In the Quarter
Robert W. Chambers
Part 2 out of 4
"Oh," he cried, "Belle Hélène." Next moment he flushed, and
feeling as if the others saw it, crimsoned all the deeper. This
escaped Clifford, however, who was otherwise occupied. But he joined
in the conversation, hoping for an argument.
"Braith and Rex go in for the Meistersinger, Walküre, and all that
rot -- but I like some tune to my music."
"Well, you're going to get it now," said Braith; "the band are
taking their places. Now for La Belle Hélène." He glanced at Gethryn,
who had turned aside and leaned on the table, shading his eyes with
The leader of the band stood wiping his mustache with one hand while
he turned the leaves of his score with the other. The musicians came
in laughing and chattering, munching their bit of biscuit or smacking
their lips over lingering reminiscences of the intermission.
They hung their bayonets against the wall, and at the rat-tat of
attention, came to order, standing in a circle with bugles and
trombones poised and eyes fixed on the little gold-mounted baton.
A slow wave of the white-gloved hand, a few gentle tips of the wand,
and then a sweep which seemed to draw out the long, rich opening chord
of the Dream Song and set it drifting away among the trees till it
lost itself in the rattle and clatter of the Boulevard St Michel.
Braith and Bulfinch set down their glasses and listened. Clifford
silently blew long wreaths of smoke into the branches overhead.
Gethryn leaned heavily on the table, one hand shading his eyes.
Oui c'est un rêve;
Un rêve doux d'amour --
The music died away in one last throb. Bulfinch sighed and blinked
sentimentally, first on one, then on the other of his companions.
Suddenly the little Mirror man's eyes bulged out, he stiffened and
grasped Braith's arm; his fingers were like iron.
"What the deuce!" began Braith, but, following the other's eyes, he
became silent and stern.
"Talk of the devil -- do you see him -- Pick?"
"I see," growled Braith.
"And -- and excuse me, but can that be madame? So like, and yet -- "
Braith leaned forward and looked steadily at a couple who were slowly
moving toward them in deep conversation.
"No," he said at last; and leaning back in his seat he refused to
Bulfinch chattered on excitedly, and at last he brought his fist down
on the table at his right, where Clifford sat drawing a caricature on
the marble top.
"I'd like," cried Bulfinch, "to take it out of his hide!"
"Hello!" said Clifford, disturbed in his peaceful occupation,
"whose hide are you going to tan?"
"Nobody's," said Braith, sternly, still watching the couple who had
now almost reached their group.
Clifford's start had roused Gethryn, who stirred and slowly looked up;
at the same moment, the girl, now very near, raised her head and Rex
gazed full into the eyes of Yvonne.
Her glance fell and the color flew to her temples. Gethryn's face lost
all its color.
"Pretty girl," drawled Clifford, "but what a dirty little beggar
she lugs about with her."
Pick heard and turned, his eyes falling first on Gethryn, who met his
look with one that was worse than a kick. He glanced next at Braith,
and then he turned green under the dirty yellow of the skin. Braith's
eyes seemed to strike fire; his mouth was close set. The Jew's eyes
shifted, only to fall on the pale, revengeful glare of T. Hoppley
Bulfinch, who was half rising from his chair with all sorts of
possibilities written on every feature.
"Let him go," whispered Braith, and turned his back.
Bulfinch sat down, his eyes like saucers. "I'd like -- but not now!"
he sputtered in a weird whisper.
Clifford had missed the whole thing. He had only eyes for the girl.
Gethryn sat staring after the couple, who were at that moment passing
the gate into the Boulevard St Michel. He saw Yvonne stop and hastily
thrust something into the Jew's hand, then, ignoring his obsequious
salute, leave him and hurry down the Rue de Medicis.
The next Gethryn knew, Braith was standing beside him.
"Rex, will you join us at the Golden Pheasant for dinner?" was what
he said, but his eyes added, "Don't let people see you look like
"I -- I -- don't know," said Gethryn. "Yes, I think so," with an
"Come along, then!" said Braith to the others, and hurried them
Rex sat still till they were out of sight, then he got up and turned
into the Avenue de l'Observatoire. He stopped and drank some cognac at
a little café, and then started on, but he had no idea where he was
Presently he found himself crossing a bridge, and looked up. The great
pile of Notre Dame de Paris loomed on his right. He crossed the Seine
and wandered on without any aim -- but passing the Tour St Jacques,
and wishing to avoid the Boulevard, he made a sharp detour to the
right, and after long wandering through byways and lanes, he crossed
the foul, smoky Canal St Martin, and bore again to the right -- always
Twilight was falling when his steps were arrested by fatigue. Looking
up, he found himself opposite the gloomy mass of La Roquette prison.
Sentinels slouched and dawdled up and down before the little painted
sentry boxes under the great gate.
Over the archway was some lettering, and Gethryn stopped to read it:
Prison of the Condemned
He looked up and down the cheerless street. It was deserted save by
the lounging sentinels and one wretched child, who crouched against
"Fiche moi le camp! Allons! En route!" growled one of the sentinels,
stamping his foot and shaking his fist at the bundle of rags.
Gethryn walked toward him.
"What's the matter with the little one?" he asked.
The soldier dropped the butt of his rifle with a ring, and said
"Pardon, Monsieur, but the gamin has been here every day and all day
for two weeks. It's disgusting."
"Is he hungry?"
"Ma foi? I can't tell you," laughed the sentry, shifting his weight
to his right foot and leaning on the cross of his bayonet.
"Are you hungry, little one?" called Gethryn, pleasantly.
The child raised his head, with a wolfish stare, then sank it again
and murmured: "I have seen him and touched him."
Gethryn turned to the soldier.
"What does he mean by that?" he demanded.
The sentry shrugged his shoulders. "He means he saw a hunchback. They
say when one sees a hunchback and touches him, it brings good luck, if
the hunchback is neither too old nor too young. Dame! I don't say
there's nothing in it, but it can't save Henri Rigaud."
"And who is Henri Rigaud?"
"What! Monsieur has not heard of the affair Rigaud? Rigaud who did
the double murder!"
"Oh, yes! In the Faubourg du Temple."
The sentry nodded. "He dies this week."
"And the child?"
Gethryn looked at the dirty little bundle of tatters.
"No one knows the exact day set for the affair, but," the sentry
sank his voice to a whisper, "between you and me, I saw the widow
going into the yard just before dinner, and Monsieur de Paris is here.
That means tomorrow morning -- click!"
"The -- the widow?" repeated Gethryn.
"The guillotine. It will be over before this time tomorrow and the
gamin there, who thinks the bossu will give him back his father --
he'll find out his mistake, all in good time -- all in good time!"
and shouldering his rifle, the sentry laughed and resumed his
slouching walk before the gateway.
Gethryn nodded to the soldier's salute and went up to the child, who
stood leaning sullenly against the wall.
"Do you know what a franc is?" he asked.
The gamin eyed him doggedly.
"But I saw him," he said.
"Saw what?" said Gethryn, gently.
"The bossu," repeated the wretched infant vacantly.
"See here," said Gethryn, "listen to me. What would you do with
"Eat, all day long, forever!"
Rex slipped two twenty-franc pieces into the filthy little fist.
"Eat," he murmured, and turned away.
Next morning, when Clifford arrived at the Atelier of MM. Boulanger
and Lefebvre, he found the students more excited than usual over the
advent of a "Nouveau."
Hazing at Julien's has assumed, of late, a comparatively mild form. Of
course there are traditions of serious trouble in former years and a
few fights have taken place, consequent upon the indignant resistance
of new men to the ridiculous demands forced upon them by their
ingenious tormentors. Still, the hazing of today is comparatively
inoffensive, and there is not much of it. In the winter the students
are too busy to notice a newcomer, except to make him feel strange and
humble by their lofty scorn. But in the autumn, when the men have
returned from their long out-of-door rest, with brush and palette, a
certain amount of friskiness is developed, which sometimes expends
itself upon the luckless "nouveau." A harmless search for the
time-honored "grand reflecteur," an enforced song and dance, a stern
command to tread the mazes of the shameless quadrille with an equally
shameless model, is usually the extent of the infliction. Occasionally
the stranger is invited to sit on a high stool and read aloud to the
others while they work, as he would like to do himself. But sometimes,
if a man resists these reasonable demands in a contumacious manner, he
is "crucified." This occurs so seldom, however, that Clifford, on
entering the barn-like studios that morning, was surprised to see that
a "crucifixion" was in progress.
