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Title: How Paris Amuses Itself
Author: Smith, F. Berkeley (Frank Berkeley)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note


When italics were used in the original book, the corresponding text has
been surrounded by _underscores_. The oe ligature has been represented
by the letters oe.

Some presumed printer's errors have been corrected. These are described
in more detail in a second Transcriber's Note at the end of the book.

[Illustration: IN A CHEAP CAFÉ-CONCERT, MONTMARTRE

_Drawing by_ SUNYER]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        HOW PARIS AMUSES ITSELF

                          By F. BERKELEY SMITH
                  _Author of “The Real Latin Quarter”_

[Illustration]

                    WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR
                           AND OTHER ARTISTS


                        FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
                     NEW YORK AND LONDON MDCCCCIII

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                                Copyright, 1903
                                                by
                                                Funk & Wagnalls
                                                Company

                                                ——

                                                Registered
                                                at
                                                Stationers’
                                                Hall
                                                London, England

                                                ——

                                                Printed in the
                                                United States of America

                                                ——

                                                Published in
                                                May, 1903

                                                ——

                                                Second Edition
                                                June, 1903

                                                ——

                                                Third Edition
                                                August, 1903



                              TO MY FRIEND
                            CHARLES W. GOULD



                                Contents

                                                                 Page

      Introduction                                                  7

           Chapter

                I. The Shows of The Champs-Élysées                 17

               II. Paris Dines                                     40

              III. Some “Risqué” Curtains with Serious Linings     78

               IV. Bars and Boulevards                            109

                V. Montmartre                                     143

               VI. In the Cabarets                                185

              VII. Circuses and Fêtes Foraines                    222

             VIII. Grease Paint and Powder Puffs                  255

               IX. In Parisian Waters                             285

             Envoi                                                333



                              Introduction


It is the small boy who crawls under the circus tent who most keenly
enjoys the show.

He has watched while the big double-top canvas was being raised and
staked taut, transforming the familiar pasture-lot into a magic realm,
more alluring and seductive than the best fishing-hole in the town
creek.

Following the parade, a cavalcade of golden chariots, caparisoned
horses and swaying elephants, the small boy has walked on air, buoyed
by the thump and blare of the brass band. Weeks before he had reveled
in every detail of the show as revealed in posters on the barn-doors:
the lady with the fluffy skirts bounding through the paper hoops from
the well-rosined back of her white horse; the merry, painted clown; the
immaculate ringmaster in glistening boots; and, last of all, the
showman!—generous, genial and big of heart, whose plain black cravat,
fitted neatly under his collar as in the lithographs, and whose beaming
blue eye seemed an open guaranty of all he promised at the single price
of admission.

Should the small boy grow up to be a connoisseur in much that glitters
in life besides golden chariots, and yet manage to keep young enough to
preserve a kindly feeling toward the lady of perennial youth upon the
white horse, should boyish love of the picturesque still abide in him,
he will find within the gates of Paris a city after his own heart, a
place where gaiety never ceases, where the finesse of amusement has
been brought almost to a state of perfection.

To this great pleasure-ground the whole world flocks for amusement. It
is upon this exquisitely fashioned spider-web of Europe that many rare
butterflies have beaten their pretty wings to tatters, and in it that
many an old wasp has entangled itself and died.

Paris! the polished magnet which attracts the spare change of countless
thousands in payment for the wares of folly and fashion, of the
dressmaker and the cook!


When the sun shines, the city is _en fête_.

Rows of geraniums flame in the well ordered gardens of the Tuileries.
Masses of flowers, gay in color as the ribbons streaming from the
bonnets of the nurses, lie in brilliant patches along gravel walks or
within the cool shadow of massive architecture. Brown-legged children,
in white socks and white dresses fresh from the _blanchisseuse_, run
screaming after runaway hooples, or watch in silent ecstasy the life
and exploits of Mr. Punch at the Théâtre Guignol.

Under a vault of turquoise sky the Alexander Bridge, emblazoned with
its golden horses, spans the Seine, crowded with traffic sweeping
beneath the great arc. Sturdy steam-tugs with vermilion funnels tow
long sausage-like lines of newly varnished canal-boats, whose sunburned
captains with their sweethearts or families lounge at _déjeuner_ under
improvised awnings stretched from the roofs of cabins shining in fresh
paint. Down the great vista of the Seine each successive bridge is
choked with thousands of hurrying ant-like humanity. Swift
_bateaux-mouches_ dart back and forth to their floating stations. For a
few sous these small steamers will take you to St. Cloud or beyond,
past feathery green islands, past small rural cafés perched upon grassy
banks where all day long old gentlemen wearing white socks and Panama
hats wait patiently for a stray nibble.

This bright morning in Paris the boulevards are crowded with a passing
throng which is gazed at for hours by those who fill the terraces of
the cafés to linger over a morning _apéritif_. At one café a party of
_commerçants_ are transacting business.

It is the fat cognac merchant now who is gesticulating to the rest of
the group, pausing at intervals to wipe the perspiration from his oily
neck. Near them, four Arabs, swathed in spotless burnooses, their bare
feet encased in sandals, sip in silence their steaming _petites tasses_
of _café Maure_. Omnibuses lumber by. The air is vibrant with strident
cries and the cracking of whips. An automobile passes, sputtering and
growling through the _mêlée_ of the broad boulevard, taking advantage
of every chance space as it threads its way out to the green country
beyond with its begoggled occupants to _déjeuner_ at Poissy or
perchance to dash farther on at a devilish pace to the sea and
Trouville.

At another table on the terrace is a pretty blonde, her dainty feet
resting in high-heeled slippers upon the little wooden footstool which
the _garçon_ has so thoughtfully tucked under them, and her eyes shaded
by the brim of the reddest of hats. She is engrossed in writing a note,
which she finally slips in its envelope. Then this dainty Parisienne
calls the _chasseur_, that invaluable messenger attached to every big
café, and gives him a few cautionary parting instructions. He springs
upon his bicycle and in half an hour returns with another envelope,
this one plain and unaddressed and containing a hastily scribbled line
in pencil. The corners of the pretty mouth curl upward in a little
satisfied smile as the answer is read.

“Madame was in,” explains the _chasseur_ in a low voice. “It was
madame’s maid who wrote it for monsieur!”


An hour later, in quite a different café, in a jewel-box of a Louis
XVI. room, a well-groomed monsieur gazes in adoration across the
snow-white cloth of a breakfast table at a wealth of golden hair, a
pair of blue eyes and what is now the sauciest of little mouths. The
scarlet hat has been tenderly laid upon the Louis XVI. clock, its brim
discreetly covering the dial. The aged _garçon_ allotted to these
indiscreet people has just served the _hors-d’oeuvre_.

There are many other just such _déjeuners particuliers_ in Paris over
which no one bothers oneself.

A long line of carriages is ascending the Champs-Élysées. Here and
there among them you will see the glitter of smart turnouts. In the
cool Bois nearby, the deer from their noon-day hiding-places hear the
trot of equestrians passing in the feathery alleys. Upon some grassy
corner of the wood a family party have spread themselves and laid out
their bread, cheese and wine for a day’s outing. Like a yellow pearl
shimmering far up in the azure, a balloon sails briskly toward
Vincennes.

All these things happen when the sun shines. When it rains, Paris is in
mourning. Cozy corners of café interiors are sought. Here, at least,
one can forget for the time the chill, rain-swept city. Somber
_fiacres_, drawn by dejected steeds, splash along the glistening wood
pavements, with hoods up, their occupants stowed under huge waterproof
aprons, the _cocher_ muffled in his coat to the edge of his yellow,
glazed hat.

Susanne, she of the madonna-like eyes, and the painter—their small
stove, with its pipe traversing the ceiling, having failed dismally to
warm even the cat beneath it—have come from their apartment across the
Seine to the café, and are snug in a corner over a game of dominoes.
The café is a refuge in raw, dreary weather. Only the wretchedly poor
must needs pass by its welcome door. Now and then one does pass: an
outcast, pale and hopeless, wrapping her soaking skirts about her
shrunken hips with something of her old-time grace; or a man with
matted hair, hungry and bitterly cold. Last night, after running a mile
behind a closed cab with a trunk strapped on top, he had had the good
luck to stagger beneath its weight up five flights of stairs, for which
service he had received a franc. He had rushed with it down the winding
stairs to the street. Ah, he remembered how happy he was!—how drunk
and warm he had been for ten hours! And so among the cheerlessness of
leaden roofs and deserted streets the smile of the city has gone.

Suddenly there is a break in the dull gray overhead and the downpour
ceases.

“_Ah! Sapristi!_ It is going to clear!” predicts the _garçon de café_,
as he glances up at the scudding clouds, and nods his assurance to
those within. Instantly the café becomes animated with good humor. A
tall man and a brunette in new high-heeled shoes are the first to
venture out. They laugh over the incident of the rain very much as
those who have luckily escaped an accident.

In half an hour the boulevards are steaming in warm sunshine. Again the
crowd pours by. All Paris is smiling.

If you are an epicure with a fortune, you will find restaurants whose
interiors are marvels of refinement and good taste, whose cellars hold
priceless wines, and whose cuisines would grace the table of a king;
or, if you are a bohemian, there is good-fellowship and a cheering dish
awaiting you at a price within the means of even poets and dreamers.
But it is after one dines that Paris throws open the doors of her
varied attractions. There are the ever-moving _fêtes foraines_—mushroom
growths of tawdry side-shows springing up in the different Quartiers
in a night—with their carrousels and menageries, and the smarter
circuses, like the Cirque Médrano, the Nouveau Cirque and the Cirque
d’Hiver. There are the cheap shows of the small Bouis-Bouis, and the
big open-air café concerts of the Champs-Élysées, the Concert des
Ambassadeurs and the Alcazar d’Été, and that exquisite music-hall, the
Folies Marigny, the Jardin de Paris, the Folies Bergère, the Casino de
Paris and the Olympia, and, in contrast to these, the Opéra, the Opéra
Comique and the Bouffes Parisiennes. There are serious concerts and
little serious concerts like the Concert Rouge. There are the shows and
cabarets of Montmartre and those of the _rive gauche_, the Noctambules,
and the Grillon. There are the cheap dramas of the bourgeois theaters
in remote quarters of the city, and the risqué plays of the Palais
Royal; the daring, independent Théâtre Libre, and the Châtelet, famous
for its scenic wonders; the lighter plays of the day at the Vaudeville,
interpreted by Réjane; the splendid new theater of the divine Sarah;
and the historic Français, with its finished acting in perfect French.
The list is endless.

Where shall it be? To roar with the rest at the latest song of Polin or
listen to a sadder tale at the Odéon, or, perchance, enjoy your second
cigar in the front row under the sparkling eyes and pert nose of that
most charming _chanteuse_, Odette Dulac, at the Boîte à Fursy!

If you have finished your liqueur and have retained the enthusiasm of
the small boy who squirmed his way into the circus tent, raise your
finger at a passing _cocher_. He will take you anywhere.

                                                                F. B. S.

Paris, 1903.



                              Chapter One

                    THE SHOWS OF THE CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES


If you wish to buy your tickets in advance for the evening performance
at the Alcazar d’Été, the open-air café concert of the Champs-Élysées,
you go there some afternoon, and are ushered by a waiter through a
narrow corridor of the adjoining restaurant, past little rooms, shining
in copper pots and pans, and pungent with steaming sauces, through a
pair of swinging doors well worn by hurrying waiters, and into a square
room piled high with snow-white linen, pyramids of lump sugar, and rows
of glittering silver. Half hidden in a corner among this spotless
collection you discover a desk presided over by madame, who greets you
pleasantly and produces for your inspection from beneath a litter of
dinner checks and bills the seating diagram of the Alcazar.

“Does Monsieur wish seats for the evening, and in what location?”
madame asks.

You suggest two in the third row.

“_Bon_,” replies madame, approvingly. She dips a pen in violet ink and
writes carefully upon a checklike document the numbers of the chosen
seats, tears this check from its stub, blots it, and scratches the
corresponding numbers from the diagram. “_Voilà, Monsieur_,” and she
hands you your ticket. Then she dives into the pocket of her petticoat
for the key to a money-drawer from which to make your change. Finally,
as you raise your hat to go, she adds, in parting assurance, with a
little shrug of her shoulders beneath her worsted shawl: “I am sure
Monsieur will find the seats excellent; I should have chosen them
myself.”

All this takes time, but I must confess that I like the pantry method
better than having my change blown at me through the pigeon-window of a
draughty box-office, with the last rear seats in the house slapped out
to me, all the desirable ones being in the mercenary hands of a band of
sidewalk pirates.

[Illustration:

LAMY IN “LA CAROTTE” AT THE PALAIS ROYAL

_Drawing by_ BARRÈRE]

Meanwhile, several newcomers are crowding about the table, among them
three well-groomed men in top hats and frock coats, evidently having
strolled over from their club, and a faultlessly dressed old baron,
with a tea rose in his button-hole, who is now leaning over the desk,
poring over the diagram through his black-rimmed monocle.

It is the first night of the new _revue_. This well-fed old baron! His
beard is grizzled now and his bald pate shines beneath the rim of his
stove-pipe hat. How many _revues_ has he seen in his Parisian life! How
many capricious _débutantes_ of café concerts and the theater has he
known! How many has he seen flash into brilliant stars and then grow
old and fade away! Some of them are staid old _concierges_ now knitting
away the short remnant of their lives. Some of them died young as roses
will under gas-light. _Les petites femmes!_ Ah! the good old days of
the Palais Royal! The Orangerie! or the Tuileries and the Jardin
Mabille! The days of brocades, of cashmeres, and pendent jewelry of
malachite and old mine diamonds! What famous beauties then! and how
they could wear their flounces and furbelows—the little minxes! What a
reckless riot of costly gaiety! How much baccarat at the clubs! How
many suppers at Bignon’s and the Maison Dorée! How many years of all
this! and yet on this sunny afternoon this old baron is as eager as a
schoolboy over the new burlesque, and so he strolls out with his ticket
up the Champs-Élysées, stopping for a full half hour to watch the
Guignol and the children and the nurses. Later you will see him rolling
through the Bois in his victoria, a queenly woman in black by his side,
the tea-rose stuck jauntily under the turquoise collar of a sleek red
spaniel in her lap. The baron is smoking. There is no conversation.

You will hear Polin at the Alcazar. He comes on at the end of a
preliminary program of excellent variety before the _revue_. Fat jolly
old Polin, whose song creations portray the happy-go-lucky lot of the
common soldier. He reels in from the wings, convulsed with laughter
over some recent adventure, the result of which has put him in the
guard-house for ten days. He is fairly bursting his red-trousered
uniform with merriment as he begins his first verse. He tells you every
detail of his experience, painfully even, for he is now crying with
laughter, his voice rising in little squeaks like the water in a pump
and bubbling over as he reaches the point. He is manipulating the while
a red cotton handkerchief, which is never still; now it mops his round
genial face, now it is twisted nervously into a rope and jammed into
his trousers’ pocket, and as speedily taken out to dust his knees. His
last verse is smothered in chuckling glee; little jets of cleverly
chosen words manage, however, to get over the footlights to his
listeners. The song ends amid a thunder of applause and Polin bows
awkwardly and retreats with his back to the audience, his cavalry boots
combined with his red trousers flopping as he goes.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

POLIN]

Parisians delight in caricature. It is as inborn with them as the art
of pantomime. The political topic of the day, a new phase of the law or
the government, the latest scandal, all come to the net of the writers
of these _revues_.

Eve, the daughter of Madame Humbert, that shrewdest of modern
swindlers, is presented as a Juno-like creature of lisping innocence.
Shrewd, politic and extravagant Madame Humbert, the brains of that
colossal robbery of millions of francs, steps on the stage. The
brother, Daurignac, who posed as a painter, and the famous empty safe
which played such an important role in the Humbert _ménage_, have been
the theme for a dozen clever burlesques.

“Les Apaches,” a notorious band of cutthroats, who have lately infested
Paris, and their beautiful accomplice, known as Casque d’Or, a term
befitting her wealth of golden hair, have also furnished a well-worn
topic for the _revue_ writers. So, too, the capture of Miss Stone has
inspired a clever _revue_, containing a whole stageful of pretty and
shapely brigands. The book is by de Cottens and the music by Henri
José, and it is presented in six tableaux at the Marigny with that idol
of Paris, Germaine Gallois, in the principal role.

