In the Quarter
Robert W. Chambers
Part 1 out of 4
In the Quarter
by Robert W. Chambers
In the Quarter was first published in 1894 and the text is in the
public domain. The transcription was done by William McClain, 2003.
A printed version of this book is available from Sattre Press
One evening in May, 1888, the Café des Écoles was even more crowded
and more noisy than usual. The marble-topped tables were wet with beer
and the din was appalling. Someone shouted to make himself heard.
"Any more news from the Salon?"
"Yes," said Elliott, "Thaxton's in with a number three. Rhodes is
out and takes it hard. Clifford's out too, and takes it -- "
A voice began to chant:
Je n'sais comment faire,
Ma maitresse et mon père,
Le Code et Bullier.
"Drop it! Oh, drop it!" growled Rhodes, and sent a handful of
billiard chalk at the singer.
Mr Clifford returned a volley of the Café spoons, and continued:
Mais c'que je trouve de plus bête,
C'est qu' i' faut financer
Avec ma belle galette,
J'aimerai mieux m'amuser.
Several other voices took up the refrain, lamenting the difficulty of
reconciling their filial duties with balls at Bullier's, and
protesting that they would rather amuse themselves than consider
financial questions. Rhodes sipped his curaçoa sulkily.
"The longer I live in the Latin Quarter," he said to his neighbor,
"the less certain I feel about a place of future punishment. It would
be so tame after this." Then, reverting to his grievance, he added,
"The slaughter this year at the Salon is awful."
Reginald Gethryn stirred nervously but did not speak.
"Have a game, Rex?" called Clifford, waving a cue.
Gethryn shook his head, and reaching for a soiled copy of the Figaro,
glanced listlessly over its contents. He sighed and turned his paper
impatiently. Rhodes echoed the sigh.
"What's at the theaters?"
"Same as last week, excepting at the Gaieté. They've put on `La Belle
"Oh! Belle Hélène!" cried Clifford.
Tzing! la! la! Tzing! la! la!
C'est avec ces dames qu' Oreste
Fait danser l'argent de Papa!
Rhodes began to growl again.
"I shouldn't think you'd feel like gibbering that rot tonight."
Clifford smiled sweetly and patted him on the head. "Tzing! la! la!
My shot, Elliott?"
"Tzing! la! la!" laughed Thaxton, "That's Clifford's biography in
Clifford repeated the refrain and winked impudently at the pretty
bookkeeper behind her railing. She, alas! returned it with a blush.
Gethryn rose restlessly and went over to another table where a man,
young, but older than himself, sat, looking comfortable.
"Braith," he began, trying to speak indifferently, "any news of my
The other man finished his beer and then answered carelessly, "No."
But catching sight of Gethryn's face he added, with a laugh:
"Look here, Rex, you've got to stop this moping."
"I'm not moping," said Rex, coloring up.
"What do you call it, then?" Braith spoke with some sharpness, but
continued kindly, "You know I've been through it all. Ten years ago,
when I sent in my first picture, I confess to you I suffered the
torments of the damned until -- "
"Until they sent me my card. The color was green."
"But I thought a green card meant `not admitted."'
"It does. I received three in three years."
"Do you mean you were thrown out three years in succession?"
Braith knocked the ashes out of his pipe. "I gave up smoking for
those three years."
Braith filled his pipe tenderly. "I was very poor," he said.
"If I had half your sand!" sighed Rex.
"You have, and something more that the rest of us have not. But you
are very young yet."
This time Gethryn colored with surprise and pleasure. In all their
long and close friendship Braith had never before given him any other
encouragement than a cool, "Go ahead!"
He continued: "Your curse thus far has been want of steady
application, and moreover you're too easily scared. No matter what
happens this time, no knocking under!"
"Oh, I'm not going to knock under. No more is Clifford, it seems,"
Rex added with a laugh, as Clifford threw down his cue and took a step
of the devil's quadrille.
"Oh! Elliott!" he crowed, "what's the matter with you?"
Elliott turned and punched a sleepy waiter in the ribs.
"Emile -- two bocks!"
The waiter jumped up and rubbed his eyes. "What is it, monsieur?" he
Elliott repeated the order and they strolled off toward a table. As
Clifford came lounging by, Carleton said, "I hear you lead with a
number one at the Salon."
"Right, I'm the first to be fired."
"He's calm now," said Elliott, "but you should have seen him
yesterday when the green card came."
"Well, yes. I discoursed a little in several languages."
"After he had used up his English profanity, he called the Jury names
in French, German and Spanish. The German stuck, but came out at last
like a cork out of a bottle -- "
"Or a bung out of a barrel."
"These comparisons are as offensive as they are unjust," said
"Quite so," said Braith. "Here's the waiter with your beer."
"What number did you get, Braith?" asked Rhodes, who couldn't keep
his mind off the subject and made no pretense of trying.
"Three," answered Braith.
There was a howl, and all began to talk at once.
"There's justice for you!" "No justice for Americans!" "Serves us
right for our tariff!" "Are Frenchmen going to give us all the
advantages of their schools and honors besides while we do all we can
to keep their pictures out of our markets?"
"No, we don't, either! Tariff only keeps out the sweepings of the
studios -- "
"If there were no duty on pictures the States would be flooded with
"Take it off!" cried one.
"Make it higher!" shouted another.
"Idiots!" growled Rhodes. "Let 'em flood the country with bad work
as well as good. It will educate the people, and the day will come
when all good work will stand an equal chance -- be it French or be it
"True," said Clifford, "Let's all have a bock. Where's Rex?"
But Gethryn had slipped out in the confusion. Quitting the Café des
Écoles, he sauntered across the street, and turning through the Rue de
Vaugirard, entered the rue Monsieur le Prince. He crossed the dim
courtyard of his hôtel, and taking a key and a candle from the lodge
of the Concierge, started to mount the six flights to his bedroom and
studio. He felt irritable and fagged, and it did not make matters
better when he found, on reaching his own door, that he had taken the
wrong key. Nor did it ease his mind to fling the key over the
banisters into the silent stone hallway below. He leaned sulkily over
the railing and listened to it ring and clink down into the darkness,
and then, with a brief but vigorous word, he turned and forced in his
door with a crash. Two bull pups which had flown at him with
portentous growls and yelps of menace now gamboled idiotically about
him, writhing with anticipation of caresses, and a gray and scarlet
parrot, rudely awakened, launched forth upon a musical effort
resembling the song of a rusty cart-wheel.
"Oh, you infernal bird!" murmured the master, lighting his candle
with one hand and fondling the pups with the other. "There, there,
puppies, run away!" he added, rolling the ecstatic pups into a sort
of dog divan, where they curled themselves down at last and subsided
with squirms and wriggles, gurgling affection.
Gethryn lighted a lamp and then a cigarette. Then, blowing out the
candle, he sat down with a sigh. His eyes fell on the parrot. It
annoyed him that the parrot should immediately turn over and look at
him upside down. It also annoyed him that "Satan," an evil-looking
raven, was evidently preparing to descend from his perch and worry
"Mrs Gummidge" was the name Clifford had given to a large sad-eyed
white tabby who now lay dozing upon a panther skin.
"Satan!" said Gethryn. The bird checked his sinister preparations
and eyed his master. "Don't," said the young man.
Satan weighed his chances and came to the conclusion that he could
swoop down, nip Mrs Gummidge, and get back to his bust of Pallas
without being caught. He tried it, but his master was too quick for
him, and foiled, he lay sullenly in Gethryn's hands, his two long
claws projecting helplessly between the brown fists of his master.
"Oh, you fiend!" muttered Rex, taking him toward a wicker basket,
which he hated. "Solitary confinement for you, my boy."
"Double, double, toil and trouble," croaked the parrot.
Gethryn started nervously and shut him inside the cage, a regal gilt
structure with "Shakespeare" printed over the door. Then, replacing
the agitated Gummidge on her panther skin, he sat down once more and
lighted another cigarette.
His picture. He could think of nothing else. It was a serious matter
with Gethryn. Admitted to the Salon meant three more years' study in
Paris. Failure, and back he must go to New York.
The personal income of Reginald Gethryn amounted to the magnificent
sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. To this, his aunt, Miss Celestia
Gethryn, added nine hundred and fifty dollars more. This gave him a
sum of twelve hundred dollars a year to live on and study in Paris. It
was not a large sum, but it was princely when compared to the amount
on which many a talented fellow subsists, spending his best years in a
foul atmosphere of paint and tobacco, ill fed, ill clothed, scarcely
warmed at all, often sick in mind and body, attaining his first scant
measure of success just as his overtaxed powers give way.
