before him ! What a luxurious repast might not
his imagination offer him, if his memory did not
recall the plain truth that dull reality has so often
disclosed to him ! We cannot wonder that the
spider should lead, apparently, so solitary a life,
since his eyes have the power of producing a
whole ball-room from the form of one lady visitor.
Not one, but twenty-five thousand Robert Bruces
inspired the Scottish spider to that homely instance
of perseverance, which served for an example for a
king. As he hangs his drapery from one cornice to
another, the prismatic scenes that come before him
serve to lengthen that life which might seem to be
cut off before its time. It is not one, but twenty-
five thousand brooms which advance to destroy his
22 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
airy home ; to invade his household gods, and
bring to the ground that row of bluebottles which
his magnifying power of vision has transformed
from one to twenty-five thousand ! nay, more, per-
Out in the air, as he swings his delicate cordage
from one tree to another, he does not need to wear
a gorgeous plumage ; this old dusty coat and un-
comely figure, that make a child shrink and cry
out, these may well be forgotten by him who looks
into life through prismatic glasses. Every drop
of rain wears for him its Iris drapery ; the dew on
the flowers becomes a jewelled circlet ; and the daz-
zling pictures brought by the sunbeams outshine
and transform for him his own dusky garment.
I thought of my friend, the spider, as into my
web of thought came such numerous images.
They were not alike in form and so were more
distracting. More than I can mention or number
had visited me there ; had excited my interest for
a moment, and been crowded out by another new
image. Yes, it was like looking into a kaleido-
scope where there were infinite repetitions. In all
were the same master-colors and forms. All were
swayed by passions that made an under-current
beneath a great outward calm. All were wearing
an outward form that strove each to resemble the
other ; not to appear strange or odd. So they flit-
ted before me, coming into shape, and departing
from it as they came within and left my reach.
I only roused myself to see the various charac
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 23
ters, that had presented themselves on the stage of
my mind, return again into their everyday cos-
tumes. They passed out of the focus of my obser-
vation into their several forms in which they walk
through common life. Putting on their opera-
cloaks, their paletots, they put on, for me, that
mark that hides the inner life, and the veil that
conceals all hidden passions.
It is said that there is, no longer, romance in
real life. But the truth is that we live the ro-
mance that former ages told and sang. The magic
carpet of the Arabian tales, the mirror that
brought to view most distant objects, have come
out of poetry, and present themselves in the
prosaic form of steam locomotive and the electric
Nowadays, everybody has travelled to some dis-
tant land, has seen, with everybody's eyes, the
charmed isles and lotos shores that used to be only
in books. In this lively, changing age everybody
is living his own romance. And this is why the
romance of story grows pale and is thrown aside.
A domestic sketch of everyday life, of outward
calm and simplicity, soothes the unrest of active
life, and charms more than three volumes of wild
incident that cannot equal the excitement that
every reader is enacting in his own drama.
There were as many romances in life around me,
that night, as there were persons in the theatre. I
had not merely learned that the cold Aurelia was
passionately in love, that the gay Lilly was broken-
24 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
hearted, that the frank Annette was silly, and
Angelina and Frank engaged before it was out.
Beside all this, I had learned the trials and joys of
many others whom I know only in this way ; and
I left the theatre the last, as I had come in the first.
The next morning I returned to business affairs
again. It was a particularly pressing morning.
The steamer was in. I had not even time to think of
my last night's experiences. Only at the corner of
a street I met an acquaintance, whose smiling face
amazed me. I knew that all last evening his mind
had been preoccupied with the truly critical state of
his affairs, and I was at a loss how to greet him.
He hurried away from my embarrassment. I had
more than one of these encounters ; but it was not
till the labors of the day were over that I understood
how my knowledge of mankind had been lately in-
creased. I went, in the evening, to a small party
where I knew I should meet the Seymours. I fell
in there with Aurelia first. She was as cold and as
stately as ever. I entered into conversation with
her, feeling that I could touch the key-note of her
life. But no ; she was as chilling to me as ever ;
nothing warmed her nothing elicited from her
the slightest spark. Sometimes she looked at me
a little wonderingly, as if I were talking in some
style unusual to me ; as if my remarks were, in a
manner, impertinent ; but, in the end, I left her to
her icy coldness.
