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To reveal a homely secret : it is a mattress on
springs, supported by four stumps, rising two feet
from the floor — soft, soothing, sublime — a divan
by day, and a couch by night.

The gentle Elia dwelt tenderly on " the regal
solitude'' of a sick-bed. He should have had a
Sommier. Its graceful proportions, its subtle
charms, the leading part it plays in the life of its
owner and the affairs of his, or her, home, would
have won his perfect sympathy. How blithely
would he have accompanied the fair art-student at
Julian's to the upholsterer's ; to the dusty little
curiosity-shop where discreet draperies are picked
up : home again, to see the Sommier established
in a corner, and made to lose its bedly expression
beneath a layer of bright stuffs ! With what joy
would Elia have seen the same fair student prepare
it and the flat for the reception of guests !

On these occasions she rises early. She has all
to do, and knows not where, or on what, to begin.
She seeks the aid of a friend. She says, *' You
start here, and I will stay there," but meets her at
every point and turn. Both move madly. They
find one another at the same boxes, coveting the
same stuffs. They dispute over this bit of drapery,
over that cushion. Each wants her corner to be
the most brilliant. One hides a hoard of splendour ;
the other finds, and maliciously scatters it. They



Colonists in Bohemia 73

disagree over the establishing of the ten -franc
Venus de Milo ; over the placing of frames.
They raise heaps all over the floor. They stumble
and trip. They must walk on their toes. They
sink wearily on the Sommier. All the hidden
litter that congregates in a home has thrust itself
forward. Portraits squint. Pictures are topsy-
turvy. The Venus leans lazily against the wall.
Time presses, it is two. Both girls covet but dare
not propose lunch. They seek biscuits. They
scatter crumbs as they clear. They gather arm-
fuls of rubbish, and hide it, not in the boxes from
which it came, but — underneath the Sommier.
An old lamp appears ; it is poked — beneath the
Sommier. A cup breaks ; its pieces are swept —
under the Sommier. Odd handles, screws, and
knobs, that once made part of something, com-
plete the congregation sheltered by this amazing
Sommier. ... At five it is of Eastern colour and
softness. Bare boxes, padded and cushioned,
make other lounges. The Venus is stately and
straight. Nor is there a trace of unrest about the
hostess. Her rooms are admired ; her taste
applauded. She and her guests sink luxuriously
on the Sommier.

Cakes appear, old friends : monotonous trifles,
you never meet in them a new flavour, or a hidden
almond, or a sweet surprise ; after a time you
know them all. You remember the exact contents
of the pink and the green ; the precise moment



74 Paris of the Parisians

when you will fall on the cherry in the brown.
You have handed them about in your own rooms.
You have carved that deceptive pyramid again
and again. Tea arrives. It is poured out pale.
It is scalding and sharp. Over the making of it
your hostess has burned her hands : for Latin
Quarter fires hate a kettle and do their best to
spill it. These fires are not made of the honest,
homely, natural fuel you throw on, and forget.
They need constant watching. This coal is not
sold by weight, but by the dozen, or the bit. It
is of many shapes and kinds. It goes by different
names. It is square, or it is oval, or it is round.
It is equipped with some device to make it burn.
It is perforated or tarred. It must stand upright
or on a slant. It must have a direct draught
beneath it (produced by opening the windows and
doors) ; or it must have no draught at all. It
must be fanned ; or it must not be touched. It
must be shielded by the blower. It must never
be seen. It must have its own way, or it sulks
and subsides.

Casual callers are not welcomed in the Latin
Quarter ; it is discreet to warn a friend of your
coming. Odd little ceremonies that necessitate
disorder and undress are ever in progress : a day's
notice is not too long. Sudden rings are ignored
at these times. No one stirs ; no one speaks.
Startled criminals could not be quieter. Faces
flush ; throats get dry ; nerves leap. Not a



Colonists in Bohemia 75

muscle moves before the caller's departure. A
favoured few, however — those who have flats of
their own and know their mysteries — gain ad-
mittance by a secret whistle. " It is only Alice/'
says the hostess ; and Alice is let in. Homely
things are about : the spirit-lamp, the toasting-
fork, uncomely cups and jugs. The fire is being
fanned. The Venus is packed away in wool.
The Sommier has lost its draperies ; reveals its
hideous hoard beneath. . . . The femme de
menage arrives. She is paid by the hour, and
lingers over tasks. She asks for matches, declaring
her box to be gone. She seeks it where it is not,
discovering only a host of empty ones. She has
nothing she wants. She must go on seven errands,
when one would have done. Her child calls.
He is petted or he is scolded. He is brought in
to be shown. His school -life, and that of his
friends, is portrayed ; his battle with Pierre re-
lated. He is given a biscuit, and expects a fifty-
centime piece. He, like his mother, is loth to go.
Irritating, also, is the concierge. Established on
the ground floor, she takes in letters for every
flat above, keeps their keys, and shows callers up.
Be she a widow, she has a cat. For it she will
neglect her tenants, see their letters grow an after-
noon old, and forget to light the gas ; for it she
has tender names : Minette, Bijou, or Bebette ;
for it she has loving arms and a capacious lap.
Minette may go where she will ; no one must



