F. Berkeley (Frank Berkeley) Smith.

The street of the two friends online

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didn't tell mademoiselle that I knew him, but I
do. He was raising trouble then between two
old friends, just as he's doing now, for he was
responsible for the death of the young Baron
de Grim, shot dead, in one of those 'arrange-
ments,' by the Baron's best friend, Paul Cha-
bron, over the dancer, Lea Terrelli. You can see
Chabron any night you care to dining alone at
Weber's. He is only thirty-eight, but he looks
sixty. It broke his heart. Oh, De Courcelles
takes jolly good care he doesn't fight himself."


" What is to be done? " I asked. " It is evident
Franchard was drunk and Desmoulins lost his
temper. You remember, we used to see them
continually together. Why ! they seemed insepa-
rable pals."

"Of course," said Hollister, "for years the
best of pals," he broke out hotly, "it's an
outrage. You might as well have a duel be-
tween us. Bah!" and he threw his cigarette
into the stove. "Why, there isn't one duel out
of a hundred around Paris," he added, "that if
the principals had their way, wouldn't be settled
by a handshake."

The lion raised his head. Again the swish of
silk outside.

A knock interrupted us.

"It is impossible," cried Coralie, rushing in,
" I have talked to zat old beast of a De Courcelles
-mon Dieu! It is not pleasant to cry before
an old pig like zat. He vill listen to not-
zing." She went over, buried her gloved hand
in the lion's mane and suddenly, with a
choking voice turned upon Hollister. "If I
had a man to deal viz like you, he would


listen. You are brave, but zat old De Cour-
celles is a coward."

"And they are going to fight? " muttered Jack.

: 'Yes," returned Coralie. 'To-morrow at
Vincennes . ' ' The blue eyes were looking straight
into his now and he saw them fill with tears.

"Um!" remarked Hollister.

"I must go," she said. "My cab is waiting
and my lions must be fed." She spoke to Jean
Bart, slipped the cord from the fender, wound it
about her wrist, and led him to the door.

"Now see, please, if zere is any one on zee
stairs," she requested.

Hollister opened the door, stepped out and
peered down the rickety flight.

"Not a soul," he said. "One moment!" he
added. "Do you know the hour of the duel?"

"Yes," she returned. "At six, as soon as it is
light, in zat leetle woods back of zee deserted

"Good," said Hollister. "How did you man-
age to find out?"

"I gave De Courcelles' valet a louis," she re-
plied, half closing her blue eyes.


With a lunging gait the lion descended the
stairs, Coralie holding him in check and speaking
to him as he picked his way to the bottom.

A moment later we heard the door of the cab
slam shut.

An hour before the earliest street cries had
echoed along that aristocratic highway, the
Boulevard St. Germain, the valet of Monsieur
Gaston de Courcelles noiselessly entered the
bedroom of his master. His tread was catlike
in its softness.

Monsieur de Courcelles lay snoring, his fero-
cious moustache showing above a bed quilt of
scarlet satin.

The valet drew back the heavy curtains of the

"Bah!" he muttered to himself as he gazed
out into the chill fog. "A villain of a morning.
It will be muddy enough this time, mon

He placed a nickelled pitcher of hot water be-
side an Empire shaving table, laid a pair of pol-
ished boots beside it, and screwed three turquoise


studs into a shirt with a frilled bosom. Then he
bent over his master, and said:

"Monsieur, it is a quarter to five."

"Good," growled the voice beneath the quilt.

Neither Desmoulins nor Franchard possessing
valets, the former had risen an hour before the
first glimmer of dawn after a sleepless night in
his studio, while Franchard was at that moment
in his room across the Seine awaiting the arrival
of his seconds and trying to choke down some
coffee and half a crescent.

Franchard had had the misfortune to look in
the glass.

He was ghastly pale, half ill, and shook with a
nervous tremor.

Meantime Mademoiselle Coralie de Favrier
paced the floor of her boudoir. She too, had not

An hour later, within a muddy patch of woods
drenched with fog in the Bois de Vincennes, Des-
moulins and Franchard stood apart, avoiding
each other's eyes. Hatless, and each in a loose
white shirt, collarless and open at the throat,
they stood out in marked contrast to the half


dozen men who had assembled in their top hats
and overcoats. As to these, their deportment
and conversation were as conventional as their
dress upon similar occasions. They spoke, as
undertakers do at a funeral.

