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cato, her rich voice rising in intensity. "Not
zat!" And she measured the infinitesimal
quantity by the pink, manicured nail of her
little finger.

" Mon Dieu! Zoze silly aperitifs zey are
what you say horrible for zee intestines is
it not? Nevaire for me, even zee wine." Her


voice sank to one of rich, dreamy cadence. "It
makes me what you say in English, ' quite
crazy.' '

I believed her. Was she not wine herself of
the rarest vintage? She reminded me of spark-
ling Burgundy.

The table we had chosen for luncheon was
tucked away in a quiet corner of the restaurant.
As we entered, the smug-faced maitre d'hotel
chirped authoritatively to his assistants, placed
a footstool himself beneath her feet a delicate
attention, which left him florid and short of
breath, for he was overfat and waited with
pad and pencil for the order, while Briston ner-
vously cleared his throat and scanned the menu.

Marie's advice as to a modest restaurant now
came back to us, I believe, simultaneously.
Briston's agony was of short duration, for his
guest took the menu from him.

"We shall begin with zee hors d'ceuvres" she
said quietly. "Ah, zey are so good here. And
zen zey give you enough. Zoze many leetle
fishes in oil and zee rest I adore zem."

"And then?" ventured Briston.


"Ah, zen, my children, you shall have zee
good chop and zee pommes de terres."

She turned to the one in the black apron, with
the ever-ready corkscrew.

"Une bouteille de vin ordinaire" she com-
manded, " et un demi d'Eirian c'est tout"

"Bien, Madame," and the cellar man went his

"But," declared Briston, "you will starve."

"No, my deah boy," she laughed softly.
"It is quite enough all zat."

From that moment I no longer doubted her
good heart or her quick understanding. Our
modest luncheon went merrily under the spell
of her fascination; and there we sat like obedient
children; I supremely happy; Briston ah,
well, Briston is a stone. And we laughed into
each other's eyes she and I while she told
us of the grandeur of Rio de Janeiro, and of its
lavish life, with all the vibrant intensity of her

"And when you shall see zoze mountains and
zee port, zen you shall cry zey are so beautiful,"
she went on; "and zen I go to England. Is it


not fearful a whole winter in London
like what you say 'an exile?' It was horrible!"
she exclaimed, with a shiver. "Zee fogs
zee fogs in zat big hotel in my boudoir in
my bedroom in my clothes. Oh, la, la ! Zen
I say to Senor Varraguillo zat if I stay longer
I die, and he vary jealous man, my husband."

Briston started.

"I must confess that is, I mean to say I
did not know you were married," he ventured

; ' Yes, my deah boy no, it is true I not tell

you now I have zee divorce since long time

- nevaire I go no more to London to freeze."

"Divorce is a good thing," I declared, with
the indiscretion of youth, "when two people can-
not get along."

"Of course," she returned, in a low voice.

:< Your ex-husband is in Paris?" I asked, re-
membering her alluding to his jealous character.

"No, my deah boy he is in zee colonies.
He make what you call zee zee bad affaires.
It is a pity to marry so young I marry at


We reached the end of our luncheon only too
quick; Briston proposing a drive in the Bois,
and I tea at Armononville later.

" Nonl " she protested quickly. " Non truly."
There was a mischievous light in her eyes.
"Now, zen, you shall come wiz me."

"Where?" I exclaimed, my mind suddenly
alive; my imagination picturing the luxurious
interior of her private hotel, cigarettes in her
boudoir, with possibly a tame tiger dozing at
her feet. I had read of such boudoirs

Again her brilliant eyes half closed mischiev-

"You shall see," she said simply. ;< You shall
now come wiz me."

I no longer was conscious of the Cafe de la
Paix. Follow her! I would have followed her
to the ends of the earth. It seemed to me I was
living in a dream, intoxicated under the spell of
the most radiantly beautiful woman it had ever
been in my good fortune to meet. Evidently I
did not disguise the fact, for she paid but little
attention to Briston, and I felt aye, knew we
were already good friends. Such is the pre-


sumption of youth. And so we rose from our
cozy table, and followed her as children follow
a trusty nurse, out into the warm sunlight, those
remaining on the terrace turning for a last look.

The prowling fiacres followed us, too; but she
stubbornly refused them. Had I been forty, I
should have scented danger; but at twenty, one
thinks of nothing. Besides, was she not Bris-
ton's friend? Had she not been kind to him at
sea, and loaned him "books, and salts, and all
that sort of thing." Adventuress? Nonsense!
She was adorable.