76 Paris of the Parisians

scold her. Minette may fight all night with Bijou
and Bebette ; no one must mind her. She who
befriends Minette, praises Minette, is careful not
to anger Minette, will get her letters sooner than
she who criticises and hates Minette.

Occasionally mothers arrive ; friendly cousins
too. They have heard of the Somrtiier. They
long to see it ; it startles them when they do.
They ask if they must sleep sideways, and what
will happen if they turn : they dread the moment
when they, and it, will be alone. '' Mother "
must explore, and admire; ''Cousin" is told to
be good. He must smoke his cigar on the stairs :
catches cold, meets the femme de menage, the
concierge, and — Minette. He is asked to absent
himself all day when the clearing for guests
begins ; or, he must hang a picture, buy nails,
climb and clean, and miss his lunch. He must
worship the Venus. He must carry canvases and
cartons to Julianas, *' because they are heavy.'*
He must distort his face after tea to pose for a
study called " Despair,'' or stoop like a chifFonnier
till his eyes fill with tears and his whole frame
aches. He is told to let his hair grow, " like the
students," and to buy corduroy clothes and a big
hat. Bewildered and dazzled, he returns to
London. He may smoke where he will ; he may
do what he will. His life is calm and comfortable.
But as he sits before a fire that burns without
fanning and gazes at coals that need no special



Colonists in Bohemia 77

treatment, he finds himself thinking fondly of that
confusing and exciting retreat at whose robing he
has so often assisted. He sees Minette, the Venus,
the spirit-lamp. He forgives them their follies.
He loves them all. He sees the Sommier : ruffled
in the morning, smooth at noon, gorgeous at five,
very white when dark — soft, soothing, sublime — a
divan by day, the Bohemian's couch by night.



SPRING IN MONTPARNASSE



SPRING IN MONTPARNASSE

I

We have a garden of cobble-stone where gravel
grows. The gravel is separated from the cobble-
stone by a wire network and an imperfect hedge of
box. In here there are at least four laurel, three
lilac, and two laurestinus bushes ; besides an oval
bed, surrounded by half a foot of railing presum-
ably for protection, from devouring elements, of
fragile members of the pebble tribe. There are,
besides, two trees, a pump, and a concierge.
We live, in fact, in the heart of the town.
We live in the heart of the town, but Spring
comes into our garden as she comes into the
woods and fields.

The wall at the side covered with dusty ivy
is brimming with sparrows ; the same who all the
winter have filled the big tree before our window
like round, brown fruit on the gaunt branches ;
whose feet and beaks on the window-sill have
made a pattering like soft, intermittent rain. At
present they visit us more rarely. The sparrow

G



82 Paris of the Parisians

that darts across the garden nowadays has sharp
haste in his movement. When he shoots into his
ivy it is with a decision of action that shows he
has business to do, and that instantly. When he
joins a company under the wall he abandons him-
self to a general shrill agitation with reckless
sympathy. The very way he flirts his tail or
whets his beak on a twig has new vigour. His
palpitations in the dust are sheer ecstasies.

At the edge of the cobble-stone, behind the
wire network, a bush is coated with green mould.
For months it has looked like a faggot of twigs,
good for nothing but burning. Other bushes are
sprinkled, filled with emerald crumbs ; others, the
lilacs, sprout little wings. Below in the pebble-bed
lies a scattering of confetti.

In the afternoons, these lengthening afternoons,
our concierge comes out from her shed at the end
of the garden and takes her stand at the gate.
There she leans, her arms upon the gate, peering
into the street ; or, with her head tilted back,
sniffs up into the suspicious sweetness of the air.
She has put her hyacinth-bulbs on the window-sill
in the sun.

Moreover there is the profound unreasonable-
ness of the weather. Day by day, hour by hour, it
flatly contradicts itself. One morning, from the
leaden sky the long rain pours down : pours,
pours, filling the garden and the road — from our
window to the windows of the opposite pavement.