The drenching fog hah* obscured the leafless
branches of the trees. Beside the trunk of one,
bending over a polished mahogany case contain-
ing a glittering brace of blue-barrelled pistols,
stood De Courcelles, enveloped in a fur coat, the
collar turned up to the brim of his sleek, silk hat.
Beside him stood a sparsely built young doctor
unwinding a long bandage, the end of whch
coiled itself like a snake in a small black valise
open at his feet. A little beyond, three carriages
waited at the edge of the wood, their drivers keep-
ing at a respectful distance from the party.

It was at this instant that a fourth coupe drew
rapidly up behind the rest, and a tall young man
with broad shoulders sprang out and strode
toward the sinister group among the trees.

The group turned in amazement, De Courcelles
glowering at the intruder.

It was Hollister.


"Gentlemen," began Hollister, raising his hat,
a formality which was returned by the others,
despite their feelings.

"Monsieur Gaston de Courcelles, I believe,"
said Jack, facing the bristling moustache, and
with a sweeping glance at the others, he con-
tinued: "I am fully aware, gentlemen, that I
am an intruder."

His first words had told the others by his ac-
cent that he was not only an intruder but a for-
eigner, a fact which to them doubled the insult.

" I have come here to interview you, Monsieur
de Courcelles."

The rest were silent, seemingly too amazed to
do much but mutter and gesticulate. De Cour-
celles' eyes were blazing.

"You, you come here to interview me," he
snarled, "y u come to make trouble, eh?" his
fat neck growing purple with rage.

"Yes, I remember you now," he sneered.
"You were a friend of Madame Terrili's."

"A chance acquaintance," returned Jack
coolly, "not a friend, but I have every reason to
believe you knew that woman better than I,


since you were so interested in the murder of the
Baron de Grim."

"Murder!" cried De Courcelles, hoarsely.
"What do you mean?" He paled as he said
it, his fat hands slinking into his pock-

"I mean precisely what I say," said Jack.

De Courcelles' puffy eyelids half closed until
the vicious little pupils behind them sparkled
like a snake's.

'You tell me I am concerned in a murder,
eh? You come here to insult me before these,
these gentlemen? I tell you the Baron de Grim
and Chabron fought fairly."

;< They might have," returned Jack, "if the
sight on the Baron's pistol had not been tampered
with, and had the Baron's trigger pulled as easily
as his adversary's."

"Bah!" thundered De Courcelles, "you Ang-
lais speak from the tittle-tattle of the riffraff of
your dirty cafes."

"One hears much in Paris, sooner or later,"
answered Jack, "especially when it concerns the
honour of two old friends. I heard this from


an eyewitness in the French Embassy. Besides,
I'm not English, I'm an American."

: 'You dog of an Anglais," roared De Cour-
celles. ' You shall pay me for this, pay me with
your skin."

"Ah!" exclaimed Jack. "I was waiting for
that, that is what I have come for, for you,
Monsieur de Courcelles. It is you who are respon-
sible for this duel. Now you shall answer to me."

Jack's great shoulders towered above the ex-
cited group about him.

" Now do you understand? " he cried. " I am
doing the arranging this time. There will be no
pistols or seconds in it either." With a quick
gesture he ripped off his coat and stood with his
fist in De Courcelles' face, the rest keeping at a
safe distance from his great arms, De Courcelles
backing away from him in a torrent of French.

"Right now" thundered Jack. "Do you
hear? You'll stand up and fight me now like a
man. We'll fight like men fight in my country,
not like monkeys."

De Courcelles shielded his face, livid with
sudden fear, with his fat hands.


"I did not arrange it," he managed to
stammer. "I tell you this duel is between Mes-
sieurs Desmoulins and Franchard. Have a care
what you say to me."

:< You lie!" shouted Jack. "You did arrange
it! Shut up! If you open your head again,
I'll smash it."

Then De Courcelles did a foolish thing, for
he put all the strength of his big frame into a
straight swinging side kick. He was an expert
at it, but Hollister was too quick for him. He
sidestepped, tripped him, and with a swinging
left-hander sent him reeling to the ground and out.

The excited gentlemen made no resistance.
Hardly an articulate word escaped them until
they had picked up the half -conscious De Cour-
celles and carried him to his carriage. Then a
volley of French reached Jack, and they con-
tinued to gesticulate and curse him until a bend
in the road hid them from view.

During the entire row neither Desmoulins nor
Franchard had spoken a word. They still stood
apart, but now they had forgotten to avoid each
other's eyes.


"Shake hands, you two," said Jack. "Come,
what's the use? This blackguardly business is
at an end. Come, be friends and forget it."