As for Lilly, she appeared to the world, in gen-
eral, as gay as ever. I fancied I detected a slight
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 25
listlessness as she accompanied her partner into
the dancing-room for the sixth polka. It was no
great help with me in talking to Annette, that I
knew she was a fool. I won no thanks from Frank
or Angelina when I manoeuvred that they should
have a little flirtation in the library. For some
reason they were determined that their engagement
should not be apparent, and I was reproached
afterwards by Frank for ray clumsiness, and re-
ceived, in return, no confidences to make up for
On the whole I passed a disagreeable evening.
I had a feeling all the time that I was in the pres-
ence of smothered volcanoes, and a consciousness
that I had the advantage of the rest of the world in
knowing all its secret history. This became, at
last, almost insupportable.
There was no opera this night. The next day it
was announced that Mademoiselle would take
her accustomed place in the performance. I went
early to the theatre, and found, to my amazement,
there had been some changes made in the orches-
tra ; the prompter's box had been enlarged, and
my newly-discovered niche had been rendered in-
accessible and almost entirely filled in ! In vain
did I attempt to find some other position that
might correspond to it. ' I only attracted the at-
tention of the early comers to the theatre. I was
obliged to return to my old position of an outside
observer of life, and see, quite unoccupied, that
centre of all observation which I had enjoyed my-
26 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
self so much two nights before ; over which the
leader of the orchestra was unconsciously waving
I made some inquiries for Marie. One day I
went down the quiet, secluded street, where they
told me she lived. I walked up and down before
the house. It was very tantalizing to feel that I
had no excuse for approaching her. Of all the
figures that had assembled around me that night,
hers had remained the most distinct upon my
memory. For, through the whole, she had re-
tained an outward bearing which had correspond-
ed with what I could see of her inward self. Even
when she threw herself most earnestly into her
part, she had scarcely seemed to lose herself. She
had always remained a simple, self-devoted girl.
I longed to see more of her. I wanted to see her
in that quiet home. While I was wandering up and
down, I abused the forms of society which would
make my beginning an acquaintance with her so
difficult. I saw Franz, brother Franz, the flute-
player, leave the house. Scarcely conscious of
what I was doing, I went, as soon as he had left
the street, to the door which was open to all
comers ; to the house which contained more than
one family. I made my way up stairs and knocked
at a door to which Franz's card was attached.
It was opened by Marie. She stood before me
with a handkerchief tied over her head, and a
broom in her hand, but she looked, to me, as beau-
tiful as she had done behind the glare of the foot-
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 27
lights. Her simplicity was here even more fasci-
She held the door partly open, while I, to re-
cover myself, asked for Franz. She told me he
was gone out, but would return soon, if I would
wait for him. I was never less anxious to see any
person than then to see Franz, but I could not re-
sist entering the room, and this, in spite of the
apologetic air of Marie. The room looked as neat
as I had imagined it, seeing it from the mirror of
Marie's mind. I should say it scarcely needed
that broom which still remained expectantly in
Marie's hand. A piano, spider-legged, in the
number and thinness of these supports, stood at
one side of the room, weighed down with classic-
looking music. A bouquet, that had been given
by the hand of the prima donna to Marie, stood
upon the piano.
Otherwise it was a common enough looking
room. Some remark being necessary, I inquired
of Franz's health, and hoped he was not wearing
himself out with hard work ; I had seen him regu-
larly at the opera. Marie encouraged me with re-
gard to her brother's health, and still, the opera
even did not serve to open a conversation with
Then, indeed, did I wish that I was the hero of a
novel. I might have told her I was writing an
opera, and have asked her to study for its heroine.
