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Title: In Vanity Fair - A Tale of Frocks and Femininity
Author: Brainerd, Eleanor Hoyt
Language: English
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IN VANITY FAIR


[Illustration: The Return from the Grand Prix]


IN VANITY FAIR

A Tale of Frocks and Femininity

by

ELEANOR HOYT BRAINERD

Author of "The Misdemeanors of Nancy"



New York
Moffat, Yard & Company
1906

Copyright, 1906, by
Moffat, Yard & Company
New York

Published, March, 1906

The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



PREFACE


The Parisienne, in her subtler phases, is a theme for a feminist of
genius; and this little book does not venture upon the psychological
deep seas.

Grave issues are tangled in the game of fashion-making; but the world
through which My Lady of the Chiffons dances lightly to gay music reeks
of frivolity, and the story of the fashionable Parisienne and of the
haunts in which she obtains and displays her incomparable frocks must
needs be a story of folly and extravagance, best told, perhaps, by
snap-shots of the inner courts of Vanity Fair.

                                                       THE AUTHOR.



CONTENTS

IN VANITY FAIR


  CHAPTER I

                                                                PAGE

  FROCKS AND FEMININITY                                           15

  The Frenchwoman's creed; the science of being gay; feminine
  types in French society; the demi-monde of Paris; Parisian
  salons.


  CHAPTER II

  THE TYRANTS OF THE RUE DE LA PAIX                               28

  Paris and the art of dress; Worth and the old masters; Paquin
  and the new school; the clientèles of the great men.


  CHAPTER III

  THE FAMOUS ATELIERS                                             47
  How the work is done; the saleswomen; the mannequins; the
  ouvrières; the system; the launching of the modes.


  CHAPTER IV

  FIFI AND THE DUCHESS ON THE TURF                                64

  Racing near Paris; round the braziers of Auteuil; the day of
  the Grand Prix.


  CHAPTER V

  LE SPORT IN PARIS                                               78

  Motor mania; Parisian golf and French golfers; fashion and
  tennis at Puteaux; the motor-boat fad.


  CHAPTER VI

  THE FINE ART OF DINING                                          97

  Al fresco dining in the Bois; with le Roi galant at the Henri
  Quatre; where the Pompadour held sway; the restaurants of
  the town; Frederic, "King of the Ducks."


  CHAPTER VII

  IN NORMANDY WITH MADAME                                        118

  Gay Trouville and chic Deauville; at the tables of the Hôtel
  de Paris; in the Casino; some inns and the motor.


  CHAPTER VIII

  THE MERRY-GO-ROUND                                             140

  Winter in Paris; five o'clock tea and chiffons; the theatres of
  Paris; the Palais de Glace and its crowd; spring fêtes and
  follies.


  CHAPTER IX

  THE HUNTING SEASON                                             163

  The Frenchman and la chasse; at the châteaux; venery new
  and old; with the hounds of the Duchesse d'Uzes.


  CHAPTER X

  UNDER SOUTHERN SKIES                                           182

  Cannes and the world; Nice and the flesh; Monte Carlo and
  the devil.


  CHAPTER XI

  LES AMERICAINES                                                210

  The French frock and the American woman; American buyers;
  feminine extravagance in America; some famous orders; the
  ready-made costume and its effect upon dress.



ILLUSTRATIONS


  THE RETURN FROM THE GRAND PRIX                      _Frontispiece_

                                                                PAGE

  PLAYING AT COUNTRY LIFE                                         20

  DOEUILLET PASSES JUDGMENT                                       40

  BEER AND HIS MANNEQUINS                                         52

  THE DAY OF THE DRAGS                                            66

  AT LONGCHAMPS                                                   72

  THE FIRST SPORTSWOMAN OF FRANCE                                 84

  FASHION'S FERRY                                                 90

  THE LATEST PLAYTHING OF THE DUCHESSE D'UZES                     98

  "GOSSIP STREET" AT TROUVILLE                                   120

  IN THE CLUB GROUNDS AT DEAUVILLE                               130

  AT A ROTHSCHILD GARDEN PARTY                                   154

  BARONNE HENRI DE ROTHSCHILD AT THE MEET                        166

  THE BLESSING OF THE HOUNDS AT BONNELLES                        178

  THE PALACE OF FOLLY--MONTE CARLO                               186

  THE CROWD AT MONTE CARLO                                       196



IN VANITY FAIR



                            IN VANITY FAIR



CHAPTER I

FROCKS AND FEMININITY


Clothes and the woman we sing! Given the themes, Paris is obviously
the only appropriate setting. Nowhere else do the kindred cults of
frocks and femininity kindle such ardent devotion. Nowhere else are
women so enthusiastically decorative. There are women more beautiful
than the Parisiennes, there are women who spend as much money upon
their clothes. Pouf! What is beauty unadorned? What is beauty
adorned--provided it is not chic.

That crisp little monosyllable is sadly abused by our Anglo-Saxon
saleswomen, but it is a master word for all that, a great word holding
in solution the quintessence of things Parisian. It means a subtle
something before which mere beauty is humble, and mere luxury is banal.
It means coquetry, audacity, charm. It means a thing evanescent,
impalpable, unmistakable, absurd, adorable, a thing deliciously
feminine, a thing essentially of the world worldly.

That the word should be a French word with no exact equivalent in
another tongue is as it should be. The Parisienne is the true "femme
chic." She has the secret and she realizes its value, makes a fetich
of it, devotes herself to it with a zeal that could flourish nowhere
outside of Paris. There are charming women all over the world, but
nowhere is femininity so conscientiously occupied in being charming as
it is in Paris.

Your true Parisienne begins her creed with, "I believe in coquetry";
and by coquetry she means not merely embryonic flirtation, but all
that goes to make sophisticated charm. She is coquette from her cradle
to her grave, from her first communion frock to her last cap and
shawl. She does not depend upon her natural advantages, she is not
unconscious, not simple. She is deliberately, insistently charming, and
to gain that end she shows the infinite capacity for taking trouble
which amounts to genius. The ill-natured call the result artificiality,
and they are right; but the fine art of the artificiality is a thing
to conjure with, and through its aid the Frenchwoman retains her
charm long after youth and its bloom are fled. Wit wears better than
complexion, and tact outlasts figure. Incidentally, much may be done to
patch up complexion and figure if wit and tact are on hand to carry off
the counterfeit.

To be sure there is something a trifle depressing about the faded
ghosts of Parisian youth, the old ladies of Paris who refuse to admit
defeat, and, painted, bejewelled, vivacious, defy the years.

Yes, there's a sadness in the struggle, a gentle melancholy such
as serves poets for rondels and villanelles, but they are not sad,
themselves, those old ladies of Paris. Bless your heart, no! They are
gay, excessively gay. They flutter their fans and toss their curled
heads and scatter wrinkled smiles and unwrinkled bon mots, and succeed,
after a fashion, in their aim; for they are delightful, these faded,
worldly belles. They keep their youthful hearts, their keen wits, their
absorbing interest in men and things. They have not forgotten how to
be amusing; and, under their cleverly applied rouge and powder and
false hair and general artificiality, they are still sympathetic, still
witty, still wise. Not one's ideal of placid old age, not, perhaps,
the grandmothers one would choose for the family tree, but delightful
companions still; coquettes who have outlived their youth but not their
finesse.

Perhaps the cult of coquetry which is the pervasive spirit of French
society would be impossible outside the atmosphere in which it
flourishes. It is a part of Parisian tradition, it colours Parisian
values, determines Parisian standards. Insensibly the woman who lives
in Paris surrenders to this spirit though she may have come of Puritan
stock or of Roundhead ancestry. It is in the air of Paris. If one
cannot breathe the air and assimilate the germs, one departs. That is
all. One returns to Boston or Kansas City or Glasgow or Tewkesbury.
Doubtless those women who flee from the insidious assault lead lives
more estimable than those who succumb, but they do not learn the gentle
art of coquetry in its Parisian form. So much the better for the
quietude of Boston and Kansas City and Glasgow and Tewkesbury.

It is probable, highly probable, that the foreigner who recklessly
remains in Paris and invites the spirit of the place will show her
inevitable lapse from Puritanical grace first in her underwear. French
lingerie is the sign and symbol of French femininity. It is the
refinement of luxury, the quintessence of coquetry.

To wear a fortune in a gown is something, but to wear a fortune in
lace and handwork and cobweb linen hidden away under a frock demurely
simple is more, and the Parisienne adores "le dessous." Jewels she may
lack--though not for want of conscientious effort to obtain them--but
dainty petticoats she will have, and, having them, she will wear them,
and wearing them, she will show them. Why not contribute to the sum of
humanity's simple joys?

An old lady from a little Missouri town strayed from a Cook's party
one day, at the entrance to the Louvre; and, some hours later, a young
countrywoman of hers found her occupying one of the Champs Elysées
chairs and watching with fearful joy the stream of French womanhood
picking its way along walks still wet from an all-night rain.

The old lady clutched the arm of her fellow American and turned a
puzzled face away from the passing show.

"My dear, just look at those petticoats and stockings!" she gasped.
"The creatures haven't any idea of hiding them. I've been watching for
two mortal hours and there hasn't been a let-up yet. Some are finer
than others, that's all. But they're all showy, and every single woman
has her dress tucked up so you can't miss them. When I saw the first
ones I thought I'd struck the French women you read about,--the ones
who aren't proper, you know, and I was so interested; but then they
kept coming so steadily that I got all mixed up. Hundreds have gone
by, all holding their skirts like that and every one of them swishing
silk or lace ruffles and showing silk stockings,--and it isn't humanly
possible, even in Paris, that they're all bad, now is it?"

Bad? Not the least in the world. They were merely French. The petticoat
of Pleasantville, Missouri, and the petticoat of Paris are two separate
and distinct things, and the old lady had vaguely grasped an important
fact not down upon the Cook's party schedule of information. The
Parisienne is Paris. Incidentally there are picture galleries and
museums.

The amount of money spent on the "dessous" by a Parisian woman of
fashion is madly extravagant and entirely characteristic. It is but
a detail of that religion of luxury whose high priests centre in the
Rue de la Paix. The average Frenchwoman has a thrifty and frugal side,
but the extravagant Frenchwoman spends her money with a light-hearted
gaiety and a maximum of picturesque effect. The most prodigal patrons
of the great dressmakers and jewellers in the Rue de la Paix are
Americans, but the most brilliant figures in the fashionable Parisian
world are French. The born Parisienne is the supreme coquette. She
wears her clothes with an incomparable air. There is a touch of the
actress in her, and in the matter of feminine fashion art can give
points to nature, so the Frenchwoman wears with artfully artless grace
and naturalness creations whose audacity would reduce a woman of any
other nationality to an awkward self-consciousness that would ruin the
effectiveness of the costume.

Even could one conceive of all the great French dressmakers
transplanted to another land, only in Paris could the modes be
successfully launched, for only there can monsieur find the women
who are ready and able to carry off triumphantly even the most
revolutionary of creations, who have the courage and confidence to
exploit models strikingly novel--always provided those models have
beauty and cachet to commend them. It is the Parisienne, too, who is
willing to buy the most extravagantly fragile and perishable of frocks
and who will wear them regardless of consequences; who will, moreover,
smile most cheerfully when, having fulfilled its mission, the costly
frock is crushed, drabbled, ruined.

"It had _un succès fou_, M'sieu!" she says blithely to the maker
when she sees him next. That is quite enough. A great success on one
occasion justifies any extravagance, and why allow a spoiled frock to
obscure an agreeable memory?

[Illustration: Playing at Country Life]

King Alfonso attended one of the famous race meetings near Paris one
day last summer, and all the smart Parisian world turned out to do him
honour. The display of frocks and millinery was a notable one. The
pesage was crowded with women in the airiest and most elaborate of
summer toilettes and, suddenly, the heavens opened and a torrent of
rain poured down. Such a scurrying and twittering; such little moans
and shrieks; such laughter and jesting! Bad temper? Not a bit of it.
Things were quite bad enough without losing one's temper. So they
chatted and joked and achieved bon mots that almost reconciled them to
the facts that their rouge was streaked and their plumes were drabbled
and their curls were straggling and their frocks were limp. The sun
came out and the demoralized toilettes emerged from under cover, mere
wrecks of their former beauty; but the wearers carried the situation
off with a good-natured vivacity to which no other women would
have been equal. The afternoon was a particularly gay one, and the
prevailing philosophy was voiced by one little countess who was heard
to say to a friend as they stood waiting for their automobiles:

"The frocks are spoiled, absolutely spoiled. C'est dommage,--but, ma
chère, what an opportunity for the petticoats and the feet, n'est-ce
pas? Me,--I found much consolation in the real lace in my white
stockings and in my new shoe buckles,--Va! One sees, every day, the
frocks. To-day, for the first time, I know intimately the ankles of all
my friends."

Possibly the countess gave her maid a bad quarter hour after she
reached home; but for the benefit of the public she stood there,
insouciant, smiling, debonair, with her chiffon frock clinging
forlornly to her shapely little figure, with her tulle hat gummed to
a disarranged coiffure and its plumes drooping like funeral emblems
over her left ear, but with her spirits intact. Not for nothing did
she have some of the best blood of France in her veins. It is sporting
blood,--that best blood of France.

Concerning the morals of French womankind, the serious may write,--and
the less they know about Paris--provided they are Anglo-Saxon--the more
fluently they will write; for intimate acquaintance with Parisian life
and sentiment is sadly prejudicial to orthodox Anglo-Saxon standards,
and it is difficult to be severe with the Parisienne if one knows
her. One disapproves of her, in certain of her phases, perhaps, but
one learns the tolerant shoulder shrug of her nation. She is so very
amusing, and Paris is, first of all, "le monde où l'on s'amuse."

One may like Paris or not. One may choose to live in Paris or to live
elsewhere, but one thing the fair-minded will all admit. This capital
city of the kingdom of Vanity Fair is gay. The Parisians have reduced
gaiety to a science, luxury to an art. There may be tragedy behind
the curtain; but, before the public, life goes to a merry tune. It
is quite possible that smart society, the world over, is as rotten
as our novelists, dramatists, and preachers would have us believe;
but, at least, in Paris it is not dull. Where American smart society
is spectacular, French smart society is chic. Even in the half world
the distinction holds. The demi-mondaine of New York--or the nearest
approach to the demi-mondaine which New York furnishes, for our
standards are uncompromising and we recognize no "half world"--is
vulgar. The demi-mondaine of Paris is--one can but have recourse once
more to that untranslatable comprehensive word "chic."

Immorality, we are solemnly assured, is none the less immoral because
it is not banal. Probably it is more deplorable in proportion as it
takes on attractiveness; but we are not moralizing, merely stating
facts, and the fascination of the great Parisian demi-mondaine is a
well-established fact.

To begin with, she is the best dressed woman in the world. Any of the
famous dressmakers of Paris, who are the world's arbiters of fashion,
will tell you that. She has the money and the taste, and with her, even
more than with the Parisienne of the beau monde, being charming is a
metier. She supplements natural attractions with every resource of art.
She is, as a rule, clever, tactful, witty. Often she is brilliant,
and the nearest approach to the famous salons of old France are to
be found to-day in the homes of certain Parisiennes who are frankly
demi-mondaine or dwell in that middle world twixt "beau" and "demi"
where, sometimes, the name "artiste" casts a broad mantle of charity
over irregularity of life. There are countesses and princesses of
the blood who play at salon making in Paris, and who would be in the
seventh heaven could they once call under their roofs the famous men
who flock to certain salons where mesdames of the beau monde may not
follow. Great litterateurs, painters, sculptors, musicians, scientists
gather at certain informal evenings, certain famous little dinners.
And mark you, everything here is comme il faut--yes, indeed. Let the
student of morals who associates the phrase demi-mondaine only with
Tenderloin orgies revise his vocabulary. Orgies of the familiar kind he
can find in Paris. They are easily found; but he will have considerable
difficulty in gaining admittance to the salon of the great artiste
whose life history has been, to put it mildly, unconventional, or to
the salon of the famous demi-mondaine. Once admitted, he will need wit
and worldly wisdom to hold his own. One hears of little dinners where
the quantity of liquor drunk falls far below Tenderloin standards, but
where the poet of the moment composes sonnets to his hostess's eyebrow;
where the famous composer replies to Madame's "A new song, mon chèr. I
must have a song all my own," by sitting down at the piano and working
out a chanson which all Paris will be whistling a few months later;
where the petted tenor from the Opera sings street ballads, and the
great diplomat chats international scandal, and the successful artist
and feminist sketches portraits of his hostess upon the fly-leaf of
the autograph copy of the academician's book which the author has just
presented to her.

Yes; one hears of those happenings in the little house at Neuilly or in
the mansion on the Boulevard Malesherbes, or wherever the rendezvous
may be, and one struggles vainly to adjust one's vision to the Parisian
perspective to understand the Parisian attitude toward life. It is
disturbing to find impropriety so devoid of the lurid light in which
melodrama pictures it. One's moral vertebra softens in Paris.

But there are Parisiennes and Parisiennes. There is the aristocrat of
the St. Germain--and even aristocratic virtue is not dull in Paris.
There is the wife of the millionaire tradesman. There are the women
folk of the great banking house. There are the ladies of the diplomatic
circle, there are exiled queens and resident grand duchesses. There are
the Americans. There are the artistes. There are the demi-mondaines,
the cocottes. And there is Mimi. She is not the worst of the group,
this unimportant little Mimi, not the worst, and by no means the least
coquette; but she is not a bird of fine feathers and does not belong in
our story.

The great lady of Paris is grande dame to her finger-tips, whether she
nurses the traditions of the old régime in her exclusive salon in the
Faubourg St. Germain or follows after such new gods as "le sport" and
broadens her visiting list to include the trades and arts,--provided
always that the trade and the art have paid well enough to lift
tradesman and artist above their metiers. France loves genius, but for
social success, in Paris, genius is not enough.

One must have money, wit, and tact to succeed in smart French society
without the prestige of aristocratic birth. If one has the birth in
addition, so much the better.

There are salons to which only those to the nobility born are eligible,
but they are few, and modern French society is prone to go where it
will be most skilfully amused, where it will find the most luxury,
the greatest originality, the most volatile gaiety. The receptions
of the Duchesse de Rohan are impressive, her invitations are in
the nature of patents of nobility, but the Comtesse Pillet-Will's
extravagantly original fêtes are more popular, and the average Parisian
élégante would rather go ballooning with the exceedingly modern young
Duchesse d'Uzes than talk politics in the salon of the Comtesse Jean
de Castellane or listen to the excellent music which the Comtesse de
Bearn provides for her guests. Not that one objects to politics and
music. Music is "très chic" as furnished in the salons of the Comtesse
de Bearn, the Marquise de Castrone, the Vicomtesse de Tredern, and
the other society leaders who are noted for this especial variety of
entertainment; and, though the great political salon is a thing of
yesteryear, the Parisienne always takes an interest in politics. It is
a game, and she adores games, especially games in which men are the
counters. She is a born intrigante, and here is a field for legitimate
intrigue. Moreover, many men are devoted to politics, and is not
sympathy the corner-stone of the foundation of that power over men
which is the breath of the Frenchwoman's nostrils?

So, many of the fair Parisiennes play at politics, but few play so
charmingly as does the Comtesse Jean. Comtesse Boni de Castellane,
too, has political pretensions, and shows a devotion to the royalist
cause all the more vehement because grafted upon democratic birth and
training; but it is when they pay forty thousand dollars for a week-end
house party that the Boni de Castellanes loom large upon the Parisian
horizon. Their salon is not epoch-making.

Parisian society dabbles in politics, music, art, spiritualism,
amateur theatricals, and a host of other things, but it plunges bodily
into racing. The Jockey Club of France, which controls the turf in
France, is a gentleman's club, and its members are, with the exception
of a few rich bourgeois, representatives of the most aristocratic
houses of France. The Duc de Noailles, the Duc de Dondeauville, Prince
d'Arenberg, Duc de Fezensac, Comte Pillet-Will, Vicomte d'Harcourt and
a host of other men as well known are on the list of membership, and it
is natural enough that the great racing events near Paris should bring
out the flower of Parisian society as well as the heterogeneous crowds
common to race tracks.

"Le sport," too, imported from England and conscientiously fostered
for a long time before it showed signs of taking firm root in French
soil, is now a conspicuous feature of Parisian social life; and golf
clubs, tennis clubs, polo clubs, etc., are the chic rendezvous even for
that large percentage of Parisian society which, for all its vivacity,
would not, under any suasion, lend itself to active exercise. One does
not look well when one exercises too violently, and costumes suitable
for golf and tennis are not nearly as fascinating as those that may be
worn by lookers-on. Therefore, since looking one's best is a sacred
duty, and since attractive frock wearing is the Parisienne's religion,
Madame, as a rule, prefers to look on. She has sporting blood, but, as
we have already said, she is, before all else, "coquette."



CHAPTER II

THE TYRANTS OF THE RUE DE LA PAIX


If one would write of Vanity Fair, one must write of the Rue de la Paix
and the Place Vendôme; for the faithful worshippers of the vanities
turn toward that quarter of Paris as devoutly as a Mohammedan toward
Mecca. There the high priests of Fashion hold sway, and women the world
over acknowledge with reverent salaams of spirit that there is no
fashion but Paris fashion, though ideas as to Fashion's true prophets
may differ.

Let no one speak lightly of the French frock. It has been a world
power, and its story, if adequately written, would be a most absorbing
and comprehensive one. Drama of all kinds has clung round its frills
and furbelows. Revelations philosophical, historical, sociological,
lurk in its shimmering folds. Men have died for it, women have sold
youth and honour, husband, child, and lover, for it. It is Fashion's
supreme expression, and, on the altar of Fashion all things precious
have, first and last, been offered up.

Even the French scarcely realize the vital issues involved in the
making of the Fashions, but they, at least, approach the matter with
becoming gravity. Americans are said to be, next to the French, the
best dressed women in the world; but there is a certain lamentable
levity in the American attitude toward dress, while the French take
everything pertaining to clothes seriously. One need only read a page
from one of the best French fashion journals to grasp the national
point of view.

Here is no mere curt chronicle of the modes. The writer's rhapsodies
put our spring poets to shame. Called upon to describe a creation
in pink taffeta, he dips his pen in May morning dew and invokes the
muses. He soars upon the viewless wings of poesy, and, soaring, sings
impassioned chants of praise; he culls his similes from all the realm
of beauty, his adjectives glow with fervour, he quotes from the
classics, he draws upon history and fable, he winds up with a fervid
apostrophe to fair woman,--and not one of his French readers smiles.
They see no extravagance in his periods. The pink taffeta was from
Paquin. Upon what shrine could flowery tributes more fittingly be laid?

The artists of the French fashion journals approach their work in the
same spirit. One uses the word artist advisedly, for they are really
artists, those men who picture modish femininity for the Parisian
fashion journals of the highest class. On this side of the water,
fashion illustrators, with one or two exceptions, attempt nothing more
than an accurate reproduction of the details of frock or wrap or hat.
There their whole duty ends, and as for producing a clever and charming
drawing,--perish the thought! The artist who can do that scorns fashion
work; or, if he condescends to it, ranks it with his advertisements
for soup or sapolio, and refuses to honour the pot boilers with his
signature.

"They do these things better in France." There, a man may have studied
seriously, may have seen his pictures given place on salon walls, and
yet may take pride in being one of the foremost fashion illustrators
in France. For example, there is Fournery. He is, perhaps, the most
popular of the French fashion artists; he commands large prices, has
more orders than he can fill, is independent to the last degree--and he
loves the work, puts into it the best of the skill that he has acquired
through earnest study, the skill that has won him a place in the salon,
when he has taken time from his serious fashion work for such frivolous
side issues.

He is a feminist, this artist. Everything that goes to make up feminine
coquetry and charm interests him. He is willing to draw a picture
of a fashionable frock, for the joy of drawing the woman who can
successfully wear it. The "femme chic" is his chosen theme. If editors
pay him large sums for gowning his women in certain costumes, so much
the better.

A visit to Fournery and a study of his methods would suggest a new
point of view to the American artist who thinks anything will do for a
fashion sketch.

One finds a delightful studio, a vivacious and enthusiastic young
man,--French to his finger-tips.

"You want to know how I do my work? A la bonheur! It is quite simple,
my method. I draw first the nude figure,--from life, bien entendu.
One must have the perfect figure before one can display the frock at
its best, n'est-ce pas? A wooden woman cannot show off a beautiful
gown. The wearer must be graceful, supple, svelte, chic. When one has
the woman one adjusts her lingerie. One corsets her--but why not? The
corset is an abomination perhaps, but it is worn, and there are corsets
and corsets. Since women must wear corsets, let them wear good ones.
The fashionable figure is not that of the Venus de Milo, but what would
you? It is the fashionable figure. The fashionable gown is made to go
over it. Voilà! My woman must be perfectly corsetted upon the accepted
lines, but with as little violence as possible to nature's grace. Then
the gown! One fits it to the figure, one makes it cling where it should
cling, flare where it should flare, bring the wearer's best points
into view, as the wearer exhibits the best points of the frock. One
introduces an interesting background. It must be cleverly drawn, that
background, a line here, a line there, nothing to distract the eye from
the figure but an appropriate setting,--a glimpse of the pesage at
Auteuil, the terrace at Monte Carlo, a corner of the Café de Paris, a
vista on the Avenue des Acacias.--There you have it, Madame, my fashion
picture. Elle est gentille, n'est-ce pas, cette petite femme chic?"

She is most assuredly "gentille." So is the "femme chic" as Drian
pictures her,--Drian the youthful, who might stand at the head of our
conscientiously monotonous portrayers of pretty women, were he working
in New York instead of Paris. Many of those same American exponents of
feminine types draw badly enough to shock the clever young Frenchman,
but they would marvel at his pride in his fashion work,--for he is
proud. He recognizes the importance of his metier.

It is this popular attitude toward things sartorial that has made
Paris the centre of the dressmaking world. The great dressmaker may be
born anywhere, but even a sartorial genius, born to dressmaking as the
sparks fly upward, will not come into his artistic heritage outside of
Paris. Your artistic temperament must have its sympathetic environment,
and only in Paris is the artist dressmaker ranked with the immortals,
only in Paris is dressmaking classed among the fine arts. Worth, the
great, blushed unseen in the dark unfathomed caves of Birmingham;
Beer wasted his sweetness on the desert air of Berlin; the Callot
Sisters are from Provence and owe to the land of Tartarin their bold
originality of invention; the Maison Drecol, famous in Paris and the
foundation of Viennese fashion, was established by a Madame Wagner from
Amsterdam. Once rooted in Parisian soil, these insignificant ones waxed
great and famous, and their history is the history of fully two thirds
of the well-known Paris dressmakers.

They are the truly great men of France, those famous dressmakers.
Politicians, statesmen, generals, writers, musicians, strut across the
public stage and play their rôles; but Paris could do without them.
Given a grand cataclysm, and a possibility of saving some one famous
man for the Republic, Paris would unhesitatingly rescue Paquin.

There has been a revolution in the type of the illustrious ones, during
the last decade. Dressmaking has its Champs de Mars; but, in its case,
the new men have almost driven the old salon to the wall.

Paris to-day has two distinct schools of great dressmakers, the new and
the old, but the survivors of the old original type are few and far
between. In the old days the phrase "creative genius" was not amiss
when applied to the heads of the big French dressmaking establishments.
To-day these great men are business men, but the men of the old school
were artists, had creative talent--in a fashion sense--and cultivated
that talent.

Walles, an Englishman by birth, was an extreme example of this attitude
on the part of the dressmaker toward his art, though his name is
not so well known to the general public as many others. He was an
artist _enragé_, a genius in colour combination and line. He was an
avid student of colour, line, values, in the art galleries; he spent
day after day in the woods noting the colour combinations of the
autumn leaves; he drew upon flower and bird and insect and cloud for
inspiration, and he achieved great results; but he had the ill-balanced
temperament of genius and his career was brief.

Madame Roderigues, a Portuguese--and an exception to the rule that no
great dressmaking talent has come from Spain, Portugal, or Italy--was a
phenomenal artist of this same type, but ill health interfered with her
spectacular success.

Other dressmakers, not such extremists as these two, ranked with the
artist group, but Worth was practically the last of the old masters of
dress.

The new men are of a different class. The work turned out from their
ateliers is as good as that of their predecessors, but it is produced
by different methods. The head of the establishment to-day is, first
of all, a business man of extraordinary ability. He is also a man of
phenomenally good taste--but he is not a creative genius. He does not
lie awake wrestling with embryonic ideas concerning sleeve or flounce
or collar, he does not roam woods and fields in search of inspiration.
Not he. He buys the brains of lesser folk and launches the product of
those brains for the edification of womankind and his own glory. Some
little ouvrière in the workroom has a moment of inspiration. She goes
to her employer with her idea. If he likes it, he buys it,--and she
goes back to her work. Or perhaps some obscure dressmaker with more
originality than reputation goes to one of the famous men and shows
him models she has designed. If she has anything to offer which, in
his judgment, has possibilities, he buys it--and at a generous figure.
These men are always willing to pay liberally for ideas; but, once
bought, the thing is theirs. The originator must not repeat it nor
claim credit for it, though it may make the man who buys it famous,
and set the fashionable world agog. Unfair? Not at all. The little
dressmaker has not the ability to launch her idea. She makes more
out of it by selling it to a well-known house than she could make in
any other way. In course of time she may become the head of such an
establishment, for the seats of the mighty are filled chiefly from her
class; but, in the meantime, she is glad to find a market for her ideas.

The genius of the great dressmaker to-day consists in appreciation
of the possibilities in an idea. He may not be able to conceive an
original costume, but he knows instinctively what is good, has taste
and judgment that are unerring. Out of a hundred models he will
unhesitatingly choose the one that has a chance of success; and, having
had the taste to select, he has the business ability to exploit and
sell.

Then too, the ultimate development of the chosen ideas does rest in
his hands. The seller of sketches or of crinoline models has given
him suggestions. It is for him to bring forth from those suggestions
creations that will dictate to all the fashionable world. Robed in a
loose cloak of silk that will protect his ordinary clothing, puffing a
cigar that consorts ill with his classic toga, the master sits in his
workroom amid a chaos of materials and trimmings. Around him cluster
his chief aids, exhibiting to him the experimental models turned out
in the workroom. Jove-like, save for the great Havana tucked in a
corner of his mouth, Monsieur lays down the law, criticises, suggests,
alters, experiments. A fold is changed here, a frill is introduced
there, materials are selected and harmonized, trimmings and linings
are decided upon, names are given to the models at their birth. If
the exact material or trimming needed to produce a desired effect is
lacking, Monsieur does not allow that to worry him. He will merely tell
the manufacturer to make what he wants--and the manufacturer will do
it. The great dressmaker can make or mar a new fabric, and it is wise
for the maker of dress materials to humour the whims of the tyrant.

Under the régime of the old masters of fashion, the head of the
establishment was a sacred personality--a being to be spoken of in
hushed tones and approached with tremulous awe. He hedged himself about
with mystery. He represented creative intellect at its highest; and,
when the intellect settled down to its sacred function, nothing short
of battle, murder, or sudden death would present a satisfactory excuse
for an intrusion upon the privacy of the Master. Only a few privileged
ones, elect because of the size of their bills, their superlative
appreciation of true art or the worthiness of their faces and figures,
were admitted to the Presence, and they accepted the honour in a spirit
of true humility. If an ordinary mortal, daring as Icarus, asked to
see Monsieur himself, Monsieur's representatives were tolerant, but
pitying. See Him! Impossible! So might the priests of old have regarded
a Cook's tourist, asking to be personally conducted through the
Eleusinian Mysteries.

But Paquin and his followers have changed all that. Ordering gowns is
no longer an awesome function. It is a soothing, delightful experience.
One loses in religious exaltation but gains in beaming self-content.

Paquin was perhaps the first, as he is the best known, of the
new school. Thirteen or fourteen years ago he was a clerk on the
Bourse with no more knowledge of costuming than was to be gained by
appreciative observation of _les belles Parisiennes_. Madame Paquin,
who was not yet Madame Paquin, had a little dressmaking shop in an
insignificant quarter. The two met, married. A rich patron opportunely
turned up and furnished capital for an ambitious dressmaking
enterprise. The young couple opened a shop on the Rue de la Paix. There
was no sounding of trumpets nor beating of drums, but with the opening
of that little shop Paris was well on the way toward another revolution.

To-day, Paquin stands at the head of the great dressmakers of Paris.
His word is practically law. "Paquinesque" is the word coined to
express all that there is of the most chic.

"An ugly costume," says the first Parisienne.

"But no, ma chère, it is of Paquin," protests the second.

"Oh, vraiment? But yes, I see. It has fine points. Ah, mon Dieu, yes,
it is charming," gushes the first critic. So much for being the king
who can do no wrong.

The success was, first and foremost, a success of personality. Monsieur
Paquin is a handsome man. His manner is a thing to conjure with--and he
has worked it to its conjuring limit. Madame Paquin is pretty, she is
gifted, she is charming. Everyone is fond of Madame. From the first,
this clever and ornamental young couple followed a new system. No
haughty seclusion, no barred doors, at the Maison Paquin. Madame was
probably met at the door by Monsieur Paquin himself, and to be met by
Paquin was a treat. The most beautiful of Parisian élégantes and the
homeliest old dowager received the same flattering welcome, the same
tender interest. There was no servility in the manner. It was merely
the perfection of courtesy. The customer was enveloped in an atmosphere
that was soothing, delicious, promotive of deep self-esteem. Madame
Paquin continued the treatment. The charming woman, the handsome man,
both so deeply interested, both so deferential, both so intelligent!
This was a new experience. The Parisienne smiled, purred, under the
stroking, bought more than she had intended,--and came again.

Vanity is a lever stronger than awe. Paquin and his pretty wife
understood that fact and built upon it. Feminine Paris chanted "The
King is dead; long live the King!" The revolution was accomplished.

The sincerest flattery is imitation, and Paquin has been much
flattered. A long line of more or less successful Adonises have
followed in his footsteps. But Doeuillet and Francis are perhaps the
most important on the list.

