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Nice or Antibes. Two distinct tramway lines and several roads lead from
Grasse to Cannes and Cagnes. Unless you are very careful, you may find
yourself upon the wrong route. Once on the Cagnes tramway, or well
engaged upon the road to Cagnes, when you had meant to go to Cannes, the
mistake takes hours to retrieve. At Nice, chauffeurs and _cochers_ love
to cheat you by the confusion of these two names. You bargain for the
long trip to Cannes, and are attracted by the reasonable price quoted.
In a very short time you are at Cagnes. The vehicle stops. Impossible
to rectify your mispronunciation without a substantial increase of the
original sum of the bargain. Antibes is between Cagnes and Cannes.
Cagnes is nearer, and it is always to Cannes that you want to go. Spell
the name, or write it on a piece of paper, if you are to be sure that you
will be taken west instead of east.

The place, as well as the name, is familiar to all travelers - from a
distance. Whether you move by train, by tramway or by automobile, you
see the city set on a hill between Cannes and Nice. But express trains
do not stop. The tramway passes some distance from the old town, and
prospect of the walk and climb is not alluring to the tramway tourist,
whose goal is places important enough to have a map in Baedeker, or a
double-starred church or view. If motorists are not in a hurry to get to
a good lunch, their chauffeurs are. You signal to stop, and express a
desire to go up into Cagnes. The hired chauffeur declares emphatically
that it cannot be done. If you do not believe him, he drives you to the
foot of the hill, and you see with your own eyes. Regretfully you pass
on to towns that are _plus pratiques_. More than once I had done this:
and I might have done it again had not the Artist come to the Riviera.

We were afoot (the best way to travel and see things) on an April Sunday,
and stopped for lunch at the restaurant opposite the Cagnes railway
station. The Artist was not hungry. While I ate he went out "to find
what sort of a subject the _ensemble_ of the city on the hill over there
makes." He returned in time for cheese and fruit, with a sketch of
Cagnes that made the waitress run inside to get better apples and
bananas. She insisted that we would be rewarded for a climb up to the
old town, and offered to keep our coats and kits.

Along the railway and tramway and motor-road a modern Cagnes of villas
and hotels and pensions, with their accompaniment of shops and humbler
habitations, has grown for a mile or more, and stretched out across the
railway to the sea. Two famous French artists live here, and many
Parisians and foreigners. There is also a wireless station. All this
shuts off from the road the town on the hill. Unless you had seen it
from the open country, before coming into the modern Cagnes, you would
not have known that there was a hill and an old city. It was not easy
for us to find the way.

Built for legs and nothing else, the thoroughfare up through Cagnes is a
street that can be called straight and steep and stiff, the adjectives
coming to you without your seeking for alliteration, just as
instinctively as you take off your hat and out your handkerchief.

"No livery stable in this town - come five francs on it," said the Artist.

"Against five francs that there are no men with a waistline exceeding
forty-five inches!" I answered, feelingly and knowingly.

But we soon became so fascinated by our transition from the twentieth
century to the fifteenth that we forgot we were climbing. Effort is a
matter of mental attitude. Nothing in the world is hard when you are
interested in doing it.

Half way and half an hour up, we paused to take our bearings. The line
of houses, each leaning on its next lower neighbor, was broken here by a
high garden wall, from which creepers were overhanging the street, with
their fresh spring tendrils waving and curling above our heads. There
was an odor of honeysuckle and orange-blossoms, and the blood-red branch
of a judas-tree pushed its way through the green and yellow. The canyon
of the street, widening below us, ended in a rich meadowland, dotted with
villas and trees. Beyond, the Mediterranean rose to the horizon. While
the Artist was "taking it," the usual crowd gathered around: children
whose lack of bashfulness indicated that many city people were here for
the season or that tourists did find their way up to Cagnes; women always
eager to gossip with strangers, especially with those from lands across
the sea; old men proud to tell you that their city was the most
interesting, because the most ancient, on the Riviera.

When we resumed our climb, the whole town seemed to be going our way.
Sunday-best and prayer-books gave the reason. Just as we were coming to
the top, our street made its first turn, a sharp one, and in the bend was
a church tower with a wee door under it. Houses crowded closely around
it. The tower was the only indication of the church. An _abbé_ was
standing by the door, calling in the acolytes and choir boys who were
playing tag in the street. The Artist stopped, short. I went up to the
_abbé_, who by features and accent was evidently a Breton far from home.

