Archibald Clavering Gunter.

A prince in the garret : a novel online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryArchibald Clavering GunterA prince in the garret : a novel → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A Prince in

The Garret



Archibald Clavering Gunter







Copyright, 1905



All Rights Reaerred





I. The fortune hunters of Paris 7

II. The curious boarding house in the Hue de

Provence 36

III. The New Orleans lawyer .'*« 70

IV. Armande de Millefleurs 106

V. Gaspard and Mignonette .141

VI. Vve lost you — ^that is the end of me ! 163

VII. Miss Gertie visits the American Consul. . . 181

VIII. The triumph of the Theatre Cluny 195

IX. Love among the rats 31S

X. The Prince in the attic 253



Putting young Mrs. Horton through "the Third

Degree" Archie Gunn


"I was alone, helpless, in Paris without money !"

Herman Rountree 67

The triumph of Calypso Herman Ronntree 219

A pale faced girl is gliding silently from the
room Herman Rountree 246






Paris had been glad. Paris was sad. The great
Exposition of the year eighteen hundred and sixty-
seven under the auspices of Louis ]^apoleon, Emperor
of the French, was over, and the crowd of visitors
from the four quarters of the world that had en-
tered the boulevards of the Gallic Capital with full
purses, and thronged its theatres and cafes, were
going away with empty ones.

The enormous exhibition buildings in the Champ
de Mars were closed, and tribes of wandering Kirghis,
Bedouin Arabs and Algerines that had given exhibi-
tions of life on the deserts of Africa and on the
Steppes of Asia had folded up their tents and de-
parted. Though the main boulevards of the great
Gallic Capital were still full of the glory and glam-



our of the Second Empire, from its arteries of trade
had been withdrawn many of the red corpuscles of
Parisian life; that is, visiting foreigners with the
means to pay extravagant prices for the luxuries and
dainty nicknacks of costume and ornament for which
the French Capital is celebrated.

After the manner of all such exhibitions and
world's fairs, the grand International Exposition had
left financial wreck and ruin behind it in the hotel
and boarding house business. Among these financial
catastrophes there was no one that threatened to be
more disastrous than that of Madame Suzanne Per-
rique's aristocratic pension in the Eue de Provence.

Situated quite near the broad Boulevard Hauss-
man, Madame Perrique's house, though rambling
and old-fashioned, had been well filled by a hetero-
geneous clientele of men and women who had sought
pleasant surroundings and endurable meals at prices
that were little short of absolute beggary.

But with the end of the Exposition, Madame Per-
rique's guests had drifted to the unknown, leaving
behind them a deserted house. In fact, as Silas
Squabbs of the State of Illinois, U. S., had grimly
remarked on his departure as he settled his landlady's
exorbitant bill : '^After the boom comes the bust, my
dear Madame Perrique."


This direful prophecy, spoken in the American
vernacular with a Yankee accent, the Parisian board-
ing house keeper understood perfectly and shud-
dered. Though Madame Suzanne Perrique, from
long residence in Paris was now French in her bear-
ing, manner and even speech, she was by birth Ameri-
can. Originally Susan Priscilla Squanton of New
England, she had married a gentleman named Per-
kins, the Paris agent of an American house import-
ing French wines. Upon his death, in eighteen
hundred and fifty-six, the widow Perkins had in-
creased a somewhat slender income by setting up a
girFs boarding school in the Rue du Eocher and had
succeeded in attracting to her institution a few
xA.merican misses as well as some English girls who
had journeyed to Paris to obtain instruction either
in French or music; a few years later she had re-
moved her increasing school from her first location
to a larger house in the Eue de Milan.

But as the ex-schoolmistress had grown old she had
become avaricious, and some six months previous,
actuated by a sudden desire of accumulating a for-
tune rapidly and tempted by the enormous prices she
thought she could obtain from the concourse of
visitors to the grand French Exposition, she had re-
signed the modest certainty of maitresse d'ecole in


the Eue du Eocher and engaged in the more finan-
cially ambitious but perilous occupation of hotesse in
the big, rambling, old-fashioned house in the Eue de

In order to add to the glamour of her pension in
the eyes of visiting Americans, Mrs. Perkins' cards
now read "Madame Suzanne Perrique/' though to
those who had known her before she made no great
secret of her change of name.