Francis is young--in the early thirties. He is almost as good-looking
as Paquin. His manners are a Parisian proverb and, personally, he is
doubtless the most popular man in his class. His customers adore him.
What is more surprising, his work people also adore him, and even the
touchiest of mannequins, prone to decamp at a moment's notice, swears
by Francis and refuses to leave or forsake him. Ten years ago Francis
was a poor salesman. To-day he is rich. Tailor-made costumes, or the
Parisian modification of the tailor-made, are his specialty, and his
coats and cloaks are famous. Doeuillet, too, has won fame and fortune
within a few years. He, too, is young and handsome and ingratiating.
Six feet tall, with the shoulders of an athlete and the face of a
frank, honest boy, he, too, is a "lion among ladies." Mention Doeuillet
to a customer--she tells you of his eyes. "Such soft, honest eyes, ma
chère. One would trust him anywhere, anywhere." The soft, honest eyes
have been a valuable asset. Doeuillet has the most gorgeous dressmaking
establishment of all that cluster around the Place Vendôme. He caters
to the ultra-extravagant, who do not care what they pay. His gowns are
the elaborate ball gowns, the marvellous confections seen at Maxim's,
at the races, at Monte Carlo.

Ernest is another of the men of the new school; but Armand is,
figuratively speaking, the baby of the group. On the first of
September, four or five years ago, a wealthy patron put an unknown
young employee of a silk house into the dressmaking business. The
young man was Armand. He had a modest atelier on a side street. On
March first he moved into the famous Saye Palace on the Place Vendôme,
the palace in which Napoleon and Eugenie met for the first time, and
there, among the superb frescoes and splendid carvings, he installed
his luxurious establishment. Success, wealth, in seven months! Verily,
the dressmaking business has its opportunities for the young man who
combines business ability and beaux yeux.

Paquin's income is estimated at from three hundred thousand to four
hundred thousand dollars a year. Doeuillet makes as much, and even
without the Adonis characteristics, business talents may carry the
Parisian dressmaker to wealth and fame. The list of rich dressmakers
aside from "those delightful young men" is a long one. The Callot
Soeurs are possibly the most expensive firm in Paris. Doucet needs no
introduction to Americans. Neither does Beer, who is considered by
many the greatest creative artist in dress of our day. He has one of
the historic palaces on the Place Vendôme, and his salons are rich
in the eighteenth-century bibelots and furniture of which he is an
enthusiastic collector. Flowers are everywhere throughout the rooms,
and in the spring all of the many windows of the great palace are
abloom with blossoms growing in window-boxes. Beer's mannequins, too,
are vastly decorative, and this establishment is typical of the luxury
and extravagance amid which the game of fashion-making is played.

La Ferrière has the most exclusive English trade as well as Parisian
vogue, and is Paris dressmaker, by royal warrant, to Queen Alexandra.
Madame Havet, Blanche Lebouvier, Sara Meyer, Mademoiselle Corné, are
famous and wealthy. Rouff belongs near the head of the list and is a
lineal descendant of the old school. In his establishment many of the
traditions of the great old men survive. M. Rouff is not always in
evidence as are the meteoric young men. To have an interview with him
is an honour, and he will refuse to see even the most illustrious if
his whim prompts him to do so. The ordinary customer meets only his
representatives. Perhaps, during the interview, the curtains of the
door will part. A thin, dark, rather wild-eyed face will appear for an
instant and vanish. That is Rouff.

[Illustration: Doeuillet passes Judgment]

Worth has a splendid trade, but it is largely a serious one. The great
English and French dowagers go there; and Jean Worth, the present
active head of the house, wears, more or less comfortably, the halo of
his illustrious grandfather.

The dowager calls him a charming boy and says to him, "M'sieu Jean,
when your famous grandpapa was alive, he made for me a light blue
brocade that was most becoming. I would like something of that
kind"--and M'sieu Jean repeats for age the light blue brocade of youth.
He creates an extremely beautiful light blue brocade too, and he
charges for it a price that would have surprised his famous grandpapa.
He is old school by heredity, but he has modern commercial instincts,
this charming boy.

The prices of the average French frock have gone up under the new
régime, though extravagant sums were always paid for particularly
original creations. There is practically no limit to the expense of
dress to-day, and spectacular prices are paid for spectacular costumes;
but the price of the great bulk of the gowns sold by the famous makers
ranges from one hundred and twenty-five dollars to five hundred
dollars, with the greatest sales between one hundred and seventy-five
and three hundred. Certain firms refuse to make even the simplest
frock for less than one hundred and fifty dollars, and turn out few
costing less than five hundred. Small wonder that in Paris the great
dressmaker is a personage, belonging to the swell clubs, in evidence
everywhere save in society's exclusive circles, owning a superb country
place up the Seine, a seashore home in Normandy, a villa on the
Riviera, buying--as did one of the group this year--whole blocks of
houses in the most expensive quarter of Paris, spending--as did another
of the guild--twenty thousand dollars upon one day's entertainment
of a few chosen friends, running handsome automobiles, driving and
racing fine horses, and, from his vantage point, watching the flood of
fashions which he has set flowing.

Yet the expenses of a big dressmaking firm are large, as well as the
profits. Few of the autocrats are themselves practical dressmakers.
They must hire work-folk capable of carrying out, in perfection, the
ideas they wish to exploit, and expert cutters, fitters, sleeve hands,
skirt hands, etc., command high wages. Exclusive material and trimmings
are required in such an establishment; nothing is skimped, nothing is
omitted that would add to the beauty of the frock and so sustain the
reputation of the house. Success, not economy, is the watchword. A
small army of employees is required in one of the great houses, and the
place is a veritable beehive of systematized industry; but the patrons
see only the "front," and of the wheels within wheels even of that
smooth-running front, they have small idea.

Each dressmaker has his loyal and devoted clientèle, and it is upon
this faithful band that he counts for his greatest profits, although
the large floating trade, too, brings in immense returns. Some women
famed for their taste and extravagance in dress refuse to confine
themselves to any one artist, claiming that each dressmaker has his
specialty and that it is wise to go for each frock to the maker most
successful in the creation of frocks of exactly the type desired. The
idea seems reasonable, but there is much to be said against it. For
the woman with whom Parisian frocks are an incidental and fluctuating
supply, the system may work well enough, but the woman who season after
season buys lavish outfits from French dressmakers will do well to put
herself in the hands of some one of the great men, establish a thorough
understanding with him, allow him to study her personality, her needs,
her possibilities. It is in such study that the artist dressmaker
proves his title clear to the name "artist," and to achieve artistic
triumphs in dress it is not enough that one wears a beautiful gown, one
must wear a beautiful gown perfectly adapted to one's individuality,
a gown in which one is at one's best. There are some women who know
instinctively their own requirements, but these women are few, and
even they can carry out their ideas only through the sympathetic
understanding of a dressmaker who is master of his art. The average
woman must trust to the dressmaker for the desired results, and to
do this confidently and with a surety of obtaining his best efforts,
his most serious consideration, his most masterly comprehension, she
must be among his tried and valued customers, must have given him
opportunity to know her well, to understand perfectly her needs.

All are fish who come to the dressmaker's net, and the woman who will
pay the price may have the clothes; but the woman who can pay the price
and display the clothes to the best advantage is the beloved of the
Parisian artist in dress. "One does one's best, of course, even with
the woman of no figure and of homely face," says Monsieur, with a shrug
of resignation, "but when a customer is slender, graceful, beautiful,
and knows the art of wearing a frock--then it is a joy to clothe her,
then one puts one's heart into the work, then one is inspired to
flights. Ah, mon Dieu, yes, there are women for whom one would make
clothes without pay, were it not necessary to divorce sentiment and
business."

Many American women are upon this list of ideal customers. In fact les
Americaines divide the honours with the famous demi-mondaines of Paris.
Do not shudder, Madame of the impeccable reputation. The comparison
extends only to the province of clothes, and as we have said before,
the great demi-mondaine of Paris is the best dressed woman in the
world. One of the tyrants of the Place Vendôme put the matter clearly
in a recent interview:

"Our best customers--best because they spend most freely and because
they show our creations to the best advantage, are the famous
demi-mondaines of Paris. You must not confuse the demi-mondaine with
the grande cocotte. La grande cocotte is another thing. She dresses
gorgeously, she spends money like water, when she has it, but she is
seldom well dressed. She is merely spectacular. The perfection of
extravagant simplicity, the apotheosis of artistic taste,--that is for
the great demi-mondaine. She makes no mistake. Her costumes do not
jump at the eyes. They are perfection. C'est tout. There are French
society leaders who dress as well, but they are few, and for that
matter, the demi-mondaines belonging to the class of which I have been
speaking are also few. One can count them on the fingers of the hands,
those demi-mondaines who really influence the fashions."

"And the Americans?" queried the interviewer.

"Oh, they are charming, les Americaines. We depend upon them.
They cut more figure with us than any other dames et demoiselles
convenables--respectable matrons and maids--on our books. Some are
bizarre. Yes, of course. There are parvenues in America as elsewhere,
more there, perhaps, because there are more quickly made fortunes in
America. But many of the Americans have a genius for dress, and the
money to indulge their tastes. They appreciate good clothes and wear
them well. Me, I adore les Americaines."

His ardour was heartfelt, as it might well be, for millions of dollars
had been poured into his coffers by American customers. One of these
women, whose fortune is American, though its possessor elects to live
in Europe, orders, on an average, from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty gowns a year, the prices running from one hundred and twenty-five
dollars to two thousand dollars. Even the great man lowered his voice
when he mentioned these figures. "Voilà une cliente précieuse. Voilà,
certes, une cliente précieuse," he murmured reverently.

From all over Europe, and from farther afield, women flock to the
dressmakers of Paris. The Hungarian and Polish and Viennese women
of fashion have a reputation for dress, and some of the Russians
spend fabulous sums upon the Rue de la Paix. Many English women of
fashion buy almost all of their frocks in Paris, and within the last
few years the German trade has assumed unprecedented importance in
the dressmaking establishments of Paris, but neither the English nor
the Germans as a class have a talent for dress, and the English or
German woman who attains the effect to which the French apply the
comprehensive term "chic" is the exception rather than the rule.



CHAPTER III

THE FAMOUS ATELIERS


The dressmaker of Paris is an artist. Granted that, it is quite natural
that his workroom should be an atelier. Your true artist works in a
studio, not in a shop; and when one speaks of the famous ateliers of
the Parisian dressmaking world, one but gives the work done in these
establishments its due recognition.

But they are "magasins" as well as ateliers, those establishments in
which fashions are made, and business plays quite as important a part
in them as does art, though even the business in some of its phases
approximates the dignity of a fine art.

The saleswoman of the great dressmaking establishment is certainly an
artist in her line, and perhaps it would not be speaking extravagantly
to call her the shrewdest business woman in the world. She is the
chief figure in that department of the establishment which meets the
public eye and which is designated as the front. Upon her depends
the successful disposal of the creations which are tediously evolved
behind the closed doors, and her work calls for no ordinary ability.
Her knowledge of things Parisian is equalled only by her knowledge of
human nature, her suavity is equalled only by her diplomacy. Her siren
song would make the mermaiden's melodies sound like a hurdy-gurdy.
She could sell a ten-thousand-dollar sable coat to the savage owner
of a hut on the equator--provided she knew that the savage would be
good for the ten thousand dollars. And she _would_ know. That's the
amazing thing about her. She always does know, or if she doesn't, she
finds out by some lightning quick process painless to the customer.
She makes no mistakes, this soft-voiced, smiling, carefully groomed,
persuasive woman, and yet there is such opportunity for mistake in
Paris. It is not only a question of knowing the financial rating of
the husband of Madame A, or of the Countess B. The credit system of
a Parisian dressmaking house is a more complicated thing than that.
When Mademoiselle Blanche of the Scala, at fifty francs a week, drives
up in a luxurious carriage, with coachman, footman, maid, and poodle
all in attendance, sweeps into the show rooms and begins talking of
five-thousand-franc gowns, the saleswoman shows no surprise. She only
wonders and then adroitly institutes a search for the explanation. The
chances are that she can get the story from Blanche herself, by dint of
diplomatic wheedling and flattery. If not--well, there are other ways
of finding out before the material is cut.

And when everyone knows that the Grand Duke has loved and ridden away
from Antoinette of the Folies Bergère, yet Antoinette turns up smiling
and places extravagant orders, one must not be too hasty. A grand
duke may be succeeded by a rich banker. Even if there is no visible
guarantee of the bills, the little woman should not be angered. The
future may hold other grand dukes.

Not highly moral, these calculations, but supremely Parisian. Business
is business, and Parisian business is adapted to Parisian conditions.
The dressmaker does not concern himself about the source from which
the money floods his tills, so long as the money is forthcoming, and
tainted money scruples would sadly demoralize the business prosperity
of the Rue de la Paix.

There are black books in the great dressmaking establishments and queer
things are entered in them, items of information that would furnish
spicy running commentary upon Parisian life. The incomes of Monsieur's
customers are so often fluctuating things. Even in the beau monde
there may be circumstances not generally understood, and, where no
touch of scandal enters into the calculations, still there is room for
mistake. Fortunes may rest on tottering foundations, appearances are
often misleading. Yes, there is much to confide to the black book, and
the dressmakers interchange statistics in right comradelike fashion.
There are men employed whose business it is to investigate all matters
having a bearing upon the financial condition of the women who make up
the clientèles of the famous dressmakers, and it might surprise some
of the gay butterflies that flutter into the luxurious salons of the
dressmaking establishments to know how thoroughly informed concerning
their private affairs are the saleswomen who wait upon them and the
"master" who caters to their whims.

The saleswoman is as clever in dealing with Miss Millions from Chicago
as with the irrepressible Toinette. She flatters so subtly, influences
so insensibly, makes herself so indispensable. Madame must never be
made to feel that her own taste is bad, but she must, if possible, be
guided to wise selection, persuaded to believe that she herself has
decided upon the frock she finally chooses. It is to the interest of
the house that every woman who buys her frocks there should look her
best. Moreover, the woman whose friends praise her clothes will hold
fast to her dressmaker, so the saleswoman does her best, and unless
the customer is very obstinate, that best is surprisingly good. If
necessary, with an old and valued customer the diplomat can be firm,
suavely, politely firm.

"Why have I no black gown on the list?" asks Madame, after studying the
plan of her season's outfit as made out by Mademoiselle Therèse.

Mademoiselle smiles, a deprecatory little smile, but her reply is
prompt.

"We find that this year Madame is not of an age to wear black," she
says simply, sweetly, but with a finality in her tones.

Madame colours, looks resentful, Mademoiselle busies herself with
orders to a mannequin. The pause is ended by a sigh of resignation.

"Oui, c'est vrai," admits Madame. "There is an age, and there is again
an age, but in between--eh, bien, it is true. We must now be careful,
Therèse."

The successful saleswoman gains the confidence of her customers, holds
them, brings millions of francs' worth of business to her employer,
and receives a commission on all sales. One saleswoman, among the best
in her class, makes as much as fifteen thousand dollars a year out of
her commissions, and, though this is exceptional, all earn good incomes.

The mannequins or models are the secondary features of the "front"; but
they are of little importance compared with the saleswomen; and while
it is a difficult thing to replace a good saleswoman, satisfactory
mannequins may be had for the asking.

They are usually recruited from the ranks of the errand girls who swarm
in all of the large dressmaking establishments, and are a sharp-witted,
precocious set of gamins wise in the gossip of the atelier which is the
gossip of all Paris. One of these girls grows up into a good-looking
young woman with an admirable figure, a forty-four-inch skirt length,
a twenty-one-inch waist, and a soaring ambition. She attracts
the attention of the powers that be and is transplanted from her
inconspicuous place behind the scenes to the full glare of the front.
No more trotting about in pursuit of elusive colours and materials, no
more delivering messages and frocks at all hours and in all weathers,
no more being a shabby little atom of humanity at everyone's beck and
call. Henceforward it is her sole duty to be chic, to wear with an air
that will lend cachet to the creations any frocks or wraps which the
saleswoman wishes to show.

Much of the talk concerning the transcendent charms of the Paris
mannequins is great nonsense, and the sensational tales of these
humble beauties and their spectacular marriages--or "arrangements,"
are, as a rule, pure fabrication. There are handsome girls among
them, and one and all they have the French talent for wearing smart
clothes; but their good looks are largely a matter of make-up and
of those same smart clothes. A more ordinary looking group of girls
than the mannequins of a house, when they arrive in the morning,
it would be hard to find, but a half hour in a toilet room works a
transformation, and when Mademoiselle, perfectly corsetted, skilfully
made up as to complexion, eyes, and brows, with her hair dressed in
the latest fashion, her hands and nails beautifully cared for, her
feet clad in dainty high-heeled slippers, sweeps across the show room
wearing a frock that is a dream of beauty--then one understands how the
traditions concerning her have arisen. She is not beautiful perhaps,
but one forgets it, for she is excessively chic, and being that she
fulfils the French law and gospel.

[Illustration: Beer and his Mannequins]

A few mannequins have developed into saleswomen, a few have married
well, a few have become notorious cocottes; one became a favourite
attendant of Queen Victoria, and finally drifted over to New York to
end her days there. A number have found unimportant places upon the
French stage, but, in the main, the mannequins are very ordinary young
women whose history is but the history of the average Parisian working
girl. Perhaps it is demoralizing, this constant masquerading in costly
finery meant for others. One cultivates a taste for luxury under such
conditions, and when six o'clock comes the rôle of grub must seem hard
to the girl who has been the most gorgeous of butterflies all through
the day. One works hard and lives shabbily and is virtuous--but among
the customers for whom one trails silken draperies up and down, up and
down, there are so many who have the fine clothes for their own, who
live luxuriously, gaily, and who do not trouble about that tiresome
virtue. Bernard Shaw is right. It is ill paid in a worldly sense, the
virtue, and if the mannequin has that fact forced upon her by the show
that passes before her--well, it is but one of the lessons of Vanity
Fair. As we have said before, French frocks will have much to answer
for when accounts are summed up.

The mannequins' ball gives to the mannequin at least one opportunity
during the year for playing her rôle of élégante outside the
establishment in which she is employed. For the truly great houses
there is little object in furnishing costumes for this ball, save only
the giving of pleasure to favourite employees, but gorgeous confections
are provided for the occasion, and the spirit of rivalry twixt the
different ateliers runs high.

Sometimes, too, pretty mannequins are commissioned to wear model
frocks at the great racing events or on other occasions when all the
fashionable Parisian world turns out to see and be seen; but as a
general thing, Mademoiselle's sphere of usefulness is limited to the
salons of the firm that employs her. The days are not so dull even
there. All sorts and conditions of women, save only the women without
money, pass in and out. One sees the famous beauties, the most
notorious demi-mondaines, the most celebrated artistes, the princesses
and grand duchesses and queens, the wives of the rich bankers and
manufacturers, the heroine of the latest scandal, the newest love of a
crown prince, the American of fabulous millions,--the mannequin knows
them all, so does the saleswoman, so does the page who opens the door,
and the procession is an amusing one for onlookers who have the key
to its humours. Ah, the very walls are saturated with gossip in the
salons where Fashion makes her headquarters, and when an old customer
disappears, when a new luminary arises, even the curtains flutter with
interest and conjecture.

Stars of a certain type rise and set swiftly in Paris. Of a sudden,
there is a new sensation. Some woman by force of beauty, wit,
diablerie, sheer audacity, has caught the public eye. All Paris talks
of her, men pour fortunes into her grasping little hands. She eats and
drinks and is exceedingly merry. Her jewels are a proverb, her costumes
beggar description, her sables would do credit to an empress. She has
her handsome house, her horses, her carriages, her servants. Wherever
she goes she is the cynosure of all eyes, and then--Pouf! she is with
the snows of yesteryear. Paris has a new sensation. La belle Margot?
Oh, yes; she had _un succès fou_, but that was yesterday.

"Where is Felise?" asked an American who had not been in Paris since
the season two years earlier, when Felise was the lionne of the day.
The Frenchman to whom he spoke shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah, mon ami, how can one tell?--picking rags for aught I know,--but
have you seen Suzanne? Ravissante, mon chèr! Paris is at her feet."

They are good customers of the dressmaker when they are on the crest
of the wave--these creatures of a day, whom the French misname "filles
de joie." When their day is over and their credit is gone there is an
entry in the black book. The familiar carriage appears no more at the
door--but there are other carriages, other customers to take the vacant
place. The performance is a continuous one in Vanity Fair.

There are fine distinctions made in regard to the customers who flock
to the famous dressmaking establishments. Not for everyone are the
choicest models brought to light. These are for the delectation of the
elect, for known and cherished customers, for others whose custom is a
thing greatly to be desired.

Not until she is sure that the visitor is worthy of the lure does the
saleswoman order the mannequin to show these exclusive models. She is
eternally vigilant and can recognize a dressmaker in search of ideas
rather than of frocks, or a woman moved by curiosity rather than by a
desire to buy, as far as she can see her. There are many such visitors
and they are treated civilly, but they see little for their pains and
they are not encouraged to linger.

Then there is the woman of one frock, the casual tourist who is seeing
the sights of Paris and feels that she will not have completed her
programme satisfactorily unless she takes at least one French frock
home with her. She is not received with effusion, rather with a
good-natured tolerance, yet the saleswoman's manner toward her is far
warmer than that accorded to the visitor with no intention of buying.
In the course of the year, these small orders, a vast majority of
which are placed by Americans, foot up to an imposing sum total, and
the saleswoman is too shrewd a business woman to underestimate the
importance of small things.

What does Madame want? An evening gown, a dinner gown, a visiting gown,
a street frock? Madame, somewhat embarrassed, thinks she would like a
nice all-around dress, something dressy, but not too dressy, a dress to
wear to luncheon or afternoon tea or theatre or--

"Parfaitement,--a gown utile. Marie, the grey crêpe; Elise, put on the
black and white silk."

"Too youthful? But no, Madame. It is of a sobriety that grey crêpe.
Madame is even too young for so serious a costume, but--since she does
not wish anything conspicuous--The grey suits Madame's complexion and
figure to perfection. It will serve for occasions of all kinds, and it
is chic, très chic. The friends of Madame will recognize at once that
it is of Paris. The sleeve is all that there is of the latest, and the
skirt--Madame will observe how the skirt hangs. It is our newest skirt.
Madame will be satisfied--oh, of a surety."

And Madame buys the frock or orders one made like the model. She
has been shown little else, but then the saleswoman is clever
enough to have brought out at the start something that would
actually be suitable and becoming, so, though overawed and robbed of
self-assertion, the unimportant customer probably fares better than if
she had been shown many models and left to her own devices.

Then, of a sudden, there is a stir in the entry, the door opens, a
woman elegantly gowned, aristocratic of air, sweeps into the salon.
The saleswoman's face is wreathed in smiles of welcome, her air is
eager, deferential. Madame la Princesse wishes to see Monsieur? But,
certainly. He shall be called. In the meantime, if there is anything
one can show?

Mannequins are sent flying for the best models and a long file of the
young women promenades through the room wearing frocks in which the
illustrious customer may be interested. Monsieur comes out from the
inner fastnesses and declares himself enchanted, honoured; materials
are brought out and displayed, trimmings are suggested. The interview
is a very serious one. No smallest word of the Princess is treated
lightly. A beggarly dozen of frocks, all extravagant in price, are
planned. A few costly furs are thrown in for good measure. The Princess
rises languidly. Monsieur himself accompanies her to the door, and in
the hall she passes La Petite Fleurette, who has danced herself into
notoriety and into the heart of the Prince whose name and title Madame
la Princesse bears. Evidently this is to be an expensive day for his
Royal Highness.

Fleurette, too, is received with smiles, with effusive greetings. The
credit of his Royal Highness is excellent. Monsieur stops on his way
to his private rooms and returns to greet the danseuse. His manner to
her is not what it was to the Princess. Quite as cordial, yes; but
more familiar. The grave deference has disappeared. The saleswoman,
too, is familiar. She calls the customer "ma chère" and "ma petite,"
flatters her openly, jests with her. The best in the cases is brought
out for Fleurette as for the Princess, but it is a best of a more
striking type, and the master artist's suggestions are not those he
made to the Princess. One is always an artist, but one caters to the
individual. Where Madame la Princesse has ordered a dozen gowns, la
petite Fleurette orders a score, and when she goes Monsieur accompanies
her also to the door, but as he turns he shrugs his shoulders.

"Oh la, la!" says the saleswoman, vulgarly, expressively, as she meets
his eyes, and a buzz of conversation sounds from the corner where the
mannequins are gathered.

The popular danseuse, chanteuse, diseuse, of the Fleurette type is
usually a more profitable customer in her private capacity than is
the great actress. She is the fad, the sensation of the moment, and
her money comes easily and plentifully. No ambitious productions, no
expensive theatrical experiments, eat up her income. Her art is not
of the kind that absorbs her thoughts and hopes and dreams. It is a
means to an end, and that end is gay and luxurious living. So la petite
Fleurette spends her money prodigally in self-indulgence, and much of
it goes to swell the profits of those alluring establishments on the
Rue de la Paix and the Place Vendôme. Other chanteuses and diseuses
there are in Paris who take their art as seriously as Bernhardt
takes hers, and who make it, in its own way, as truly an art; but
here again one finds women too deeply interested in their work to
take an absorbing interest in chiffons. They may dress well, but not
extravagantly well; and beside the splendours of Fleurette their mild
sartorial radiance will seem dim indeed.

Of the actresses who stand at the head of their profession in Paris,
Réjane is probably the best dressed, spends the most money for her
personal and unofficial adornment. She loves pretty frocks and she
wears them well, off the stage as on it; but even she does not rival
in her toilettes certain lesser lights of the stage, for whom, in her
capacity as artiste, she may well feel a good-natured contempt.

It is when the famous actress appears in a new play that she becomes
important in the dressmaking world. Then, if you please, she is
extravagant, exacting, full of whims. Then she and her chosen
dressmaker have long and strenuous conferences, at which the most
able assistants of the master artist are present with suggestion and
advice. The play must be gravely, exhaustively considered. If it deals
with some historic period, the fashions of that period must be studied
down to their merest detail and adapted to present needs. The physical
characteristics of the actress must have due attention. She must be
made to look her best,--but the psychological subtleties of her rôle
must also be taken into account in the planning of her costumes. Oh
they are grave, very grave, the preliminary consultations concerning
the costumes for a new and important rôle. Day after day, Réjane drives
up to the door, behind her white mules, and is closeted with the master
and his chosen aids. There are sketches, crinoline models, materials
to be viewed and discussed, high converse to be held concerning points
upon which artiste and artist are not at one. Then come fittings by
the dozen, with Monsieur looking on, and the heads of the departments
called in to receive orders or suggest improvements. The skirt drapery
does not fall as it should. Madame shakes her head. Monsieur knits his
brows.

"Ask Renoir to come here." The chief skirt hand appears.

"Tu vois, Renoir, ça ne va pas. It is a horror, that drapery. I have
the air of a femme des Halles, n'est-ce pas?"

Renoir goes down upon her knees, rips a stitch here and there, gathers
the material up in her quick fingers. A touch, a fold, a lifting here,
a dropping there, while everyone watches anxiously.

The skirt takes on new lines, Madame looks over her shoulder at her
reflection in the mirror, and her frown melts into a smile.

"Mais oui, c'est ça."

Monsieur smooths his furrowed brow, and the skirtmaker endeavours to
look modest as she hurries back to the workroom, but she is proud,
extremely proud. It is something to surmount serious difficulties
under the eye of the master.

There is perhaps a miniature stage in one of the fitting-rooms,--a tiny
stage, but large enough for a solitary figure in sweeping draperies,
and lighted by footlights as is a real stage. So much depends upon
those footlights. They may ruin totally the effect of a frock lovely
under ordinary light, just as they will make the most perfect natural
complexion look cadaverous, and the stage costume must be planned with
reference to this problem of lighting.

Many dressmakers care little for the theatrical custom and seldom
make stage costumes save when a modern society play is in question,
but other houses cater largely to the stage trade. Doucet makes more
of the costumes worn on the Parisian stage than any other one maker,
but Redfern has had great success in that line, and Drecoll, too, has
costumed some famous rôles, while, when it comes to the modern society
play, actresses turn to any one of the autocrats who finds most favour
with them.

The première of an important production always brings out, if not the
great dressmakers themselves, at least their official representatives,
whose task it is to garner fashion ideas wherever they are to be found.
Even a period play may furnish some idea in colour, line, or detail
that may be adapted to modern dress and inspire a new mode, and the
elaborately costumed modern play is always interesting to students of
the modes. Sometimes an actress wears a new and original frock that
catches the fancy of Parisiennes and launches a mode, but, in general,
the stage frock's influence is limited to the inspiring of ideas for
modes rather than to the setting of fashions, and the stage trade is
not of great importance in the great game of fashion-making.

Professional buyers fill the salons at certain seasons of the year,
and are to be reckoned with seriously in the business calculations of
Monsieur.

In early spring and late summer dressmakers and buyers from all parts
of the world set their faces toward Paris, but by far the largest
element of the pilgrimage is American. Every dressmaker of pretensions
to-day makes her trips to Paris at least twice a year, views the
advance season models, buys as many of them as she can, lays in a
supply of exclusive materials and trimmings, and fills her note-book
with ideas to be used for the benefit of her home customers. Often
during her summer trip she takes a run to Trouville and to other
Normandy resorts where the tide of fashion is at its highest as the
summer draws to a close; and, in the late winter or early spring, the
Riviera is a famous hunting-ground for fashions.

Before March brings the Auteuil races, Paris is, in the eyes of the
ultra-chic, a wilderness. Women charmingly gowned may be there. The
uninitiated may believe that the latest creations of the French
dressmakers' art are on view. The elect know better. They understand
that the gowns being worn in Paris before March are the gowns of
yesteryear. They understand, too, that, all through the Paris winter,
spring modes are having their trial, but that this trial is going on
in far-away summer lands. The women who launch the modes, the exclusive
few who set the fashion, are already wearing toilettes that will serve
as models to the general public when spring comes, but they are wearing
them at the winter resorts, each of which has its distinct season for
the European smart set, and it is not until Auteuil calls fashionable
folk back to Paris that the stay-at-homes know what is upon Fashion's
spring programme.



CHAPTER IV

FIFI AND THE DUCHESS ON THE TURF


For fashionable Paris, the season begins with Auteuil. The first of
the races calls all of the wanderers back to the heart of Vanity Fair.
It is the famous rally, the great spring opening, the first important
toilette display of the season. The meeting is held as soon as winter
shows the smallest sign of relenting, and is never later than March,
sometimes as early as February; but whenever it comes it marks the
début of spring upon the Parisian calendar.

The weather may be bitterly cold, but that makes no difference to the
Parisienne. She has prepared a costume for Auteuil and she wears it.

"Elise, what is the weather?"

"But of a coldness, Madame. It is to freeze!"

"Eh bien, bring me my fur coat."

Change the frock? The idea doesn't even occur to her. That is her
Auteuil frock.

And so Auteuil usually offers a spectacle as picturesque as it
is incongruous. The day is bright and cold, or--more probable
supposition--the sky is lowering, and there is a flurry of snow in
the air. The grand stand and pesage are not yet gay with blossoming
plants. Tall braziers are set at intervals along the front of the
stand, and near them hover swarms of women drawing sable coats together
over frocks of chiffon and lace, showing faces a trifle blue with cold
beneath flower-laden hats. They hold their chilled hands out to the
flames, these forced blossoms of spring, and they shiver daintily and
jest at their own discomfort and are altogether gay and inconsequent
and absurd. Here and there the furs are thrown back to afford a
deserving public glimpses of a toilette well worth seeing; and it is
around the braziers that all Paris first gains an idea of the fashions
that are to dominate spring and summer.

Feminine Paris appreciates and improves the opportunity. Nowhere in the
world do races draw so large, so mixed, and so enthusiastic a crowd of
women as do the races in "Parisi"--which, slangily speaking, implies
the district round about Paris, and takes in all of the famous courses
upon which the spring races are run,--Auteuil, Longchamps, St. Cloud,
St. Ouen, Massons, Lafitte, and Chantilly.

It is a queer mixture, that feminine crowd. The Royalist Duchess, Fifi
of the Variétés, the rich banker's wife, the stable boy's sweetheart,
the famous actress, the little milliner, the tourist, the great
manufacturers' women folk,--all are there, dressed in their best, gay,
excited, conferring with jockeys and touts and illustrious members of
the Jockey Club, quite impartially, in their quest for tips, betting
eagerly, coquetting still more eagerly, showing their own frocks and
studying those of their neighbours.

Verily, on the turf and under the turf all women as well as all men are
equal, but nowhere is the mélange more amazing than at the Paris race
courses. "A feminine pousse café melting into a cocktail," commented
one irreverent and thirsty American as he watched the throng at the
Grand Prix last year, and the description was apt if inelegant. Fifi
and the Duchess come nearer meeting on equal terms in the pesage than
they do in any other one place. They are beautiful women in beautiful
gowns, vying with each other for the approbation of the crowd. The
Duchess would not admit that, but the fact remains, and it is a fact,
too, that the honours frequently rest with Fifi.

During the last few years there has been a tentative effort in the
smart Parisian set toward simplicity of dress for the races. The
demi-mondaines having chosen these occasions for reckless extravagance
in dress, the social elect said, "Let us mark a distinction by
disdaining rivalry in chiffons. Let us be chic, but with a difference,
with a severity."

The movement has perhaps had some slight effect; but, on the whole, the
cause is a lost one. It demands abnegation of too strenuous a type.
Madame may sacrifice much to a principle, but not an opportunity of
displaying her most charming costumes where their merits will find
wide and enthusiastic recognition; and the racing events are the ideal
opportunities for such display.

[Illustration: The Day of the Drags]

The setting is in itself a delectable one, for all of the courses near
Paris are attractive. The grand-stands are all ablaze with flowers.
Women trail their gowns over velvety turf and under shadowing boughs,
or stroll along wide promenades between high banks of blossoming
shrubs. Given sunshine and warm weather, a great day at any one of the
courses is a surpassingly gay sight, all colour and motion and sparkle.

The grande Militaire, a steeplechase with gentlemen riders up, is one
of the most popular of the Auteuil events, for the horses are ridden by
officers from the neighbouring garrisons, and both Fifi and the Duchess
"aiment le Militaire." The Day of the Drags, or coaching parade, is
another chic event, and the occasion for a phenomenal toilette exhibit.
One is so delightfully in evidence upon the box seat of a coach that
one's most charming frock and hat will not be wasted there. Moreover,
the competition in dress is more limited than it is in the pesage or
the Tribune, and, naturally, is all the keener for the concentration.
Seats upon the coaches, which are tooled out to the race track by their
famous owners and greeted with traditional and impressive ceremony,
are eagerly coveted, and many a mode has been launched from the top
of a coach, many a new belle has entered into her kingdom behind four
curvetting horses on the Day of the Drags.

