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8ERTRAND SMITHS
*<-RES Of- BOOKS
140 PACIFIC AVENUE
LONG BEACH CALIF.



THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS




THE STREET OF THE
TWO FRIENDS w.

BY

F. BERKELEY SMITH

AUTHOR OF

"A VILLAGE OF VAGABONDS," "THE REAL LATIN QUARTER,"

"THE LADY OF BIG SHANTY," "PARISIANS OUT-OF-DOORS,"

"IN LONDON TOWN," ETC., ETC.




ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR



GARDEN CITY NEW YORK

DOUBLED AY, PAGE & COMPANY

1912



Copyright, 1911, by
JOHN ADAMS THAYER CORPORATION

Copyright, 1911, 1912, by

AINSLEE PUBLISHING COMPANY

Copyright, 1912, by

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

All rights reserved, including thai of

translation into foreign languages,

including the Scandinavian.



URL



PREFACE

POSSIBLY no woman is so universally mis-
understood and misjudged by the Anglo-
Saxon race as the Latin woman. To the
English-speaking peoples she is the incarnation
of all she ought not to be. To them the word
"Parisienne" is synonomous with "Advent-
uress," frou-frous, and champagne.

These stories are out of my own experiences
during the twenty years I have lived in Paris.
Ten of these were during my student days in
the Latin Quarter, the remainder were in
Montmartre and beyond.

In the tales which follow I have eliminated
fiction and told the truth. It is my purpose in
this volume to pay tribute to a race among
whom I have lived, and the sincerity of whose

hearts is a joy to remember.

F. B. S.

8 Rue des Deux Amis,
Paris, May, 1912.



CONTENTS



PAGE



Prologue 3

CHAPTER

I. The Enthusiast 19

II. The Savage 51

III. Villa by the Sea 81

IV. By the Grace of Allah .... 125
V. The Thoroughbred 159

VI. Natka 195

VII. "Gaby" 231

VIII. Undine 261

IX. Therese 295

X. Straight-Rye Jones 325

XI. "The Arrangement of Monsieur de

Courcelles" ....... 349

XII. "The Refugees" 379



THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS





PROLOGUE

THE STUDIO IN THE STREET OF THE TWO
FRIENDS

T SHALL call this street the "Rue des Deux
* Amis " - the Street of the Two Friends -
since the name suggests the life of this crooked
byway halfway up Montmartre better than its
own.

Its real name is the Rue Frangois Villemorin,
which suggests nothing but a crabbed old sculp-
tor, who lived close to a century ago in the third
house from the corner, a house distinguished
from the others by an exquisitely carved fagade



4 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

and from behind whose habitually closed blinds
Villemorin died a hermit, which is a bad thing
for any one to be while alive.

The little street is now inhabited by idle
dreamers to whom Paris seems couleur de rose
as long as they have enough for to-morrow's
food and a little left to dream on.

Poor Pierrot! Only last night his anxious
face shone pale in the soft moonlight flooding
the floor of his garret, while he turned his
pockets inside out in quest of a little silver to
still the heart of his landlord.

Poor Pierrot ! That excellent fellow might as
well have counted upon finding a diamond
glittering on the bare floor beneath his narrow
cot. His beloved Columbine, the only jewel
in the garret, was in tears. Morning dawned,
to find her eyes still red with weeping, then
Fortune passed to slip three gold louis beneath
their pillow. The sun rose high to warm their
hearts again a merry Columbine. Pierrot
sings gayly to the swallows screaming past their
gabled window among the roofs.



THE STUDIO IN THE STREET 5

Kind old Paris! What a good mother she
is: she who does not fail her children even in
their darkest hour, she who knows so well that
kisses are not nourishing. Ah! how many
Pierrots and Columbines there are in the Rue
des Deux Amis.

Let me be truthful in describing an ancient
house flanking the corner of the Rue des Deux
Amis, since I live there, and this modest abode
of mine, tucked beneath the roofs like the nest
of Pierrot and Columbine, has much in concern
with those whom Chance has led across my
threshold and often into my heart.

Let me be truthful, I say, for the plain truth
needs no further seasoning of the imagination
from even so enthusiastic a dreamer as myself.
And since one's daily adventures lead one, par-
bleu ! into enough that could pass for fiction, and
is so seldom chronicled in truth.

Is there not enough romance and drama
lurking at one's elbows in the passing throng?
Climb almost any flight of stairs and knock at
almost any door if you would know more. Are



6 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

there not skeletons in closets locked even to
friends? and love affairs in garrets that need
not the gilded setting of the novelist to enhance
their glamour or intensify their sincerity?