[Illustration:

Photo by Stebbing, Paris

LISE FLEURON OF THE ALCAZAR D’ÉTÉ]

The Parisian _revue_ is in structure traditionally ever the same, and
the receipt for these musical puddings is never altered. There are two
important characters which are never to be departed from—the _commère_
and the _compère_. The first fifteen minutes are occupied with the
introduction of a young man of leisure, the _compère_, who has just
inherited a colossal fortune from a dying uncle. He brings with him an
exaggerated outfit of clothes, all brand new, consisting of a sack suit
of dove gray, lined with red satin; a voluminous red satin tie to match
the suit, clasped with a heavy turquoise-studded ring; a gold-buttoned
embroidered vest; a soft gray felt traveling hat; lemon kid gloves, and
a rattan cane. He stalks about the stage, smiling—the stage picture of
good health—and squaring his shoulders and curling the ends of his
long mustache with that debonair air supposed to be consistent with
good luck. His ecstasy over what fortune has bestowed upon him would
put in the shade even the enthusiasm of the “found at last!” gentlemen
of the Eureka advertisements.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

GERMAINE GALLOIS OF THE MARIGNY]

Before he gets half way down the village street of the first act, the
_commère_, a statuesque fairy queen in silk tights, with real gems that
are the talk of Paris, who has been hunting for him all over the town,
suddenly comes upon him in the village square, and, touching him with
her wand, makes him her _protégé_.

The _compère_ may come upon the stage as an old _roué_, weighted with
years and careworn. In this case, the good fairy immediately bestows
upon him joyous youth and the satin apparel. She is running over with
benefactions and, causing to appear suddenly a score of comely young
grisettes and hard-working peasant girls who have been loitering around
the town pump, arrayed in silk hose of assorted lengths, she urges him
to select from these his mate. Just at this moment a plain little
seamstress, in passing, runs into this barricade of village beauties,
and at once becomes the victim of their badinage. Our youthful Crœsus,
seeing her distress, straightway chooses her for his bride, amid the
discontented reproaches of the rest of the girls and to the inward
satisfaction of the good fairy.

[Illustration:

Photo by Cautin & Berger, Paris

A COMMÈRE]

The plain little seamstress turns out to be superlatively beautiful,
and as naïve and witty as she is charming, especially if it is Lise
Fleuron who plays the part.

It takes only a short time, in the second act, to clothe this stray
Cinderella in a Paquin or a Worth creation, while her old gray and
white clothes are neatly folded and laid away in the basket with which
that very morning she had started early to market to buy a _poulet_ and
a _salade_ for her sick grandmama. After this public shopping the happy
pair is ready to start upon the honeymoon. Cinderella adds to her
wardrobe a blue silk parasol, stuck in a rolled up traveling rug, while
her happy companion decorates himself with a field-glass and dons an
English shooting hat of impossible plaids.

In the third act they are joined by the good fairy and the _revue_
passes before them. This is a hodgepodge of burlesques upon the topics
of the day, ballets representing flowers and perfumes and the history
of fashion, and choruses representing the different journals, the arts,
inventions and manufactures. The costumes are superb and the massing of
color exquisite.

Before the finale, an apotheosis of gorgeous color, with a stageful of
kicking, giggling, romping gaiety, I catch a glimpse of the old baron.
He has bowed to someone on the stage and is applauding vigorously. So,
too, is the young _vicomte_ with a scar across his cheek where a ball
ploughed itself one chilly morning on the outskirts of Surennes, all on
account of just such a _cocotte_ as the good fairy who is now glancing
under her stenciled eyelids at a swarthy little Italian in the front
row.

And the Comte de B—— is shouting “Bravo!” from his box. It is he who
has paid so highly to see Ninette included nightly in the program. She
has been permitted by the amiable management, after the transfer of
certain crisp bank-notes from the purse of the count to the pocket of
the manager, to announce, in the third act, the approach of the
soldiers, “as a personal favor to the Comte and because Madame is so
beautiful.” To be in a _revue_ and flattered by the press is as
necessary to Ninette as to have a new gown for the _Grand Prix_. For,
tho she is fair to look upon and has little bills springing up along
the Rue de la Paix as thick as a field of bachelor’s-buttons, Ninette
is not an actress. But Ninette enjoys her theatrical career. She takes
the stage seriously, enjoying even the rigid discipline, because of its
complete novelty. The old playgoers come to her salon, gravely kiss the
tips of her fingers, and tell her how charming she has been in the
_revue_. Then the journalists! Ah! how amiable they are! For the crisp
bank-notes of the Comte which placed the crown of Thespis upon the
blond head of Ninette did not all of them go into managerial pockets.
But Ninette has begun to sing; listen! Yes, it is the line faintly
announcing the soldiers. A final chorus, the curtain falls and the
crowd rises and pours slowly out under the trees.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

A BEAUTY OF THE REVUE]

It is starlight. Passing and repassing like fire-flies the cabs go
trundling by. Here and there in the shadow one is stopped and a fluff
of lace and sheen of silk is bundled in. The baron walks home, the end
of his cigar glowing cheerily. The _revue_ is a success.

The Concert des Ambassadeurs with its _revue_ and variety adjoins the
Alcazar. One can dine leisurely on the balconies of either of the two
restaurants adjoining these cafés, and watch the performance during
dinner.

Near by is the Jardin de Paris enclosed by lattice and hedge, and
ablaze at night with festoons of colored lights and crimson lanterns.
Within, the crowd pours round the promenade thronged with
_demi-mondaines_, in décolleté gowns flashing in jet, in picture hats
flaming in scarlet, their white hands glittering to the knuckles in
showy rings. Some of these women are pretty and gowned in chic
simplicity, some of them are coarsely bedizened and heavily rouged,
with small cruel eyes and strident voices.

The variety performance at the end of the garden has just ended, and a
fanfare of hunting horns announces the quadrille. The passing throng
crowds about the _estrade_ to watch the dancing. Another fanfare from
the horns, and the orchestra commences a lively can-can. The crowd
presses close against the low balustrade. “Grille d’Égout” gathers up
her skirts, and a second later her black stockings are silhouetted in
billows of cheap _lingerie_. The band crashes on. The other dancers
execute _pas seuls_ with their traditionally voluminous display, which,
from its very boldness, is neither suggestive nor vulgar—it is if
anything rather a common exhibition from which all illusion has
vanished. They are a type unto themselves, these can-can dancers; half
of them might easily pass for middle-aged housemaids, but there are
some who unmistakably have been gathered from the riff-raff of such
places as the “Ange Gabriel” and the _cabaret_ of the “Rat Mort” in
Montmartre.

An old man in a long coat of rusty black and a straight-brimmed top hat
now joins the quartet. He is tall, square-jawed and clean-shaven, with
twinkling gray eyes. He is seventy years old and has been a
professional quadrille dancer all his life. Laying the smoldering stump
of his cigarette in a safe corner of the balustrade, he flings himself
into the measure. His gaunt Mephistophelian frame seems tireless as if
hardened by the dancing of a lifetime. He executes with a certain
precision and gravity the steps of a _pas seul_. When he finishes, he
recovers the butt of his cigarette, smiles sardonically at the
applauding crowd, and sits down to refresh himself over a “bock.”
“Grille d’Égout,” passing, good-humoredly tips his hat sideways with
the toe of her slipper, and his satanic majesty rises and leads her
into a maze of steps, evidently in revenge, since she begs off,
exhausted at the end of a quarter of an hour. The crowd cheers.

A shooting-gallery pops and cracks away at one end of the promenade,
while next to it a much-mirrored bar dispenses so-called English and
American drinks, villainous all, with a bottle of warm champagne, on
tap and sold by the glass, as a questionable alternative.

Below the level of the garden, almost immediately under the orchestra,
is the Crypte, where there are varied attractions.

There are two ways of getting down to this Crypte; one is by the
stairs, and the other by a polished board-chute. Both are free, but the
chute is the more popular. Here an amused crowd stands about waiting
for some Mimi or Cora or Faustine to plant her neat patent leather
boots on the board and slide to the subterranean regions beneath. Here
there are living pictures, two pink samples of which stand guard at the
entrance of this side-show, while within, a gray-haired pianist thumps
out the incidental music to the tableaux from an ancient piano with a
sleighbell tone.

At intervals the sentinels without change guard with Spring and Summer,
while Autumn and Winter pass the hat, and Venus rising from the Sea
tarries in the dressing-room to curl her hair and gossip with the
leading victims of the Deluge.

Certain tremulous cries emerge from the other side of the Crypte to the
accompaniment of a desert tom-tom and the tread and sway of Oriental
dancing.

Yes, the Jardin de Paris with all its noise and glare was built
especially to attract most of the smoking-room list of the incoming
ships. It appeals in some mysterious way to that natural prey of the
Parisian landlord, the traveler who allows himself to be held as a
hostage in exchange for his pocket-book at one of the large dismal
hotels built solely for his capture. Here in a heavily upholstered and
silent reading-room he may read the papers and watch other unfortunates
of his kind prowl about him, until at seven he is ushered by an
overbearing _maître d’hôtel_ into an even more elaborate hall of fame
to the table d’hôte, an occasion representing in gaiety a feast of
refugees after a flood. If during his stay in Paris he has the good
fortune to see anything Parisian he may count himself lucky.

The Théâtre Marigny is to the Jardin de Paris what a cozily lit
dinner-table glowing in shaded candles is to a bar-room, aglitter with
brass and glass and electric lights. This jewel-box of a theater in the
Champs-Élysées was fashioned for all seasons, but in summer it is in
full bloom.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

ÉLISE DE VÉRE OF THE MARIGNY]

The approach to it among the trees is much the same as to the others,
only that the roadway in front is packed at night with private
carriages. Here a Parisian _équipage de luxe_ of an eastern prince
crowds a new coupé, with a rhinestone clock and hidden cases of doeskin
lined with silk, a tiny mirror, a diminutive powder-puff in a box with
a golden top, a little of this and a little of that. It is the carriage
of Julie la Drôlesse; with this gilt encased arsenal one feels safe to
look one’s best in any emergency thinks Julie—that is, if Julie ever
really does any thinking. Does the little golden-puff remind her, I
wonder, of the days when two sous of _poudre de riz_ applied in a jiffy
with a corner of her jupon sufficed to charm the _habitués_ of the Rue
Blanche? _Ah! mes enfants!_

Seen through the trees the Théâtre Marigny looms like some gigantic
flower of light, the reflection from the edge of its circular promenade
illuminating in a hazy light the surrounding foliage. And such a
promenade!—aglow with fairy lamps thrust in a setting of shining
leaves, and with comfortable rattan chairs encircling the mosaic floor
which during the intermission is brilliant with the passing throng.

“Mar-ga-rita” sing gayly the Neapolitans to the strum of guitars. A
woman with an olive skin whose lithe body seems to have been poured
into a delicate mold of Valenciennes lace, glides by on the arm of a
Russian. Her jewels have bankrupted a prince.

Sundry old Frenchmen, in straight-brimmed hats with ribbons in their
button-holes, pass; one is a senator, another a famous sculptor. At
one’s elbows is a pretty blonde, her white neck encircled by a band of
turquoise reaching nearly to her small pink ears, ever listening like
tiny shells to the flattering murmur of the human sea about her.

Pop! goes a bottle of champagne in the bar. Crack! rips the spangled
train of Thérèse Derval under the clumsy heel of her admirer. “Fifty
louis for your awkwardness, idiot!” snaps the quick-tempered Thérèse.

“Mar-ga-rita” strum the guitars. But the bell is ringing for the
curtain. The spectacular _revue_ following the excellent variety is
quite different from the _revues_ of the other café concerts; at the
Marigny they are poems of color—costumes which are the creation of
artists. Nowhere is scenic art brought to a higher perfection than at
the Marigny.

One sees a ballet in tones of violet and gray that is as delicate as an
orchid. Again the stage is blazing in Spanish yellow and red as rich as
a pomegranate crushed in the sun. Now the tableau changes to a scenic
night bathed in pale moonlight with a ruined _château_ harboring purple
shadows and framed in a grove of cypresses.

From this grove may flutter a ballet of bats, or the summer night may
vanish in a twinkling and in its place appear a garden of Maréchal Niel
roses blooming at a signal into another ballet.

Now enters a procession representing the history of fashion. Here are
the exaggerated costumes of the Middle Ages, ermine and miniver, and
those impossible head-dresses, the cornettes, hennins, and escoffions
of the time of “Louis the Fair.” Then follow the grand apparel of the
Medicis, and the transparent sheath-like tunics of the _merveilleuses_
of the Directory, slit at the side and fastened with a cameo brooch,
and the toilettes of the balls of the Restoration. Even more ridiculous
costumes were worn, you remember, by women of society a hundred years
ago openly in this very Champs-Élysées, the days when all Paris went
mad over the costumes of the Athenian maidens. What a contrast are the
creations of the present age to those seen during the Reign of Terror
at Frascati’s! And yet I am sure that if any of the celebrated beauties
of the Marigny had entered the court of Louis XVI. in a perfect gown of
to-day, she would have been welcomed with wonder and delight.

[Illustration]

The curtain falls on the _revue_, smart equipages outside are being
shouted for by the _chasseur_. Julie la Drôlesse has just stepped in
her boudoir-like coupé. It has begun to drizzle. I call my own
conveyance, a dingy _fiacre_ with a green light and a jingly bell, the
_cocher_ swathed about his middle with a yellow horse-blanket. He
wheels his raw-boned steed to the door.

“_Chez Maxime, cocher!_”

“_Bien, Monsieur!_”



                              Chapter Two

                              PARIS DINES


The famous chef, Vatel, before a dinner given to Louis XIV., killed
himself because the fish was late.

Nowadays he might simply have shrugged his shoulders in apology, a mode
of reply most popular in France, and against which all argument is as
useless as so much steam in the air.

Boil with rage if you will; plead with the ingenuity of a defending
lawyer, or berate him in language which would inspire renewed effort in
a government mule, the Frenchman’s shrug will disarm you as neatly as
an expert duelist sends your foil spinning out of your grip, and you
will be conscious of how useless your tirade has been only when you
perceive the delinquent monsieur with the elevated shoulders bowing
himself politely out through the door.

A year ago the veteran chef of a celebrated Parisian restaurant
resigned his position. Prices had been affixed to the menu. With this
deplorable change the famous _maison_ had sunk below the dignity of
this august personage. To attach to so noble a creation as a “_filet
d’ours à la François-Joseph_” a fixed price as one would to a pound of
butter, made his further connection with the house an impossibility.
“_Parbleu!_” he cried, “Had Paris become a _gargotte_ for the _grand
monde_ that he should have lived to see this?”

There still remain a few smart restaurants where there are no prices on
the menu, but even in these there is a second edition of the bill of
fare with the prices thereon which the _maître d’hôtel_ will
apologetically hand you when he discovers you are neither a millionaire
nor a fool, even tho your French may be not so good as his own. If you
have the leisure, the best plan is to order your dinner for a _partie
carrée_ in advance and for a certain fixed sum, as most Parisians do.

[Illustration: AROUND THE HALLES]

In no city in the world are there so many and so varied places to dine
as in Paris. One can hardly look right or left from any corner of any
street and not find restaurants, from little _boîtes_, where a _plat du
jour_ and a bottle of wine are to be had for a few sous, to those whose
cuisine and rare vintages are adapted only to the well-filled purse of
an epicure. There are numberless resorts frequented by the vast army of
bohemians, some the rendezvous for students and _grisettes_, others for
the poets, the pensive, long-haired devotees of the symbolistic school,
and kindred souls in the realm of art. There are those patronized by
jolly, devil-may-care young doctors, sleepless night-owls, who discuss
till graying dawn their latest operations with a complacent sense of
superiority over the other half of the human world, who, they are
convinced, without their medical aid would be left as helpless as a
mass of struggling white bait in a net. And there, too, buried away in
the dingy alley of Montmartre and fringing the ill-reputed
neighborhoods of La Butte and the great Halles, are the feeding places
of thieves, reeking from the odor of decaying vegetables and bad
cheeses, yet, they say, supplied with some of the rarest wines.