"Do any fat men live up here?" I asked.

"Only one," he answered promptly, with a hearty laugh. "The _curé_ has
gone to the war, and last month the bishop sent a man to help me who
weighs over a hundred kilos. We have another church below in the new
town, and there are services in both, morning and afternoon. Low mass
here at six, and high masses there at eight and here at ten. Vespers
here at three and there at four-thirty. On the second Sunday my
coadjutor said he was going to leave at the end of the month. So, after
next week, there will be no fat man. Unless you have come to Cagnes to
stay?" The _abbé_ twinkled and chuckled.

"It is not to laugh at," broke in an oldest inhabitant who had overheard.
"We live from ten to twenty years longer than the people of the plain,
who have railways and tramways and carriages and autos right to their
very doors. We get the mountain air from the Alps and the sea air from
the Mediterranean uncontaminated. It blows into every house without
passing through as much as a single neighbor's courtyard. But our long
lease on life is due principally to having to climb this hill.
Stiffness, rheumatism - we don't know what it means, and we stay fit right
to the very end. Look at me. I was a grown man when people first began
to know who Garibaldi was in Nice. We formed a corps of volunteers right
here in this town when Mazzini's republic was proclaimed to go to defend
Rome from the worst enemies of Italian unity, those Vatican - But I beg M.
le Curé's pardon! In those days of hot youth the church, you know, did
not mean - "

The _abbé_ twinkled and chuckled again, and patted the old man's shoulder
affectionately. "When you did not follow Briand ten years ago, it proved
that half a century had wrought a happy change. I understand anyway. I
am a Breton that has taken root, as everyone here does, in this land of
lofty mountains and deep valleys, of wind and sun, of sea and snow.
Mental as well as physical acclimatization comes. The spirit, the life,
the very soul of the _Risorgimento_ had nothing Italian in it. It was of
Piedmont and Savoy and the Riviera - a product of the Alpes Maritimes."

I would have listened longer. But the bell above us began to ring,
several peals first, and then single strokes, each more insistent than
the last. The _abbé_ was still in the Garibaldi mood, and the volunteer
of '49 and I were in sympathy. He knew it, and refused to hear the
summons to vespers. But out of the door came a girl who could break a
spell of the past, because she was able to weave one of the present. She
dominated us immediately. She would not have had to say a word. A hymn
book was in her hand, opened at the page where she intended it to stay
open. "This afternoon, M. l'Abbé, we shall sing this," she stated.

"No, we cannot do it!" he protested rather feebly. "You see, the
encyclical of the Holy Father enjoins the Gregorian, and I think the boys
can sing it - "

The organist interrupted: "You certainly know, M. l'Abbé, that we cannot
have decent singing for the visits to the stations, unless the big girls,
whom I have been training now for two months - "

"But we must obey the Papal injunction, Mademoiselle Simone," put in the
priest still more mildly.

Mademoiselle Simone's eyes danced mockingly, and her mow confirmed beyond
a doubt the revelation of clothes and accent. Here was a
twentieth-century Parisienne in conflict with a reactionary rule of the
church in a setting where turning back the hands of the clock would have
seemed the natural thing to do.

"Pure nonsense!" was her disrespectful answer. "With all the young men
away, the one thing to do is to make the music go."

I had to speak in order to be noticed. "So even in Cagnes the young
girls know how to give orders to M. le Curé? The Holy Father's
encyclical - " I could stop without finishing the sentence, for I had
succeeded. The dancing eyes and the _moue_ now included me.

"M. l'Abbé, it is time for the service," she said firmly. "If this
_Anglais_ comes in, he will see that I have reason."

She disappeared. The _abbé_ looked after her indulgently, shrugged his
shoulders, with the palms of his hands spread heavenward, and followed
her.

In the meantime the worshipers, practically all of them women and
children, had been turning corners above and below. I made the round of
the group of buildings, and saw only little doors here and there at
different levels. There was no portal, no large main entrance. When I
came back to the bend of the road, the music had started. I was about to
enter the tower door - Mademoiselle Simone's! - when I saw the Artist put
up his pencil. The service would last for some time, so I joined him,
and we continued to mount.