Gethryn's aunt, his only surviving relative, had recently written him
one of her ponderous letters. He took it from his pocket and began to
read it again, for the fourth time.
You have now been in Paris three years, and as yet I have seen no
results. You should be earning your own living, but instead you are
still dependent upon me. You are welcome to all the assistance I
can give you, in reason, but I expect that you will have something
to show for all the money I expend upon you. Why are you not making
a handsome income and a splendid reputation, like Mr Spinder?
The artist named was thirty-five and had been in Paris fifteen years.
Gethryn was twenty-two and had been studying three years.
Why are you not doing beautiful things, like Mr Mousely? I'm told
he gets a thousand dollars for a little sketch.
Rex groaned. Mr Mousely could neither draw nor paint, but he made
stories of babies' deathbeds on squares of canvas with china angels
solidly suspended from the ceiling of the nursery, pointing upward,
and he gave them titles out of the hymnbook, which caused them to be
bought with eagerness by all the members of the congregation to which
his family belonged.
The letter proceeded:
I am told by many reliable persons that three years abroad is more
than enough for a thorough art education. If no results are
attained at the end of that time, there is only one of two
conclusions to be drawn. Either you have no talent, or you are
wasting your time. I shall wait until the next Salon before I come
to a decision. If then you have a picture accepted and if it shows
no trace of the immorality which is rife in Paris, I will continue
your allowance for three years more; this, however, on condition
that you have a picture in the Salon each year. If you fail again
this year, I shall insist upon your coming home at once.
Why Gethryn should want to read this letter four times, when one
perusal of it had been more than enough, no one, least of all himself,
could have told. He sat now crushing it in is hand, tasting all the
bitterness that is stored up for a sensitive artist tied by fate to an
omniscient Philistine who feeds his body with bread and his soul with
instruction about art and behavior.
Presently he mastered the black mood which came near being too much
for him, his face cleared and he leaned back, quietly smoking. From
the rug rose a muffled rumbling where Mrs Gummidge dozed in peace. The
clock ticked sharply. A mouse dropped silently from the window curtain
and scuttled away unmarked.
The pups lay in a soft heap. The parrot no longer hung head downward,
but rested in his cage in a normal position, one eye fixed steadily on
Gethryn, the other sheathed in a bluish-white eyelid, every wrinkle of
which spoke scorn of men and things.
For some time Gethryn had been half-conscious of a piano sounding on
the floor below. It suddenly struck him now that the apartment under
his, which had been long vacant, must have found an occupant.
"Idiots!" he grumbled. "Playing at midnight! That will have to
stop. Singing too! We'll see about that!"
The singing continued, a girl's voice, only passably trained, but
certainly fresh and sweet.
Gethryn began to listen, reluctantly and ungraciously. There was a
pause. "Now she's going to stop. It's time," he muttered. But the
piano began again -- a short prelude which he knew, and the voice was
soon in the midst of the Dream Song from "La Belle Hélène."
Gethryn rose and walked to his window, threw it open and leaned out.
An April night, soft and delicious. The air was heavy with perfume
from the pink and white chestnut blossoms. The roof dripped with
moisture. Far down in the dark court the gas-jets flickered and
flared. From the distance came the softened rumble of a midnight cab,
which, drawing nearer and nearer and passing the hôtel with a
rollicking rattle of wheels and laughing voices, died away on the
smooth pavement by the Luxembourg Gardens. The voice had stopped
capriciously in the middle of the song. Gethryn turned back into the
room whistling the air. His eye fell on Satan sitting behind his bars
in crumpled malice.
"Poor old chap," laughed the master, "want to come out and hop
around a bit? Here, Gummidge, we'll remove temptation out of his
way," and he lifted the docile tabby, who increased the timbre of her
song to an ecstatic squeal at his touch, and opening his bedroom door,
gently deposited her on his softest blankets. He then reinstated the
raven on his bust of Pallas, and Satan watched him from thence warily
as he fussed about the studio, sorting brushes, scraping a neglected
palette, taking down a dressing gown, drawing on a pair of easy
slippers, opening his door and depositing his boots outside. When he
returned the music had begun again.
"What on earth does she mean by singing at a quarter to one
o'clock?" he thought, and went once more to the window. "Why -- that
is really beautiful."
Oui! c'est un rêve, Oui! c'est un rêve doux d'amour.
La nuit lui prête son mystère,
Il doit finir -- il doit finir avec le jour.
The song of Hélène ceased. Gethryn leaned out and gazed down at the
lighted windows under his. Suddenly the light went out. He heard
someone open the window, and straining his eyes, could just discern
the dim outline of a head and shoulders, unmistakably those of a girl.
She had perched herself on the windowsill. Presently she began to hum
the air, then to sing it softly. Gethryn waited until the words came
Oui, c'est un rêve --
and then struck in with a very sweet baritone:
Oui, c'est un rêve --
She never moved, but her voice swelled out fresh and clear in answer
to his, and a really charming duet came to a delightful finish. Then
she looked up. Gethryn was reckless now.
"Shall it be, then, only a dream?" he laughed. Was it his fate that
made him lean out and whisper, "Is it, then, only a dream, Hélène?"
There was nothing but the rustling of the chestnut branches to answer
his folly. Not another sound. He was half inclined to shut his window
and go in, well satisfied with the silence and beginning to feel
sleepy. All at once from below came a faint laugh, and as he leaned
out he caught the words:
"Paris, Hélène bids you good night!"
"Ah, Belle Hélène!" -- he began, but was cut short by the violent
opening of a window opposite.
"Bon dieu de bon dieu!" howled an injured gentleman. "To sleep is
impossible, tas d'imbeciles! -- "
And Hélène's window closed with a snap.
The day broke hot and stifling. The first sunbeams which chased the
fog from bridge and street also drove the mists from the cool thickets
of the Luxembourg Garden, and revealed groups of dragoons picketed in
"Dragoons in the Luxembourg!" cried the gamins to each other. "What
But even the gamins did not know -- yet.
At the great Ateliers of Messieurs Bouguereau and Lefebvre the first
day of the week is the busiest -- and so, this being Monday, the
studios were crowded.
The heat was suffocating. The walls, smeared with the refuse of a
hundred palettes, fairly sizzled as they gave off a sickly odor of
paint and turpentine. Only two poses had been completed, but the tired
models stood or sat, glistening with perspiration. The men drew and
painted, many of them stripped to the waist. The air was heavy with
tobacco smoke and the respiration of some two hundred students of half
as many nationalities.
"Dieu! quel chaleur!" gasped a fat little Frenchman, mopping his
clipped head and breathing hard.
"Clifford," he inquired in English, "ees eet zat you haf a so great
-- a -- heat chez vous?"
Clifford glanced up from his easel. "Heat in New York? My dear
Deschamps, this is nothing."
The other eyed him suspiciously.
"You know New York is the capital of Galveston?" said Clifford,
slapping on a brush full of color and leaning back to look at it.
The Frenchman didn't know, but he nodded.
"Well, that's very far south. We suffer -- yes, we suffer, but our
poor poultry suffer more."
"Ze -- ze pooltree? Wat eez zat?"
"In summer the fire engines are detailed to throw water on the hens
to keep their feathers from singeing. Singeing spoils the flavor."
The Frenchman growled.
"One of our national institutions is the `Hen's Mutual Fire Insurance
Company,' supported by the Government," added Clifford.
"That is why," put in Rhodes, lazily dabbing at his canvas, "why we
seldom have omelets -- the eggs are so apt to be laid fried."
"How, zen, does eet make ze chicken?" spluttered the Frenchman, his
"Our chickens are also -- " a torrent of bad language from Monsieur
Deschamps, and a howl of execration from all the rest, silenced
"It's too hot for that sort of thing," pleaded Elliott.
"Idiot!" muttered the Frenchman, shooting ominous glances at the
bland youth, who saw nothing.
"C'est l'heure," cried a dozen voices, and the tired model stretched
his cramped limbs. Clifford rose, dropped a piece of charcoal down on
his neighbor's neck, and stepping across Thaxton's easel, walked over
"Rex, have you heard the latest?"
"The Ministry has fallen again, and the Place de la Concorde is
filled with people yelling, A bas la Republique! Vive le General
Gethryn looked serious. Clifford went on, speaking low.
"I saw a troop of cavalry going over this morning, and old Forain
told me just now that the regiments at Versailles were ready to move
at a minute's notice."
"I suppose things are lively across the river," said Gethryn.
"Exactly, and we're all going over to see the fun. You'll come?"
"Oh, I'll come. Hello! here's Rhodes; tell him."
Rhodes knew. Ministry fallen. Mob at it some more. Been fired on by
the soldiers once. Pont Neuf and the Arc guarded by cannon. Carleton
came hurrying up.