[Illustration: A BUSY MORNING]

It was a famous French sociologist who declared, from extended personal
investigations of the private life of the Parisian mendicants, that the
best _champagne brut_ he had yet encountered he had found on the dinner
tables of professional beggars.

Along the lighted streets and boulevards are the great _brasseries_ for
Munich beer and German dishes, and the richly decorated taverns, some
of them in black oak shining in pewter and ornate with medieval
decoration and stained glass. These are swarming with eddies from the
passing world until long after midnight. Many of these are the habitual
rendezvous of journalists, like the Café Navarin. Others, like the Café
des Variétés and the Taverne de la Capitale, are the favorite places
for actors, and still others for painters and musicians. There is
hardly a resort in Paris which has not its distinct clientèle, from the
_buvettes_ of the _cochers_ to Maxime’s.

And of soberer kind are the innumerable, perfectly kept establishments
created by Duval and imitated by Boulant. They are big places for small
purses; everything is of excellent quality, well cooked, and served by
respectable women in spotless white caps and aprons.

There are hundreds of other restaurants besides, with _dîners_ and
_déjeuners_ at a _prix fixe_, in which a secondary quality of food is
turned into a clever imitation of the best, and where the wine is plain
and harmless and included with a course dinner _au choix_ for two
francs fifty and less. On _fête_ days and Sundays these well patronized
_petits dîners de Paris_ are crowded with bourgeois folk: clerks with
their sweethearts, _commerçants_ and their families, economical
bachelors, and others, frugal-minded, from out of Paris who have come
into the metropolis to spend a long-anticipated holiday.

[Illustration]

And in contrast to all these dining places are the smart restaurants,
filled with the correct _grand monde_ and the chic _demi-monde_—the
Café de Madrid, the Maison Anglaise, Paillard, Arménonville, La Rue,
Joseph, Ledoyen, Voisin and the Café de Paris. There are serious old
places, such as the Tour d’Argent, plain and unadorned, where all the
wealth is in the _casserolles_ and the cobwebbed bottles. Then, too,
there is the ancient Restaurant Foyot, with its clientèle of senators,
academicians and military officers, and the Restaurant La Pérouse on
the quay of the Seine, where resort savants and magistrates and others
less grave—an old-fashioned place with a narrow stairway leading to
quaint, low-ceiled _cabinets particuliers_ and excellent things
simmering over the kitchen fires below stairs and certain rare old
Burgundy lining the walls of the cellar.

Just such a place of seclusion and good cooking is the “Père La
Thuille” in Montmartre. It is often a pleasure to dine in a room devoid
of gilt and tinsel. The Père La Thuille is restful in this respect. The
cuisine is perfect and the wine very old.

[Illustration: THE KITCHEN OF A CHEAP TABLE D’HÔTE]

At one of the tables in the rectangular dining-room a celebrated diva
whose bodice glitters in gems is dining with monsieur, the aged
director of a gas company. Several empty tables away another elderly
gentleman is filling Mademoiselle Fifi’s glass of champagne. Half
hidden in another corner of the long leather settee a lady with
delicate features and frank, intelligent eyes pours forth her soul and
the remainder of a bottle to a well-groomed man at her side. The light
from the shaded candles shows more clearly his strong fine hands. Now
the little finger of his companion touches his seal ring quite
unconsciously, as one would give an accent by a gesture to a
confession. For a moment he covers her tiny hand with his own. Poor
devil! he must return to his regiment to-morrow and, what is still
sadder, the lady is married.

The New York Dairy Lunch, with its mirrored and marbled bathroom
decoration, its elevating Bible texts, and depressing “sinkers,” and
its dyspeptic griddle-cakes cooked in the window, would never make a
success with Parisians. One of the most doleful sights I have seen in
Paris was a sad-looking gentleman in black sitting at a cold
marble-topped table of an expensive _patisserie_ lunching on a weak cup
of tea and a plate of cream-puffs—_Chacun son goût!_

There exist here, however, “Express Bars” along the boulevards, where
by dropping two sous in a slot you are permitted to rob the
nickel-plated chicken house installed beneath of any of a dozen
different articles, from a _baba au rhum_ to a glass of beer. But
Parisians stop at these places very much as they would to hear a
phonograph, or as French children stop for their _goûter_ at four
o’clock in the cake shops, or as men and women of all classes drop in
for the celebrated fruits in spirits dispensed at the famous solid
silver bar of La Mère Moreau.

The French never hurry over dinner. The pleasure of dining must not be
spoiled by haste. It is an hour which nothing postpones. If anything
serious is to be decided upon, Parisians dine first and then think the
matter over. Perhaps after all they are right, for are we not at our
best in heart and spirit when we have dined wisely? Anger, hatred, even
the green monster jealousy, fade away with the progress of a good
dinner.

[Illustration:

Drawn by Sancha

LE PLONGEUR]

Into the Restaurant Weber comes an old _bon-vivant_ growling. He stands
for a brief moment surveying the tables, chooses one of the few
unoccupied ones and plants himself savagely in front of the snow-white
cloth. “The devil!” he mutters to himself. “She’ll get my letter
to-morrow. _Bon Dieu!_ to think I have been imbecile enough to trust
her!”

“Has monsieur le comte ordered?” interrupted quietly the _maître
d’hôtel_ Léon.

The count glowers over the menu.

“Some _filets de hareng saurs_.”

“_Parfaitement, monsieur_,” replies Léon, and he repeats the order to a
waiter.

There follows a pause, during which the count’s irate eye (the one not
occupied with his monocle) wanders absently over the list.

“Perhaps monsieur would like an excellent purée of peas to follow?”
Léon naïvely suggests.

“_Bon!_” gruffly accepts the comte. “And a _homard_, and a roast
partridge with a good salad, and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, ’93,” adds
the count.

“_Bien, monsieur_, I will season the salad myself.” And Léon, with an
authoritative gesture, claps his hands twice, stirring into increased
activity the already alert waiters, gives a final touch to the
appointments of the count’s table, and hurries off to attend to another
dinner, a jolly party of four who need no further cheering up.

[Illustration:

Drawing by Sancha

LE MAÎTRE D’HÔTEL]

“She has the innocent eyes of a child when she lies!” mutters the
count, returning to his thoughts.

But the tiny _filets de hareng_, with their tang of the sea, sharpen
his appetite, and the wine quiets his nerves and refreshes his brain,
and the purée warms him and the lobster steaming in its thick, spicy
sauce cheers him. The hatred within him is growing less. That lump of
jealousy buried so deep half an hour ago has so diminished that, when
the fat little partridge arrives, garnished and sunk in its nest of
fresh watercress, this gives the fatal _coup_ to ill humor. Again the
champagne is rattled out of its cooler. Léon, whose watchful eye is
everywhere and whose intuition tells him when a patron wishes to talk,
now comes to the count’s table.

The count has by this time become the soul of good humor. He
compliments Léon on the dinner and Léon compliments him on his taste in
selection of viands, and so they talk on until Léon goes himself for a
special liqueur.

The count gazes peacefully on those about him and admires, with the
critical eye of a connoisseur of beauty, the pretty woman at the corner
table. Silent waiters lay the fresh cloth and bring him an extensive
choice of Havanas. All these final accessories have little by little
taken away the remnants of his ill feeling. He puffs reminiscently at
his cigar. His very spirit of revenge seems to have been steamed,
sautéed and grilled out of him. Now he takes from his waistcoat pocket
a thin gold watch—the one he bought at a round sum in Geneva years ago
and which has been faithfully ticking away the seconds of his turbulent
life so long that he has come to regard it somewhat with awe, as one
would the change from his last dollar.

The delicate hands have crept to nine o’clock and two tiny bells within
strike the hour. The count writes upon his visiting card a short line,
seals it in its envelope, calls the _chasseur_ and, giving him the
note, directs: “Stop on your way at Véton’s for the red roses.”

[Illustration: LE CHASSEUR

Drawn by Sancha]

Ah, mesdames et messieurs, how many of your little troubles have been
settled by the doctor with the _cordon bleu_ and the shining saucepans!

The Taverne Pousset is famous for its beer, its _écrevisses_ (crawfish
boiled scarlet and served steaming), and its _soupe à l’ognon_, a
bouillon redolent with onions and smothered beneath a coverlet of brown
cheese.

Parisians flock to Pousset after the theater. At night its richly
decorated interior is ablaze with light and crowded with those who have
stopped for supper after the play.

There are dozens of just such _tavernes_ and _brasseries_. These German
institutions have oddly enough become most popular with the French, who
have grown in recent years critically fond of good beer. I might add,
however, that it is the only thing German that has become popular. That
little affair of Sedan is still in the gorge.

The Coq d’Or, on the rue Montmartre, is one of the oldest taverns in
Paris. Its clientèle during dinner is composed of _commerçants_ and a
mixture of _bourgeoisie_ and Bohemia, but after midnight, as happens in
scores of other such places, the Coq d’Or is filled by a veritable
avalanche of _demi-mondaines_ of the surrounding quarter.

If you dine at Marguery’s, order a _sole au vin blanc_ and let Étienne
bring it to you.

If it is summer you will find a table in the covered portico brilliant
with hanging flowers, or you may choose a snug corner behind the cool
green hedge that skirts the entrance of this famous rendezvous of rich
_bourgeois_ and _commerçants_.

The restaurant Marguery is unique. It is a magnificent establishment,
perfect in its cooking, its wines, and its service. I know of no
restaurant where for this perfect ensemble one pays so moderate and
just a price; the proof of this is that here you will see the true
Parisian; neither is there any supplementary charge for any of the
_cabinets particuliers_ or the private dining-rooms. It is the only
_maison de premier ordre_ I know of which does not tax one more or less
heavily for the right of seclusion.

You will have hardly finished your sole before a distinguished old
gentleman with a decoration in his lapel and a crumpled napkin in one
hand, will pass your table, bowing graciously to you if you are a
stranger and stopping to say a few pleasant words if you are a friend.
He is slightly bent with age, massive of frame, with silvery locks
combed back from a broad forehead, and his face is illumined with
kindliness and intelligence.

[Illustration: “VOILÀ, MONSIEUR!”

Drawn by Sancha]

Such a personage is Monsieur Marguery, whom the French government has
decorated in recognition of his skill as a _restaurateur_, a man who
still directs personally every detail of this superb establishment
where one can dine for a few francs with an excellent bottle of wine,
or give a dinner fit for an emperor, including, I have not the
slightest doubt, the famous peacock tongues should you wish them, and
with a choice of wines from a cellar whose contents are valued at three
millions of francs.

In a corner a fat merchant, flushed with a heavy dinner, is ready for
his chat with the _sommelier_. He tells him with some fervor that he is
proud to say that when he was eighteen he dined on a sou’s worth of
bread on the stones of the Place de la Bastille. “Men of that time were
ready to begin at the foot of the ladder,” he continues, puffing at his
cigar, “but nowadays our sons, who see us in comfort, want to obtain
money and luxuries without going through the mill.”

“_Par ici! monsieur_,” says Étienne, and he leads the way up a carved
stairway to the floor above, past little _cabinets particuliers_ whose
cozy interiors are marvels of good taste. Here is one with walls of
rich brocade of the time of Louis XVI. Another is in early French, with
its adaptation of Chinese ornaments. Another is paneled in ebony inlaid
with mother-of-pearl; still another in pale lilac brocade and teakwood.
Each of these private rooms has its serving pantry across a narrow
hallway where the linen and glass and silver are kept spotless, in
readiness at a moment’s notice. A superb private stairway in white
marble and stained glass connects this portion of the restaurant with a
dignified courtyard leading out to a gray little side street. But these
are the little rooms.

[Illustration]

There is, besides, a great banquet hall in medieval Gothic that might
have been carried bodily out of some feudal castle in Touraine with a
carved minstrel gallery, a superb ceiling and rare stained glass. Here
wedding breakfasts and dinners are given with cotillions to follow. And
there are two other salons paneled in rare carving and inlaid woods. At
the bottom of another stairway Étienne directs me across the mosaic
floor of a spacious hall and into a grotto-like cave. Here is another
dining-room. It is resplendent in stalactites with green ferns growing
from walls of moss-grown rocks and a cascade talking to itself and
purling into a green pool.

Music? no, indeed. People who come here have too good a time to need to
be waltzed through the soup or polkaed through the entrée.

It is four o’clock and they are laying the round table in the center of
the grotto with twenty covers. It might be for a state dinner in the
presence of a king, so perfectly is the table appointed and in such
rare taste. A bed of violet orchids forms the center of the table.

I look up and catch sight of the venerable Monsieur Marguery on the
stairway, peering interestedly into the room to watch the laying of the
service. He has suddenly entered through some hidden door—a panel in
the wall which Étienne afterwards shows me. “He is everywhere, as you
see,” said Étienne, quietly.

[Illustration: LE GÉRANT

Drawn by Sancha]

“Ah! it is you, monsieur,” says Monsieur Marguery, cheeringly, as he
approaches. “And have you found this grotto room charming with the pale
orchids and the cool water? You know in summer,” he continues, “it is
quite as cool here as in the Bois”—and he might have added, quite as
beautiful, for this fairy corner needed only the setting of wit and
beauty to make it a paradise.

“And you see, my friend,” he continues, “you have seen only the
upstairs of my restaurant. Come between seven and eight some evening
and I will put you in a corner of my kitchen when it is busiest,” and
he adds, with smiling good humor, “I won’t warn them you are coming.”

I was the guest of the chef in the Marguery kitchen at eight o’clock
one Saturday evening. There were a dozen wedding banquets going on
upstairs, and scores of hidden _dîners particuliers_, while the
restaurant, screened from the kitchen by a swinging door, was filled to
overflowing.

I passed through this door and met my host with the _cordon bleu_, who
looked more like the director of a railroad than a cook. He placed me
in a safe corner connecting the meat room and the kitchen, from which I
could observe and still be out of the way of the rush, for the famous
cuisine was as busy as a stage during a spectacle.

A long counter ran the length of the room, serving as a barrier against
hurrying waiters. Back of this counter lay the culinary plant. Five
great ranges were in full blast.

At one a cloud of steam rose from some entrée, on the second range a
great copper saucepan was suddenly lifted and the fire beneath it sent
up a lurid flare which went slipping up the hooded chimney.

The room was in a state of bedlam with the cries of meat cooks,
vegetable cooks, soup cooks and waiters hurrying for their orders. The
system beneath all this was perfect.

[Illustration: THE VEGETABLE COOK

Drawn by Sancha]

A waiter sprang through the swinging door shouting his order. He never
was forced to repeat it, so alert were the staff of cooks that they
seemed to have been awaiting him.

“_Un Chateaubriand aux pommes!_” cries a garçon.

“_Un Chateaubriand aux pommes!_” corroborates a chief cook.

Instantly a man dodges out of the meat room, a second later the steak
is sizzling over the fire, the vegetable cook stands ready with his
potatoes, a fourth prepares the sauce, a fifth attends to the plates,
and the sixth looks after the garnishing of the dish.

“I am glad you find it interesting,” said my host the chef, as he
joined me for a moment’s rest.

I bowed my compliments.

“And is this the only kitchen for so large an establishment?” I
ventured, in surprise.

“Yes, the only one; we do it all here. It is the organization which
counts, not the space. With these five ranges and this force of men we
are competent to handle as many dinners as come under the roof.”

The chef’s eye seemed everywhere. When the rush was over, his private
coupé would call for him, but at present he was on guard.

I marveled at this man’s memory. What a catalog of sauces, each one
containing scores of ingredients, he must carry in his head! What a
list of dishes, each one prepared in a dozen different ways! I imparted
to him the fact that my culinary skill was limited to boiling an egg,
and he laughed good-humoredly, his intelligent face, with its white
mustache, glowing under his white cap in the glare of a nearby fire.

“Precisely, monsieur, but you see it is the same in every profession;
one must learn the minute parts which tend to make something which in
itself pleases, whether it be through the mind, the pocket, or the
stomach,” and, asking me to excuse him for a moment, he disappeared in
the direction of a cloud of mushroom steam to overlook an entrée.

A cook near me was busy with the final sizzle of a duck _en casserole_.