Love has little to do with environment the
flame burns steadily in any atmosphere. For-
tune is generous in her slices of life she cuts
the cake fairly and gives full measure with an
open palm but to my studio beneath the roofs.

I cannot help feeling a certain reverence and
respect for the house itself it has seen so
much and passed bravely through so many
vicissitudes.

It began by housing a prince, sheltered an
erring countess, became the private hotel of a
grande cocotte, once a king's favourite, offered
in turn a secret meeting place to a revolutionary
committee, and before the dawn of the next
day found itself back of a barricade breasting a
hell of frenzy, and up to its roof in smoke,
through which roared a merciless fire of musket
balls and grapeshot. Men and women died
where they fell, some on the winding stairs, others



THE STUDIO IN THE STREET 7

on the floors back of gaping windows choked
with barriers of furniture and bedding, others
shrieked out their lives in closets back of splin-
tered doors. A red-haired woman wearing a
three-cornered hat with a cockade dropped her
musket, slipped slowly over the sill of a window
on the third floor, and fell like a sack on the
barricade beneath shot through the head.
Blood soaked through the floors and trickled
from the riddled ceilings. The smoke blown
back from the windows half smothered a scene
indescribable. It is difficult to aim straight
with wet hands. For three days and nights
the house held this carnage in its entrails, its
thick walls taking the brunt of the onslaught
without until there was not a space as large as
a man's head that did not show a wound. Then
a young fellow with insane eyes, his gaunt face
black with powder grease, limped to the summit
of the barricade, waving a tattered shirt at the
end of a pike.

The barricade had surrendered! That night
the house slept in darkness with its dead.

The Lieutenant Commander de Fontaine-



8 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

Senac, passing a little before midnight with his
aide, noticed in the dark a dull glow of light
among the debris of the barricade. It was a
sergeant lighting his pipe with an old-fashioned
phosphor match from a bottle. De Fontaine-
Senac raised his head with a jerk and glanced
up at the house. "They are snuffed out," he
remarked to his aide, and strode on down the
silent street.

To-day there is not a visible trace of the night-
mare through which the brave old house passed.
Like many other veterans, it is now at peace in
its best clothes, its scars long ago hidden under
plaster and paint.

My concierge Madame Dupuy mops
clean the cobbled pavement of its generous
entrance daily, which is wide enough for a car-
riage to enter, and at whose farther end, close
to Madame Dupuy's loge, is a glass door which
you may neither open nor shut without its
jangling a horrid little bell, the door closing
stiffly with a wheeze of pain, as if in protest at
being disturbed.



THE STUDIO IN THE STREET 9

Now the builder who lives on the first floor
an apoplectic man with a bull neck in two puffs
and a crease opens the door savagely with a
wrench. That good soul, Madame Dupuy,
almost invariably opens it with a smile, and I
have known a certain mademoiselle to open it
with a small gloved hand, so carefully and with
so much tactful haste that I have often wondered
as I gazed down from the top floor between the
bannisters and beheld the small gloved hand
ascending, how the little bell could have been
brutal and indiscreet enough to have announced
her arrival.

What an aggravating watchdog the little bell
is. Yet without it Madame Dupuy would not
sleep a wink she who believes every detail of
every crime she reads in her daily paper, and
exclaims to herself at the end of each para-
graph as she readjusts her spectacles and her
neat white cap:

"Ah! Quelle horreurt"

On the first floor, I have said, lives the
builder; the stairs from thence circle up past
the doors of my neighbours. Moreover, this



10 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

ancient winding flight is waxed, carpeted down
the middle, and kept spotlessly clean. Madame
Dupuy sees to that the stairs are her pride.
Dogs have to be carried up them in arms, all
except the fox terrier on the second floor, whose
tail grows out of an ink spot and who is owned
by a heavy blonde in a pink wrapper, who has
long since retired from romance.

You can hear the shivery tinkle of the
fox terrier's bell when she opens her door.
He is so nervous that he barely touches any-
thing.

On the third floor ah ! but on the third
floor the door is always closed. Twice I have
seen an egg left on its threshold; now and then
a narrow loaf of bread keeping a bottle of milk
company on the polished brass knob. Once I
saw a man leave and again a woman enter; she
was very pale and in deep mourning.

The third floor is a mystery.

On the fourth floor the carpet ceases, and
you pass the plain door of a trim little modiste,
who has a habit of forgetting and leaving the
little door ajar, so that I am forced at times to



THE STUDIO IN THE STREET 11

catch a glimpse of her small, active hands pin-
ning a lining to a headless lady with a faultless
figure, or bidding her sweetheart au revoir for
the day.