A stranger was securely strapped to the top rungs of a twenty-foot
ladder which a crowd of Frenchmen were preparing to raise and place in
a slanting position against the wall.
"Who is it that those fellows are fooling with?" he asked.
"An Englishman, and it's about time we put a stop to it," answered
When Americans or Englishmen are hazed by the French students, they
make common cause in keeping watch that the matter does not go too
"How many of us are here this morning?" said Clifford.
"Fourteen who can fight," said Elliott; "they only want someone to
give the word."
Clifford buttoned his jacket and shouldered his way into the middle of
the crowd. "That's enough. He's been put through enough for today,"
he said coolly.
A Frenchman, who had himself only entered the Atelier the week
previous, laughed and replied, "We'll put you on, if you say
There was an ominous pause. Every old student there knew Clifford to
be one of the most skillful and dangerous boxers in the school.
They looked with admiration upon their countryman. It didn't cost
anything to admire him. They urged him on, and he didn't need much
urging, for he remembered his own recent experience as a new man, and
he didn't know Clifford.
"Go ahead," cried this misguided student, "he's a nouveau, and he's
Clifford laughed in his face. "Come along," he called, as some dozen
English and American students pushed into the circle and gathered
round the prostrate Englishman.
"See here, Clifford, what's the use of interrupting?" urged a big
Clifford began loosening the straps. "You know, Bonin, that we always
do interfere when it goes as far as this against an Englishman or an
American." He laughed good naturedly. "There's always been a fight
over it before, but I hope there won't be any today."
Bonin grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
After vainly fussing with the ropes, Clifford and the others finally
cut them and the "nouveau" scrambled to his feet and took an
attitude which may be seen engraved in any volume of instruction in
the noble art of self-defense. He was an Englishman of the sandy
variety. Orange-colored whiskers decorated a carefully scrubbed face,
terminating in a red-brown mustache. He had blue eyes, now lighted to
a pale green by the fire of battle, reddish-brown hair, and white
hands spattered with orange-colored freckles. All this, together with
a well made suit of green and yellow checks, and the seesaw accent of
the British Empire, answered, when politely addressed, to the name of
Cholmondeley Rowden, Esq.
"I say," he began, "I'm awfully obliged, you know, and all that;
but I'd jolly well like to give some of these cads a jolly good
licking, you know."
"Go in, my friend, go in!" laughed Clifford; "but next time we'll
leave you to hang in the air for an hour or two, that's all."
"Damn their cheek!" began the Englishman.
"See here," cried Elliott sharply, "you're only a nouveau, and
you'd better shut up till you've been here long enough to talk."
"In other words," said Clifford, "don't buck against custom."
"But I cahn't see it," said the nouveau, brushing his dusty
trousers. "I don't see it at all, you know. Damn their cheek!"
At this moment the week-weaned Frenchman shoved up to Clifford.
"What did you mean by interfering? Eh! You English pig."
Clifford looked at him with contempt. "What do you want, my little
"Nouveau!" spluttered the Gaul, "Nouveau, eh!" and he made a
terrific lunge at the American, who was sent stumbling backward, and
slipping, fell heavily.
The Frenchman gazed around in triumph, but his grin was not reflected
on the faces of his compatriots. None of them would have changed
places with him.
Clifford picked himself up deliberately. His face was calm and mild as
he walked up to his opponent, who hurriedly put himself into an
attitude of self-defense.
"Monsieur Nouveau, you are not wise. But some day you will learn
better, when you are no longer a nouveau," said Clifford, kindly. The
man looked puzzled, but kept his fists up.
"Now I am going to punish you a little," proceeded Clifford, in even
tones, "not harshly, but with firmness, for your good," he added,
walking straight up to the Frenchman.
The latter struck heavily at Clifford's head, but he ducked like a
flash, and catching his antagonist around the waist, carried him,
kicking, to the water-basin, where he turned on the water and shoved
the squirming Frenchman under. The scene was painful, but brief; when
one of the actors in it emerged from under the water-spout, he no
longer asked for anybody's blood.
"Go and dry yourself," said Clifford, cheerfully; and walking over
to his easel, sat down and began to work.
In ten minutes, all trace of the row had disappeared, excepting that
one gentleman's collar looked rather limp and his hair was uncommonly
sleek. The men worked steadily. Snatches of song and bits of whistling
rose continuously from easel and taboret, all blending in a drowsy
hum. Gethryn and Elliott caught now and then, from behind them, words
of wisdom which Clifford was administering to the now subdued Rowden.
"Yes," he was saying, "many a man has been injured for life by
these Frenchmen for a mere nothing. I had two brothers," he paused,
"and my golden-haired boy -- " he ceased again, apparently choking
"But -- I say -- you're not married, you know," said the Englishman.
"Hush," sighed Clifford, "I -- I -- married the daughter of an
African duke. She was brought to the States by a slave trader in
"Black?" gasped Mr Rowden.
"Very black, but beautiful. I could not keep her. She left me, and is
singing with Haverley's Minstrels now."
Like the majority of his countrymen, Mr Rowden was ready to believe
anything he heard of social conditions in the States, but one point
"You said the child had golden hair."
"Yes, his mother's hair was red," sighed Clifford.
Gethryn, glancing round, saw the Englishman's jaw drop, as he said,
"How extraordinary!" Then he began to smile as if suspecting a joke.
But Clifford's eye met his in gentle rebuke.
"C'est l'heure! Rest!" Down jumped the model. The men leaned back
noisily. Clifford rose, bowed gravely to the Englishman, and stepped
across the taborets to join his friends.
Gethryn was cleaning his brushes with turpentine and black soap.
"Going home, Rex?" inquired Clifford, picking up a brush and sending
a fine spray of turpentine over Elliott, who promptly returned the
"Quit that," growled Gethryn, "don't ruin those brushes."
"What's the nouveau like, Clifford?" asked Elliott. "We heard you
instructing him a little. He seems to have the true Englishman's sense
"Oh, he's not a bad sort," said Clifford. "Come and be introduced.
I'm half ashamed of myself for guying him, for he's really a very
decent, plucky fellow, a bit stiff and pig-headed, as many of 'em are
at first, and as for humor, I suppose they know their own kind, but
they do get a little confused between fact and fancy when they
converse with us."
The two strolled off with friendly intent, to seek out and ameliorate
the loneliness of Cholmondeley Rowden, Esq.
Gethryn tied up his brushes, closed his color box and, flinging on his
hat, hurried down the stairs and into the court, nodding to several
students who passed with canvas and paint-boxes tucked under their
arms. He reached the street, and, going through the Passage Brady,
emerged upon the Boulevard Sebastopol.
A car was passing and he boarded it, climbing up to the imperiale. The
only vacant seat was between a great, red-faced butcher, and a market
woman from the Halles, and although the odors of raw beef and fish
were unpleasantly perceptible, he settled himself back and soon became
lost in his own thoughts. The butcher had a copy of the Petit Journal
and every now and then he imparted bits of it across Gethryn, to the
market woman, lingering with relish over the criminal items.
"Dites donc," he cried, "here is the affair Rigaud!"
Gethryn roused up and listened.
"This morning, I knew it," cackled the woman, folding her fat hands
across her apron. "I said to Sophie, `Voyons Sophie,' I said -- "
"Shut up," interrupted the butcher, "I'm going to read."
"I was sure of it," said the woman, addressing Gethryn, "`Voyons,
Sophie,' said -- " but the butcher interrupted her, again reading
"The condemned struggled fearfully, and it required the united
efforts of six gendarmes -- "
"Cochon!" said the woman.
"Listen, will you!" cried the man. "Some disturbance was caused by
a gamin who broke from the crowd and attacked a soldier. But the
miserable was seized and carried off, screaming. Two gold pieces of 20
francs each fell from some hiding-place in his ragged clothes and were
taken charge of by the police."