The man was an artist in the way he stirred his sauce. Even in the very
handling of the burnished copper _batterie_ of saucepans about him.

I fully expected this culinary prestidigitator would produce the lady’s
ring from the duck he had just finished cooking and discover the rabbit
in my overcoat pocket, but the duck was smothered so quickly in a rich
brown sauce, with a dash of this and a pinch of that from the magician,
and finally thrust for a final magic touch over the crackling blaze,
that, before I could guess what might happen next, it was on its way to
some _cabinet particulier_, where a quiet little man with gray hair was
waiting to carve it.

It was he who won the grand prize for his skill in getting sixty slices
from a single duck. He has quite the air of a dignified surgeon who has
been called in consultation.

He carves with a plain knife sharpened upon the back of a plate. The
duck seems to fall apart under his expert touch. He mashes into a paste
the liver and heart, pouring over the whole the red blood gravy.
_Voilà!_ It is done; and, passing the first dish to one of the group of
garçons at his elbow who have been watching him, he bows and leaves the
room. The group of waiters about him are deeply interested in this
object lesson, and it is this willingness to learn which makes in Paris
so many good _garçons de café_.

The famous old Maison Dorée has closed its doors. The business of this
celebrated restaurant had fallen off so seriously that its death was
but a question of days. Paris had deserted it in its old age and dined
elsewhere.

Many of the waiters, who had spent their lifetime beneath its roof,
hoped against hope, and continued to serve the few habitués who
remained faithful to the end.

Occasionally a party of strangers would open the door, and, finding the
restaurant deserted, close it apologetically and go on their way to a
gayer place.

[Illustration: THE MAGICIAN]

In encouraging moments like these the veteran waiters ceremoniously
took their places and the dignified _maître d’hôtel_ advanced to greet
the newcomers bravely, as if the ruin of the old house were not an open
secret. There is something pathetic about the death of an establishment
like the Maison Dorée.

How much gaiety it has seen in its lifetime!

How faithfully it has cheered those who entered its doors!

Here the _vie Parisienne_ that Grévin and Cham drew so inimitably, came
to dine in the old days; the courtezans of Balzac; the belles and beaux
of the Empire.

Just as the Maison Dorée lived in thoroughbred dignity so did it die.
Yesterday morning the shades of the windows were drawn down. The end
had come. A simple card on the door bore the words:

                             “LE RESTAURANT
                              EST FERMÉ.”

And one felt like laying a wreath on its threshold.

[Illustration: THE VERSEUR

Drawn by Sancha]

On Saturdays the Café de la Cascade, in the Bois, is taken possession
of by _bourgeois_ wedding parties, with brides in white satin gowns and
grooms and their friends in dress-suits, which they had donned early in
the morning and in which they have sung and cheered, and drunk the
bride’s health and the groom’s health, and that of _les belles soeurs_
and _les petits_ nephews and all the innumerable _enfants_, cousins and
_cousines_, comrades and _amis_ connected by blood, marriage or
friendship with the happy pair.

No wonder that by midnight, after such a day of continuous festivity,
the poor bride is wild-eyed, flushed, exhausted and demoralized! For
this _bourgeois_ wedding had started at ten A. M. with the civil
ceremony at the City Hall, the civil wedding being the only one legally
recognized in France. From the hall the party proceeded to the church,
where most brides insist on going after the civil ceremony. Here occurs
another long function, including an address by the priest or minister.
Then the bridesmaids, accompanied by the men of honor, _garçons
d’honneur_, of which there are three classes, make two collections
among the assemblage: one for the poor and the other for the church.
This procession is headed by a gorgeously dressed major-domo, “Le
Suisse,” who pounds the floor with his heavy baton as he strides
solemnly through the aisles warning everyone to get their donations
ready. The collections referred to are made either in a butterfly net,
which discreetly hides the sous from view, or in purses made to match
the gowns of the bridesmaids and carried ostensibly open for the
expected louis.

There are several classes of weddings, just as there are several
classes of funerals, their magnificence progressing in proportion to
the money paid. You can be married at the little altar or the big one,
enter under a spangled canopy at the front door or by an unadorned
modest side one.

Now comes another ordeal for the bride; having gone to the sacristy
after the ceremony, she is obliged to shake hands with everyone present
and be kissed on both cheeks by cousins, friends or even acquaintances.
Then the procession of carriages drives up, each being given its
precedence in line. They are filled and start off for the wedding
breakfast at the restaurant. This means a well-to-do wedding; many
couples can afford only one huge stage which alternately serves in
going to and from the races, while others go on foot, often six or
seven arm-in-arm romping through the streets, singing or stopping at
some little _buvette_ for a glass of wine. The poor bride walks on and
on, holding her satin train. She is half exhausted, but is expected to
be bright and gay. Poor victim, the day has only begun for her!

After the wedding breakfast at the restaurant, trains are taken to some
nearby country place like St. Cloud, or carriages to the Café de la
Cascade. Here occurs the indispensable dinner, a feast of uproarious
_camaraderie_, where dishes succeed dishes, and where each one is
expected to be rollicking and witty and sing his song. In accordance
with an old custom, to the first man of honor is allotted the privilege
of trying to steal the garter of the bride.

The dance which follows this dinner lasts until morning, and lucky are
the bride and groom if they can escape by midnight.

But mild indeed are these _bourgeois_ weddings of the city compared
with those of the well-to-do peasants! These include festivities which
last three days, most of which time is spent at table, where beef is
followed by veal, veal by mutton, mutton by rabbit, rabbit by chicken,
and chicken by pork, and so on through the list of viands. This
continuous feast is only made possible by consuming from time to time a
stiff glass of applejack.

“_Vive la mariée!_” cry a dozen overjoyous ones in front of a café at
St. Cloud as my _voiture_ tries to pass. My _cocher_ grins and cracks
his whip. The best man, a soldier, the groom and a dozen others, noisy
with the sound wine of Touraine, link arms in front of my rawboned
steed, yelling:

“You cannot pass, monsieur, unless you cry _Vive la mariée!_”

“_Vive la mariée!_” I cry, loudly as I can, in my ineradicable accent.

There is a welcoming shout from the wedding party. The bride throws me
a kiss. The little cousins and _cousines_ and the _beau-frère_ and
_belle-mère_ wave their handkerchiefs in acknowledgment, a dozen
tumblers of red wine are offered to me, and as many are thrust at the
fat _cocher_ who is now waving his glazed hat in the air with
enthusiasm.

“_Vive la République! Vive la mariée! Vive la France!_” come from a
score of throats as I am allowed to proceed. As we rattle up a crooked
street, the din of the festivity grows fainter and fainter in the
distance, now I hear faintly the indistinct blare of the band playing
below for the dance, and now and then a cheer, stronger than the
others, floats up from the far-away café: “_Vive la mariée!_”

Dining in the open air is brought to its perfection in the Bois de
Boulogne.

The Chalet du Touring Club, at the entrance of the Bois, is a popular
rendezvous for the bicycling Mimis and the Faustines, and their
admirers. At the _apéritif_ hour in the afternoon, this cosmopolitan
café under the trees is crowded with a mixed assemblage. It is an
excellent place in which to breakfast well and at a moderate price.

The Pavillon Chinois, with its picturesque pagoda-like roof, is
frequented by a richer class.

During the season, between five and seven, all of smart Paris may be
seen at the Pavillon d’Armenonville. At this hour the tables in the
garden are filled with pretty women in chic toilettes, accompanied by
faultlessly dressed gentlemen whose bank accounts have managed thus far
to survive.

By six, the scene resembles a garden party. There is a mixture of
nature and artifice, of exquisite toilettes, of gay flowers blooming in
beds under the shadows of sturdy trees up in whose branches the birds
flutter and sing. One’s ears are filled with babble of voices and the
soft laughter of those whose life for the moment is happy. The sun has
sunk in an opalescent haze, its rays reflect upon the glass of the
pavilion and the edge of the tiny kiosks whence come the chatter and
laughter of some jolly _partie carrée_ still at table over a late
_déjeuner_. Above the hum drones the rhythm of the Tziganes; their
violins cry in some plaintive gipsy song. Now the strings rush into the
most seductive of Viennese waltzes, melting away, to begin afresh in
some mad Hungarian czardas.

Smart turnouts and little private victorias with tinkling bells are
constantly arriving and departing. Now there is a sound of prancing
hoofs and the clink of harness at the entrance of the garden, and in
rumbles a break perfectly driven by a well-groomed gentleman posed in
faultless style on the box seat. By his side sits a Parisienne of
Parisiennes—from the glossy undulations of her black hair to the tips
of her tiny patent leather boots, both of which are now occupied in
daintily descending the steps of the break. She is a famous beauty who
sings at one of the _cafés concerts_, quite young, with pretty white
teeth and an olive skin.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE OF THE CAFÉ DE MADRID]
[Illustration: THE GARDEN OF THE CAFÉ DE MADRID]

Her companion leaves his turnout to the care of his grooms, and the
break with its shining red wheels rumbles away in the direction of the
carriage shed. The charming brunette is radiant from the drive; they
have been nearly to Poissy and back. She will now have a _gaufrette_
and a _coupe de fruits au champagne_, and the gentleman who drove so
cleverly a cigarette and a long brandy and soda. This dainty Parisienne
insists on preparing this “_drôle de boisson anglaise_” herself, and,
with a rippling laugh, puts in the ice and the brandy and then the
soda, and, as a final touch, in a spirit of deviltry, adds a cherry
from her own _coupe_, for which archness she is scolded by her
companion, to whom she blows a kiss in return.

[Illustration: A RESTAURANT ON THE CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES]

At eight, the Pavillon d’Armenonville will be brilliant with a throng
of diners—men in spotless shirt-fronts and women in toilets of lace
and jewels—and crisp notes of the Bank of France will change hands for
rich food and sparkling wine. The season for these delightful retreats
of the Bois being short, the rents for them are exorbitant, and so the
_monde_ must pay the fiddler accordingly.

At the end of the Bois is the Chalet du Cycle, another restaurant with
a superb garden flaming in flowers, and dotted with cozy thatched
kiosks like the huts of some jungle village and dotted with tables
shaded by huge red umbrellas. Here at the _apéritif_ hour the crowd
comes _en bicyclette_ and automobile, and at night the hurrying waiters
serve parties dining cozily in the glow of shaded candles. The Chalet
du Cycle is a charming place in which to breakfast some sunny morning
with the Seine gliding close by under the trees.

Another segment of fairy-land, even more exquisite in its _mise en
scène_, is the Café de Madrid. Here a low, rambling, half-timbered
house forms a courtyard which is as brilliant at night with the _haut
monde_ at dinner. Here, too, as at Armenonville, the carriages,
entering under a gateway smothered in trailing vines, drive in past the
tables. Everywhere about you there are flowers—banks of geraniums and
fragrant roses. When you have dined, you can turn your armchair and
watch the beauty about you and the victorias coming and going.

It is characteristic for Parisians to sit for hours over dinner. The
Café de Madrid at night resembles closely a garden party given at the
château of some private estate. It is the absence of the feeling of
publicity that makes it so charming.

And after all this restful luxury there is the cool Bois to drive in,
through forest alleys with the smell of the fresh woods all about and
the sparkle of stars overhead.

Who will ever tell the history of this famous playground of rich and
poor? How many of its silent trees have sheltered and kept secret the
romances of the world! How much honor has been risked for the sake of
cruel, triumphant women whose hearts were tender in proportion to their
needs! And how many real loves have sought it as a refuge!

If all this is sad, turn back in your drive towards the sparkling
lights of the city, to Paris who is now wearing all her jewels. Some of
her strings of diamonds are glittering through the vista of black trees
ahead—or are these only the footlights of the great stage whereon so
many comedies, so many tragedies, and so many light farces, have been
played?

[Illustration]



                             Chapter Three

              SOME “RISQUÉ” CURTAINS WITH SERIOUS LININGS


[Illustration]

Snug in the corner of an ancient alley called the Cité d’Antin is the
“Théâtre de la Robinière.” Its official address is “3 (bis) Rue La
Fayette,” that is, you are requested to enter there and, following your
nose around the corner, grope your way in the obscurity over the
cobbles and make a second turn to the right. At last a green lantern
over the doorway glimmers ahead of you. It is the Robinière now
installed in what was once the Théâtre Mondain.

The Robinière once existed on the first platform of the Tour Eiffel;
since then its proprietor, Monsieur François Robin, has moved it to its
permanent address, all of which speaks well for its success. It is
filled nightly with Parisians of the vicinity.

Much of the success of this tiny theater is due to the indefatigable
effort of its director, Monsieur Robin, who literally passes his life
in his playhouse, assisted in its management by his wife. These two,
without help, without even a secretary, run the theater, often working
from early morning until long past midnight, writing their own posters,
watching the rehearsals of their excellent small company (in which
Madame plays), attending to press notices, receiving authors and
artists, and, in short, making a success of this old “Salle d’Antin”
where all its preceding owners met with ruin.

There is nothing elaborate about this stuffy little bandbox of a
theater. Its narrow auditorium is plain, dingy and old-fashioned. A
piano serves for the orchestra, but the comedies are clever and the
acting excellent—two things which Parisians demand first of all.

The Robinière is but one of a number of miniature theaters in Paris
beginning at eight-thirty or nine o’clock, and producing each night
four short realistic comedies, often with some clever _chansonnier_
singing his creations during the _entr’actes_. No two of these theaters
are alike, and in all of them there is good acting; even in the
smallest of these so-called _bouis-bouis_ you will find the actors to
be men and women who have worked patiently through the National
Conservatoire studying their art under the best masters.

Fortunately in France the woman who has become suddenly notorious
through her divorce or the latest scandal is not snapped up by
theatrical managers as a star before the ink is dry on the Sunday
papers detailing her disgrace. In Paris there are music hall _revues_
to receive these meteors when they fall and where they may parade their
beauty and their clothes, or their lack of them, with the rest of the
_demi-mondaines_.

During the intervals between the plays at the Robinière a single aged
“_garçon de café_” takes the orders for the refreshments in the cold,
stuffy little “_fumoir_,” while behind the bar one of the leading
ladies of the comedy graciously assists him by opening the bottled beer
and attending to the drinks, very much as a good-natured woman would
help by cutting the cake at a children’s party.

When the bell rings for the curtain Madame hurries out of her apron and
back to her part in “Les Deux Jarretières,” a farce so replete with
amusing complications that the small audience is kept in a continual
titter of good humor. In the comedy following, entitled “Le Sofa de
Monsieur Dupré,” the story is even more simple. A respectable widow,
Madame Dupré, living alone in her old age, is attended by her maid
Pauline, whom she has come to regard as an indispensable companion.
Pauline makes the old lady comfortable in her favorite chair, tucks
under her feet her foot-warmer, and, leaving her mistress, goes out to
post a letter.

In the interval which elapses before her return a neighbor calls and
kindly informs Madame Dupré that the indispensable Pauline has been the
mistress of Madame Dupré’s revered husband. When Pauline returns,
Madame, in her indignation, turns her out of the house. The foot-warmer
grows cold, the fire in the grate goes out, a thousand little comforts
have not been attended to, and the old lady decides to send for Pauline
and forgive her, preferring that her few remaining years should pass in
peace and comfort.

Quite different is the Théâtre de la Bodinière, founded by Monsieur
Bodin, the former secretary of the historic Comédie Française. The
Bodinière is devoted to interpreting the work of young authors by
celebrated artists. It is a theater where respectable _jeunes filles_
may be taken in safety. The plays are as harmless as the Rollo books.

The playwright, Aimé Ducrocq, is the founder and manager of a cozy
blue-and-gold bonbonnière of a theater called the “Rabelais,” in
Montmartre. Here, as the title suggests, the comedies and farces are
thoroughly Rabelaisian. It might even be averred that they are more so
than elsewhere, which is saying a great deal. Here farces like “La
Vertu De Nini,” “La Journée d’une Demi-Mondaine” and “Le Corset de
Germaine” pack the small auditorium nightly. Many of these are written
to a point where the curtain discreetly drops upon the situation, but
none of them harbors a line or a gesture of vulgarity. It is not worth
while having trouble with the police, and happily the French policeman
is both broad-minded and discreet in enforcing an arbitrary rule. When
you ask a policeman here why a thing is prohibited he will shrug his
shoulders, stare at you in astonishment, and reply brusquely: “It is
prohibited because it is prohibited!”