And now, two days after the departure of Mr.
Squabbs, who having been a Western land speculator
aware of the baneful effects of booms, Madame Per-
rique looking about her big deserted parlors, in which
the lights had been turned very low to save gas bills,
muttered to herself in heartsick tone: "After the
boom comes the bust," and knew his prognostications
had been correct. She thought of the mansion she
had been compelled to lease for a year and shuddered
at its emptiness, for nothing is so dishearteningly
lonely as a big hotel or boarding house untenanted.
Then remembering the uncompromising man of af-
fairs who would come in less than a week to collect
the month's rent in advance, and gazing at the un-
occupied sofas, lounges and ottomans she had only
partly paid for, Madame Perrique's sigh had changed
into a moan. She had muttered hysterically:


'T^uinedl^' and sunk down with a yellow laugh of
despair into one of her many vacant arm chairs.

But that was yesterday!

The next evening all had changed !

The house in the Eue de Provence was brilliantly
lighted and thronged to overflowing. It was as if
the wand of an enchanter had been waved over Ma-
dame Perrique's empty mansion and it had become
crowded. Struggling for Perrique's rooms, content
to pay in advance her wildest prices, were a hetero-
geneous mixture of Parisians, Germans, English
sporting-men, Turks and Jews, with a wandering
Greek or two thrown in and an occasional baron or
count, some of whose names did not appear in the
Almanac de Gotha — part of the residue of the Grand

For despite the fading glamour of Louis Napo-
leon's Empire, his ill-fated Mexican expedition hav-
ing just ended with the execution of the unfortunate
Maximilian, Paris was still the Mecca of adventur-
ous spirits, and its boulevards and streets were still
patrolled by men about town, chevaliers d*industrie
and petit s creves, some in pursuit of women, some in
pursuit of pleasure, all in pursuit of gold.

From her large dining-salon arose the clatter of
many noisy knives and forks, the clinking of glasses


showing that wine was flowing, and the chatter of
half the tongues of Europe making an after-dinner
masculine Babel.

For Madame Perrique's boarding house was curi-
ously filled only with men! With the exception of
its presiding goddess, there was no Eve in this
Adam's Eden — and Madame Perrique was almost
masculine enough to be considered of the sterner

This perhaps had been produced by her autocratic
sway as a schoolmistress, the grim landlady having
brought with her a certain academic severity of voice
and demeanor from her schoolroom.

Yet over the dining-table this evening the austere-
visaged Perrique was all smiles, though there was a
peculiar nervous uncertainty in her sharp grey eyes;
perhaps because she could hardly believe them, for
during the meal once or twice Suzanne bit her
skinny fingers to be quite sure her sudden prosperity
was real.

In addition, the presence of nothing but men in
the house seemed extraordinary to her, though the
autocracy of the schoolmistress, which leavened her
intercourse with her own sex, had always made her
house unpopular with ladies. Still Madame Per-
rique's authoritative manner had almost coerced a


few of her former pupils, who had visited the Pa-
risian Exposition with their husbands, to be her
guests. This was instanced by sweet Mrs. Mont joy,
who as little Stella Bascom had been under the rule
of the stern Suzanne in the Eue du Rocher, pleading
to her husband after a day's sojourn in Madame Per-
rique's boarding house: "Take me away from here,
quick, Jimmy, or 1^11 get to curtsying to her, assum-
ing the first position, toes turned out, and reciting
French verbs when my old dragon of a schoolmistress
comes into the dining-room. Oh, those terrific eyes
of hers !"

But in her success this evening, a full house mak-
ing the landlady happy, despite her fifty grim years,
Jiladame Perrique is ver}' affable to her new lodgers.
She even jokes with the Count de Pichoir about that
young aristocrat's reported numerous conquests in
court circles ; she chats pleasantly as to the drama he
is runninor with Monsieur Paul Rousette, the man-
ager of the Cluny Theatre, who for some unknown
reason has this day given up his luxurious bachelor
quarters in the Boulevard Saint Germain near his
playhouse and crossed the river to accept her indif-
ferent accommodations.

So, despite the absence of ladies, the dinner goes
pleasantly on, the gentlemen complimenting their


new hostess effusively in several different languages,
and all seeming very eager to gain her good will.

Towards the close of the meal, Alphonse, Madame
Perrique's chief factotum, coming out of the dining
room, grins to himself: "A noisy crowd, but there's
money in them. The hum of many boarders means
wages for Alphonse — back wages, unpaid wages, now
about to be liquidated in full." Then he slaps his
hand to his head and a Gallic grin ripples his fea-
tures as he asks himself : "Who the deuce is the poor
American girl these men are all so eager for?" A
moment after he ejaculates: ^'Diahle, here's another;
and every man of them boulevardiers !"