Spring in Montparnasse 83

The zinc roof of the concierge's shed, smooth and
black in the wet, is like a sheet of mackintosh ;
the tree- trunks look as though they had been
newly tarred ; and the ivy is glossy and dripping,
and all day long between the cobble-stones the
drab puddles hop dismally. Next day the gold
sun in a gay sky; tracks of blue between the
chimney-pots, wide fields of blue beyond ; behind
the lattice of the trees white cloud-puffs shifting
rapidly ; warm air ; clamorous birds ; and from
the pump in the corner, clanking beneath the
concierge's hand, a silver flood gushing down the
gutter and over the cobble-stones. . . . Then,
suddenly, the air freezes. The sky darkens ;
blackens ; the wind leaps loose with a roar . . .
sharp shouts and sounds . . . clattering shutters ;
rolling, creaking trees ; tossing ivy ; a wild whistle
of rain. Down comes the hail.

But to-morrow the quiet snow falls : softly
whirling, softly sinking ; loading the boughs of
the trees and furring the ivy on the wall — covering
the earth, softly lying over the garden, thickening
and thickening.

To-day there is no snow. A veil of rain
hanging in the garden for some moments has left
the bushes greener and the pouted tips of branches
glancing in emerging sunshine.

The little laundress entering at the gate with
her armful of linen is tinted by the new sunshine.
Her lips and cheeks are delicately flushed ; the



84 Paris of the Parisians

hair on her forehead plays in glinting tendrils.
She looks as though she were made of apple-
blossoms.

And to-night I shall see, as I see each night, the
silent workings of the trees. Whether the garden
lie quiet under a sky of stars, or stifled in fog,
or drowned in rain, or battered by storm, the trees
are untired ; working, waiting. When the evening
shadows begin to fill the garden, when the lamps
bloom in the windows, when the stars kindle, when
one by one the lamps go out, when there is left in
the night no movement but the breathing of the
stars, they stand engrossed, imperturbable. Patient
watchers with boughs held outwards, and upwards
like praying arms ; brooding, waiting, without
haste, without rest working, I feel that they are
feeling : "Nearer, nearer : the time is passing,
the time is approaching, nothing can stop it. It
has begun, it must proceed, it shall fulfil.'' . . .
For Spring comes into our garden as she comes
into the woods and fields.



II

From my window, on this April afternoon,
I look into the branches of the varnish tree, and
see a thousand budded twigs stretched upwards.
Sun-warmed and sensitive, like clusters of little
mouths, the pouted tips suck air and azure.
Adorable gluttons !



Spring in Montparnasse 85

In the sky, films of clouds roam by and dissolve.
The soft wind parts the ivy on the wall, and sets
it shaking and playing ; and in the gentle move-
ment of the wind the budded branches of the
varnish tree rock to and fro.

The chestnut tree is crisply frilled, laden here
and there with silver knobs in bronze cups. The
bushes are bright with vivid emeralds.

I lean out of my window, and feel the warmth
of the sun upon my hair, and the movement of
the wind amongst it. All about me are the
glinting of leaves and the clamour of birds.
Above, in the angelic blue, clouds pass ceaselessly.

The air is rich with a stream and scintillation of
noise. Birds flash across the garden and dive in
flitting flights. Between the forks of the rocking
branches, in the clear air, here and there, a gray
mote appears, wavers and vanishes. Upon the
litten wall wave the shadows of boughs and dart
the swift shadows of birds. Changing shadows,
balancing boughs, hovering gnats, twinkling wings,
frou-frou of wings, drowsily in the sunshine and
wind I watch and listen ; and so watching, see on
the warmed cobble-stones below another drowsy
watcher. There he sits, the tabby cat of the
concierge, large, sleek,' handsomely curled on his
tail, blinking with poetic abstraction, attentive to
the movement of sparrows.

All the canaries of the neighbourhood with
their cages and mops of chickweed have been hung



86 Paris of the Parisians

out of the windows. On the topmost panes the
blue of the sky lies faintly reflected. Green plants
have been placed here and there on the window-
sills. And in the gray monotony of the building
is one sill to which my eyes return, and return
again, to feed upon the golden gladness of daffodils,
laughing there in the sun.

A girl stands in a bare window, polishing the
glass, rubbing up and down with her strong young
arm till the pane gleams and glances. Now she sits
there, sewing rings on a new rose-coloured curtain.
Out of the windows on every side people are
leaning, laughing, and chattering. From some-
where or other comes a running of steady scales and
brisk arpeggios. Down the road they are mending
the pavement, tink, tink, tink goes the hammer on
the pavement. And all these sounds, the piano, the
voices sweet in the distance and checkered with
laughter, the gaiety of the ringing metal, the
street cries, the vivacious clatter of the traflic,
intermingle with the noise of birds and wind and
leaves, and bewilder the air with their tumult.