And so we turned into the Place de 1'Opera,
and thence down the Rue de la Paix, where
there are more jewels for sale than along any
other mercantile lane I know. It is a street up
and down which doddering old beaux are led to
slaughter a pearl necklace for a whispered
word a gown for a smile sables to appease
the petulant.

I noticed Briston was getting nervous. He
was never meant for this world. He still had,
I knew, a louis in his pocket, and I had eight
francs, so what cared we?


"It is farzaire on," she remarked, and farther
on it was.

Before a window she stopped abruptly.

"Are zey not pretty?" she declared naively.
"Is it not lovely to see such pretty lingerie?"

Indeed it was indeed they were. Where
else in the world are they so pretty? What
luxury in lace and ribbons! What a billowy
windowful of exquisite confections! What
spider webbery for the most fastidious spun to
order !

We left the wax ladies about to retire, and
moved lazily down the street of fashion in the
balmy spring sunshine, halting again and again
before more lingerie; before glittering fortunes
in diamond sprays and coronets of brilliants
that are supposed to give to the rich an air of

Briston regarded them dryly, with an as-
sumed grin of forced interest. One of those
peaked grins of interest that an old maid might
be expected to assume before the window of a

She was so dear and amusing as she explained


everything to me, drawing my attention here
and there by a friendly pressure of the arm,
touching upon some latest Parisian scandal con-
nected with a string of pearls, or some colossal
bill for froufrous contracted by a certain diva
who had once been the daughter of a concierge,
and whose extravagant account had been finally
settled by a duke.

"Is it not what you say amazing? Zoze
women zey are nevaire content zey love
nobod' and zey fool zee whole world. Of
course, my deah boy, zey are not what you call
zee good comrades, hein? You must nevaire
believe zem zoze stupide leetle women
nevaire," she counselled us.

And so we crossed at the Place Vendome, and
so on all the way back on the other side of the
gay street of jewels and froufrous.

Briston had now begun to glance nervously
at his watch, for, as he explained, he was due at
a lecture at the Sorbonne at four.

I had grown strangely silent, despite the caress
of her eyes and her radiant good humour. I
had just begun to realize that we were nearin&


the end of our promenade, that in a little while
she would be gone, that I might never, never see
her again, for she, too, had hinted at an en-
gagement. No, I reasoned vaguely, she could
not be as cruel as that, she with her big, warm
heart perhaps she would invite me to tea.
But where? She had even refused Briston her
address. I began to take a violent dislike to
Briston, and yet I owed him much.

"I er I must be going, I fear," he
faltered weakly as we regained the corner
of the boulevard, "or I shall be late for my

I turned to her pleadingly.

"Let me take you home," I blurted out.

She smiled, was silent for a moment, and then,
with a look of infinite tenderness, shook her
head slowly in the negative.

"No, my deah boy, zat is quite impossible.
You must not make zee sad has it not been
jolly, our leetle fete? It has been bettaire zan
zee Bois, hein?" She laughed, and added,
bending close to my ear: "And our leetle prom-
enade, so amusing to zee eyes, has cost notzing.


Every bod' must make zee leetle economies in
life, is it not?"

She bade Briston good-bye with a gracious
word of thanks as he took his leave abruptly,
and rushed for his omnibus. It was a relief to
me when he was gone.

We were alone. That is, as much as any two
people can be alone on the corner of the crowded
boulevard. The passing tide of sordid humanity
did not interest me now. They were in the way.

"Please," I again pleaded, but she again
shook her head.

"I may not see you again, then?"

"Yes, my deah boy, when it is possible."
She hesitated; then, with a quick intake of her
breath, "Yes, you shall see me again when
it is possible."

I tore away the back of an envelope, and
started to write Ten Rue des Deux Amis, but
my hand trembled so I had to begin again.

To my joy, she took it, crumpled it into a
tiny wad, and, opening her gold purse, dropped
it within, and snapped shut the jewelled clasp.

I was content.


"Rue des Deux Amis," she smiled, "zen we
arc to be good friends." She gave me her hand.
"Au revoir!" she said, still smiling. " Non, you
shall not call a fiacre; my carriage is waiting be-
yond zee corner. Au revoir," she repeated.
"Do not follow me I not wish it."

