getting over the solid, physical fact of the stonemason
in the chimney-corner.
36 THE WRECKER.
That is one advantage of being an American : it never
occurred to me to be ashamed of my grandfather, and the
old gentleman was quick to mark the difference. He
held my mother in tender memory, perhaps because he
was in the habit of daily contrasting her with Uncle
Adam, whom he detested to the point of frenzy ; and
he set down to inheritance from his favourite my own
becoming treatment of himself. On our walks abroad,
which soon became daily, he would sometimes (after
duly warning me to keep the matter dark from " Aadam")
skulk into some old familiar pot-house ; and there (if he
had the luck to encounter any of his veteran cronies)
he would present me to the company with manifest
pride, casting at the same time a covert slur on the rest
of his descendants. "This is my Jeannie's yin," he
would say. " He's a fine fallow, him." The purpose of
our excursions was not to seek antiquities or to enjoy
famous prospects, but to visit one after another a series
of doleful suburbs, for which it was the old gentleman's
chief claim to renown that he had been the sole con-
tractor, and too often the architect besides. I have
rarely seen a more shocking exhibition: the bricks
seemed to be blushing in the walls, and the slates on the
roof to have turned pale with shame ; but I was careful
not to communicate these impressions to the aged artif-
icer at my side ; and when he would direct my attention
to some fresh monstrosity perhaps with the comment,
" There's an idee of mine's : it's cheap and tasty, and had
BOUSSILLON WINE. 37
a graand run ; tlie idee was soon stole, and there's whole
deestricts near Glesgie with the goathic adeetion and
that plunth," I would civilly make haste to admire and
(what I found particularly delighted him) to inquire into
the cost of each adornment. It will be conceived that
Muskegon capitol was a frequent and a welcome ground
of talk ; I drew him all the plans from memory ; and he,
with the aid of a narrow volume full of figures and
tables, which answered (I believe) to the name of Moles-
worth, and was his constant pocket companion, would
draw up rough estimates and make imaginary offers on
the various contracts. Our Muskegon builders he pro-
nounced a pack of cormorants ; and the congenial sub-
ject, together with my knowledge of architectural terms,
the theory of strains, and the prices of materials in the
States, formed a strong bond of union between what
might have been otherwise an ill-assorted pair, and led
my grandfather to pronounce me, with emphasis, " a real
intalligent kind of a cheild." Thus a second time, as
you will presently see, the capitol of my native State had
influentially affected the current of my life.
I left Edinburgh, however, with not the least idea that
I had done a stroke of excellent business for myself,
and singly delighted to escape out of a somewhat dreary
house and plunge instead into the rainbow city of Paris.
Every man has his own romance ; mine clustered exclu
sively about the practice of the arts, the life of LatiD
Quarter students, and the world of Paris as depicted by
38 THE WKECKER.
that grimy wizard, the author of the Comedie Humaine..
I was not disappointed I could not have been ; for I did
not see the facts, I brought them with me ready-made.
Z. Marcas lived next door to me in my ungainly, ill-
smelling hotel of the Rue Eacine ; I dined at my villain-
ous restaurant with Lousteau and with Rastignac : if a
curricle nearly ran me down at a street-crossing, Maxime
de Trailles would be the driver. I dined, I say, at a poor
restaurant and lived in a poor hotel ; and this was not
from need, but sentiment. My father gave me a profuse
allowance, and I might have lived (had I chosen) in
the Quartier de 1'Etoile and driven to my studies daily.
Had I done so, the glamour must have fled: I should
still have been but Loudon Dodd ; whereas now I was
a Latin Quarter student, Murger's successor, living in
flesh and blood the life of one of those romances I had
loved to read, to re-read, and to dream over, among the
woods of Muskegon.