"The French students are loose and raising Cain. We're going to
assist at the show. Come along."
"No," growled Braith, and looked hard at Rex.
"Oh, come along! We're all going," said Carleton, "Elliott,
Gethryn, the Colossus, Thaxton, Clifford."
Braith turned sharply to Rex. "Yes, going to get your heads smashed
by a bullet or carved by a saber. What for? What business is it of
"Braith thinks he looks like a Prussian and is afraid," mused
"Come on, won't you, Braith?" said Gethryn.
"Are you going?"
"Why not?" said the other, uneasily, "and why won't you?"
"No French mob for me," answered Braith, quietly. "You fellows had
better keep away. You don't know what you may get into. I saw the
siege, and the man who was in Paris in '71 has seen enough."
"Oh, this is nothing serious," urged Clifford. "If they fire I
shall leg it; so will the lordly Reginald; so will we all."
Braith dug his hands into the pockets of his velveteens, and shook his
"No," he said, "I've got some work to do. So have you, Rex."
"Come on, we're off," shouted Thaxton from the stairway.
Clifford seized Gethryn's arm, Elliott and Rhodes crowded on behind. A
small earthquake shock followed as the crowd of students launched
itself down the stairs.
"Braith doesn't approve of my cutting the atelier so often," said
Gethryn, "and he's right. I ought to have stayed."
"Reggy going to back out?" cooed Clifford.
"No," said Rex. "Here's Rhodes with a cab."
"It's too hot to walk," gasped Rhodes. "I secured this. It was all
I could get. Pile in."
Rex sprang up beside the driver.
"Allons!" he cried, "to the Obelisk!"
"But, monsieur -- " expostulated the cabby, "it is today the
revolution. I dare not."
"Go on, I tell you," roared Rhodes. "Clifford, take his reins away
if he refuses."
Clifford made a snatch at them, but was repulsed by the indignant
"Go on, do you hear?" shouted the Colossus. The cabman looked at
"Go on!" laughed Rex, "there is no danger."
Jehu lifted his shoulders to the level of his shiny hat, and giving
the reins a jerk, muttered, "Crazy English! -- Heu -- heu --
In twenty minutes they had arrived at the bridge opposite the Palais
"By Jove!" said Gethryn, "look at that crowd! The Place de la
Concorde is black with them!"
The cab stopped with a jolt. Half a dozen policemen stepped into the
street. Two seized the horses' heads.
"The bridge is forbidden to vehicles, gentlemen," they said,
courteously. "To cross, one must descend."
Clifford began to argue, but Elliott stopped him.
"It's only a step," said he, paying the relieved cabby. "Come
In a moment they were across the bridge and pushing into the crowd,
"What a lot of troops and police!" said Elliott, panting as he
elbowed his way through the dense masses. "I tell you, the mob are
bent on mischief."
The Place de la Concorde was packed and jammed with struggling,
surging humanity. Pushed and crowded up to the second fountain,
clinging in bunches to the Obelisk, overrunning the first fountain,
and covering the pedestals of the "Cities of France," it heaved,
shifted, undulated like clusters of swarming ants.
In the open space about the second fountain was the Prefect of the
Seine, surrounded by a staff of officers. He looked worn and anxious
as he stood mopping the perspiration from his neck and glancing
nervously at his men, who were slowly and gently rolling back the mob.
On the bridge a battalion of red-legged soldiers lounged, leaning on
their rifles. To the right were long lines of cavalry in shining
helmets and cuirasses. The men sat motionless in their saddles, their
armor striking white fire in the fierce glow of the midday sun. Ever
and anon the faint flutter of a distant bugle announced the approach
of more regiments.
Among the shrubbery of the Gardens, a glimmer of orange and blue
betrayed the lurking presence of the Guards. Down the endless vistas
of the double and quadruple rows of trees stretching out to the Arc,
and up the Cour la Reine, long lines of scarlet were moving toward the
central point, the Place de la Concorde. The horses of a squadron of
hussars pawed and champed across the avenue, the men, in their pale
blue jackets, presenting a cool relief to the universal glare. The
Champs Elysees was deserted, excepting by troops. Not a civilian was
to be seen on the bridge. In front of the Madeleine three points of
fire blazed and winked in the sun. They were three cannon.
Suddenly, over by the Obelisk, began a hoarse murmur, confused and
dull at first, but growing louder, until it swelled into a deafening
roar. "Long live Boulanger!" "Down with Ferry!" "Long live the
Republic!" As the great wave of sound rose over the crowd and broke
sullenly against the somber masses of the Palace of the Bourbons, a
thin, shrill cry from the extreme right answered, "Vive la Commune!"
Elliott laughed nervously.
"They'll charge those howling Belleville anarchists!"
Clifford began, in pure deviltry, to whistle the Carmagnole.
"Do you want to get us all into hot water?" whispered Thaxton.
"Monsieur is of the Commune?" inquired a little man, suavely.
And, the devil still prompting Clifford, he answered: "Because I
whistled the Carmagnole? Bah!"
The man scowled.
"Look here, my friend," said Clifford, "my political principles are
yours, and I will be happy to drink at your expense."
The other Americans exchanged looks, and Elliott tried to check
Clifford's folly before it was too late.
"Espion!" muttered the Frenchman, adding, a little louder, "Sale
Gethryn looked up startled.
"Keep cool," whispered Thaxton; "if they think we're Germans we're
Carleton glanced nervously about. "How they stare," he whispered.
"Their eyes pop out of their heads as if they saw Bismarck."
There was an ominous movement among the throng.
"Vive l'Anarchie! A bas les Prussiens!" yelled a beetle-browed
Italian. "A bas les etrangers!"
"My friend," said Clifford, pleasantly, "you've got a very vile
"You're a Prussian!" screamed the man.
Every one was now looking at them. Gethryn began to fume.
"I'll thrash that cur if he says Prussian again," said he.
"You'll keep quiet, that's what you'll do," growled Thaxton, looking
anxiously at Rhodes.
"Yes, you will!" said the Colossus, very pale.
"Pig of a Prussian!" shouted a fearful-looking hag, planting herself
in front of Clifford with arms akimbo and head thrust forward. "Pig
of a Prussian spy!"
She glanced at her supporters, who promptly applauded.
"Ah--h--h!" she screamed, her little green eyes shining like a
tiger's -- "Spy! German spy!"
"Madam," said Clifford, politely, "go and wash yourself."
"Hold your cursed tongue, Clifford!" whispered Thaxton. "Do you
want to be torn to pieces?"
Suddenly a man behind Gethryn sprang at his back, and then, amazed and
terrified at his own daring, yelled lustily for help. Gethryn shook
him off as he would a fly, but the last remnant of self-control went
at the same time, and, wheeling, he planted a blow square in the
fellow's neck. The man fell like an ox. In an instant the mob was upon
them. Thaxton received a heavy kick in the ribs, which sent him
reeling against Carleton. Clifford knocked two men down in as many
blows, and, springing back, stood guard over Thaxton until he could
struggle to his feet again. Elliott got a sounding thwack on the nose,
which he neatly returned, adding one on the eye for interest. Gethryn
and Carleton fought back to back. Rhodes began by half strangling a
son of the Commune and then flung him bodily among his howling
"Good Heavens," gasped Rhodes, "we can't keep this up!" And
raising his voice, he cried with all the force of his lungs, "Help!
This way, police!" A shot answered him, and a man, clapping his hands
to his face, tilted heavily forward, the blood spurting between his
Then a terrible cry arose, a din in which the Americans caught the
clanging of steel and the neighing of horses. A man was hurled
violently against Gethryn, who, losing in turn his balance, staggered
and fell. Rising to his knees, he saw a great foam-covered horse
rearing almost over him, and a red-faced rider in steel helmet and
tossing plume slashing furiously among the crowd. Next moment he was
dragged to his feet and back into the flying mob.
"Look out," panted Thaxton, "the cavalry -- they've charged --
run!" Gethryn glanced over his shoulder. All along the edge of the
frantic, panic-stricken crowd the gleaming crests of the cavalry
surged and dashed like a huge wave of steel.
Cries, groans, and curses rose and were drowned in the thunder of the
charging horses and the clashing of weapons.
"Spy!" screamed a voice in his ear. Gethryn turned, but the fellow
was legging it for safety.
Suddenly he saw a woman who, pushed and crowded by the mob, stumbled
and fell. In a moment he was by her side, bent over to raise her, was
hurled upon his face, rose blinded by dust and half-stunned, but
dragging her to her feet with him.