She was gone in the throng. I stood for a
moment, unable to do more than gaze at the
vanishing tips of the white wings in her hat;
then they, too, disappeared in the crowd. Dis-
consolately I turned back down the Rue de la
Paix; but the memory of the windows was too
poignant, and I moved with no definite direction
in my mind down a side street. Something was
gripping painfully at my heart; a strange numb-
ness had seized me. It was long past midnight
when I climbed my studio stairs. I had been
walking continually, and had not dined, neither
could I remember the route I had taken to re-
gain my garret beneath the roofs.

A week passed. A whole, dreary week
of nervous, anxious waiting, during which
I bolted the brown door at the top of the


stairs against every one save Marie, who came
to pose.

During the dreary week, I made a full con-
fession to Marie apropos of the luncheon. All
that good little model of mine could do was to
sympathize with me from the bottom of her
Montmartoise heart. Marie also gave me ad-
vice. She told me I should be philosophical,
and be content with the pleasant souvenir of
the day.

"(Test la vie! Quvi?" (Such is life.)

Good little soul, she did her best to cheer me
up, trying to convince me that all women were
alike, that in my enthusiasm I took them too
seriously, that it did not pay to be impressionable,
and that, after all, love was a question of illu-

I was glad often when her day's posing was
done, and she had gone. Then I could be alone
with my memory and the twilight, and dream as
I watched the swallows screaming in a game of
tag over the chimney pipes. I no longer went
to the little restaurant around the corner of the
Rue des Deux Amis to dine. I laid in a few


provisions. I had a certain dread of leaving my
abode beneath the roofs lest a word from her
might come in my absence; lest she herself
might rap at my door, as a surprise, and find
me out. Such things have happened to those
who have lost all hope.

As for Briston, I saw nothing of him; but this
was not strange, as he came rarely to the studio.
He had gone his precise and methodical way,
glad, no doubt, that the luncheon was over.
Frankly I never wanted to see him again. Thus
I suffered, and waited a whole month.

I knew that step on the stairs ; the slow stamp
of the telegraph boy.

I rushed to open the door.

"For me?" I called down to him.

"Oui, Monsieur"

"Hurry!" I commanded.

I leaped down and met him halfway, snatched
the blue pneumatique from him, and gave him a
franc. I might as thoughtlessly have given
him a gold louis. Then, with a hand that
trembled more than when I had written my
own address that memorable afternoon, I tore


open the perforated, glued edges of the petit
bleu, and read:

DEAR FRIEND: You see I now keep my promise. Then
now you must come to-morrow at five, and we make
the little talk and the tea, is it not? PAZITA.

32, Rue Gaston Lacroix.

"Pazita!" What a pretty name! It was
just the name for her. I would call her "Paz,"
and she would laugh and not mind. Yes
Paz was even prettier. The world seemed
mine now.

I opened the windows wide to let in the sun-
shine from the kind old world, tingling with joy
as I read and reread the note which her own hand
had written, copying the address lest anything
might happen to the original. To-morrow
seemed an eternity away. A whole day and a
night, and then until five. And yet I had waited
a month a whole month, hour by hour.

I could go out now for a long walk, and so I
walked and walked, keeping mostly to the boule-
vards, teeming with happy people, bathed in
the warmth of this delicious spring morning.
Everywhere crept the merry sunshine, even in


the most humble corners; all things glittered in
facets of light. The lazy air was exhilarating,
and as soft as a caress. Most of that night I
lay wide awake, planning a dinner of my own.

I had amassed my entire fortune on the table
by my bed nearly five louis ! With one hun-
dred francs one can be en fete! She would dine
with me, of course after tea. This time it
would not be a Briston luncheon, it would be a
real dinner. Even if I had to lie to her and tell
her one of my uncles had died, that art to me
had now become an idle amusement, not a
necessity. For one evening I should live. It
is less hard to have nothing when one has been
happy. The morrow would take care of itself.

At five the next afternoon my heart beat
fast as I entered a modern apartment house in
the Rue Gaston Lacroix.

"Do not trouble yourself, Madame," I said
to the concierge, as she indicated the elevator
and the right button for the fifth floor. "I will
walk up."

And I gained the fifth floor quicker than the
shaky little elevator could have made it. Then,


panting for breath, I touched the electric button
beside an imitation oak door with a red doormat,
and waited.

Presently I heard the soft tread of slippered
feet and the faint swish of silk. Something
began to sing in my ears. The door opened
wide, and I looked up into her eyes.