At this time we were all a little Murger-mad in the
Latin Quarter. The play of the Vie de Boheme (a dreary,
snivelling piece) had been produced at the Od6on, had
run an unconscionable time for Paris, and revived the
freshness of the legend. The same business, you may
say, or there and thereabout, was being privately enacted
in consequence in every garret of the neighbourhood, and
a good third of the students were consciously imperson-
ating Rodolphe or Schaunard to their own incommunica-
ble satisfaction. Some of us went far, and some farther,
ROUSSILLON TTIXB. 39
I always looked with awful envy (for instance") on a
certain countryman of my own, who had a studio in the
Rue Monsieur le Prince, wore boots, and long hair in a
net, and could be seen tramping off, in this guise, to the
worst eating-house of the quarter, followed by a Corsi-
can model, his mistress, in the conspicuous costume of
her race and calling. It takes some greatness of soul
~o carry even folly to such heights as these ; and for my
own part, I had to content myself by pretending very
arduously to be poor, by wearing a smoking-cap on the
treets, and by pursuing, through a series of misad-
ventures, that extinct mammal, the grisette. The most
grievous part was the eating and the drinking. I was
born with a dainty tooth and a palate for wine; and
only a genuine devotion to romance could have supported
me under the cat-civets that I had to swallow, and the
red ink of Bercy I must wash them down withal. Every
now and again, after a hard day at the studio, where I was
steadily and far from unsuccessfully industrious, a wave
of distaste would overbear me ; I would slink away from
my haunts and companions, indemnify myself for weeks
of self-denial with fine wines and dainty dishes ; seated
perhaps on a terrace, perhaps in an arbour in a garden,
with a volume of one of my favorite authors propped
open in front of me, and now consulted awhile, and now
forgotten : so remain, relishing my situation, till night
fell and the lights of the city kindled ; and thence stroll
homeward by the riverside, under the moon or stars, in
a heaven of poetry and digestion.
40 THE WRECKER.
One such indulgence led me in the course of my
second year into an adventure which I must relate:
indeed, it is the very point I have been aiming for, since
that was what brought me in acquaintance with Jim
Pinkerton. I sat down alone to dinner one October day
when the rusty leaves were falling and scuttling on the
boulevard, and the minds of impressionable men inclined
in about an equal degree towards sadness and convivial-
ity. The restaurant was no great place, but boasted a
considerable cellar and a long printed list of vintages.
This I was perusing with the double zest of a man
who is fond of wine and a lover of beautiful names,
when my eye fell (near the end of the card) on that not
very famous or familiar brand, Eoussillon. I remem-
bered it was a wine I had never tasted, ordered a bottle,
found it excellent, and when I had discussed the con-
tents, called (according to my habit) for a final pint. It
appears they did not keep Eoussillon in half-bottles.
"All right," said L "Another bottle." The tables at
this eating-house are close together ; and the next thing
I can remember, I was in somewhat loud conversation
with my nearest neighbours. From these I must have
gradually extended my attentions ; for I have a clear
recollection of gazing about a room in which every chair
was half turned round and every face turned smilingly to
mine. I can even remember what I was saying at the
moment ; but after twenty years, the embers of shame
are still alive ; and I prefer to give your imagination the
ROUSSELLOtf WINE. 41
cue, by simply mentioning that my muse was the patri-
otic. It had been my design to adjourn for coffee in the
company of some of these new friends; but I was no
sooner on the sidewalk than I found myself unaccount-
ably alone. The circumstance scarce surprised me at
the time, much less now ; but I was somewhat chagrined
a little after to find I had walked into a kiosque. I
began to wonder if I were any the worse for my last
bottle, and decided to steady myself with coffee and
brandy. In the Cafe* de la Source, where I went for this
restorative, the fountain was playing, and (what greatly
surprised me) the mill and the various mechanical
figures on the rockery appeared to have been freshly
repaired and performed the most enchanting antics.
The cafd was extraordinarily hot and bright, with every
detail of a conspicuous clearness, from the faces of the
guests to the type of the newspapers on the tables, and
the whole apartment swang to and fro like a hammock,
with an exhilarating motion. For some while I was so
extremely pleased with these particulars that I thought
I could never be weary of beholding them : then dropped
of a sudden into a causeless sadness ; and then, with the
same swiftness and spontaneity, arrived at the conchu
sion that I was drunk and had better get to bed.
It was but a step or two to my hotel, where I got my
lighted candle from the porter and mounted the four
flights to my own room. Although I could not deny
that I was drunk, I was at the same time lucidly rational
42 THE WRECKER.
and practical. I had but one preoccupation to be up in
time on the morrow for my work ; and when I observed
the clock on my chimney-piece to have stopped, I decided
to go down stairs again and give directions to the porter.