Which settles all further argument.

There are but two things which I find absolutely interdicted: malicious
satires against the Government, and breaking the Parisian peace. The
rest, which has merely to do with “l’Amour,” seems to the policemen not
worth bothering their heads about.

A “_’Cipal_” (municipal guard) is detailed during a performance of any
kind in Paris in every theater, music-hall or _cabaret_, to jot down in
a small black-covered book anything which may offend his sense of
delicacy, but he is generally too hugely amused in watching the stage
to do so. During moments like these his ruddy visage, with its bristly
mustache, at other times so stern, is wreathed in wrinkles of delight,
and his formidable short sword sleeps peacefully in its scabbard. These
are the lighter hours of his existence; where he is needed you will
find him brave as a bulldog and quick as a cat, and intelligent and
honest as well. You cannot bribe a French policeman.

The one who generously offered me half his seat at a crowded
performance the other night poured forth his opinions _sotto voce_
during the second act of a risqué comedy. He was sincere and
enthusiastic in his praise of our President and struck his
brass-buttoned chest as he pronounced him a good man and a brave
soldier; however, I regret that some of his views of La Fayette are
unfit for publication, as he regarded him as a traitor to France.

“_Oui, monsieur_,” he said, savagely; “a man who gave his strength and
knowledge and power to another country when that man belonged to our
army was a traitor.” He said other things, too, about the gentleman,
but they will not bear a graceful translation.

Below the Rabelais, past an iron grill and at the end of a cobbled
court in the Rue Chaptal, is the “Grand Guignol.” Its oak interior in
carved Gothic was once the studio of the celebrated painter,
Rochegrosse, and resembles at first glance, except for the boxes
running beneath the low choir gallery, the lecture room of a modern
Episcopal church. The prevailing tone of the room, gray corduroy and
oak, is thoroughly restful. From the spandrelled ceiling hang iron
chandeliers of ecclesiastical design. A paneled frieze of allegorical
paintings, representing the human passions—envy, hate and
jealousy—enrich the cove. Carved angels support the corbels of the
ceiling beams, and a square of rare Gobelins tapestry enriches the wall
back of the gallery. A simple proscenium, in keeping with the rest of
this exquisite interior, fills the end of the room.

[Illustration:

Drawing by F. Berkeley Smith

PAULINE]

There is a small foyer, too, with a Gothic stairway, which contains a
unique collection of steel engravings of players of bygone days. Snug
in an alcove beside this interesting _promenoir_ there is a tiny bar.
At nine the boxes beneath the Sunday-school gallery are brilliant with
women’s toilets, framed by the white shirt-fronts and sombre black of
their well-groomed escorts. Such is this charming after-dinner theater,
which has been so appropriately named “The Big Punch and Judy,” where
very cleverly constructed short plays are presented, such as
“Scrupules,” “Une Affaire de Mœurs,” “La Coopérative” and “La Fétiche.”

They are plays of dramatic incident rather than of plots. Some of them
are as risqué as the most daring at the Rabelais. Some are full of
pathos, others screamingly funny, and still others revolting in their
realism.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

LA FÉTICHE AT THE GRAND GUIGNOL

Enter the Murderer]

Of the last class is “Une Affaire de Mœurs.” In this the identity of a
famous judge of the high court is discovered by two _demi-mondaines_
who are dining with him in a _cabinet particulier_. The judge has at
one time sentenced the lover of one of the women and she threatens to
expose him in revenge. He offers money, and finally half his fortune to
quiet her, but the woman is determined to avenge her lover. Then his
terror at the thought of scandal and disgrace brings on a stroke of
apoplexy. The two women, now thoroughly frightened, send the old waiter
out for a doctor. He hurries back with a young physician whom he finds
carousing with his friends in the café below. The young man stands
aghast as he recognizes the form in the chair; it is his father. He
listens at the heart, then buries his head in his hands. The judge is
dead. The women huddle in a corner terrified. The room is in disorder,
reeking with the odor of cigarettes and spilled wine.

“Come, monsieur,” gently urges the aged garçon. “Pull yourself
together, we must get the body into a cab unnoticed.”

The realization of the disgrace and publicity of the _affaire_ when it
will be known in the café below, braces the son to act quickly. He
suggests to the garçon that the body be removed by the back stairs.

“There is no back stairs, monsieur,” confesses the garçon. “The only
way out is by the main stairway and through the café. We will walk
monsieur out and support him between us. I have helped to do it once
before that way; no one will suspect—they will think monsieur is
drunk.”

Together they put on the Inverness and, adjusting the opera hat of the
deceased and supporting the body beneath the arms, walk slowly with it
to the door leading to the stairs, the two women preceding them,
singing hysterically the _marche des pompiers_!

As the curtain fell the audience seemed in a stupor. A woman beside me
sat staring at the floor, crying. Men coughed and remained silent. Not
until the pianist in the foyer struck up a lively polka did they leave
their seats for a little cognac and a breath of air.

Just such realism is typical of the Grand Guignol.

Even smaller than the Grand Guignol is the cozy “Théâtre des
Mathurins,” with a pretty foyer twice the size of its small auditorium,
which scarcely holds two hundred.

Here short plays like “Monsieur Camille,” “Le Quadrille” and “Les Deux
Courtisanes” are played with rare finish by De Marcy, Cora Lapercerie,
and other famous beauties of the Parisian stage.

During the _entr’actes_ a shutter over an archway of the foyer opens
and the head of a celebrated singing satirist is thrust out from the
dark closet like the punctual cuckoo in the clock. During the
intermission he sings his original songs to the listening throng, a
mixture of the _grand-_ and the _demi-monde_ promenading below.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

CARMEN DEVILLERS

“Gil Blas,” First Prize Beauty]

Most diminutive of them all is the “Théâtre des Capucines,” whose
auditorium is no larger than a private salon. This _intime_ playhouse
is frequented by the most exclusive audience to be found in Paris.
Before the curtain rises it resembles a drawing-room filled with a
society gathering for amateur theatricals. The walls of yellow brocade,
with a delicate decoration of nasturtiums, gives it even more the air
of a private drawing-room, and the tiny stage seems to have been
erected for the occasion. Only when the curtain rises is the illusion
dispelled, for at the Capucines the short comedies are rendered by many
of the most celebrated players of the French stage.

Here the great Gémier plays “Daisy,” in which his portrayal of a
race-track thief, jealous over his sweetheart Léa (Mademoiselle
Carlier), is a masterpiece of character acting.

Other little comedies, like “Au Temps des Croisées,” by Guy de
Maupassant, with Gallo in the principal rôle, and Viviane Lavergne and
Max Dearly in “Chonchette,” with charming Thérèse Berka, leave little
to wonder that the tiny Théâtre des Capucines is crowded nightly with
the most intelligent of Parisian society.

I found my old friend the Baron after the play at Pousset’s beginning
his midnight supper of “_écrevisses_” and beer, alone and in a
grumbling mood.

“_Ah! Ah! tant mieux!_ It is you, _mon ami_,” he cried. “Good, we shall
have supper together. It is fortunate that I find you. Do you know,” he
continued, motioning me to a seat beside him, “I have this evening been
to such a bad play, _Diable!_ It is a relief to get here. To rinse the
eyes, as we say, from such a gloomy _histoire_! One goes to the theater
to laugh, is it not, eh? Not to have what you call him—zee, zee blues.

“For three hours, my friend,” he continued, frowning at the memory of
it, “for three hours, _imaginez-vous_, I have been following a lot of
unhappy people into the horrors of Siberia. Those who survived until
the last act were finally put to death or separated brutally from those
dear to them. Many of them were blind. The heroine was forced to betray
her lover, who was finally led to execution before her eyes.
_Sapristi!_” and the Baron pounded his great fist on the table. Then,
choking with laughter over the humorous side of it so that he dropped
his monocle, he continued:

“It is to this I go to be amused, _mon Dieu_! I would rathzair be at a
funeral!”

Here the garçon interrupted us with the cognac.

“Tell me, Baron,” I said, as we lighted our cigars, “what, in your
opinion, has made the _bouis-bouis_ become so popular with you
Parisians? I have just come from the Capucines. It was not gloomy
there, I assure you; the little house was as gay as a tulip patch and
bubbling over with merriment.”

“Listen,” replied the Baron, putting his forefinger to his forehead
impressively. “The success of the little theaters with short plays
comes from the fact that nowadays a crisis has been reached in
theatrical affairs. The public, as it is after all for them that plays
are given, have put the author at his wits’ end to invent something
new. The old actors who are too sure of themselves have become
careless, and the young ones, in trying to create a personal _genre_,
end in attaining a _pose_ which, through its affectation, is always
lacking in art.

“Then there are the critics, who are always watching for ‘the little
beast,’ as we say, and who seem to discover only elephantine faults,
and finally there are the directors of the theaters, who are constantly
torn between their desire to please the public, satisfy the actor,
protect art, and fill their purses.”

“It is different with us,” I replied; “we have syndicates in charge of
our amusements. The personal desires of the players are not considered,
and the managerial head of the enterprise rarely knows or cares about
art.

“It is purely a business with him, like the running of a series of big
dry-goods stores, and so he hustles out on the road his companies
number one, two and three, and sits twirling his thumbs in his office
computing how much cash they will bring him back.

“And what were the conditions which brought this crisis you speak of?”
I asked, returning to the main subject.

“Ah, then you have not heard,” he replied, “of the investigation made
by Messieurs Allard and Vauxelles, who addressed themselves to the
directors of the principal theaters: Messieurs Porel, Claretie,
Antoine, _et al._, and to authors like Brieux and Hervieu. They
explained clearly where the trouble lies. In the first place, it is a
fact that the growing popularity of outdoor sports in France
constitutes a real danger for the theater. The love of physical
exercise, of bicycling, automobiling, of field sports and ballooning,
increases daily with us.

“It is excellent for the muscles, but when one has steered one’s
“tuff-tuff” all day or been driven through the clouds in a balloon, the
tired sportsman is in no condition nor frame of mind to enjoy in the
evening a serious play. Is it not so? It is imbecile to expect it of
him.

“Notice,” he went on, “that I am speaking of the Frenchman upon whom
physical exercise has more effect than on the Anglo-Saxon who has been
accustomed to it from his youth. With our impetuosity we overdo things.
Besides, the athlete is not a good spectator, for what is won for the
biceps is lost for the brain.

“What our good man of the world returning from a hard day’s sport must
have, is either his bed, or a light, gay _revue_ with perfect brain
rest during it. So he dines late and goes to the circus, or to the
performance of a _revue_, or to one of the small theaters, or to the
_bouis-bouis_, where the lightest of farce comedies sends him home in a
good humor. These latter miniature theaters have become so popular with
us that nearly every _quartier_ now has its _bouis-bouis_. They have
sprung up like weeds and steal an important part of the audience of the
serious theaters.

[Illustration:

Photo by Stebbing, Paris

A POPULAR STAR OF A REVUE]

“Then, too, the modern comforts we find in our restaurants and other
public places are lacking in our playhouses, whose interiors have
remained unchanged for more than half a century, and where one is badly
seated or stifled in a stuffy box. Again, the theater proper, once the
most moderate-priced of amusements, has become with us so expensive
that most bourgeois families or the average Parisian cannot afford to
go.

“Besides, in the serious theaters the _entr’actes_ have become
interminably long, the acts ridiculously short. We begin to have
enough, too, of what we term _pornographie_; of plays full of salacious
intrigue and of moral degeneracy, which most of our young authors seem
to revel in, and which they call ‘a slice of life (_une tranche de
vie_).’” He added earnestly:

“The Parisian wants gay plays, clever vaudeville, or little comedies
full of sparkling wit and humorous situations. The Parisian wants it
all the more because the stage lately has been too much under the
influence of foreigners like Ibsen, Sudermann, Hauptmann, Tolstoy and
the rest.” And the Baron added, with a wink:

[Illustration: THE SETTING OF A SOCIETY PLAY]

“It is, after all, an eternal exchange. They have taken from us what we
have taken from them. The Romantic school has nourished them, Georges
Sand has deeply influenced Russian literature. The type of the Ibsenian
woman is Georges Sand’s ‘Lélia’; even the last play of Dumas, that
‘Route de Thèbes,’ shows the influence of Ibsen. Dumas imitated Ibsen,
but remained himself. These foreign writers are the sons of our French
_romantiques_, who themselves were the sons of Schiller and Goethe,
just as they in turn were the sons of the eighteenth century and were
descended from Diderot and the Encyclopedists.

“But the public revolts against all this modern pessimism,” continued
my friend—“against Monsieur Hervieu, for example, because he tries to
prove in his plays that the stage of to-day is less pessimistic than of
old. But he can say all he wishes,” affirmed the Baron, warmly, “and
the dramatic world may insist that it used to be even sadder, that the
old playwrights made people die, that Camille was dead! that the ‘Femme
de Claude’ was dead! that the theaters in bygone days were sumptuous
slaughter-houses, becoming veritable battle-fields by the fifth act, as
in ‘L’Étrangère,’ ‘La Princesse George,’ and so many others. But what
do you want?” the Baron went on. “The public like it better, for when
the people in the play are killed off once and for all, the good
spectator has no more to worry over.” And the Baron pushed aside his
_écrevisses_.

“Everything is settled! nothing to think about,” he continued. “What
fault then do the public find in the modern plays? It is not that they
finish badly, but that they do not finish at all!

“The ‘dénouement’! Ah! There is a word,” cried the Baron, “that has the
gift of exasperating all our young authors. They cannot resign
themselves like Augier, Dumas and Sardou, to see on the stroke of
midnight the hero marry the heroine and virtue get its reward.

“All this is to them old-fashioned. The dénouement of Denise makes them
smile, and Francillon, whose heroine hasn’t really deceived her
husband, seems to them a farce. So, to finish in a newer way, they do
not finish at all. _Voilà!_ It is simpler, _Hein!_ but confess that it
isn’t any more difficult!

“It is this which depresses the bourgeois, who has come to the theater
to amuse himself. He comes out at the end of the play with one more
worry on his conscience. He leaves pensive and saddened and oppressed
by the gloominess of it all.

“In ‘L’Envers d’une Sainte,’ François de Curel sends his heroine back
to her convent, and Henry Becque ends ‘Les Corbeaux’ by a marriage
which makes you foresee a loveless life of misery and oppression. And
the proof of the growing distaste for these sad plays is, that when
they played ‘Ties’ at the Français lately, they felt obliged to give at
the end a little play in one act full of gaiety, so as to dry the
eyelids and expand the chest of all those who were going to bed.”

The hour had grown late, the café was deserted, and the Baron’s
_écrevisses_ had become cold. Outside two nighthawk cabs stood waiting
for a chance trip. Fog rose from the slime of the boulevard.

“Come and dine with me to-morrow night at the Café Anglais,” said the
Baron, as he tucked up the collar of his coat and entered his cab, “and
we will go up to the Rabelais and see ‘Le Corset de Germaine.’”

You must not judge the Théâtre du Châtelet by the melodramas which
accompany the gorgeous spectacles given there; where the ballets are
superb and the arts of scenic painting and stage mechanism are seen in
their perfection.

[Illustration: AFTER THE THEATER]

The melodrama I saw at the Châtelet concurrent with the spectacle in
twelve acts and twenty tableaux, was written especially for the chief
actor. The hero finds himself, as the curtain rises, in the interior of
India, where he soon falls in love with a beautiful princess, Zuléma by
name, the only daughter of a rich sheik.

It is love at first sight with Zuléma and the hero, and, before the
orchestra had played through a dozen bars, the lovers make hasty plans
for an elopement, taking with them Zuléma’s faithful maid.

The flight of the happy pair is fraught from that time on with an
exciting series of hairbreadth escapes, but these little incidents do
not seem to trouble the hero, he being constantly occupied with his
personal appearance.

In the second act the hero led the princess, still in the jeweled
tea-gown she wore when they met, up to the last barricade of an
elaborately carved oriental city, which is besieged by the English.

Here the hero bids the princess and her maid sit down while he rolls a
cigarette, and incidentally picks off with his gun, rested on the sill
of a convenient window, the leaders of the advancing army.

