saint's cell." And then > suddenly, she flung her
arms out wearily, with a heavy sigh. " Ah, Dieu /".
she said, " how dull the day is 1 The skies are
A few days later she gave a sitting to an old
artist whose name was Masson, and she found that
he had heard of what had happened.
" And so you sit to the American," he said.
40 A STORt OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
" Well and you find him ?"
" I find him," she repeated after him. " Shall
I tell you what I find him ?"
" I shall listen with delight."
" I find him a soul ! You and I, my friend
and the rest of us are bodies ; he is a soul !"
The artist began to whistle softly as he painted.
" It is dangerous work," he said at length, " for
women to play with souls."
" That is true," she answered, coldly.
The same day she went again to the room on the
sixth floor. She again sat through an hour of
silence in which the American painted eagerly, now
and then stopping to regard her with searching
" But not as the rest regard me," she said to
herself. " He forgets that it is a woman who sits
here. He sees only what he would paint."
As time went by, this fact, which she always felt,
was in itself a fascination.
In the chill, calm atmosphere of the place there
was repose for her. She found nothing to resent,
nothing to steel herself against, she need no longer
think of herself at all. She had time to think of
the man in whose presence she sat. From the first
she had seen something touching in his slight
stooping figure, thin young face and dark woman-
ish eyes, and after she had heard the simple un-
eventful history of his life, she found them more
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 41
He was a New Englander, the last surviving rep-
resentative of a frail and short-lived family. His
parents had died young, leaving him quite alone,
with a mere pittance to depend upon, and through-
out his whole life he had cherished but one aim.
" When I was a child I used to dream of coming
here," he said, " and as I grew older I worked and
struggled for it. I knew I must gain my end some
day, and the time came when it was gained."
" And this is the end ?" she asked, glancing
round at the poor place. " This is all of life you
He did not look up at her.
" It is all I have," he answered.
She wondered if he would not ask her some ques-
tions regarding herself, but he did not.
" He does not care to know," she thought sul-
lenly. And then she told herself that he did know,
and a mocking devil of a smile settled on her lipv
and was there when he turned toward her again.
But the time never came when his manner altered^
when he was less candid and gentle, or less grate
ful for the favor she was bestowing upon him.
She scarcely knew how it was that she first begai.
to know the sound of his foot upon the stairway
and to listen for it. Her earliest consciousness of
it was when once she awakened suddenly out of a
dead sleep at night and found herself sluing up-
right with her hand upon her heavily throbbing
" What is it ?" she cried in a loud whisper. But
42 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
she spoke only to herself and the daikness. She
knew what it was and did not lie down again until
the footsteps had reached the top of the last flight
and the door above had opened and closed.
The time arrived when there was scarcely a tri-
fling incident in his every-day life which escaped
her. She saw each sign of his poverty and physical
weakness. He grew paler day by day. There
were days when his step flagged as he went up and
down the staircase ; some mornings he did not go
out at all. She discovered that each Sunday he
went twice to the little American chapel in the
Rue de Berri, and she had seen in his room a small
" You read that ?" she asked him when she first
She leaned forward, her look curious, bewil-
dered, even awed.
" And you believe in God ?"
She resumed her former position, but she did not
remove her eyes from his face, and unconsciously
she put her hand up to her swelling throat.
When at length the sitting was over and she left
her chair he was standing before the easel. He
turned to her and spoke hesitantly.
" Will you come and look at it ?" he asked.
She went and stood where he bade her, and
looked. He watched her anxiously while she did
so. For the first moment there was amazement in
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 43
her face, then some mysterious emotion he could
not comprehend a dull red crept slowly over brow
She turned upon him.
" Monsieur !" she cried, passionately. " You
mock me ! It is a bad picture."
He fell back a pace, staring at her and suddenly
trembling with the shock.
" A bad picture !" he echoed. "/ mock you
" It is my face," she said, pointing to it, " but
you have made it what / am not ! It is the face
of a good woman of a woman who might be a
saint ! Does not that mock me ?"
He turned to it with a troubled, dreamy look.