A short flight now leads to the top floor, paved
with red tiles, snug under the zinc roof with its
groups of hooded chimney pipes. The brown
door to the right is my own.

It is very modest, this top floor. The rest
of the house seems to have abandoned it, leaving
it like a poor relation to shift for itself, deprived
of stair carpet and gas, the end of its dark cor-
ridor harbouring a brass spigot in a niche, from
which I draw water in an earthen jug. My door
at the head of the stairs opens into a small low-
ceiled room, which serves as my studio, and
whose two windows locked by iron clasps look
down on the gray walls of a weather-stained
court at the bottom of which on fair days are
ranged like a row of convalescents, profiting
of its afternoon sun, the pet plants of Madame
Dupuy.

Off my studio across a narrow corridor is a
still smaller bedroom, whose ceiling bends its



1* THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

back in obedience to the slope of the roof, and
from whose gabled window one can gaze down
on the lazy life of the Rue des Deux Amis.

A yard and a hah* farther, and the little cor-
ridor ends at the door of a box of a kitchen
provided with a hooded charcoal range, and a
skylight big enough to stick one's head out of
in sunny weather, and as tight as the lid of a
snuff box in storms.

This garret of mine beneath the roofs possesses
a quiet charm, a personality wholly its own, an
intimateness, for are not its motley furnishings
old friends in themselves? beginning if you will
with the faded gold frame of the mirror over
my studio fireplace, whose glass is as dull as
the eye of a dead fish, and continuing along the
walls hung with remnants of damask and bro-
cade, their most threadbare spots hidden under
sketches from fellow painters or shadowed by
shelves sagging with books, cracked pots, and
blue and apple-green jars repeating the colour
now and then of some worn rug on the cracked
tile floor, whose darkest spots may be traced
to a squashed tube of charcoal gray. There



THE STUDIO IN THE STREET 13

are quaint cupboards, too, let into the thick
walls and into which are shovelled, when in haste
to be neat, trash that the kitchen refuses to
conceal, since its own nooks and corners are
full to overflowing. Some day I am going to
be brave and throw away much with a relentless
hand; and yet when I have tried, I have failed
dismally. No! No! One cannot throw away
one's old friends as easily as that, not even the
chairs I rescued from the second-hand dealer
when on their last legs.

As for the green bell rope with its dusty tassel
outside my door, I have long since cut it down.
It was more nerve-racking in its jangle than its
mate downstairs; besides, what is more fascinat-
ing than the unexpected rap gentle raps,
joyous raps, some timid, some insistent, some
dear to the heart? One never knows whose
dainty foot will reach the landing of the
sixth floor before my garret door. Unexpected
raps how many souvenirs they recall how
many romances and adventures have they begun
within my garret beneath the roofs? Hark!
A step on the stairs!



CHAPTER ONE
THE ENTHUSIAST




CHAPTER ONE

THE ENTHUSIAST

f HAVE seen Briston seasick, but never in love.
So, when he climbed the spiral stairs and
rapped at the modest brown door of my garret
studio, beneath the roofs in the Rue des Deux
Amis, was let in, refused a cigarette I tossed
him from my easel, and announced he had
invited a certain Brazilian lady he had met on
the steamer to luncheon at the Cafe de la Paix.
Marie, my model, who was buttoning her boots,
and who understands a little English, burst into
a fit of giggles.

17



18 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

Describe Briston? Let me tell you it is not
easy, since the description must be neat and
precise like Briston.

He is a tall, thin young Englishman, with
about as much flesh on his ribs as a fox terrier;
a fellow with a set purpose in his Parisian life,
in whose tenacious pursuit the so-called weaker
instincts common to man have been stifled.

Briston is a machine, as finely adjusted as the
high-power focus on his best binocular micro-
scope, through which his gray, beadlike eyes, set
close to the bridge of his aristocratic nose, have
been for five years steadily engaged in research.

Briston is a fact as dry as the cross section
of the spinal column of a mole, sliced on a
paraffined cork to a thousandth of an inch, and
hermetically sealed from vulgar contact with the
outer world in a drop of refined balsam.

The Cafe de la Paix!

I looked at Briston in amazement, for we were
both as poor as rats - - almost as poor as
Marie.

It was evident from the gloomy hesitancy in
his thin voice that he already regretted his extrav-



THE ENTHUSIAST 19

agant invitation half through timidity, partly
because he feared the expense.

Again Marie understood.

Removing two hairpins from her saucy mouth,
she looked up at the victim naively, an expres-
sion that changed to a good-hearted smile of pity.

"Listen, my little one," she said softly.