The man paused and gloated over the column. "Here," he cried,
"Listen -- `Even under the knife the condemned -- "'
Gethryn rose roughly and, crowding past the man, descended the steps
and, entering the car below, sat down there.
"Butor!" roared the butcher. "Cochon! He trod on my foot!"
"He is an English pig!" sneered the woman, reaching for the
newspaper. "Let me read it now," she whined.
"Hands off," growled the man, "I'll read you what I think good."
"But it's my paper."
"It's mine now -- shut up."
The first thing Gethryn did on reaching home was to write a note to
his friend, the Prefect of the Seine, telling him how the child of
Rigaud came by the gold pieces. Then he had a quiet smoke, and then he
went out and lunched at the Café des Écoles, frugally, on a sandwich
and a glass of beer. After that he returned to his studio and sat down
to his desk again. He opened a small memorandum book and examined some
columns of figures. They were rather straggling, not very well kept,
but they served to convince him that his accounts were forty francs
behind, and he would have to economize a little for the next week or
two. After this, he sat and thought steadily. Finally he took a sheet
of his best cream laid note paper, dipped his pen in the ink, and
began to write. The note was short, but it took him a long while to
compose it, and when it was sealed and directed to "Miss Ruth Deane,
Lung' Arno Guicciardini, Florence, Italy," he sat holding it in his
hand as if he did not know what to do with it.
Two o'clock struck. He started up, and quickly rolling up the shades
from the glass roof and pulling out his easel, began to squeeze tube
after tube of color upon his palette. The parrot came down and tiptoed
about the floor, peering into color boxes, pastel cases, and pots of
black soap, with all the curiosity of a regulation studio bore. Steps
echoed on the tiles outside.
Gethryn opened the door quickly. "Ah, Elise! Bon jour!" he said,
pleasantly. "Entrez donc!"
"Merci, Monsieur Gethryn," smiled his visitor, a tall, well-shaped
girl with dark eyes and red cheeks.
"Ten minutes late," Elise, said Gethryn, laughing, "my time's worth
a franc a minute; so prepare to pay up."
"Very well," retorted the girl, also laughing and showing her pretty
teeth, "but I have decided to charge twenty francs an hour from
today. Now, what do you owe me, Monsieur?"
Gethryn shook his brushes at her. "You are spoiled, Elise -- you used
to pose very well and were never late."
"And I pose well now!" she cried, her professional pride piqued.
"Monsieur Bonnat and Monsieur Constant have praised me all this week.
Voila," she finished, throwing off her waist and letting her skirts
fall in a circle to her feet.
"Oh, you can pose if you will," answered Gethryn, pleasantly.
"Come, we begin?"
The girl stepped daintily out of the pile of discarded clothes, and
picking her way across the room with her bare feet, sprang lightly
upon the model stand.
"The same as last week?" she asked, smiling frankly.
"Yes, that's it," he replied, shifting his easel and glancing up at
the light; "only drop the left elbow a bit -- there, that's it; now a
little to the left -- the knee -- that will do."
The girl settled herself into the pose, glanced at the clock, and then
turning to Gethryn said, "And I am to look at you, am I not?"
"Where could you find a more charming object?" murmured he, sorting
"Thank you," she pouted, stealing a glance at him; "than you?"
"Except Mademoiselle Elise. There, now we begin!"
The rest of the hour was disturbed only by the sharp rattle of brushes
and the scraping of the palette knife.
"Are you tired?" asked Gethryn, looking at the clock; "you have ten
"No," said the girl, "continue."
Finally Gethryn rose and stepped back.
"Time," he said, still regarding his work. "Come and give me a
The girl stretched her limbs, and then, stepping down, trotted over to
"What do you say?" he demanded, anxiously.
Artists often pay more serious attention to the criticisms of their
models than to those of a brother artist. For, although models may be
ignorant of method -- which, however, is not always the case -- from
seeing so much good work they acquire a critical acumen which often
goes straight to the mark.
It was for one of these keen criticisms that the young man was
"I like it very much -- very much," answered the girl, slowly;
"but, you see -- I am not so cold in the face -- am I?"
"Hit it, as usual," muttered the artist, biting his lip; "I've got
more greens and blues in there than there are in a peacock's tail.
You're right," he added, aloud, "I must warm that up a bit -- there
in the shadows, and keep the high lights pure and cold."
Elise nodded seriously. "Monsieur Chaplain and I have finished our
picture," she announced, after a pause.
It is a naïve way models have of appropriating work in which, truly
enough, they have no small share. They often speak of "our pictures"
and "our success."
"How do you like it?" asked the artist, absently.
"Good," -- she shrugged her shoulders -- "but not truth."
"Right again," murmured Gethryn.
"I prefer Dagnan," added the pretty critic.
"So do I -- rather!" laughed Gethryn.
"Or you," said the girl.
"Come, come," cried the young man, coloring with pleasure, "you
don't mean it, Elise!"
"I say what I mean -- always," she replied, marching over to the
pups and gathering them into her arms.
"I'm going to take a cigarette," she announced, presently.
"All right," said Gethryn, squeezing more paint on his palette,
"you'll find some mild ones on the bookcase."
Elise gave the pups a little hug and kiss, and stepped lightly over to
the bookcase. Then she lighted a cigarette and turned and surveyed
herself in the mirror.
"I'm thinner than I was last year. What do you think?" she demanded,
studying her pretty figure in the glass.
"Perhaps a bit, but it's all the better. Those corsets simply ruined
you as a model last year."
Elise looked serious and shook her head.
"I do feel so much better without them. I won't wear them again."
"No, you have a pretty, slender figure, and you don't want them.
That's why I always get you when I can. I hate to draw or paint from a
girl whose hips are all discolored with ugly red creases from her
The girl glanced contentedly at her supple, clean-limbed figure, and
then, with a laugh, jumped upon the model stand.
"It's not time," said Gethryn, "you have five minutes yet."
"Go on, all the same." And soon the rattle of the brushes alone
broke the silence.
At last Gethryn rose and backed off with a sigh.
"How's that, Elise?" he called.
She sprang down and stood looking over his shoulder.
"Now I'm like myself!" she cried, frankly; "it's delicious! But
hurry and block in the legs, why don't you?"
"Next pose," said the young man, squeezing out more color.
And so the afternoon wore away, and at six o'clock Gethryn threw down
his brushes with a long-drawn breath.
"That's all for today. Now, Elise, when can you give me the next
pose? I don't want a week at a time on this; I only want a day now and
The model went over to her dress and rummaged about in the pockets.
"Here," she said, handing him a notebook and diary.
He selected a date, and wrote his name and the hour.
"Good," said the girl, reading it; and replacing the book, picked up
her stockings and slowly began to dress.
Gethryn lay back on the lounge, thoroughly tired out. Elise was
humming a Normandy fishing song. When, at last, she stood up and drew
on her gloves, he had fallen into a light sleep.
She stepped softly over to the lounge and listened to the quiet
breathing of the young man.
"How handsome -- and how good he is!" she murmured, wistfully.
She opened the door very gently.
"So different, so different from the rest!" she sighed, and
noiselessly went her way.
Although the sound of the closing door was hardly perceptible, it was
enough to wake Gethryn.
"Elise!" he called, starting up, "Elise!"
But the girl was beyond earshot.
"And she went away without her money, too; I'll drop around tomorrow
and leave it; she may need it," he muttered, rubbing his eyes and
staring at the door.
It was dinner time, and past, but he had little appetite.
"I'll just have something here," he said to himself, and catching up
his hat ran down stairs. In twenty minutes he was back with eggs,
butter, bread, a paté, a bottle of wine and a can of sardines. The
spirit lamp was lighted and the table deftly spread.
"I'll have a cup of tea, too," he thought, shaking the blue tea
canister, and then, touching a match to the well-filled grate, soon
had the kettle fizzling and spluttering merrily.
The wind had blown up cold from the east and the young man shivered as
he closed and fastened the windows. Then he sat down, his chin on his
hands, and gazed into the glowing grate. Mrs Gummidge, who had smelled
the sardines, came rubbing up against his legs, uttering a soft mew
from sheer force of habit. She was not hungry -- in fact, Gethryn knew
that the concierge, whose duty it was to feed all the creatures,
overdid it from pure kindness of heart -- at Gethryn's expense.