For a solemn looking Turkish gentleman, whose
religion is indicated by a red fez, stands before the
gargon, and slipping a ten franc bill into his hand,
whispers a few sententious words.

"Certainly, 3^our Excellency, Hadji Pacha, I will
inform you instantly; remember my signal — ^three
taps on the back," rejoins Alphonse, pocketing the

''ShuJcur Allah/* replies the Turk, "I will remem-
ber. Three taps on the back the moment Made-
moiselle Gertrude Eloise Hammond of Missesseep,
Amerique, enters Madame Perrique's portals." Con-
sulting a letter, the Turk passes to the smoking room,


where a number of gentlemen have congregated.

Quite shortly after, in his place, stands a Greek
of diplomatic appearance, who wears a broad red
band suggestive of a foreign embassy. With great
circumspection, he beckons Alphonse to private in-
terview. Whispering a few words and placing a five-
franc piece in the servitor^s eager hand, Monsieur
Marco Acropolis smiles with Mediterranean suavity
as Alphonse rejoins: "Certainly, 1^11 give you this
signal — three taps on the back. Don't forget it !"

"Cito! Saint Constantine, I'll never forget that.
Was that not a ring at the front door?" and the
Greek turns eagerly towards the main hall of the

"No, that was only Madame Perrique ringing for
the cook to put out the gas in the kitchen."

"Ah, very well, but don't forget to notify me the
moment Mademoiselle Hammond arrives," remarked
the Greek gentleman earnestly, then he suggested:
"Couldn't you speak to Madame Perrique. The room
given me is decidedly small and uncomfortable."

"Don't think there's anything better in the house
unless you're willing to pay fifty francs a day. But
there are other boarding houses in the Boulevard
Haussman that are not so full," observed Alphonse,
the nonchalance of success in his voice.




*'No, no; this is the one. This is the boarding
house — the one I'll stay in !" and Marco Acropolis,
taking a letter from his pocket book carefully con-
sulted it as he wandered towards the smoking-room,
leaving the waiter behind him rubbing his head in a
dazed, astonished wav.

This is exceedingly curious," thought Alphonse.
Every one of these boulevardiers is anxious to see
an American young lady. Mademoiselle Gertrude
Eloise Hammond, and some of them have gone fur-
ther and told me that she has been made poor by the
death of her parents from yellow fever in Mississippi.
Besides, every man of them has a letter. Sapristi,
they are as anxious for her as if she were a prize
ticket in the Havana lottery. Every time the front
door bell rings, they rise like a covey of partridges."

For at this moment the entrance gong having
sounded, the smoking-room was instantly deserted,
every gentleman in it having sought some post of
vantage where he could see who came into the hall-
way of the mansion.

Strolling to the door, Alphonse found a cab with
some baggage on it standing in the street, and quite
shortly ushered in a young Englishman and a slip
of a girl costumed in a light traveling dress of the
latest fashion. She was apparently either exceed-


ingly bashful or very much embarrassed, for she
shrank timidly from the eager gaze of the numerous
gentlemen inspecting her arrival, and clung nerv-
ously to her escort's arm.

Crinoline, which had reigned for the last ten years,
was being gradually superseded by the pannier.
Decked with one of these and assuming that languid
walk called at that time "the Grecian bend," the
young lady glided along the hallway, her soft brown
hair dressed in the latest waterfall style, supplement-
ed by two long, luxuriant, fashionable angel-curls, her
bright blue eyes raised anxiously to the gentleman
at her side.

"You do the talking. Jack, dear," she whispered
into the ear of the man upon whose arm she leaned,
as Alphonse showed them into a small untenanted
reception room.

Acting on this hint. Jack Horton, after consulting
a newspaper he carried in his hand, said with
English abruptness: "Would you kindly tell Ma-
dame — " he looked at the paper once more — "Ma-
dame Perrique, the mistress of this boarding house,
that I would like to see her. I called in reference to
this advertisement as regards lodgings."

"Your cards," suggested Alphonse, politely, but


This was answered by the English girl, who re-
marked diffidently: ^'We — we haven't any cards."

