes, and the yards of tubing which she carries about
her person, would frighten even a scientist.
Her toilette before a fifteen minutes' performance
occupies a little over two hours- as long as that of a
debutante preparing to appear at her first Drawing Room.
On the stage, her manager winds-or allows anyone else to
wind-the clockwork arrangement in her back; and the
girl-doll makes spasmodic doll-like movements across the
stage, and is finally carried about among the audience,
who are allowed to touch and lift her; and who, one and
all, agree that it is a wonderfully-constructed
automaton. Not even the "Thank you, good-night, ladies
and gentlemen" (and pretty smile) with which she finishes
her performance alters their opinion. They are firmly
convinced it is a phonograph, or something like that,
I determined to interview the Motogirl and to stand no
nonsense, so I called at the hotel where she was staying
in London, and sent up my card. It did not seem to have
much effect, for I waited about half an hour, then was
shown into a sitting-room, where a tall gentleman met me
and asked my business.
"To see the girl-doll, interview and have her
photographed for THE STRAND MAGAZINE," I said. " I want
to see her whole performance. Is it true that you pack
her in a basket?"
"Yes, quite true. I am her manager, and shall be only too
happy to show you anything in my power. I am sorry to
say, however, that we were obliged to leave the
Motogirl's basket in Germany, as it was too cumbersome to
carry about. But would this do for a photograph, do you
think ? " getting up from a small laundry basket on which
he had been sitting.
"Certainly not," I said, indignantly. "Why, you could not
put a three-yearold child in that. I want facts, and not
"I think you will find this large enough for her," he
replied, and, lifting the lid, out sprang the girl-doll,
beaming and smiling, real flesh and blood, but boneless,
I am sure. Still almost incredulous, I measured the
basket and discovered that it was only twenty-three
inches long, by thirteen inches broad and thirteen inches
deep. As I looked from the pretty girl to the basket, it
seemed impos sible for her to have been in it al] this
time without being suffocated. Still, there she was, and
I agreed with Shakespeare (who had, perhaps, known a
Motogirl or two) that "there are more things in heaven
and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy".
Every possible device has been tried to test the
phenomenal immobility of the girl-doll, but she is still
an enigma. Medical men have held seances over her, pins
have been stuck into her, and handkerchiefs flicked in
her face without disturbing her wonderful self control.
In New York a gentleman asked if he could put his finger
into her eye to make sure it was a doll. " Certainly,"
said her manager. "But as each eye is very delicately
made and cost me twenty - five dollars (five pounds), I
shall require the deposit of that sum before you make the
experiment." So the situation was saved, for the
gentleman, either convinced or not willing to deposit
that amount, went quietly back to his seat.
While dining at a restaurant in Boston with her adopted
parents a party of six came up to their table and stared
hard at Miss Doris. She looked up smilingly, and a
gentleman of the party exclaimed: "Yes; I recognise that
smile. You are a girl after all! It is the first time I
have been foiled by any disguise. I have watched you four
nights running, and been had !" He handed her his card,
which bore the name of a well-known private detective.
On one occasion she might be described as an American
"Sherlock Holmes." The detective before mentioned called
at her hotel and asked her to assist him professionally.
A large store in New York was being systematically and
cleverly robbed? and no clue could be found to the
burglars, nor how they gained their admittance, although
the aid of several detectives had been sought. It was
arranged that Miss Doris should be dressed as a fashion
dummy, and spend a night amongst the other waxen figures
at the store.
"It was very dull," she said, "and an hour seemed as long
as a day; but presently I saw a faint glimmer of light,
and the nightwatchman came hurriedly up, helped himself
from the shelves, then hastened with his booty to some
place I could not see, and returned again for some more.
On his last journey he came against me with such force
that I fell, and upset three other figures."
"Confound these dummies," he muttered, setting one on its
feet with a bang.
The Motogirl lay low until he had disappeared, locking
the doors after him; then she cautiously got up and with
a pass-key let herself out and the police in waiting in,
who captured the thief without trouble, with the stolen
goods round him. Her reward for this nerve-trying ordeal
was two hundred pounds.
"Well," said the detective, "you are wonderful. Join our
profession and you will make a fortune." But the girl-
doll prefers to win fame before the footlights.
In private life she is a shy little girl, pretty and
refined, and when she can lice dragged into conversation
can say things worth listening to. she is devoted to her
who designs all her frocks and frills, and Mr. Melville
guards her as the apple of his eye.
"I never feel pain," she told me. "I hardly know what it
means; and I never drink tea or coffee, so I have no
nerves." An attempt to extract any information about the
preparation which Mr. Melville uses to convert the girl
into a doll was ignored; but as girl and doll she is
nearly perfect, and plays both roles to the life.