[Illustration: FINALE AT THE THÉÂTRE PORTE ST. MARTIN]

During all this fighting his gray leather leggings remain as spotless
as the flowing silk scarf heaving over his manly chest, sunburned by
adventure. All of which win for him not only the heart of the beautiful
Zuléma, but of every other fellow’s sweetheart throughout the depth and
breadth of the broad gallery.

At last the trio reach a ravine. As yet none of the princess’s jewels
have been stolen; she still wears the décolleté tea-gown and keeps
her manicured nails well polished. In the ravine, behind a
papier-maché rock, Zuléma discovers her irate father, who, having
been hot-footed up hill and down dale by the bloodthirsty _Anglais_,
is glad enough to come out of his hiding place to give his blessing
to the eloping pair, and bestow upon the powdered neck of his only
child a talisman—whereupon our hero pounds his chest and swears to
revenge their pursuers.

An old friend of mine who knows Fourteenth street better than I do
tells me that most of the spirit mediums who rent a residence along it
during the season when Coney Island is frozen over, never call upon a
lesser personage for a spirit answer than Napoléon Bonaparte! For who
would pay two dollars to hear Uncle John’s opinion of his only living
relative? It is surprising that the great Napoléon should make a
beeline for Fourteenth street before even going to wash up at the club.
But he does. “Ting-a-ling-a-ling,” goes the bell, and the head of the
First Empire tells from behind a turkey-red curtain all he knows as
precisely as a museum dwarf does his age. And so it is with our hero
when he stumbles across a witch in the ravine, who happens to be
occupied at the time in boiling a purée of certain poisonous herbs. She
gives him a morsel of her stew, which he straightway puts in his upper
pocket, and becomes as invulnerable against the bullets of the popping
enemy as a Sandy Hook target in front of a popgun. They fairly rattle
off him. The princess thinks it nothing short of Providence, and says
so. She and her serving-maid occupy themselves with their fancy work at
the bottom of the secret fastness while our hero with the magnetic eye
peers over an adjoining rock, and the father of the fair Zuléma up
stage keeps sharp watch of the enemy from beneath the folds of his
voluminous cloak.

And so the day passes and night comes on apace and the stars glitter in
pairs in the canvas heavens. No sound breaks the stillness of the night
save the creepy titter of violins in the orchestra.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

MLLE. YAHNE OF THE THÉÂTRE ATHÉNÉE]

Now the ravine goes black as a solio print in the sun, and then pales
to violet. The ballet has begun. In swinging rhythm a hundred shapely
_coryphées_ glide and pirouette towards the footlights, withdrawing
among the pillars of a golden temple to give place to a hundred others
advancing.

These ballet girls are French and can dance.

Calcium lights sizzle and hiss from the gallery and from the upper
boxes. Simultaneously, their violet screens change with a click to
azure, now to gold. Carmanillo, the _première danseuse_, is whirling in
a circle as Amardi taught her to do so well years ago in Milan. When
Carmanillo dances she scarcely seems to touch the stage, but when she
walks on the flat of her feet, as all ballet women do, she has the
awkward gait of an acrobat.

A veil midway down the vast stage lifts, disclosing an oriental city. A
cortège of slaves advances, followed by another line of _coryphées_.
Behind this barrier of grace and color, come the retinue of a barbaric
court, gorgeously costumed, and headed by white Arabian horses,
caparisoned in turquoise and gold. The favorite of the Sultan is borne
past, reclining on a crimson velvet litter.

A second veil lifts, disclosing in the hazy distance the limits of the
city; spires, domes and minarets are bathed in a glow of golden light.
The depth of the great stage has been reached, and in reality it is
nearly the length of a Parisian block. Upon the topmost pinnacle of
this apotheosis of color stands a woman, nude, her hair glittering in
jewels.

In the royal box before which the cortège has passed rests the hero for
whom the fête has been given. He is still in his spotless leggings. He
accepts the homage of the conquered city condescendingly. With him it
is a nightly matter of fact. The fair Zuléma is by his side. Her maid
has had time to don a Paris hat, but Zuléma clings to her tea-gown and
gazes in adoration at the hero. A delicious waltz swells up from the
orchestra. The stage is swarming now with whirling, kicking
_coryphées_; more horses clatter in over planking, followed by more
swaying palanquins; the scene resembles a kaleidoscope of ever changing
color, costume and light.

Trumpets blaze from the ramparts of the city, a red fire burns in the
wings, and down comes the curtain.

Such is the Châtelet.

As a spectacle it is as perfect as the best choreographic brains can
make it.

Half an hour later, in a nearby café, I came across the hero and Zuléma
slaking a tropical thirst with two tall steins of beer. The beautiful
princess carried her stage shoes with her, wrapped in a newspaper.
Presently I caught sight of the faithful maid hurrying to a _cabinet
particulier_ upstairs with a gentleman in a silk hat and a fur-lined
overcoat. I afterwards learned that the maid and Zuléma did not speak.

Alas, all is not gold that glitters!

[Illustration]



                              Chapter Four

                          BARS AND BOULEVARDS


There was a certain coziness about the “Bar du Grillon.” It was well
named, this “Bar of the Cricket,” for, tho a public resort, it was
thoroughly homelike.

The walls of the tiny room were of polished cherry, and masses of
Jacqueminot roses adorned the bar.

Every day its charming proprietress, Madame Lucille de Bréville,
stepped from her brougham, passed through the screen doorway, deposited
the contents of the money-drawer in her golden purse, made a memorandum
of it with a little turquoise-topped pencil which hung from her
châtelaine, gave an extra touch to her wavy hair in a tiny mirror, and
straightway became the most gracious of hostesses to a dozen old
friends who dropped in during the afternoon and dined at eight.

A pretty woman is difficult to describe, but Lucille de Bréville was
more than pretty; she was beautiful, exasperatingly so. It might have
been the curve of her white throat, or the merriness in the depths of
her violet eyes, or the grace of her matured and exquisite figure which
gave her charm, for Lucille possessed all these. Better still, she had
a heart of gold and a clever brain, both of which won for her many
comrades who were too fond of her to make love to her. Lucille had had
many love affairs. That was one reason why she became at thirty quite a
serious proprietress of the Bar du Grillon. The pin money which it
brought her gave her an interest in life, for most French women seem to
inherit a little of the bourgeois blood of the _commerçants_. With her
pin money she could do as she pleased; with her annuity it was
different. There was always an accounting accompanying that. At thirty,
Lucille had sold most of her jewels and with the proceeds founded a
private charity, and had settled upon a frail old aunt who adored her a
yearly amount sufficient to keep her in modest comfort to the end of
her days.

Individually the habitués of the Bar du Grillon were interesting.

There was an aged Countess who came regularly, an amiable old lady,
shriveled like a faded rose, the memoirs of whose sixty years would
have filled a volume.

There was, too, a robust and jolly editor of a leading journal, a most
polished gentleman of France, with a well-trimmed beard framing a
countenance beaming with good humor.

Thirdly, there was the Count de X——, who spent most of his time
before and after dinner in the only rocking-chair in the place, with
Lucille’s two sleek-coated dachshunds curled contentedly in his lap.

Sometimes, on sunny days, the Count went to the races and with absent
mind watched the horses win or lose for him. Upon days like these he
would return to the bar late to find the rocking-chair occupied, and
this is why he did not go to the track oftener. But whether he lost or
won, whichever way the wheel of fortune spun for him, his outward
manner preserved its even tenor. He was ever polished and agreeable. To
him life had no new sensations, and he took it philosophically and with
good grace. Perhaps the sole interest which he cherished was his deep
affection for Lucille, but since many others among her old friends
harbored the same feeling, to which she responded with the most
exasperating of platonic friendships, the Count accepted the situation
logically and retired to the rocking-chair to talk to the dachshunds.

The young Spaniard who sat at Lucille’s left at dinner accepted the
situation less wisely. Often he burst forth beneath his breath with
_Caramba!_ and other safety-valves of speech. Periodically he became
desperate, and, since he could not lay his castles in Spain at her
feet, he brooded over the thought of suicide, and would absent himself
from the company for days, drinking heavily. Then he would return to
the Grillon with the excuse that he had been at death’s door in his
apartment. Tho he looked it, Lucille knew better and lectured him for
his recklessness and especially for his intemperate habits, which she
abhorred.

Another habitué was Mademoiselle Marcelle Dauval, who fell in love with
an aeronaut and spent most of her time in balloons. When Marcelle was
late for dinner the company wore an anxious air, took out their
watches, poked their heads out of the door and surveyed the heavens
through the slit of the narrow street. Often, as the dinner hour
approached, the sky was black and full of scudding clouds, and the
dinner would begin without her in silence born of anxiety. Then what
joy when Marcelle arrived, her cheeks glowing from a rarer atmosphere
than any of these sordid worldlings knew! “_Pâté de foie gras_, cold
pheasant and _champagne brut_ at a height of two thousand meters! Eh,
Hop!” and Marcelle gave a little scream at the memory of it. Often she
navigated the big balloon herself, throwing out the sand and sprinkling
the “Germans,” as she used to say, as they glided on long trips over a
patch of the Fatherland. Or she would curl herself up in the creaky
basket while her companion Jacques busied himself with his aerial
observations.

The company would listen entranced to these recitals of the trim
Marcelle’s daily experiences, and marvel at her fearlessness.

There was another genial comrade, Jeannette Brébant, whose forty odd
years had left her frank, mannish and homely. There was no feminine
pettishness to be found in Jeannette. She called a spade a spade, and
dealt you whole shovelfuls of badinage, shook hands like a man and had
a kind word for every one, even her old lovers. A well-groomed woman
was Jeannette, with her Titian hair as neatly dressed at four o’clock
as the smartest coiffeur in Paris could make it.

At eight, the faithful Louis, whose position as barkeeper and waiter
made him indispensable, placed a Japanese screen in front of the door
as a hint to warn intruders, pushed the three small tables together and
laid the fresh cloth for dinner, bringing the vases of roses which had
adorned the bar to the table. Lucille loved flowers, and a basketful of
long-stemmed Jacqueminots came daily from the hot-house of her pretty
place at Étretat, where Lucille rested during the hottest of the summer
months when every Parisian who was able fled from the city.

Then Lucille closed the bar for its annual renovation and the faithful
Louis was sent on a vacation to his family on the German frontier,
where he rested from his cocktail-mixing and studied English, which he
rarely had occasion to use and which was quite as bad as his French.
The only thing American about this “American Bar” was the sign over the
door, beneath which appeared a long list of American drinks with weird
names, translated to him from a bartender’s guide published on the
Bowery in the early sixties, not one concoction of which he had ever
been able to mix.

During the summer period workmen invaded the Grillon and a general
varnishing took place. The small tables were repolished and the chimney
leading from the tiny kitchen cleaned. The piano was tuned and the cozy
interior made spick and span for the grand opening in the fall. Then
all of the old crowd would return; it was like the reunion of a family:
Jeannette and Marcelle and the editor and the Count, from his villa by
the sea, and the Spaniard, who never left Paris. Then such a dinner! So
much had happened in the meantime, and there was so much to talk about.
The Countess had been a month at Trouville.

“_Ah! mes chers enfants_,” she would begin in her gentle voice, “It was
not like the old days there any more. Such a common lot about the
_petits chevaux_; none of the great toilettes I used to see, nor as
many louis won and lost, either,” she added, nodding her head.

“I played my small purse cautiously on the ‘_bande_’ one day. I won a
thousand francs, and the next morning I took my little bonne Thérèse
south; she is not very strong and she was so happy to see her mother.”

The editor rose and bowed.

“You have a good heart, old friend,” he said, as he bent and kissed the
tips of her fingers.

“We stayed there a week on their farm,” continued the Countess, “and I
spent all day in the sun watching the pigs and the chickens. You have
no idea what an appetite I had and what a rest in my old clothes.”

“Come, come, all of you, my children,” cried Lucille, “my soup is
getting cold;” and she buried the silver ladle in the _purée_.

For some moments after the company were served they remained silent.
The _purée_ deserved a prayer of thanks, while Marie, Lucille’s bonne,
beamed at their satisfaction from the doorway of her kitchen.

“It is good, is it not?” laughed Lucille, delighted as a child over the
new soup.

“_Voilà!_ That is a soup,” roared the editor.

“My dear child,” put in the Count, bowing to Lucille, “I have known
intimately for years the best _purées_ of the Maison Dorée; those were
soups. This is a masterpiece! a dream!! a soup to comfort the soul!!!”

“Ah! you dear old boy,” cried Lucille, patting him on the cheek, “you
are always so appreciative;” and she added, in a whisper, to the rest:
“Marie is enchanted.”

[Illustration: IN A BOULEVARD CAFÉ]

Over the coffee and liqueur they often discussed in open debate such
serious topics as whether or not marriage was a failure; the finer
points of fidelity; were women more faithful in their love than men?
had luxury become a necessity? what really constitutes happiness in
life; were it not better to enjoy the present, since one could not help
the past or control the future? etc., etc.

Such discussions as these would last until the hour grew late and the
hands of the clock ticking over the bar crawled to another day.

Then the shutters were put up, the company dispersed, and Lucille’s
waiting brougham would drive her home.

But it was the Count who saw her safely within her carriage, stowed the
sleepy dachshunds in their warm corner under the seat, and raised his
hat as Lucille drove away.


Some years have passed since the old days when “The Bar of the Cricket”
held such comrades as these.

It was winter when I turned down the narrow street again one afternoon
and entered the door.

The room was silent. The cozy interior had remained much the same as it
had been in the past; the walls of polished cherry, the tables, the
piano, were in their places as of old, but the roses on the bar were
artificial, and a self-feeding stove roared in one corner.

The faithful Louis came to greet me. He looked haggard and grayer; the
only other occupant of the room, a man with a hard jaw and a diamond
ring, lounged in the rocking-chair, muttering to himself over a
cocktail.

A glance at Louis told me all.

“And so they have all gone?” I said.

“Yes, monsieur;” he paused, and his eyes filled.

“Ah! it is not no more now like old days, is it?” he continued, forcing
a smile, and his hand trembled, clutching his napkin. “Madame de
Bréville, you know, she sold the bar? Yes, she has gone avay. I hafn’t
seen her once,” and he looked up sadly.

“And Mademoiselle Marcelle, she is no longer in Paris; she vent avay
now three years to St. Petersburg,” he continued.

“Once I seen de Countess. She come back to see me. Poor Countess, she
is sick—sick like one dead—so pale, so white, yust like dot napkin.
And now she lives mit Madame Brébant. Ah! Himmel! How I laf sometimes
at dot Madame Brébant, she vas alvays making some fun. And de Spanish
gentleman, Monsieur Gonsalez! He got married. Ya, he vas married to a
fine lady with plenty money.”

“And the editor?” I asked.

“I don’t see him no more; he vas a goot man;” and he added, softly,
lowering his voice, “I tink he vas in love mit Madame de Bréville! Ya,
I tink so.”

“Have you heard from the Count?” I asked.

“Ah! you don’t hear about him, no? He was suicided. He vent and shooted
hisself. It vas in all de papers. He vas a fine gentleman, too, de
Count. And so, monsieur, it is only Louis who stays; may be I be better
off if I do, vhat you tink? May be it vill be a goot place again some
day?”


In the Bois one sunny morning a little girl in a velvet dress came
running to me as fast as her chubby legs could carry her and screaming:
“Monsieur, monsieur, my mamma wishes to speak to you; she is just over
there in the carriage,” and she pointed with a majestic sweep of her
little hand to a landau waiting under the shade of the acacias.

It was Lucille, happily married to one none of us had ever seen.

There are many bars in Paris with barmaids who speak perfect English
and a clientèle of _demi-mondaines_ who do not.