Desmoulins was the first to speak.

"Franchard," he said, "I have no wish to risk
your life or to risk mine. If I were to kill you,
I should never forgive myself."

Franchard gazed at the muddy ground. Then
he looked up at his friend. He was deathly
white and swayed visibly like an ill man. Sud-
denly he turned and stumbled forward to-
ward the outstretched hand of Desmoulins.
As he reeled and fainted, Hollister caught

Half an hour later a closed cab drew up under
the entrance of Mademoiselle Coralie de Fav-
rier's apartment. Jack sprang out, leaped up to
the fifth floor and rang the bell. He had not
long to wait. A sudden wrench of the knob and
Coralie opened the door. For some moments
she was unable to speak. She just looked at
him with her blue eyes, as feminine as her hair,
and full of tears.


'Tell me," she managed to gasp. The hand
she gave Hollister trembled.

"It is all over," said Jack grimly.

"Desmoulins," she stammered. "He is not
hurt. Ah! No, no! Zat is not zee truth."

Jack followed her into the salon where she
flung herself on a low couch in a frenzy of grief.

" Come ! " said Jack. " Come with me at once.
Get your things on. We are going out. Only
you can help things now. You must do as I tell

"What you mean?" she asked between her
sobs, her tired eyes searching his own.

"Come at once," repeated Jack, "my cab is

She obeyed him, mechanically, as one of her
lions might have obeyed her, and without a word
went to her room for her hat and wraps. When
she returned she was more mistress of herself,
but she dared not trust herself to speak.

They descended the stairs in silence.

"Are you alone?" she whispered pleadingly,
as they reached the landing of the second flight.

"No," said Jack, "a gentleman is with me."


"His second?" she faltered.

"A friend," answered Jack, evasively, as he
led the way to the waiting cab.

"The horse is fidgety, get in quickly," cau-
tioned Jack, with a smile, as her tiny foot touched
the muddy step of the cab.

A cry of joy escaped Coralie.

"Paul! Ah, my dearest!" The next instant
she was in Desmoulin's arms, sobbing like a child.

"Driver!" shouted Hollister as he got in and
closed the door, "quick to the Cafe de Paris,
we are as hungry as wolves ! "

One Sunday afternoon last September I went up to St.
Cloud. As usual there was a great crowd, most of it around
a collection of wagons one of those small travelling circuses.
In the main cage a girl in tights was defying a roaring, blood-
thirsty lion. It was the same old Jean Bart, but the girl was
not Coralie. Coralie married Desmoulins. F. B. S.




T TAVE you ever seen a thousand francs,
-* * Marie? all at once in a drawer -
fifty bright gold louis?"

"Parbleu!" exclaimed Marie, her black eyes
opening in wonder.

I might as well have asked that good little
model of mine, "When you last took a brisk
walk on the moon do you remember the million
you tripped over?"

"Listen, my child," I continued. "Come,
draw the big chair over here by the stove -



put this over your shoulders. There's a draught
from the skylight. You've posed enough for
to-day. B-r-r ! What dirty weather ! ' '

She did as I bade her with her eager smile of
a gamine which asks for nothing and expects
naught, and when I had dragged my painting
stool up to the comforting stove and relighted
my pipe with a scrap of a discarded drawing of
her trim head, I became serious and proceeded.

" It seems like a fairy tale, a miracle, but it is
nevertheless true," I resumed.

"AhrsI" breathed Marie, still wondering
what I really meant. "Fifty louis! Parbleu!
Ah, no," she laughed. "One does not see fifty
louis all at once one never sees fifty louis."

"Listen, my child. You remember the day
you posed for Laurent?"

She nodded her pretty head.


"And we all lunched together, at the Faisan
D'or? you and Vautrin and Laurent and I?
Very well. Vautrin, you remember, stopped at
the cafe on the corner for some cigarettes and
insisted on buying a lottery ticket, and you re-


call my telling you I went halves on it. You
said we were both crazy. Well, my infant,
we've won!"

"What!" gasped Marie in amazement.

"We're rich you and Vautrin and I; and
it's Christmas time, and you're going to have a
real gown, my little one, and go to supper at
the Cafe de Paris, like a grande dame, Christ-
mas Eve. There! there! You must not cry;
you must be gay. We're going to be gay, I tell
you! What a fete! Ah, you shall see!"