But the day of days for the Parisienne who follows the races--and what
true Parisienne does not?--is the day of the Grand Prix. The Grand
Prix is the dramatic conclusion of the season to which Auteuil was the
triumphal introduction. It is the climax to which St. Cloud and St.
Ouen and Chantilly and the rest have led.

Auteuil is likely to be stormy. One expects that, but bad weather for
the Grand Prix is a tragedy. For weeks, dressmakers and milliners
have been at work upon Grand Prix toilettes, and certain women, famed
for their beauty and the inimitable grace with which they wear their
clothes, might have the choicest products of the ultra-swell ateliers
merely for the wearing at the Grand Prix, did they but choose to accept
the favours and organize themselves into advertising agencies. Every
woman with money to spend, spends as much of it as she can spare upon
her toilette for this one occasion. She will blossom out gorgeously for
Grand Prix, if she goes shabby during the rest of the year.

Oh the heartburnings, the jealousies, the opera bouffe dramas that are
woven round those Grand Prix gowns,--the solemn conferences with the
great dressmakers, the whispers and rumours about the frocks of rival
beauties, the eager interest of all the Parisian world! In the ateliers
nothing is talked of save the coming event. From the smallest errand
girl to the master artist, all have the interests of the establishment
at heart and are curious regarding the achievements in other workrooms.
To have turned out a majority of the frocks which create a sensation at
the Grand Prix,--that is a triumph surpassed only by the winning of the
Grand Prix itself.

So the dressmakers outdo themselves in aspiration and effort, and when
the great day comes they go to Longchamps to sit in judgment upon their
own creations and those of their rivals. They bet upon the horses,
yes; but they realize that the race is run in the Tribune and the
pesage, not upon the track, and as for the two-hundred-thousand-franc
purse that goes to the owner of the winning horse--two hundred thousand
francs would carry Madame but a little way on her race for fashionable
prominence. Ten thousand dollars' worth of lace went into one frock
worn at the Grand Prix last June and the ropes of pearls worn over the
lace were worth a prince's ransom, yet the toilette was a quiet one.
Only the initiated could appraise its value--but, fortunately for the
wearer, in the matter of clothes, Paris is a city of initiates.

There are strenuous times in the boudoirs of Paris on the morning of
the Grand Prix. Both Fifi and the Duchess are hard to satisfy, and
their maids walk on tiptoe and breathe but lightly until the last
rebellious lock is brought into subjection, the last sustaining pin is
thrust through the tip-tilted hat, the last touch of powder is applied
to the pretty nose, the last fold of the veil is coquettishly adjusted.

Madame surveys herself conscientiously, exhaustively. Not a detail
escapes her, and, if all is well, she sighs,--a sigh of supreme
content. She has done what she could. Dressmaker, milliner, and maid
have done what they could. Le bon Dieu also has had a share in the
satisfactory tout ensemble. Mentally, Madame includes all in a sweeping
vote of thanks, but the maid is nearest at hand.

"Celeste, you may have the blue silk frock you like--the one with the
embroidery. Yes; and the blue parasol also."

She is gone, in a flutter of laces and chiffon and plumes, and the
exhausted maid stops only long enough to appropriate the blue silk,
before hurrying out to the Bois where she may see the passing show, or
joining Jacques and setting forth--she also--for Longchamps.

The parade to the Grand Prix is well worth seeing, even if one cannot
see the race itself. Out the broad avenue of the Champs Elysées streams
the procession, coaches, automobiles, smart traps of all kinds, hired
fiacres, high-stepping horses, dapper drivers, exquisitely gowned
women, merry-makers of all types.

Past the Place de l'Etoile they go, where the avenues, radiating in
all directions, pour tributary streams of humanity into the already
swollen tide. Out along the Avenue du Bois and through the gates, past
Armenonville, past the cascades, on to Longchamps!

There is the smooth green stretch, there is the pesage already crowded
with fashionable men and women, jockeys, sports, gee-gees (as the
French bookies are called). There is the Tribune, closely packed and
glowing like a Dutch tulip-garden with colour. Groups of women, arrayed
with a subtlety of elegance of which Sheba's queen never dreamed, are
clustered under the lindens, everywhere flutter the colours of the
various starters,--which are the colours of the great families of
France; for the Grand Prix is run under the auspices of the Jockey
Club of France, and the Jockey Club, as has been said before, is the
gentlemen's racing club par excellence.

Perhaps it is because the horses belong, as it were, in her own set,
perhaps because she and her world follow the racing season so closely,
that the average Frenchwoman of society knows more about the horses
than her American or English sister, and places her bets right cannily;
but the Parisienne at large is quite as eager over racing, and puts up
her money with quite as much zest as does my lady of legitimate Jockey
Club connections. She is a born gambler, the little Parisienne, born
to gambling as to all forms of excitement, to all that is recklessly,
feverishly, uncalculatingly gay; and she bets upon the Grand Prix, if
not again through the year. She may wager louis or francs, but she
places her stake with smiling audacity, and takes her losses or gains
sportily.

Each year, after Grand Prix, the air of Paris is full of stories of
feminine plunging, and many of the stories would make spicy reading
could they be told with the names attached.

There, for instance, was the American actress who lost the ten thousand
dollars borrowed for her new production, and could not get her ordered
gowns out of the hands of her dressmaker until she had made a flying
trip to New York and succeeded in raising money enough to pay for them.

There was the French danseuse who, through a jealous rival, obtained
a tip that was pure fabrication, but purported to be a sure thing
emanating from a distinguished source. She did what she was expected
to do, staked every franc she could get together upon a horse quite
out of the running, and was the only one not surprised when she found
herself one of the handful who had backed a winner, and provided with
money to throw to the birds. And there was the story of the little
Countess of high degree who pawned the family diamonds for money to
risk on a sure tip from a famous jockey, and who came a cropper that
was offset only by the spectacular winnings of her husband's bonne amie
on the same race.

Yes, the air is full of such stories and the scandal-mongers whisper
them, chuckling; but they are hardly pleasant stories, and sometimes
tragedy looms grim in the aftermath of the Grand Prix. For that matter,
tragedy lurks always just beneath the surface of Parisian life, but
on the surface there is such gaiety, such insouciance, such a glitter
and a fanfare, that one forgets. It is absurd to be haunted in Paris.
The ghosts are themselves Parisian; and, recognizing the absurdity of
their metier, allow themselves to be decently laid while the tide of
life swirls over them and around them. Or, if they do walk between the
hydrangea clumps of Auteuil, or under the lindens of Longchamps, or
steal through the corridors of the Grand Condé at Chantilly, they are
well-behaved, unobtrusive ghosts, unnoticed in the whirl of brilliant
colourful life.

[Illustration: At Longchamps]

Down in the pesage at Longchamps there is no question of ghosts on
Grand Prix day. Sunshine, laughter, life at its merriest, rule the day.
The Parisienne's grand passion is for diverting herself and others. She
is the queen of luxury and of gaiety, and she plays her rôle royally
at the Grand Prix. "Parisienne," one says, but one means the woman
of Paris, not the woman born in Paris; for Paris is cosmopolis. The
over-elaboration of all civilization centres there. Her women are the
women from all lands, women of all types, resembling each other only
in sex and in their ready assimilation of the best that civilization
has to offer to the senses. The spell of Paris, the witch city, is over
them all.

In the paddock at Longchamps, one will see all the well-known women
of Paris, and not only of Paris but of Europe. Homburg empties its
cosmopolitan smart set into Paris for the Grand Prix, St. Petersburg
always sends a large contingent, the racing folk of England are out in
full force, Americans are numerous; but perhaps most notable of all are
the Viennese. The Viennese women are marvels. They can meet Parisiennes
on their own ground and at least share the honours. They have superb
figures, attractive faces, a talent for dress, and, with all that, a
certain vivacity, dash, vivid charm, that makes them, in the estimation
of many critics, the most fascinating women of Europe, though they lack
the subtle tact and finesse, the swift wit and ready adaptability, of
the Frenchwoman.

There are grave faces in the crowd that waits for its carriages and
motors outside the pelouse after the race is over, but they are the
exception. If one has lost--well, one must pay or must make someone
else pay, and meanwhile the great day is not over. The horse has
played his part, one has lost or won, the sun is dropping low in the
west; but if one has lost, one can drown regret; if one has gained, one
must celebrate the victory. The long night lies beyond the sunset, and
Paris is at its best under artificial light.

So the tide sets back toward Paris, along the channels by which it
came, and once more the green silence of the Bois is shattered by the
beat of hoofs, the roll of wheels, the "teuf-teuf" of automobiles, the
laughter and chatter of a multitude. It has seen many sights, this
famous Bois, since the days when it was the quiet old forêt de Rouvray,
and, if the little green leaves could but speak--but the budget of
gossip is large enough in Paris without such an avalanche of new items
as the leaves could supply.

For weeks beforehand every table in the fashionable restaurants has
been reserved for the evening of the Grand Prix. Armenonville is
crowded to its limits. The Madrid, not so cosmopolitan but popular with
the French, has not a vacant seat. The Pavilion Royal, the Cascade, and
the other Bois restaurants are filled with folk whose swellness is in
proportion to the standing of the place.

Down in the city, the Café de Paris has the crowd corresponding to
that at Armenonville, in the Bois. Durand's, Paillard's, Voisins, the
Ritz, the Elysées--all have their quota of the patronage, and a host
of restaurants less famed in social annals accommodate the lesser folk
of the Grand Prix multitude. Everywhere there is eating, drinking, and
making merry, and one gives no thought to dying on the morrow. The
hours go lightly to the accompaniment of music and laughter and the
clink of coin, and when, after the dinner, the diners move on to the
theatres, no serious drama is likely to claim them. Glitter, gaiety,
and frivolity are the keynotes of this June day from start to finish,
and the staid Comédie Française is left high and dry, while all the
"tingle-tangles" are packed to suffocation.

Les Variétés, Les Nouveautés, Le Mathurins and the other Boulevard
resorts, Les Ambassadeurs, l'Horloge and places of similar type--these
are the after-dinner rendezvous for Grand Prix night, and every
famous café chantant in the city reaps a harvest. Then, when theatre
is over, a large percentage of the celebrating world brings up at
Maxim's. Folk who go there at no other time drift in on that one
night, and the crowd is a motley one, a conglomeration of types, the
concentrated distillation of the variety, the extravagance, the gaiety
of Paris--reckless, feverish, pleasure-mad Paris.

So Grand Prix day ends; and, with it, according to tradition, ends the
Paris season. In the old days this was true. The morrow of the Grand
Prix saw the fashionables packing trunks for the country, Brittany,
Normandy,--anywhere, everywhere, away from Paris; but the flight was
one of convention. Paris is at its best in June, and the enjoyable
weather is likely to last on into July. The mad rush of social
engagements is over, so that one may relax and enjoy one's self in
leisurely fashion, may assume a social déshabille, go where one will,
do what one will. And Parisiennes have gradually taken to lingering
after Grand Prix. Until the second or third week in July one may see
famous mondaines at the restaurants, the theatres, and the open-air
clubs, which are a recent Parisian fad, may pass them driving in the
Bois, or notice their equipages drawn up before the shops of the Rue
de la Paix or the dressmaking palaces of the Place Vendôme. After that
time, however, though to the casual visitor Paris may seem as animated
and as crowded as ever, he who knows la Ville Lumière realizes that
for the moment it is a social desert. The smart world is out round the
Normandy circuit in the wake of the horses, is flirting and lounging
and frivolling in seashore villas and casinos, is taking the baths
and playing high at popular spas, or is motoring frantically over
the face of Europe, with intervals for all of these occupations. It
is the most restless class in the world, this Parisian smart set,--a
class curiously compact of nerves and intellect, though the intellect
is perhaps oddly applied to the purposes of life; and though a wealth
of poetical similes has first and last been applied to la belle
Parisienne, the one truthful if not poetic which would suit her best
is the human peg-top. It spins to brave music, this peg-top, but its
metier is to spin.

Fifi and the Duchess take leave of the horses on the day of the Grand
Prix, but they are on hand to cheer them at Caen, and the Normandy
racing circuit is, in its way, quite as gay, quite as popular, as the
racing season in Paris. The greater part of the fashionable Parisian
world is in Normandy for the summer season and within easy motoring
distance of all of the great races. Those who are not so located
come from wherever they may be summering to attend the opening of the
circuit at Caen or the "grande semaine" at Deauville, Trouville. A
multitude of humbler Parisians is also having its summer outing on the
Normandy coast, and is quite as much devoted to racing as its social
betters. And then Paris itself is but a few hours away, a short journey
whether by train or motor, and folk city-bound may run up to the coast
for the great racing days.

So history repeats itself at Caen, at Houlgate, at Deauville, at
Dieppe, at Ostend. It is the old story of Auteuil and Longchamps over
again, with a different setting;--the same horses, the same owners,
the same jockeys, the same onlookers. Only the women's frocks are new
and Paris is hours away, while white sands and blue sea are close at
hand. There is a short fall racing season round about Paris, crowded
in twixt summer outings and the time of dog and gun. Then Fifi and the
Duchess tuck their betting books away until after the Riviera season.
Perhaps they foot up their gains and losses. Much more probably they do
nothing of the kind. Why bother with what Mr. Mantalini would call "the
demn'd total." The races have served their purpose. They have furnished
amusement and excitement, have fed the avid nerves. One has danced and
has paid the piper--or has persuaded someone else to pay him. Now one
must give one's mind to toilettes for the Riviera. The racing season
is past, and with the Parisienne the past--be it but the yesterday--is
buried deep.



CHAPTER V

LE SPORT IN PARIS


Parisian society is not given over wholly to racing during those weeks
that lie between the March winds and braziers of Auteuil and the
sunshine and flowers of Grand Prix. Smart social functions of all kinds
are packed closely into the sunshiny days and the balmy nights, and the
daytime reunions have increased and multiplied during recent years; for
the Parisienne has taken up "le sport."

It is a tyrant, le sport. It exacts the surrender of many of the
self-indulgent habits of Madame. It demands of her more violent
exercise than is agreeable to the true Frenchwoman; it forces her into
short frocks for which she has no love; it endangers her carefully
protected complexion; it interferes with her siesta; it even gets her
up early in the morning after a night of dancing and merry-making--but
it is chic, _tr-r-r-ès_ chic, le sport, and so the Parisienne accepts
it with the verve which characterizes all she does.

The English and Americans are responsible for the rise of sports in
Paris, and neither Frenchmen nor Frenchwomen will ever, as a class,
go in for tennis, golf, hockey, polo, etc., with the genuine energy
and enjoyment displayed by their transatlantic and trans-channel
cousins; but they go through the motions and they have the most ornate
and attractive of installations for each separate sport, and there is
a small French element which actually distinguishes itself in outdoor
athletics. The English and American residents in Paris do the rest, and
so le sport flourishes mightily round about the city on the Seine.

To certain forms of sport, the Parisian takes as naturally as does a
duck to water. He loves excitement, danger, swift motion. He will take,
with a reckless audacity, sporting risks at which an Englishman or
American might hesitate; but ask him to work hard at a game, to lame
his muscles and blister his feet and hands, and earn his golf score or
tennis score or hockey score by the sweat of his brow, and, as a rule,
he will beg to be excused. What is true of the Parisian is true of the
Parisienne. Both combine a certain sensuous indolence of body with a
wild energy of nerves and brain. They do not like exercise, but they
adore excitement; and it is only in the sports that cater to their
nervous excitability that they excel.

The automobile whirled its way straight into the hearts of the French.
From the first it was extravagantly popular in Paris. Here was a sport
that suited perfectly the French temperament. There was danger in it,
excitement in it, piquancy in it. It afforded exhilaration. It provided
the swift changes and sudden contrasts so dear to the restless and
dramatic temperament. With an automobile as slave of the lamp, one
could range far afield even in one short day, and the possibilities
held in solution within the twenty-four hours were multiplied
astonishingly when the motor made its début in Parisian society. Small
wonder that it was greeted with acclaim.

One might fancy that the difficulty of looking well in motor costume
would prejudice the Parisienne against the machine, for with her, the
most important thing connected with taking up a new sport is the excuse
offered for a new and piquant costume. But the difficulties in the way
of the motor woman merely added zest to the adoption of the fad.

Madame flew to her dressmaker.

"Tiens, M'sieu. I have bought three automobiles. What shall I wear?"

And Monsieur brought his brows together in his most effective and
judicial fashion, led the fair motor woman to an inner room where the
conference might have the quiet demanded by such weighty consultations,
and set himself to planning methods of leaping this sartorial hurdle.

Some of the experimental stages of the Parisian motor costume
were fearful and wonderful, and even now our importers bring over
spectacular motor outfits to which are attached the names of famous
makers; but, on the whole, the Parisienne has mastered the problem of
motor dress.

For her electric brougham and victoria and the other luxurious,
smooth-running electric vehicles in which she speeds over the asphalt
and takes her afternoon outing in the Bois, no special costume is
required. Perhaps, if she is her own chauffeuse, she wears a trim
tailor frock and hat, but no eccentricity enters into her attire even
then, and, as a rule, she wears what she might wear were the carriage
drawn by horses instead of being propelled by electricity.

If she is going farther afield--out to the Henri Quatre for luncheon,
to the Reservoir for dinner--she wears an all-enveloping dust cloak
to protect her delicate frock, a veil or perhaps a hood to cover her
fragile hat and shield her face and hair from dust, but beneath this
outer wrapping she is as exquisite, as elaborate as ever. When it
comes to longer runs, or to genuine touring, the Parisienne promptly
abandons all effort to look well on the road. To be comfortable, to be
suitably dressed, to be immaculate at the journey's end,--all these
aims demand the setting aside of a desire to be beautiful; and, since
she may not be beautiful, the quick-witted Madame seizes upon the
possibility of being piquant and goes to the extreme of attaining the
hideous in pursuit of the practical. She hides figure, hair, face. Even
her sparkling eyes are eclipsed behind goggles or dimmed by masks, and
she consoles herself for the ugliness by thought of the dramatic effect
with which she may flutter from the cocoon when her butterfly moment
arrives.

One sees these transformations by the score at such a rendezvous as
Chantilly at the time of the "Derby," for it is the mode to motor to
Chantilly on the eve of the important day and put up over night at
the Grand Condé, or to arrive in time for luncheon before the races.
Machine after machine dashes up to the hotel, discharges its freight
of grotesque figures and wheezes away to the garage. Madame, carrying
a hat box, and cloaked, hooded, masked, powdered with dust, hurries to
the chamber reserved for her. In a twinkling there trips from the room
which swallowed the awesome enigma a charming woman, fresh, dainty,
smiling, gowned in the airiest and most delicate of confections. Or
perhaps there is not even the moment of seclusion. A toot, a whir,
a quick reversing of levers! The automobile has stopped. A dusty,
shrouded, shapeless figure springs lightly to the step, while the
idlers look on curiously. A swift movement of the hands and the hood
falls back; another, and the cloak slips from the shoulders. There is
Fifi, a Dresden china figure all fluttering frills and laces and ribbon
and flowers, a smile on her lips, a challenge in her eyes.

"C'est chic, ça," comments the old Marquis over his Burgundy. "All that
there is of the most modern, mon garçon!"

Paris is the city of automobiles, and France is the motor tourist's
paradise. The roads are good, the inns are excellent and are rapidly
improving under the influence of the motor touring, and on every hand
are picturesque towns and picturesque scenery, not too rugged for the
peace of mind of the average chauffeur.

Many inns known to history, but fallen from their high estate in later
years, are looking up again since the motor took the road. At any hour,
a gay crowd of folk, masquerading in dust coats and goggles and hoods,
may appear at the door demanding luncheon or dinner. They know a good
wine and a good sauce, these travellers, and they scatter gold in a
fashion that recalls stories of the days when the great men of old
France and their retinues took their ease in this same inn. Mine host's
heart warms to the devil wagon and its Parisian freight. He brings long
hoarded bottles covered with cobwebs up from the cellars, he sacrifices
his choicest chickens, he goes into the kitchen himself to prepare
the fish and the sauces, he scolds his wife and bullies the cook and
embraces the maid, all from pure excitement, and beams upon the world
in general and the motorists in particular; for he sees the dawn of a
new day and hears the clink of coin in his long empty tills.

He gives to the party of his best; and, when they whirl away, he stands
at his door watching the cloud of dust that envelopes them. Then he
draws a long breath, sniffs ecstatically at the gasoline-laden air.

"Que j'aime cette odeur là!" he says with fervour. The automobile has
an ardent friend in mine host of the country inn.

With the restaurant keeper at Paris, the story is a different one. It
is so easy to run away from the city for luncheon or dinner since the
motor car is at one's service, and the wandering has an effect upon the
receipts in the town restaurant. Moreover,--one smiles at this, but it
is told in all seriousness and with lively grief by the proprietors
of certain cafés, and echoed dolefully by women accustomed to late
suppers and carousals in those rendezvous,--the automobile has been a
reforming agent. It has interfered with the long established habits of
the gilded youth and more heavily gilded age, wont to furnish the late
suppers and the wherewithal for carousal.

"It makes a difference, the automobile, a great difference," confides
the discreet waiter. "Monsieur now rises early. Before, he was up
early, also, but with a difference. Now he is to make a day's run in
his car. The programme requires that he shall start with the sunrise.
It demands steady nerves, the automobiling. One needs sleep,--and
Monsieur goes to bed early. _Oui, c'est dommage._ _Ça dérange les
choses_, but he will not stay. No; he is devoted to the automobile. He
will even sleep for it. It will pass, perhaps, this mania. They pass
always, the manias. Then again we will have the old crowd, and in the
meantime there are, fortunately, those who do not own the machines."

Of places furnishing the motive for short automobile trips from Paris
there is no end, and the roads running out of the city swarm with cars.
There are quiet-loving country folk who protest, futilely, but even the
country horse and the excitable barnyard fowl of France have become
accustomed to the snort of the motor and the onward rush of the demon,
and are, like Pet Marjorie's turkey, "more than usual calm" as the
great machine speeds past.

[Illustration: The First Sportswoman of France]

One meets them everywhere, these automobiles. Out in the Forest of
Fontainebleau the mosses are still green and gold where the sunshine
filters to them through the interlacing branches of the great trees.
The rocks are still covered with grey and green and faint purple
lichens. Little wood creatures rustle among the ferns and heather.
Bird-notes sound from the branches overhead and from the thicket
depths. The forest is still the grey-green, gold-green, brown and
violet forest beloved of French artists, but one cannot walk for ten
minutes along the woodland paths without hearing the blast of a Gabriel
horn and seeing a huge automobile plunge by, its occupants blind to
the light and shadow and colour, deaf to the rustle in the brake and
the music from the bough, absorbed simply and solely in the breathless
speed of their pace and in the skill with which the chauffeur swings
round corners, dodges boulders, and avoids climbing trees, for to the
motor maniac, Fontainebleau means the Hôtel d'Angleterre and luncheon.
To the impotent rage of the artist clan, the motor has invaded Barbizon
as well, and is to be found by the dozen, puffing and panting outside
the inn sacred to the Bohemians of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre.
"C'est très gentil, Barbizon--très chic," says Madame with an approving
nod of her hooded head, as she climbs into the auto, after her
luncheon. Shades of Millet and Corot and Rousseau! Barbizon has lived
to be called "très chic" by a Parisian Duchess in a blue silk hood.

Wherever historic memories and associations cluster most thickly, where
ghosts walk in the greatest numbers, there the automobile roars and
rattles and toots and puffs its consummately modern way. Many Parisians
are for the first time discovering France since motor touring came into
vogue. Even Fifi talks French history and folk-lore. She has invoked
the sunken city of Y's as she sped through Brittany in her Panhard. She
has a speaking acquaintance with all Normandy. She has motored down
through old Provence on her gay way to Monte Carlo. If she remembers
stopping places rather by what she had to eat there than by historic
associations--still she has enlarged her horizon. Even gastronomic
voyaging is educational.

Close to Paris there are popular restaurants, within driving distance
and almost too near at hand to please those who seek luncheon or dinner
in motor cars. The Henri Quatre at St. Germain is frequented more
than ever by Parisian diners, since motoring eliminated distance. The
Reservoir at Versailles, the Bellevue at Meudon, the Cadran Bleu at
St. Cloud--all have their motoring contingents, and at luncheon and
dinner hours there is a host of machines waiting before these country
restaurants, where one may have the luxury of Paris and the beauty and
seclusion of nature, provided one has the money to pay for the abnormal
combination--which comes high.

One goes to the golf links, too, in one's automobile, unless one
prefers driving out--for the motor has not yet entirely undermined the
Parisian's love for a smart trap and good pair of horses.

There are various links near Paris, all more or less frequented by
devotees of le sport, but the links at La Boulié, near Versailles, are,
with the exception of those at Deauville, the finest in France. All the
smart set of Paris goes to la Boulié to flirt, to gossip, to drink and
smoke and play cards and meet friends. Incidentally golf is played, and
real golfers, enjoying the beautiful course and the perfect greens,
bless the day when golf became a Parisian fad, and look tolerantly at
the goodly collection of dukes and counts and princes and bankers and
diplomats who sit in the shade of the big bungalow during the long
golden afternoon, drinking Scotch whiskey and soda,--as a concession
to the genius loci,--and watching with a certain amused wonder the
scattered figures toiling around the links in the glare of the sun.

"After all, they stood for the thing," says Willy, as he picks his ball
out of the last hole and turns toward the indolent groups around the
club-house.

That is just it. They stood for it all; and if a majority of the
men do not play--well, tastes differ. It is a charming place to
"five-o'clocker," is la Boulié.

The Parisienne and her admirers admit that, from one point of view,
golf has profound merit. As an excuse for a prolonged promenade à deux
it is admirable and "le flirt" thrives famously on the links. One is
willing to make sacrifices in the interests of flirtation; but that one
should golf for the love of golfing, should play from sun up to sun
down alone or with another man,--"Ça, c'est trop," says Monsieur with
a shrug of his shapely shoulders, and, having imbibed whiskey and soda
for the sake of the golfing unities, he orders a vermouth by way of
relaxation. Even assisting at le sport is exacting, very exacting. One
becomes fatigued.

And yet there are Frenchmen who love the game and play it well, and if
one covets the privilege of familiarly shouting "fore" at a Russian
Grand Duke, or an Italian Prince, or an Austrian Baron, la Boulié is
the place in which to gratify that heart's desire. The visitor to
Paris may have the entrée to the club by virtue of one dollar a day
and introductions from two of the club members; but though the dollar
may be procurable, the casual tourist is not likely to enjoy the
acquaintance of two members of the la Boulié set, and the chances are
that he does his Parisian golfing at l'Hermitage, where any respectable
introduction is an open sesame.

Some of the smartest of Parisiennes have gone in for golf and play
fairly well, but they golf in costumes that would fill the Scotch and
English lassies of the famous scores with frank amazement.

"You have seen Lady L----," whispers Madame of the Rue de la Paix
golfing costume. "She is English, yes. It is wonderful how she plays
golf--and without a corset! But yes, vraiment, quite without a corset.
C'est incroyable ça. One has the lines of a poplar."

It all depends upon the point of view. One sacrifices one's game or
one's curves. Either way, the choice has its compensations.

L'Hermitage is not so chic as la Boulié, but there are true golfers,
even among the social elect, who enjoy playing on the Hermitage links
and like the democratic geniality of the less exclusive club; so the
membership list has its sprinkling of notable names.

The course lies out near St. Germain, on the old farm of M. Jean
Boussod, and neither the links nor the house will compare with la
Boulié in point of art and costliness; but there is a charm in the
cluster of old-fashioned cottages over which the vines and roses
clamber, in the raftered dining-room, in the old fruit trees under
which tea is served, in the stately poplars which stand sentinel over
the place, and in the informality which makes even the tourist stranger
feel less far from Ardsley and Baltusrol.

There are good links at Compiègne, too, but Compiègne is too far from
Paris for the ordinary golfer, unless he is going away for a week-end
of the sport, and only in hot weather do the Parisians stray so far
from the boulevards in pursuit of the royal game.

For tennis, the Parisienne has more love than for golf. The game is an
older friend, and then, though it does not furnish, as does golf, ample
pretext for prolonged solitude à deux, it does have a dramatic quality,
a certain swift dash and spirit which appeal to Madame's temperament
and are lacking in the more protracted and leisurely game. There are
good tennis courts at the golf clubs and in various parts of the Bois,
but it is at the Cercle de l'Ile de Puteaux that one finds tennis
at its best and most picturesque. It is one of the most fashionable
and most exclusive clubs of Paris, this club on the little island of
Puteaux, in the Seine. One sees there no one who is not of the elect,
and the little ferry that carries the chosen spirits to these Elysian
fields is thronged with the beauty and fashion of Paris, day after day,
during the season. Such a gay freight the little ferry carries when
Puteaux is especially en fête, such charming women, such ravishing
gowns, such bewitching hats, such coquettish parasols, such admiring
cavaliers! A veritable "embarquement pour Cythère!" The ferry should
be guided by flutterings loves, à la Fragonard, instead of by the
most prosaic Charon who fills the position and regards, unmoved, the
carnival of the vanities.

They play tennis at Puteaux, but they play at the making of love
and of epigrams and of fashion more earnestly still. One may see
all the fashion leaders of the beau monde drinking tea there on a
bright spring afternoon,--the lovable young Duchesse d'Uzes, with her
excessive modernity grafted upon her ancient lineage and traditions;
the beautiful Madame Letellier, who is one of the best dressed women of
Paris; the blonde and chic Vicomtesse Foy, the popular Mrs. Ridgway,
the wealthy Baronne Henri de Rothschild, Baronne Seillière. These are
some of the women who set the fashions, but the complete list is a long
one, and Puteaux brings together all these orchids of Paris.

There have been memorable evening fêtes at Puteaux when the island was
converted into a fairyland of gleaming lights and mysterious shadows
of flowers and music, and all that modern luxury which is pagan in its
prodigality; and cotillions are given there regularly during a part of
the season. But the island is at its best when the sun is shining on
it and touching to vividness the pretty frocks of the tennis players
in the courts, when vivacious women in wonderful gowns and hats are
gossiping over their tea in the shade or flirting under their parasols
of chiffon and lace. It belongs to the open-air phase of French
society, does Puteaux, for, oddly enough, the Parisienne of the scented
boudoir and the hot-house associations has a passion for plein air.

[Illustration: Fashion's Ferry]

Out in the Bois there are open-air clubs and to spare, the Polo Club
and the Tir au Pigeon being those most frequented by the fashionable
set during spring and summer, while the club des Patineurs is the smart
skating club and one of the most attractive social rendezvous of winter
Paris. The Parisienne loves skating. Here is a sport that lends itself
amiably to coquetry, a sport for which one may plan the most piquant
of costumes. Furs are becoming and extravagant, and looking well at an
extravagant cost is the fashionable Parisienne's chief aim in life.
So Madame orders her skating costumes of fur and cloth and velvet,
buys an assortment of skating boas more ornamental than practical, and
plays in her skating as in all her sports a rôle vastly ornamental,
impressively dramatic. Yachting, too, is dear to the heart of our Lady
of the Chiffons, though her yachting consists chiefly in dressing the
part. Scoffers say that the French have a flourishing yacht club but
no yachts, and while this statement is more amusing than accurate,
the actual facts do suggest some such comic-opera situation, for
though there is a yacht club of France, extremely swell and of large
membership, and though several wealthy Frenchmen own superb yachts,
there is little serious French yachting. Boating of one sort or another
is indulged in along the Seine, and a large flotilla of small private
launches and yachts lies in the basin of Deauville during the Normandy
season, but the yachting races of the Regatta week at Havre are given
over almost wholly to foreigners, French entries being extremely rare.

Not until within the past year did the fashionable folk of Paris take
up with ardour any form of water sport. The motor boat has brought
about the revolution and has the distinction of being the latest
Parisian fad. It is easy to understand why this most modern form of
boating has caught the Parisian fancy. Like the automobile, it appeals
irresistibly to the French temperament. It demands no active exercise
and it offers exhilaration, swift travel, danger, novelty. Last summer
there was a race for motor boats from Paris to the sea; and, while the
little boats were scudding along the river, the society folk interested
in them were spinning along the road from Paris to Trouville in their
automobiles, making calls at the châteaux en route, and reaching
Trouville-Deauville, in time to see the up-to-date little boats follow
up their three days' race to Havre by racing for the Menier cup in
Trouville Bay. The motor boat came into its own that day, and next
summer it will rival the horse and the automobile in the affections of
sporting Paris.

Already a number of Parisiennes have adopted the dangerous playthings.
Madame du Gast, upon whom some judges bestow the title of "first
sportswoman of France," is an ardent devotee of motor boating as she
has been of automobiling. She has all the daring of her race associated
with an easy nonchalance and imperturbable self-control which never
deserts her even under the most trying circumstances; and no pastime
is too dangerous, no risk too hazardous for her, provided only that
there is amusement connected with the danger and hazard. She has
made a record in automobile races and ballooning, and she hailed
the motor boat with joy at its first appearance; but her sporting
enthusiasm had of course its Parisian side. There was the costume to be
considered--always the costume is the starting-point of a Parisienne's
sport. The motor boat is a treacherous plaything. It upsets, blows
up, sinks,--and when one starts out in a promenade à bateau, one is
likely to swim home, so petticoats and chiffons are not for motor
boating. Madame du Gast wears what looks much like swimming tights,
save that the one-piece garment is high of neck, long of sleeve, and
at the knee tucks into trim high boots that may be kicked off if
occasion demands. Over this practical attire goes a loose, handsome
coat of sporting allure which quite hides the tights and falls over
the tops of the well-fitted boots; a becoming cap warranted to stay on
without attention from its wearer--and there you have the owner of the
Camille as she looks when she enters a race. When she had the Turquoise
built for the Monaco races, Madame du Gast indulged in a bit of drama
characteristically French. S. A. R. the Prince of Monaco stood sponsor
for the slim little craft. There was a ceremony, with great sheaves
of flowers nodding over the bow of the boat and bedewed with the
christening champagne, with gaily attired friends looking on, and with
the canon from a neighbouring church in gorgeous vestments solemnly
bestowing baptism and the blessing of the church upon the nautical
infant. Roses and champagne and smart frocks, and the owner of Monte
Carlo, and the church--all joining in the launching of the racing boat
of a charming sportswoman in swimming tights and top boots! There you
have a snapshot of le sport as it is sometimes played in France.