"Gummidge, you're stuffed up to your eyes, aren't you?" he said.
At the sound of his voice the cat hoisted her tail, and began to march
in narrowing circles about her master's chair, making gentle
observations in the cat language.
Gethryn placed a bit of sardine on a fork and held it out, but the
little humbug merely sniffed at it daintily, and then rubbed against
her master's hand.
He laughed and tossed the bit of fish into the fire, where it
spluttered and blazed until the parrot woke up with a croak of
annoyance. Gethryn watched the kettle in silence.
Faces he could never see among the coals, but many a time he had
constructed animals and reptiles from the embers, and just now he
fancied he could see a resemblance to a shark among the bits of
He watched the kettle dreamily. The fire glowed and flashed and sank,
and glowed again. Now he could distinctly see a serpent twisting among
the embers. The clock ticked in measured unison with the slow
oscillation of the flame serpent. The wind blew hard against the panes
and sent a sudden chill creeping to his feet.
Bang! Bang! went the blinds. The hallway was full of strange noises.
He thought he heard a step on the threshold; he imagined that his door
creaked, but he did not turn around from his study of the fire; it was
the wind, of course.
The sudden hiss of the kettle, boiling over, made him jump and seize
it. As he turned to set it down, there was a figure standing beside
the table. Neither spoke. The kettle burnt his hand and he set it back
on the hearth; then he remained standing, his eyes fixed on the fire.
After a while Yvonne broke the silence -- speaking very low: "Are you
"I don't know," said the girl, with a sigh.
The silence was too strained to last, and finally Gethryn said,
"Won't you sit down?"
She did so silently.
"You see I'm -- I'm about to do a little cooking," he said, looking
at the eggs.
The girl spoke again, still very low.
"Won't you tell me why you are angry?"
"I'm not," began Gethryn, but he sat down and glanced moodily at the
"For two weeks you have not been to see me."
"You are mistaken, I have been -- " he began, but stopped.
"And I was not at home?"
"And you were at home," he said grimly. "You had a caller -- it was
easy to hear his voice, so I did not knock."
She winced, but said quietly, "Don't you think that is rude?"
"Yes," said Gethryn, "I beg pardon."
Presently she continued: "You and -- and he -- are the only two men
who have been in my room."
"I'm honored, I'm sure," he answered, drily.
The girl threw back her mackintosh and raised her veil.
"I ask your pardon again," he said; "allow me to relieve you of
She rose, suffering him to aid her with her cloak, and then sat down
and looked into the fire in her turn.
"It has been so long -- I -- I -- hoped you would come."
"Whom were you with in the Luxembourg Gardens?" he suddenly broke
She did not misunderstand or evade the question, and Gethryn, watching
her face, thought perhaps she had expected it. But she resented his
"I was with a friend," she said, simply.
He came and sat down opposite her.
"It is not my business," he said, sulkily; "excuse me."
She looked at him for some moments in silence.
"It was Mr Pick," she said at length.
Gethryn could not repress a gesture of disgust.
"And that -- Jew was in your rooms? That Jew!"
"Yes." She sat nervously rolling and unrolling her gloves. "Why do
you care?" she asked, looking into the fire.
There was a pause.
"Rex," she said, very low, "will you listen?"
"Yes, I'll listen."
"He is a -- a friend of my sister's. He came from her to -- to -- "
"To -- borrow a little money. I distrusted him the first time he came
-- the time you heard him in my room -- and I refused him. Saturday he
stopped me in the street, and, hoping to avoid a chance of meeting --
you, I walked through the park."
"And you gave him the money -- I saw you!"
"I did -- all I could spare."
"Is he -- is your sister married?"
"No," she whispered.
"And why -- " began Gethryn, angrily, "Why does that scoundrel come
to beg money -- " He stopped, for the girl was in evident distress.
"Ah! You know why," she said in a scarce audible voice.
The young man was silent.
"And you will come again?" she asked timidly.
She moved toward the door.
"We were such very good friends."
Still he was silent.
"Is it au revoir?" she whispered, and waited for a moment on the
"Then it is adieu."
"Yes," he said, huskily, "that is better."
She trembled a little and leaned against the doorway.
"Adieu, mon ami -- " She tried to speak, but her voice broke and
ended in a sob.
Then, all at once, and neither knew just how it was, she was lying in
his arms, sobbing passionately.
"Rex," said Yvonne, half an hour later, as she stood before the
mirror arranging her disordered curls, "are you not the least little
bit ashamed of yourself?"
The answer appeared to be satisfactory, but the curly head was in a
more hopeless state of disorder than before, and at last the girl gave
a little sigh and exclaimed, "There! I'm all rumpled, but its your
fault. Will you oblige me by regarding my hair?"
"Better let it alone; I'll only rumple it some more!" he cried,
"You mustn't! I forbid you!"
"But I want to!"
"Not now, then -- "
"Yes -- immediately!"
"Rex -- you mustn't. O, Rex -- I -- I -- "
"What?" he laughed, holding her by her slender wrists.
She flushed scarlet and struggled to break away.
"Shall I let you go?"
"Yes," she said, but catching sight of his face, stopped short.
He dropped her hands with a laugh and looked at her. Then she came
slowly up to him, and flushing crimson, pulled his head down to hers.
"Yvonne, do you love me? Truthfully?"
"Rex, can you ask?" Her warm little head lay against his throat, her
heart beat against his, her breath fell upon his cheek, and her curls
clustered among his own.
"Yvonne -- Yvonne," he murmured, "I love you -- once and forever."
"Once and forever," she repeated, in a half whisper.
"Forever," he said.
An hour later they were seated tete-à-tete at Gethryn's little table.
She had not permitted him to poach the eggs, and perhaps they were
better on that account.
"Bachelor habits must cease," she cried, with a little laugh, and
Gethryn smiled in doubtful acquiescence.
"Do you like grilled sardines on toast?" she asked.
"I seem to," he smiled, finishing his fourth; "they are delicious
-- yours," he added.
"Oh, that tea!" she cried, "and not one bit of sugar. What a
hopelessly careless man!"
But Gethryn jumped up, crying, "Wait a moment!" and returned
triumphantly with a huge mass of rock-candy -- the remains of one of
Clifford's abortive attempts at "rye-and-rock."
They each broke off enough for their cups, and Gethryn, tasting his,
declared the tea "delicious." Yvonne sat, chipping an egg and
casting sidelong glances at Gethryn, which were always met and
returned with interest.
"Yvonne, I want to tell you a secret."
"I love you."
"No -- not at all!" cried the girl, shaking her pretty head.
Presently she gave him a swift glance from beneath her drooping
"I want to tell you a secret."
"If you eat so many sardines -- "
"Oh!" cried Gethryn, half angrily, but laughing, "you must pay for
"What?" she said, innocently, but jumped up and kept the table
between him and herself.
"You know!" he cried, chasing her into a corner.
"We are two babies," she said, very red, following him back to the
table. The paté was eaten in comparative quiet.
"Now," she said, with great dignity, setting down her glass,
"behave and get me some hot water."
Gethryn meekly brought it.
"If you touch me while I am washing these dishes!"
"But let me help?"
"No, go and sit down instantly."
He fled in affected terror and ensconced himself upon the sofa.
Presently he inquired, in a plaintive voice: "Have you nearly
"No," said the girl, carefully drying and arranging the quaint
Egyptian tea-set, "and I won't for ages."
"But you're not going to wash all those things? The concierge does
"No, only the wine-glasses and the tea-set. The idea of trusting such
fragile cups to a concierge! What a boy!"
But she was soon ready to dry her slender hands, and caught up a towel
with a demure glance at Gethryn.
"Which do you think most of -- your dogs, or me?"
"That parrot, or me?"
"The raven, or me? The cat, or me?"
"Bird and puss."
She stole over to his side and knelt down.
"Rex, if you ever tire of me -- if you ever are unkind -- if you ever
leave me -- I think I shall die."
He drew her to him. "Yvonne," he whispered, "we can't always be
"I know it -- I'm foolish," she faltered.
"I shall not always be a student. I shall not always be in Paris,
She leaned closer to him.