" It is what I have seen in your face," he said
in a soft, absent voice. " It is a truth to me. It
is what / have seen."
" It is what no other has seen," she said. " I
tell you it mocks me."
" It need not mock you," he answered. " I
could not have painted it if I had not felt it. It is
yourself yourself. ' '
" Myself ?" she said. " Do you think, Monsieur,
that the men who have painted me before would
know it ?"
She gave it another glance and a shrill laugh
burst from her, but the next instant it broke off
and ended in another sound. She fell upon her
knees by the empty chair, her open hands flung
outward, her sobs strangling her.
44 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
He stood quite near her, looking down.
" I have not thought of anything but my work,"
he said. " Why should I ?"
The following Sunday night the artist Masson
met in going down-stairs a closely veiled figure
coming up. He knew it and spoke.
"What, Natalie?" he said. "You? One
might fancy you had been to church."
" I have been," she returned in a cold voice,
" to the church of the Americans in the Rue de
He shrugged his shoulders.
" Has it done you good ?" he asked.
" No," she answered, and walked past him, leav-
ing him to look after her and think the matter over,
She went to her own apartment and locked her-
self in. Having done so, she lighted every candle
and lamp flooding the place with a garish
mockery of brightness. She sang as she did it a
gay, shrill air from some opera bouffe. She tore off
her dark veil and wrappings. Her eyes and cheeks
flamed as if touched by some unholy fire. She
moved with feverish rapidity here and there drag-
ging a rich dress from a trunk, and jewels and laces
from their places of safe keeping, and began to
attire herself in them. The simple black robe she
had worn to the chapel lay on the floor. As she
moved to and fro she set her feet upon it again and
again, and as she felt it beneath her tread a harsh
smile touched her lips.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 45
" I shall not wear you again," she stopped her
song once to say.
In half an hour she had made her toilette. She
stood before her glass, a blaze of color and jewels.
For a moment she sang no more. From one of the
rooms below there floated up to her sounds of riot-
" This is myself," she said ; " this is no other."
She opened her door and ran down the staircase
swiftly and lightly. The founder of the feast
whose sounds she had heard was a foolish young
fellow who adored her madly. He was rich, and
wicked, and simple. Because he had heard of her
return he had taken an apartment in the house.
She heard his voice above the voices of the rest.
In a moment she had flung open the door of the
salon and stood upon the threshold.
At sight of her there arose a rapturous shout of
" Natalie ! Natalie ! Welcome !"
But instantaneously it died away. One second
she stood there, brilliant, smiling, defiant. The next,
they saw that a mysterious change had seized upon
her. She had become deathly white, and was
waving them from her with a wild gesture.
" I am not coming," she cried, breathlessly.
"No! No! No!"
And the next instant they could only gaze at
each others' terror-stricken faces, at the place she
had left vacant, for she was gone.
She went up the stairs blindly and uncertainly.
4t> A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
When she reached the turn of the fourth floor
where the staircase was bare and unlighted, she
staggered and sank against the balustrades, her
" I cannot go back," she whispered to the dark-
ness and silence above. " Do you hear? I can-
not ! And it is you you who restrain me !"
But there were no traces of her passion in her
face when she went to the little studio the next day
as usual. When the artist opened the door for her,
it struck him that she was calm even to coldness.
Instead of sitting down, she went to the easel and
stood before it.
" Monsieur," she said, " I have discovered where
your mistake lies. You have tried to paint what
you fancied must once have existed, though it
exists no longer. That is your mistake. It has
never existed at all. I remember no youth, no
childhood. Life began for me as it will end. It
was my fate that it should. I was born in the
lowest quarter of Paris. I knew only poverty,
brutality, and crime. My beauty simply raised me
beyond their power. Where should I gain what
you have insisted in bestowing upon me ?"
He simply stood still and looked at her.
" God knows !" he answered at length. " I do
" God !" she returned with her bitter little
laugh. "Yes God!"
Then she went to her place, and said no more.