Leaving the candle burning and my door open, to be a
guide to me on my return, I set forth accordingly. The
house was quite dark ; but as there were only the three
doors on each landing, it was impossible to. wander, and
I had nothing to do but descend the stairs until I saw
the glimmer of the porter's night light. I counted four
nights : no porter. It was possible, of course, that I had
reckoned incorrectly; so I went down another and an-
other, and another, still counting as I went, until I had
reached the preposterous figure of nine flights. It was
now quite clear that I had somehow passed the porter's
lodge without remarking it ; indeed, I was, at the lowest
figure, five pairs of stairs below the street, and plunged
in the very bowels of the earth. That my hotel should
thus be founded upon catacombs was a discovery of con-
siderable interest ; and if I had not been in a frame of
mind entirely businesslike, I might have continued to
explore all night this subterranean empire. But I was
bound I must be up betimes on the next morning, and for
that end it was imperative that I should find the porter.
I faced about accordingly, and counting with painful
care, remounted towards the level of the street. Five,
six, and seven flights I climbed, and still there was no
porter. I began to be weary of the job, and reflecting
KOUSSTLLON WINE. 43
that I was now close to my own room, decided I should
go to bed. Eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen
flights I mounted ; and my open door seemed to be as
wholly lost to me as the porter and his floating dip.
I remembered that the house stood but six stories at its
highest point, from which it appeared (on the most mod-
erate computation) I was now three stories higher than
the roof. My original sense of amusement was suc-
ceeded by a not unnatural irritation. "My room has
just got to be here," said I, and I stepped towards the
door with outspread arms. There was no door and no
wall ; in place of either there yawned before me a dark
corridor, in which I continued to advance for some time
without encountering the smallest opposition. And this
in a house whose extreme area scantily contained three
small rooms, a narrow landing, and the stair ! The thing
was manifestly nonsense ; and you will scarcely be sur-
prised to learn that I now began to lose my temper. At
this juncture I perceived a filtering of light along the
floor, stretched forth my hand which encountered the
knob of a door-handle, and without further ceremony
entered a room. A young lady was within; she was
going to bed, and her toilet was far advanced, or the
other way about, if you prefer.
"I hope you will pardon this intrusion," said I;
" but my room is No. 12, and something has gone wrong
with this blamed house."
She looked at me a moment : and then. <l If you will
44 THE WRECKER.
step outside for a moment, I will take you there," says
Thus, with perfect composure on both sides, the
matter was arranged. I waited awhile outside her door.
Presently she rejoined me, in a dressing-gown, took my
hand, led me up another flight, which made the fourth
above the level of the roof, and shut me into my own
room, where (being quite weary after these contraordi-
nary explorations) I turned in, and slumbered like a
I tell you the thing calmly, as it appeared to me to
pass ; but the next day, when I awoke and put memory
in the witness-box, I could not conceal from myself that
the tale presented a good many improbable features. I
had no mind for the studio, after all, and went instead
to the Luxembourg gardens, there, among the sparrows
and the statues and the falling leaves, to cool and clear
my head. It is a garden I have always loved. You sit
there in a public place of history and fiction. Barras
and Pouche* have looked from these windows. Lousteau
and de Banville (one as real as the other) have rhymed
upon these benches. The city tramples by without the
railings to a lively measure ; and within and about you,
trees rustle, children and sparrows utter their small
cries, and the statues look on forever. Here, then, in a
seat opposite the gallery entrance, I set to work on the
events of the last night, to disengage (if it were pos
Bible) truth from fiction.
BOUSSILLON WINE. 45
The house, by daylight, had proved to be six stories
high, the same as ever. I could find, with all my archi-
tectural experience, no room in its altitude for those
interminable stairways, no width between its walls for
that long corridor, where I had tramped at night. And
there was yet a greater difficulty. I had read somewhere
an aphorism that everything may be false to itself save
human nature. A house might elongate or enlarge itself
or seem to do so to a gentleman who had been dining.
The ocean might dry up, the rocks melt in the sun, the
stars fall from heaven like autumn apples; and there
was nothing in these incidents to boggle the philosopher.
