In her later years, Berthe Antonine Mayné would tell her nephew a fascinating and romantic story. In particular, Mayné claimed, she had once been the lover of a millionaire – not only that, but she had also taken a trip with him on the RMS Titanic. And given the unlikeliness of that tale, it’s perhaps no surprise that the nephew didn’t believe Mayné. However, as it turns out, the old woman was indeed telling the truth.
And Mayné’s story begins in Ixelles – one of the constituent parts of Brussels – where she was born back in 1887. Then, after she grew up, she began to grace the Belgian capital’s stages as nightclub singer Bella Vielly. And it seems that she actually earned some success in her field, too.
Indeed, as the Dutch-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws once wrote, Mayné was “well known in Brussels in circles of pleasure.” In addition, she was apparently “often seen in the company of people who like to wine and dine and enjoy life.” It made sense, then, that she ultimately caught the eye of the dashing Fernand de Villiers.