I might have retired, and sent her, directly and
mysteriously, a grand piano of the very grandest
28 THE SPIDER'S EYE.
scale. Or, I might have asked her to sit down to
that old-fashioned instrument, and have asked her
to let me hear her sing, for my nieces were in need
of a new teacher. I might have engaged Franz,
with promise of a high salary, to write me the
music of songs, or a new sonata. But I had
neither the salary nor the nieces. I had not even
an excuse for standing there. It was very foolish
of me, but I could not help feeling that it was ex-
ceedingly impertinent of me to be there.
Instead of informing Marie that I was intimately
acquainted with her, that I had shared every emo-
tion of her soul, on the exciting opera night, I
stated that I could call again upon brother Franz.
I regretted, at the same time, that I had not my
card, and left the room with a courteous bow of
dismissal from Marie.
I have walked that way very often. Once or
twice I have seen Marie at the window, when she
has not seen me. But I have not attempted to
visit her again. Of what use is it for me, then, to
have such a knowledge of her, when she does not
have a similar one sympathetic with me ? She has
not sung in public of late, and I do not know the
reason why she has not.
My friends are fond of asking me why I, every
night, sit in a different place at the theatre ; and
why I have such a fancy for a seat in the midst of
the trumpets of the orchestra, and directly under
the leader. I am striving to make new acoustic
THE SPIDER'S EYE. 29
But I dare not state in what theatre it is that my
point of observation can be found, nor ask of the
management to make an alteration in the position
of the orchestra, lest some night I should be ob-
served, and expose all the secrets of my breast to
a less confidential observer.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT.
" T T E is one of the Americans," his fellow lo-
L JL cataires said among themselves. " Poor
and alone and in bad health. A queer fellow."
Having made this reply to those who questioned
them, they were in the habit of dismissing the sub-
ject lightly. After all, it was nothing to them, since
he had never joined their circle.
They were a gay, good-natured lot, and made
a point of regarding life as airily as possible, and
taking each day as it came with fantastic good
cheer. The house which stood in one of the
shabbiest corners of the Latin Quarter was full
of them from floor to garret artists, students,
models, French, English, Americans, living all of
them merrily, by no means the most regular of lives.
But there were good friends among them ; their
world was their own, and they found plenty of
* Scriiner's Monthly, May, 1879.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 31
sympathy in their loves and quarrels, their luck
and ill-luck. Upon the whole there was more ill-
luck than luck. Lucky men did not choose for
their head-quarters such places as this rather di-
lapidated building, they could afford to go else-
where, to places where the Quarter was better,
where the stairs were less rickety, the passages less
dark, and the concierge not given to chronic intoxi-
cation. Here came the unlucky ones, whose ill-
luck was of various orders and degrees : the young
ones who were some day to paint pictures which
would be seen in the Palais de 1'Industrie and
would be greeted with acclamations by an appreci-
ative public ; the older ones who had painted pict-
ures which had been seen at the Palais de 1'Indus-
trie and had not been appreciated at all ; the poets
whose sonnets were of too subtle an order to reach
the common herd ; the students who had lived
beyond the means allowed them by their highly
respectable families, and who were consequently
somewhat off color in the eyes of the respectable
families in question these and others of the same
class, all more or less poor, more or less out at
elbows, and more or less in debt. And yet, as I
have said, they lived gayly. They painted, and
admired or criticised each other's pictures ; they
lent and borrowed with equal freedom ; they be-
moaned their wrongs loudly, and sang and
laughed more loudly still as the mood seized them ;
and any special ill-fortune befalling one of their
number generally aroused a display of sympathy
32 A STORY OF THR LATIN QUARTER.
which, though it might not last long, was always a
source of consolation to the luckless one.
But the American, notwithstanding he had been
in the house for months, had never become one of
them. He had been seen in the early spring going
up the stairway to his room, which was a mere
garret on the sixth story, and it had been expected
among them that in a day or so he would present
himself for inspection. But this he did not do,
and when he encountered any of their number in
his out-goings or in-comings he returned their
greetings gently in imperfect French. He spoke
slowly and with difficulty, but there was no cold-
ness in his voice or manners, and yet none got
much further than the greeting.