Above the church tower, steps led to the very top of the hill, which was
crowned by a château. Skirting its walls, we came to an open place. On
the side of the hill looking towards the Alps, a spacious terrace had
been built out far beyond the château wall. Along the parapet were a
number of primitive tables and benches. The tiny café from which they
were served was at the end of a group of nondescript buildings that had
probably grown up on a ruined bastion of the château. Seated at one of
these tables, you see the Mediterranean from Nice to Antibes, with an
occasional steamer and a frequent sailing-vessel, the Vintimille _rapide_
(noting its speed by the white engine smoke), one tramway climbing by
Villeneuve-Loubet towards Grasse and another by Saint-Paul-du-Var to
Vence, and more than a semi-circle of the horizon lost in the Alps.

The Sunday afternoon animation in the _place_ was wholly masculine. No
woman was visible except the white-coiffed grandmother who served the
drinks. The war was not the only cause of the necessity of Mademoiselle
Simone's opposition to antiphonal Gregorian singing. I fear that the
lack of male voices in the vesper service is a chronic one, and that
Mademoiselle Simone's attempt to put life into the service would have
been equally justifiable before the tragic period of _la guerre_. For
the men of Cagnes were engrossed in the favorite sport of the Midi, _jeu
aux boules_. I have never seen a more serious group of Tartarins. From
Monsieur le Maire to cobbler and blacksmith, all were working very hard.
A little ball that could be covered in one's fist is thrown out on the
common by the winner of the last game. The players line up, each with a
handful of larger wooden balls about the size and weight of those that
are used in croquet. You try to roll or throw your balls near the little
one that serves as goal. Simple, you exclaim. Yes, but not so simple as
golf. For the hazard of the ground is changed with each game.

Interest in what people around you are doing is the most compelling
interest in the world. Train yourself to be oblivious to your neighbor's
actions and your neighbor's thoughts, on the ground that curiosity is the
sign of the vulgarian and indifference the sign of the gentleman, and you
succeed in making yourself colossally stupid. Here lies the weakest
point in Anglo-Saxon culture. The players quickly won me from the view.
Watch one man at play, and you can read his character. He is an open
book before you. Watch a number of men at play, and you are shown the
general masculine traits of human nature. Generosity, decision,
alertness, deftness, energy, self-control - meanness, hesitation,
slowness, awkwardness, laziness, impatience: you have these
characteristics and all the shades between them. The humblest may have
admirable and wholesome virtues lacking in the highest, but a balance of
them all weighs and marks one Monsieur le Maire or the stonebreaker on
the road.

The councils of Generals at Verdun did not take more seriously in their
day the problem of moving their men nearer the fortress than were these
players the problem of rolling their big balls near the little ball. Had
the older men been the only group, I should have got the idea that _jeu
aux boules_ is a game where the skill is all in cautious playing. But
there were young _chasseurs alpins_, home on leave from the front, who
were playing the game in an entirely different way. Instead of making
each throw as if the destinies of the world were at stake, the soldiers
played fast and vigorously, aiming rather to knock the opponent's ball
away from a coveted position near the goal than to reach the goal. The
older men's balls, to the number of a couple of dozen, clustered around
the goal at the end of a round. Careful marking, by cane-lengths,
shoe-lengths and handkerchief-lengths preceded agreement as to the
winner. At the end of a round of the _chasseurs alpins_, two or three
balls remained: the rest had gone wide of the mark, or had been knocked
many feet from the original landing-place by a successor's throw. During
half an hour I did not see the young men measure once. The winning throw
was every time unmistakable.

The Artist leaned against the château wall, putting it down. The thought
of Mademoiselle Simone, playing the organ, came to me. How was the music
going? I must not miss that service. The view and the château and the
_jeu aux boules_ no longer held me. Down the steps I went, and entered
the first of the church doors. It was on the upper level, and took me
into the gallery; I was surprised to find so large a church. One got no
idea of its size from the outside.