But the case of the young lady stood upon a different
foundation. Girls were not good enough, or not good
that way, or else they were too good. I was ready to
accept any of these views : all pointed to the same con-
clusion, which I was thus already on the point of reach-
ing, when a fresh argument occurred, and instantly
confirmed it. I could remember the exact words we had
each said; and I had spoken, and she had replied, in
English. Plainly, then, the whole affair was an illusion :
catacombs, and stairs, and charitable lady, all were
equally the stuff of dreams.
I had just come to this determination, when there blew
a flaw of wind through the autumnal gardens ; the dead
leaves showered down, and a flight of sparrows, thick as
a snowfall, wheeled above my head with sudden pipings.
This agreeable bustle was the affair of a moment, but it
46 THE WRECKER.
startled me from the abstraction into which I had fallen,
like a summons. I sat briskly up, and as I did so, my
eyes rested on the figure of a lady in a brown jacket and
carrying a paint-box. By her side walked a fellow some
years older than myself, with an easel under his arm ; and
alike by their course and cargo I might judge they were
bound for the gallery, where the lady was, doubtless, en-
gaged upon some copying. You can imagine my surprise
when I recognized in her the heroine of my adventure.
To put the matter beyond question, our eyes met, and
she, seeing herself remembered and recalling the trim in
which I had last beheld her, looked swiftly on the ground
with just a shadow of confusion.
I could not tell you to-day if she were plain or pretty ;
but she had behaved with so much good sense, and I had
cut so poor a figure in her presence, that I became in-
stantly fired with the desire to display myself in a more
favorable light. The young man besides was possibly
her brother ; brothers are apt to be hasty, theirs being a
part in which it is possible, at a comparatively early age,
to assume the dignity of manhood; and it occurred to
me it might be wise to forestall all possible complica-
tions by an apology.
On this reasoning I drew near to the gallery door, and
had hardly got in position before the young man came
out. Thus it was that I came face to face with my third
destiny ; for my career has been entirely shaped by these
three elements, my father, the capitol of Muskegon,
TO INTRODUCE MR. PINKERTON. 47
and my friend, Jim Pinkerton. As for the young lady
with whom my mind was at the moment chiefly occupied,
I was never to hear more of her from that day forward :
an excellent example of the Blind Man's Buff that wa
TO INTRODUCE MB. PINKERTON.
The stranger, I have said, was some years older than
myself : a man of a good stature, a very lively face, cor-
dial, agitated manners, and a gray eye as active as a
" May I have a word with you ? " said I.
" My dear sir," he replied, " I don't know what it can
be about, but you may have a hundred if you like."
"You have just left the side of a young lady," I con-
tinued, "towards whom I was led (very unintentionally)
into the appearance of an offence. To speak to herself
would be only to renew her embarrassment, and I seize
the occasion of making my apology, and declaring my
respect, to one of my own sex who is her friend, and pep
haps," I added, with a bow, "her natural protector."
48 THE WRECKER.
" You are a countryman of mine j I know it ! " he cried :
" I am sure of it by your delicacy to a lady. You do her
no more than justice. I was introduced to her the other
night at tea, in the apartment of some people, friends of
mine ; and meeting her again this morning, I could not
do less than carry her easel for her. My dear sir, what
is your name ? "
I was disappointed to find he had so little bond with
my young lady ; and but that it was I who had sought
the acquaintance, might have been tempted to retreat.
At the same time, something in the stranger's eye en-
"My name," said I, "is London Dodd; I am a student
of sculpture here from Muskegon."
" Of sculpture ? " he cried, as though that would have
been his last conjecture. "Mine is James Pinkerton;
I am delighted to have the pleasure of your acquaint*,
" Pinkerton ! " it was now my turn to exclaim. " Are
you Broken-Stool Pinkerton ? "
He admitted his identity with a laugh of boyish delight j
and indeed any young man in the quarter might have
been proud to own a sobriquet thus gallantly acquired.