The tears ceased, but she was trembling with
excitement. Then her firm young arms went
about my neck in a hug of camaraderie, and
with the surprise, and the joy, and the sudden-
ness of it all, the tears came again.

"You must not," she managed to protest at

"En fete!" I cried, and catching both her
small hands in my own I forced her to dance
about the stove.

"You must not!" she pleaded. "I do not
want the dress. It is foolish, the the fe'te.
It is not right. Both you and Vautrin are poor."


"And you?"

"Bah! I am used to it."

"That's just it. You're going to have a
change. If you think we're going to save a pal-
try thousand francs won in a lottery for our old
age, and yours, you're mistaken. No! No!
We shall live! We shall eat and drink and
be merry. Eh! my little one? That's right,
smile. You shall see how beautiful you shall
be; how every one will gaze at you. New
Year's Eve we shall sup at the Abbaye The-
leme. Ha! ha! That's right laugh, laugh, my
little one. En fete, eh? En fete!" But I did
not need to insist, the spirit of fete was already
tingling in this good little Parisienne's veins.

"Ah! but it's chid" she cried. "Mais c'est
chic mais c'est chic!"

"Come, be quick," I insisted. "Get into
your things. Come up to Vautrin's. It is in his
drawer fifty gold louis ! You shall see for

A few moments later we were rushing up the
stairs to Vautrin's studio door, and at the first
rap that genial bohemian of a painter opened


it wide with a yell. He'd been waiting, in fact,
until I had broken the good news to Marie.
Then he bowed gravely and stood there smiling
into Marie's black eyes.

"It is not true!" insisted Marie.

: *Your Majesty shall see," he grinned, and
kissed her on both cheeks. "The fortune, your
Majesty," he added, drawing himself up dram-
atically to his full height, "lies in the second
drawer yonder of the paint cabinet. Your
Majesty has but to glance within."

She approached on tiptoe, with the eager
expectancy of a child, and peered into the
drawer with its treasure.

" Comme c'est chic! " she gasped.

It was thus our Christmas fte began.

What a kind old lottery to have remembered
us and the direct oire gown green as an
emerald, accenting the whiteness of Marie's
young neck and arms and the jet blackness of
her hair, which we adorned with two bands of
old gold whose rosettes half hid her small pink
ears. She was adorable; but then Marie would


be adorable even in rags. You do not know
Madeleine Lefevre. Never mind! Madeleine
was once a model like Marie. Now she directs
a shop in the Rue de la Paix, a very smart place
for gowns, I assure you, and the interest she
took in that emerald vision was a delight.
Vautrin and I felt like twin millionaires as Marie
sat between us and the manequins filed past.
Then came that eventful morning when Made-
leine Lefevre called up the tube:

"La robe pour Mademoiselle Marie" and
lo and behold, down came the emerald gown -
finished carried over the arm of a freckled
little girl in a black waist.

Marie almost cried with joy.

Ah, what a fte we had! The Cafe de Paris
jammed during that midnight, all night supper.
The room shimmering in light, gay with aban-
don, fair women, hot food, and cold wine. They
danced, sometimes on the tables, sometimes on
the floor; they sang. People you had never met
before became bosom friends before daylight,
a bedlam of tambourines and Chinese paper
caps with a queue that blew up on high and a shrill


whistle on the end and all through it Marie
was adorable. Young bloods, old viveurs,
officers, celebrities, bent with the permission of
the two millionaires, and kissed her small hand.
The compliments only made her laugh.

"Madame, you are adorable."

"Madame, you are exquisite."

Eh, Voila! It was daylight, a gray, drizzling,
winter daylight when we left; and for a whole
week we three, Marie, Vautrin, and I, lunched
where we pleased. Then occurred an even wilder
all-night supper at the Abbaye Theleme, wild
enough to have satisfied Rabelais, and the
emerald gown withstood it all. Indeed there
was not a spot upon it. Marie had been very

All this I have described is but a passing in-
cident in the realm of Parisian Bohemia. The
following week both Vautrin and myself were
off shooting in that splendid game country be-
low Orleans, in Sologne. There were days now
when we cracked away at the ducks and pheas-
ants, at hares and the swift French partridge,


and nights after dinner before the roaring wood
fire of our host,with a jolly crowd of solid French-
men, distinguished in the arts simple men,
all of them, good comrades and honesjt sports-
men. And what a rousing welcome they gave
us. Then back to Paris and to work, with just
enough left of that lottery ticket to pay a fiacre
from the station at the Quai D'Orsay to the
studio. Both Vautrin's and mine were clean
everything was in order even the floor had
been polished and the canvases stacked neatly
and the curtains really dusted; and both our
small kitchens scrubbed. Marie had seen to
that, bless her heart!