The daylight was all from above. Although only mid-afternoon, altar and
chancel candles made a true vesper atmosphere, and the flickering wicks
in the hanging lamps gave starlight. This is as it should be. The
appeal of a ritualistic service is to the mystical in one's nature.
Jewels and embroideries, gold and silver, gorgeous robes, rich
decorations, pomp and splendor repel in broad daylight; candles and lamps
sputter futilely; incense nauseates: for the still small voice is
stifled, and the kingdom is of this world. But in the twilight, what
skeptic, what Puritan resists the call to worship of the Catholic ritual?
I had come in time for the intercessory visit to the stations of the
cross. Priest and acolytes were following the crucifix from the chancel.
Banners waved. Before each station the procession stopped, the priest
and acolytes knelt solemnly (with bowed heads) and prayers were said.
While the procession was passing from station to station, the girls sang
their hymn in French. It was the age old pageantry of the Catholic
church, a pageantry that perhaps indicates an age old temperamental
difference between the Latin and the Anglo Saxon.

When the service was over, I went around to the door under the tower. Of
course, it was to meet the _abbé_. Still, when I realize that I had
missed the organist, I was disappointed. The _abbé_ soon appeared from
the sacristy. I gave one more look around for Mademoiselle Simone while
he was explaining that he had just twenty minutes before it was necessary
to start down to the other church, but that it was long enough to take me
through the Moorish quarter. Although I had come to Cagnes to see the
old town, and to get into the atmosphere of past centuries, I must
confess that I followed him regretfully.

The houses of the Moorish quarter are built into the ancient city walls.
Baked earth, mixed with straw and studded with cobblestones, has defied
eight centuries. There are no streets wide enough for carts, for they
hark back to the days when donkeys were common carriers. And in
hill-towns the progressive knowledge of centuries has evolved no better
means of transport. You pass through _ruelles_ where outstretched hands
can touch the houses on each side. Often the _ruelle_ is like a tunnel,
for the houses are built right over it on arches, and it is so dark that
you cannot see in front of you. The _abbé_ assured me that there were
house doors all along as in any other passage. People must know by
instinct where to turn in to their houses.

When the _abbé_ left me to go to his lower vesper service, after having
piloted me back to the main streets, I decided to go up again to the
_place_ to rejoin the Artist. But under an old buttonwood tree, which
almost poked its upper branches into the château windows, stood
Mademoiselle Simone, waving good-by to another girl who was disappearing
around the corner of a street above. Her aunt, she declared, was waiting
for her at a villa half-way down the hill, at five. Just then five
struck in the clock-tower behind us.

"Had you looked up before you spoke?" I asked.

"Clocks do strike conveniently," she answered.

Although Mademoiselle Simone repulsed firmly my plea that she become my
guide through the other side of the town, where two outlying quarters,
the _abbé_ had said, contained the best of all in old houses, queer
streets and an ivy-covered ruin of a chapel, she lingered to talk under
the buttonwood tree of many things that had nothing to do with Cagnes.
When I tried to persuade her to show me what I had not yet seen, on the
ground that I had made the climb up to the top because of my interest in
hill cities and wanted to write about Cagnes, she immediately answered
that she would not detain me for the world and made a move to keep her
rendezvous with the aunt. So I hastened to contradict myself, and assure
her that I had no interest whatever in Cagnes, that I was stuck here
waiting for the Artist, who would come only with the fading light.

After Mademoiselle Simone left me under the buttonwood tree, I thought of
the Artist. He had finished and was smoking over a glass of vermouth at
one of the tables by the parapet of the _place_.

"Great town," he said. "Bully stuff here. In buildings and villagers
have you found anything as fascinating as that purple and red on the
mountain snow over there? It just gets the last sun, the very last."

"Yes," I answered, "but neither in a building or a villager of Cagnes.
There is a Parisienne - " And I told him about Mademoiselle Simone. He
was silent, and his fingers drummed upon the table, tipity-tap,
tipity-tap. "Show me your sketches," I asked.

"No," he said scathingly. "No! You are not interested in sketches. Nor
should I have been, had you been more generous. You had the luck in
Cagnes."