He was a young fellow, scarcely of middle height,
frail in figure, hollow-chested, and with a gentle
face and soft, deeply set dark eyes. That he
worked hard and lived barely it was easy enough to
discover. Part of each day he spent in the various
art galleries, and after his return from these visits
he was seen no more until the following morning.
" Until the last ray of light disappears he is at
his easel," said a young student whom a gay
escapade had temporarily banished to the fifth
floor. " I hear him move now and then and cough.
He has a villainous cough."
" He is one of the enthusiasts," said another.
" One can read it in his face. What fools they are
these enthusiasts ! They throw away life that a
crown of laurel may be laid uoon their coffins."
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 33
In the summer some of them managed to leave
Paris, and the rest had enough to do to organize
their little excursions and make the best of the
sunshine, shade and warmth. But when those
who had been away returned and all settled down
for the winter, they found the " American," as
they called him, in his old place. He had not been
away at all ; he had worked as hard as ever
through midsummer heat and autumn rain ; he
was frailer in figure, his clothes were more worn,
his face was thinner and his eyes far too hollow and
bright, but he did not look either discouraged or
" How does he live ?" exclaimed the concierge
dramatically. " The good God knows ! He eats
nothing, he has no fire, he wears the clothing of
midsummer he paints he paints he paints !
Perhaps that is enough for him. It would not be
At this time just as the winter entered with
bleak winds and rains and falls of powdery snow
there presented herself among them an arrival
whose appearance created a sensation.
One night on his way upstairs, the American
found himself confronted on the fourth floor by a
Mood of light streaming through the open door of
a before unoccupied room. It was a small room,
mettgerly furnished, but there was a fire in it and
half a dozen people who laughed and talked at
the top of their voices. Five of them were men he
had seen before, artists who lived in the house,
34 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
but the sixth was a woman whom he had never seen
and whose marvellous beauty held him spell-bound
where he stood.
She was a woman of twenty-two or three, with
an oval face whose fairness was the fairness of
ivory. She was dark-eyed and low-browed, and
as she leaned forward upon the table and looked
up at the man who spoke to her, even the bright
glow of the lamp, which burned directly before her
face, showed no flaw in either tint or outline.
" Why should we ask the reason of your return ?"
said the man. " Let us rejoice that you are here."
" I will tell you the reason," she answered, with-
out lowering her eyes. " I was tired."
" A good reason," was the reply.
She pushed her chair back and stood upright ;
her hands hung at her side ; the men were all
looking at her ; she smiled down at them with fine
" Who among you wishes to paint me ?" she
said. " I am again at your service, and I am not
less handsome than I was. '
Then there arose among them a little rapturous
murmur, and somehow it broke the spell which had
rested upon the man outside. He started, shivered
slightly and turned away. He went up to the bare
coldness of his own room and sat down, forgetting
that it was either cold or bare. Suddenly, as he had
looked at the woman's upturned face, a great long-
ing had seized upon him.
" I should like to paint you I," he found him-
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 35
self saying to the silence about him. " If /might
paint you !"
He heard the next day who she was. The con-
cierge was ready enough to give him more informa-
tion than he had asked.
" Mademoiselle Natalie, Monsieur means," he
said ; " a handsome girl that ; a celebrated model.
They all know her. Her face has been the founda-
tion of more than one great picture. There are
not many like her. One model has this beauty
another that ; but she, man Dieu, she has all. A
great creature, Mademoiselle."
Afterward, as the days went by, he found that she
sat often to the other artists. Sometimes he saw her
as she went to their rooms or came away ; sometimes
he caught a glimpse of her as he passed her open
door, and each time there stirred afresh within him
the longing he had felt at first. So it came about
that one afternoon, as she came out of a studio in
which she had been giving a sitting, she found wait-
ing outside for her the thinly clad, frail figure of
the American. He made an eager yet hesitant step
forward, and began to speak awkwardly in French.
She stopped him.
" Speak English," she said, " I know it well."
" Thank you," he answered simply, " that is a
great relief. My French is so bad. I am here to
ask a great favor from you, and I am sure I could
not ask it well in French."
"What is the favor?" she inquired, looking at
him with some wonder.