Whereupon Alphonse, closing the door upon them,
withdrew to carry word to his mistress, though he
was compelled to pause once or twice on his way to
shake his head at gentlemen who looked at him

Left by themselves, the English girl, who appar-
ently is scarcely more than seventeen, utters a merry
little giggle, partly of embarrassment, partly of
pleasure, and pouts : '^As if I could have a card when
we have only been married thirtj^-six hours. Oh,
Jack," an expression of happy dismay running over
her almost childlike features — "ours was a very wild
runaway match. Miss Georgina Fortescue yesterday

morning in London — Now I'm Mrs. Georgina "

But she gets no further, for her husband putting
his arm about her and giving her sweet lips an ar-
dent kiss, whispers: "Horton, darling wifey! Mrs.
John Winter Horton !" Then he growls : "Oh, if I
only dared take you with me. But our union must
be kept suh rosa until we have squared matters with
my aunt and your uncle."

"Yes, isn't it horrible," pouts the girl, "to be
dependent upon relatives."

"And this brute of a letter reaching me right on


my arrival from rich auntie/' mutters the young
husband, '^commanding that I join her in Cannes
immediately. If I took you with me, my pet, in that
little Mediterranean watering place. Auntie would
probably meet us at the station. Anyway, she would
surely learn I have a wife with me. But I'll be back
in a week, Duckie," he remarks confidently. 'Tou
see, I couldn't very well leave you at a hotel.'^ He
glances at his almost childlike bride; then looks
around the pleasantly furnished reception room and
observes: "It seems to me this will be a very com-
fortable place for your stay during my absence,
Sweet One, though I wish there weren't so many in-
fernal men in it."

^'Oh, Jack, je£tlous already!" half laughs the

The groom is about to answer this question as it
should be answered, when the young couple are in-
terrupted by the entrance of Madame Suzanne Per-
rique, whose grim visage has the smile of welcome to
additional paying guests.

Even as she comes in, she is speaking with business
directness: "You wish to see me in regard to apart-
ments, I presume." Then her eyes rest on the 3'Oung
lady and a smile of recognition passes over her grim
face, while the bride, with a start of disma}^, shud*


ders to herself: ^^Good heavens, my terrible old
schoolmistress V*

^'Why, Gcorgina Fortescue !" ejaculates Madame
Perrique. ^'^How is your respected uncle?"

To this, her former pupil, giving a schoolgirl
curtsy, stammers: "Oh, Mrs. Perkins, he's very well,

but I " Then a horrified thought flashes through

her. "If I confess to her my runaway marriage,
she's sure to telegraph my uncle !"

Noting a look of inquiry upon Jack's face, Ma-
dame Perrique observes: "I gave up my boarding
school six months ago, just after you were taken
away, Georgina, and am now in charge of this

"But you — you used to be Mrs. Perkins !" ejacu-
lates the girl.

"For business purposes," replies the ex-school-
mistress, "I have given my name a French flavor.
Eemember, Georgina, I am now Madame Perrique."
Then turning her ej^es inquiringly upon the bride-
groom, she remarks : "This gentleman is your — your
brother, of course, Georgina, alone at this time in
the evening with you."

'^es — yes, of — of course, my — my brother Jack,"
stsammers the bride. For into her mind has flown :
"Good heavens, if my old schoolmistress knows I


am cm a surreptitious honeymoon, my London uncle
will be informed of my elopement like a flash."

Upon this interview the young husband has looked
with a rather perplexed air. But Suzanne interrupts
Mr. Jack Horton's meditations by saluting him with
a prim curtsy and remarking: "Mr. Jack Fortescue,
I am happy to make your acquaintance.^^

"Oh — ah — yes, of course, how do you do?" replies
the astonished Jack, giving her a hasty bow. He
would now probably explain his relationship to
Georgina did not a frantic pinch from his bride
suggest some new complication in their elopement.

^TTour sister, as you know, was for six years un-
der my charge. I shall be happy to receive her
again," observes Madame Perrique, briefly.

At this there is an affrighted : "No, no V from the
bride, who remembers the severe regime of her ex-

But she is silenced by the landlady remarking
sternly : "Georgina V

At this word, her few months' absence from the
martinet's rule seems to be nothing, and the child-
like bride drops a little curtsy and stamm^ers tim-
idly: "Yes, ma'am'' — such is the force of habit.

Apparently thinking the young lady should have
no voice in the matter, Madame Perrique is now


addressing Georgina's husband, saying: "Mr. Fortes-
cue, you wish to take rooms with your sister at this
pension ?"

"Not for myself, but I wish to secure a quiet home
for her, as I am compelled to make a xapid journey
to Cannes," replies Jack, looking at his watch and
reflecting that he has none too many minutes to catch
the Lyons night express.