"My deah boy!" she exclaimed, clasping both
my hands in her own.

Had she been beautiful before, she was at
that moment positively radiant in her soft silk
peignoir, all the glorious richness of her dark
hair revealed.

''You see," she laughed, "I welcome you wiz-
out zee ceremone, isn't it? My maid I send out. "

"I am so glad," I exclaimed. : 'You you
don't know how happy I am how long it has
seemed. You were dear to have asked me."

She still held my hands firmly, like a good

" Now zen you believe I keep my word
zat is not like every bod', hein?"

I felt an irrepressible impulse to take her in
my arms, but she understood me like a flash,


and held me with one jewelled hand, so to speak,
at arm's length.

"Come now zen you shall see my chateau
my chateau!"

She laughed heartily, leading me along the
narrow corridor and into a cozy salon, and
through it into her boudoir, a pretty little bou-
doir, hung in old-rose silk, with a duchesse table
covered with gold-topped bottles, and here in
a chair of old-rose brocade, drawn close to her
lounge, she placed me.

"And zat good Monsieur Briston, how is he?"
she began. "Zat quiet fellow? Dear me, he
was so sick on zee steamer. Are zey not fearful,
zoze voyages?"

"I have not seen him," I confessed, "since
our luncheon. He cares for nothing but his
work, you know," I added, with a beating

" Of course," she returned, sinking among the
lace cushions of the lounge. "Well, zat is good.
Zere are so many zat do notzing; so many zat
think of notzing but gambling, and zoze stupide
leetle women."


"You can make me very happy," I returned
impulsively. "I want you to dine with me to-
night. You will, won't you? I I have
waited so long."

"Non, my deah boy," she laughed softly,
sinking her head back among the cushions.
"Zat is not possible."

Then, seeing my look of utter disappoint-
ment, she leaned toward me, so close that I felt
the maddening warmth of her breath.

"Come," she said cheerfully. "Now, zen,
I have a bettaire idea; it is zat you dine wiz
us just as you are en famille."

"With us? I do not understand," I

"Ah, I not tell you yes, it is quite true,"
she laughed.

"Raoul!" she called.

As the resonant voice of a man in answer
came through the half-closed portiere, I half
started from my chair.

A rapid sentence in Spanish from her lips
was answered in fluent French.

"Pray present my excuses to Monsieur Bris-


ton's friend," reached my ears, "and say I shall
be dressed in a moment."

I was on my feet now, gazing at the half-
closed portiere in astonishment embarrassed

The next instant the portiere was flung
open and there entered a military-looking young
fellow with a swarthy skin.

"My husband, Senor Pazita," she said gra-

Smiling, he strode toward me, and put forth
his hand in a hearty welcome.

I grasped it.

We dined.

Marie came the next morning. She read me
like a book. I must have seemed very much

"Eh bien, mon petit, you have seen your
Brazilienne," she declared.

"And her husband," I returned.

"A h, zut alors!" exclaimed Marie.

"The Mouton d'Or," I ventured. "Let us
dine there to-night you and I."



"Willingly, mon petit. As I told Monsieur
Briston, one eats well there for three francs."
And Marie went singing into the kitchen.

C'est la vie!

Senor Pazita is no more. Thai is to say he is no more the
husband of Madame da Varraguillo.

" Those stupide marriages, " she said to me only the other
night after her return from St. Petersburg. F. B. S.

It was Briston who tried his best to discourage me about
going to Budapest. He told me plainly in his thin, dry
way after dinner at Lavenues that I would never return
alive. That I would be captured by bandits whereas
Madame da Varraguillo had more sense. She packed my
trunk a fact and saw that I received my right change
to a sou, when I bought my ticket, and thus I was swept
to the borderland of the Orient, where I had been before,
but I never believed when I started that I would again meet
there my old friend the Countess Navieskowska.

Life is strange! F. B. S.



THOUGH Pest was awake for the night, the
cafes choked with tobacco smoke and alive
with music of her gypsy bands, ancient Buda, that
snug, old town across the Danube, was going to
bed, too old for late hours.

But few lights remained to designate her
taverns and her crooked hill streets, and these
now went rapidly out, one by one, as if some un-
seen hand beneath the blue veil of moonlight
was stealthily putting away Buda's jewels for
the night. Standing firm above the low, ram*



bling town strewn about its base, the sheer walls
and domed roofs of the new Royal Palace
gleamed under the full spring moon like the
granite sides of a mountain.