Swept onward by the rush, knocked this way and that, he still managed
to support the dazed woman, and by degrees succeeded in controlling
his own course, which he bent toward the Obelisk. As he neared the
goal of comparative safety, exhausted, he suffered himself and the
woman to be carried on by the rush. Then a blinding flash split the
air in front, and the crash of musketry almost in his face hurled him
Men threw up their hands and sank in a heap or spun round and pitched
headlong. For a moment he swayed in the drifting smoke. A blast of
hot, sickening air enveloped him. Then a dull red cloud seemed to
settle slowly, crushing, grinding him into the earth.
When Gethryn unclosed his eyes the dazzling sunlight almost blinded
him. A thousand grotesque figures danced before him, a hot red vapor
seemed to envelop him. He felt a dull pain in his ears and a numb
sensation about the legs. Gradually he recalled the scene that had
just passed; the flying crowd lashed by that pitiless iron scourge;
the cruel panic; the mad, suffocating rush; and then that crash of
thunder which had crushed him.
He lay quite still, not offering to move. A strange languor seemed to
weigh down his very heart. The air reeked with powder smoke. Not a
breath was stirring.
Presently the numbness in his knees changed to a hot, pricking throb.
He tried to move his legs, but found he could not. Then a sudden
thought sent the blood with a rush to his heart. Perhaps he no longer
had any legs! He remembered to have heard of legless men whose phantom
members caused them many uncomfortable sensations. He certainly had a
dull pain where his legs belonged, but the question was, had he legs
also? The doubt was too much, and with a faint cry he struggled to
"The devil!" exclaimed a voice close to his head, and a pair of
startled eyes met his own. " The devil!" repeated the owner of the
eyes, as if to a apostrophize some particular one. He was a bird-like
little fellow, with thin canary-colored hair and eyebrows and
colorless eyes, and he was seated upon a campstool about two feet from
He blinked at Gethryn. "These Frenchmen," said he, "have as many
lives as a cat."
"Thanks!" said Gethryn, smiling faintly.
"An Englishman! The devil!" shouted the pale-eyed man, hopping in
haste from his campstool and dropping a well-thumbed sketching-block
as he did so.
"Don't be an ass," suggested Gethryn; "you'd much better help me to
"Look here," cried the other, "how was I to know you were not done
"What's the matter with me?" said Gethryn. "Are my -- my legs
The little man glanced at Gethryn's shoes.
No, they're all there, unless you originally had more than the normal
number -- in fact I'm afraid -- I think you're all right.
Gethryn stared at him.
"And what the devil am I to do with this sketch?" he continued,
kicking the fallen block. "I've been at it for an hour. It isn't half
bad, you know. I was going to call it `Love in Death.' It was for the
London Illustrated Mirror."
Gethryn lay quite still. He had decided the little fellow was mad.
"Dead in each other's arms!" continued the stranger, sentimentally.
"She so fair -- he so brave -- "
Gethryn sprang up impatiently, but only a little way. Something held
him down and he fell back.
"Do you want to get up?" asked the stranger.
"I should rather think so."
The other bent down and placed his hands under Gethryn's arms, and --
half helped, half by his own impatient efforts -- Rex sat up, leaning
against the other man. A sharp twinge shot through the numbness of his
legs, and his eyes, seeking the cause, fell upon the body of a woman.
She lay across his knees, apparently dead. Rex remembered her now for
the first time.
"Lift her," he said weakly.
The little man with some difficulty succeeded in moving the body; then
Gethryn, putting one arm around the other's neck, struggled up. He was
stiff, and toppled about a little, but before long he was pretty
steady on his feet.
"The woman," he said, "perhaps she is not dead."
"Dead she is," said the Artist of the Mirror cheerfully, gathering
up his pencils, which lay scattered on the steps of the pedestal. He
leaned over the little heap of crumpled clothing.
"Shot, I fancy," he muttered.
Gethryn, feeling his strength returning and the circulation restored
to his limbs, went over to the place where she lay.
"Have you a flask?" he asked. The little Artist eyed him
"Are you a newspaperman?"
"No, an art student."
"Nothing to do with newspapers?"
"I don't drink," said the queer little person.
"I never said you did," said Gethryn. "Have you a flask, or haven't
The stranger slowly produced one, and poured a few drops into his pink
"We may as well try," he said, and began to chafe her forehead.
"Here, take the whiskey -- let it trickle, so, between her teeth.
Don't spill any more than you can help," he added.
"Has she been shot?" asked Gethryn.
"Poor little thing, look at her roll of music!" said Gethryn, wiping
a few drops of blood from her pallid face, and glancing
compassionately at the helpless, dust-covered figure.
"I'm afraid it's no use -- "
"Give her some more whiskey, quick!" interrupted the stranger.
Gethryn tremblingly poured a few more drops between the parted lips. A
faint color came into her temples. She moved, shivered from head to
foot, and then, with a half-choked sob, opened her eyes.
"Mon Dieu, comme je souffre!"
"Where do you suffer?" said Gethryn gently.
"The arm; I think it is broken."
Gethryn stood up and looked about for help. The Place was nearly
deserted. The blue-jacketed hussars were still standing over by the
Avenue, and an occasional heavy, red-faced cuirassier walked his
sweating horse slowly up and down the square. A few policemen lounged
against the river wall, chatting with the sentries, and far down the
dusty Rue Royale, the cannon winked and blinked before the Church of
The rumble of wheels caused him to turn. A clumsy, blue-covered wagon
drew up at the second fountain. It was a military ambulance. A
red-capped trooper sprang down jingling from one of the horses, and
was joined by two others who had followed the ambulance and who also
dismounted. Then the three approached a group of policemen who were
lifting something from the pavement. At the same moment he heard
voices beside him, and turning, found that the girl had risen and was
sitting on the campstool, her head leaning against the little
An officer stood looking down at her. His boots were spotless. The
band of purple on his red and gold cap showed that he was a surgeon.
"Can we be of any assistance to madame?" he inquired.
"I was looking for a cab," said Gethryn, "but perhaps she is not
strong enough to be taken to her home."
A frightened look came into the girl's face and she glanced anxiously
at the ambulance. The surgeon knelt quietly beside her.
"Madame is not seriously hurt," he said, after a rapid examination.
"The right arm is a little strained, but it will be nothing, I assure
you, Madame; a matter of a few days, that is all."
He rose and stood brushing the knees of his trousers with his
handkerchief. "Monsieur is a foreigner?"
Gethryn smiled. "The accent?"
"On the contrary, I assure you, Monsieur," cried the officer with
more politeness than truth. He eyed the ambulance. "The people of
Paris have learned a lesson today," he said.
A trooper clattered up, leading an officer's horse, and dismounted,
saluting. The young surgeon glanced at his watch.
"Picard," he said, "stop a closed cab and send it here."
The trooper wheeled his horse and galloped away across the square, and
the officer turned to the others.
"Madame, I trust, will soon recover," he said courteously. "Madame,
messieurs, I have the honor to salute you." And with many a clink and
jingle, he sprang into the saddle and clattered away in the wake of
the slowly moving ambulance.
At the corner of the Rue Royale, Gethryn saw the trooper stop a cab
and point to the Obelisk. He went over and asked the canary-colored
stranger, "Will you take her home, or shall I?"
"Why, you, of course; you brought her here."
"No, I didn't. I never saw her until I noticed her being pushed about
by the crowd." He caught the girl's eye and colored furiously, hoping
she did not suspect the nature of their discussion. Before her
helplessness it seemed so brutal.
The cab drew up before the Obelisk and a gruff voice cried, "V'la!
M'ssieurs! -- 'dames!"
"Put your arm on my shoulder -- so," said Gethryn, and the two men
raised her gently. Once in the cab, she sank back, looking limp and
white. Gethryn turned sharply to the other man.
"Shall I go?"
"Rather," replied the little stranger, pleasantly.
Opening his coat in haste, he produced a square of pasteboard. "My
card," he said, offering one to Gethryn, who bowed and fumbled in his
pockets. As usual, his card-case was in another coat.
"I'm sorry I have none," he said at length, "but my name is
Reginald Gethryn, and I shall give myself the pleasure of calling to
thank you for -- "
"For nothing," laughed the other, "excepting for the sketch, which
you may have when you come to see me."
"Thanks, and au revoir," glancing at the card. "Au revoir, Mr
He was giving the signal to the cabby when his new acquaintance
"You're quite sure -- you -- er -- don't know any newspapermen?"
"All right -- all right -- and -- er -- just don't mention about my
having a flask, if you do meet any of them. I -- er -- keep it for
others. I don't drink."
"Certainly not," began Gethryn, but Mr T. Hoppley Bulfinch had
seized his campstool and trotted away across the square.
Gethryn leaned into the cab.
"Will you give me your address?" he asked gently.