"I must go back to America someday."
"And -- and marry?" she whispered, chokingly.
"No -- not to marry," he said, "but it is my home."
"I -- I know it, Rex, but don't let us think of it. Rex," she said,
some moments after, "are you like all students?"
"How do you mean?"
"Have you ever loved -- before -- a girl, here in Paris -- like me?"
"There are none -- like you."
"Answer me, Rex."
"No, I never have," he said, truthfully. Presently he added, "And
She put her warm little hand across his mouth.
"Don't ask," she murmured.
"But I do!" he cried, struggling to see her eyes, "won't you tell
She hid her face tight against his breast.
"You know I have; that is why I am alone here, in Paris."
"You loved him?"
"Yes -- not as I love you."
Presently she raised her eyes to his.
"Shall I tell you all? I am like so many -- so many others. When you
know their story, you know mine."
He leaned down and kissed her.
"Don't tell me," he said.
But she went on.
"I was only seventeen -- I am nineteen now. He was an officer at --
at Chartres, where we lived. He took me to Paris."
"And left you."
"He died of the fever in Tonquin."
"Three weeks ago."
"And you heard?"
"Then he did leave you."
"Don't, Rex -- he never loved me, and I -- I never really loved him.
I found that out."
"When did you find it out?"
"One day -- you know when -- in a -- a cab."
"Dear Yvonne," he whispered, "can't you go back to -- to your
"I don't wish to, now. No, don't ask me why! I can't tell you. I am
like all the rest -- all the rest. The Paris fever is only cured by
death. Don't ask me, Rex; I am content -- indeed I am."
Suddenly a heavy rapping at the door caused Gethryn to spring
hurriedly to his feet.
It was Braith's voice.
"What!" cried Gethryn, hoarsely.
There was a pause.
"Aren't you going to let me in?"
"I can't, old man; I -- I'm not just up for company tonight,"
"Company be damned -- are you ill?"
There was a silence.
"I'm sorry," began Gethryn, but was cut short by a gruff:
"All right; good night!" and Braith went away.
Yvonne looked inquiringly at him.
"It was nothing," he murmured, very pale, and then threw himself at
her feet, crying, "Oh, Yvonne -- Yvonne!"
Outside the storm raged furiously.
Presently she whispered, "Rex, shall I light the candle? It is
"Yes," he said.
She slipped away, and after searching for some time, cried, "the
matches are all gone, but here is a piece of paper -- a letter; do you
want it? I can light it over the lamp."
She held up an envelope to him.
"I can light it over the lamp," she repeated.
"What is the address?"
"It is very long; I can't read it all, only `Florence, Italy."'
"Burn it," he said, in a voice so low she could scarcely hear him.
Presently she came over and knelt down by his side. Neither spoke or
"The candle is lighted," she whispered, at last.
"And the lamp?"
Cholmondeley Rowden had invited a select circle of friends to join him
in a "petit diner a la stag," as he expressed it.
Eight months of Paris and the cold, cold world had worked a wonderful
change in Mr Rowden. For one thing, he had shaved his whiskers and now
wore only a mustache. For another, he had learned to like and respect
a fair portion of the French students, and in consequence was
respected and liked in return.
He had had two fights, in both of which he had contributed to the
glory of the British Empire and prize ring.
He was a better sparrer than Clifford and was his equal in the use of
the foils. Like Clifford, he was a capital banjoist, but he insisted
that cricket was far superior to baseball, and this was the only bone
of contention that ever fell between the two.
Clifford played his shameless jokes as usual, accompanied by the
enthusiastic applause of Rowden. Clifford also played "The Widow
Nolan's Goat" upon his banjo, accompanied by the intricate pizzicatos
Clifford drank numerous bottles of double X with Rowden, and Rowden
consumed uncounted egg-flips with Clifford. They were inseparable; in
fact, the triumvirate, Clifford, Elliott and Rowden, even went so far
as to dress alike, and mean-natured people hinted that they had but
one common style in painting. But they did not make the remark to any
of the triumvirate. They were very fond of each other, these precious
triumvirs, but they did not address each other by nicknames, and
perhaps it was because they respected each other enough to refrain
from familiarities that this alliance lasted as long as they lived.
It was a beautiful sight, that of the three youths, when they sallied
forth in company, hatted, clothed, and gloved alike, and each followed
by a murderous-looking bulldog. The animals were of the brindled
variety, and each was garnished with a steel spiked collar. Timid
people often crossed to the other side of the street on meeting this
Braith laughed at the whole performance, but secretly thought that a
little of their spare energy and imagination might have been spent to
advantage upon their artistic productions.
Braith was doing splendidly. His last year's picture had been hung on
the line and, in spite of his number three, he had received a third
class medal and had been praised -- even generously -- by artists and
critics, including Albert Wolff. He was hard at work on a large canvas
for the coming International Exhibition at Paris; he had sold a number
of smaller studies, and besides had pictures well hung in Munich and
in more than one gallery at home.
At last, after ten years of hard work, struggles, and disappointments,
he began to enjoy a measure of success. He and Gethryn saw little of
each other this winter, excepting at Julien's. That last visit to the
Rue Monsieur le Prince was never mentioned between them. They were as
cordial when they met as ever, but Braith did not visit his young
friend any more, and Gethryn never spoke to him of Yvonne.
"Good-bye, old chap!" Braith would say when they parted, gripping
Rex's hand and smiling at him. But Rex did not see Braith's face as he
Braith felt helpless. The thing he most dreaded for Rex had happened;
he believed he could see the end of it all, and yet he could prevent
nothing. If he should tell Rex that he was being ruined, Rex would not
listen, and -- who was he that he should preach to another man for the
same fault by which he had wasted his own life? No, Rex would never
listen to him, and he dreaded a rupture of their friendship.
Gethryn had made his debut in the Salon with a certain amount of
éclat. True, he had been disappointed in his expectations of a medal,
but a first mention had soothed him a little, and, what was more
important, it proved to be the needed sop to his discontented aunt.
But somehow or other his new picture did not progress rapidly, or in a
thoroughly satisfactory manner. In bits and spots it showed a certain
amount of feverish brilliancy, yes, even mature solidity; in fact, it
was nowhere bad, but still it was not Gethryn and he knew that.
"Confound it!" he would mutter, standing back from his canvas; but
even at such times he could hardly help wondering at his own marvelous
"Technique be damned! Give me stupidity in a pupil every time, rather
than cleverness," Harrington had said to one of his pupils, and the
remark often rang in Gethryn's ears even when his eyes were most
blinded by his own wonderful facility.
"Some fools would medal this," he thought; "but what pleasure could
a medal bring me when I know how little I deserve it?"
Perhaps he was his own hardest critic, but it was certain that the
old, simple honesty, the subtle purity, the almost pathetic effort to
tell the truth with paint and brush, had nearly disappeared from
Gethryn's canvases during the last eight months, and had given place
to a fierce and almost startling brilliancy, never, perhaps, hitting,
but always threatening some brutal note of discord.
Even Elise looked vaguely troubled, though she always smiled brightly
at Gethryn's criticism of his own work.
"It is so very wonderful and dazzling, but -- but the color seems to
me -- unkind."
And he would groan and answer, "Yes, yes, Elise, you're right; oh, I
can never paint another like the one of last June!"
"Ah, that!" she would cry, "that was delicious -- " but checking
herself, she would add, "Courage, let us try again; I am not tired,
indeed I am not."
Yvonne never came into the studio when Gethryn had models, but often,
after the light was dim and the models had taken their leave, she
would slip in, and, hanging lightly over his shoulder, her cheek
against his, would stand watching the touches and retouches with which
the young artist always eked out the last rays of daylight. And when
his hand drooped and she could hardly distinguish his face in the
gathering gloom, he would sigh and turn to her, smoothing the soft
hair from her forehead, saying: "Are you happy, Yvonne?" And Yvonne
always answered, "Yes, Rex, when you are."
Then he would laugh, and kiss her and tell her he was always happy
with La Belle Hélène, and they would stand in the gathering twilight
until a gurgle from the now well-grown pups would warn them that the
hour of hunger had arrived.