But the next Sunday she was at the American
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 47
chapel again, and the next, and the next. She
could scarcely have told why herself. She did not
believe the doctrines she heard preached, and she
did not expect to be converted to belief in them.
Often, as the service proceeded, a faint smile of
derision curved her lips ; but from her seat in the
obscure corner she had chosen she could see a thin,
dark face and a stooping figure, and could lean back
against the wall with a sense of repose.
"It is quiet here," was her thought. "One
can be quiet, and that is much."
"What is the matter with her?" the men who
knew her began to ask one another. But it was
not easy for them to discover how the subtle change
they saw had been wrought. They were used to
her caprices and to occasional fits of sullenness,
but they had never seen her in just such a mood as
she was now. She would bear no jests from them,
she would not join in their gayeties. Sometimes
for days together she shut herself up in her room,
and they did not see her at all.
The picture progressed but slowly. Sometimes
the artist's hand so trembled with weakness that
he could not proceed with his work. More than
once Natalie saw the brush suddenly fall from his
nerveless fingers. He was very weak in these days,
and the spot of hectic red glowed brightly on his
" I am a poor fellow at best," he would say to
her, " and now I am at my worst. I am afraid I
shall be obliged to rest sooner than I fancied. I
^8 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
wish first I could have finished my work. I must
not leave it unfinished."
One morning when he had been obliged to give
up painting, through a sudden fit of prostration,
on following her to the door, he took her hand and
held it a moment.
" I was awake all last night," he said. " Yes-
terday I saw a poor fellow who had fallen ill on the
street, carried into the Hotel Dieu, and the memory
clung to me. I began to imagine how it would be
if such a thing happened to me what I should
say when they asked for my friends, how there
would be none to send for. And at last, suddenly
I thought of you. I said to myself, ' I would send
for her, and I think she would come.' "
"Yes, Monsieur," she answered. "You might
depend upon my coming."
" I am used to being alone," he went on ; " but
it seemed to me as I lay in the dark thinking it over,
that to die alone would be a different matter. One
would want some familiar face to look at "
" Monsieur !" she burst forth. " You speak as
if Death were always near you !"
" Do I ?" he said. And he was silent for a few
seconds, and looked down at her hand as he held
it. Then he dropped it gently with a little sigh.
*' Good-bye," he said, and so they parted.
In the afternoon she sat to Masson.
" How much longer," he said to her in the
course of the sitting, " how much longer does he
mean to live this American ? He has lasted
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 49
astonishingly. They are wonderful fellows, these
weaklings who burn themselves out. One might
fancy that the flame which finally destroys them,
also kept them alive."
" Do you then think that he is so very ill ?" she
asked in a low voice.
" He will go out," he answered, " like a candle.
Shall I tell you a secret ?"
She made a gesture of assent.
" He starves ! The concierge who has watched
him says he does not buy food enough to keep body
and soul together. But how is one to offer him
anything ? It is easy to see that he would not take
There was a moment ot silence, in which he went
" The trouble is," he said at last, " that a man
would not know how to approach him. It is only
women who can do these things."
Until the sitting was over neither the one nor the
other spoke again. When it was over and Natalie
was on the point of leaving the room, Masson
looked at her critically.
" You are pale," he remarked. " You are like a
" Is it not becoming ?" she asked.
" Then why complain ?"
She went to her own room and spent half an hour
in collecting every valuable she owned. They
were not many ; she had always been recklessly
50 A STORY OP THE LATIN QUARTER.
improvident. She put together in a package her
few jewels, and even the laces she considered worth
the most. Then she went out, and, taking a fiacre
at the nearest corner, drove away.
She was absent two hours, and when she returned
she stopped at the entrance, intending to ask the
concierge a question. But the man himself spoke
first. He was evidently greatly disturbed and not
a little alarmed.
" Mademoiselle," he began, " the young man on
the sixth floor "
" What of him ?" she demanded.
*' He desires to see you. He went out in spite
of my warnings. Figure to yourself on such a
day, in such a state of health. He returned almost
immediately, wearing the look of Death itself. He
sank upon the first step of the staircase. When I
rushed to his assistance he held to his lips a hand-
kerchief stained with blood ! We were compelled
to carry him upstairs."