The Camille, named for Madame du Gast herself, and a motor boat more
pretentious than the Turquoise, entered, with owner aboard, the famous
and foolhardy high seas race from Tangiers to Toulon, and though
strong winds and rough seas played havoc with all of the tiny craft,
and the Camille and her owner were rescued at the eleventh hour by her
escorting yacht, Madame did not lose for a moment her sporting nerve.
She was obtaining excitement in large blocks and the thrill was well
worth the danger.

It goes without saying that the young Duchesse d'Uzes has taken up
motor boating.

When has she ever passed by a new sport, a new chance for diversion,
this gay little Duchess, who is the typical fine flower of modern
French civilization, the most piquant and perhaps the most popular
figure in French society to-day.

She was born to social eminence, daughter of the great and ancient
family of de Luynes, sister of the ninth Duke of Chaulnes and
Pecquinguy, rich in her own name, good to look at, keen of wit,
exquisite of taste, and stranger to fear. As if this were not enough,
she must needs marry Louis Emmanuel, fourteenth Duke d'Uzes, and add
his prestige and wealth to hers.

The dowager Duchesse d'Uzes, she who came so near mounting Boulanger
on the back of France, is of the old régime, strong, keen, autocratic
still, but surrounding herself with the old customs, the old
traditions, refusing to admit that the world has moved and France with
it.

But the young Duchess--she is all that there is of the most modern, the
most representative type of the motoring, racing, golfing, hunting,
hockey-playing Parisienne. She is all restlessness, all nerves. There
is nothing new that she has not tried, and she is always reaching out
for something more novel, more exciting, more audacious. And yet with
it all she is grande dame, the little pleasure-seeking Duchess, and she
wears her title right royally in spite of her vagaries. She has the
traditions of her race, too, behind her modern caprices. She is devôte,
has her private chaplain, is heart and soul in sympathy with the church
party as opposed to state, she loves politics and ranges herself with
her class. Not for nothing is one of de Luynes and d'Uzes. She was in
the heart of the turmoil on the Place de la Concorde, at the meeting
of protest against the state's measures concerning the nuns, and she
was taken by the troops, this hot-headed little Duchess, though it was
the dowager Duchess who was arrested and fined. She would go to the
scaffold humming a tune and wearing her smartest Paquin frock, were
she called upon to tread the path many of her ancestors trod, but,
since scaffolds are out of date, she runs a motor boat and speeds an
automobile, and dances a cake walk, and plays an extraordinary game of
billiards, and is one of the best shots in France, and plays tennis and
hockey and golf, and rides cross country, and swims like a fish, and
has made ballooning the fashion. She is one of the prettiest, the most
amusing, the cleverest and the best dressed women of Paris, and she,
beyond all of her set, is the champion of le sport.



CHAPTER VI

THE FINE ART OF DINING


Paris is full of restaurants, but the list of those at which one may
enjoy both a supremely chic fashion exhibit and a dinner worthy to be
associated with the clothes are comparatively few. Indeed, where the
frocks are up to an epicurean standard the food is sometimes far below,
and there are cafés in Paris where a gourmet will find possibilities of
ecstatic moments, but where no swish of petticoats will break in upon
his rapt silences.

Not that the average viveur of Paris objects to association of pâté
and petticoat. Far from it. He will follow the petticoat even to the
Ritz where the pâté is fairly sure to be poor,--but he will occupy his
leisure intervals by enjoying a meal at the Café Voisin, or testing the
famous cellars at the Café Anglais.

As for Madame,--she is a bit of a gourmande, of course. One does not
live in Paris for years without learning the proper attitude toward
a dinner, and the Parisienne thinks more about her food than is
consistent with traditions of the fragile and ethereal feminine. When a
poetic vision in vaporous mousseline and lace knits her beautiful brows
and pouts her curving lips and waxes vastly indignant because an entrée
has not the right flavour or because a wine is not of the vintage
indicated by the label on the bottle, there is an uneasy stirring in
the mental pigeonhole where the observer keeps his illusions; but,
after all, the Parisienne, though knowing in matters gastronomic, does
not allow that knowledge to destroy her sense of proportion. She may
like a good sauce and a good wine, but she insists first of all that
a dinner shall be well seasoned with gaiety. She wants to dine where
she may wear her smartest frock and see the smartest frock of her
dearest foe, where she may see and be seen. She is coquette before she
is gourmande, and the restaurants where she can combine both rôles are
those to which she accords most enthusiastic favour.

Go out to the Bois on a fine night in June, if pâtés and petticoats
divide your allegiance, and eat your dinner in the courtyard of the
Château de Madrid or on the terrace at Armenonville. If you are a
stranger in Paris the latter will probably be your choice. The fame
of Armenonville has travelled far, and it stands for all that Paris
means to the visitor who has gained his knowledge of the sorceress city
from reading and hearsay. It is in the Bois, this famous restaurant
where all the mad, merry world of Europe has dined at one time or
another, and, though rivals have come and gone, though restaurants
more elaborate and cuisines more perfect have wooed the luxury-loving
crowd, Armenonville has held its own, has kept its place as the most
brilliantly popular café of Paris--and the most cosmopolitan.

[Illustration: The latest Plaything of the Duchesse d'Uzes]

Frankly speaking, the café retains its vogue by favour of the
demi-mondaine of Paris. Long ago she chose Armenonville for her own,
and she has remained loyal to her choice. This is not saying that for
the beau-monde the restaurant is taboo. Everybody goes to Armenonville,
but there, as to no other café, flock the high-class demi-mondaines
with their elaborate toilettes, their superb jewels, their consummately
sensuous allure; and, as always, in their wake comes a reckless,
prodigal crowd. Terrace, verandahs, and inner rooms are thronged night
after night, and the throng is the incarnation of the spirit that
has made Paris the hub of the frivolous world, has drawn from all
countries folk devoted to the worship of the vanities, has stamped the
money-spending set of Paris as the most consistently volatile, the most
systematically extravagant class of Vanity Fair.

The leisure class of France is unreservedly a leisure class. The
Frenchman of wealth, rank, and leisure is likely to give himself up
to what someone has called "the science of not making a living." He
does not have the vast business interests that usually claim the
wealthy American, he does not go in for public life as does the average
Englishman of a corresponding class; and, though exceptions to this
rule are many, the chances are that he concentrates his energies upon
amusing himself and assiduously cultivates every taste that will open
an avenue to pleasurable sensation.

He is, for instance, connoisseur of food and wine, but he is
epicure not glutton. Your true gourmet has with much effort and at
considerable cost trained his palate to an appreciation of subtle
distinctions, of vague, elusive flavours. Eating and drinking are
serious matters with him. He eats not to kill his appetite but to
tickle his senses, and he values his capacity for epicurean joys too
highly to endanger it by riotous indulgence. The Parisian viveur
devotes to his meals an extravagant amount of consideration. They
are to him sacred rites, mystic, unfathomable to the uninitiated.
The dishes are planned and arranged with reference to their relation
to one another, are harmonized, blended, resolved into wonderful,
sense-satisfying gastronomic chords. A succession of flavours leads
subtly and cumulatively to a gastronomic climax, drinks are not
absorbed with blithe impartiality, but run a faultless scale of
stimulation and form a fitting accompaniment to the progressive harmony
of the food.

It is with other pleasures as with eating and drinking. The Parisian
takes his gaiety with profound seriousness, and the foreigner, as well
as the Parisian, if he stays long in Paris, adapts himself to the
epicurean point of view.

Out at Armenonville, one comes into an understanding of that modern
paganism which lies at the heart of Vanity Fair, though the scene does
not represent the most subtly æsthetic expression of the cult, for the
place is overcrowded, and there is a hurrying and bustling of waiters,
the laughter is a trifle too loud, the perfumes are a trifle too heavy,
the jewels a trifle too resplendent. There is a burning fever in the
pulse of Armenonville, a strain of coarseness in the gaiety. The
Vanity worshippers go about their devotions with finer art over among
the great trees of the courtyard of Madrid.

But Armenonville is--Armenonville. One must take it as one finds it,
and one is likely to find it amusing.

The flowers and napery and service of the little tables on the
terrace--more popular on a summer night than the tables within
doors--glow with a roseate bloom under the shaded lights. Vivid ruby
and topaz gleam in the wine-glasses, the air is throbbing with the
wild, passionate music of the Tziganes. Men of all types and from all
quarters of the globe lean to look into the eyes of women marvellously
gowned, magnificently jewelled, flushed under the influence of music
and wine and admiration and conscious power. Laughter, wit, the tinkle
of glasses, the hum of voices talking gossip in all the languages
of Europe, delicately cooked dishes, rare wines, colour, perfume,
melody,--everywhere an appeal to the senses, an effort to meet the
demands of a class with tastes trained to appreciate the fine flower
of all things material, and with money to pay for the gratification of
its desires! Nothing in old Rome was in spirit more essentially pagan
and prodigal than this, but latter-day civilization has brought its
refinements. The Roman orgy has been translated into polite French.

If one sits long enough at one of the terrace tables, familiar faces
are likely to float within one's range of vision, for all the world
pays tribute to Armenonville, and public characters are many in the
crowd. Opera singers, theatrical folk, famous writers and painters,
professional beauties, diplomats,--all the celebrities whose pictures
are most often in the papers are among the diners. Over there at the
end table, Tod Sloan is sitting opposite a radiant being in cerise and
silver. At the next table the Prime Minister of England is dining with
an American Duchess and her English Duke. Beyond her Grace, little
Polaire of "Claudine" fame is keeping a tableful of men in a gale of
laughter. An American millionaire is host to a group of theatrical
folk of whom Maxine Elliott is bright particular star, and close at
hand the Newstraten, who owes her notoriety to the favour of another
millionaire, is vis-à-vis to a well-known Russian nobleman. Réjane,
the ever-youthful, is exchanging good French for bad with an English
theatrical manager. Leopold, King of the Belgians, boulevardier, dear
friend of Parisian cocottes, is in evidence. A Turkish pasha with
several members of his suite is back to back with the greatest brewer
of England. London's latest Maharajah is having a royal occidental time
in company with several pretty and titled English women. Mrs. Clarence
Mackay and several other members of the New York smart set are among
the elaborately gowned diners--but Madame Stanley and Margyl and the
beautiful Cavalieri are gowned as well and more bejewelled. The crowd
is never the same, yet always the same, and all through the year the
show goes on, though cold weather drives the diners from the terrace to
over-heated and over-lighted rooms.

Over at the Madrid, too, there is picturesque dining--but with a
difference. The old château lies on the edge of the Bois, an unimposing
building promising little, and, so far as the building itself is
concerned, fulfilling its promises. One does not go to the Madrid
in winter. The rooms are small and stuffy, and poorly adapted to
restaurant purposes, but during the season of al fresco dining, the
Madrid is all that there is of the most modish, a gathering place for
the most exclusive society folk of Paris. One drives boldly up to
the château and into an archway that leads through the building and
brings one out upon the edge of a big courtyard picturesquely set with
fine old forest trees under which men and women are dining at little
tables. Beyond the court are the stables and, though a high, thick
hedge intervenes, a muffled stamping of hoofs, the jingle of silver
chains, sometimes furnishes a subdued accompaniment to the music of the
Tziganes, an element hardly discordant and suggesting vaguely ideas
of mettled horses, of luxurious carriages, of all that goes to the
self-indulgence of such diners as those beneath the trees.

Things are more tranquil here than at Armenonville--gay,
sense-satisfying, artificial, wordly, but of a finer flavour. Here one
finds the most aristocratic of Parisian mondaines, the clique of the
Polo Club and la Boulié and Puteaux. Many nationalities are represented
among the diners, but the French are in the majority and the Parisienne
of the best type may be found under the great trees of Madrid. She may
be no more perfectly dressed, this mondaine, than her demi-mondaine
sister of Armenonville. Their frocks and hats come from the same
makers, their jewels were bought at the same shop on the Rue de la
Paix, the grande dame of Madrid has perhaps not so liberal a share of
good looks as the lionne of Armenonville, and may be made up quite as
conscientiously--for artificiality is beloved of the Parisienne, is a
part of her creed--but my lady of Madrid has the something which sets
her apart, the impress of race, of blood, of class. Even the veriest
stranger within Parisian gates who might wander from one café to the
other would realize at first impression that the two were separated by
more than the green stretches of the Bois. As to which café he would
prefer, that depends upon his tastes--and to some extent upon his mood.
One who does not "belong" at Madrid may feel himself a lonely outsider.
No one is on the outside at Armenonville save the bankrupt.

There are other cafés in the Bois whose fortunes have risen and fallen,
but none rank with Armenonville and Madrid, though quite recently the
Café de Lac has taken a fresh lease of life and begun to find favour
with the smart Parisian crowd.

Report has it, however, that there is to be a new restaurant in the
Bois, one that will totally eclipse the two reigning cafés, and will
set a new standard for the world. A syndicate with unlimited capital
has the project in hand, and it is said that the new pleasure palace
will rise on the site of the old Pre Catalan,--Arcadian little farm
where a herd of mild-eyed cows furnishes fresh milk for children, and
a little café supplies drinks of less Arcadian simplicity to anyone
who asks for them. For years the popular duelling ground of Paris was
just behind the buildings of the Pre Catalan. There is a little ruined
theatre, too, behind the restaurant, and all the smart world of Paris
has upon occasion gone out there to see the actors of the Théâtre
Français and the Odeon give classical plays upon the sylvan stage. Such
piquant incongruities are dear to the French heart.

But it is in the middle of the afternoon that the Pre Catalan is
charming. Carriages full of children, with their quaintly costumed
bonnes or their fashionably dressed mammas, roll up, one after another,
and deposit their loads, until the place is all abloom with babies
and musical with pattering feet and babbling tongues. They have come
to drink the fresh milk, these pretty, overdressed children. Even the
babies lead a life chic, in Paris.

And when the babies are all snugly asleep in their beds, the Pre
Catalan often has other visitors. Late diners who have made a night
of it in town cafés, and then driven about the Bois singing romantic
ballads and growing more maudlin moment by moment, drive up to the Pre
Catalan in the grey dawn, and weep upon the shoulder of the waiter who
brings them their glasses of fresh milk. It is milk they want. They are
in a state of exuberant sentimentality--of dramatic remorse. They have
renounced Bacchus and all his crew. They are beginning new lives. The
world is a weariness and a delusion, full of headaches and profound
melancholy--Fifi goes back to nature at the Pre Catalan in such a
mood,--but midnight finds her at the Café de Paris once more.

It is in this place of duels and babies and tipsy penitents that the
new restaurant is to shine resplendent, if plans do not miscarry.
Whether with all its grandeurs it will attract the crowd remains to be
seen. A restaurant's success is not always in proportion to the money
spent in equipping it. There, for example, was the Café des Fleurs. It
was the prettiest café in Paris. The men behind it were so wealthy that
they did not care whether the place paid or not. They lavished money
upon the decorations, the cuisine, the cellars. They hired the best
Tzigane orchestra in Paris--and the fashionable crowd stayed away. Why?
No one knows why. "The women would not come," says the promoter, with
a shrug. "There is no accounting for the whims of the women. There was
everything to attract them and they would not come,--c'était finis."

Cafés by the score have had this same history, or have had a brief
brilliant success and a failure sudden and complete. There was Cubats
on the Champs Elysées, superbly installed in a house where had lived
the mistress of Louis Napoleon. For a little while everyone went to
Cubats. The place had enormous success, and then, all of a sudden, the
crowd stopped going. Cubats did not exist. Perhaps the diners grew
tired of being robbed. Parisians of the high-living class do not object
to spending money. It is their metier, but the prices at Cubats were
monumental and the proprietor in other and less humdrum times would
have been a bold buccaneer or a bandit chief. One night a diner ordered
a melon with his dinner. The waiter reported that melons were out of
season. The patron growled, the waiter murmured that he would call
Monsieur. Monsieur came, bland, imperturbable, and listened to the
growling.

M'sieu wished absolutely to have a melon? But certainly. One could get
it. It would be for after the dinner instead of before the dinner,
however. That would be satisfactory?

The diner, mollified, signified his willingness to eat his melon
after his sweet, and when the appointed time arrived, the melon
arrived with it. Later, the bill arrived in its turn. One item read:
"Melon--250 francs." There was a storm and the matter went to the
courts, but the restaurateur remained imperturbable. The melon was
expensive--he admitted as much to the judge sorrowfully--but M'sieu
would have it. When one orders horses and carriage and sends a special
messenger post-haste through the night for many miles in order to
gratify a patron's whim, one must be paid for one's trouble. The judge
appreciated the point and the bill was paid,--but in time Cubats closed
its doors.

Outside of Paris there are many restaurants to which Parisians drive
or motor for dinner when they are tired of the Bois, yet want to
escape from city walls. The Reservoir at Versailles, and the Henri
Quatre at St. Germain, are the oldest, the most famous of the list,
and though for a time their prestige declined in so far as the truly
fashionable diners were concerned, both have taken on new popularity
since the automobile brought about a mania for dining out of town. At
the Reservoir one is in the midst of historic associations. The place,
with its decorations and furnishings in pure Louis XVI style, was
already famous when Marie Antoinette played at farming in the Petit
Trianon, near by. The place has seen many notable dinners, harboured
many illustrious personages, and its ancient grandeur clings about it
like a garment, though it caters now to the most mixed and modern of
fashionable crowds.

Historic memories swarm thickly about the Henri Quatre too. Louis the
XIV was born in the building which is now a restaurant, and a cradle
marks the café silver. From the terrace and the windows one looks over
miles of fertile valley, and at the tables one finds, save upon Sunday,
a particularly chic crowd. On Sunday the bourgeoisie invade the place,
but during the week it is very much the thing to run out to the Henri
Quatre for luncheon or dinner.

It is a pity le Roi galant cannot come back to his own for at least
one summer night. He had ever an eye for a pretty woman, and it would
warm even his ghost to watch the women who flutter from automobile or
carriage to the pavilion that bears his name. He would smile approval
too at the woman of the golf or tennis costume, for this hot-headed
Henry was catholic in his tastes. Perhaps it is the tolerance of
his spirit that has made possible at the Henri Quatre what would be
shocking at the Bellevue, where the Pompadour is presiding genius. La
Grande Marquise was not a marvel of morality, but upon etiquette she
stood firm. One must be in grande toilette for Bellevue, but for the
Henri Quatre--that is as one chooses.

Pretty women in ravishing toilettes flock to the tables of the
glass-enclosed verandahs; but, side by side with the woman of the
trailing chiffon and lace, of the wonderful driving cloak, of the
picture hat, is the woman who has been playing golf or tennis at some
one of the clubs round about St. Germain. The chances are that, being
French, she has not played violently enough to disarrange her costume.
It is as immaculate, as perfect in its way as the dinner toilette of
the woman who has driven out from town, but she adores le sport, and
she chatters about it enthusiastically over her truffles and champagne,
looking, the while, like a Dresden china image of a golf girl.

High above the bank of the Seine at Meudon stands the Bellevue, a
restaurant de luxe, which was built only a few years ago, and has had
a considerable vogue, but has suffered since the day of the automobile
arrived, because it is hardly far enough from Paris to afford a good
motor spin, though too far to be as convenient as the restaurants of
the Bois.

The Pompadour once had a villa where the picturesque white building
now stands far above the river and overlooking all the country round,
and in point of elegance the modern belles who dine on the terrace
or in the white arched dining-rooms live up to the traditions of
the place where the Grande Marquise held butterfly court; for one
dons one's smartest frock for Bellevue. From the river a funicular
leads up to the broad terraces in front of the Pavilion. Behind the
restaurant the wooded hill climbs on up toward the sky, and on its
top Flammarion's observatory is perched. There is a little hotel in
the woods, an unimportant place, where Bellevue parties may stay over
night if they do not care to go back to the city after a late dinner
or supper,--and it is not always easy to get back to town if one has
come out to Bellevue in plebeian fashion by train or boat, and lingered
late in defiance of boat and railway time-tables. A party of Americans
were stranded that way one night last summer. No train, no boat,--and
no knowledge of the little hotel in the woods. No carriage to be had,
unless les messieurs could wait indefinitely. Les messieurs, being New
Yorkers, were not fond of waiting. They tucked the mesdames under their
arms, and went out to reconnoitre. In the court stood a magnificent big
touring-car, in charge of a liveried and stately chauffeur. One of the
Americans boldly approached the imposing personage.

"My man," he said in French that was intelligible if scarcely academic,
"I want you to take us into town."

The Frenchman stared in amazement.

"But, Monsieur, this is a private automobile. M. le baron is having
supper in there with--eh bien, with a lady."

"Exactly," said the man from New York. "But you are going to take us to
town. The baron will never know you're gone. I saw the lady."

The chauffeur lapsed into what Mark Twain would call "a profound
French calm." He wrung his hands and rolled his eyes and shrugged his
shoulders and called the gods to witness that the baron would eat him
alive if he dared to consider such a proposition.

The man from New York listened with interest; and, when the
conversationalist paused for breath, ran his hand into his pocket and
brought forth something that clinked musically.

"It's worth one hundred francs to me to go to town in the baron's car,"
he said.

The chauffeur looked at the open hand, at the car, at the restaurant
door. His conscience struggled within him and was silenced.

"Voyons, M'sieu, we will consider." He tiptoed to a window, looked into
the dining-room, and returned with the air of a comic opera conspirator.

"C'est bien, M'sieu. They arrive at the salad. There is always the
dessert, the coffee, the cigar, the liqueur. One can do it, but it is
to be hoped that M'sieu and his friends do not object to speed."

That was a wild ride to Paris,--up hill and down, at top speed, with
never a slackening for corners or for foot passengers. The Americans
were dropped where they could take cabs and the hundred francs changed
hands.

"Much obliged. Good luck to you," said the man from New York.

The chauffeur consulted his watch. "Provided always that they have not
quarrelled," he murmured anxiously--and the machine shot away into the
night.

Down in the heart of Paris, the Café de Paris, the Café Paillard, and
the Ritz are the restaurants in which one may best study purple and
fine linen. There are other cafés famed for cuisine and cellars, but my
Lady of the Chiffons finds them dull, and in the creed of a Parisienne
dulness heads the list of mortal sins.

Americans and English are the mainstay of the Ritz, save during
the tea hour, when the crowd becomes cosmopolitan. At the Café
Paillard one finds the diners of the Madrid a clique aristocratic,
mondain, and chiefly French. The Café de Paris repeats the story of
Armenonville, though without the picturesque woodland setting and the
attractive al fresco features. The two cafés have the same clientèle,
the same atmosphere,--even the same proprietor. He is a subject for
congratulation, this proprietor. The famous old Café Foyot, under
the shadow of the Luxembourg, is his too, and the Café de Paris of
Trouville, and the Helder at Nice,--all, save the Foyot, tremendously
popular with the crowd vowed to extravagance and folly, and, as a
result of that popularity, all phenomenally successful from a financial
point of view. The Foyot also has a success, but of a different kind.

Naturally, the man who manages these restaurants is rich. His private
establishments are handsome, he spends money lavishly, but--and here
is the secret of his success--he is first of all a restaurateur,
eternally vigilant, neglecting no detail, proud of his metier,
glorying in his triumphs. He could buy, twice over, many of his
patrons, yet one will see him moving about among his hurrying waiters,
suggesting, prompting, reprimanding, seeing all things, adjusting all
difficulties, pouring oil on all troubled waters.

He stops for a moment beside an old patron.

"Ah, Comte X----, bon soir."

His eyes rest upon the fish that has been placed before the count, and
his face clouds. A motion of his hand brings an alarmed waiter.

"You serve the sole so, to Monsieur le Comte? You think perhaps that
the sole au vin blanc should have that air? Take it away."

"Pardon, M'sieu. You understand,--a moment more or less and a sauce is
spoiled. I am grieved that you should wait, but one dines well or one
has not dined at all. In a moment you shall have a fish that will be
as it should be. You have always the same burgundy, yes? I, too, am of
your opinion. It is the best in our cellars."

He hurries away, soft-stepping, alert, diplomatic, napkin over arm,
bowing deferentially here and there. A millionaire they say--but
certainly a restaurant-keeper who knows his business, such a one as
France can produce and Paris can appreciate.

There is another restaurateur in Paris whose name should not be left
out of any discussion of Parisian dining. A few years ago he would
have had no right to a place in this frivolous chapter, for though
his restaurant was famous it was not smart. The gourmet might dine
there--or rather lunch there--but the woman of fashion never found her
way down to the little old building whose battered sign of a silver
tower proclaimed that here was the Tour d'Argent, the café over which
presided the inimitable Frederic, Roi des Canards, last of the old
school of French cooks and hosts.

Even now the modish Parisienne does not go to the Tour d'Argent, but
Americans have taken up the old café, and pretty women and elegant
frocks are now no strangers in the Tour d'Argent, though one could not
call the place fashionable.

The wine merchants of the Halles des Vins could swear that, fine frocks
or no fine frocks, Frederic deserves a place in any chapter devoted to
the fine art of dining; for Frederic belongs to a school of cooking
which made the cuisine a fine art, and if the rooms of the little
tavern down behind the morgue offer no appeal to the senses in the form
of music and flowers and jewels and chiffons, they offer eating and
drinking good enough to offset many omissions.

The Tour d'Argent has been a restaurant for three hundred years, and
looking out from its windows over the cité patrons have been able to
see most of the great events of Paris taking place, but M. Frederic is
considerably less old than his café.

The Halles des Vins stand only a little way below the restaurant, and
the wine merchants learned to go to Frederic's for luncheon. They were
a high-living, exacting group of gourmets, patrons to appreciate good
cooking and put a cook upon his mettle. Incidentally they knew a thing
or two about wines, and through their friendly advice and favour the
cellars of Frederic became, in the opinion of many connoisseurs, the
best in Paris.

Others beside the wine-merchants found their way to the sign of the
silver tower. The fame of Frederic spread through Paris and beyond.
Last year in Nice, a New York man asked the chef of a noted hotel to
prepare for him a "canneton à la presse." "Cook it for me just as
Frederic does it," said the American. The chef shrugged his shoulders,
smiled, and shook his head.

"I shall be charmed to cook the duck for Monsieur, but to cook it as le
Roi des Canards cooks it?--Non, I have not the skill."

Tribute from a rival is tribute indeed. Frederic is King of the Ducks,
and he sits alone upon his throne.

You will probably find the king in the little ante-room to his
restaurant if you go down to the Tour d'Argent early enough to have a
talk with its autocrat. There in the little ante-room are displayed
game, meats, delicacies, dozens of things a patron might like to order
for his meal, and there stands Frederic, a typical French host, with
his long grey frock-coat clinging lovingly to his portly body, his side
whiskers framing his ruddy, beaming face, his napkin or towel over his
arm.

If he has seen you before he will know you. If he has seen you twice,
you and he are old friends.

His face takes on more luminous cheer as he catches sight of you, and
he bows profoundly, with a dramatic flourish of the napkin.

"Ah, bon soir, M'sieu. Tout va toujours bien?--et Madame?--et le petit?"

He leads you into the restaurant and finds a table for you. The
important matter of the dinner is settled, and then, if you are of
the favoured, Frederic will talk to you of his art, and you will hear
of refinements and subtleties of cookery which will make you smile
until Frederic has proved to you that they are not poetic fancy but
substantial fact. Your quail, for example, must be cooked before a
grape-vine fire. Nothing but grape-vine will do the trick. Frederic is
very positive on that point, and if you are skeptic, he may perhaps
take you out and show you the grape-vine fire. Afterward you eat the
quail and skepticism melts away into unquestioning faith.

That is only one of the mysteries of Frederic's cuisine. The man loves
his art, goes to all lengths to achieve the results he desires, would
rather invent a successful sauce than inherit a million, is as proud of
his canneton à la presse as is a painter or poet of his masterpiece.
On the whole, a majority of the public would probably prefer the
masterpiece of Frederic to that of the poet or the painter, and in
the chef's own mind there would be no doubt as to the comparative
excellence of poem, picture, and duck.

It takes three ducks to supply one duck to a patron at Frederic's. The
two extra birds give up their juices for the sauce that is served with
the bird--that wonderful sauce which Frederic makes himself in the
double brazier or chafing-dish which he sets on a side table near the
diner.

It is a treat to watch the making of that sauce, from the moment when,
after touching a match to the first brazier burner, Monsieur daintily
takes up some of the flame between his forefinger and thumb and
deposits it upon the other burner, to the final moment when with an air
of triumph the artist announces his complete success.

It is a treat too to see Frederic come and serve the duck. You are not
getting your money's worth if he does not do it himself.

And it is a treat, beyond the telling, to eat the duck and the sauce
which le Roi des Canards has prepared.

Small wonder that there are smart folk mingled with the marchands des
vins at the Tour d'Argent nowadays, and that the birds of passage
flitting through Paris go to Frederic's for a dinner or a luncheon.

Marguery is another of the chefs of the old French school, but he has
become business man rather than chef, as have most of the restaurateurs
of Paris. Only Frederic devotes himself passionately to his art, lives
for his cuisine, burns his grape-vine fires, and makes a religious rite
of preparing his sauces.

He is not only Roi des Canards, but the last of a royal line.



CHAPTER VII

ROUND THE NORMANDY CIRCUIT WITH MADAME


A slight hush falls upon the fashionable Parisian world after Grand
Prix has rung down the curtain upon the Paris season. The élégantes
pause to draw breath before plunging into the swirling tide of the
summer circuit, but the breathing time is short. A few leisurely days,
a few final visits to dressmakers and milliners, a closing of town
houses, and then, ho for Trouville.

There are many popular resorts on the Normandy coast, but Trouville is
queen of them all in so far as smart Parisian society is concerned.
Madame follows the races and is in evidence at every fashionable racing
event of the Normandy circuit, from the opening at Caen to the close at
Ostend--or at least to the last of the French courses at Dieppe; but
she is merely a bird of passage at the shifting rendezvous. Her summer
nest is at Trouville-Deauville.

They are practically one resort, these two places of hyphenated
association. Familiars even shorten the name to Trou-Deauville; but
the little ferry that crosses the river Tuch between the two towns,
and is heavily freighted with holiday-making folk from morning until
night, traverses a gulf wider than the casual traveller would imagine.
Trouville has the Casino, the promenade des planches, the Rue de
Paris, the famous Hôtel de Paris; but Deauville has the race course,
the hyperswell club, the villas of the ultra-chic. All the world is
eligible to the pleasures of Trouville--or at least such share of the
world as has the price at which Trouville pleasures are rated--but
Deauville is for the favoured few, for the crowd of Puteaux and la
Boulié, and the Polo Club of the Bois. The races draw the human
potpourri of Trouville across the ferry; but after the races, the ferry
carries the crowd back, while the social elect move on to the exclusive
club grounds for polo or tennis or tea. A small distinction when put
into mere words, but a mighty matter as viewed by the Parisienne, and
there are many women whose whole ambition but compasses the crossing of
that expressive hyphen in Trouville-Deauville.

The seashore season opens on the first of July, and from that time
on to the first of September the villas and hotels of Trou-Deauville
are filled with the most fashionable folk of Europe, though there is
much skurrying about the coast in automobile, coach, or train, and
constant interchange of social courtesies with the owners of villas
in neighbouring resorts. The Normandy shore line is crowded with
picturesque little villages of more or less ancient fame and more or
less fashionable repute, and there are Parisians who deliberately
choose villas at these smaller resorts, even when they might have the
entrée at Deauville, did they elect to join the crowd there. Life at
the little place is better for the children than life at Trouville,
and it is possible for the elders to relax slightly in the quieter
atmosphere, though they can easily find feverish gaiety within motoring
distance when they care to go in search of it.

They are charming, these little Normandy towns, but it would be
difficult for a town not to be charming on the Normandy coast. To be
sure the average seashore villa of France is a blot on the landscape,
but there are exceptions to the rule,--quaint modern houses of
true Norman type,--and there are, too, old timbered farmhouses and
picturesque châteaux which have been invaded by the tide of Parisian
modernity. Even the ugliest of the villas is likely to have a
delightful little garden, and over many of the architectural horrors
charitable roses clamber riotously, softening the hideous outlines and
bringing the dissonant notes into harmony with the melody round about.
Green fields and fruitful orchards run down to meet the sea, and smooth
white poplar-fringed roads that are the joy of the automobilist run
away in every direction through the smiling fertile country. Broad
shining beaches stretch along beside the sunlit waves and are dotted
with gay striped tents under which children play in the sand and
grown-ups idle away the hours. Perhaps a mediæval church and a quaint
market-place form a background for the summer settlement, and sturdy
Norman fisher folk come and go among the holiday aliens.

[Illustration: "Gossip Street" at Trouville]

Yes, they are charming, these little places, and they are, too, more
exclusively French than most of the larger resorts,--but not more
French than Trouville. Nothing could be more French than Trouville.
Dieppe has a tremendous American, English, Austrian, German, Russian
contingent that elbows the French element; Boulogne is given
over largely to bank-holiday crowds from England; Ostend is more
cosmopolitan than French; but Trouville is of the French Frenchy, and
to know Trouville is to know the Parisienne in her gayest summer rôle.

A popular French seashore resort must be seen to be appreciated,
and no American whose theories of seaside customs is limited to
an acquaintance with the shore resorts of Jersey, Long Island,
Massachusetts, etc., can have the slightest conception of seaside life
in a French translation. There is, in the latter, a spice, a colour, an
audacity, lacking in the Anglo-Saxon version. An English or American
imitation of Trouville would be hopelessly vulgar, but Trouville--well,
it _is_ Trouville. It is all bubble, sparkle, brilliancy, extravagance,
folly. It is Paris with an added _laissez aller_, Paris set to a new
tune. There is much to shock the sober-minded as there is in Paris, but
the sober-minded should not go to Trouville. It is the refuge of the
light-hearted, the buoyant, the volatile; and soberness has no place in
its scheme. What would electrify Newport, Bar Harbor, even Narragansett
Pier, will not create even a ripple of excitement at Trouville. Someone
has said that the difference between smart society in New York and in
Paris is the difference between the immoral and the unmoral. French
seashore life in its most exaggerated phase is distinctly unmoral, but
like Paris life, it is also distinctly picturesque. The most shocking
thing about Gallic impropriety is the fact that it fails to shock.

But when one talks of morals, one is taking Trouville seriously, and
to take Trouville seriously is altogether out of the question. It is
all froth and effervescence, all laughter and irresponsibility. Beau
monde, bourgeoisie, actresses, dressmakers, milliners, cocottes, titled
folk and millionaires from all over the world, gamblers, racing touts,
English polo players, American yacht owners--all jostle each other on
the promenade, in the Casino, at the Hôtel de Paris; for the exclusive
set of Deauville does not cling to its own select haunts but crosses
the ferry often in search of diversion less monotonously comme il faut.