Briston stiffened at the familiarity.

"Mais, voyons, mon petit!" continued Marie.
"The Cafe de la Paix! You are crazy you
will go hungry, my poor friend, for the rest of
the month. It is true what I tell you. Ah,
no! The grand restaurants are not for you.
They are for the imbeciles with plenty of louis,
the princes, the 'big vegetables'; those rich old
'pears' as bald as a boiled egg."

She paused, and laid aside her button-hook
thoughtfully on the worn divan.

"Ah, zut alors!" she exclaimed. "It is not
as difficult as all that. If your Brazilienne is a
good comrade, she will be content with enfin !
a little restaurant like the rest of us. Quoi?
But if she plays the princesse, beware, my old
one; you will not have a sou left."



20 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

She let down her soft, dark hair about her firm,
young shoulders, and started a braid.

"Listen!" she again resumed. ;< There is
the Mouton d'Or. One eats well there for three
francs. It is not too dear that, hein?"

Briston seemed relieved, though he reddened
with embarrassment under her frankness.

"Besides," she added, "I know the patron -
you will not be robbed. I will tell him you are
coming with your madame."

"Mademoiselle," corrected Briston, who was
always accurate.

"Madame," insisted Marie.

"But she is not married," returned Briston
with conviction.

"It is not polite," explained Marie. "A lady
should always be called 'madame' whether she
is married or not."

She rose and turned to the dusty mirror over
the mantel, whose dull glass served to guide her
small hands in busily coiling and patting into
place her three braids.

How neatly she does it, this simple coiffure
of hers, that begins at the nape of her shapely



THE ENTHUSIAST 21

little neck, touches in passing the tips of her
small, pink ears, and ends in two twists and a
coil on the top of her pretty head. Another
hairpin sank in place, and she went to the
kitchen, where the glass was clearer, to dress.

With Marie's final word of advice, my studio
beneath the roofs had become silent.

At length Briston stirred himself uneasily,
and, with an anxious look and some hesitation,
finally blurted out:

"I wish you'd come along, old chap er
you see, I don't know her very well, and with
my bad French "

"Dieu! He is funny!" I over heardMarie
sigh from the kitchen.

"Join you two at luncheon not much!
Delighted to meet your Brazilian at any other
time," I declared; "but I am not as indiscreet
as all that."

He looked at me gravely, like a young pro-
fessor weighing a pupil's answer.

"No, no!" I protested. "Go and have your
little luncheon, you two, and be glad if the sun
shines and you have enough in your pocket for



22 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

an excellent dish and a kind bottle of wine. It
will do you good that 'rinses the eyes,' as
the French say. I've no doubt madame
is charming; a Brazilian, eh? And beautiful?"

"Um er yes," he declared thoughtfully,
twirling his pale, transparent fingers in a sun-
beam. "I dare say you would call her beauti-
ful. 'Beautiful' is not exactly the word. She
possesses, however, a certain personal attrac-
tion; fairly tall, dark hair, and all that sort of
thing."

"Speaks English?"

"Brokenly, with a limited vocabulary," con-
fessed Briston.

" Pretty teeth ? Gracious ? "

"Er svelte, with excellent teeth."

" Briston, you're a coward ! " I laughed. " For-
give me, but you are. How in the devil did this
fatal invitation occur?"

"Well, you see, old chap, I was quite ill on
board. We did have a wretched voyage all the
way over, rather! And she was kind to me;
loaned me books, and salts, and all that sort of
thing. Do you see?"



THE ENTHUSIAST 23

"Oh, la, la!" sighed Marie.

"Say you'll come!" he insisted.

"I'll come," I promised, no longer able to re-
sist the prospect of meeting a beautiful Brazilian.

"Good!" he exclaimed, with nervous satis-
faction, rubbing together the palms of his thin
hands.

"What day? "I asked.

"Thursday, at half after twelve. We are to
meet on the cafe terrace."

"Ah, then you will not bring madame with

you."

Briston reddened slightly. "She would not
give me her address," he confessed. "She
rather insisted on our meeting on the terrace."

I glanced up at Marie, who was now button-
ing her gloves beside my easel, and saw a faint
smile lurking around the corners of her mouth
that spelled "adventuress." Briston saw it,
too, but he did not understand.

Marie put out her hand to him, and he rose
and shook it formally.

"Good luck, mon prince!" she said, picking
up her portemonnaie.



24 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

"Until to-morrow, my child," said I, as she
laid a friendly hand in passing on my shoulder,
and a moment later closed my studio door be-
hind her.

As I listened to the patter of her trim feet die
away down the stairs, I saw a gleam of intense
relief enter Briston's eyes.