She stood a moment, feeling her throat and lips
suddenly become dry and parched.
" And he asked for me ?" she said at last.
" When he would speak, Mademoiselle yes.
We do not know why. He said, in a very faint
voice, ' She said she would come.' '
She went up the staircase slowly and mechani-
cally, as one who moves in a dream. And yet when
she reached the door of the studio she was obliged
to wait for a few seconds before opening it. When
she did open it she saw the attic seemed even more
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 51
cold and bare than usual ; that there was no fire ;
that the American lay upon the bed, his eyes
closed, the hectic spots faded from his cheeks.
But when she approached and stood near him, he
opened his eyes and looked at her with a faint
" If I play you the poor trick of dying," hd
said, " you will remember that the picture if you
care for it is yours."
After a while, the doctor, who had been sent for,
arrived. Perhaps he had been in no great hurry
when he had heard that his services were required
by an artist who lay in a garret in the Latin
Quarter. His visit was a short one. He asked a
few questions, wrote a prescription, and went
away. He looked at Natalie oftener than at the
sick man. She followed him out on to the landing,
and then he regarded her with greater interest than
" He is very ill ?" she said.
" Yes," he answered. " He wilt die, of course,
sooner or later."
" You speak calmly, Monsieur," she said.
" Such cases are an old story," he replied.
" And you are not his wife ?"
" I thought not. Nevertheless, perhaps you will
remain with him until "
" As Monsieur says," she returned, " I will re-
main with him ' until ' '
When the sick man awoke from the sleep into
52 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
which he had fallen, a fire burned in the stove and
a woman's figure was seated before it.
" You are here yet ?" he said faintly. She rose
and moved toward him.
" I am not going away," she answered, " if you
will permit me to remain."
His eyes shone with pathetic brightness, and he
put out his hand.
" You are very kind to a poor weak fellow,"
he whispered. " After all it is a desolate thing
to lie awake through the night in a place like this."
When the doctor returned the next morning,
he appeared even a shade disconcerted. He had
thought it quite likely that upon his second visit
he might find a scant white sheet drawn over the
narrow bed, and that it would not be necessary for
him to remain or call again ; but it appeared that
his patient might require his attention yet a few
"You have not left him at all," he said to
Natalie. " It is easy to see you did not sleep last
It was true that she had not slept. Through the
night she had sat in the dim glow of the fire,
scarcely stirring unless some slight sound of move-
ment from the bed attracted her attention. During
the first part of the night her charge had seemed
to sleep ; but as the hours wore on there had been
no more rest for him, and then she had known that
he lay with his eyes fixed upon her ; she had felt
their gaze even before she had turned to meet it.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 53
Just before the dawn he became restless, and called
her to his side.
" I owe you a heavy debt," he said drearily.
" And I shall leave it unpaid. I wish I wish it
" It ?" she said.
" The picture," he answered, "the picture."
Usually he was too weak for speech ; but occa-
sionally a fit of restlessness seized upon him, and
then it seemed as if he was haunted continually by
the memory of his unfinished work.
" It only needed a few touches," he said once.
" One day of strength would complete it if such
a day would but come to me. I know the look so
well now I see it on you/ face so often." And
then he lay watching her, his eyes following her
yearningly, as she moved to and fro.
In the studios below, the artists waited in vain
for their model. They neither saw nor heard any*
thing of her, and they knew her moods too well to
be officiously inquisitive. So she was left alone ta
the task she had chosen, and was faithful to it to
It was not so very long it lasted, though to her it
seemed a life-time. A few weeks the doctor made
his visits, and at last one afternoon, in going away,
he beckoned her out of the room.
He spoke in an undertone.
" To-night you may watch closely," he said ;
" perhaps toward morning but it will be very
54 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
It was very quiet. The day had been bitter cold,
arid as it drew to a close it became colder still, and
a fierce wind rose and whistled about the old house,
shaking the ill-fitting windows and doors. But the
sick man did not seem to hear it. Toward mid-
night he fell into a deep and quiet sleep.