"Rue Monsieur le Prince -- 430 -- " she whispered. "Do you know
where it is?"
"Yes," said Gethryn. It was his own number.
"Rue Monsieur le Prince 430", he repeated to the driver, and
stepping in, softly shut the door.
Rain was falling steadily. The sparrows huddled under the eaves, or
hopped disconsolately along the windowsills, uttering short,
ill-tempered chirps. The wind was rising, blowing in quick, sharp
gusts and sweeping the forest of rain spears, rank upon rank, in mad
dashes against the glass-roofed studio.
Gethryn, curled up in a corner of his sofa, listlessly watched the
showers of pink and white blossoms which whirled and eddied down from
the rocking chestnuts, falling into the windy court in little heaps.
One or two stiff-legged flies crawled rheumatically along the window
glass, only to fall on their backs and lie there buzzing.
The two bull pups had silently watched the antics of these maudlin
creatures, but their interest changed to indignation when one sodden
insect attempted a final ascent and fell noisily upon the floor under
their very noses. Then they rose as one dog and leaped madly upon the
intruder, or meant to; but being pups, and uncertain in their
estimation of distances, they brought up with startled yelps against
the wall. Gethryn took them in his arms, where they found consolation
in chewing the buttons off his coat. The parrot had driven the raven
nearly crazy by turning upside down and staring at him for fifteen
minutes of insulting silence. Mrs Gummidge was engaged in a matronly
and sedate toilet, interrupting herself now and then to bestow a
critical glance upon the parrot. She heartily approved of his attitude
toward the raven, and although the old cynic cared nothing for Mrs
Gummidge's opinion, he found a sour satisfaction in warning her of her
enemy's hostile intentions. This he always did with a croak, causing
Mrs Gummidge to look up just in time, and the raven to hop back
The rain beat a constant tattoo on the roof, and this, mingling with
the drowsy purr of the cat, who was now marching to and fro with tail
erect in front of Gethryn, exercised a soothing influence, and
presently a snore so shocked the parrot that he felt obliged to
relieve his mind by a series of intricate gymnastics upon his perch.
Gethryn was roused by a violent hammering on his door. The room had
grown dark, and night had come on while he slept.
"All right -- coming," he shouted, groping his way across the room.
Slipping the bolt, he opened the door and looked out, but could see
nothing in the dark hallway. Then he felt himself seized and hugged
and dragged back into his studio, where he was treated to a heavy slap
on the shoulder. Then someone struck a match and presently, by the
light of a candle, he saw Clifford and Elliott, and farther back in
the shade another form which he thought he knew.
Clifford began, "Here you are! We thought you were dead -- killed
through my infernal fooling." He turned very red, and stammered,
"Tell him, Elliott."
"Why, you see," said Elliott, "we've been hunting for you high and
low since the fight yesterday afternoon. Clifford was nearly crazy. He
said it was his fault. We went to the Morgue and then to the
hospitals, and finally to the police -- " A knock interrupted him,
and a policeman appeared at the door.
Clifford looked sheepish.
"The young gentleman who is missing -- this is his room?" inquired
"Oh, he's found -- he's all right," said Clifford, hurriedly. The
"Here he is," said Elliott, pointing to Rex.
The man transferred his stare to Gethryn, but did not offer to move.
"I am the supposed deceased," laughed Rex, with a little bow.
"But how am I to know?" said the officer.
"Why, here I am."
"But," said the man, suspiciously, "I want to know how I am to
"Nonsense," said Elliott, laughing.
"But, Monsieur," expostulated the officer, politely.
"This is Reginald Gethryn, artist, I tell you!"
The policeman shrugged his shoulders. He was noncommittal and very
"Messieurs," he said, "my orders are to lock up this room."
"But it's my room, I can't spare my room," laughed Gethryn. "From
whom did you take your orders?"
"From Monsieur the Prefect of the Seine."
"Oh, it is all right, then," said Gethryn. "Take a seat."
He went to his desk, wrote a hasty note, and then called the man.
"Read that, if you please, Monsieur Sergeant de Ville."
The man's eyes grew round. "Certainly, Monsieur, I will take the note
to the Prefect," he said; "Monsieur will pardon the intrusion."
"Don't mention it," said Rex, smiling, and slipped a franc into his
big red fist. The officer pocketed it with a demure "Merci,
Monsieur," and presently the clank of his bayonet died away on the
"Well," said Elliott, "you're found." Clifford was beginning again
with self-reproaches and self-abasement, but Rex broke in: "You
fellows are awfully good -- I do assure you I appreciate it. But I
wasn't in any more danger than the rest of you. What about Thaxton and
the Colossus and Carleton?" He grew anxious as he named them.
"We all got off with no trouble at all, only we missed you -- and
then the troops fired, and they chased us over the bridge and
scattered us in the Quarter, and we all drifted one by one into the
Café des Écoles. And then you didn't come, and we waited till after
dinner, and finally came here to find your door locked -- "
"Oh!" burst out Clifford, "I tell you, Rex -- damn it! I will
express my feelings!"
"No, you won't," said Rex; "drop 'em, old boy, don't express 'em.
Here we are -- that's enough, isn't it, Shakespeare?"
The bird had climbed to Gethryn's shoulder and was cocking his eye
fondly at Clifford. They were dear friends. Once he had walked up
Clifford's arm and had grabbed him by the ear, for which Clifford,
more in sorrow than in anger, soaked him in cold water. Since that,
their mutual understanding had been perfect.
"Where are you going to, you old fiend?" said Clifford, tickling the
"Hell!" shrieked the bird.
"Good Heavens! I never taught him that," said Gethryn.
Clifford smiled, without committing himself.
"But where were you, Rex?" asked Elliott.
Rex flushed. "Hullo," cried Clifford, "here's Reginald blushing. If
I didn't know him better I'd swear there's a woman in it." The dark
figure at the end of the room rose and walked swiftly over, and Rex
saw that it was Braith, as he had supposed.
"I swear I forgot him," laughed Elliott. "What a queer bird you
are, Braith, squatting over there as silent as a stuffed owl!"
"He has been walking his legs off after you," began Clifford, but
Braith cut him short with a brusque --
"Where were you, Rex?"
Gethryn winced. "I'd rather -- I think" -- he began, slowly --
"Excuse me -- it's not my business," growled Braith, throwing
himself into a seat and beginning to rub Mrs Gummidge the wrong way.
"Confound the cat!" he added, examining some red parallel lines
which suddenly decorated the back of his hand.
"She won't stand rubbing the wrong way," said Rex, smiling uneasily.
"Like the rest of us," said Elliott.
"More fool he who tries it," said Braith, and looked at Gethryn with
an affectionate smile that made him turn redder than before.
"Rex," began Clifford again, with that fine tact for which he was
celebrated, "own up! You spent last night warbling under the windows
"Or Frisette," said Elliott, "or Cosette."
"Or Babette, Lisette, Frisette, Cosette, Babette!" chanted the two
young men in a sort of catch.
Braith so seldom swore, that the round oath with which he broke into
their vocal exercises stopped them through sheer astonishment. But
Clifford, determined on self-assertion and loving an argument,
especially out of season, turned on Braith and began:
"Why should not Youth love?"
"Love! Bah!" said Braith.
"Why Bah?" he persisted, stimulated by the disgust of Braith. "Now
if a man -- take Elliott, for example -- "
"Take yourself," cried the other.
"Well -- myself, for example. Suppose when my hours of weary toil are
over -- returning to my lonely cell, I encounter the blue eyes of
Ninette on the way, or the brown eyes of Cosette, or perhaps the black
eyes of -- "
Braith stamped impatiently.
"Lisette," said Clifford, sweetly. "Why should I not refresh my
drooping spirits by adoring Lisette -- Cos--- "
"Oh, come, you said that before," said Gethryn. "You're getting to
be a bore, Clifford."
"You at least can no longer reproach me," said the other, with a
quick look that increased Gethryn's embarrassment.
"Let him talk his talk of bewitching grisettes, and gay students,"
said Braith, more angry than Rex had ever seen him. "He's never
content except when he's dangling after some fool worse than himself.
Damn this `Bohemian love' rot! I've been here longer than you have,
Clifford," he said, suddenly softening and turning half
apologetically to the latter, who nodded to intimate that he hadn't
taken offense. "I've seen all that shabby romance turn into such
reality as you wouldn't like to face. I've seen promising lives go out
in ruin and disgrace -- here in this very street -- in this very house
-- lives that started exactly on the lines that you are finding so
mighty pleasant just now."
Clifford was in danger of being silenced. That would never do.
"Papa Braith," he smiled, "is it that you too have been through the
mill? Shall I present your compliments to the miller? I'm going. Come,
Elliott took up his hat and followed.