The concierge waddles across the cobble-stones,
a rake in one hand, a spade in the other. Inexor-
ably she scatters the upper crust of pebbles on the
bed, hacks round the edge of it, unpots an oleander.
She nails a creeper to the wall, she ties a fuchsia to
a stick, she packs some pansies in a bed, and fills
the blanks in the box-hedge with oyster shells.
Pink and panting, her hands on her hips, she



Spring in Montparnasse 87

surveys her work and smiles upon it. . . . And I
perceive close by her, in the wire network, a rose-
spray filled with crumpled leaves ; further on
clumps of anemones, which may perhaps flower in
the future, and are at any rate green in th^
present ; all sorts of shoots, crisp and curled, neat
and new, pierce amongst the pebbles and under
the bushes ; and in a corner, pulling itself up with
tender fingers, a hop-vine starts to reach woodwork
which, once upon a time, in the weariness of the
winter, I took to be a dog's kennel, but which with
the romantic insight of the season I now know to
be a summer-house.

Drowsily, on the cobble-stones, sits the tabby
cat : from his head to his tail, down the dark
stripe on his spine, he relishes the goodly warmth
— it reaches to the roots of his fur ; it sinks into
his inmost being. Full of meditation, full of
peace, he sits and blinks.

All the garden is dancing and dimpling, the
chestnut trees glint, the bare branches of the
varnish tree rock, the ivy is nodding on the wall.
Now and then the dark wall turns pale, and under
the wind the ivy ripples whitely.

• •••••

I look into the deepening afternoon. Grave
lights and sweeter shadows have come into the
garden. The air is tranquil.

A thin haze of shadow lies now upon the
opposite houses, leaving only one corner palely



88 Paris of the Parisians

gleaming, and the top row of windows where the
panes are still tinted. Above the houses, above
the fret of the chimneys, the last clouds are passing,
like indolent flocks dawdling homewards, leaving
the blue plains empty behind them.

Birds, no longer scattered voices, talk in groups,
punctuating the air with sweet irrelevancies, stop-
ping short in sudden silences.

In the garden, the ivy wall is tipped with new
leaves. Here and there the leaves stir, set quiver-
ing round the entrance of a bird. All the garden
is greenly thickened since the morning. The
hop-vine is two inches higher.

The concierge comes out of her shed and fills a
pail at the pump, and crosses the cobble-stones and
goes in at a little gate in the wire network and
goes round by the box -hedge, flinging strong
sheets of water on the beds. Stunned, drenched,
all but drowned, the plants yet recover ; straighten
themselves, beaming, the sturdier for the shock.
Round each green thing behind her there is a
dark patch on the gray ground.

The varnish tree stands gilded, costly, and
strange. Under the blue of the sky it stands,
red-gold, tipped with lumps of jewel, under the
blue like a great candelabrum loaded with rubies.

From the wall in the garden the light is with-
drawing. It creeps gradually across, slowly, then
suddenly goes out. Some top twigs of the varnish
tree are still redly crested ; deep in the tree it is



Spring in Montparnasse 8g

dark. The cobble-stones lie cold. One by one
the windows close.

And to-night there will be clouds upon clouds
ranging across the sky, and stars amongst them
like diamonds lost in snow, and a moon like a
pearl afloat in a gray pool fringed with an opal
wreath. On the wall the ivy will lie dark and
still, sheltering the warm sleeping birds. The
chestnut tree will be at rest, its frills spread wide,
a hundred new frills along its boughs. And by
my window the varnish tree will stand, naked
and alone, pointing to the stars, awake, and full
of dreams.

K. W. M.



PIERROT PASSES



PIERROT PASSES 1

On the covers of these scattered song -books
Pierrots loiter. Ghostly scaffolding stands about.
M. Georges Millandy himself is represented, his eye
wistful, his expression sad. He is driven onward by
the wind. Listless, indifferent, and resigned, he lets
himself be blown. Too true to his philosophy is
he to protest against his progress by turning back.
What does it matter ? Why not go with the
wind ? Who knows but that it will lead him to
what he longs for most — perpetual happiness, a
perpetual morn, and perpetual peace ? So on moves
M. Millandy : his coat-collar up, his hand on his
hat, decidedly frail. Thus is it with him in his songs.
Memories haunt him. Certain sounds call up certain
events. He lives lamenting the past. Now it is an
organ, grinding forth a familiar tune. Years have
elapsed : he had almost forgotten. He shivers ; he
starts. Each note is a word, or a sigh, or a tear ;
the whole a scene. Or, some stranger's voice throws

^ Les Freles C/iansons, by Georges Millandy.