The whole world, sooner or later, passes be-
fore the Cafe de la Paix. In this slow current
of drifting humanity, made up of the flotsam
and jetsam of the universe, there is rarely a
type that is not familiar.

Past the three rows of tables skirting the
sidewalk of the boulevard, the innocent touch
elbows with the vicious; the long with the short.
Beauty is rare; but the Beast is omnipresent
from morning until the following gray dawn.
It is a human current of idleness that moves in a
jargon of all languages. Rich and poor. Sav-
age and savant. Spendthrift and miser. The
woman with her transient prey. Rarely does
one glance twice at any of them. They pass
daily and nightly as they passed before the



THE ENTHUSIAST 25

aperitifs of our great uncles, and will continue
to pass before future generations of boulevardiers.

I was explaining this to Briston as I looked at
my watch, with the firm conviction that mad-
ame, being a Brazilian, would be naturally
three quarters of an hour late, if she appeared
at all. It was not the first time I had waited,
with enthusiasm, on a cafe terrace for a Latin
lady.

Amazing! At precisely twelve-thirty to the
minute, Briston rose out of his chair and re-
moved his hat. At the same instant almost the
entire terrace turned to gaze at a woman ap-
proaching our table. Instinctively I drew a
quick breath. I was even a little late in rising,
and uncovering my head, so fascinated and ab-
sorbed was I in the sheer beauty of the woman.

If she was an adventuress, she was of the
type that could have turned a crowned head.
Never had I seen so subtly modelled, so ex-
quisite a figure. There was that classic fullness
about it which indicates a woman in her prime,
and not past it. She moved with such ease
that it was catlike, and yet with a certain gra



26 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

cious dignity, gowned as she was, this sunny
spring morning, in a clinging frock of gray pon-
gee silk, with white polka dots, a parasol to
match, a becoming Gainsborough hat, with
white wings, and a pendant ruby at her throat.
She herself was like a jewel.

The brilliancy of her dark, Oriental eyes, with
their curved lashes, the rich sheen of her in-
tensely black hair, the pure oval of her face, her
skin like dusky ivory flushed w^ith health, and
now her frank smile as she drew near us, dis-
closing her faultless teeth ah, these were only
details; but I saw them at a glance.

"My deah boy," she laughed, as she held out
her gloved hand to the somewhat flustered Bris-
ton; "you see I not make zee late like every
bod', isn't it?"

" Mademoiselle er " Then checking

himself : " Er Madame da Varraguillo," stam-
mered Briston, by way of introduction.

"I feel, Madame, more like an indiscreet in-
truder than a guest," I declared, with my best
bow.

"Non! Non!" she exclaimed. "What for



THE ENTHUSIAST 27

zee excuse? It is stupide, hein ? Always zoze
stupide tete-a-tetes; zoze stupide lovaires, isn't
it?" Laughing, she took her seat between us,
and started to remove her gloves. "We shall
be zee good comrades, is it not? All three?"

She turned to me roguishly, half closing her
brilliant eyes the eyes of an odalisque.

"He is so quiet, is it not? Zat good Monsieur
Briston?" she said mischievously, and she pat-
ted his thin hand in friendly apology.

"Of course it is far bettaire zee com-
rades," she added, with a weary little sigh. This
time she laid a half -gloved hand firmly over my
own a shapely hand ringed to the knuckles
with emeralds. It was characteristic of her
Brazilian blood. There was a touch of the
savage there in her love of jewels that I liked.

Ah! Never had I seen such eyes! They
smiled at you even when, for an instant, her
face was in repose. Eyes no less seductive and
captivating than her voice. The simplest
thing she said was rendered with a certain vi-
brant, tragic intensity; wide-eyed often, her
jewelled hands now clenched, now darting with



28 THE STREET OF THE TWO FRIENDS

the rapidity of two dragon-flies as she gestic-
ulated her words. Again, her voice would rise
to a staccato a volley of words then, each syl-
lable crisp and distinct as it was freed from its
barrier of pearls.

Strange to say, despite her vibrant intensity
of speech and gesture, no one at the next table
would have been disturbed, for she spoke di-
rectly to you, and no farther. Yet, again, her
voice would sink to one of dreamy gentleness.
She was seductive beyond words.

As Briston motioned to the waiter, she raised
her hands in protest.

"Non!" she said, with firmness.

"A little vermouth, then?" ventured Briston,
who had suggested a glass of porto.

"NonI Non! Non!" came in quick stac-


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Online LibraryF. Berkeley (Frank Berkeley) SmithThe street of the two friends → online text (page 1 of 16)