"Braith," he said, "we'll drink your health as we go through the
"Remember that the mill grinds slowly but surely," said Braith.
"He speaks in parables," laughed Clifford, halfway downstairs, and
the two took up the catch they had improvised, singing, "Lisette --
Cosette -- Ninette -- " in thirds more or less out of tune, until
Gethryn shut the door on the last echoes that came up from the hall
Gethryn came back and sat down, and Braith took a seat beside him, but
neither spoke. Braith had his pipe and Rex his cigarette.
When the former was ready, he began to speak. He could not conceal the
effort it cost him, but that wore away after he had been talking a
"Rex," he began, "when I say that we are friends, I mean, for my
own part, that you are more to me than any man alive; and now I am
going to tell you my story. Don't interrupt me. I have only just
courage enough; if any of it oozes out, I may not be able to go on.
Well, I have been through the mill. Clifford was right. They say it is
a phase through which all men must pass. I say, must or not, if you
pass through it you don't come out without a stain. You're never the
same man after. Don't imagine I mean that I was brutally dissolute. I
don't want you to think worse of me than I deserve. I kept a clean
tongue in my head -- always. So do you. I never got drunk -- neither
do you. I kept a distance between myself and the women whom those
fellows were celebrating in song just now -- so do you. How much is
due in both of us to principle, and how much to fastidiousness, Rex? I
found out for myself at last, and perhaps your turn will not be long
in coming. After avoiding entanglements for just three years -- " He
looked at Rex, who dropped his head -- "I gave in to a temptation as
coarse, vulgar and silly as any I had ever despised. Why? Heaven
knows. She was as vulgar a leech as ever fastened on a calf like
myself. But I didn't think so then. I was wildly in love with her. She
said she was madly in love with me." Braith made a grimace of such
disgust that Rex would have laughed, only he saw in time that it was
self-disgust which made Braith's mouth look so set and hard.
"I wanted to marry her. She wouldn't marry me. I was not rich, but
what she said was: `One hates one's husband.' When I say vulgar, I
don't mean she had vulgar manners. She was as pretty and trim and
clever -- as the rest of them. An artist, if he sees all that really
exists, sometimes also sees things which have no existence at all. Of
these were the qualities with which I invested her -- the moral and
mental correspondencies to her blonde skin and supple figure. She
justified my perspicacity one day by leaving me for a loathsome little
Jew. The last time I heard of her she had been turned out of a
gambling hell in his company. His name is Emanuel Pick. Is not this a
shabby romance? Is it not enough to make a self-respecting man hang
his head -- to know that he has once found pleasure in the society of
the mistress of Mr Emanuel Pick?"
A long silence followed, during which the two men smoked, looking in
opposite directions. At last Braith reached over and shook the ashes
out of his pipe. Rex lighted a fresh cigarette at the same time, and
their eyes met with a look of mutual confidence and goodwill. Braith
spoke again, firmly this time.
"God keep you out of the mire, Rex; you're all right thus far. But it
is my solemn belief that an affair of that kind would be your ruin as
an artist; as a man."
"The Quarter doesn't regard things in that light," said Gethryn,
trying hard to laugh off the weight that oppressed him.
"The Quarter is a law unto itself. Be a law unto yourself, Rex --
Good night, old chap."
"Good night, Braith," said Gethryn slowly.
Thirion's at six pm. Madame Thirion, neat and demure, sat behind her
desk; her husband, in white linen apron and cap, scuttled back and
forth shouting, "Bon! Bon!" to the orders that came down the call
trumpet. The waiters flew crazily about, and cries went up for
"Pierre" and "Jean" and "green peas and fillet."
The noise, smoke, laughter, shouting, rattle of dishes, the
penetrating odor of burnt paper and French tobacco, all proclaimed the
place a Latin Quarter restaurant. The English and Americans ate like
civilized beings and howled like barbarians. The Germans, when they
had napkins, tucked them under their chins. The Frenchmen -- well!
they often agreed with the hated Teuton in at least one thing; that
knives were made to eat with. But which of the four nationalities
exceeded the others in turbulence and bad language would be hard to
Clifford was eating his chop and staring at the blonde adjunct of a
dapper little Frenchman.
"Clifford," said Carleton, "stop that."
"I'm mesmerizing her," said Clifford. "It's a case of hypnotism."
The girl, who had been staring back at Clifford, suddenly shrugged her
shoulders, and turning to her companion, said aloud:
"How like a monkey, that foreigner!"
Clifford withdrew his eyes in a hurry, amid a roar of laughter from
the others. He was glad when Braith's entrance caused a diversion.
"Hullo, Don Juan! I see you, Lothario! Drinking again?"
Braith took it all as a matter of course, but this time failed to
return as good as they gave. He took a seat beside Gethryn and said in
a low tone:
"I've just come from your house. There's a letter from the Salon in
Gethryn set down his wine untasted and reached for his hat.
"What's the matter, Reggy? Has Lisette gone back on you?" asked
"It's the Salon," said Braith, as Gethryn went out with a hasty
"Poor Reggy, how hard he takes it!" sighed Clifford.
Gethryn hurried along the familiar streets with his heart in his boots
sometimes, and sometimes in his mouth.
In his box was a letter and a note addressed in pencil. He snatched
them both, and lighting a candle, mounted the stairs, unlocked his
door and sank breathless upon the lounge. He tore open the first
envelope. A bit of paper fell out. It was from Braith and said:
I congratulate you either way. If you are successful I shall be as
glad as you are. If not, I still congratulate you on the manly
courage which you are going to show in turning defeat into victory.
"He's one in a million," thought Gethryn, and opened the other
letter. It contained a folded paper and a card. The card was white.
The paper read:
You are admitted to the Salon with a No. 1. My compliments. J.
He ought to have been pleased, but instead he felt weak and giddy, and
the pleasure was more like pain. He leaned against the table quite
unstrung, his mind in a whirl. He got up and went to the window. Then
he shook himself and walked over to his cabinet. Taking out a bunch of
keys, he selected one and opened what Clifford called his "cellar."
Clifford knew and deplored the fact that Gethryn's "cellar" was no
longer open to the public. Since the day when Rex returned from
Julien's, tired and cross, to find a row of empty bottles on the floor
and Clifford on the sofa conversing incoherently with himself, and had
his questions interrupted by a maudlin squawk from the parrot -- also
tipsy -- since that day Gethryn had carried the key. He now produced a
wine glass and a dusty bottle, filled the one from the other and
emptied it three times in rapid succession. Then he took the glass to
the washbasin and rinsed it with great slowness and precision. Then he
sat down and tried to think. Number One meant a mention, perhaps a
medal. He would telegraph his aunt tomorrow. Suddenly he felt a strong
desire to tell someone. He would go and see Braith. No, Braith was in
the evening class at the Beaux Arts; so were the others, excepting
Clifford and Elliott, and they were at a ball across the river.
Whom could he see? He thought of the garçon. He would ring him up and
give him a glass of wine. Alcide was a good fellow and stole very
little. The clock struck eleven.
"No, he's gone to bed. Alcide, you've missed a glass of wine and a
cigar, you early bird."
His head was clear enough now. He realized his good fortune. He had
never been so happy in his life. He called the pups and romped with
them until an unlucky misstep sent Mrs Gummidge, with a shriek, to the
top of the wardrobe, whence she glared at Gethryn and spit at the
The young man sat down fairly out of breath, but the pups still kept
making charges at his legs and tumbled over themselves with barking.
He gathered them up and carried them into his bedroom to their
sleeping box. As he stooped to drop them in, there came a knock at his
studio door. But when he hastened to open it, glad of company, there
was no one there. Surprised, he turned back and saw on the floor
before him a note. Picking it up, he took it to the lamp and read it.
It was signed, "Yvonne Descartes."
When he had read it twice, he sat down to think. Presently he took
something out of his waistcoat pocket and held it close to the light.
It was a gold brooch in the shape of a fleur-de-lis. On the back was
engraved "Yvonne." He held it in his hand a while, and then, getting
up, went slowly towards the door. He opened the door, closed it behind
him and moved toward the stairs. Suddenly he started.
"Braith! Is that you?"
There was no answer. His voice sounded hollow in the tiled hallway.
"Braith," he said again. "I thought I heard him say `Rex."' But he
kept on to the next floor and stopped before the door of the room
which was directly under his own. He paused, hesitated, looking up at
a ray of light which came out from a crack in the transom.
"It's too late," he muttered, and turned away irresolutely.
A clear voice called from within, "Entrez donc, Monsieur."
He opened the door and went in.