January slipped by with nothing to disturb
one from the even working life. The unex-
pected raps at my studio door, a serious attempt
to paint better, and those long talks after din-
ner at the little cafe up the Rue des Deux Amis,
where Vautrin and I go nightly to dine on two
francs fifty centimes - vin compris. It is like
one big family there, with Bauvillon and Susette.
Laurent and La Petite Lyonnaise Legas,


Yvonne, and Marie, who dines with us when she
is not dining with her aunt whom she is devoted
to and who lives in the Rue Norvin.

At this family table every one has something
to say after he or she has swallowed their soup,
and not a story will you hear, but in their stead,
discussions, arguments, opinions, always opin-
ions, seldom about much else save the price of
necessities and affairs of the heart. Other im-
portant subjects, too, relative to the fact that
Amelie, frankly, does not know how to wear her
clothes. That the fur coat that Marguerite
acquired through an affair of the heart, a fur
coat that was a sensation on the Butte de Mont-
martre at the time it was acquired, and which
cost the fabulous sum of four hundred and
eighty francs, subsequently became the prop-
perty of the Government's pawnshop for eighty
francs. That it is indeed true that Francine's
brown eyes are beautiful, but that she is as
stupid as her feet, and that Blanche Veron has
disappeared from the family table and is now
"dans ces meubles" (in her furniture), from which
you may gather that she is now called "Mad-


ame," and has her gloves cleaned and will no
longer be seen at the family table in the little
cafe in the Rue des Deux Amis. And when
Helene says she remembers Blanche when she
was the daughter of a ragpicker who lived out
in St. Ouen ! Tiens! and not once will
you hear a really unkind word save so rarely
that you exclaim Ah! in surprise. Only the
other day the bad character of one was proven.
She wrote a threatening letter to a painter! It
is almost unbelievable. The crowd roared:
she must be crazy. "I knew her only slightly,"
said Amelie, "but in my opinion she is a bad

"She has no heart," interrupted Lisette.

;< You may well believe," echoed Helene with
quiet conviction.

"It was not very discreet in her," piped
Rosalie from the shadow of her lamp-shade hat.

Only when one is really hungry one asks -
oh, for so little a franc, a franc seventy, forty
sous, and so discreetly, with such gentle honesty,
that it grips one's heart and you begin to realize
the sincerity of these little sparrows of Mont-


marcre, whose courage is amazing under a sys-
tem of daily economy such as the American
woman has no idea of, and under such privations
and disappointments that you marvel that the
smile of camaraderie still bravely remains.

In what lies this subtle charm of Paris? This
quiet old pleasure ground, in which the more you
live within its fortifications the more you see
that Paris is a domain of small villages, called
"Quartiers," whose varied types of inhabitants
understand life to a finesse. About life you can
tell them nothing; about love and the pursuit
of romance, naught. They are experts in
economy and are content with what they have.
Camaraderie and la vie Boheme does not exist
elsewhere with quite the same freedom and
understanding, and it is just this understanding
which makes the charm. As I have said before,
you can explain nothing to a Parisian about his

Paris gay! Paris in a whirl? Paris, my
friend, is never in a whirl. They take life
slowly, philosophically, economically; they
understand to a sou what can be had in life.


If you would have an opinion of the rich, ask
the poor. Ask any Parisian or Parisienne about
anything Parisian love, social life, intrigue,
politics, the latest scandal concerning madame
and monsieur, their infants, their cats, their
dogs, their streets, their homes, their ambitions,
or a discription of any type from a duchess to a
brat in the street they will tell you clearly, con-
cisely, with the keen observance of one who
knows, as well as a detective knows a criminal,
or a priest a parishioner, or an apple woman an
apple nothing is new to the Parisian and no
one bothers their heads about other people's
affairs. Ask the man who sweeps the street,
ask the depute, or the beggar; ask the cocotte,
the financier, the gamin, the aged widow or
Mimi, who is fading her nervous youth in the
cafes and bars of Montmartre. Ask the model,
the politician, the ragpicker, or the duke. Bah!
do you suppose there is any mystery about any
one, anywhere in Paris, to them? You will be
surprised how they hit the nail on the head.
How with a shrug and a few words, they tell

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Online LibraryF. Berkeley (Frank Berkeley) SmithThe street of the two friends → online text (page 15 of 16)