Before the fire Natalie sat waiting. Now and
then a little shudder passed over her as if she could
not resist the cold. And yet the fire in the stove
was a bright one. She had smiled to herself as she
had heaped the coal upon it, seeing that there was
so little left.
" It will last until morning," she said, " and
that will be long enough." Through all the nights
during which she had watched she had never felt
the room so stilt as it seemed now between the
gusts and soughing of the wind. " Something is
in the air which has not been in it before," she
About one o'clock she rose and replenished the
fire, putting the last fragment of coal upon it, and
then sat down to watch it again.
Its slow kindling and glowing into life fascinated
her. It was not long before she could scarcely
remove her eyes from it. She was trying to calcu-
late with a weird fancy in her mind how long it
would last, and whether it would die out suddenly
As she cowered over it, if one of the men who ad-
mired her had entered he might well scarcely have
known her. She was hollow-eyed, haggard and
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 55
pallid for the time even her great beauty was
gone. As he had left her that day, the doctor had
said to himself discontentedly that after all, theso
wonderful faces last but a short time.
The fire caught at the coal, lighted fitful blazes
among it, and crept over it in a dull red, which
brightened into hot scarlet.
And the sick man lay sleeping, breathing faintly
" It will last until dawn," she said, " until
dawn, and no longer."
When the first cinder dropped with a metallic
sound, she started violently and laid her hand upon
her breast, but after that she scarcely stirred.
The fitful blazes died down, the hot scarlet deep-
ened to red again, the red grew dull, a gray film
of ashes showed itself upon it, and then came the
first faint gray of dawn, and she sat with beating
heart saying to herself,
" It will go out soon suddenly." And the
dying man was awake, speaking to her.
" Come here," he said in a low, clear voice.
" Come here."
She went to him and stood close by the bedside.
The moment of her supreme anguish had come.
But he showed no signs of pain or dread, only
there was a little moisture upon his forehead and
about his mouth.
His eyes shone large and bright in the snowy
pallor of his face, and when he fixed them upon
her she knew he would not move them away.
56 A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER.
" I am glad that it is finished," he said.
" It did not tire me to work as I thought it
would. I am glad that it is finished."
She fell upon her knees.
" That it is finished ?" she said.
His smile grew brighter.
" The picture," he whispered " the picture."
And then what she had waited for came. There
was a moment of silence ; the wind outside hushed
itself, his lips parted, but no sound came from
them, not even a fluttering breath ; his eyes were
still fixed upon her face, open, bright, smiling.
" I may speak now," she cried. " I may speak
now since you cannot hear. I love you ! I love
But there came to her ears only one sound the
little grating shudder of the fire as it fell together
and was dead.
The next morning when they heard that " the
American" had at last fulfilled their prophecies,
the hcataires showed a spasmodic warmth of inter-
est. They offered their services promptly, and said
to each other that he must have been a good fellow,
after all that it was a pity they had not known
him better. They even protested that he should
not be made an object of charity that among
themselves they would do all that was necessary.
But it appeared that their help was not needed
that there was in the background a friend who had
done all, but whom nobody knew.
A STORY OF THE LATIN QUARTER. 57
Hearing this they expressed their sympathy by
going up by twos and threes to the little garret
where there was now only icy coldness and si-
Not a few among them were so far touched by
the pathos they found in this as to shed a tear or
so most of them were volatile young Frenchmen
who counted their sensibilities among their luxu-
Toward evening there came two older than the
rest, who had not been long in the house.
When they entered, a woman stood at the
bed's head a woman in black drapery, with a pale
and haggard face which they saw only for a mo-
As they approached she moved away, and go-
ing to the window stood there with her back
toward them, gazing out at the drifted snow up-
on the roof. The men stood uncovered, looking
" It is the face of an Immortal," said the elder
of the two. " It is such men who die young."
And then they saw the easel in the shadow of the
corner, and went and turned it from the wall.
When they saw the picture resting upon it, there
was a long silence. It was broken at last by th*.
" It is some woman he has known and loved,"