The Rue de Paris is the great meeting-place for this class during the
morning hours, and on a bright August morning one may find the most
noted social celebrities of Europe grouped before the doors of the
little shops that line the crooked street.

The jewellers and dressmakers of Paris have branch establishments here,
and around their thresholds flutter the women who are the best patrons
of those Paris tradesfolk, met to flirt and gossip and show in their
frocks and jewels what may be achieved with the assistance of the firms
whose names are written large above the open doors. It is called La
Potinière, the gossip rendezvous, this little Rue de Paris, and there
is gossip enough abroad there on any morning to justify the name. There
is so much excuse for gossip at Trouville.

Eleven o'clock is the magic hour that really opens the ball at
Trouville. Before that, there may possibly have been a private pigeon
shoot, but that calls out only a small clique and takes in one of the
most exclusive sets of Europe. No entrance here for the rank and file
even of the fashionable world, and no open sesame for women whom the
haughty dames of the French aristocracy do not put upon their visiting
list. If Monsieur and Madame appear together anywhere at Trouville it
is likely to be at the pigeon shoot.

But it is at eleven that the doors of the villas and hotels fly open.
Out flock all of the somebodies and a choice assortment of nobodies,
and every path to the beach is filled with the gay throng. Not that all
of the Trouville world takes a dip in the surf. No indeed,--the truly
smart folk scorn sea bathing, but they go to the beach to meet each
other, to watch the throng, to promenade, to show their pretty morning
frocks, to put in the time until déjeuner, and their decorative value
in the bathing hour scene is tremendous.

Those women who do intend to go into the water, or to wear fetching
bathing costumes at a safe distance from the waves, dress in their
own rooms, if they live anywhere near the beach, and issue cloaked,
hatted, and followed by maids. The maid is an essential feature of the
scenic effect. She carries anything that may be needed, and she gives
cachet to her mistress. There is a theory, too, that she represents the
proprieties. It is quite improper to go to the beach without a maid,
and so the Parisienne, no matter how lurid her reputation nor how
startling her attire, goes beachward with her maid trotting demurely at
her heels.

The bathing at Trouville is not particularly picturesque, though much
imaginative description of its startling features has been written,
and conditions at the resort seem favourable for a spectacular display
of sea nymphs. Trouville is the summer paradise of Parisian cocottes,
and the average Parisian cocotte is not as a rule strikingly averse
to conspicuous rôles; but Narragansett Pier can show, during one fine
summer day, more audacious bathing costumes than will be seen at
Trouville in a week; and though little chorus girls up from Paris for
a holiday may tumble about in the waves, among a crowd of bathers that
but repeats the bathing types familiar the world over, the notorious
"filles" do not go into the water any more than do the great ladies of
Deauville.

There are some piquant and attractive bathing costumes worn on the
sands by women who do not go in for serious bathing, but the Trouville
show at the bathing hour is under the gay striped tents or on the
promenade, where women in Paris frocks and hats chat lightly with men
in informal summer attire, and where the grande dame of the Faubourg
St. Germain touches elbows with the cocotte of the Boulevards.

After the bathing hour the crowd scatters again to the hotels and
villas, and though in the afternoon there is an immense and amusing
crowd on the promenade, the very smart set is not seen there again
until the next morning.

It is so very busy, this smart set. The days are not long enough for
the goings and comings that must be crowded into them. The fashionable
women make elaborate toilettes for déjeuner at café or club or villa,
and after the déjeuner they pour out upon the terraces, arrayed in
their most ravishing costumes. Automobiles, coaches, smart traps of all
kinds, are in waiting. Madame enters the one that is to have the honour
of harbouring her mousseline and silk and lace, lifts her exquisite
sunshade, scatters smiles and gay jests among her friends, and is off
to the races.

Not even at Auteuil, Chantilly, or the Grand Prix can one see more
superb and extravagant costuming than in the Tribune or the pesage at
Trouville. The crowd is less mixed than at the Paris races and there
is more uniform elegance of dress, while the beautiful pesage with
its velvety turf, its masses of bloom, its shaded paths, offers the
most delightful of settings in which to display the latest creation of
Paquin, or a daring but successful innovation from Reboux.

The club of Deauville provides a scenic arrangement even more perfectly
adapted to the great show of frocks and mondaines, than is the pesage,
and here is the centre of that exclusive social life of which the
outsider can form but a vague idea, though the other side of Trouville
may afford him most enjoyable entertainment. The golf course of the
club is said to be the finest on the continent, the tennis courts are
always full, polo is played there by the crack players of all Europe,
and there is never a time when there is not something amusing on the
club tapis.

Perhaps, instead of races or club events, a garden party at one of
the Deauville villas claims the fashionables. Or perhaps the garden
party is in some nearby resort such as Houlgate or Villers, and the
clean white road leading to the rendezvous is crowded with automobiles
and traps as the appointed hour approaches. The automobile has added
much to the gaiety of the Normandy season. It has brought the resorts
closer together, has made intimate social intercourse between them
more possible. For great social events, the clans gather from every
direction, coming even from far-away spas and châteaux. Wherever
the races are in progress, there a host of automobiles makes its
appearance, each machine laden with a jolly party from some one of the
innumerable Normandy resorts. There is much motoring, too, in quest of
luncheon or dinner. Madame and her friends forsake the Parisian cuisine
of the Trouville hotel and motor merrily along the wonderful road to
Caen, where in one of the quaint old restaurants that huddle near the
market-place, one may have the best of Norman cooking and enjoy--or
at least sample--one of the tripe dinners for which the restaurant
is famed. A vulgar dish, tripe--but not tripe à la mode de Caen. The
chef will tell you proudly that there are fifty Norman ways of cooking
tripe, each more masterly than the other, and he will prove to you
that the ordinary domestic tripe is to the tripe of Caen as the fried
egg of the Bowery restaurant to the _[oe]ufs sur le plat_ of the Café
Foyot,--or to the omelette of Madame Poulard.

The omelette of Madame Poulard is another excuse for a motor pilgrimage
from Trouville. One goes all the way to Mont St. Michel for it, but
the run is a beautiful one and the omelette would be well worth even a
journey over a corduroy road. Rural Normandy and Brittany still make
pilgrimages to the shrine of the Archangel St. Michel, but even the
pious pilgrims make their obeisance to the famous omelette as well as
to the worthy saint, and the motor parties from Trouville know more
about omelette than shrine. They are not profoundly pious, ces gens là,
but they see the beauty of the sacred mountain where it towers between
sea and sky, and they appreciate the omelette which Madame, with due
ceremony, makes in a great casserole over the glowing logs in her
cavernous fireplace.

And then there is Dives, with its ancient hostellerie Guillaume le
Conquerant, whose praises have been sung so often and so eloquently
that even a mere mention of its charms seems rank plagiarism. All the
Trouville crowd motors over to Dives for luncheon or for dinner, and
divides the tables with other motor parties from Paris and from all the
country round; for it is famous, this inn of William the Conqueror, the
most picturesque and popular of the provincial taverns of France.

The great William himself saw to the building of the inn when he chose
Dives as the most convenient place in which to build the boats needed
for his little excursion to England; and since that far day a multitude
of famous personages has found shelter there, though the place has
not always been used for an inn. Kings and queens of France have slept
under the low roof, Madame de Sévigné and other great ladies of her day
dined in the feudal dining-room and chatted in the Salle des Marmousets.

But the rooms were not, in Madame de Sévigné's time, what they are now.
Monsieur Paul has made of his old Norman inn a treasure-house. He is
artist, antiquary, and inn-keeper, this quiet M. Le Remois, and his inn
is his hobby as collecting is his passion. He has ransacked the hidden
places of Europe for rare and wonderful things that would add beauty
and interest to the three low-raftered rooms in which he serves private
dinners and luncheons and suppers, and his collection has overflowed
into every corner of the inn. Fourteenth-century glass gleams like
jewel mosaic in some of the windows; marvellous old tapestries, rare
antique carvings, embroideries, brasses, ivories, laces, porcelains are
everywhere, yet all are disposed with an eye to artistic effect and the
result is a harmonious interior, not a museum jumble of curios. Even in
the kitchen, antiquity holds sway; the carved cupboards and walls are
rich in old Normandy brasses and in porcelains and pottery that would
drive a collector wild with covetousness. Up in the sleeping-rooms that
open from a vine-embowered gallery are old carved bedsteads and presses
and dressing-tables, quaint chintzes, ewers and basins and bric-à-brac
and candelabra of a far-away time. They are named for illustrious
visitors who have slept in them, these chambers along the rambling
galleries. One, with seventeenth-century coquetry, is sacred to Madame
de Sévigné. Another bears the name of Dumas; for Dumas and all the
other famous writers, artists, bohemians of France have at one time or
another frequented the inn at Dives. From the galleries one looks down
upon a courtyard surrounded by the timbered, gable-roofed, many-winged
old building. It is all abloom with flowers, this court. Doves flutter
and coo about the low eaves and the niches in which stand queer, stiff,
archaic images. Flamingoes and herons and peacocks pick their way over
the cobblestones. Cockatoos swing from mullioned windows.

And into this place of mediæval memories come the worldly moderns of
Trouville and Paris. They flutter about the courtyard scattering the
doves, and rivalling the peacocks and flamingoes in brilliance of
plumage. They make their toilettes in the low-ceilinged rooms off the
vine-draped galleries, they lunch and dine in the Salle des Marmousets,
or the Chambre de la Pucelle, among the marvellous carvings and
tapestries and bibelots.

An American millionaire once offered M. Paul five hundred thousand
dollars for the feudal dining-room just as it stood, woodwork,
fireplace, glass, furnishings and all. Doubtless he had visions of
sensational New York dinners framed in such setting, but the dream was
a vain one. Sell a part of the inn? M. Paul would sell as readily his
head or heart, but millionaires do not always understand the artist
temperament.

The meals served in the treasure rooms are worthy of their setting,
for the artist is a prince of inn-keepers as well as a connoisseur
of parts; and some of his dishes have long been the joy of Parisian
epicures and the despair of Parisian chefs. There, for example, is
his poulet vallée d'Auge. One sees the name upon Parisian menus now,
but one tastes the real thing only in the dining-rooms of the old inn
at Dives. Here is a luncheon menu prepared for a motor party from
Trouville, a menu not too long, but calculated to call up to the
gourmet who has lunched in the Salle des Marmousets memories of past
delights.

  Potage Dives.
  Melon.
  Sole à la Normande.
  Poulets à la vallée d'Auge.
  Aloyau Hastings.
  Pêches flambées à la Guillaume le Conquerant.
  Gallette.
  Fruits.

Oh, that fish sauce, those little chickens cooked in fresh cream, those
peaches flavoured with other fruits and dropped in raspberry syrup and
brandy--all eaten from a genuine fifteenth-century carved table in a
room that might serve for a curio collector's dream of heaven! Verily
the epicureans of Trouville and Paris should mention M. Le Remois in
their prayers.

[Illustration: In the Club Grounds at Deauville]

A sound all modern comes in through the Gothic doorway and wakens the
group around the fifteenth-century tables from their dream of bliss.
The car is waiting in the courtyard and driving the cockatoos to
hysteria. There is a hasty donning of dust-coats, a climbing into the
huge touring-car, an exchange of compliments with M. Paul, a waving of
hands, and then the long white road through a green, green land, and
Trouville in time for polo and dinner and the Casino.

Such excursions are now essential features of the seashore life.
Trouville is motor-mad as is Paris, and last season there was not half
enough garage room to accommodate the crowd. At every hour of the
day great machines dash up to the hotels and unload well-known men
and women from Hamburg, from Carlsbad, from Vichy, from Vienna, from
Berlin, from Brittany, from Paris, from anywhere and everywhere. The
King of Greece arrives at the Hôtel Paris in a Mercedes, the Shah of
Persia spins blithely up to the Casino in a Panhard, a Russian Princess
steers her motor into the narrow winding way of the Rue de Paris and
brings it up with quick turn before Doucet's popular corner or in front
of the fashionable pâtisserie. An English Duke has run up from Boulogne
in his Daimler, the American Millionaire has made sixty miles an hour
from Paris in his Packard, in order to meet his yacht in the bay of
Deauville. It is an automobile show of the finest, the grande semaine
at Trouville, and, later, automobile week at Ostend brings together a
host of cars even more cosmopolitan, just as it brings together a crowd
of folk still more cosmopolitan, than that of Trouville.

Yachting, too, is an important feature of Trouville life, and the bay
is always well filled with sleek sea-going craft during grand semaine.
Few of the very large yachts are French, but a fleet of beautiful
small yachts has sailed up the Seine from Melun which is the anchorage
for the Yacht Club of France, and there are a few imposing yachts
flying the French colours. Trim English and American yachts by the
dozen anchor off the Trouville shore for the great week, and there
is a constant going and coming between boats and shore, a perpetual
interchange of courtesies between the smart folk of villas and hotels,
and the yachting visitors. Sometimes it is not the villa set that
lunches and dines aboard the yacht. There are hilarious doings out
there on the sea, when certain parties from the Hôtel de Paris are
entertained, but those who hear tales of these doings when they stroll
through la Potinière only shrug their shoulders, What can one expect
when the season at Trou-Deauville, according to the traditional phrase,
"bat son plein"?

Evening at Trouville means an elaborate dinner at one of the private
villas or hotels, and an hour or two at the Casino, or perhaps some
private social function following in the wake of a dinner--dancing,
bridge, music, theatricals. The Hôtel de Paris is the public
dining-place par excellence, the best vantage-ground from which to
watch the passing show, but it is no easy matter to secure a table
at the Hôtel de Paris during the height of the season. The most
extravagant and modish part of the Trouville crowd--aside from the
occupants of the handsomest villas--is quartered at the Hôtel de
Paris. A crowd quite as swell but more inclined to quiet goes to
the Grand Hôtel de Deauville, but rooms at this hotel are all taken
months in advance by folk belonging to the Deauville set. The Hôtel
de Paris rooms are reserved far in advance, too, but by a clientèle
less exclusive. Money is the one essential at the Hôtel de Paris,
but one must have plenty of that. There are always famous mondaines,
millionaires, royal personages, staying at the Paris; but there, too,
one finds the Parisian demi-mondaine, the noted jockey, the great
actress, the wealthy tourist, and the worthy bourgeois of Paris will
often save thriftily all year in order that he may afford a week at
the Paris during the season. It is chic to stay at the Paris, and it
is vastly amusing. Incidentally it is, as has been hinted, expensive.
To have the humblest and scrappiest of rooms one must pay at least six
dollars a day, and the prices of suites run up into appalling sums.
Restaurant prices, too, are monumental and tips are no small item. The
waiter who serves one is the most ingratiating, the most efficient, the
most knowing of his kind, but if one does not give the suave Shylock
the full ten per cent of his bill, which is the letter of his bond,
it will be much better not to come back again. They have retentive
memories, those waiters; they are used to lavish generosity--and tables
are always at a premium.

It is practically impossible to secure a table for dinner without
first enlisting the head waiter's sympathy by a discreet tip of from
five to fifty francs, and a thousand francs has been paid for a table
during grande semaine. The cuisine is not remarkable--not so good, for
instance, as that of the Paris Café de Paris, which is under the same
management; but much beside food goes to make up one's money's worth
when the coveted table has at last been obtained, and there are few
things more amusing to a student of men, women, and things than to sit
in some corner of the café and watch the world go by. To thoroughly
appreciate the show one should have, across the table, a friend who is
versed in the gossip of the European capitals, and who can name the
diners and tell their stories; but even the stranger within the gates
can get a vast amount of entertainment out of the heterogeneous crowd,
the amazing types, the beautiful clothes, the superb jewels, and many
of the stories are written so plainly that he who runs may read.

After dinner the crowd drifts into the great Casino and now for a
certain part of the idlers begins the serious business of the day. It
is the custom to say that there is no high play in France to-day and
that the great days of gambling are over, but every year folk go away
from Trouville who could furnish circumstantial evidence to refute that
theory. Play is more guarded than it once was. The gambling does not
jump at the eyes. On the first floor of the Casino near the music a
few modest tables of petits chevaux attract a crowd of players whose
heaviest plunging is but a matter of a few francs, and many transient
visitors go away thinking that this outfit represents the gambling of
Trouville; but habitués of the place know better than that. Up on the
second floor there are trente et quarante and baccarat, but even here
the limit is not high. Many women surround the tables here, and women
make up a large percentage of the crowd admitted to the tables of the
third floor, where play runs high and admittance is not altogether
easy to obtain; but on the fourth floor are tables from which women
are barred and to which only the men accustomed to play for very high
stakes are welcomed. Here is the innermost circle of the Trouville
gambling Inferno, and here are found men whose very names ooze money.
Here are found, too, men who have no colossal fortunes behind them,
but who can play high because they are willing to risk all they have.
A Rothschild, a Vanderbilt, a Menier, may rub shoulders at the tables,
but they will perhaps have an actor, a restaurant proprietor, and a
great dressmaker for vis-à-vis, and no one is playing for less than
one thousand dollars a point. Last season an American actor was one of
the heavy losers in this fourth-floor room, but a theatrical manager
evened things up by cashing in a goodly heap of counters representing
ten thousand dollars each at the end of a spectacular evening's play
in which several of the wealthiest men of Europe took a hand. Men
have been beggared at these tables. One prominent racing man lost his
stables down to the last horse and bridle in an evening of play. A
famous English yacht changed hands as a result of an hour at baccarat.
Some of those who are knowing in such matters contend that the heaviest
gambling in the world to-day goes on in the Trouville Casino during
grande semaine, but one gives that statement for what it is worth, and
authentic gambling statistics are not easy to obtain.

In order to cover the gambling, the Casino ranks as a club, though
everybody gets in--at least on the first floor. While fortunes are
changing hands overhead, down here all is light and laughter and mirth.
There is no drinking, but that does not trouble thirsty folk for there
is first aid near at hand in the Café de Paris; and dinner is still a
recent memory. The music is always good and there is dancing for those
who want it. Perhaps some popular chanteuse or dancer from Paris is a
feature of the evening entertainment, or there may be a costume ball or
an effective cotillon. The best theatrical companies of Paris play in
the little theatre, and always there are the petits chevaux to offer
amusement of a mildly exciting sort.

All goes merrily until eleven o'clock, then the crowd pours out into
the night, the doors close, the lights go out, and the great building
stands dark and grim until morning. The board walk is thronged for a
time with late strollers, but it is a poor imitation of Atlantic City's
pride, this narrow board walk stretching from the Hôtel de Paris to
the Rochers Noirs. Only Ostend can offer a board walk that appeals to
Americans as something approaching the real thing.

The strollers melt away from the promenade, the cafés empty, and at
a fairly respectable hour Trouville is given over to quiet and night
shadow. Late hilarity is the exception rather than the rule, but enough
gaiety is crowded into the hours between eleven A.M. and midnight to
last the ordinary summer resort for a fortnight.

Dieppe, of course, echoes certain notes of the Trouville season and
is as gay in its own way, though it has not the fine sparkle of the
more Parisian resort nor such an exclusively chic villa set as that of
Deauville.

One hears as much English as French in the Hôtel Royale and the Casino
and on the beach, and more swell Americans congregate at Dieppe than
at any other one of the European summer resorts. For the great racing
week crowds flock in, as at Trouville, from all the coast and inland
resorts, and in at least one feature the Dieppe races surpass any
others of the seashore circuit. No finer natural steeple chase course
is known to the racing world than that at Dieppe, and the steeple chase
races there are events that make a notable sensation even among the
many sensations of the Normandy season.

At Ostend it is German that disputes supremacy with French, and there
are more Austrians and Germans there than at any other place on the
Jockey Club racing circuit, but one misses the familiar Parisian
faces, for my lady of Deauville does not often go to Ostend even for
the grande quinzaine of August; and, oddly enough, even the "filles de
Paris" do not make much of the Ostend season.

The crowd is an immense and interesting one even without the French
element, and money is spent as prodigally as at Trouville--even more
prodigally perhaps and a trifle more crudely. The Café de la Plage has
the reputation of being one of the most expensive places in the world
in which one may order a dinner, the promenade, as has been said,
is the best on the coast, and the Kursaal is one of the finest in
Europe. The programme of the days is as crowded as that of Trouville,
and life at Ostend moves at a breathless pace,--tennis tournaments,
golf tournaments, automobile races, motor-boat races, horse races,
children's fêtes, balls, flower festivals, theatre, excursions,
déjeuners, dinners, yachting--but the list is endless. There is
gambling, too, at Ostend. Gambling cuts comparatively little figure at
Dieppe, and the Belgian government has muzzled it at Ostend, but here
as in Paris one may always play at one's private club, and there is
a private club at Ostend where during the quinzaine play rivals that
of the famous fourth-floor room at Trouville during grande semaine.
Many of the same players are in evidence in both places, but at Ostend
entrance to the club is a very serious matter. The king of Belgium,
notorious viveur and most practical sovereign, has been extremely firm
in regard to Ostend play, and permits it only on the guarantee of
the club that no scandal shall arise to discredit the little Belgian
country. Any serious gambling fracas would mean an immense forfeit to
the government, and consequently rigid measures are taken to safeguard
the play. Anyone desiring admission must be introduced by reliable
members and his name must be posted for three days before he is
accepted. No exceptions are made, and a rich American who presented
written introductions from two of the best known and wealthiest men of
Europe last season was promptly turned down.

"These gentlemen are members. We know them well. Monsieur is doubtless
altogether eligible, but our rules are our rules. We cannot accept
cards of introduction, but if Monsieur will come here with sponsors who
are members--"

Money would not buy the entrée. The directors of the Ostend Club take
no chances. They leave that to the gamblers at the club tables.

With Ostend the season ends, and during the next week all of the
expresses running to Paris are crowded with homing holiday folk. Dinard
and the other Brittany resorts have been crowded as has Normandy, but
Dinard is not so popular with the smart Parisienne as is Trouville,
and money is not spent so lavishly in the Brittany resorts as in those
of Normandy. Some Parisians of the fashionable set have wandered to
Switzerland or to German or French spas. Others have spent the summer
in quiet country houses and châteaux far from fashion's haunts; but
from all quarters they flock to Paris when August is past, and Paris
welcomes them with smiles. She has amused herself after a fashion, but
the summer has been long and a trifle dull.



CHAPTER VIII

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND


The Parisienne adores Paris, but she is subject to acute attacks
of that modern malady to which the leisure class is peculiarly
susceptible, and which one of Madame's countrymen has aptly called the
"nostalgie d'ailleurs"--homesickness for elsewhere.

Moved by that spirit of restlessness she forsakes Paris--in order that
she may better love that city of her heart. She does not yearn for
rest, but she wants change, and so she goes flitting here and there
within easy reach of Paris--always within easy reach of Paris. Her
fashion circuit is circumscribed by that national sentiment which makes
the average Frenchman an unhappy and protesting alien anywhere outside
of la belle France.

Madame goes to Monte Carlo; for the Côte d'Azur Rapid has made the
Riviera resorts mere suburbs of Paris. She goes to Tangiers; for, after
all, Tangiers is France, and in the French quarter of that picturesque
place one finds a limited edition of Parisian society. But as for
Cairo--no. The fashion show in Cairo, during the height of the season,
is a great one, but it is furnished chiefly by English and Americans,
and one finds few smart French folk in the throng. The Pyramids are
too far from the Avenue des Acacias and the Rue de la Paix.

The Monte Carlo season is not, like the seashore season, an obligatory
decampment. One may stay away from the Riviera without imperilling
one's social position, while a summer spent in Paris would stamp one as
quite outside the social pale; and, though there is, during January and
February, a mighty going and coming to and from the south, Paris is gay
and crowded all through the winter.

Great private fêtes are usually reserved for the spring season, unless
some special event calls them forth, but there is a merry-go-round of
more or less formal entertaining, and the society woman needs an expert
accountant to keep her engagement book, and the semainier which records
the at-home days of her friends, in intelligible order. There is time
in the winter for the intimate reunions that are likely to be crowded
out in the whirl of spring social functions, and when Bagatelle and
Puteaux and la Boulié and the other open-air rendezvous are eliminated
from the Parisienne's calculations, she can more often meet her friends
in her own home or in theirs.

Balls are not a remarkably important feature of the Parisian season.
There is dancing, of course, but the Frenchmen, as a rule, do not care
for it.

"The ball? Je m'en passe," said a society man of Paris, when questioned
about the matter.

"In America it is, perhaps, different. There one dances and one sits
out dances, and one converses, and one flirts. Here, it is usually for
the demoiselles that dances are given. You know our French girls?
The writers tell us that they are emancipated, that they know many
things. Perhaps,--but they do not show all this at the dance. One
is introduced, one takes the girl from her mamma, one dances with
her, one returns her to her mamma. C'est finis. Gai ça, n'est-ce
pas? For the man who wishes to marry, to settle himself, the private
ball may have much interest; but for one who seeks merely amusement,
entertainment,--Grace à Dieu, il y a d'autres choses."

Truly, there are other things, a multitude of them. The Parisian
hostess makes a feature of the musicale and certain salons are famous
for music of extraordinarily good quality. Private theatricals, amateur
or professional, are a social specialty in Paris. Bridge is a passion
there as elsewhere. Parisian vivacity and buoyancy make even the formal
reception an occasion lively rather than depressing.

But, when all is said, the dinner is the private social function
dearest to the Parisian heart, and the successful Parisian hostess
understands the art of dinner-giving as do few other women in the
world. An elaborate menu and a gorgeous and extravagant decorative
scheme seldom enter into her calculations. There is a rational number
of courses, perfectly cooked, perfectly served, there is a dainty and
attractive table; but the extravagant display, the eager striving
after unique and picturesque effects in table decoration, the costly
souvenirs which mark the formal dinner in New York, are not often a
part of the French scheme.

On the other hand, the French hostess displays a tact and finesse
amounting to genius in the selection and grouping of her guests, and,
as a result, her dinner goes off with a verve which no amount of
extraneous gorgeousness could achieve. The Parisienne of the better
type,--"she of the subtle charm, to whom every man is a possible
admirer"--has a famous opportunity for exhibiting her charm at the
dinner table--particularly at the "little dinner." From the time she
could lisp she has been trained to please and be pleased. She lacks the
cultivated imperiousness of the American woman, and though she too,
rules, her method differs from that of our social tyrant. Instead of
demanding man's allegiance and devotion, she sets about winning them.
She is gay, agreeable, witty, sympathetic, thoughtful of man's little
needs, indulgent of man's little foibles; and her influence, though
less assertive, is subtler than that of the American woman who claims
her throne by divine right. Someone has said that "cherchez la femme"
is written over every phase of Parisian life, and the thing is true.
The Parisienne's influence is felt in politics, art, business, society,
and yet the Parisienne is so essentially feminine, and the Parisian is
so sure of his supremacy, so unconscious of any bondage save that of
love or gallantry.

The Parisienne was born to dining. She has adopted tea-drinking.
Fifteen years ago it was almost impossible to obtain a good cup of
tea in Paris. To-day Paris is flooded with tea. The change has come
about through the Anglomania which, within recent years, has attacked
Parisian society. Tea came in with polo and golf, and English tweeds,
and long walks, and all the other Anglo-Saxon strenuousness which has
disturbed French traditions. It has become the fashion to adopt English
sports, English clothes, English customs, English slang.

The Frenchwoman has a form of the mania less virulent than that
which has attacked the Frenchman. She may go in for le sport, may do
violence to her inclinations and her Louis XV heels by walking,--or
as she calls it, "footing,"--may employ an English maid and interlard
her conversation with English phrases; but she draws the line at
English clothes, while the French dandy's ultimate ambition is to be
mistaken for an Englishman, and to that end he employs London tailors,
cultivates English habits, and succeeds in being as much like a
Londoner as the Place de la Concorde is like Trafalgar Square.

Five o'clock tea is a matter-of-course necessity in London. In Paris it
is a fad, and to "five-o'-clocker" is one of the unfailing diversions
of the smart Parisienne, whether mondaine or demi-mondaine.

Naturally, being a social fad instead of a personal comfort, afternoon
tea is seldom served to Madame when she is alone in boudoir or salon.

If one is at home to one's friends, and there is an appreciative
audience for a tea-gown of rare merit, then there is good reason to
five-o'-clocker under one's own roof; but, on the whole, the Parisienne
loves better to make a toilette worthy of applause and sally forth to
drink her tea under the eyes of her world.

Columbin's was the first of the fashionable tea-rooms. Just why the
little pâtisserie on the Rue Cambon leaped into fame, it is hard to
say. Anglomania was rife, the Parisienne needed new amusement. A shrewd
pâtissier combined the psychical moment with superior-toasted currant
muffins and cakes and tea and a convenient rendezvous. All the smart
Parisian set flocked to Columbin's, the narrow Rue Cambon was crowded
with imposing equipages, the curb was lined with dapper grooms, and in
the little tea-rooms, between five and six, there was one of the most
impressive fashion shows of the fashion-making city.

There is no need of putting the story in the past tense. The crowd
and the fashion show are still to be seen in the Rue Cambon, though
Columbin's has spread over more space and rival tea-rooms have sprung
up like mushrooms all over Paris. On almost any corner one may now get
a good cup of tea, but among the multitude of tea-rooms only a few have
caught the fancy of the fashionable Parisiennes.

Rumpelmayer's on the Rue de Rivoli is one of the few, and is perhaps
the most successful rival of Columbin's among the Parisian mondaines;
but tea hour at the Ritz is vastly entertaining, if less exclusive, and
more cosmopolitan, while at the Elysées there is music and things are
excessively gay. "Too gay," says Madame of the chic Parisian set, with
an expressive shrug of her shoulders, but one goes to the Elysées all
the same.

Possibly a pretty woman is prettier in ball or dinner toilette than
in any other dress,--though one might take issue even with that
theory; but surely individuality and distinctive elegance count for
more in street costumes of the handsome type than in any other item
of a woman's wardrobe. The tea-hour crowd at--say Columbin's, on a
winter afternoon, diffuses an atmosphere of luxury, elegance, richness,
that even Paris would find it hard to surpass. She is so coquette in
her velvets and broadcloth and furs, this dear Parisienne. She steps
from her carriage and passes through the door which her groom hurries
to open. Inside is a murmur of many voices, a ripple of laughter, a
rustle of silken stuffs, a scent of violets. Madame looks about her
and smiles--an inclusive smile, for she recognizes so many of the
women who are grouped about the little tables. Then she trails her
chiffons forward in the manner habitual with Ouida's heroines, and she
stops to choose just the little cakes she will have with her tea. The
little cakes of Paris merit consideration. She turns her back upon the
tea drinkers as she deliberates, my lady chez Columbin. It requires
supreme confidence in one's figure and one's dressmaker to turn one's
back gracefully, carelessly, upon one's most merciless critics, but
Madame does it with nonchalance, and when she has settled the weighty
question of cakes she finds her way to a table, stopping here and there
to exchange greetings and jests with friends. She is perfectly gowned,
wrapped in superb and becoming furs, smiling under the shadowing brim
and nodding plumes of her great hat or under the tip-tilted absurdity
of her tiny toque. And all around her are women of the same type,
exotic products of a society highly artificial, sensuously material.
Some of them are beautiful, some are homely, all are extravagantly
dressed, and all have made that effort to appear beautiful which is
with the Parisienne--more than with any other woman of the world--an
absorbing passion.

It is this determined spirit of coquetry which leads the mondaine
of Paris to make up in a fashion which in other cities is relegated
chiefly to the class without the social gates. The Parisienne makes
up frankly, conscientiously, with thought only of the effect obtained
and with no effort to attribute to nature the results of her maid's
skill or her own. Her cosmetics are as much a part of her toilette as
her frock or her hat, and her French audience applauds her make-up
instead of criticising. It is coquette, this artificiality, it shows
that desire to please which is the fundamental principle of French
femininity. If one is beautiful--that is excellent. If one is not
beautiful, but makes a heroic effort to appear so,--that too is
excellent. The French public forgives all save indifference to the true
feminine metier.

Over in the spacious rooms of the Ritz, at the tea hour, one will find
more English and Americans than French, though the French go there too,
and there is a sprinkling of many nations. The crowd is more mixed than
that of the Rue Cambon, in features other than that of nationality. Few
demi-mondaines go to Columbin's. Why?--It is hard to tell,--but they do
not go. Occasionally, demi-mondaines of the highest class drift in,
but they are out of their element. There are hardly enough of them to
give each other confidence.

At the Ritz things are different. There one is likely to see the most
famous half-world beauties of Paris drinking tea, and at the Elysées
the percentage of notoriety is still greater than at the Ritz.

They love dearly to range themselves alongside of the haut monde, these
cocottes of Paris, but they like a large and varied scene, a certain
amount of moral--or immoral--support. The restricted intimacy of a
rendezvous like Columbin's is not to their taste.

At the Palais de Glace the demi-mondaine shines. Here is a setting to
which she lends herself readily, a setting, moreover, in which she may
pose beside Madame of the beau monde and measure charms with her.

Only the social elect may skate at the Cercle des Patineurs in the
Bois, and there one finds the society women of Paris gliding over the
ice or chatting around the braziers on the banks of the horseshoe lake.
It is the most chic of social rendezvous, this skating club in the
Bois, but the weather clerk is no respecter of high society, and there
are comparatively few weeks during the winter when open-air skating is
practicable in Paris.

Down at the Palais de Glace on the Champs Elysées, the management
deals out artificial ice to the just and the unjust every day during
the season. Even in October there is skating at the Palais, and it is
chic to skate then, just as it is chic to eat fresh strawberries in
January, while, during midwinter, this skating-rink is one of the most
popular afternoon resorts in Paris. The Parisian skating costume is a
triumph, and the Parisiennes skate well, conscious of their own grace
and revelling in that consciousness. Some of the great ladies of the
French world are famous skaters; especially certain members of the
Russian colony; and there are demi-mondaines too who skate marvellously
well,--particularly two or three Danish beauties, who have taken on a
Parisian lacquer. After all, it is hardly fair that the demi-mondaine
of Paris should be credited entirely to the essential immorality of
French society, and constitute a reproach against French womanhood,
for the class is cosmopolitan to an extraordinary degree, recruited
from Spain, from Italy, from Austria, from Russia, from Germany, from
Sweden, from Denmark, from all countries of Europe, and centred in
Paris because there are concentrated the wealth and prodigality of a
material and luxurious civilization, because there the cocotte can live
her short day so brilliantly, so dizzily, that during it she can quite
forget the inevitable hideousness of the long days to come.