On a piano stood a shaded lamp, which threw a soft yellow light over
everything. The first glance gave him a hasty impression of a white
lace-covered bed and a dainty toilet table on which stood a pair of
tall silver candlesticks; and then, as the soft voice spoke again,
"Will Monsieur be seated?" he turned and confronted the girl whom he
had helped in the Place de la Concorde. She lay in a cloud of fleecy
wrappings on a lounge that was covered with a great white bearskin.
Her blue eyes met Gethryn's, and he smiled faintly. She spoke again:
"Will Monsieur sit a little nearer? It is difficult to speak loudly
-- I have so little strength."
Gethryn walked over to the sofa and half unconsciously sank down on
the rug which fell on the floor by the invalid's side. He spoke as he
would to a sick child.
"I am so very glad you are better. I inquired of the concierge and
she told me."
A slight color crept into the girl's face. "You are so good. Ah! what
should I have done -- what can I say?" She stopped; there were tears
in her eyes.
"Please say nothing -- please forget it."
"Forget!" Presently she continued, almost in a whisper, "I had so
much to say to you, and now you are really here, I can think of
nothing, only that you saved me."
"Mademoiselle -- I beg!"
She lay silent a moment more; then she raised herself from the sofa
and held out her hand. His hand and eyes met hers.
"I thank you," she said, "I can never forget." Then she sank back
among the white fluff of lace and fur. "I only learned this
morning," she went on, after a minute, " who sat beside me all that
night and bathed my arm, and gave me cooling drinks."
Gethryn colored. "There was no one else to take care of you. I sent
for my friend, Doctor Ducrot, but he was out of town. Then Dr Bouvier
promised to come, and didn't. The concierge was ill herself -- I could
not leave you alone. You know, you were a little out of your head with
fright and fever. I really couldn't leave you to get on by yourself."
"No," cried the girl, excitedly, "you could not leave me after
carrying me out of that terrible crowd; yourself hurt, exhausted, you
sat by my side all night long."
Gethryn laid his hand on her. "Hélène," he said, half jesting, "I
did what anyone else would have done under the circumstances -- and
She looked at him shyly. "Don't forget," she said.
"I couldn't forget your face," he rashly answered, moved by the
emotion she showed.
"Did you know me when you first saw me in the crowd?" She expected
him to say "Yes."
"No," he replied, "I only saw you were a woman and in danger of
The brightness fell from her face. "Then it was all the same to you
who I was."
He nodded. "Yes -- any woman, you know."
"Old and dirty and ugly?"
His hand slipped from hers. "And a woman -- yes."
She shrugged her pretty shoulders. "Then I wish it had been someone
"So do I, for your sake," he answered gravely.
She glanced at him, half frightened; then leaning swiftly toward him:
"Forgive me; I would not change places with a queen."
"Nor I with any man!" he cried gayly. "Am I not Paris?"
"You are Hélène," he said, laughing. "Let me see -- Paris and
Hélène would not have changed -- "
She interrupted him impatiently. "Words! you do not mean them. Nor do
I, either," she added, hastily. After that neither spoke for a while.
Gethryn, half stretched on the big rug, idly twisting bits of it into
curls, felt very comfortable, without troubling to ask himself what
would come next. Presently she glanced up.
"Paris, do you want to smoke?"
"You don't think I would smoke in this dainty nest?"
"Please do, I like it. We are -- we will be such very good friends.
There are matches on that table in the silver box."
He shook his head, laughing. "You are too indulgent."
"I am never indulgent, excepting to myself. But I have caprices and I
generally die when they are not indulged. This is one. Please smoke."
"Oh, in that case, with Hélène's permission."
She laughed delightedly as he blew the rings of fragrant smoke far up
to the ceiling. There was another long pause, then she began again:
"Paris, you speak French very well."
He came from where he had been standing by the table and seated
himself once more among the furs at her feet.
"Do I, Hélène?"
"Yes -- but you sing it divinely."
Gethryn began to hum the air of the dream song, smiling, "Yes 'tis a
dream -- a dream of love," he repeated, but stopped.
Yvonne's temples and throat were crimson.
"Please open the window," she cried, "it's so warm here."
"Hélène, I think you are blushing," said he, mischievously.
She turned her head away from him. He rose and opened the window,
leaning out a moment; his heart was beating violently. Presently he
"It's one o'clock."
"Hélène, it's one o'clock in the morning."
"Are you tired?" she murmured.
"Nor I -- don't go."
"But it's one o'clock."
"Don't go yet."
He sank down irresolutely on the rug again. "I ought to go," he
"Are we to remain friends?"
"That is for Hélène to say."
"And Hélène will leave it to Homer!"
"To whom?" said Gethryn.
"Monsieur Homer," said the girl, faintly.
"But that was a tragedy."
"But they were friends."
"In a way. Yes, in a way."
Gethryn tried to return to a light tone. "They fell in love, I
believe." No answer. "Very well," said Gethryn, still trying to
joke, "I will carry you off in a boat, then."
"To Troy -- when?"
"No, to Meudon, when you are well. Do you like the country?"
"I love it," she said.
"Well, I'll take my easel and my paints along too."
She looked at him seriously. "You are an artist -- I heard that from
"Yes," said Gethryn, "I think I may claim the title tonight."
And then he told her about the Salon. She listened and brightened with
sympathy. Then she grew silent.
"Do you paint landscapes?"
"Figures," said the young man, shortly.
"Of course," he answered, still more drily.
"Draped," she persisted.
"I hate models!" she cried out, almost fiercely.
"They are not a pleasing set, as a rule," he admitted. "But I know
some decent ones."
She shivered and shook her curly head. "Some are very pretty, I
"Do you know Sarah Brown?"
"Yes, I know Sarah."
"Men go wild about her."
"I never did."
Yvonne was out of humor. "Oh," she cried, petulantly, "you are very
cold -- you Americans -- like ice."
"Because we don't run after Sarah?"
"Because you are a nation of business, and -- "
"And brains," said Gethryn, drily.
There was an uncomfortable pause. Gethryn looked at the girl. She lay
with her face turned from him.
"Hélène!" No answer. "Yvonne -- Mademoiselle!" No answer. "It's
A slight impatient movement of the head.
"Good night." Gethryn rose. "Good night," he repeated. He waited
for a moment. "Good night, Yvonne," he said, for the third time.
She turned slowly toward him, and as he looked down at her he felt a
tenderness as for a sick child.
"Good night," he said once more, and, bending over her, gently laid
the little gold clasp in her open hand. She looked at it in surprise;
then suddenly she leaned swiftly toward him, rested a brief second
against him, and then sank back again. The golden fleur-de-lis
glittered over his heart.
"You will wear it?" she whispered.
"Then -- good night."
Half unconsciously he stooped and kissed her forehead; then went his
way. And all that night one slept until the morning broke, and one saw
morning break, then fell asleep.
It was the first day of June. In the Luxembourg Gardens a soft breeze
stirred the tender chestnut leaves, and blew sparkling ripples across
the water in the Fountain of Marie de Medicis.
The modest little hothouse flowers had quite recovered from the shock
of recent transplanting and were ambitiously pushing out long spikes
and clusters of crimson, purple and gold, filling the air with spicy
perfume, and drawing an occasional battered butterfly, gaunt and
seedy, from his long winter's sleep, but still remembering the flowery
days of last season's brilliant debut.
Through the fresh young leaves the sunshine fell, dappling the glades
and thickets, bathing the gray walls of the Palais du Sénat, and
almost warming into life the queer old statues of long departed
royalty, which for so many years have looked down from the great
terrace to the Palace of the King.
Through every gate the people drifted into the gardens, and the
winding paths were dotted and crowded with brightly-colored,
Here a half dozen meager, black-robed priests strolled silently amid
the tender verdure; here a noisy crowd of children, gamboling
awkwardly in the wake of a painted rubber ball, made day hideous with
Now a slovenly company of dragoons shuffled by, their big shapeless
boots covered with dust, and their whalebone plumes hanging in
straight points to the middle of their backs; now a group of strutting
students and cocottes passed noisily, the girls in spotless spring
plumage, the students vying with each other in the display of blinking
eyeglasses, huge bunchy neckties, and sleek checked trousers.