"There could be no safer place for her in Paris,"
observes the ex-schoolmistress. "No young girl in
my house has any chance to flirt with gentlemen."

Eemembering the number of men about the
premises, Jack replies cordially: "Magnificent idea,
Madame Perrique; magnificent idea! This is just
the home for her."

"Oh, Jack !" utters Georgina reproachfully.

But Jack, thinking of the long mustached dandies
lounging in evening dress about the smoking-room as
they passed it by, continues: "I thoroughly agree
with you, Madame Perrique, in prohibiting all flir-

"I couldn't think of taking her without having
full authority," replies Suzanne, assuming a school-
mistress air.

"Oh, mercy !" flutters the newly-made Mrs. Horton.

But Madame Perrique, turning to the young hus-


band, who is wondering whether his bride will be
happy with this prim-visaged old gentlewoman, drives
all thought except jealousy out of the bridegroom's
head, by observing : ^^You see, when she was at school
under me, Georgina had a habit — of course, I can
be frank to her brother?"

^^Certainly; very frank!" Jack's eyes have grown
big and he is grimly prodding his boot with his um-

As for the bride, she is confusedly wondering to
herself: "What girlish escapade is she going to tell
him ?"

**^Your sister had such a habit of attracting the
eyes of men," remarks Madame Perrique, reflectively.

"Indeed !" exclaims the boyish husband severely,
at this unpleasant revelation.

But the bride breaks in : "Not intentionally, Jack ;
not intentionallv !"

"I am afraid not always wn-intentionally," ob-
serves the ex-schoolmistress. "Several times was I
compelled to lecture her, and twice, I believe, to pun-
ish her for accepting bouquets thrown in at the win-
dow by a handsome stockbroker who lived opposite."

This revelation of a sister's infirmity has a terrible
effect upon the putative brother, who mutters to him-
self: "Damnation!" and clenches his hand.


^Three times also for sending out written com-
munications ''

"But they v.ere only notes to buy candy !" half
screams the bride.

"Addressed to an unknown but very handsome
man, if I recollect the name, called Gaspard/'

"Gaspard ! Hell's fire ! Gaspard !" snarls Jack,
under his breath. Then he turns jealous eyes upon
his fluttering bride and, unmollified by her pretty
pouts, remarks severely: "You — you have my full
authority, l^Iadame Perrique. Take complete charge
of her during my absence — no flirtations V'

"My terms are one hundred and fifty francs a
week. I'll order the luggage sent up," and the land-
lady leaves the reception room.

The door has no sooner closed behind her than
Georgina throws herself into her husband's arms,
whispering indignantly: "Jack, Jack, don't you dare
believe her !" A little sob comes into her voice as
she explains : "Gaspard was the beau of an American
scholar, Gertie Hammond, not my sw^eetheart !"

"Then why did you not deny it?" returns the
bridegroom savagely.

"How could I?" falters the bride. "Under Per-
kins' awful eyes I felt as if I were in her schoolroom
again." Then she half pouts, half laughs: "Now


with your authority as my brother, I shall be kept
close as a convent girl till you come back. I shan^t
have a bit of fun." She stamps her foot petulantly.

"Xot flirtatious fun," sneers Mr. Jack, who, bo}'-
like, has grown suddenly jealous. *Tm glad I'm
leaving you under such a firm woman. ^'

'^Oh, I'm afraid you only half believe me," ut-
ters Georgina, piteously, "when I made such sacrifices
to become your wife."

"Then why didn't you tell Madame Perrique j^ou
were my wife?" asks Jack in sudden and savage

"Oh, my Heaven, you reproach me for that. Whj',
can't you see, I didn't dare to. Stupid. I was trem-
bling all the time for fear Suzanne's argus eyes
would see my wedding ring through my glove. My
ex-schoolmistress would have immediatelv tele-
graphed my uncle that I was eloping with j^ou. Then
he would have notified your aunt, and then — Oh,
Jack, I've got to take off my wedding ring." With
teary eyes and a long-drawn sigh, Georgina hastily
pulls off her glove and withdraws from her slight
finger the golden band of marriage. "What shall I
do with it. Jack? If Perrique sees it, she'll suspect,
inquire and discover everything, and "

"Give it to me," says Jack, promptly, and slips


the ring into his pocket. ^TL^ikewise your wedding

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryArchibald Clavering GunterA prince in the garret : a novel → online text (page 1 of 14)