Upon the white marble roof of a modern villa
in Pest overlooking the quay of the moonlit
river, in two wicker chairs, drawn cozily up to a
coffee table, upon which a single candle glowed
under a scarlet shade, the young Countess
Anna Navieskowska and myself smoked in
silence that restful understanding which is
the right of old friends old friends, I say.

The Countess Navieskowska possessed that
calm, savage beauty peculiar to Russian women
of noble blood, a subtle beauty which is purely
racial. You saw this in her fine nose, in the
curve of her delicate nostrils, in the sensitive,
expressive mouth, cold almost to cruelty in re-
pose, alert, eager, and frank as a child's when
she smiled, baring her exquisite teeth you
saw it, too, in the ivory whiteness of her skin, in
her slender, shapely hands with their tapering

She lay immovable in her chair, her small


head pillowed deep among the cushions, the pure
oval of her face framed by her intensely black
hair, which she wore en bandeaux half hiding
her temples and her small ears. Her dark,
brilliant eyes were half closed her slim, sinu-
ous body wrapped snugly in a rug of soft, gray
fur shielding her bare neck from the night breeze,
her young throat showing above the edge of fur
as white as ivory in the moonlight.

Had my friend the Countess Navieskowska
remained in Moscow after her husband's exile,
I am certain she would have lost her reason.
No woman ever loved her husband more than
she. She idolized him, and fought with an in-
domitable courage to save him, even to that
last agonizing day when all hope was gone, and
he who had been fearless enough to speak his
mind began his long journey to Siberia, a poli-
tical prisoner. Far better had they shot him,
as they intended far better!

Thus had the countess come to Budapest with
her sorrow. Here she could live quietly, sur-
rounded by her many Hungarian friends, whose
duty it was, like my own, to cheer her brave,


young heart, to help her forget, to amuse her,
for she was much beloved.

Now and then, as I lay gazing up at the great
vault of sapphire above us, powdered to-night
with millions of stars, the countess slowly raised
her tapering fingers to her parted lips, and blew
through two rows of pearls a little smoke from
the best of Russian cigarettes, that rose and
vanished like a whiff of incense in the cool night
breeze. Would that the memory of him might
have vanished as easily for the sake of his poor

Vague sounds drifted up from the Danube
veiled in mist. The murmur of men's voices
from strange craft moored along the quay out
of the worrying current, the soft, mocking laugh-
ter of women, coming from no one knew where
save from below in the moonlight, the sudden
whine and creak of a rudder sweep as some high-
sterned barge was disgorged from the cavernous
arch of a bridge, and proceeded prudently in
the grip of the silver tide.

Again sounds that were short and sharp as a
pistol shot. The dropping of an oar on a passing


deck, the plunge of a timely anchor; then all
again would be still so still that the changing
breeze carried faintly across from the outskirts
of Buda the strident music of a peasants' dance.

A cock crowed lustily, seemingly from mid-

The Countess Navieskowska touched my hand.

:< You are not cold, my poor friend?" she
asked dreamily.

"Cold?" I laughed. "In this paradise?
One is warm with its beauty."

With that rapid, feline litheness peculiar to
her race, she glided back against the pillows,
turning to me with her frank smile, her dark eyes
illuminated for an instant by the leaping flame
of the candle beneath the scarlet shade, whose
glow flushed with a rosy light the curve of her
throat and chin.

'You have been asleep," I ventured.

"Nearly," she confessed in her low, cool
voice, which always seemed to me to be stifling
the memory of tears. "Yes, for a little while
I slept. The moonlight is kinder than the dark.
Now I am quite awake," she added, with a


forced little laugh. "Come! You shall tell
me ah, yes, about your gypsy your savage
with his black fiddle, the one you promised I
should hear."

She turned upon her side, pillowing her cheek
in the palm of her left hand ringless, save for
its thin gold memory of him, and I began gladly
under the eager gleam of her eyes, as the candle
flame died in its socket.

"You shall hear my gypsy if I can find him,"
I declared. "Banda Bela is the devil to find
when you want him. You see, being a pure-
blood gypsy, he plays wherever his savage whim
pleases him; never in the well-known cafes,

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Online LibraryF. Berkeley (Frank Berkeley) SmithThe street of the two friends → online text (page 2 of 16)