The prospect of a trout dinner at Villeneuve-Loubet took us rapidly down
the hill. We soon passed out of the fifteenth century into the
twentieth. Modern Cagnes, with its clang of tramway gong, toot of
locomotive whistle, honk-honk of motor horn, café terraces crowded with
Sunday afternooners, broad sidewalks and electric lights was another
world. But it was our world - and Mademoiselle Simone's. That is why
coming back into it from the hill of Cagnes was really like a cold
shower. For a sense of refreshment followed immediately the shock - and
stayed with us.

The hill of Cagnes we could rave about enthusiastically because we did
not have to go back there and live there. It will be "a precious
memory," as tourists say, precisely because it is a _memory_. The bird
in a cage is less of a prisoner than we city folk of the modern world.
For when you open the cage door, the bird will fly away and not come
back. We may fly away - but we do come back, and the sooner the better.
We love our prisons. We are happy (or think we are, which is the same
thing) in our chains. And in the brief time that we are a-wing, do we
really love unusual sights and novel things? In exploring, is not our
greatest joy and delight in finding something familiar, something we have
already known, something we are used to? An appreciative lover and
frequenter of grand opera once said to me, "'The Barber of Seville' is my
favorite, because I know I am going to have the treat of 'The Suwanee
River' or 'Annie Laurie' when I go to it." There is an honest
confession, such as we must all make if we are to do our souls good.

[Illustration: "The hill of Cagnes we could rave about."]

So you understand why there is so much of Mademoiselle Simone in my story
of Cagnes, and why the Artist had a grouch. His afternoon's work should
have pleased him, should have satisfied him. He would not have finished
it had he met Mademoiselle Simone. He knows more of Cagnes than I do,
but he would rather have known more of Mademoiselle Simone.




CHAPTER III

SAINT-PAUL-DU-VAR

At the restaurant opposite the Cagnes railway station the waitress
welcomed us as old friends. She told us how lucky we were to come on a
Friday. Fish just caught that morning - the best we would ever eat in our
lives - were waiting for us in the kitchen. We flattered ourselves that
the disappointment was mutual when we had to tell her that there was time
only for an _apéritif_. Precisely because it was Friday and not Sunday,
there was no reasonable hope of running into Monsieur le Curé or
Mademoiselle Simone or a game of _boules_, if we climbed the steep hill
to Cagnes. On our last visit, we had seen from the top of Cagnes a
walled city crowning another hill several miles inland.
Saint-Paul-du-Var was our goal today.

Electric trams run to Grasse and to Vence from Cagnes. The lines
separate at Villeneuve-Loubet, a mile back from the Nice-Cannes road.
The Vence tram would have taken us to Saint-Paul-du-Var along the road
that began to avoid the valley after passing Villeneuve-Loubet. It was
one of those _routes nationales_ of which the France of motorists is so
proud, hard and smooth and rounded to drain quickly, never allowing
itself a rut or a steep grade or a sharp turn. This national highway was
like all the easy paths in life. It meant the shortest distance
comfortably possible for obtaining your objective. It eliminated
surprises. It showed you all the time all there was to see, and kept you
kilometrically informed of your progress. It was paralleled by the
electric tram line. It enabled you to explore the country in true city
fashion.

We were walking, and the low road, signpostless, attracted us. It
started off in the same general direction, but through the valley. It
was all that a country road ought to be. It had honest ruts and
unattached stones of various sizes. Cows had passed along that way.
Trees met overhead irregularly, and bushes grew up in confusion on the
sides. The ruthlessness of macadam, the pressure of fat tires, the
scorching of engines, had not banished the thick grass which the country
wants to give its roads, and would give to all its roads if the country
were not being constantly "improved." There were places where one could
rest without fear of sun and ditch-water and clouds of dust. Why should
one go from the city to the country to breathe tar and gasoline? Why
should one have to keep one's eyes wandering from far ahead to back over
one's shoulder for fifty-two weeks in the year? We wanted to get away
from clang-clang and honk-honk and puff-puff. Since the real vacation is
change, we welcomed the task of looking out for hostile dogs instead of
swiftly moving vehicles. Our noses wanted whiffs of hay and pig, and our
boots wanted unadulterated mud.

We were not allowed to have our way without a warning. There always is
someone to keep you in the straight and narrow path. As we were turning
into the low road a passer-by remonstrated.

"If you're going to Saint-Paul-du-Var," he explained, "you want to keep


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