The little grisettes of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre are largely
French, and bear the homely French names,--Suzanne, Rose, Marie,--but
they are, on the whole, the most honest, the least degraded and
corrupt, as they are the humblest of the class to which, broadly
speaking, they belong. A grade higher--or lower--according to the
view-point of the one who classifies, is the little cocotte of the
cafés and dance halls, the Cri-Cri of the Casino, the Fol-Fol of the
Elysées Montmartre. When the boulevards and the better theatres and
cafés are reached, the name is prone to take on dignity. Antoinette,
Diane, Heloise appear. And further still up the cocotte's ladder
comes an insistent "Mademoiselle" or "Madame." When the cocotte has
become truly demi-mondaine, when she buys her clothes on the Place
Vendôme, and acquires a villa at Trouville, an hôtel in Paris, she adds
Madame to a high sounding, mouth-filling name, such as Montmorency or
Beauregard. Perhaps she even preempts a title. There, for instance,
was the Princesse d'Araignée. She was very quiet, this Princess, very
retiring, but Paris knew her as it knew the king who was for many
years her lover, and to whom she was loyal, though he came but seldom
to Paris. He is dead now, that royal lover--a tragic death--and the
Princess--but this was to be a story of her title.

The title was, on its face, self-explanatory. "The Spider Princess" had
a fine appropriateness in the half-world of Paris. One day some one
spoke jestingly of the name. The Princess shook her head.

"It is really mine," she said gravely, "mine since I was a baby."

The jester looked incredulous.

"But yes. I will tell you," said the Princess. "I am of Normandy. You
did not know? Yes, I am of Normandy. I was born there in a little
village by the sea. Such a very little town. I can see it now. My
father was a fisherman. Big and brown and strong, my father--and kind.
But yes, of a kindness. He loved me, and I--I adored him. My mother was
good--an honest woman, but it was my father whom I adored. When he was
at home I trotted always at his heels--une toute petite bébé, brown and
plump and laughing always."

There was a big rock in the harbour--an immense jagged rock in the
water. The waves washed over it always, save on one day during the
month. Then it was quite out of the water and it lay there like a great
spider in the sunshine, with long legs running out into the foam. Along
the coast they called it l'Araignée.

"It fascinated me, that big rock spider. All the month I watched for
it, and when it came up out of the sea I cried to be taken out to it.
My father took me. He was like that always--très indulgent, mon père,
and I--what I wanted I must have.

"He would carry me down to his boat and row out to the rock and then
we would eat our luncheon there, and he would tell me stories and I
would play--une bébé, vous savez. I had then but four years, and I
was happy--Dieu, que j'étais heureuse. The fisher-folk came to know
me there on my rock, to look for us, mon père et moi, and they called
me la Princesse d'Araignée. Yes, that was my name. Everyone called me
that, smiling, and I was proud.

"One does not stay always a baby. I grew up, and the father died. It
was dull there in the little Norman village. I wanted excitement,
and--what I wanted I must have, I was always like that.

"The story tells itself after that, n'est-ce pas? I came to Paris, and
I found the excitement. But one does not use the name of an honest
father here in Paris. Il était tellement bon, mon père.

"I remembered that I had been a princess and I took my title once more.
La Princesse d'Araignée! You see it is really mine, the title. The rock
is still there in the sea,--but, mon père et moi--"

A far cry from the Palais du Glace, yet not so far after all, as
memories go; for the Princesse d'Araignée was at the Palais du Glace
one December afternoon long ago, and her king was by her side.

If one does not skate, still one goes to the skating-rink. The
promenade is crowded on popular afternoons with all the types familiar
in leisure Paris. Women in airy gowns and picture hats furnish
effective contrast to the feminine skaters in their short skirts and
jaunty toques. A fragrance of flowers and perfumes floats in the air,
the ring of the skates sounds through the swinging melody of the music.
Once more the Parisian artificiality--once more the Parisian charm.

On one afternoon in the week the crowd at the Palais takes on a most
chic and exclusive tone. The prices are higher on that day, but high
prices would never shut out the cocotte and her following. Quite the
reverse. An unwritten law accomplishes what the increased prices would
not accomplish, and Friday afternoon smart society claims the rink for
its own. That is le jour chic at the Palais de Glace. If one goes on
other days--as one does--there is a fair field and no favour.

The theatres of Paris are in full swing during the winter, and new
plays are magnets for the society set as for all Paris; but even the
smartest of Parisians are democratic when it comes to theatre-going,
and no one or two houses claim their allegiance. The Théâtre Français,
the Odeon, les Nouveautés, les Variétés, le Vaudeville, le Théâtre
Antoine, le Théâtre Sara Bernhardt, le Maturin,--to all of these Madame
goes, and to the cafés chantants in addition. Wherever there is clever
entertainment, there one finds the swell Parisienne. She is catholic of
taste.

Americans visiting Paris in summer are likely to have a curious idea
of the Parisian theatre, as of many things Parisian. Then the better
theatres are closed, the actors are probably away with the summer
holiday folk, or, if the exigencies of their profession keep them in
Paris, they are occupying little villas at Ville d'Avray, at Bougival,
or in some other convenient suburb, whence they can run in for
rehearsals or professional business when necessary.

Only the cafés chantants and the variety theatres are open and
beckoning to the summer visitors, and the crowd at these places has
little of the true Parisian character, is made up chiefly of strangers
from the colonies, from America, from a host of regions whose summer
climates are more trying than that of Paris. The shows are amusing
in their way, the crowd is amusing too, but neither is calculated to
give one an accurate idea of Paris theatre or of Paris theatre-goers.
Indeed, one thing about the summer attendance at Les Ambassadeurs, le
Jardin de Paris, and the other resorts that draw the crowd during
July and August, always impresses Parisians themselves as phenomenal
and distinctly shocking. The "jeune fille" of France does not frequent
"ces coins là," but respectable American fathers and mothers tranquilly
take their daughters with them to cafés chantants, variety theatres,
even to the dance halls of the Rive Gauche and of Montmartre. A goodly
number of these rendezvous exist solely for the delectation of visiting
strangers and, like the Moulin Rouge, are supported chiefly by the
American tourists' money. That the Moulin Rouge is dead speaks well for
the educational development of the American traveller, but from the
ashes of the place, which had nothing save sheer vulgarity to commend
it, has risen a variety theatre with café balconies, and some of the
dance-hall features of the old resort are retained in modified form.
The Café de la Mort, and the other melodramatic and banal cafés, where
efforts are made to provide the visitor with a shock that will sustain
the reputation of Paris for devilish wickedness, are, like the Moulin
Rouge of unblessed memory, provided for the edification of travellers,
and supported chiefly by American dollars. Even Maxim's, which means
to the average American the last word on Parisian impropriety, is, by
Parisians themselves, considered one of the concessions to American and
English expectations and tastes.

"Maxim's? Oh c'est bête ça--toujours les Americains chez Maxim," says
the Frenchman, disdainfully.

There is wickedness enough of a purely Parisian flavour in Paris,
heaven knows; but the lurid spectacles provided for the tourist are
perhaps the least immoral if the most vulgar of its manifestations.

[Illustration: At a Rothschild Garden Party]

The Opera is a tradition of the Paris season. All of the swell clubs
have boxes and the society folk who can afford it subscribe, yet the
opera is not so important an item of the social year in Paris as in
New York, and one will usually see more elaborate toilettes and more
fashionable women in any one of the popular theatres than at the Opera.

When spring comes to Paris and the horse-chestnuts burst into bloom,
new elements enter into the merry-go-round. The clubs in the Bois and
outside of Paris become centres of social activity, the races begin, al
fresco dining and tea-drinking are in order. Hostesses blest with such
grounds as those of Baronne Henri Rothschild give picturesque garden
parties, there are chic evening fêtes at Puteaux, elaborate open-air
charity entertainments are organized. Riding and driving in the Bois,
which has continued languishingly during the winter, takes on new
spirit.

The Avenue des Acacias is thronged with carriages and motors at the
driving hours, and now and then women descend from their carriage to
promenade, to chat with friends, to display their toilettes.

The Avenue des Acacias is the drive of drives for the mixed crowd of
smart folk, but the old nobility of France prefers to drive in stately
hauteur along the Avenue de la Reine Marguerite. One must make some
protest against the levelling of class barriers.

The two most fashionable bridle-paths run along beside these two
favourite driving avenues, but the whole Bois is a paradise of
bridle-paths, and near its centre is a spot which has been chosen
as the favourite meeting-place of chic riders at certain hours. The
Parisians are riding more since things English became the fashion, and
many of them ride very well, though the men affect English horsemanship
to the point of caricature; but, on the whole, the French are better
at haute école riding than at park riding. They make the best circus
riders in the world, but the horsemanship of the average rider on the
bridle-paths of the Bois leaves much to be desired.

As for driving, there are many good whips, but the accomplishment is
not general, and few Parisiennes of social prominence drive. It is
not "convenable," and though several of the greatest ladies of France
hold the reins over their own fine horses in the Bois, driving alone
with a groom is generally ranked in the same category as walking alone
with a dog. The woman who does either must expect uncomplimentary
classification, unless she stands high enough to be a law unto herself.

And apropos of dogs, the pet dog show is always one of the events
of the spring season, an occasion that calls for artistic effect in
mistress as well as dog, produces scores of effective tableaux, offers
testimony concerning feminine folly. There are good dogs shown, dog
aristocrats of unimpeachable birth and breeding, but their exhibition
is enveloped in such a flurry of chiffons, such a hysteria of pride,
ambition, emotion. Nowhere in the world has the dog endured such
insults to his sturdy, canine simplicity as in Paris. Nowhere else
has he been so dandified, so coddled, so spoiled. The pet dog of the
Parisienne of high degree is likely to be a sybarite, and the pet dog
of the famous cocotte leads a luxurious existence that demands prodigal
expenditure.

One Parisian dog tailor has a most flourishing and successful business.
He is the Paquin of dogdom, and let no one think that he is not an
artist. When Madame brings her little angel to him for a spring outfit,
there is an impressive paraphrase of Madame's own sessions with her
couturier,--a serious conference concerning materials, colours,
trimmings, models. In New York a dog blanket is a dog blanket. It
may be cheap or expensive, but it is probably bought ready made and
approximately fitted. The Parisian dog tailor considers his client's
figure, complexion, air.

"But no, Madame. I find that he has not the breadth of chest to wear
that model--and the colour! He is not of a type for the blue and
silver. A warm violet, now, with the embroidery in more tender shades,
and a touch of gold? Bon! And the curving line on the shoulder? It
gives an air of slenderness, that shoulder seam. Madame has samples of
the other costumes she wishes to match?"

Absurd? Of course it is all ineffably absurd, but the mania for dress
extends even to the lapdog in Paris.

The little angel has also his boots--of fur for the cold, of oilskin
for the dampness. He has his tiny kerchiefs of cobweb fineness,
embroidered with his name or monogram, and tucked into the pockets of
his handsome coats. He wears jewelry, more or less costly, collars,
bangles, even bracelets. One notorious Parisienne has a collection
of jewelry for her dog that is worth a fortune, collars of cabuchon
emeralds and diamonds, of pink pearls, of cunningly wrought gold and
lucky jade. It is a hobby of the mistress, this dog jewelry, and when
one's specialty is the speedy bankrupting of Grand Dukes and wealthy
American fledglings and rich Portuguese Jews, one has the money for
one's hobbies.

The pet dog show is not a dog clothes exhibit. The entries are judged
upon their canine merits, but it is amusing all the same, this event,
and the mistresses pose most charmingly with their pets. Nothing that
happens in Paris lacks its theatrical note.

The Fête des Fleurs belongs to the spring season, but it does not
belong to the smart Parisian set, though every one turns out to see
the show. The fête is given in the name of charity, and doubtless
charity covers its sin, but there is more than a little vulgarity and
horse-play mixed with the picturesque beauty of the scene. A part
of the Bois is roped off, and an entrance fee is charged for all
sight-seers and equipages passing the barriers. So much for charity.
The rest is merry-making of a somewhat promiscuous sort. Every seat
along the avenues is taken, masses of flowers are banked high along the
curb, to be sold as ammunition for the battle of flowers. Bands are
playing, flags are fluttering, garlands are swinging from decorated
poles, and past the judges' stand by the pigeon-shooting club files an
endless line of carriages, carts, automobiles, fiacres, conveyances of
all types, from the butcher's cart, bearing the honest butcher and his
wife and children, to the electric victoria of the most famous dancer
of Paris. Only the chic society woman is conspicuous by her absence.
One seldom sees, in the Fête des Fleurs procession, faces familiar in
the exclusive salons.

But the sight is an interesting one, for all that. A Parisian fête
does not need the indorsement of the Faubourg St. Germain in order to
be gay, and the public celebrities and demi-mondaines turn out in all
their glory for the Fête des Fleurs.

Pretty women look out from the riot of flowers that covers hansom,
victoria, dog-cart, phaeton, automobile, and money has been spent
like water to furnish some of the beauties with their setting. One
phaeton is literally hidden under purple orchids, and holds two blondes
elaborately arrayed in white and violet. Behind comes a victoria
trimmed in thousands of yellow and red roses and bearing a noted
Spanish dancer. A popular opera singer has made her motor car a moving
bank of pink roses and violets.

Bunches of forget-me-nots and daisies and pinks are hurtling through
the air. A popular lionne of the day is so pelted with fragrant
ammunition that she springs up in her carriage bower and stands, a
slender mousseline-draped beauty, laughing under the rain of nosegays,
and with gay abandon returning her assailants' fire.

In the carriage just behind hers are two gorgeously gowned women, old
and haggard and hideous under their cosmetics, derelicts, favourites
who have outlived their day, and are fighting the hopeless fight
against defeat and misery and oblivion; but the beauty of the flower
battle does not look behind her and read the memento mori. She is
having her day now. What has yesterday or to-morrow to do with a Fête
des Fleurs?

There are other public fêtes on the floodtide of the Paris
spring,--plebeian, many of them, and the Fête de Neuilly is one of the
most plebeian; yet it is chic to go to Neuilly at least once while the
van dwellers from all the highways and byways of France are in camp
along the Avenue de Neuilly. From every direction the vagabonds have
gathered,--a motley crew of gipsy wanderers, strolling entertainers
who, after a winter in the provinces, have found their way back to the
borders of the Paris they love.

Ramshackle booths, tents, shooting-galleries, carousels, acrobats,
fortune-tellers, snake-charmers, lion tamers, ventriloquists, fat
ladies, magicians, vendors of every imaginable cheap and tawdry
thing--the old Coney Island multiplied by ten and invested with a
Gallic lightness and sparkle in place of its own dull vulgarity. That
is the Neuilly Fair.

Smart folk give jolly little dinners and, after, take their guests out
to Neuilly for a lark. They visit the side shows, and shoot at the
balls, and buy ridiculous souvenirs, and ride on the carousel, and
throw confetti, and give themselves up to vulgar amusements with the
infantile joyousness that is a characteristic Parisian mood.

Madame is very charming in all her elegant perfection against the
tawdry background of Neuilly, and she knows that she is charming--all
of which helps to make the "Neuilly evening" a popular item on the June
programme.

There was once a crown prince who went to the Neuilly Fête, and who saw
a gipsy girl there. He was bon garçon, this crown prince, and he was
doing the fête incognito and with a thoroughness that included making
friends with many of the van folk. The gipsy girl was beautiful. She
killed herself afterward, far from Paris, in the country of the Prince,
but one expects comedy, not tragedy, of the fête de Neuilly.

Princes and kings are frequent visitors in Paris, and when they come
officially, everyone, from the President of the Republic to the
street-sweeper of the boulevards, conspires to do them honour. But his
Royal Highness loves better to visit Paris incog. and amuse himself
according to his own will. He has even been known to make an official
visit, to endure with cheerful resignation the formal entertaining
lavished upon him, to be escorted to the station by a guard of honour
and high officials, to wave a courteous adieu from his car window, and,
within forty-eight hours, to be back in Paris, incognito, with only one
or two members of his suite for attendants and only his own tastes to
be consulted in the matter of entertainment. Even royalty is human.

Paris dances and sings and fiddles her way through the spring days--as
she has danced and sung and fiddled her way through history; and when
July comes and the blinds are drawn down in the fashionable residence
quarters, still Paris is not dull.

Swarms of visitors from the Colonies, from Southern Europe, from
America, fill the gaps left by departing Parisians. Restaurant tables
are crowded. Les Ambassadeurs, l'Horloge and their rivals do a
flourishing business. Only the onlooker who knows the real Paris misses
the gayest element of the Parisian world from its accustomed haunts,
and finds the Parisian summer a dreary interregnum twixt season and
season.



CHAPTER IX

THE HUNTING SEASON AT THE CHÂTEAUX


With September, Parisians renounce their allegiance to Neptune. For
that matter, Neptune has little to do even with the seashore season of
the Parisian world. The hoary old fellow is but a detail of the stage
setting. Whatever sovereignty he may have claimed at Trouville, Dieppe,
Dinard, he long ago made over to Venus Anadyomene, and even she cannot
hold her courtiers. There comes a day when the sands that have for
months bloomed riotously in Parisian gowns and sunshades and millinery,
stretch away, yellow and lone, before deserted casinos and empty hotels.

The seashore season is over. The hunting season is on.

Venus Anadyomene has given way to Diana, goddess of the chase. Pagan
Neptune has handed the fashionable crowd over to Christian St. Hubert,
patron saint of venery.

There is an element of farce in certain phases of French hunting, for
the Frenchman is born to theatrical effects as the sparks fly upward,
and the good shopkeeper of Paris goes a-hunting in a fashion that has
been the delight of _Punch_ artists for many years. He is so round
and rosy and valiant and important this French sportsman of _Punch_,
his hunting costume is so elaborate, he is so lavishly equipped with
hunting paraphernalia. The railway stations of Paris are crowded with
hunters of this class when the falling leaves are aswirl in the forests
of France; but Monsieur is only one of many French hunting types, and
the English go far astray when they make the caricature inclusive,
just as they strain the truth when they picture the French follower of
hounds as a dapper and rotund little fop clinging frantically round his
horse's neck and shouting--"Stop ze hunt! Stop zat fox! I tomble! I
faloff! Stop ze fox!"

If the London cockney should arise en masse each October and go forth
to hunt as does the bourgeois of Paris, there would doubtless be
amusing sights in the railway stations of London; and though the fox
hunting of France does not compare favourably with that of England,
there's many a fox-hunting English squire who would fall by the way if
he attempted to ride with a wiry French marquis on an all day and night
wolf hunt through the woods and plains of Poitou.

The chase is a passion with the French, and all classes save those to
which a day's holiday, a gun, and a dog are unattainable joys hail the
advent of the shooting season with enthusiasm. One sees the solitary
hunter in the marshes near the city, or searching patiently for birds
on ground where no placards warn trespassers away. The toy estates that
fringe the woods near Paris are carefully enclosed in high fences
of wire net, and there, on clear autumn mornings, there is a mighty
fusillade among the thickets while Monsieur in his English tweeds, and
Madame in her newest and most impractical shooting costume, and their
equally decorative friends, play at la chasse.

Since the greater part of the French land is subdivided to a remarkable
degree, and the average proprietor cannot shoot over his own place
without danger of killing the owner or the game on adjoining property,
many shooting alliances are made between groups of men owning adjacent
lands, and the privilege of hunting over the whole territory is
accorded to each of the group, while the game killed is apportioned
according to fixed rules. There are other hunting syndicates more
ambitious, renting or owning expensive preserves in country far from
Paris, and, of course, there are the fortunate owners of large estates
who have on their own preserves enough good shooting to satisfy even
the most exacting of English sportsmen.

Millionaire bourgeois own a majority of the important preserves of
Seine et Marne, Seine et Oise, and Oise, and the Rothschilds have the
finest shooting estate in France, at Vaux-de-Cernay. Kings and princes
from all quarters of Europe have shot the birds of the famous banker,
who is a power behind many thrones, and some of the fêtes that have
followed great hunts in the Rothschild coverts have been memorable
ones. Four thousand pheasants were slaughtered to make a holiday for
the last royal guest, and after the hunt came an evening of dazzling
fête and spectacular illumination of all the country round.

There are other estates where the chasses à tir are famous and where
sumptuous entertaining is done during shooting season; but it is in the
chasse à cour that France lives up to its old traditions and can show
the disdainful Englishman sport not known on the English country side.

The area of the French hunting districts is comparatively small, for
over half of the hounds of France are found in Vendee, Anjou, Touraine,
and Poitou, but the packs are many and admirable and the sport is good.
In the remote regions there is boar hunting, that for an exciting
run and a dangerous finish beats anything England has to offer. The
Frenchman will go far for a boar hunt, but he will not take many of
his favourite hounds with him. English foxhounds are cheaper and the
boar is sure to make short work of any dog that runs in on him when he
stands at bay, bristles erect, little eyes red with rage, foam flying
from his champing tusks; so, as a rule, the French dog is used only to
locate the boar, and English dogs are offered up, if sacrifice there
must be.

[Illustration: Baronne Henri de Rothschild at the Meet]

For wolf hunting the French hounds are called into service, though it
is difficult to break any hound to wolf scent, and nothing wears a
dog out more effectually than a wolf chase. Good horses are required,
too, for a wolf hunt is likely to mean a night out and a tremendous
straight-away run over a wide area, and even when dogs and horses and
hunters are of the best, an old wolf will usually give them all the
slip. The beast has phenomenal endurance and cunning. For hours he will
idle along just in front of the hounds, knowing they dare not attack
him while he is fresh. Then, when the pack is beginning to breathe
hard and labour a little, Monsieur _le loup_ shows what he can do in
the way of speed when he really gives his mind to it. Away he flies, a
streak of yellow grey, leaving his pursuers far behind, and the chances
are that pack and hunters have but a magnificent run for their pains.
One of the most famous sportsmen of France, who keeps a pack devoted
altogether to wolf hunting, says that he has killed less than a half
dozen old wolves in his hunting career.

Louveteaux--young wolves--furnish most of the sport, and here the story
is a different one; for the year-old wolf provides a long and brilliant
but usually successful run, and frequently a kill in the night when
flaming torches held by huntsmen in picturesque livery throw weird
lights and shadows over the scene.

Small wonder that the Frenchman who chases wolf and boar returns the
Briton's scorn in kind, and calls the English fox hunt a "promenade à
cheval." There is a certain amount of justice in the phrase, for the
Englishman of fox-hunting fame hunts to ride instead of riding to hunt.

The French sportsman shrugs his shoulders, too, at the stag hunt of old
England.

"To bring a tame deer in a box and push it under the noses of the
hounds--Ce n'est pas la chasse, mon ami," says the Marquis, with fine
contempt, and while his description doesn't apply accurately to all
English deer hunting, it is true that tracking the deer comes nearer
deserving its title of royal sport in France than in England.

Contrary to _Punch_ tradition, the gentleman of France is usually
a good shot. Shooting has been an essential part of his education
and even the veriest dandy of Paris may be uncommonly handy with a
revolver or gun. Such prowess is a part of the traditions of his race.
Duelling was a passion and a diversion with his ancestors; and while
serious duelling is, even in France, a trifle obsolete to-day, the
customs due to it still exist. Monsieur le Marquis fences cleverly
and shoots as well. Possibly he has his private shooting-gallery and
practices there for a while each morning; but, whether or no he has
this private practice, he is fairly sure to turn up at some one of the
public shooting rendezvous during the day. The Tir au Pigeon Club in
the Bois is the nucleus from which all of the open-air clubs of Paris
have developed, and is one of the most popular rendezvous for the smart
Parisian set. The same is true at Deauville, at Nice, and wherever
fashionable Parisian colonies are to be found, and the events at the
exclusive shooting clubs in these places will always bring together
a notable collection of society folk and an impressive exhibit of
Parisian chiffons.

There are many Frenchwomen who can hold their own with the men when
it comes to the handling of a gun, and a few who can follow hounds as
pluckily as any English Diana; while, as for the wearing of charming
shooting costumes, for the covert, or for luncheon with the guns, of
dressing effectively for the meet, of donning exquisite negligées for
the tea hour when the huntsmen may be expected to straggle in, tired,
valiant, and loquacious,--there the Parisienne leads the world. The tea
gowns and shooting costumes of the Place Vendôme and the Rue de la Paix
are the true triumphs of the French hunting season and the wearing of
them is to the average château guest a thing much more important than
the killing of game--is, in fact, her method of following the chase.
Nimrod may enjoy having his adored one by his side in the covert or
running neck and neck with him behind the hounds, but he has little
time for admiring her then. His heart is with pheasant or hare or deer.
The story is a different one when he goes back to the château in the
gathering twilight and finds daintily gowned women waiting, in the glow
of fire and candle-light, to greet him with enthusiasm and listen with
rapt attention while he fights his battles over again. Then is the hour
of the sportswoman, for there's more truth than fiction in the theory
so audaciously exploited in "Man and Superman." The form of the chase
which appeals most keenly to women the world over is the pursuit of
man, and the Parisienne in particular is a zealous devotee of the sport.

A Frenchwoman famous for her advanced ideas,--the "new woman"
translated into French--went to Berlin some years ago, and a
conference of the emancipated was called to do her honour. She came
into the audience hall, exquisitely gowned, the most delightfully
feminine of figures. She looked aghast at the band of strong-minded,
atrociously dressed women assembled to hear her; and then, throwing
aside her premeditated address upon woman's suffrage, she plunged
into an eloquent plea for the union of becoming dress and emancipated
womanhood, winding up with a fervent appeal to her sisters to remember
always that they must dress to please the men.

There spoke the true Frenchwoman, new or old; and the fair guests at
the châteaux, whatever may be their feeling about the chase of stag or
the shooting of birds, never are so lacking in sporting spirit that
they neglect dressing to please the men.

For the Parisienne in general the hunting season means only an excuse
for châteaux visits, and a château visit means only picturesque meets
at which one may wear one's smartest morning frock, chat with friends
from other châteaux, flirt with gallant huntsmen, and, perhaps, follow
the hunt at a discreet distance in cart or automobile; it means
luncheon with the guns in English fashion, and another opportunity
for a smart costume; it means the tea hour of coquetry and chiffons;
it means superb dinners to which come fashionable folk from the
country round about; it means evening festivities of all kinds. Oh, an
excellent opportunity for the displaying of one's wardrobe resources,
is the château visit, and a super-excellent opportunity for _les
affaires de c[oe]ur_ is offered by the informal intimacy of a great
house party.

The pretentiousness of château entertainment depends, of course, upon
the financial condition of the owner, and it is at the country places
of the rich bourgeois, rather than in the most famous historic houses
of France, that money is spent most freely during the château season,
though American millions have made some aristocratic house parties
famous for prodigal extravagance.

Where money need not stand in the way, the programme of entertainment
is often a costly one. Perhaps, as has happened before now, theatricals
are the order of the day, and the entire company of one of the Parisian
theatres is brought down from Paris for the occasion. Or a costume ball
is on the tapis and the great dressmakers of the Rue de la Paix are
called upon for dazzling costumes. Or a popular diseuse or chanteuse
or dancer may be lured away from her café chantant for the evening in
order to enliven the lovers of nature who have fled to sylvan haunts.

And always one can play bridge. Ye gods, how they play bridge during
the autumn days and nights, those transplanted Parisians!

All through the long days when the men are off after bird or deer, the
women, arrayed in the daintiest of bridge coats or frocks, sit around
the card tables playing for stakes that are not always low; and indeed
there are many days when even the men themselves forsake the coverts
for the card tables. During the last château season, rumours ran
concerning eighteen-hour sessions of bridge when mesdames and messieurs
did not lay down their cards save for hasty luncheon and dinner.
Stories were told, too, of immense losses sustained by guests at
several famous houses, and games at a louis a point have ceased to be
rare in the fashionable Parisian set. Some devotees of the game have,
it is said, even installed little bridge tables in the salons of their
loges at the opera and spirited games are played there in the intervals
of the music, or to the neglect of the music.

There are fashionable hostesses who deplore the craze, but the chief
accusation brought against the game is characteristically French. One
hears little protest against the ethics of bridge, but it appears that
the new fad is killing conversation. If this is true, say the critics,
something must indeed be done to save France. Conversation is, with the
French, a religion, a heritage, an acquirement, an art, and this fine
product of the centuries must not be allowed to perish in an epidemic
of gambling.

Even after a night spent at bridge, at least a large percentage of the
château party is up and off to the meet in the grey of the morning.
Madame may, perhaps, sleep later on, but the meet is an occasion, a
social function, a golden opportunity for coquetry; and even if one
does not expect to follow the hounds one must be in evidence at the
reunion. So my lady is up betimes and at work upon her toilette, a
toilette to the planning of which she has devoted anxious hours before
leaving Paris. One must be très chic at the meet, for les messieurs
will be out in force and the sporting scene with its forest setting
will admit of a touch of audacity in dress.

Even the true sportswoman of France does not forget to be coquette,
and her interest in habit or shooting costume does not interfere with
her sporting zeal. There are Frenchwomen who go boar hunting and wolf
hunting with their husbands. Others, like the Baronne de Brandt or the
Marquise de Bois-Hebert, visit the out-of-the-way corners of Europe
in search of exciting sport, and a long list of Parisian society
leaders like the Marquise de Beauvoir, the Comtesse de Fels, the young
Duchesses de Luynes, de Noailles, and d'Uzes, make excellent records in
the home forests.

The name of d'Uzes is important in modern French hunting annals, though
its claims do not rest on modernity. On the contrary the equipage
d'Uzes stands for all that is traditional and historic in French
venery, and the dowager Duchesse d'Uzes, holding fast to the customs
and traditions of the old régime, keeps up the hunt in her forests as
the Ducs d'Uzes have kept it up through many a generation and many a
change in the affairs of France.

Sixty thousand acres of the forest of Rambouillet are leased by the
Duchess for her hunting-grounds, and, though the favourite château of
the President of France lies across the woodland from her own hunting
château of Bonnelles, and his excellency the President of the French
Republic may, if he chooses, shoot birds and rabbits in the forest,
which is the property of the state, it is the Duchess who reigns in
Rambouillet forest and the republican ruler may not chase the stag
there, unless this great lady of old France graciously extends an
invitation to him.

What has Rambouillet to do with presidents and republics? It has always
been the forest of kings, and its memories reach back through the dim
years so far that modern history can but cling to its fingers, while
old story and romance haunt every bosky depth and sunlit glade.

It was the heart of the ancient forest of Yveline, this forest of
Rambouillet, the country of the Druids, a place of mystery and of
fable. Cæsar tells how the Gauls hunted the wild bull in those forest
fastnesses. Charlemagne went a-hunting under the great oaks and
beeches, and by his side rode his empress, Luitgard the beautiful,
while in their train came many a mighty warrior and prince; came, too,
fair princesses whose names alone are keys to old romance,--Hiltrud and
Rhodaid, Gisela and Theodrada and Bertha, each in robe of green velvet
and with silken locks floating free from beneath a golden diadem. For
the lover of pictures they still go riding down the forest aisles,
those princesses of the far away, "swaying the reins with dainty
finger-tips" and smiling on the gallants who rode beside them.

Many a fair lady has ridden in the shades of Rambouillet, with a
courtier at her bridle rein, since Charlemagne's day. Each king of
France in turn has followed the stag there. Some kings have loved
there, some have died there; some, like Louis XIV, have merely been
bored there; but it was when Louis XIII ruled in France that venery
flourished in its greatest pomp and glory. Many hundreds of officials
belonged to the royal hunting equipage in the time of this prodigal
Louis, and all the court followed the king when, with sounding horns
and baying hounds, he coursed through the woods of Rambouillet.

The princes of the blood had their equipages, too, and there is a
story of a long-ago day when three stags broke cover simultaneously on
the sides of St. Hubert's pond, and behind each streamed a brilliant
hunting cortège sporting the gay colours of a princely house. One can
see them there on the banks of the woodland pool--the stags at bay, the
swarming hounds, the liveried huntsmen, the princes and courtiers in
gorgeous array, the background of forest green and the water mirroring
the whole. Extravagant folly, of course, those royal hunts, but a brave
show. Your good republican loves better to see the president go forth
in his tweeds and his slouch hat, with his guides and beaters and his
tweed-clad guests, to shoot the timid little wood creatures that are
driven into the range of the guns and killed by thousands in the name
of sport. It costs less than Louis' hunting, this democratic battue,
and, to-day, the peasants of France have bread,--but for the lover of
romance, Rambouillet is filled with ghosts that make a finer show than
the estimable republican president and his equally estimable but far
from picturesque guests.

Pompous venery went down with all things regal in the Revolutionary
flood, but Napoleon, ever theatrical at heart, appreciated the dramatic
opportunities of the chase, and once more Rambouillet echoed to the bay
of hounds and the call of horns, while the little great man rode in
Charlemagne's paths.

Since then, the career of hunting in France has been a chequered one.
After the revolution of 1848, the forests were leased to the great
nobles, but Napoleon III had the vast domains confiscated after his
coup d'état, and it was then that the Ducs d'Uzes and de Luynes held a
great final hunt before abandoning the forests to the usurper, and made
a kill that is mentioned with awe by latter-day hunters.

But Napoleon cared little for the chase, and in 1868 the dukes were
hunting again in their old haunts. The Duc de Luynes died and the Duc
d'Uzes took over his pack. When he, too, went the way of all flesh,
his widow refused to give up the famous hounds and the traditional
equipage. She re-leased the forest, held tenaciously traditions of the
chase as they had been upheld by a long line of Ducs d'Uzes. While she
lives, at least, the hounds of St. Hubert will occupy their kennels
at La Celle les Bordes, and the red and blue and gold of the equipage
d'Uzes will flash through the leafy lanes of the forest of Rambouillet.

The Bonnelles season begins on the first of September, but only
intimate friends and zealous sportsmen are gathered together in the
château at the opening of the season. Later there will be guests of
ceremony, royal visitors, and all of the gay Parisian crowd whom the
family d'Uzes deigns to entertain.

The dowager Duchess, grande dame of the old school, is mistress of
the château, but she has able assistants in her daughter-in-law, the
young Duchesse d'Uzes, and in her daughters, the great ladies of de
Luynes and de Brissac. They fit in oddly with the venerable customs of
Bonnelles, these typical products of a society essentially modern, but
the combination of new and old is a piquant one, and the excessively
up-to-date young Duchesse d'Uzes never appears to better advantage than
when she kneels in the little church of Bonnelles on St. Hubert's Day,
or, in bravery of blue and scarlet and gold, follows the hounds of
Bonnelles through the forest of Rambouillet.