[Illustration]

Many of these places have grown to be miniature Maximes and quite a few
of them keep a _chasseur_ in gilt buttons. They are frequented by the
idling _jeunesse_ with more “louis” than brains, who occupy late in the
afternoon the high stools and pay accordingly for the flattering _bons
mots_ of certain powdered and bediamonded ladies who in years are old
enough to be their grandmothers. The fortunes of the callow youths
tumble eventually either into the hands of these well-seasoned
adventuresses or into the pocket of the card-sharps who patronize many
of these bars. Beside these there are many eminently respectable
looking old gentlemen who, with unhappy homes and no clubs to go to,
prefer passing a restful hour steeped in an atmosphere of mixed drinks,
perfume and expensive toilettes. Here Mimi la Duchesse strolls in at
five o’clock with her French bulldog, “Mignon,” wearing all the
diamonds around his neck that the fair Mimi has not room for on her
fingers. Later in the winter, when creditors are pressing and Mimi’s
debts have run into several hundred thousands of francs, there will be
a very _chic_ catalog issued announcing an absolute auction of her
effects, together with her private hotel.

It will contain several full-page photogravures upon hand-made
deckle-edged paper of her residence, with a frontispiece showing the
interior of the “Great Hall” paneled in Spanish leather, its fireplace
taken from a famous château of the time of François I., and hanging
over the carved shelf a celebrated Madonna, under whose sad eyes have
been played nightly so many heavy games of baccarat. Turning another
page you will discover the view looking south through the conservatory
filled with rare exotic plants and orchids. Another page shows the
_salon_, rich in carved ivory and _cloisonne_ and _art nouveau_, none
of which Mimi knew anything about except that they were expensive and
that many of them accompanied the bonbons. Then the dainty boudoir is
depicted, paneled in teakwood and lapis-lazuli. Finally her superb
jewels are illustrated: priceless strings of pearls; rings of weighty
emeralds and pigeon-blood rubies; a gold toilet-set studded with
sapphires; and something to adorn Mimi’s neck, composed mostly of
diamonds, with a miniature automobile in rubies, pendent from a display
of jeweled fruits upheld by two caryatids in diamonds and emeralds.
Besides all these, are three ruby collars that Mignon as yet had never
worn.

[Illustration:

Drawing by Perinet

MIMI QUESTIONS THE BARON]

With the publication of this _catalogue de luxe_, rumors reach the ears
of the public of the lady’s dire distress, and the pathetic side of
this forced sale will be dwelt upon. At the private view her residence
is crowded with the curious of the _grand monde_. These women of the
most exclusive society cross her threshold and block her stairway and
pry into every open corner of her domicile—women who would have been
shocked to find themselves in front of her doorstep at any other time.
So much for the moral hypocrisy of the virtuous.

And while the stairways at this private view are thronged with the
fashionable world, Mimi and her most intimate friends are laughing over
champagne and biscuits in the kitchen, the only room that has not been
turned over to the public.

But when a few days after the sale you learn that Mimi has stayed the
cruel hand of the law by the sale of half her jewels, and sent out
invitations to her nearest friends for a housewarming and a costume
ball _chez elle_ Sunday night, you begin to see the advertising feature
of the scheme, and realize something of the _naïveté_ of Mimi.

The opening of the first small bar in Paris managed by women happened
only a score of years ago and met with a furor of popularity, the
receipts reaching often three thousand francs a day. Since then the
number of bars has grown yearly until now many of them are constantly
on a point of failure owing to the increase of competition.

Most of them have become the idling resorts of habitués of the new and
old _jeunesse_ with small fortunes, who spend hours therein chatting
with the Mimis and Claras who chance to drop in daily.

The best class of our bars would never become popular with the average
Parisian, for the reason that there are no Mimis or Claras in them to
talk to. The Parisian demands that at least a certain part of his day
should be spent in the society of women, and it has been the habit of
his life to have them about him as much as possible. The hours he is
forced to spend at his _bureau_ or in the Bourse he considers only as a
necessary means to the pleasures of his leisure.

In these bars it has become a general custom to serve a table d’hôte
dinner at eight to the habitués and to any stranger who may feel
himself sufficiently at home to stay.

These small public dinner parties are amusing. As a rule the menu is
plain and excellent and the guests agreeable.

Just such a place is the new bar in the rue Duphot, a somewhat
pretentious little room smartly appointed and crowded nightly. Another
is in a corner opposite the Madeleine, its narrow interior dazzling at
night in a profusion of yellow brocade and electricity. Such bars as
these are of the newer class, but there are others far more attractive
in their simplicity, such as the one in the rue du Helder and in the
rue Taitbout and the old London bar in the rue Lysly, and others in the
rue St. Honoré and in the rue Louis-le-Grand, yet in none of these has
the character remained unchanged, for some of them have had a dozen new
proprietors in the last five years.

A most excellent establishment is Henry’s bar in the rue Volnay, the
most American in its type existing in Paris. It is patronized by old
and young from the incoming steamers. If you wish to shut out Paris
from your mind, drop in at Henry’s any afternoon at five; it is
precisely as tho you had been magically transported back to the Hoffman
House.

You will hear Southern colonels there still harping on the war, and
shrewd politicians from up York State telling personal anecdotes of Mr.
Platt, you will find well-groomed men dropping in for a friendly
cocktail before dinner, and you will learn all about the fall business
in ladies’ “plain velours,” the button trust, the latest details of the
corner on babies’ caps, and how Max Dindlehoofer held up Poughkeepsie
with a new brand of _champagne brut_—but all this is not Parisian and
we may dismiss it.

The annual invasion of foreigners supports the big hotels and the shops
of the rue de la Paix and the adjacent neighborhood, but the foreigner
makes little impression upon the average Parisian, who regards the
coming of the “_étranger_” as a small incident in the life of his
beloved city. He passes him unconsciously as one passes the corner of
his street.

[Illustration: A QUIET HOUR]

“They come and go and we are not conscious of them,” said a Parisian to
me. “Besides,” he added, “there are tens of thousands of Parisians
whose daily life is confined to the _quartiers_ in which they live—big
sections of the city where the foreigner seldom finds himself.”

If you wish to see every type of Parisian go by in an endless stream of
swarming humanity, seat yourself upon any of the _terrasses_ of the
grand cafés that line the sides of the grand Boulevards stretching from
the Madeleine to the Théâtre du Gymnase. It is of all Paris the most
frequented—the broad highway of this vast city into which pour the
inhabitants of thousands of connecting byways.

Its stones are worn by the tramp and scuffle of countless thousands
pausing to gaze at the crowded _terrasses_ or to stop for an
_apéritif_. The system with which these popular _terrasses_ are managed
by the generals and their lieutenants in charge of an army of hurrying
waiters is perfect. These head-waiters in command of the sidewalk
portion of these establishments will note your arrival and departure
with the quickness with which a telephone operator detects the dropping
of one of a thousand numbers on a central switchboard. During the rush
you can spend hours over a six sous _bock_, but when you leave, your
table will be filled before you have mingled with the passing stream of
humanity in front.

[Illustration: READY FOR AN OUTING]

The types composing this multitude are as varied as the ever-changing
pattern in a kaleidoscope. Every step you take brings you past a dozen
individuals each one different from the other. Turn quickly, and count
them if you can. The last moment has brought you by a motley score of
merchants, a _cocotte_, an Arab sheik, a ragpicker, a lady, a Japanese,
a _boulevardier_, a simple soldier, an _officier_, two gamins, and a
pretty girl with a bundle. As you turn, a _camelot_, running in a pair
of dirty canvas slippers, screams the latest edition of “La Patrie” in
your ears, and a man in a top hat begs your pardon for having jostled
you in the ribs. There is no time for formalities—he disappears in the
stream and you are borne on with the tide to the corner. Taking
advantage of a second’s halt of the passing cabs, you dodge over to the
opposite curb and into another section of the multitude. The crossing
which you have just left behind is noisy with the snapping of whips and
swearing _cochers_. In many of these carriages one catches a glimpse of
fair women. In a passing cab a _blanchisseuse_ and her sweetheart are
enjoying a chance drive, with madame’s tardy wash deposited in a huge
basket beside the good-natured _cocher_. Old women pushing small carts
cry their wares: “_Les belles pêches, voilà les belles pêches, dix sous
la livre!_”

Three long-haired students go whistling by. In the midst of the throng
you hear bits of conversation:

“Listen!” says a pretty woman radiant over some news to her
companion—but they are gone.

Two more go by furious. “It was he then who lied!” cries one to the
other—but the crowd swallows them up.

Sentences from strange languages reach your ears in the throng, scraps
of Turkish, the guttural of some passing savage, now the cold drawl of
an Englishman, again the soft lisp from a Spanish signorita.

“Say, Bill, you’d orter seen Charley, they didn’t do a thing to him, I
told Lil, says I ...” and two fellow-citizens stride on.

At the corner, jostled by the human tide, two _chic demoiselles_ fresh
from a rehearsal at a nearby theater pass, laughing over some recent
adventure. The next instant they are climbing to the top of an omnibus
and are rattling away toward La Villette.

At night this great highway is ablaze with lights and the swarm still
passes, augmented by the masses who have poured from the shops. By
eight the restaurants and theaters are full to overflowing, but there
is no diminution in the stream of passers-by along the boulevards. The
only hours when the life there seems slack is when the masses are at
work or in bed. There are no people who enjoy their city more than do
Parisians, or who use its thoroughfares so much as a place of pleasure.

The cafés along the boulevards are frequented by a vast _clientèle_ of
men and women of every clime and occupation. These cafés are favorite
places for rendezvous. In one of them a man glances from time to time
to his watch over his paper as he awaits his friend. At the next table
a blonde with steel-gray eyes awaits someone, she does not know whom.
But there is no hurry in either case.

Parisians never rush. They do not say, “Meet me at three thirty-five,”
as we do. “Good, it is understood, my friend,” the Parisian will say as
he bids you good-bye; “I shall look for you then for the _apéritif_ at
Pousset’s.” You must not remind him of his tardiness if he does not
arrive until half past six, or be surprised if you see him patiently
waiting for you at three. They do things that way in France.

[Illustration:

Drawing by F. Berkeley Smith

IN THE BAR DU HELDER]

From Christmas to New Year’s the boulevards become still more
picturesque. Hundreds of booths are erected along the entire route. At
night gasoline lamps flare from the stands of fakirs and venders of
toys and cheap novelties who cry their wares. For ten sous you can buy
“The Last Sigh of Madame Humbert.”

There are endless mechanical toys for children, and the latest
inventions for the household, the inevitable lamp-burner so economical
that it actually puts a dividend in your bank if used long enough.

There are to be had for a few sous marvelous potato-peelers which turn
with one twist of the wrist the most modest _cuisinière_ into a _cordon
bleu_. And lightning eradicators for bachelors’ grease-spots, altho
many of the benedicts who came to buy needed a stronger mixture than
was contained in the neat package with instructions, to render
themselves immaculate.

“_Allons! allons! mesdames et messieurs_,” shouts a man in a wig and a
silk hat. “With my wonderful invention the misery of old age vanishes.
It is a veritable fountain of youth! With it the old become young and
youth stays off advancing years! I not only sell it but I give you free
the receipt, and all for the price of ten sous.” And the fakir runs his
fingers through his wig and throws back the lapels of his shining
frock-coat stained green by years of inclement weather.

[Illustration: A VETERAN MARCHANDE DE JOURNAUX]

And there is still another, the gentleman fakir, robust and faultlessly
dressed, who is an expert in drawing a crowd, accenting words of
promises that stay the feet of those hurrying in front of his flaring
lamps. He shows the glittering contents of the box he offers complete
for a franc. Pandora would have thrown her own away in the ash heap had
she seen half its tempting contents. “_Mesdames et messieurs_, I would
have to lie if I told you that ever before was such an offer made to
the public, and, as you may be justly inquisitive as to how it is
possible to give all this for the small sum of one franc, let me tell
you that it is for an advertisement only that I make this stupendous
offer—for the night only, and nowhere else and at no other time will
you get such an opportunity. Now, _mesdames et messieurs_, follow me
closely; for one franc I give this watch, a superb present by itself;
with the watch, this chain and cross, bound to please any young lady;
with the chain and cross, this silver bracelet that will fit any arm;
with the bracelet, this exquisite pocket-book, also in silver, lined
with silk; with the purse, a handsome set of studs for a gentleman. Who
would not be proud to own such as these?” And he placed his fat hand
over his heart. “And, finally, with all this,” he bellowed on, “a
miniature brooch. Now, _mesdames et messieurs_, see for yourselves.
Step up, step up!” And the fakir pushed back his silk hat on the back
of his head, wiped his perspiring forehead, dived in a little red trunk
studded with brass nails, and took out a dozen boxes to satisfy the
outstretched hands. He had the crowd going and he knew it.

At a distance of ten feet, under the glare of the light and handled
cleverly, the display of gorgeous trinkets might have come from the Rue
de la Paix. His audience became enthusiastic. The hypnotist in the
shining tile rattled on, and, while his hands were making change and
producing from the two small brass coffers the packages of treasures,
his eyes searched for those about to weaken. The francs poured in, and
I recalled the words of Mr. Barnum: “The public the world over likes to
be fooled.”

On fête days and holidays the Boulevard Sébastopol is swarming with an
ever-moving mass of humanity. It is one continuous bargain counter from
the Place du Châtelet to the Grand Boulevard. Here the bazaars and
dry-goods and provision stores do most of their trade on the sidewalk.
The fronts of some are festooned with whole cartloads of pheasants,
rabbits and hares, and with dozens of deer and wild boar strung up at a
bargain. There are other façades ornamented with cheap clothes of the
“nobby suits for gents’ order,” and hardware bazaars and cut-rate sales
on roasted coffee, boots, shoes and cheap silk petticoats.

The cafés along the boulevard are for the most part dingy and
unpretentious, but they suffice as resting-places to many from the
passing stream of humanity. Women without hats, with their market
baskets; the pretty daughters of _concierges_ out for a day’s
bargaining; hundreds of the wretchedly poor; families of country
_bourgeois_; the tough with his middle swathed in a red scarf and his
black hair reversed in greasy wisps slicked over his ears, his mate a
girl in a red jacket, with a bit of ribbon serving as a collar, her
black hair twisted on the top of her head and shining in pomade. This
pair hurry along together, he with the easy gait of a thief, she with
her red hands in her pockets, her feet in low-heeled slippers buttoned
with a strap, treads on by his side, her eyes scanning the pavement. He
has promised to give her a new pair of slippers with high red heels.
To-night she will be a queen at the ball of the “Boule Rouge,” coveted
by other thieves. Farther along a crowd is struggling to take advantage
of a cut-price in chickens, and a fat _commerçant_ with a red face
squeezes his way out holding a pair of bargain broilers. It is a
boulevard of the people, a rendezvous for the thrifty and the
hard-working, the thoroughfare of the outcast and the unfortunate. It
is sordid, but it is intensely human. It is this distinct character of
Parisian thoroughfares, each one differing from its neighbor, which
makes the highways and byways of the city so interesting to those who
delight in walking abroad with their eyes open.

There is not a street one turns down but which is unique in itself. In
the shops along the “Rue de la Paix” the art of satisfying the demands
of vanity and the whims of the luxurious has been brought to
perfection. The Rue de la Paix is looking its prettiest at noon, the
hour when all the little _ouvrières_ and _modèles_ from the smart
dressmaking and millinery establishments pour out for their luncheon,
happy as school-girls during recess.

If it happens to be a sunny noon with the blue sky as a setting to the
gilded balconies brilliant in roses, geraniums and trailing ivy, you
will see the street below alive with these merry little women, each one
vying with the other in the neatness of her coiffure and the _chic_ of
her simple black frock and _fourreau_. They promenade chatting, joking
and gossiping, without their hats, for no little _ouvrière_ ever thinks
of wearing one until her day’s work is over.

With the exception of the working classes, the average Parisienne is
not beautiful. It is her chicness, her vivacity, and her innate
knowledge of the artificial which makes her attractive, for not all the
actresses in Paris are in the theaters.