Perhaps the most startling of her experiences occurred
in the bull-ring at Monterey, Mexico, where, on a tiny
platform about four inches high (the one on which she is
photographed here), she stood waiting for the bull to be
let out. A flourish of trumpets announced his liberation.
Dazed at first by the sudden light and surging crowd,
with lowered and quivering nostrils he came with a mad
rush, bellowing in an ear-stunning fashion and wildly
pawing the ground with his forefeet. Then he saw the
little, smiling figure on a stand, and approached near
enough for her to feel his hot breath on her face. The
bull and girl made an enthralling study. The spectators
held their breath, and so did the Motogirl, for the
quiver of an eyelid spelt death. He stood still, but
continued his blusterous solo; then, after what must
have. seemed ages to that little waiting figure, he
turned tail and ran to try and find some
thing he could understand better than a girl-doll.
The matador attracted his attention w h i I e she escaped
from the ring, to be greeted by tumultuous rounds of
applause and cries of "Il Reina del Valor" (Queen of
Valour), a title by which she is still known in Mexico.
"Of course," said her manager, "the bull had not then
been teased or tormented, or-with all my belief in her
power-I would not have dared to trust her in that ring.
Mexico rang with her wonderful achievement, and well it
might," he added, enthusiastically.
When the Motogirl first visited Spain her manager applied
for permission for her to appear in the bull-ring at
Madrid, but it was refused. On her next visit there
they hope their application will meet with better
After a performance at Prague, Austria, when the doll was
carried round for inspection by the audience, a man
seized her by the jaw, and although she exerted all her
strength he forced her mouth open; she had, however, the
presence of mind to keep it open until her manager placed
one hand on top of her head and the other under her chin,
and closed it seemingly with great difficulty.
An amusing and unrehearsed turn happened one night at a
crowded house, when Mr. Melville and his doll fell from
the narrow platform on which they cross to the audience
into the orchestra and floored the fluteplayer,
frightening him out of his senses and flattening him
almost beyond recognition. despite a fall of six feet the
Motogirl never turned a hair, and was picked up with the
same glassy, fixed stare and stiff limbs.
"You know," said the doll, "when I am wound up my joints
are stiff and I stumble about considerably; at one part
of my performance I sway forward over the footlights at
what is said to be an impossible angle, and then become
upright again; very frequently women in the audience
scream when I do this, for they think I have lost my
balance and am falling headlong into the orchestra. I
once had my face soundly smacked by one of the audience
to test me, and another time was dropped on my head by a
sceptical American to see if I was breakable!"
"May we kiss the doll?" asked two young gentlemen in the
audience on one occasion.
"Yes, if you do not mind an electric shock," said Mr.
Melville. One of them thought better of his proposal, but
the second meant business, and approached within two or
three inches of the lips of the fair charmer; but, always
on the alert, her manager jerked her off her feet and she
fell forward suddenly, much to the amusement of the
audience and the chagrin of the would-be wooer, who
The Motogirl has appeared before the Emperor Francis
Josef and the Austrian Court, and while in Paris was
invited to the Automobile Club to meet and puzzle
President Loubet; but the greatest test slate has ever
undergone was when she travelled in a box from St.
Petersburg to Paris.
It was for a wager with a well-known theatrical manager,
and Mr. Melville obtained permission from the authorities
to travel with her, on the plea that she was a very
valuable mechanical toy, impossible to replace. The
critical moment came on crossing the frontier, when the
doll was taken out and wound up for the satisfaction of
the Customs officers, who were completely taken in and
gave a receipt for the doll as a mechanical toy in
perfectly good faith, and thus enabled Miss Doris and her
manager to pocket a considerable sum of money. This feat
has also been performed by her in America. But with the
suspicious Russian authorities to contend against it was
a much more formidable affair, and would probably have
been a pretty serious matter if she had been discovered.
The following letter I copied from the original received
by the Motogirl's manager:-
The Phototype Company,
Bombay, December 19th, 1903.
DEAR SIR,-we shall thank you very much by giving the
full particulars of your motogirl. We wish to purchase
one if you will he kind to sell like one you exhibit in
London, Paris, etc. Kindly let me know the price and the
accessories for same motogirl.
It is altogether a novelty to our idea.
I loping to hear soon from you,
M. K. THAKUR.
The accessories required for the figure are many. The
wooden-looking gloved hands with their wires and strange
adjuncts, the metal corset and collar, the copper-soled
slippers and the wires meandering over her baby socks,
are all necessary for the conversion of the girl into the
Although she is only five feet high and about seven stone
in weight, when her toilette is completed her weight
would tax a Sandow.
She thoroughly enjoys a joke even at her own expense, and
her pretty gestures and merry laugh prove that her dual
personality does not affect her girlish spirits. Meeting
a young and winsome feminine counterpart of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde in real life is a very pleasant, if novel,