Policemen, trim little grisettes (for whatever is said to the
contrary, the grisette is still extant in Paris), nurse girls with
turbaned heads and ugly red streamers, wheeling ugly red babies; an
occasional stray zouave or turco in curt Turkish jacket and white
leggings; grave old gentlemen with white mustache and military step;
gay, baggy gentlemen from St Cyr, looking like newly-painted wooden
soldiers; students from the Ecole Polytechnique; students from the
Lycée St Louis in blue and red; students from Julien's and the Beaux
Arts with a plentiful sprinkling of berets and corduroy jackets; and
group after group of jingling artillery officers in scarlet and black,
or hussars and chasseurs in pale turquoise, strolled and idled up and
down the terrace, or watched the toy yachts braving the furies of the
Over by the playgrounds, the Polichinel nuisance drummed and squeaked
to an appreciative audience of tender years. The "Jeu de paume" was
also in full swing, a truly exasperating spectacle for a modern tennis
The old man who feeds the sparrows in the afternoon, and beats his
wife at night, was intent on the former cheerful occupation, and
smiled benevolently upon the little children who watched him, open
mouthed. The numerous waterfowl -- mallard, teal, red-head, and dusky
-- waddled and dived and fought the big mouse-colored pigeons for a
share of the sparrow's crumbs.
A depraved and mongrel pointer, who had tugged at his chain in a wild
endeavor to point the whole heterogeneous mass of feathered creatures
from sparrow to swan, lost his head and howled dismally until dragged
off by the lean-legged student who was attached to the other end of
Gethryn, sprawling on a bench in the sunshine, turned up his nose.
Braith grunted scornfully.
A man passed in the crowd, stopped, stared, and then hastily advanced
"You?" said Rex, smiling and shaking hands. "Mr Clifford, this is
Mr Bulfinch; Mr Braith," -- but Mr Bulfinch was already bowing to
Braith and offering his hand, though with a curious diminution of his
first beaming cordiality. Braith's constraint was even more marked. He
had turned quite white. Bulfinch and Gethryn, who had risen to receive
him, remained standing side by side, stranded on the shoals of an
awkward situation. The little Mirror man made a grab at a topic which
he thought would float them off, and laid hold instead on one which
upset them altogether.
"I hope Mrs Braith is well. She met you all right at Vienna?"
Braith bowed stiffly, without answering.
Rex gave him a quick look, and turning on his heel, said carelessly:
"I see you and Mr Braith are old acquaintances, so I won't scruple to
leave you with him for a moment. Bring Mr Bulfinch over to the music
stand, Braith." And smiling, as if he were assisting at a charming
reunion, he led Clifford away. The latter turned, as he departed, an
eye of delighted intelligence upon Braith.
To renew his acquaintance with Mr Bulfinch was the last thing Braith
desired, but since the meeting had been thrust upon him he thanked
Gethryn's tact for removing such a witness of it as Clifford would
have been. He had no intention, however, of talking with the little
Mirror man, and maintained a profound silence, smoking steadily. This
conduct so irritated the other that he determined to force an
explanation of the matter which seemed so distasteful to his
ungracious companion. He certainly thought he had his own reasons for
resenting the sight of Braith upon a high horse, and he resumed the
conversation with all the jaunty ease which the calling of newspaper
correspondent is said to cultivate.
"I hope Mrs Braith found no difficulty in meeting you in Vienna?"
"Madame was not my wife, and we did not meet in Vienna," said Braith
Bulfinch began to stare, and to feel a little less at ease.
"She told me -- that is, her courier came to me and -- "
"Her courier? Mr Bulfinch, will you please explain what you are
talking about?" Braith turned square around and looked at him in a
way that caused a still further diminution of his jauntiness and a
proportionate increase of respect.
"Oh -- I'll explain, if I know what you want explained. We were at
Brindisi, were we not?"
"On our way to Cairo?"
"In the same hotel?"
"But I had no acquaintance with madame, and had only exchanged a word
or two with you, when you were suddenly summoned to Paris by a
Braith bowed. He remembered well the false dispatch that had drawn him
out of the way.
"Well, and when you left you told her you would be obliged to give up
going to Cairo, and asked her to meet you in Vienna, whither you would
have to go from Paris?"
"Oh, did I?"
"And you recommended a courier to her whom you knew very well, and in
whom you had great confidence."
"Ah! And what was that courier's name?"
"Emanuel Pick. I wasn't fond of Emanuel myself," with a sharp glance
at Braith's eyes, "but I supposed you knew something in his favor, or
you would not have left -- er -- the lady in his charge."
Braith was silent.
"I understood him to be your agent," said the little man,
"He was not."
A long silence followed, during which Mr Bulfinch sought and found an
explanation of several things. After a while he said musingly:
"I should like to meet Mr Pick again."
"Why should you want to meet him?"
"I wish to wring his nose two hundred times, one for each franc I
"How was that?" said Braith, absently.
"It was this way. He came to me and told me what I have repeated to
you, and that you desired madame to go on at once and wait for you in
Vienna, which you expected to reach in a few days after her arrival.
That you had bought tickets -- one first class for madame, two second
class for him and for her maid -- before you left, and had told her
you had placed plenty of money for the other expenses in her dressing
case. But this morning, on looking for the money, none could be found.
Madame was sure it had not been stolen. She thought you must have
meant to put it there, and forgotten afterwards. If she only had a few
francs, just to last as far as Naples! Madame was well known to the
bankers on the Santa Lucia there! etc. Well, I'm not such an ass that
I didn't first see madame and get her to confirm his statement. But
when she did confirm it, with such a charming laugh -- she was very
pretty -- I thought she was a lady and your wife -- "
In the midst of his bitterness, Braith could not help smiling at the
thought of Nina with a maid and a courier. He remembered the tiny
apartment in the Latin Quarter which she had been glad to occupy with
him until conducted by her courier into finer ones. He made a gesture
of disgust, and his face burned with the shame of a proud man who has
received an affront from an inferior -- and who knows it to be his own
"I can at least have the satisfaction of setting that right," he
said, holding two notes toward the little Mirror man, "and I can't
thank you enough for giving me the opportunity."
Bulfinch drew back and stammered, "You don't think I spoke for that!
You don't think I'd have spoken at all if I had known -- "
"I do not. And I'm very glad you did not know, for it gives me a
chance to clear myself. You must have thought me strangely forgetful,
Mr Bulfinch, when the money was not repaid in due time."
"I -- I didn't relish the manner in which you met me just now, I
confess, but I'm very much ashamed of myself. I am indeed."
"Shake hands," said Braith, with one of his rare smiles.
The notes were left in Mr Bulfinch's fingers, and as he thrust them
hastily out of sight, as if he truly was ashamed, he said, blinking up
at Braith, "Do you -- er -- would you -- may I offer you a glass of
whiskey?" adding hastily, "I don't drink myself."
"Why, yes," said Braith, "I don't mind, but I won't drink all
"Coffee is my tipple," said the other, in a faint voice.
"All right; suit yourself. But I should think that rather hot for
such a day."
"Oh, I'll take it iced."
"Then let us walk over to the Café by the bandstand. We shall find
the others somewhere about."
They strolled through the grove, past the music-stand, and sat down at
one of the little iron tables under the trees. The band of the Garde
Republicaine was playing. Bulfinch ordered sugar and Eau de selz for
Braith, and iced coffee for himself.
Braith looked at the program: No. 1, Faust; No. 2, La Belle Hélène.
"Rex ought to be here, he's so fond of that."
Mr Bulfinch was mixing, in a surprisingly scientific manner for a man
who didn't drink himself, something which the French call a
"coquetelle"; a bit of ice, a little seltzer, a slice of lemon, and
some Canadian Club whiskey. Braith eyed the well-worn flask.
"I see you don't trust to the Café's supplies."
"I only keep this for medicinal purposes," said the other, blinking
nervously, "and -- and I don't usually produce it when there are any
"But you," said Braith, sipping the mixture with relish, "do you
take none yourself?"
"I don't drink," said the other, and swallowed his coffee in such a
hurry as to bring on a fit of coughing. Beads of perspiration
clustered above his canary-colored eyebrows as he set down the glass
with a gasp.
Braith was watching the crowd. Presently he exclaimed:
"There's Rex now," and rising, waved his glass and his cane and
called Gethryn's name. The people sitting at adjacent tables glanced
at one another resignedly. "More crazy English!"
"Rex! Clifford!" Braith shouted, until at last they heard him. In a
few moments they had made their way through the crowd and sat down,
mopping their faces and protesting plaintively against the heat.
Gethryn's glance questioned Braith, who said, "Mr Bulfinch and I have
had the deuce of a time to make you fellows hear. You'd have been
easier to call if you knew what sort of drink he can brew."
Clifford was already sniffing knowingly at the glass and turning looks
of deep intelligence on Bulfinch, who responded gayly, "Hope you'll
have some too," and with a sidelong blink at Gethryn, he produced the
bottle, saying, "I don't drink myself, as Mr Gethryn knows."
Rex said, "Certainly not," not knowing what else to say. But the
fondness of Clifford's gaze was ineffable.
Braith, who always hated to see Clifford look like that, turned to
Gethryn. "Favorite of yours on the program."
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