The triumvirate, with Thaxton, Rhodes, Carleton, and the rest, had
been frequent visitors all winter at the "Ménagerie," as Clifford's
bad pun had named Gethryn's apartment; but, of late, other social
engagements and, possibly, a small amount of work, had kept them away.
Clifford was a great favorite with Yvonne. Thaxton and Elliott she
liked. Rowden she tormented, and Carleton she endured. She captured
Clifford by suffering him to play his banjo to her piano. Rowden liked
her because she was pretty and witty, though he never got used to her
quiet little digs at his own respected and dignified person. Clifford
openly avowed his attachment and spent many golden hours away from
work, listening to her singing. She had been taught by a good master
and her voice was pure and pliant, although as yet only half
developed. The little concerts they gave their friends were really
charming -- with Clifford's banjo, Gethryn's guitar, Thaxton's violin,
Yvonne's voice and piano. Clifford made the programs. They were
profusely illustrated, and he spent a great deal of time rehearsing,
writing verses, and rehashing familiar airs (he called it
"composing") which would have been as well devoted to his easel.
In Rowden, Yvonne was delighted to find a cultivated musician.
Clifford listened to their talk of chords and keys, went and bought a
"Musical Primer" on the Quai d'Orsay, spent a wretched hour groping
over it, swore softly, and closed the book forever.
But neither the triumvirate nor the others had been to the
"Ménagerie" for over a fortnight, when Rowden, feeling it incumbent
upon him to return some of Gethryn's hospitality, issued very proper
cards -- indeed they were very swell cards for the Latin Quarter --
for a "dinner," to be followed by a "quiet evening" at the Bal
Masqué at the Opera.
The triumvirate had accordingly tied up their brindled bulldogs,
"Spit," "Snap" and "Tug"; had donned their white ties and
collars of awful altitude, and were fully prepared to please and to be
pleased. Although it was nominally a "stag" party, the triumvirate
would as soon have cut off their tender mustaches as have failed to
invite Yvonne. But she had replied to Rowden's invitation by a dainty
little note, ending:
and I am sure that you will understand when I say that this time I
will leave you gentlemen in undisturbed possession of the evening,
for I know how dearly men love to meet and behave like bears all by
themselves. But I shall see you all afterward at the Opera. Au
revoir then -- at the Bal Masqué. Y.D.
The first sensation to the young men was one of disappointment. But
the second was that Mademoiselle Descartes' tact had not failed her.
The triumvirate were seated upon the sideboard swinging their legs.
Rowden cast a satisfied glance at the table laid for fifteen and
flicked an imaginary speck from his immaculate shirt front.
"I think it's all right," said Elliott, noticing his look, "eh,
"Is there enough champagne?" asked that youth, calculating four
quart bottles to each person.
"Of course there is. What are you made of?"
"Human flesh," acknowledged the other meekly.
At eleven the guests began to arrive, welcomed by the triumvirs with
great state and dignity. Rowden, looking about, missed only one --
Gethryn, and he entered at the same moment.
"Just in time," said Rowden, and made the move to the table. As
Gethryn sat down, he noticed that the place on Rowden's right was
vacant, and before it stood a huge bouquet of white violets.
"Too bad she isn't here," said Rowden, glancing at Gethryn and then
at the vacant place.
"That's awfully nice of you, Rowden," cried Gethryn, with a happy
smile; "she will have a chance to thank you tonight."
He leaned over and touched his face to the flowers. As he raised his
head again, his eyes met Braith's.
"Hello!" cried Braith, cordially.
Rex did not notice how pale he was, and called back, "Hello!" with a
feeling of relief at Braith's tone. It was always so. When they were
apart for days, there weighed a cloud of constraint on Rex's mind,
which Braith's first greeting always dispelled. But it gathered again
in the next interval. It rose from a sullen deposit of self-reproach
down deep in Gethryn's own heart. He kept it covered over; but he
could not prevent the ghost-like exhalations that gathered there and
showed where it was hidden.
Speeches began rather late. Elliott made one -- and offered a toast to
"la plus jolie demoiselle de Paris," which was drunk amid great
enthusiasm and responded to by Gethryn, ending with a toast to Rowden.
Rowden's response was stiff, but most correct. The same could not be
said of Clifford's answer to the toast, "The struggling Artist --
Heaven help him!"
Towards 1 am Mr Clifford's conversation had become incoherent. But he
continued to drink toasts. He drank Yvonne's health five times, he
pledged Rowden and Gethryn and everybody else he could think of, down
to Mrs Gummidge and each separate kitten, and finally pledged himself.
By that time he had reached the lachrymose state. Tears, it seemed,
did him good. A heart-rending sob was usually the sign of reviving
"Well," said Gethryn, buttoning his greatcoat, "I'll see you all in
an hour -- at the Opera."
Braith was not coming with them to the Ball, so Rex shook hands and
said "Good night," and calling "Au revoir" to Rowden and the rest,
ran down stairs three at a time. He hurried into the court and after
spending five minutes shouting "Cordon!" succeeded in getting out of
the door and into the Rue Michelet. From there he turned into the
Avenue de l'Observatoire, and cutting through into the Boulevard, came
to his hôtel.
Yvonne was standing before the mirror, tying the hood of a white silk
domino under her chin. Hearing Gethryn's key in the door, she
hurriedly slipped on her little white mask and confronted him.
"Why, who is this?" cried Gethryn. "Yvonne, come and tell me who
this charming stranger is!"
"You see before you the Princess Hélène, Monsieur, she said, gravely
bending the little masked head."
"Oh, in that case, you needn't come, Yvonne, as I have an engagement
with the Princess Hélène of Troy."
"But you mustn't kiss me!" she cried, hastily placing the table
between herself and Gethryn; "you have not yet been presented. Oh,
Rex! Don't be so -- so idiotic; you spoil my dress -- there -- yes,
only one, but don't you dare to try -- Oh Rex! Now I am all in
wrinkles -- you -- you bear!"
"Bears hug -- that's a fact," he laughed. "Come, are you ready --
or I'll just -- "
"Don't you dare!" she cried, whipping off her mask and attempting an
indignant frown. She saw the big bunch of white violets in his hand
and made a diversion by asking what those were. He told her, and she
declared, delightedly, that she should carry them with Rex's roses to
"They shall have the preference, Monsieur," she said, teasingly.
"Oh, Rex! don't -- please -- " she entreated.
"All right, I won't," he said, drawing her wrap around her; and
Yvonne, replacing the mask and gathering up her fluffy skirts, slipped
one small gloved hand through his arm and danced down the stairs.
On the corner of the Vaugirard and the Rue de Medicis one always finds
a line of cabs, and presently they were bumping and bouncing away down
the Rue de Seine to the river.
Je fais ce que sa fantaisie
Et je puis, s'il lui faut ma vie
La lui donner
sang Yvonne, deftly thrusting tierce and quarte with her fan to make
Gethryn keep his distance.
"Do you know it is snowing?" he said presently, peering out of the
window as the cab rattled across the Pont Neuf.
"Tant mieux!" cried the girl; "I shall make a snowball -- a -- "
she opened her blue eyes impressively, "a very, very large one, and
"Drop it on the head of Mr Rowden," she announced, with cheerful
"I'll warn poor Rowden of your intention," he laughed, as the cab
rolled smoothly up the Avenue de l'Opera, across the Boulevard des
Italiens, and stopped before the glittering pile of the great Opera.
She sprang lightly to the curbstone and stood tapping her little feet
against the pavement while Gethryn fumbled about for his fare.
The steps of the Opera and the Plaza were covered with figures in
dominoes, blue, red or black, many grotesque and bizarre costumes, and
not a few sober claw hammers. The great flare of yellow light which
bathed and flooded the shifting, many-colored throng, also lent a
strangely weird effect to the now heavily falling snowflakes.