94 Paris of the Parisians

him into emotion, and sets him thinking of another's
voice, now still. Simply does M. Millandy express
these sorrows, with soul and with grace. Passions
have wrecked his life. He has had a score. She
was brune, or she was blonde, or she was rousse.
She was the fairest maid about ; but, alas, her love
was frail. Most men would have turned sour and
cross from so much falseness ; or gloomy ; or reck-
less and disreputable. But M. Millandy accepts
his fate in his usual philosophical manner. It
merely leaves him sad and delicate and frail.

Other poets possess these charms, always popular
in Paris. There are fifty or more such poets ; each
affected with the same mysterious melancholy.
Forlorn themes attract them : the amours of the
Pierrot, no happier, no more lasting, than their
own. They love his pallor, his invariable wist ful-
ness. They have a fellow-feeling for this suffer-
ing suitor, always refused, always disappointed.
Musicians most of them, they attach suitable
airs to their lines. Not merry music you may be
sure, but sad and slow and monotonous. At the
Bodiniere and Pompadour, frail theatres, fashionable
at five, they sing. No noisy orchestra accompanies
them. They step listlessly on to a frail stage,
lean languidly against the piano, and wait for a
frail camarade with frail fingers to begin.

lis etaient trois petits enfants,

Qui s'en allaient glaner aux champs,



Pierrot Passes 95

murmurs M. Millandy with his accustomed melan-
choly. The first child looks for lilies, and finds
only thorns. The second seeks fairies. The third
learns " tristement, qu'on reve desesperement."
And emotion overtakes the salle. Sympathetic
sighs are heard. The Pompadour is touched.
Sadder grows M. Millandy, softer his voice.
Each child droops. Each child dies ; dies

d' avoir vainement
Cherche . . . du bonheur, simplement.

And M. Millandy passes away, in a mist so far as
the ladies of the Pompadour are concerned. His
camarades follow: Theodore Botrel, Xavier Privas,
and Montoya. Each sings his song, leaning list-
lessly against the piano. Each passes away, leaving
the audience moved by his sorrow. Artificial
sentiment this may be. Children do not die of
despair on finding thorns instead of lilies ; and
although they are equally unlikely to fade away
from sheer want of a fairy, it pleases the Parisian
for the moment to believe the anomaly. Stern
realities bore him. He cares nothing for age, or
time, or date. He loves incongruities. He will
mix up the seasons : make October May by deck-
ing the trees on the Champs Elysees with artificial
blossoms and buds. Mysteries enchant him. He
pursues them to the Pompadour, where he hears,
and learns, " Pourquoi sont pales les Pierrots'*
from the trembling lips of M. Millandy. And he



96 Paris of the Parisians

goes home the better for it, because these chansons,
however artificial, are delicate and pure. And
they haunt him for days after, and so fascinate
him with their mysterious melancholy that he
returns to the Pompadour again and again.
Months pass. M. iMillandy introduces new Pier-
rots, with new passio is, but always wistful, and
always pale. Nor doe^ he himself grow vigorous
with time. MemoridI still haunt him. Organs
still call up old scenes. The brune, the blonde,
and the rousse still wroi^ig him. But M. Millandy
remains true to his p^iilosophy in spite of all. He
neither protests n'o»r complains. He accepts his
fate : almost a genius, however frail.



JEAN SEVERE



H



JEAN sev{;re

Jean Severe. I see him as he stood in his
characteristic attitude, one hand on the table
beside him, slightly leaning on the hand, slightly
stooping forward : tall and narrow, a certain
graceful awkwardness about him.

So he used to stand, serious, silent, in his worn,
tight-buttoned frock-coat with the black silk bow
at the top, now and then nervously moving his
hand to his lips, waiting while people settled
themselves in their seats in the lecture-room at
the Procope. So he used to stand, serious,
smiling, hair swept back from his forehead, brown
eyes luminous, as one by one the redacteurs of
the review he had founded came in at the door
to weekly meeting.

I see his face in detail, the fine hair, scanty on
the brows, not long at the back, the clear fore-
head, the wide eyes, gentle and steady, the high
cheek-bones, the lips smooth and red in the soft
beard. When, quivering, eloquent, he poured out


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