The château of Bonnelles is an imposing pile set in a beautiful park
of about two hundred acres, and furnishes room for many guests. Life
goes to the same tune there as in the other châteaux during the autumn
season, though there is a hint of old-world dignity mingled with the
modern gaiety, and among the guests are often included interesting
figures not familiar in the very modern salons of Paris. And, too, the
hunting is taken rather more seriously at Bonnelles than at many of the
châteaux, though even there the late season crowd gives itself over to
frivolity rather than to sport.

The kennels of Bonnelles are located at the farm of La Celle les
Bordes, about five miles from the château, and the old seigneurial
farmhouse is used as a hunting-lodge and a museum for relics and
trophies of the chase.

There are packs in France larger than that of Bonnelles. The Menier
family, for instance, has sixty couples in its kennels which are
perhaps the best in France, while the d'Uzes pack numbers only eighty
hounds all told, and of these only sixty run with the pack,--but they
are aristocrats, these hounds of d'Uzes, with pedigrees that might put
nine tenths of the mushroom nobles of France to shame.

The hounds of St. Hubert are the oldest hunting-dogs of history. Before
the time of Charlemagne they were the hunting comrades of kings, and
though the pure St. Hubert strain has lost caste and the best dogs of
the modern French kennels have been crossed with other blood, it is
the old French aristocrat among hounds that gives to the famous French
packs their long melancholy faces, their marvellous scent, and their
melodious voices.

The dogs of Vendee, lineal descendants of the dogs of St. Hubert, were
first favourites in the days of Louis XI, and the d'Uzes hounds trace
their lineage back to two royal dogs of that early time,--Greffier, one
of the king's most valuable hounds, a white St. Hubert crossed with
mastiff, and Baude, the pet hound of Anne of France, daughter to the
king. Since that far-away day, the Vendean strain has been crossed with
royal English buckhound to the great advantage of the French hound,
say those who should know, but, despite this alien blood, it is the
descendant of Greffier and Baude that yelps in the kennels at La Celle
les Bordes when the dog valets put the pack in leash on the morning of
St. Hubert's Day.

[Illustration: The Blessing of the Hounds at Bonnelles]

This third of November is a great day at Bonnelles, for the Duchess
is ardent churchwoman and ardent patron of the chase, and on St.
Hubert's Day the two objects of her devotion fraternize in all pomp and
ceremony. Out from the lodge gates issues the pack, and with the dogs
go the governor of the pack, the two mounted piqueurs, the two chief
foresters, the two chief dog valets, and the lesser officials--all of
whom make up the equipage d'Uzes. The huntsmen are in hunting costume
of the d'Uzes colours, with hunting-horns slung round their necks and
hunting-knives in their belts, the dog valets wear the red and blue
without the gold lace, and the chief dog sports the colours of his
owners.

On they go to the little church of Bonnelles where a crowd is awaiting
them. Outside the church there is a group of onlookers drawn here by
curiosity to see the famous ceremony, but within the doors one finds
a gathering of folk whom one remembers seeing at Longchamps, on the
Avenue des Acacias, in the Casino at Trouville. The little Duchesse
d'Uzes is there, charming in her habit and in her three-cornered
hunting-hat with its blue and red and gold, but she is very solemn
now, this gay little duchess, very solemn indeed; for, as we have said
elsewhere, she is devôte, and even at the blessing of the hounds she
does not relax her pose.

The piqueurs lead the dogs before the high altar, the mass of St.
Hubert is said, and, as the priests lift the host on high, suddenly
there is a carillon of bells, hunting-horns sound the fanfare of St.
Hubert, the crowd rustles to its feet. Out of the church file the
priests in gorgeous vestments and the red-robed acolytes bearing the
blest bread of St. Hubert. The oldest priest crumbles the bread for
the dogs, sprinkles holy water over the quivering muzzles. There is
another peal of bells, the horns sound gaily, the hunting folk spring
to saddle, the guests who are not to hunt climb into their traps and
automobiles, the piqueurs crack the long lashes of their dog whips,
the hounds strain at their leashes, and the whole procession wends its
way merrily toward the place chosen for the meet,--while the outsider
privileged to witness the show rubs his eyes and hurries off to find a
calendar, that he may see whether perchance this is the year of grace
1905 or an earlier and more ceremonious time.

The rendezvous for the meet is at some carrefour or crossroads, where
an old stone cross with ancient inscription usually marks a circular
opening in the forest, and there one may see an amusing sight on any
morning when the hounds are out. Eight o'clock is the rallying hour,
and before that hour, though shreds of night still cling to the trees
and blur the forest roads, the Duchess is on hand with the party from
Bonnelles, to greet her guests.

Up out of the mist they come, gay parties from the neighbouring
châteaux, officers from the nearest garrisons, reinforcements from
Paris. Some are in hunting costume, some are driving smart traps, many
spin up to the rendezvous in automobiles and the snorting and puffing
of their machines mixes oddly with the neighing of horses and the
restless whining of the hounds. The red coats of the huntsmen, the
bright colours of the officers' uniforms, the chic costumes of the
women, lend an aspect of gaiety to the sombre forest setting with its
wreathing grey mist, and there is a chatter of voices, a ripple of
laughter.

The stag which has been tracked and located before the place for the
meet was appointed is reported still close at hand, and the master of
the hunt gives the word. The hounds are unleashed and sent forward,
while at the carrefour, the noise dies down to a murmur or an expectant
hush.

Then there is a crash in the thicket, the hounds give tongue, high,
sweet, and clear on the crisp autumn air the horns sound the "Stag in
view," and away goes the hunt, a glinting line of colour through the
dull November woods. The dogs run close, the hunters ride hard, and
at their head is the little Duchess, reckless, excited, joying in the
sport, true daughter of a hunting house.

It is easy to understand the passion for the chase, when one rides in
the wake of the hounds through the haunted old forest of the Druids
while the horns are playing the ancient hunting-airs of France and the
hounds' sonorous voices ring full and sweet and sad--for there is ever
a melancholy in the music when a pack of St. Huberts is in full cry.

The horses stretch themselves to the chase, the tingling morning air is
full of wood scents, the sun is scattering the mist.

Hola! Hola! Madame la Duchesse hunts the stag!

The trembling hares and birds seek the thick covert, but they are safe.
No presidential battue this, but royal sport. Madame la Duchesse hunts
the stag in the ancient forest of kings.



CHAPTER X

UNDER SOUTHERN SKIES


For the gambler and the cocotte, the Riviera means merely Monte Carlo.
The gambler is drawn by the lure of the green tables in the splendid
Casino. The cocotte goes where the money-spending crowd is to be
found, where she may show her frocks and her jewels and her beauty,
where recklessness and extravagance and excitement are in the air. She
gambles, too, carelessly or cannily, according to her temperament, and
she loves to make a sensation on the terrace, in the Café de Paris, at
Ciro's, or best of all in the Casino, where the apparition that draws
attention from the piles of money on the green felt must be startling
indeed.

Incidentally she acknowledges that there are wonderful views and
dazzling sunshine and invigorating air outside the brilliantly lighted,
over-heated Casino, and that these things contribute to her enjoyment;
but she is not an ardent nature lover, this Parisienne, and she would
find the Riviera deadly dull without the life that centres round the
gaming tables.

Even the residential element and the smart hotel set of aristocratic
Cannes and Anglo-American Nice, of Cap Martin and Beaulieu and Cimiez
and Mentone, feel the fascination of M. Blanc's earthly paradise upon
the Monaco promontory and spend considerable time there in the course
of the season; but for this class the social season is as important as
the gambling, and Monte Carlo is but a single feature of the Riviera
scheme.

It has been said that Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo represent,
respectively, the world, the flesh, and the devil; and the
classification is roughly accurate. Cannes has the most exclusive
social life along the coast; its villas are occupied by folk whose
names rank high in the social blue-books of the European capitals;
the registers of its hotels bristle with sounding titles and its
swell clubs have membership lists calculated to impress anyone who
loves a lord. The Napoule Golf Club at Cannes has a Russian Grand
Duke for president and an English Duke for vice-president; and, on
the links, counts and barons, belted earls and multi-millionaires,
are thick as leaves in Vallambrosa. Even princes and potentates drive
off the tees and struggle in the bunkers. One sees rather more of
London than of Paris in the crowd, but there are Parisians, too,
and they are even more English than the English in their sporting
proclivities, for fashion is a more aggressive thing than nature.
The whole atmosphere is English at Napoule. From the architecture
of the picturesque timbered club-house to the h's of the servants,
everything has a fine British flavour, and save for the frocks of the
women and the fluent Parisian French dividing honours with English on
the links and in the club-house, there is little to remind the guest
that he is in France.

Down in the town, and along the famous Promenade de la Croisette,
there is a different story. Here, too, a large percentage of the
fashionable crowd is English, but the setting is French where it is
not Italian. The Croisette, the Promenade des Anglais at Nice, the
terrace at Monte Carlo, are three of the most beautiful, the most
fashionable, the most amusing promenades in the world, and the idler
may spend many profitable hours upon any one of the three; but each has
its distinctive flavour just as each of the three towns has its own
local colour and its own crowd, though all share alike in the sparkling
beauty of the Riviera summer land.

Yachting is an institution even more important than golf in the
programme of Cannes. The Cercle Nautique, one of the chief rendezvous
for the society set, is exclusive to the last degree, and out in
the beautiful harbour splendid sea-going yachts from all parts of
Europe and from America are anchored during the season. Some of the
yacht owners prefer living in hotels or villas during their sojourn
and use the boats for cruising only; but more live aboard their
floating palaces, and there is constant going and coming twixt yachts
and _quai_, to the immense entertainment of outsiders who get no
nearer than this to the social life at Cannes. Carriages roll up
to the landing and deposit wonderfully gowned women and men whose
names are whispered knowingly by the watching throng. Launches are
waiting to receive the load of fashion and celebrity. There is a
tableau of coquetry and chiffons, a shuffling of royal highnesses and
wealthy commoners, and the little boats move off toward the yacht,
where luncheon will be served on deck under the awnings, to the
accompaniment of tinkling mandolins and guitars.

There are worse things even for royalty than to sit at a violet-strewn
table under awnings that flap in the soft sea breeze of a sunshiny
February day, and, in the intervals of a luncheon prepared by an artist
for an epicure, to look off across dimpling blue water to a curving
white line of shore where promenaders make bright impressionistic
dashes of colour in the sunlight, and to the grove-embowered villas,
the imposing, many-pillared hotels, the mediæval little villages that
climb the verdure-clad mountains behind the town.

Cannes is lovely,--far lovelier than Nice in its natural scenery, but
Cannes is cold to tourists, dull for those who have not the open sesame
to its charmed social circle. The ordinary visitor will find Nice far
more gay. Here, too, there is an exclusive villa and hotel set, but
it does not dominate the situation as at Cannes. There is welcome
and entertainment for everyone at Nice. On the Promenade des Anglais
stroll men and women from all countries and all classes, and queer
groups collect at "la potinière," the gossip rendezvous which ends the
promenade. The new town with its public parks, its fascinating shops,
its luxurious hotels and modest hostelries, its gorgeous restaurants
and its cheap eating-places, its clubs, its gambling, its flower
markets, its tide of restless pleasure seekers, is as gay a place as
the world holds when the Riviera season is at its height, and though
one may live there cheaply or extravagantly, it would be difficult to
live there dully, unless one were a hardened misanthrope; for all
things woo to pleasant folly, and jollity is in the air.

To stroll from one's hotel to the famous promenade on a bright morning
is to snap one's fingers at carking care. The sunshine is such fluid
gold as no northern country knows, the air is fresh, intoxicating, full
of warring sea scents and flower perfumes, a sky wonderfully soft,
deeply blue is overhead, the Mediterranean is a marvellous changing
sea of turquoise and sapphire and amethyst and beryl, with here and
there high golden lights where the sun catches a ripple of foam. Boys
and girls hold out great handfuls of big, long-stemmed purple violets
to you and the fragrance comes sweet and heavy to your nostrils. Women
in light summer frocks stroll along the broad white walk, stopping to
chat with friends; on the roadway which the promenade borders, roll
luxurious private carriages, smart dog-carts, hired fiacres, hotel
wagons, all loaded with smiling folk, for one smiles perforce in this
world of sunshine and flowers and laughter.

On the inland side of the roadway is a line of hotels and villas and
cafés and shops, with tropical gardens breaking the line of gleaming
white buildings; and in those shops one may find the best that European
merchants have to offer to extravagant womankind; for the famous
jewellers and milliners and dressmakers of Paris, London, and Vienna
have branch establishments here, and the proprietors of the great
houses often spend the season in villas at Nice or Monte Carlo and
oversee in person their lively Riviera trade.

[Illustration: The Palace of Folly--Monte Carlo]

Paquin, Beer, Doeuillet, and their peers are familiar figures at Nice
and Monte Carlo; and these mighty ones of the fashion world may well
feel, with a glow of satisfaction, that they are responsible for much
of the glittering show that passes in review under their critical eyes.

Nice is not given over wholly to fresh air and promenading.

Down in the Casino of the jetty, a pavilion of many minarets which
opens off from the promenade and under whose foundations the sea washes
listlessly, there is gambling--trente et quarante, roulette, and, in
the more exclusive club-rooms to which one is admitted only by card,
baccarat; but gambling is an incident at Nice. All things save gambling
are incidental at Monte Carlo, and while a host of folk live in Nice
without playing at the jetty Casino or the municipal Casino, but few
visitors to Monte Carlo resist the fascination of the gaming tables.
There is always a crowd at the jetty Casino after luncheon, lounging,
gossiping, gaming, listening to the excellent orchestra; and the crowd
about the gambling tables is the mixed and motley crowd one always
finds in such a situation, but there are fewer smart folk at the trente
et quarante and roulette tables than one sees at corresponding tables
in Monte Carlo. The fashionables of Nice choose the baccarat club-rooms
for their rendezvous, and it is there that you must go to see modish
women and well-known men gossiping, flirting, and playing high.

There is a popular restaurant adjoining the gambling rooms,--a
gorgeous restaurant, brilliant with scarlet lacquer and Chinese
decorations, though chop suey is not on the menu,--and many of the
baccarat players dine or sup there; but there are so many places in
which to lunch or dine or sup in Nice that one may find a meal to suit
any palate, and a price to suit any purse.

The Helder has the same proprietor as Armenonville and the Café de
Paris, and much the same crowd. The Regence is the Helder's great
rival, and after these comes a long line of town restaurants, each with
its individual claim upon the diner's attention, while out on the hills
and all along the coast are famous hotel restaurants and cafés to which
the gay Nicois resort.

There is tea-drinking, too, and the places where women flock at the tea
hour are many, but while my lady of aristocratic Cannes is likely to
drink her tea at the Cercle Nautique or in some other exclusive haunt,
Madame of Nice frequents tea-rooms such as those of Paris; and tea hour
at a place like Vogades offers an interesting study in femininity,
though the crowd is frightfully mixed and, sometimes, unconscionably
gay.

It is during carnival time that gaiety becomes a trifle furious at
Vogades. The regular winter visitors and residents of Nice frown upon
King Carnival and dread his advent; but for the transient visitor the
show is an amusing one and the common folk of Nice throw themselves
into the celebration with a gay abandon that sometimes approaches
objectionable license. Who cares whether a few fastidious critics
are holding aloof from carnival gaieties when ninety per cent of the
motley populace of Nice is eating, drinking, dancing, and making
merry, when fun and folly are running riot, when all the town is ablaze
with garlands of electric lights and artificial flowers, when confetti
is raining through the air and grotesque figures fill the streets.

Vulgar, of course. All carnivals are vulgar and the line between mirth
and horse-play is easily crossed, but it is a pity not to see the
carnival at Nice at least once, and not to enter into the spirit of
the thing, without a handicap of aristocratic prejudices. The age of
spontaneous mummery is past and carnival foolery has a strained and
artificial note in this self-conscious day, but one may be merry in
Nice when King Carnival sits enthroned and a multitude, hiding its
irresponsibility behind masks, gives itself up to folly.

All through the season there are fêtes in Nice. The Battle of Flowers
is more like the real thing than is the Parisian imitation; the
Corso Automobile Fleuri brings out a brave array of flower-decorated
automobiles; the children's flower fête is the prettiest thing of its
kind in Europe; and there is a water fête in the bay of Villefranche,
where flower-decorated boats and floats loaded with musicians and
merry-makers swarm on the blue water, and flower battles rage amid
music and laughter and the murmur of the waves. Grim war-vessels are
usually lying in the harbour and the revellers row out to pelt the
monsters derisively with flowers and jests, and to aim violet bunches
impartially at the cannon's mouth and the ranking officer's head.

Yes, Nice is gay,--absurdly gay; and if, at its gayest, it is not
smart, still one will see the loveliest of Parisian toilettes in the
restaurants and the Casino, and on the promenade.

There are lovely villas in Nice, hidden away, even in the more
crowded parts of the town, among palms and aloes and banana trees and
eucalyptus, and gay with yellow mimosa and other flowering things while
behind the town on the hillsides are villas lovelier still, gleaming
white amid groves of orange and lemon trees and tropical vegetation,
and overlooking shore and sea. Wherever there is space for them flowers
grow, and every breath of air is sweet-scented. In the distance, beyond
the grey-green slopes where the olives thrive, are misty, snow-capped
mountains, and far away along the coast stretches the white thread
of the Corniche road, that road of marvellous views and picturesque
surprises, which is the heart's delight of the motor maniacs on the
Riviera.

Motoring is a passion with the Riviera crowd as with every holiday
crowd to-day, and though many of the roads are too steep and narrow
and rugged for motors, or even for comfortable driving, the few that
are practicable are beautiful enough not to grow monotonous. From one
resort to another, all along the coast, the automobiles go scudding,
and even the steep hills of Monte Carlo swarm with puffing cars. A
little danger more or less makes small impression upon the Monte Carlo
crowd. Skidding recklessly down hill is, figuratively speaking, the
metier of so many of the throng that haunts the Casino and fills the
great hotels.

Life at Monte Carlo is essentially sensational. A continual whirl of
excitement seems to be the ideal of the habitué, and the class that
centres there spends money recklessly, without reserve and without
calculation. There are gamblers who haven't the money to spend; but
they live cheaply at some one of the nearby resorts, where they may
lose themselves between Casino hours, and in the little town of fine
hotels and cafés and shops which clings to the skirts of the Casino,
life goes to a merry tune. Perhaps the unwholesome fever of the gaming
rooms infects the district; but, whatever the cause, Monte Carlo
sees little of the sanely joyous life that may be found at other
Riviera resorts. Everything is brilliant, luxurious, dramatic, but
of restfulness and simple pleasure the beautiful spot knows nothing,
and though, for a few days, even the fastidious traveller may be well
amused there, for a longer stay it is wise to go outside of the miasmic
circle.

The incongruity between drama and setting is one of the most striking
things about the place, though familiarity dulls the first swift
impression of the contrast. If ever man diverted God-given beauty to
the devil's uses, he has done it there upon the Monaco shore, and the
serpent was no more out of place in Paradise than is a gambling Casino
on that picturesque promontory overlooking the Mediterranean--but the
daughters of Eve have smiled upon the Casino as their ancestors smiled
upon the serpent, and though their gambling has been for smaller stakes
than hers, they have made a somewhat spectacular record of their own.
The feminine element at Monte Carlo is one of the most characteristic
and dramatic features of the resort. Nowhere else in the world will
one see women of all classes gambling openly and heavily; nowhere else
are the alpha and omega of feminine folly so sharply and obviously
contrasted--and so gaily and recklessly ignored. Around the tables,
from opening until closing hour, crowd women derelicts; each train that
stops at the station below the wonderful terraces brings more. The
veriest ingénue might read the stories of wreck and disaster, yet the
warning makes not the faintest impression upon the fair feminine craft
steering head on toward the rocks.

How can Fifi of the wonderful frocks and jewels guess that she will
lose once too often at the little green tables, that the day of adorers
ready and eager to pay her losses will pass, that youth and beauty will
make way for such shrivelled and haggard age as that of the painted and
bedizened harpies who haunt the gaming rooms, staking their few francs
and watching for opportunities of making way with the stakes of other
players.

For the average casual visitor to Monte Carlo, these hags of the Casino
are among the sharpest and cleanest cut of first impressions. Later one
grows used to them, ignores them, allows them to take their places in
the shifting human panorama that is in its way as fascinating as the
roulette and trente et quarante which brings the crowd together; but
at first these hideous old women of the furrowed faces plastered with
rouge, of the furtive eyes, of the loose lips, the trembling claw-like
hands, the dirty laces, the false jewels, have a hateful fascination,
obscure all other impressions.

There are many of the harpies living entirely by fraud, and though
croupiers, detectives, and attendants know some of them and suspect
others, it seems impossible to keep them out of the Casino.
Occasionally the doors are barred to someone, but under the present
administration admission rules are more lax than they were in the old
days, and the whole character of the Casino crowd, while perhaps not
more vicious, is certainly more vulgar than it was under M. Blanc's
régime.

The system of the women thieves is a simple one. An excited crowd
surrounds a roulette table; many of the players know comparatively
little about the game. The stakes are placed, money is lost or won,
and raked in or distributed, in less time than is required for the
telling of it. While a novice hesitates, wondering whether the money
on a certain number is really hers, a yellow hand reaches across her
shoulder and snatches the stakes. Even if the victim is sure that she
knows the offender, she hesitates to make a scene, to be implicated
in a gaming-room scandal, and the thief audaciously counts upon this
immunity. Sometimes, however, an attendant sees the transaction and
lays a firm hand upon the old woman's arm before she can get away. Or
perhaps the croupier of the immobile face and the eyes that see all
things notices the hand closing upon money to which it has no right and
brings his rake down sharply upon the thin wrist in time to stop the
move.

There are other wrinkled and haggard old women in the Casino
crowd,--women less contemptible, more pitiable, but unpleasant sights
for all that. They come to the gambling rooms to play, not to steal;
but the gambling fever has burned out all that was pure womanly in them
and nothing is left to them in life save the vice they hug to their
hearts. Some of them have been playing there ever since the first years
of the Casino, missing never a day from the opening to the closing of
the season, and usually staying all day long in the hot, ill-ventilated
rooms. They have but little money and they play cautiously, watching
the run of the game, making innumerable notes in little note-books,
taking no great risks.

One Russian princess is among the number. Old habitués of the Casino
say that when she came there first, twenty-five years ago, she was
beautiful, superbly gowned, magnificently bejewelled, but gaming is in
the Russian blood and the princess was a born gambler. She squandered
her fortune, pawned her jewels, sank lower and lower in the gambling
mire, gave herself up more and more unreservedly to her absorbing
passion. To-day, she lives in a cheap pension at Mentone and belongs
to the class known in Monte Carlo as "the bread-winners,"--a class of
gamblers making a regular daily visit to the Casino, playing until
perhaps ten, fifteen, or fifty francs ahead of the bank, and then
leaving. If one is content with making a mere daily pittance out of the
tables, the thing can be surely and systematically done; and, every
morning the first train brings an army of these bread-winners, together
with hundreds of bolder gamblers. There is always a crowd waiting at
the Casino doors when they are opened, always a wild scramble for the
chairs around the tables; and, once comfortably seated, these early
comers are usually good for the day, or at least until dinner-time.
They are the most economical and persistent, though not the most
profitable, of the Casino's patrons.

Fashionable folk favour shorter gambling hours. If Madame is staying at
one of the Monte Carlo hotels,--at the famous Hôtel de Paris, let us
say, a hotel beloved of Parisian demi-mondaines and their satellites,
but patronized by cosmopolitan great folk as well,--she arises very
late and has her breakfast on a terrace with a sunlit sapphire sea
stretching out before her and an awning sheltering her from the too
ardent sun. The chances are that it is a delectable breakfast, for
there is good cooking in Monte Carlo. The prodigal crowd that spends
its money there demands high living, and the Café de Paris, with its
Indian interior and its famous grill-room, has seen gay dinners and
suppers in its time and has appropriated a generous share of the
winnings of lucky gamblers, beside helping the Casino to rid the
unlucky player of his money.

Ciro's, too, has played its part in nineteenth-century romance and
scandal and had its share in the Monte Carlo harvest. The proprietor,
an energetic and diplomatic Italian, has made a large fortune and
deserves it, for he can produce for his cosmopolitan patrons on demand
any dish from buckwheat cakes to the most delicate frittura, and any
drink from vodka to Jersey apple-jack. Perhaps that is stating the
case too strongly, but he is a remarkable restaurateur, this Ciro.

These are but two restaurants of the many; and if one tires of the
town, there is the mountain restaurant at la Turbie, to which one
climbs by a funicular and where the air is keen and cool from the snowy
mountain peaks. Even the view alone is worth the trip to la Turbie;
for, from the restaurant terrace, one looks down upon Monaco with its
palace and cathedral, upon Monte Carlo with its snowy villas and Casino
amid their groves and gardens, and upon miles of summer sea.

When déjeuner is ended there are many ways of passing what is left of
the day. The terrace is thronged during the late morning hours, and if
one has breakfasted early enough there is time for a stroll there--a
stroll that calls for a smart costume, if one makes pretence of being
truly chic. Up and down the beautiful promenade saunter the idlers--a
crowd as interesting and as mixed as that of the promenade des
Anglais or the promenade at Trouville. Past they file, rosy-cheeked,
middle-class Englishwomen in ill-fitting frocks, consummately modish
Parisiennes, notorious in Monte Carlo as at home, fat German Jewesses,
American girls chaperoning their tired and patient parents, French,
American, and English actresses, great ladies from all countries,
men of every type, from hard-faced chevalier d'industrie to reigning
monarch, from gilded youth to elderly roué.

[Illustration: The Crowd at Monte Carlo]

One sees many a new fashion note on the Monte Carlo terrace, and,
later, costumes still more chic are in evidence at the Casino concert,
to which come music lovers from all the neighbouring resorts, for the
Monte Carlo orchestra is one of the best in Europe and even moralists
who have serious scruples to forbid their gambling do not hesitate to
take advantage of the concerts provided by the profits of the tables.

For the sporting contingent there is driving and motoring during the
early afternoon, before the chill creeps into the air; and on the
terrace overlooking the grounds of the International Pigeon Shooting
Club there is always a crowd watching the shooting below. Butchery
rather than sport, this pigeon shooting, but the Monte Carlo club
is the most famous in the world and draws the crack shots from all
countries. Betting runs high among the sportsmen and the onlookers, and
the club events are a great source of entertainment to those who have
heart and stomach for such sport.

After the tea hour, the Casino begins to fill with the crowd that is
its mainstay, the high-playing, heavily plunging, extravagant crowd,
willing to buy excitement at any price, and some of the heaviest
gambling is done in those hours just before the dinner. The hush grows
more pronounced, more oppressive, and the croupier's monotonous voice
sounds more clearly in its maddening iteration, "Messieurs, Mesdames,
faites vos jeux.--Les jeux sont faits. Rien ne va plus."

Every seat at the tables is filled, crowds are clustering behind the
chairs, leaning forward to play, watching with excitement an unusual
run of good or bad luck, but quiet, intent, absorbed. There is never
noise and confusion, never an outbreak that can create scandal.
A battalion of official employees attends to that, and quickly,
effectually suppresses any objectionable scene.

Monsieur François Blanc, who was responsible for Monte Carlo, was fond
of saying that he had made and kept the place "absolutely respectable."
He is dead now, this M. Blanc, but before he died he built a cathedral
not far from his Casino, and in a mortuary chapel of the cathedral
reposes the old Prince of Monaco, who granted to M. Blanc the rights
that made Monte Carlo possible.

The scoffer smiles at that cathedral; and yet M. Blanc offered it to le
bon Dieu in all sincerity. He was a quiet, unpretentious little man,
devoted to his family, charitable, abstemious in his habits, playing no
game save billiards, gambling not at all, a good man so far as personal
life went, and without scruples concerning his gambling paradise. He
insisted rigidly that play at Monte Carlo should be under absolutely
fair conditions. As for running a great gambling establishment--it
was a business like another. He was not ashamed of his metier and
allowed no threats nor pleas nor argument to disturb him. Men and
women would gamble.--Eh bien, here was a beautiful place in which they
might indulge their propensity without fear of dishonest treatment.
If they ruined themselves, if they committed suicide,--that was their
affair. They would have done the same thing elsewhere and he would have
preferred their doing it elsewhere, for suicides and scenes interfered
somewhat with prosperous business. A host of detectives and attendants
was employed by M. Blanc to prevent suicide or hush it up if it
occurred, and an official department was established for the purpose of
furnishing unlucky patrons of the Casino with money enough to betake
themselves elsewhere. Ruined gamblers were eloquently urged not to die
upon the premises. Railroad tickets and certain sums of money were
supplied to worthy applicants to whose hard luck and financial collapse
officials of the gambling rooms could testify. The system was not,
however, purely charitable,--M. Blanc did not believe in pauperizing
the poor. An I. O. U. was accepted in exchange for funds supplied, and
it was understood that this note must be met before the holder could
ever again be admitted to the Casino. Some time ago statistics showed
that forty thousand pounds had been distributed by this department
of ways and means--but that thirty thousand pounds had been repaid.
From which one may argue a large proportion of human integrity or of
gambling mania, as one is optimist or cynic.

M. Blanc had made his fortune in administering the gambling affairs
of Homburg and Baden Baden. When Germany shut down upon gambling he
looked about for a place in which he could establish a gambling resort
without fear of interference from a paternal government, and his shrewd
eye fell upon the little principality of Monaco. His Royal Highness
the Prince of Monaco, who was absolute ruler of this little kingdom
three and a half miles long by one mile wide, came of an illustrious
line of gentlemanly pirates, and since piracy had fallen from favour in
the Mediterranean, his revenues were not so princely as his title and
palace. He was pleased to make over his piratical rights to M. Blanc
in consideration of an annual subsidy which gave him an income really
royal. Incidentally the Frenchman agreed to attend to the municipal
affairs of the province, to free the subjects of the Prince from all
taxation, and to guarantee that no one of them should be allowed to
enter the Casino. An excellent bargain from a material view-point the
old Prince made. His successor, Albert I, the scholarly scientist and
Prince who now lives in the ancient palace of the Grimaldis, where the
little town of Monaco huddles on its isolated rock, facing the Monte
Carlo fairyland across the port of Condamine, has scruples concerning
the source of his income, it is said, but the Monte Carlo lease, which
is held by a syndicate since M. Blanc's death, has until 1913 to run.
Then we shall see what we shall see. The Prince, who is a French
nobleman, has French revenues which would keep him from penury, and
he is a man of simple tastes; but it would be a sacrifice for a saint
to give up a royal fortune for a scruple, and one can hardly expect a
worldly monarch to court canonization in such fashion.

Once in possession of his promontory, M. Blanc proceeded to spend a
fortune upon it. A gambling enterprise had already been tried there but
had failed, partly through mismanagement, partly because the place was
inaccessible, visitors being obliged to arrive by water and be taken
ashore in small boats.

The natural location was, however, beautiful beyond description,
and M. Blanc had the genius to appreciate his opportunity. The
architect of the Paris Opera House was called into consultation and a
five-million-dollar Casino was built. Everything that art and money
could do to make the gambling rooms, the corridors, the concert hall,
the theatre, luxurious and beautiful was done. Splendid terraces,
gardens, fountains, were added; a great reading-room was supplied with
the most complete collection of periodical literature in the world;
the finest of classical concerts were given in the concert-hall; the
best artists of Paris were engaged to present the latest and most
successful Parisian plays in the little jewel of a theatre; capitalists
were induced to build a railroad to the place and a big elevator was
constructed to carry up from the trains all who did not care to climb
the terraces; a luxurious café was installed in the Casino grounds.

M. Blanc was a frugal man, but he could scatter money like chaff for a
purpose, and he fulfilled his purpose. The fame of Monte Carlo spread
far and wide. Visitors flocked there from all over the world, and the
time was short indeed before the originator s money had returned to him
with interest many times compounded. To-day, after the income of the
Prince is handed over to him, after the taxes of the principality are
settled, after the immense staff of official employees, the musicians,
the artists, are paid, after the repairs and running expenses have
been provided for, the stockholders divide an annual profit of from
two million to two million five hundred thousand dollars. A profitable
business, as M. Blanc foresaw when he made his investment.

The syndicate which now holds the lease and manages the palace follows
as far as possible the system of M. Blanc, but the body has not the old
manager's genius for doing the wrong thing in exactly the right way,
and the place was not what it once was. M. Blanc had made the Casino a
club and so retained the right to bar or eject whom he would. In the
old days the age limit was strictly observed. Now one sees mere boys
and girls at the tables. For a long time a frock coat and high hat in
the daytime, and evening dress after six, were de rigeur, and women's
toilettes were carefully considered. Lord Salisbury and his wife were
once refused admission at the door because the Premier wore a shabby
old felt hat and tweeds, and a celebrated actress who once appeared in
a highly æsthetic costume was told she could enter after going home and
changing her déshabillé.

To-day, everything from dress clothes to bicycle costume is permissible
in the Casino, though a careful toilet is the rule, and a host of very
shabby and disreputable gamblers mingles with the more aristocratic
set. The crowd is more sordid, more vulgar, less chic than of old.
Fewer high-class English and French patronize the tables, and the
German Jews who have taken their places have not improved the general
tone of the throng.

But all this the ordinary visitor does not know, and even now the place
is as fascinating as it is unwholesome.

In the evening come the most brilliant and spectacular hours of the
Casino day. Then one sees the exquisite frocks, the superb jewels, the
celebrities of good and ill repute. The women wear elaborate evening
dress, usually topped by a picture hat, and though many mondaines avoid
conspicuous Casino toilettes, the demi-mondaines vie with each other in
gorgeousness of attire.

Some of these rivalries have afforded tremendous entertainment for
onlookers who appreciated the moves in the feminine game. Liane de
Pougy and la belle Otero, for example, have contributed largely to the
Monte Carlo amusement programme during recent years. Deadly rivals
these two, who fought their battles wherever they went in Fashion's
train, in Paris, at Trouville, at Monte Carlo. Both were lionnes
of the most formidable type, leaving a wake of ruin and disaster
behind them, devouring fortunes with Brobdignagian voracity, plunging
into the maddest extravagances. Men raved over their beauty, though
cooler-headed critics insisted that Otero was only a rather coarse
and common Spanish type, with bold, staring eyes, a cruel, sensuous
mouth, and a good figure, while de Pougy, with her long neck and
cat-in-the-cream expression, deserved no beauty prize.