Carriages and cabs kept arriving in countless numbers. It was half
past two, and nobody who wanted to be considered anybody thought of
arriving before that hour. The people poured in a steady stream
through the portals. Groups of English and American students in their
irreproachable evening attire, groups of French students in someone
else's doubtful evening attire, crowds of rustling silken dominoes,
herds of crackling muslin dominoes, countless sad-faced Pierrots,
fewer sad-faced Capuchins, now and then a slim Mephistopheles, now and
then a fat, stolid Turk, 'Arry, Tom, and Billy, redolent of plum
pudding and Seven Dials, Gontran, Gaston and Achille, savoring of
brasseries and the Sorbonne. And then, from the carriages and fiacres:
Mademoiselle Patchouli and good old Monsieur Bonvin, Mademoiselle
Nitouche and bad young Monsieur de Sacrebleu, Mademoiselle Moineau and
Don Cæsar Imberbe; and the pink silk domino of "La Pataude" -- mais
Allons, Messieurs, Mesdames, to the cloak room -- to the foyer! To the
escalier! or you, Madame la Comtesse, to your box, and smooth out your
crumpled domino; as for "La Pataude," she is going to dance tonight.
Gethryn, with Yvonne clinging tightly to his arm, entered the great
vestibule and passed through the railed lanes to the broad inclined
aisle which led to the floor.
"Do you want to take a peep before we go to our box?" he asked,
leading her to the doorway.
Yvonne's little heart beat faster as she leaned over and glanced at
the dazzling spectacle.
"Come, hurry -- let us go to the box!" she whispered, dragging
Gethryn after her up the stairway.
He followed, laughing at her excitement, and in a few minutes they
found the door of their lodge and slipped in.
Gethryn lighted a cigarette and began to unstrap his field glasses.
"Take these, Yvonne," he said, handing them to her while he adjusted
her own tiny gold ones.
Yvonne's cheeks flushed and her eyes sparkled under the little mask,
as she leaned over the velvet railing and gazed at the bewildering
spectacle below. Great puffs of hot, perfumed air bore the crash of
two orchestras to their ears, mixed with the distant clatter and whirl
of the dancers, and the shouts and cries of the maskers.
At the end of the floor, screened by banks of palms, sat the
musicians, and round about, rising tier upon tier, the glittering
boxes were filled with the elite of the demimonde, who ogled and
gossiped and sighed, entirely content with the material and social
barriers which separate those who dance for ten francs from those who
look on for a hundred.
But there were others there who should not by any means be confounded
with their sisters of the "half-world."
The Faubourg St Germain, the Champs Elysées, and the Parc Monceau were
possibly represented among those muffled and disguised beauties, who
began the evening with their fans so handy in case of need. Ah, well
-- now they lay their fans down quite out of reach in case of
emergency, and who shall say if disappointment lurks under these
dainty dominoes, that there is so little to bring a blush to modest
cheeks -- alas! few emergencies.
And you over there -- you of the "American Colony," who are tossed
like shuttlecocks in the social whirl, you, in your well-appointed
masks and silks, it is all very new and exciting -- yes, but why
should you come? American women, brought up to think clean thoughts
and see with innocent eyes, to exact a respectful homage from men and
enjoy a personal dignity and independence unknown to women anywhere
else -- why do you want to come here? Do you not know that the
foundations of that liberty which makes you envied in the old world
are laid in the respect and confidence of men? Undermine that, become
wise and cynical, learn the meaning of doubtful words and gestures
whose significance you never need have suspected, meet men on the same
ground where they may any day meet fast women of the continent, and
fix at that moment on your free limbs the same chains which corrupt
society has forged for the women of Europe.
Yvonne leaned back in her box with a little gasp.
"But I can't make out anyone at all," she said; "it's all a great,
sparkling sea of color."
"Try the field glasses," replied Gethryn, giving them to her again,
at the same time opening her big plumy fan and waving it to and fro
beside the flushed cheek.
Presently she cried out, "Oh, look! There is Mr Elliott and Mr
Rowden, and I think Mr Clifford -- but I hope not."
He leaned forward and swept the floor with the field glass.
"It's Clifford, sure enough," he muttered; "what on earth induces
him to dance in that set?"
It was Clifford.
At that moment he was addressing Elliott in pleading, though hazy,
"Come 'long, Elliott, don't be so -- so uncomf't'ble 'n' p'tic'lar!
W't's use of be'ng shnobbish?" he urged, clinging hilariously to his
partner, a pigeon-toed ballet girl. But Elliott only laughed and said:
"No; waltzes are all I care for. No quadrille for me -- "
The crash of the orchestra drowned his voice, and Clifford, turning
and bowing gravely to his partner, and then to his vis-à-vis, began to
perform such antics and cut such pigeonwings that his pigeon-toed
partner glared at him through the slits of her mask in envious
astonishment. The door was dotted with numerous circles of maskers,
ten or fifteen deep, all watching and applauding the capers of the
hilarious couples in the middle.
But Clifford's set soon attracted a large and enthusiastic audience,
who were connoisseurs enough to distinguish a voluntary dancer from a
hired one; and when the last thundering chords of Offenbach's "March
into Hell" scattered the throng into a delirious waltz, Clifford
reeled heavily into the side scenes and sat down, rather unexpectedly,
in the lap of Mademoiselle Nitouche, who had crept in there with the
Baron Silberstein for a nice, quiet view of a genuine cancan.
Mademoiselle did not think it funny, but the Baron did, and when she
boxed Clifford's ears he thought it funnier still.
Rowden and Elliot, who were laboriously waltzing with a twin pair of
flat-footed Watteau Shepherdesses, immediately ran to his assistance;
and later, with a plentiful application of cold water and still colder
air, restored Mr Clifford to his usual spirits.
"You're not a beauty, you know," said Rowden, looking at Clifford's
hair, which was soaked into little points and curls; "you're
certainly no beauty, but I think you're all right now -- don't you,
"Certainly," laughed the triumvir, producing a little silver
pocket-comb and presenting it to the woebegone Clifford, who
immediately brought out a hand glass and proceeded to construct a
"bang" of wonderful seductiveness.
In ten minutes they sallied forth from the dressing room and wended
their way through the throngs of masks to the center of the floor.
They passed Thaxton and Rhodes, who, each with a pretty nun upon his
arm, were trying to persuade Bulfinch into taking the third nun, who
might have been the Mother Superior or possibly a resuscitated 14th
"No," he was saying, while he blinked painfully at the ci-devant
abbess, "I can't go that; upon my word, don't ask me, fellows -- I --
"Oh, come," urged Rhodes, "what's the odds?"
"You can take her and I'll take yours," began the wily little man,
but neither Rhodes nor Thaxton waited to argue longer.
"No catacombs for me," growled Bulfinch, eyeing the retreating nuns,
but catching sight of the triumvirate, his face regained its bird-like
felicity of expression.
"Glad to see you -- indeed I am! That Colossus is too disinterested
in securing partners for his friends; he is, I assure you. If you're
looking for a Louis Quatorze partner, warranted genuine, go to
"Rex ought to be here by this time," said Rowden; "look in the
boxes on that side and Clifford and I will do the same on this."
"No need," cried Elliott, "I see him with a white domino there in
the second tier. Look! he's waving his hand to us and so is the
"Come along," said Clifford, pushing his way toward the foyer,
"I'll find them in a moment. Let me see," -- a few minutes later,
pausing outside a row of white and gilt doors -- "let me see, seventh
box, second tier -- here we are," he added, rapping loudly.
Yvonne ran and opened the door.
"Bon soir, Messieurs," she said, with a demure curtsy.
Clifford gallantly kissed the little glove and then shook hands with
"How is it on the floor?" asked the latter, as Elliott and Rowden
came forward to the edge of the box. "I want to take Yvonne out for a
turn and perhaps a waltz, if it isn't too crowded."
"Oh, it's pretty rough just now, but it will be better in half an
hour," replied Rowden, barricading the champagne from Clifford.
"We saw you dancing, Mr Clifford," observed Yvonne, with a wicked
glance at him from under her mask.
"I -- I don't make an ass of myself but once a year, you know," he
said, with a deprecatory look at Elliott.
"Oh," murmured the latter, doubtfully, "glad to hear it."
Clifford gazed at him in meek reproof and then made a flank movement
upon the champagne, but was again neatly foiled by Rowden.
Yvonne looked serious, but presently leaned over and filled one of the
"Only one, Mr Clifford; one for you to drink my health, but you must
promise me truthfully not to take any more wine this evening!"
Clifford promised with great promptness, and taking the glass from her
hand with a low bow, sprang recklessly upon the edge of the box and
raised the goblet.