In order to explain the name, I must here digress into
a chapter of the history of manners in the nineteenth
century, very well worth commemoration for its own
sake. In some of the studios at that date, the hazing of
'O INTRODUCE MR. PINKERTON. 49
new pupils was both barbarous and obscene. Two inci-
dents following one on the heels of the other tended to
produce an advance in civilization by the means (as so
commonly happens) of a passing appeal to savage stand-
ards. The first was the arrival of a little gentleman
from Armenia. He had a fez upon his head and (what
nobody counted on) a dagger in his pocket. The hazing
was set about in the customary style, and, perhaps in
virtue of the victim's head-gear, even more boisterously
than usual. He bore it at first with an inviting patience ;
but upon one of the students proceeding to an unpardon-
able freedom, plucked out his knife and suddenly plunged
it in the belly of the jester. This gentleman, I am
pleased to say, passed months upon a bed of sickness,
before he was in a position to resume his studies. The
second incident was that which had earned Pinkerton his
reputation. In a crowded studio, while some very filthy
brutalities were being practised on a trembling debutant, a
tall, pale fellow sprang from his stool and (without the
smallest preface or explanation) sang out, " All English
and Americans to clear the shop ! " Our race is brutal,
but not filthy; and the summons was nobly responded to.
Every Anglo-Saxon student seized his stool ; in a moment
the studio was full of bloody coxcombs, the French
fleeing in disorder for the door, the victim liberated and
amazed. In this feat of arms, both English-speaking
nations covered themselves with glory ; but I am proud
to claim the author of the whole for an American, and a
&0 THE WRECKER.
patriotic American at that, being the same gentleman
who had subsequently to be held down in the bottom of
a box during a performance of L'Oncle Sam, sobbing at
intervals, "My country, my country!" While yet
another (my new acquaintance, Pinkerton) was supposed
to have made the most conspicuous figure in the actual
battle. At one blow, he had broken his own stool and
sent the largest of his opponents back foremost through
what we used to call " a conscientious nude." It appears
that, in the continuation of his flight, this fallen warrior
issued on the boulevard still framed in the burst canvas.
It will be understood how much talk the incident
aroused in the students' quarter, and that I was highly
gratified to make the acquaintance of my famous coun-
tryman. It chanced I was to see more of the quixotic
side of his character before the morning was done ; for
as we continued to stroll together, I found myself near
the studio of a young Frenchman whose work I had
promised to examine, and in the fashion of the quarter
carried up Pinkerton along with me. Some of my com-
rades of this date were pretty obnoxious fellows. I
could almost always admire and respect the grown-up
practitioners of art in Paris ; but many of those who
were still in a state of pupilage were sorry specimens, so
much so that I used often to wonder where the painters
came from, and where the brutes of students went to.
A similar mystery hangs over the intermediate stages of
the medical profession, and must have perplexed the
TO INTRODUCE MR. PINKERTON. 51
teast observant. The ruffian, at least, whom I now car-
ried Pinkerton to visit, was one of the most crapulous in
the quarter. He turned out for our delectation a huge
"crust" (as we used to call it) of St. Stephen, wallowing
in red upon his belly in an exhausted receiver, and a
crowd of Hebrews in blue, green, and yellow, pelting
him apparently with buns ; and while we gazed upon
this contrivance, regaled us with a piece of his own
recent biography, of which his mind was still very full,
and which he seemed to fancy represented him in a
heroic posture. I was one of those cosmopolitan Ameri-
cans, who accept the world (whether at home or abroad)
as they find it, and whose favourite part is that of the
spectator; yet even I was listening with ill-suppressed
disgust, when I was aware of a violent plucking at my
" Is he saying he kicked her down stairs ? " asked
Pinkerton, white as St. Stephen.
"Yes," said I: "his discarded mistress; and then he
pelted her with stones. I suppose that's what gave him
the idea for his picture. He has just been alleging the
pathetic excuse that she was old enough to be his
Something like a sob broke from Pinkerton. "Tell
him," he gasped "I can't speak this language, though
I understand a little ; I never had any proper education
tell him I'm going to punch his head."
"For God's sake, do nothing of the sort!" I cried.
52 THE WRECKER.
" They don't understand that sort of thing here." And
I tried to bundle him out.
"Tell him first what we think of him," he objected.
" Let me tell him what he looks in the eyes of a pure-
" Leave that to me," said I, thrusting Pinkerton clear
through the door.
" Qu'est-ce qu'il a?" 1 inquired the student.
" Monsieur se sent mal au cceur d? avoir trop regarde votre
croute" 2 said I, and made my escape, scarce with dig-
nity, at Pinkerton's heels.
" What did you say to him ? " he asked.
" The only thing that he could feel," was my reply.
After this scene, the freedom with which I had ejected
my new acquaintance, and the precipitation with which