36 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
He was a new type to her, with his quiet direct-
ness of speech and his gentle manner.
" I have heard that you are a professional
model," he replied, "and I have wished very
much to paint what what I see in your face. I
have wished it from the first hour I saw you. The
desire haunts me. But I am a very poor man ; I
have almost nothing ; I cannot pay you what the
rest do. To-day I came to the desperate resolve
that I would throw myself upon your mercy that
I would ask you to sit to me, and wait until better
She stood still a moment and gazed at him.
" Monsieur," she said at length, " are you so
poor as that ?"
He colored a little, but it was not as if with
" Yes," he answered, " I am very poor. I have
asked a great deal of you, have I not ?"
She gave him still another long look.
" No," she said, " I will come to you to-morrow,
if you will direct me to your room."
" It is on the sixth floor," he replied ; " the
highest of all. It is a bare little place."
" I will come," she said, and was turning <away
when he stopped her.
" I I should like to tell you how grateful I
am " he began.
"There is no need," she responded with bitter
lightness. " You will pay me some day when you
are a great artist." But when she reached the next
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 37
landing she glanced down and saw that he still
stood beneath watching her.
The next day she kept her word and went to him.
She found his room poorer and barer even than
she had fancied it might be. The ceiling was low
and slanting ; in one corner stood a narrow iron
bedstead, in another a wooden table ; in the best
light the small window gave his easel was placed
with a chair before it.
When he had opened the door in answer to her
summons, and she saw all this, she glanced quickly
at his face to see if there was any shade of confu-
sion upon it, but there was none. He appeared
only rejoiced and eager.
" I felt sure it was you," he said.
" Were you then so sure that I would come?"
" You said you would," he answered. He
placed her as he wished to paint her, and then sat
down to his work. In a few moments he was com-
pletely absorbed in it. For a long time he did not
speak at all. The utter silence which reigned a
silence which was not only a suspension of speech
but a suspension of any other thought beyond his
task was a new experience to her. His cheek
flushed, his eyes burned dark and bright ; it seemed
as if he scarcely breathed. When he turned to look
at her she was conscious each time of a sudden
thrill of feeling. More than once he paused for
several moments, brush and palette in hand, simply
38 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
watching her face. At one of these pauses she
herself broke the silence.
"Why do you look at me so?" she asked.
** You look at me as if as if " And she broke
off with an uneasy little laugh.
He roused himself with a slight start and col-
ored sensitively, passing his hand across his fore-
" What I want to paint is not always in your
face," he answered. " Sometimes I lose it, and
then I must wait a little until until I find it again.
It is not only your face I want, it is yourself your-
self !" And he made a sudden unconscious gesture
with his hands.
She tried to laugh again, hard and lightly as
before, but failed.
" Myself !" she said. "MonDieu! Do not grasp
at me, Monsieur. It will not pay you. Paint my
flesh, my hair, my eyes, they are good, but do
not paint me."
He looked troubled.
" I am afraid my saying that sounded stilted,"
he returned. " I explained myself poorly. It is
not easy for me to explain mysell well."
" I understood," she said ; " and I have warned
They did not speak to each other again during
the whole sitting except once, when he asked her if
she was warm enough.
" I have a fire to-day," he said.
"' Have you not always a fire ?" she asked.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 39
'* No," he answered with a smile ; " but when
you come here there will always be one."
"Then," she said, "I will come often, that I
may save you from death."
" Oh !" he replied, " it is easier than you think
to forget that one is cold "
"Yes," she returned. "And it is easier than
you think for one to die."
When she was going away, she made a move-
ment toward the easel, but he stopped her.
" Not yet," he said. " Not just yet."
She drew back.
" I have never cared to look at myself before,'*
she said. " I do not know why I should care now.
Perhaps," with the laugh again, " it is that I wish
to see what you will make of tnef
Afterward, as she sat over her little porcelain
stove in her room below, she scarcely compre-
hended her own mood.
" He is not like the rest," she said. " He
knows nothing of the world. He is one of the
good. He cares only for his art. How simple,
and kind, and pure ! The little room is like a