"A la plus belle demoiselle de Paris!" he cried, with all the
strength of his lungs, and drained the goblet.
A shout from the crowd below answered his toast. A thousand faces were
turned upward, and people leaned over their boxes, and looked at the
party from all parts of the house.
Mademoiselle Nitouche turned to Monsieur de Sacrebleu.
"What audacity!" she murmured.
Mademoiselle Goujon smiled at the Baron Silberstein.
"Tiens!" she cried, "the gayety has begun, I hope."
Little Miss Ducely whispered to Lieutenant Faucon:
"Those are American students," she sighed; "how jolly they seem to
be, especially Mr Clifford! I wonder if she is so pretty!"
Half a dozen riotous Frenchmen in the box opposite jumped to their
feet and waved their goblets at Clifford.
"A la plus jolie femme du monde!" they roared.
Clifford seized another glass and filled it.
"She is here!" he shouted, and sprang to the edge again. But Gethryn
pulled him down.
"That's too dangerous," he laughed; "you could easily fall."
"Oh, pshaw!" cried Clifford, draining the glass, and shaking it at
the opposite box.
Yvonne put her hand on Gethryn's arm.
"Don't let him have any more," she whispered.
"Give us the goblet!" yelled the Frenchmen.
"Le voila!" shouted Clifford, and stepping back, hurled the glass
with all his strength across the glittering gulf. It fell with a crash
in the box it was aimed at, and a howl of applause went up from the
Yvonne laughed nervously, but coming to the edge of the box buried her
mask in her bouquet and looked down.
"A rose! A rose!" cried the maskers below; "a rose from the most
charming demoiselle in Paris!"
She half turned to Gethryn, but suddenly stepping forward, seized a
handful of flowers from the middle of the bouquet and flung them into
There was a shout and a scramble, and then she tore the bouquet end
from end, sending a shower of white buds into the throng.
"None for me?" sighed Clifford, watching the fast-dwindling bouquet.
She laughed brightly as she tossed the last handful below, and then
turned and leaned over Gethryn's chair.
"You destructive little wretch!" he laughed, "this is not the
season for the Battle of Flowers. But white roses mean nothing, so I'm
"Ah, mon ami, I saved the red rose for you," she whispered; and
fastened it upon his breast.
And at his whispered answer her cheeks flushed crimson under the white
mask. But she sprang up laughing.
"I would so like to go onto the floor," she cried, pulling him to
his feet, and coaxing him with a simply irresistible look; "don't you
think we might -- just for a minute, Mr Rowden?" she pleaded. "I
don't mind a crowd -- indeed I don't, and I am masked so perfectly."
"What's the harm, Rex?" said Rowden; "she is well masked."
"And when we return it will be time for supper, won't it?"
"Yes, I should think so!" murmured Clifford.
"Where do we go then?"
"Come along, then, Mademoiselle Destructiveness!" cried Gethryn,
tossing his mask and field glass onto a chair, where they were
appropriated by Clifford, who spent the next half hour in staring
across at good old Colonel Toddlum and his frisky companion -- an
attention which drove the poor old gentleman almost frantic with
suspicion, for he was a married man, bless his soul! -- and a
pew-holder in the American Church.
"My love," said the frisky one, "who is the gentleman in the black
mask who stares?"
"I don't know," muttered the dear old man, in a cold sweat, "I
don't know, but I wish I did."
And the frisky one shrugged her shoulders and smiled at the mask.
"What are they looking at?" whispered Yvonne, as she tripped along,
holding very tightly to Gethryn's arm.
"Only a quadrille -- `La Pataude' is dancing. Do you want to see
She nodded, and they approached the circle in the middle of which `La
Pataude' and `Grille d'Egout' were holding high carnival. At every
ostentatious display of hosiery the crowd roared.
"Brava! Bis!" cried an absinthe-soaked old gentleman; "vive La
For answer the lady dexterously raised his hat from his head with the
point of her satin slipper.
The crowd roared again. "Brava! Brava, La Pataude!"
Yvonne turned away.
"I don't like it. I don't find it amusing," she said, faintly.
Gethryn's hand closed on hers.
"Nor I," he said.
"But you and your friends used to go to the students' ball at
`Bullier's,"' she began, a little reproachfully.
"Only as Nouveaux, and then, as a rule, the high-jinks are pretty
genuine there -- at least, with the students. We used to go to keep
cool in spring and hear the music; to keep warm in winter; and amuse
ourselves at Carnival time."
"But -- Mr Clifford knows all the girls at `Bullier's.' Do -- do
"How many?" she said, pettishly.
"None -- now."
A pause. Yvonne was looking down.
"See here, little goose, I never cared about any of that crowd, and I
haven't been to the Bullier since -- since last May."
She turned her face up to his; tears were stealing down from under her
"Why, Yvonne!" he began, but she clung to his shoulder, as the
orchestra broke into a waltz.
"Don't speak to me, Rex -- but dance! Dance!"
They danced until the last bar of music ceased with a thundering
"Tired?" he asked, still holding her.
She smiled breathlessly and stepped back, but stopped short, with a
"Oh! I'm caught -- there, on your coat!"
He leaned over her to detach the shred of silk.
"Where is it? Oh! Here!"
And they both laughed and looked at each other, for she had been held
by the little golden clasp, the fleur-de-lis.
"You see," he said, "it will always draw me to you."
But a shadow fell on her fair face, and she sighed as she gently took
When they entered their box, Clifford was still tormenting the poor
"Old dog thinks I know him," he grinned, as Yvonne and Rex came in.
Yvonne flung off her mask and began to fan herself.
"Time for supper, you know," suggested Clifford.
Yvonne lay back in her chair, smiling and slowly waving the great
plumes to and fro.
"Who are those people in the next box?" she asked him. "They do
make such a noise."
"There are only two, both masked."
"But they have unmasked now. There are their velvets on the edge of
the box. I'm going to take a peep," she whispered, rising and leaning
across the railing.
"Don't; I wouldn't -- " began Gethryn, but he was too late.
Yvonne leaned across the gilded cornice and instantly fell back in her
chair, deathly pale.
"My God! Are you ill, Yvonne?"
"Oh, Rex, Rex, take me away -- home -- "
Then came a loud hammering on the box door. A harsh, strident voice
called, "Yvonne! Yvonne!"
Clifford thoughtlessly threw it open, and a woman in evening dress,
very decolletée, swept by him into the box, with a waft of sickly
Yvonne leaned heavily on Gethryn's shoulder; the woman stopped in
front of them.
"Ah! here you are, then!"
Yvonne's face was ghastly.
"Nina," she whispered, "why did you come?"
"Because I wanted to make you a little surprise," sneered the woman;
"a pleasant little surprise. We love each other enough, I hope." She
stamped her foot.
"Go," said Yvonne, looking half dead.
"Go!" mimicked the other. "But certainly! Only first you must
introduce me to these gentlemen who are so kind to you."
"You will leave the box," said Gethryn, in a low voice, holding open
The woman turned on him. She was evidently in a prostitute's tantrum
of malicious deviltry. Presently she would begin to lash herself into
a wild rage.
"Ah! this is the one!" she sneered, and raising her voice, she
called, "Mannie, Mannie, come in here, quick!"
A sidling step approached from the next box, and the face of Mr
Emanuel Pick appeared at the door.
"This is the one," cried the woman, shrilly. "Isn't he pretty?"
Mr Pick looked insolently at Gethryn and opened his mouth, but he did
not say anything, for Rex took him by the throat and kicked him
headlong into his own box. Then he locked the door, and taking out the
key, returned and presented it to the woman.
"Follow him!" he said, and quietly, but forcibly, urged her toward
"Mannie! Mannie!" she shrieked, in a voice choked by rage and
dissipation, "come and kill him! He's insulting me!"
Getting no response, she began to pour forth shriek upon shriek,
mingled with oaths and ravings. "I shall speak to my sister! Who
dares prevent me from speaking to my sister! You -- " she glared at
Yvonne and ground her teeth. "You, the good one. You! the mother's
pet! Ran away from home! Took up with an English hog!"
Yvonne sprang to her feet again.
"Leave the box," she gasped.
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