The toilettes of the two were legion and beggared description. Their
jewels were a proverb.

One night, at the Casino, one of the rivals appeared wearing all her
jewels, and even the maddest gambler stopped his play to look at her.
From head to foot she was ablaze with precious stones of the finest
water, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls, gleaming
on throat and arms and fingers and in her hair, covering her bodice,
fastened upon her skirts.

The achievement was the sensation of the season. Nothing else was
spoken of the next day, and triumph was written large upon the face of
the wearer of the jewels; but she had reckoned without her host. The
Casino was more crowded than usual on the following evening. Curious
folk went to see how one beauty would carry off her victory and how
the other would accept her defeat. The triumphant one was handsome,
beaming, self-satisfied, but her rival was late in coming and gossip
whispered that something dramatic was to be expected.

It occurred.

Down the length of the gambling rooms walked the woman for whom the
crowd was waiting. She was perfectly gowned, but with an exquisite and
elaborate simplicity, with a good taste beyond question. Behind her
came her maid decked in jewels from coiffure to slipper toe, enjoying
her part in the comedy, yet awed by the fortune she carried with her.

No words were necessary, the most unlettered could read the retort.
Madame also had jewels--as many and as fine as those of her rival. If
anyone doubted that fact, let him observe. But as for wearing all one's
jewels at once,--impossible for a woman of taste!

The reign of la belle Otero is over. Liane de Pougy's tenure of favour
is very uncertain, but they have furnished the Riviera with a wealth of
gossip in their time. Monte Carlo would miss their annual duel, were
there not younger favourites, as beautiful and as shameless, to air
their toilettes and jewels and jealousies in M. Blanc's "absolutely
respectable" rendezvous.

Few women go to Monte Carlo without trying their luck at the tables,
though the fall from grace on the part of the ordinary tourist may
mean only a few francs lost or won. Starry-eyed young girls, staid
matrons with respectability stamped upon their brows, stern, elderly
spinsters--all may be seen at the roulette board where small stakes may
be hazarded; but they are the novices, the transients who are tasting
the new experience with a fearful joy. The seasoned and systematic
woman gambler is another thing. So is the reckless woman who does not
bother about system and risks large sums as lightly as she waves her
fan, and with far less calculation.

Langtry belonged to this last class. In her heyday, one might see her,
charmingly gowned, radiantly beautiful, twisting up thousand-franc
notes and tossing them on the table to lie wherever they might fall,
losing as carelessly as she won and far more often than she won.

Otero and de Pougy, and many of their guild, are of the shrewd and
canny type, gambling to win, and taking the game of chance seriously,
though worrying little over losses and throwing away winnings with
both hands. The brilliant jewelry shops and the Mont de Pieté of Monte
Carlo are equally prosperous. The winners buy jewels, the losers pawn
them,--but, on the whole, it is the men who gamble heavily. Three
fourths of the women who have money enough to play extravagantly care
more about what they wear to the Casino than about what they win or
lose, would rather win at hearts and chiffons than at roulette.
Occasionally a woman, like the old Russian princess, ruins herself
dramatically at Monte Carlo, but more often it is the petty woman
gambler who comes to grief--the woman who has only a little money and
no resources to draw upon when that little is swallowed up. Not long
ago six little American chorus girls, who had heard much about the
gaiety and extravagance of Monte Carlo, and had conceived the idea that
between luck at gambling and luck at love a half-dozen pretty Americans
might corner considerable of the gaiety and of the wherewithal for
extravagance, went down to the Riviera and tried trente et quarante.

A few weeks later, when they were penniless, miserable, absolutely
stranded, without money either to stay or to go home, Sybil Sanderson
heard of their plight and played good angel for the six homesick,
disillusioned, singed little moths. The flames are cruel at Monte Carlo.

But it is the man who really supports the Casino, the man who squanders
fortunes at the tables, the man who evolves infallible systems, who
gives himself up utterly to the gambling, who commits suicide on the
terrace, or breaks the bank.

Suicides are few, and the few are carefully covered up, concealed. The
management even denies that they occur, but ugly rumours are persistent
and many seem to be backed by facts. Detectives are eternally vigilant
to suppress scandal. They rise from the ground, they fall from the
trees, they follow the lucky winner to his hotel or train in order
to see that he is not waylaid and murdered or robbed by thugs, as
has happened before now, they shadow desperate losers and prevent
ugly scenes, they instruct the penniless where to find the benevolent
gentleman who is willing to furnish transportation away from Monte
Carlo for the human sponge that has been squeezed dry.

The bank breakers are even fewer than the suicides. In the old days, a
certain amount of money was allowed to each table for one day. If the
bank lost that amount, the table went out of commission for the rest of
the session; but now, if a lucky player breaks the bank, it means only
a wait of a few minutes until a new package of money can be brought
from the vaults. When the money arrives, play goes on.

Charles Wells, an engineer, was the man whose spectacular winnings
inspired the song concerning "the man who broke the bank at Monte
Carlo," but many another man has done the thing and some of them have
repeated the operation several times. There, for instance, was Garcia,
who broke the bank again and again and was a nine days' wonder at Monte
Carlo. He died a wretched death in the slums of Paris, that lucky
Garcia.

And there was a New York salesman among the bank breakers. Some of the
older New York business men may remember him, for he was a popular
fellow and he cut a wide swath in Europe. First he broke the bank
at Monte Carlo,--broke it with fine spirit and éclat and was the
envied hero of the hour. Then he went to Paris and opened a gambling
place that quickly became famous. Baccarat was the game, and the New
Yorker's luck held. He could not lose. His name was known all over
Europe. Paris gave him the title of Le Roi Baccarat, and in the morning
papers the latest doings of the baccarat king were as much a matter of
course as the stock market reports.

Of course the luck changed. It always does. One day the baccarat king
began to lose, and he was as persistent in losing as he had been in
winning. The close air of the gambling rooms had affected his lungs and
his health went with his money. One of the many women who had loved him
in his brilliant day, took him, a consumptive pauper, to her lodgings,
and gave him shelter, food, and care, but she had no money to do more.
Finally several of the man's old friends and business associates in New
York heard of his condition and sent money to bring him home. He came,
a dying man, and a little later the same friends contributed the money
to bury him.

Histories of that sort are common among the men who have broken the
bank at Monte Carlo.

As for the Casino management, it does not lament when some one breaks
the bank. Far from it. Such a run of luck advertises the fairness of
the game and encourages gamblers. The syndicate is frankly pleased
when anyone wins in spectacular fashion--or in any fashion whatsoever,
for winning only fans the gambling fever and in the end it is always
the bank that wins. The old saying launched in M. Blanc's day is true:
"C'est encore rouge qui perd, et encore noir, mais toujours Blanc qui
gagne."

The bank of Monte Carlo is honest as the Bank of England. No hint of
trickery has ever been associated with it, but outside the Casino
there are gambling resorts of a different character. It is said that
more money is lost at the private gambling clubs of Nice in a night
than at Monte Carlo in a week; and whether or not this is true, it is
certain that more men are ruined in these outside gambling hells than
in the Casino. The game at the latter place is fair; only cash stakes
are allowed; there is no bar and anyone drunk enough to make a scene
is expelled. At many of the private clubs the play is dishonest; I. O.
U's are accepted; and a drunken fool may gamble away not only all he
has with him, but all he has elsewhere or ever expects to have, and
more. Not all of the suicides along the Riviera are due to M. Blanc's
gambling palace.

It is difficult to keep away from the subject of the gambling when one
talks of Monte Carlo. A famous show of frocks and jewels and women
is on view there; the fashions of the coming summer are launched
there; the social game is played with verve and zest there; But, at a
distance, one remembers rather the crowd around the green tables under
the great chandeliers, the flushed faces, the twitching mouths, the
trembling hands, and the uncanny, oppressive, breathless hush that
follows the croupier's "Rien ne va plus."



CHAPTER XI

LES AMERICAINES


Many Americans swing round the calendar with the fashionable
Parisiennes. Some of them, having married into the innermost circles
of the French aristocracy, belong to the most exclusive French set and
jealously guard their privileges, associating little with their own
countrywomen of the American colony, for there is a world of difference
between the Parisian social standing of the American woman who has
married into an aristocratic French family and the American woman of
the American colony. The latter may be brilliant, popular, and rich,
may entertain extravagantly and live in a whirl of gaiety; but, as
a rule, there are certain Parisian salons to which she has not the
entrée, certain doors stubbornly closed to her, despite her beauty
and wit and wealth. There are exceptions, of course, but, generally
speaking, the hostess of the American colony does not have upon her
visiting list the names of the greatest ladies of the French set. Her
dinners cost more than any given in the Faubourg St. Germain, her
cotillion favours are a nine days' Parisian wonder, she draws round
her a wealthy and amusing circle of fellow Americans and foreigners,
but she has not the open sesame to French doors which other Americans
have gained by marriage,--paying dearly sometimes for their social
privileges.

The American colony is a shifting, transient thing, changing
continually, yet always the same in its general character and always
an important factor in Parisian life. Americans living in other parts
of Europe drift into Paris at some seasons to swell this colony, or
join the crowd on the Riviera or on the Normandy coast; and then there
is always the casual visitor, the American who runs over to Europe for
frocks or frivolity, but makes no pretence of living abroad.

Among this last group are a majority of the smartest folk of American
society, and a number of these passing visitors are accorded social
honours seldom granted to the resident American in Paris. It is
among these women, too, that the Parisian tradesmen find their most
profitable patrons, and a large percentage of the loveliest confections
turned out by the great dressmakers of Paris is carried away in the
trunks of private American customers.

It would be hard to overestimate the importance of the American woman
in the Parisian fashion scheme. She pays out more money to the famous
dressmakers and milliners of Paris than all of their other private
patrons taken together; and, even when she herself is not of the
class that does its shopping in Paris, still she swells the receipts
of Paris tradesfolk, for in order to satisfy her tastes an army of
American buyers goes to Paris twice a year and carries home French
materials, French models, and French ideas, which will be incorporated
into the output of all American caterers to woman's vanity, from the
manufacturer of inexpensive, ready-made frocks to the swellest of New
York dressmakers.

In 1893, Worth went to the trouble of looking up Parisian dress
statistics and found that the value of the material consumed annually
in France for women's dress was two hundred million dollars; that one
hundred million dollars' worth was supplied to the Parisian dressmakers
and that the American share of the whole amount was more than that of
all other countries counted together. The statistics also showed that
fully one half of the Parisian dressmakers' sales was carried off in
personal luggage,--which, of course, means private sales.

All this figuring was done thirteen years ago and at that time the
sales had increased two hundred and fifty per cent within twenty-five
years. Since then the rate of increase has been even greater. American
extravagance in dress has advanced in great leaps, and M. Worth's
figures would doubtless seem small if compared with to-day's statistics.

The dressmakers of Paris are, of course, disinclined to give
information concerning the amounts of money paid to them by their
private customers, but they are willing enough to give estimates
without names attached, and the extravagant expenditures of certain
wealthy Americans are common gossip in the dressmaking circles of Paris.

The most important single order for dress ever placed in Europe came
from an American source, but, for certain private reasons, it did not
find its way to Paris, and there was weeping, wailing, and gnashing of
teeth, mixed with the buzzing gossip of the Parisian ateliers when the
facts concerning this famous order leaked out.

A bride's trousseau was the occasion for the spectacular outlay, and
Drecoll of Vienna was the lucky dressmaker. Just what the bill amounted
to, the firm has never been indiscreet enough to confess; but well
authenticated reports place the sum at two hundred thousand dollars,
and rumour runs it up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

The items were enumerated in the order, but carte blanche was given in
every case and all that was demanded was that each garment should be
as nearly perfect for its purpose as the firm could make it. Life has
nothing better to offer an artist dressmaker than an opportunity such
as this, and the Viennese firm endeavoured to live up to the situation.

There was, for example, a certain long cloth coat on the list. It was
to be green, of a shade indicated, and it was to have for trimming
six Imperial Russian sable skins. The skins were to be of the finest
quality and perfectly matched. No limit was set to the price. A simple
matter this, in the estimation of the novice, but Drecoll knows better.
Three of the skins desired were obtained without trouble, a fourth was
secured after some search, a fifth was found far from Vienna, but the
sixth proved a will-o'-the-wisp. Buyers chased it from one end of
Europe to another. There were plenty of superb sables, but not one to
match perfectly the other five, and the maker's faith was pledged, his
blood was up. St. Petersburg, Nijni Novgorod, Leipsic, Paris, London,
all the great fur markets knew the hunters of that sixth skin, and
the quarry was finally run to earth and added to the collar of the
unassuming coat provided for an American bride. Not one person out of a
thousand could have gauged the value of the furs, could have understood
the perfection with which they were matched, but one can imagine that
a dressmaking establishment does not organize an all-Europe sable hunt
for any small sum.

In that matter of furs, our American women have become recklessly
lavish. Everyone can remember the time when even the most fashionable
of society women considered one sealskin coat a cherished possession
justifying pride. Now, women of the multi-millionaire set will buy a
twenty-thousand-dollar sable coat as nonchalantly as though it were a
linen duster. One New York importer who caters largely to the ultra
swell clique went abroad last fall commissioned to buy three sable
coats, two of which were to cost any sum up to twenty thousand dollars,
while the price of the third might soar to thirty thousand if the buyer
should find what he would consider good value for that sum. There are
several forty-thousand-dollar sable coats in this country, and sets
costing from five thousand to ten thousand dollars may be counted by
the hundreds.

Moreover, the fashionable woman does not content herself with one set
of furs, but buys them to match her costumes, as she would buy a veil
or a pair of gloves, and will own perhaps a dozen sets, discarding
immediately any that begin to show wear or are not of the latest cut.
One Western woman bought five fur coats in New York this season, one
a superb affair of sable, one a motor coat, and the other three fancy
short coats trimmed in lace and embroidery. Now that no one with money
spends a summer in a warm climate, the fashionable woman's furs are in
commission all the year round, and the American, like the Parisienne,
will wear her sables over a summer frock in August, if she is where the
temperature is chilly. Naturally the wear and tear is greater than in
the old days when furs were carefully put away during half the year,
and the modern élégante's furs have to be frequently replenished.

My lady's furs are only one item of many included in her year's
wardrobe, and the other items are proportionately expensive. The heads
of establishments counting among their clientèles the wealthiest
women of New York and of the other important American cities were
consulted in the compiling of the list that follows, and were asked for
conservative estimates of the sums spent annually for goods in their
lines, by a representative woman of the very smart set. In every case
the authority consulted emphasized the fact that some of our women
spend much more than the sum mentioned, and that occasionally, for some
special reason, a customer will plunge into phenomenal extravagance.

Here is the list, which is, after all, but a fragmentary one, for it
is hard to estimate upon the thousand and one little things of dress:

  Evening gowns $3,500
  Dinner gowns 3,500
  Carriage and reception gowns 3,000
  Street frocks 2,500
  Automobile and sports 1,500
  Negligées 1,500
  Lingerie 2,500
  Fur 2,000
  Gloves, parasols, hosiery, neckwear, etc. 2,500
  Hats 1,200
                                              -------
                                              $23,700

The reader who has not looked into the matter may consider this sum
total an exaggerated one; but, on the contrary, it is, while of course
only approximate, a very modest average made up from the figures
furnished by reliable tradesfolk in positions warranting their speaking
authoritatively. Furs, for instance, set down at two thousand dollars
a year, sometimes mount to forty thousand in one season. Twenty-five
hundred dollars may seem an appalling amount to pay out for lingerie
during the year, but one authority quoted four thousand dollars and
another thirty-five hundred, and both added that there were New
York women who spent even more than that. At Mademoiselle Corne's
place,--perhaps the most fashionable of the lingerie establishments
of Paris, an inquirer was shown several trunkfuls of fine lingerie
ready to be sent to an American customer, and among the items were
sets of three pieces priced at nine hundred francs (one hundred and
eighty dollars), lingerie tea-jackets at four hundred francs, lingerie
petticoats at three hundred and fifty francs. At that rate twenty-five
hundred dollars will not go so very far, and in this day of lingerie
marvellously embellished with handwork and real lace, prices mount to
surprising heights.

The elaborate negligée is of comparatively recent acceptance in
America, but now the boudoir gown and tea-gown are considered important
by chic Americans, and five hundred dollars is no unusual price for an
exquisite tea-gown. One New York woman bought three at that price from
a Paris maker last fall, so fifteen hundred dollars is surely a mild
figure for the year's negligées.

Twenty-five hundred dollars will not begin to pay for the gloves, silk
stockings, parasols, fans, and such little accessories bought by a
woman of the class under consideration, during a year and no estimate
has been made upon jewels, for there the scale may slide to any figure.

All this expert testimony as to the extravagance of the American woman
of fashion may vex the souls of the righteous and lead the philosopher
and student of social economy to gloomy prophecy concerning the future
of American society, but the moralizing may be done elsewhere. Here
is only a statement of facts, and it is undeniably a fact that the
fashionable women of America spend more upon personal luxuries than
any other class in the world, save only a small group of Parisian
demi-mondaines.

It is not only the New York woman who is extravagant, though since
wealth is concentrated there, that city is the headquarters of the
spenders. The spirit has spread all over our country, and wherever one
finds great American fortunes, there one finds the woman of the costly
frocks and furs and jewels.

The largest single order ever placed with a Parisian dressmaker was
given to Worth by a Chicago woman--and an elderly woman, not socially
conspicuous despite her wealth. Twenty-five trunks were used for
shipping the order, and one hundred and forty expensive garments were
packed into the trays. Every city of importance and a host of the small
towns are represented upon the books of the Paris houses. The City of
Mexico has a clique of society women famous for dress, and the South
American trade is considered very important in Paris. Dwellers in the
States have a "magerful" fashion of appropriating the term American for
their own private use, and appear to harbour a vague general idea that
south of Palm Beach and Miami a bead necklace is the accepted costume;
but the tradesfolk of Paris know better. Crowds of wealthy South
Americans flock into Paris each summer and spend money lavishly upon
clothes, jewels, and all the other luxuries of a prodigal civilization.
In all the South American capitals one finds the woman of the French
frock, and Buenos Ayres, in particular, has a smart set remarkable for
the fashion and extravagance of its women.

Naturally it is not only in the province of clothes the money-spending
mania of America asserts itself. Among Americans of wealth the cost of
living has swelled to a startling figure. Numerous magnificent homes
equipped with every luxury that money can buy, entertainment on a
princely scale, servants by the score, horses, carriages, automobiles,
steam-yachts,--all these are the necessities of the multi-millionaire
who is in society. The floral decorations for a dinner or ball often
cost thousands of dollars, and five hundred dollars' worth of flowers
for a small dinner in New York or Newport is no unusual order.
Cotillion favours for a large ball have been known to cost ten thousand
dollars, and thousands of dollars go to the caterer upon such an
occasion.

When the Castellanes, during their social career, spent forty thousand
dollars on one evening's entertainment, all Paris was agog, but that
sum has been far exceeded for single social functions in New York, and
from ten thousand dollars to twenty thousand dollars is no surprising
cost for a successful ball.

Every year the social standards mount higher, in point of expenditure,
and new methods of getting rid of money are added to the already long
list. The motor, for example, has added from fifteen thousand to twenty
thousand dollars to the annual expenditure of numerous wealthy men
who have motor mania in its acute form, buy many superb cars, employ
expensive machinists and chauffeurs, build fine garages, and race their
cars.

But all this extraordinary lavishness is confined to a comparatively
small part of our population, affects but a little clique of
millionaires, and while even in smart society a large contingent is
living beyond its means, a majority of the most extravagant American
money-spenders have fortunes ample enough to justify their annual
expenditures--at least from a financial point of view. It is the
increasing extravagance in dress and luxury among the classes of more
moderate incomes that is most interesting to a social student, and the
American tendency is, proportionately, as marked here as in wealthier
circles.

All along the social line American women are spending more for dress
than ever before. Each year marks a rise in the grade of goods demanded
and sold, and manufacturers, merchants, and dressmakers all testify to
the remarkable improvement in American standards of dress during recent
years.

The rise of the ready-made frock has had much to do with bringing
about this result, and few outsiders have any conception of the growth
and importance of this industry. Forty years ago very few models were
brought to this country from Europe, and very few women even of the
wealthiest class knew much about Paris shopping. As for the woman
of humble social position she was quite out of touch with French
fashion. About thirty-eight years ago, A. T. Stewart launched the
first ready-made frocks, and record has it that they were frights.
Shortly after that there were four small establishments in the United
States manufacturing women's ready-made garments. To-day there are
forty-eight hundred houses devoted to such business in New York City
alone, and some of the largest American dressmaking factories are in
towns outside of New York,--in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, and
Baltimore. Everyone of these manufacturers sends men to Paris at least
twice during the season to buy models, obtain sketches, notes, and
ideas. Even the cheapest of the ready-made costumes to-day has in it
some faint echo of Parisian art, and there are American manufacturers
of ready-made coats and frocks who make no low-class goods at all.

If one walks into Paquin's establishment and pays five hundred dollars
for a frock, one feels that she is paying a good price, but there are
specialty houses in New York turning out ready-made models at five
hundred dollars and making nothing for less than one hundred dollars;
and these expensive costumes find ready sale.

Occasionally a woman retains the old-time prejudice against ready-made
garments and wonders why anyone will pay two or three hundred dollars
for a ready-made gown. Given a choice between a gown made to order
by Paquin and one at the same price from a New York manufacturer, it
would doubtless be the part of wisdom to take the Paquin creation; but
there is no Paquin in New York, and though there are some exceedingly
good dressmakers here, there are also many who charge high prices
without the ability to justify them. Many women who have had disastrous
experiences with such makers claim that, at least, in a ready-made
frock one can be sure of the general effect, and that if it comes from
a good maker, whether French or American, and is well cut to begin
with, it will even after alteration fit better and do more for one's
figure than a made-to-order gown from incompetent hands.

There are still cheap ready-made garments on the market, but demand for
good materials and fine workmanship is steadily growing and, through
the efforts of manufacturers to meet this demand, ideas of better
dressing have been spread broadcast.

Fortunes have been made quickly by men who have kept step with this
improvement in taste and supplied good models of Parisian design and
excellent workmanship for the American ready-made trade.

One manufacturer came to this country twelve years ago, in the
steerage, and went upon a tailor's bench at fifteen dollars a week.
He was a Russian or Polish Jew, which is equivalent to saying that
he belonged to the greatest money-making race on earth. He saved a
little money, opened workrooms. To-day he has a factory in which he
employs nine hundred men and women, he lives in a beautiful home on
Riverside Drive, he goes to business in a big automobile, he has done a
two-million-dollar business within the last year--and all in ready-made
frocks of the better grades.

There is much talk of sweat-shop labour in connection with women's
ready-made clothing, but as a matter of fact only the very cheapest of
the ready-made trade is associated with the sweat-shop. Years ago some
of the better shops declared a crusade against such labour and tabooed
the factories dealing with it. The other big firms fell in line, and
manufacturers, realizing that their trade was at stake, came up to the
mark in respect to the housing, treatment, and wages of employees.

The manufacturer of the twelve-year record has a factory absolutely
sanitary and treats his nine hundred employees admirably, even
supporting a small hotel in which he harbours any of his work folk
who may be ill or in trouble and need help. These workers are chiefly
Polish and Russian Jews and Italians, the German contingent, which was
once large, having almost disappeared, and wages are good. Competent
men tailors are always in demand and can make at least from fifteen to
eighteen dollars a week, while many of them get as high as from forty
to eighty dollars. Some of the manufacturers have salesmen on the road
at fifteen thousand dollars a year, and even pay as high as twenty-two
thousand dollars.

The buyers, too, command large salaries, and these salaried men very
frequently become manufacturers themselves or open specialty shops
for the sale of ready-made garments. One New York salesman, who has
recently gone into the retail business in a comparatively small way,
cleared one hundred thousand dollars last year and will do better
this year. Another man of ability went to the head of one of the big
dry-goods houses here and asked for a good position.

"Why don't you open workrooms of your own?" he was asked. "Haven't you
any money?"

"Only twenty-five hundred dollars."

"That's enough. Go rent some rooms. We know what you can do. Let us
know when you are ready and we'll place an order with you for four
times twenty-five hundred dollars." That was eleven years ago. The
manufacturer retired with a fortune some time since and amuses himself
now by speculating largely in real estate.

One of the few dressmaking geniuses in this country is another
manufacturer of ready-made frocks--but of the highest class models
only. He failed at first,--possibly because he _was_ a genius, but nine
years ago he took a fresh start and now he is a millionaire--but still
an artist. He takes a handful of silk and throws it at a figure, gives
it a pull here, a plait there, and voilà!--an effect better than his
rivals could obtain through careful and painstaking labour. In Paris
that man would be great. Here he is merely rich, and his million keeps
him from Paris.

All these stories of success and these business statistics merely
serve to illustrate the point with which the discussion of ready-made
clothing began, the increasing taste and extravagance of American
dress. The American woman, whether of wealth or of very moderate means,
insists upon having good clothes and is getting them.

Perhaps she buys them ready-made, perhaps she goes to Paris for them,
perhaps she has them made by dressmakers who go to Paris for their
models, but, in any case, she has them. For the same amount of money
her mother spent she will obtain better artistic results,--but she
spends more money than her mother dreamed of spending and more money
than she herself would have thought of spending ten years ago. An
education in extravagant dress comes easily to any woman, and once
educated to the topmost notch of the domestic dress production, the
Parisian frock is the American's next requirement.

There are good dressmakers on this side of the water, quite good enough
to satisfy any save the hyper-fastidious, but our best dressmakers do
not go about their business as do the best dressmakers of Paris. They
are business men or women, their French fellow craftsmen are artists.
There is in Paris the same type of dressmaker we have here, but there
is, too, the artist dressmaker who is something higher in the scale,
and it is through him that Paris is the fountain-head of fashion.
There is little original work in dress here. Good workmanship we have.
Our plain tailor work, for example, is the best in the world; but our
makers are content to copy French ideas and French models and they
have no such high standards as have the sponsors of those models. The
Irish-American dressmaker is said to be, next to the French, the best
in the world, but she adapts, she does not create. Perhaps in Paris she
too might soar, but here she copies French models well, makes money,
and is content.

In the early spring and in August there is a migration of American
dressmakers. By the hundred they go to Paris, and buyers from all over
the country swell the crowd. Some of the important buyers have set sail
long before, but they are men who represent extensive interests, with
whom buying is a fine art and to whose expense account the home firm
sets no limitations.

One American buyer, representing the largest importer of model gowns
and cloaks in this country, a man better known, perhaps, than any of
his profession, in the famous Parisian ateliers, sees the models in
these ateliers before the ordinary buyer is given a glimpse of them.
Yet even then they are no new things to him. He has seen all of their
most striking features before.

He does not drop into Paris with the buying flock, visit the great
dressmaking establishments, and accept as law and gospel whatever
chances to be shown there. He knows what is what. The dressmakers know
that he knows and treat him accordingly.

For months he has been on a still hunt for the fashions of the spring
that is yet distant. He stopped in Madeira at the very beginning of the
winter season, for he knows, as the Parisian dressmakers know, that an
exclusive little coterie of the world's smartest folk begins its winter
with a few weeks in Madeira, and that in the Funchal toilettes are to
be found many hints that will become laws when springtime comes to
Paris.

Early in December the hunter follows the trail to Algiers and on to
Cairo, though since the automobile has made Italian touring a fad, many
of the smart folk spend a part of their winter in motoring, and the
Algiers and Cairo seasons are not quite what they were as gathering
places for the fashion clans.

A little later the cream of the fashionable world is on the Riviera,
and our buyer haunts the Monte Carlo Casino during February. No
smallest fashion straw escapes his watchful eye. He knows the fashion
leaders of all Europe and America by sight. He can cap each striking
costume with the name of the wearer, and, probably with the name of
the maker, and he uses his time profitably until, late in the month,
the birds of fine feathers take wing once more. It is almost time for
Auteuil and, from all over the world, fashionable folk are pouring into
Paris.

Spring models are on view there in the great ateliers, and this
American receives respectful attention at the hands of the dressmakers,
for his orders will be large--and have been large for many years past.
Moreover, he has by this time a very good idea of what he wants, and
he will demand exclusive models instead of taking the models prepared
for the majority of the dressmaking and buying pilgrims. He knew
many of the autocrats of fashion when they first put up their signs
and, through the advertisement and backing of his firm, many a Paris
dressmaker now famous obtained the American clientèle that was the
foundation of his fortunes.

A valuable customer this, and there are other Americans of his class
who see the best that Paris has to offer. Some of the more important
American dressmakers also place large orders, insist upon exclusive
models, and are greeted impressively by the saleswomen; but the most of
the crowd buys as little as possible and sees as much as it can, and
the saleswomen, fully alive to this fact, make a point of allowing the
minor dressmakers to see as little as is consistent with courteous
treatment. Often a group of little dressmakers will form a syndicate
to buy one model and will go together to the great establishment.
There, being really buyers, they are politely received, and they all
take mental notes of every fashion hint that comes their way during
the visit. They study Paris fashions, too, wherever they are to be
seen, on the streets, in the theatres, at the restaurants; and during
their summer visit they perhaps run up to Trouville to see the fashion
show there. They have a jolly time as well as a profitable one, and
after a few weeks come home to spread French fashion news from Maine
to California, and furnish such adaptations of what they have seen as
their varying abilities can accomplish.

The clever buyer usually stays on in Paris after the crowd of his
countrymen and of European dressmakers has departed; for the more
exclusive models and ideas are reserved for the delectation of the chic
Parisienne and the private buyer, and he wants to see what is offered
to this clientèle as well as what is shown to the trade. Finally he
too sails for home, where much of his plunder has arrived before him.
American women often wear a Parisian mode before it has been worn in
Paris, and this is especially true of autumn modes; for Parisiennes are
still away from Paris when American dressmakers and buyers are securing
and sending over their autumn models, and, too, an American woman
travelling in Europe for the summer may buy her fall outfit in Paris
during August, bring it home and begin wearing it in September, before
Parisiennes have left the seashore and settled down to thought of fall
clothes. This applies, however, chiefly to the few American fashion
leaders, and a radical Parisian mode seldom achieves actual popularity
in America before late in the season or perhaps the following season.
The models have been brought over and shown, have been bought and worn
by the knowing and courageous; but the great crowd of American women
is slightly conservative and hesitates to take up any radical Parisian
fad until after the novelty has become somewhat familiar through being
exploited by the ultra-fashionable few.

One of the greatest Parisian dressmakers said recently in a private
conversation that he never felt confident of general popularity for an
original and striking model until after seeing it upon one or two of
his most chic American customers.

"I do not know what it is," he said, "but there is something
distinctive about the way an American wears her clothes,--a grace,
an elegance, but also a naturalness. A Frenchwoman has a genius for
dress, but she makes up for her toilette. She is supremely artificial;
she will wear anything that is launched and make herself up to fit the
mode. Your American doesn't do that. She wears her clothes superbly,
but the clothes must be of a kind she can wear. That a Parisienne looks
well in a model means nothing as an indication of what women in general
will think of the innovation; but when I put the model upon one of my
best American customers, I know at once what to expect. They are lovely
in their chiffons, those Americans, provided they have possibilities
of loveliness. It is a pleasure to dress them."

There are American women who go to Paris regularly three times a year
to replenish their wardrobes, and these private American customers
are the apple of the dressmaker's eye. Madame will perhaps be in
Paris only a few days. Everything is made to bend to her fittings,
her own particular saleswoman gives up the days to her, the heads of
the departments are called in for advice and assistance, the master
himself gives the frocks his personal attention. There is a couch in
the private fitting-room upon which Madame may lie down if she becomes
tired, the daintiest of luncheons will be served to her there if she
has not time or inclination to go elsewhere. Everything is made so
smooth, so agreeable, and if the bills are large, what is that to
the wife or daughter of an American multi-millionaire? There are New
York women whose dressmaking bills in Paris run up to fifty and sixty
thousand dollars in one year, but who could afford to spend five
hundred thousand a year on clothes if they chose to do it.

Occasionally nowadays a fashion originates in America and crosses to
Paris. The tourist coat with loose belted back, the long tailored coat,
the walking skirt, the floating veil--all these were worn in New York
and later taken up by smart Parisiennes, but the fashion tide usually
sets the other way, and we accept slavishly what Paris furnishes.

The great French dressmakers to a certain extent control the fashions,
but they work with the manufacturers. One will see the head of a great
silk factory sitting at a table with Beer or Paquin or Doeuillet in
the Café de Paris, and talking earnestly, seriously. Materials for the
future season are being weighed in the balance. The artist dressmaker
is the manufacturer's critic, his guide, philosopher, and friend, and
in this close connection lies one of the secrets of artistic French
dressmaking. In Paris one can always obtain the wherewithal to carry
out an idea. If necessary the manufacturer will make the material
expressly for Monsieur's purpose, and many an exquisite fabric has
begun and ended with one length run through the loom. The dressmaker
and his customer wanted that especial thing and wanted the gown to
be absolutely unique. Expense was not considered and one can obtain
anything in Paris if one will pay for it. Once an order came from a
great lady in Rome. She wanted a ball gown such as she described for
a certain occasion. The maker had only three days' time in which to
execute the order, and the quantities of white pansies which must
absolutely be the trimming were not to be found in Paris. Discouraging?
Not in the least. Monsieur set a multitude of flower-makers at work
making white pansies for him. The frock was finished and sent from
Paris to Rome by a special messenger. Time was too short to admit of
experiments with express companies.

When the American dressmaker or professional buyer chooses a model,
cards to the manufacturers who furnished the fabric and trimmings
for the frock are given her and she buys the materials for as many
duplicates of the model as she expects to make. She buys other
materials, too, laces, buttons, novelties of all kinds, that will
enable her to achieve frocks differing from those of her rivals, and
skilful Parisian buying is to-day a very vital part of the fashionable
American dressmaker's business. Duties upon the importations are of
course tremendous, and during certain months the New York Custom House
is so choked with French chiffons that there are maddening delays in
getting the boxes through.

Paris would miss les Americaines if they should suddenly lose their
interest in French clothes, but there's no danger of that event. Paris
is the fashion centre and will continue to be the fashion centre. As
for our women--each year they grow more ardent in their worship of the
Vanities.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Plain print and punctuation errors were corrected.





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