In stormy weather you may go to the arcades. These covered _passages_,
which have existed through so many Parisian epochs, are honeycombed
with shops full of novelties. Such are the Passage de l’Opéra, the
Passage des Panoramas and the Passage Choiseul. How many hearts of
French children have palpitated as they were dragged through the
Passage Jouffroy, containing the very workshop of Santa Claus himself!
It is a paradise of things that squeak and wind up; rattling railroad
trains which swing around tin curves and under painted tunnels with a
rapidity sufficient to suffocate the helpless toy passengers within;
toys for poor little good children and rich little spoiled ones, dolls
whose deportment is faultless and whose vocabulary is limited to “papa”
and “maman” and those who can not say a word, but whose clothes, from
the tiny hat to their walking-boots, with an accompanying trousseau
containing a summer and winter automobile coat, goggles and all, might
have been fashioned by a Worth. Not even in the public squares are the
soldiers of France more immortalized than in the Passage Jouffroy.
There are whole forts full of Germans ready to be blown to smithereens
by the gallant advancing force of _Les Français_, and formidable
cannons mounted on sanded ramparts with pill boxes containing enough
ammunition for the most glorious of victories, to say nothing of the
gorgeous _pièce de résistance_, the satin pantalooned _balanceur_ with
violet eyes that close like an owl’s, who accomplishes the most
difficult gymnastics by little fits and starts to the accompaniment in
liquid tones of a music-box tearing through the overture of William
Tell in waltz time.

There are also tens of thousands of people who come to gaze at the
shops and the passing throng, to whom it is a treat to pass an evening
among the throng and lights, and to whom from childhood the mere fact
of a promenade has been accepted as a pleasure. You can see them with
their wives and children, for Paris counts an endless number of these
_petits ménages_ where money is scant, work ill paid, and where the
habit of the most rigid economy is practised from one year’s end to the
other. There is next to no allowance in the budget for pleasure, and
the glamour of the street, the ever changing interest of the shop
windows, and the warmth and comfort of the cafés, are the only
recreations within their means.

Christmas eve is celebrated in every café and _brasserie_ by a
“_réveillon_,” and for days tables are taken in advance for this gay
celebration. Supper is served at midnight and the champagne flows on
until broad daylight, and by 2:00 A.M. the cafés are in an uproar of
jollity. Their interiors present a brilliant sight, and the informality
and good nature of a _bal masqué_ reign supreme until the light of dawn
creeps through the windows. So great is the crowd at many of the
_réveillons_ that the entrance doors are forced to be closed at
midnight. At the Taverne Royale, at Pousset’s, at the Café de Paris and
dozens of other places equally celebrated, there is no gayer sight to
be seen throughout a Parisian year.

On New Year’s Eve all Paris is merry.

New Year’s is of more importance to the French than Christmas and is
made much of. It is the custom to send bonbons and flowers to one’s
friends, and to acquaintances cards _ad libitum_.

In the booths the “ready-while-you-wait” printers do a thriving trade,
and the stores for bonbons are open until long past midnight. The
stroke of twelve announcing the new year is a signal for all of Paris
to embrace. In the cafés along the thronged boulevards and in the
public balls you will see the general custom carried out with
considerable zest.

[Illustration]

High up in Montmartre at the ball of the Moulin de la Galette on the
last night of the year, at the approach of midnight the roll of a drum
announced the hour, and Father Time with his scythe appeared in the
orchestra gallery and melodramatically waved good-by to the old year.
Twelve! pealed out the bells, and a great cheer rose from the dancers.
Father Time became a youth bearing a placard 1903, and a thousand
dancing couples stopped to embrace and wish each other “_une bonne
année_.” Simultaneously the orchestra crashed into a lively _galop_,
glasses were drained, fresh corks popped from fizzing bottles amid
cheers and screams. Everyone was happy, and perhaps a few turned over a
new leaf.



                              Chapter Five

                               MONTMARTRE


“Mesdames et Messieurs,” announced the genial major-domo of the
cabaret. “I have the honor to present to you our sympathetic comrade
Mademoiselle Marcelle Tournon in her répertoire.” He bowed low to a
pretty dark-haired woman advancing through the crowded aisle, and,
extending his hand, led her ceremoniously to the platform in front of
the piano.

“Come, friends,” cried the director, his ruddy face beaming with
enthusiasm, “a _double-ban_ of applause for our distinguish artiste.”

Simultaneously there rose a cheer from the roomful of bohemians
followed by a double round of handclapping in appreciative greeting.
Then, settling themselves beneath the rifts of pipe and cigarette
smoke, they remained quiet to listen to the singer. Marcelle smiled
graciously in recognition. The owl-like accompanist ran a light
_arpeggio_ over the keys, and the singer, raising her music, poured
forth her mellow voice in “Pierrot.” “Poor Pierrot, you could not give
a necklace to Columbine,” sang Marcelle, “and so she left you.
Columbine, grown vain and selfish, leaves you to shiver and think in
your garret. The strings of your lute are broken, the tunes will not
come any more, and your poor heart is aching from a cruel little crack
clear across it that never, never, can be mended.

“Columbine fluttered like a butterfly out to the glitter of the world.
Thorns scratched her in the garden as she hurried on, and beyond the
wall of their paradise she found the world, but it was not at all like
the world of her dreams. The rain faded her pretty dress, and hunger
shriveled her delicate body; meanwhile the multitude rushed by her
unheeding.

“Poor Pierrot! How she craved the sound of his voice now, his trustful
eyes, the cool touch of his white cheeks! How merry were the tunes he
strummed for her!

“She crawled back as best she could to what was once their paradise;
she found herself at last at the gate, and, swallowing her pride,
pulled the latch and entered the garden.

“The place was silent. The flowers drooped their heads; not even her
old friends the roses nodded to her as she flew on up the path to the
house. Here she paused to listen again. A bat squeaked in the eaves
over her head, and in terror she pushed open the door and climbed the
rickety stairs.

“‘Pierrot! Pierrot!’ she cried, and in the garret she found her Pierrot
huddled upon a bed of straw, his poor white face turned towards the
wall. Columbine called to him, feebly first, then in a frenzy, but he
did not speak. A string of the lute snapped in the silence and
Columbine sank down in a little heap, and cried, and cried, and cried.
And they say that days afterwards the birds found them and covered them
with leaves.”

The song was ended and Marcelle, amid a thunderous applause, joined a
group of singers awaiting their turn.

As nightly my pipe added to the hazy atmosphere of the cabaret, I came
to know Marcelle better. She was a woman of thirty, beautiful when she
sang, fascinating when she smiled, but in repose her clean-cut features
were saddened with the hardships of a bohemian life which had been not
only a wearing struggle for recognition, but even one for existence.
She often spoke of her present country home, of her garden, and how
busy she was with it all in the hours in which she was free from the
cafés-concerts and the cabarets. I thought I could discover upon a
closer glance a tinge of sunburn in her complexion, and her hands
looked like those of a woman who spent much of her life digging in her
garden.

“You must come and see my garden,” she said one night, “it is on the
summit of Montmartre, on the very top of the Butte. Ah! you should see
the view from there! All Paris lies below. It is not like a city up
there at all as you shall see; it is quite like a little country
village. Come! I will show you how to find it,” and, taking a scrap of
paper from her music roll, she drew me a plan, a zig-zag route up the
Butte which, she assured me if I carefully followed it, would lead me
in due time to her tiny villa.

[Illustration: GEORGES WAGUE, A CELEBRATED PIERROT]

“I call it the Villa Polichinelle,” she said. “That is a good name, is
it not! It is only a little joke of a house any way. It is the last one
as you turn down the lane and go through the orchard. The others are
all occupied, so you see I have neighbors. Madame Franelli, a danseuse
at the Opéra and her two daughters, live in the first house. Thérèse,
the youngest, took a prize at the Conservatoire. She is very beautiful;
you may remember her at the Châtelet, a slight blonde, exquisitely
made. It is in her blood to dance well; her mother was once a great
dancer but is almost an invalid now and rarely goes on.

“In the second lives a poet of Montmartre; the third is occupied by a
famous old clown; a painter has the fourth; and Duflos, the comedian,
the fifth. You see we are quite a colony of _artists_ together. We call
it ‘our village,’ and have elected Duflos as Mayor and Monsieur Dallet,
the clown, as chief of police. Dear old Monsieur Dallet, he would not
hurt a fly, his heart is so big!

“Come Sunday morning. I will show you my tulips and we can breakfast in
the garden.”

And Marcelle rolled up her music and hurried away to sing at another
cabaret.

I folded the all important plan with its scraggly route carefully in my
portfolio.

Sunday dawned clear and sparkling in sunshine, so to the garden I
started. Leaving my cab at the place Blanche, I began my ascent of the
Butte by way of the steep rue Lepic, pausing for breath under the
ancient windmill of the Moulin de la Galette.

Up! up! up! out of Paris, for the city now lay shimmering in a haze of
sunshine below. The spires of Notre-Dame and the massive roof of the
Opéra jutted from a sea of streets and buildings. And so I kept on up
the Butte, past a cobbler who kept a cow. I was crawling now like a fly
over the bald cranium beneath which, as all good _Montmartrois_ will
tell you, lie the brains of Paris.

I turned up quaint streets, many of them lined with two-story houses of
ancient pattern, which leaned for support upon their sturdier
neighbors, who in turn rely upon great beams shored against their
crumbling backs. I sat down by the roadside to re-study my plan. “To
the left,” it said, and I kept on. A flock of geese waddled indignantly
ahead of me and, crossing the road, disappeared under a fence. Nearby
some chickens scratched and pecked away in front of a doorway whose
threshold was worn and polished by the passing feet of a hundred years.
I peeped through high fences behind which lay orchards and wild gardens
grown picturesque from neglect, and farther on I passed an ancient
burial-ground.

Here the narrow streets were unpaved and at night gloomily lighted by
an occasional oil lantern, friendly safeguards to the wayfarer obliged
to turn these corners after dark.

I confess I was grateful for the sunlight, as I imagined how this
strange quarter would look at night, and recalled to mind that the
notorious Cabaret of the Assassins lay upon an isolated ledge of the
Butte but a stone’s throw away.

Finally, at the end of a lane I came to a gate, and, entering, found my
way through a tangled orchard leading to a small settlement of frame
houses fronting on a winding path. I looked about for the inevitable
_concierge_, to whom to disclose my identity and ask permission to
enter this bohemian community, when, with a growl, an ugly-looking dog
rushed to the end of his chain and, with his scrubby neck bristling,
stood eyeing me viciously. Over his kennel was printed in blue letters
“_Concierge_,” evidently the work of Marcelle’s neighbor, the “clown,”
I thought. Measuring the length of the brute’s chain and the circle it
would describe, if swung in my direction, I shied by him and kept on my
way. At the narrowest part of the path I found another sign: “Room for
three automobiles only.” Over the door of the smallest house I read:
“Château of the Duke and Duchess of Montmartre.” I passed the poet’s
house, a little box of a place, half smothered in a tangled garden. He
had decorated his modest façade with the verses of Villon and Verlaine;
a satyr in stone rose from a labyrinth of flowers, and nearby a marble
nymph, bathing in a miniature pool, peered laughingly from her
hiding-place at the immovable satyr. Art was far more cheaply to be had
there than three meals a day.

The pathway now ran through a short thicket. Beyond it lay the crest of
the lane, an expanse of blue sky, and, nestling in the prettiest of
tiny gardens, the “Villa Polichinelle.”

Marcelle, who had been watching me find my way, now called to me from
an upper window, and came down to greet me in a sunbonnet and a calico
wrapper.

“I am so glad you have come,” she said, cheerily. “And did the plan
work well?” she added, with a laugh.

“Perfectly,” I replied. “Only you did not put in the dog.”

“Ah! Cerbère—yes, I know. He growled at you because you were a
stranger. He is not a bad old fellow, tho, when you know him; you see
he seems to feel responsible for us.”

I could not help shivering at the thought that Marcelle came home long
after midnight, often alone, through rain, snow and slush, passing, to
get to this mountain retreat, through one of the worst quarters of
Paris, inhabited for the most part by gentlemen and their consorts
whose records are as black as the ace of spades.

“Now,” said my hostess, “you must see all of my modest kingdom. First
my garden, then my family, and then my house.”

“Good,” said I, “the garden shall come first.”

“Ah! I am glad you love flowers,” cried Marcelle, growing enthusiastic
as I complimented her upon the beauty of her roses. She threw aside her
sunbonnet and led me triumphantly to a bed of red and yellow tulips,
which was edged by a row of box skirting the neatly-raked gravel path,
so characteristic of French gardens.

“I planted them all myself,” said Marcelle, “except this last row,
which the poet helped me to do. You see they are jumbled—as I told
him, like some of his verses. He is a symbolist, you know. Nothing the
poet writes can one ever understand. But he says we all will do so some
day—that the cheap realism of the present will soon sink into oblivion
and be forgotten.”

There were beds of _giroflees_, masses of pinks, odd corners of velvety
pansies, and bower-like arbors covered with Jacqueminot roses. We
descended some stepping-stones to a smaller lower garden and entered a
thatched kiosk lined with turkey red, upon which were hung bas-reliefs
and pen-and-ink drawings, souvenirs from those who loved the
good-fellowship of this Arcadian nook.

And now Juliette, Marcelle’s bonne, her sleeves rolled over the elbows
of her plump arms, came to the kiosk with vermouth and cigarettes.
Following her, a green parrot pigeontoed his way down the gravel walk,
muttering to himself a jumble of phrases.

“Come, my good Jacquot!” called Marcelle to the parrot. “Jacquot is one
of my family; you shall see the others: my cat, my big Frou-Frou, and
her pretty kittens, and the pigeons, and all the rest of the ménagerie
after _déjeuner_.”

Jacquot climbed to the table and bent his beak to his breast. While
Marcelle rubbed the pinfeathers of his green neck, he clucked and sang
to himself in delight. Then he shook himself, dilated the pupils of his
yellow eyes as he took a careful look at me, and, having satisfied
himself as to my character, pigeontoed his way slowly to my shoulder.
He sang quite clearly a song that Marcelle had taught him:

                “_J’ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
                 J’ai du bon tabac, tu n’en auras pas._”

Half an hour later Juliette laid the table in the kiosk for breakfast,
with two extra places set for the clown and the poet, who both came
late, with endless apologies to Marcelle for their tardiness.

“There had been an extra rehearsal at the Nouveau Cirque,” explained
the merry old fun-maker, and he mopped his brow, perspiring from his
quick walk up the Butte. Marcelle straightway forgave him, and further
cheered him with an affectionate pat on the top of his shining bald
pate as he slid into his chair. As he unfolded his napkin there tumbled
into his lap a _boutonnière_ of mignonette, which our hostess had
thoughtfully hidden for her old comrade. He had been her counselor and
friend, often sharing with her the little he had during her days of
penury, for Marcelle’s life, as I have said, had been from babyhood a
struggle for existence. She was a flower that had fought its way to the
sunshine from between the stones of Paris.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

CHRISTIANE MENDELYES AS ROSALIE]

“And you, my big rabbit!” cried Marcelle, addressing the poet with the
air of a judge; “what have you to say for yourself in apology for being
late?” The poet sighed, ran his fingers through his long hair, hung his
black hat upon a convenient peg, and, drawing up his chair, replied,
wearily: “Would that I might join Sylvia and her nymphs and drink and
be merry by the moon and not by the hour!”

“_Flûte!_” replied Marcelle. “Don’t you suppose they had the best of
regular appetites in those days and quarreled if the soup was late?
_Allons, mangez, mes enfants_, and be grateful that the sun shines and
we have enough for to-day.”

After _déjeuner_ the clown and the poet played shuttlecock and quoits
in the garden. The poet met ignominious defeat, for the aged gentleman,
whose life had been spent on the sawdust, was a dead shot with a quoit
and as agile as a weasel. Later we all went into the villa for a song,
the clown playing Marcelle’s accompaniments upon a melodeon. Some of
its keys emitted cries of distress, and this furnished the clown with
an impromptu pantomime that sent Marcelle into screams of laughter. So
the afternoon passed with songs, Madeira and cigarettes.

If the garden was interesting, the interior of the little villa was
none the less so, for it was a miniature museum of souvenirs.

The walls of the small salon were covered with pastels. There were
original drawings and bas-reliefs by celebrated men. Pen-and-ink
sketches, caricatures, charcoals and oils, each one bearing a little
message of regard and friendship to Marcelle, lined the walls of the
narrow stairs leading to the dainty boudoir.

Even the kitchen, shining in its well-polished battery of copper
saucepans, held its art treasures.

It was nearly dusk when the poet and I took our leave of our charming
hostess and the “Villa Polichinelle.”

The clown had been obliged to hurry away earlier to attend some affairs
preliminary to the night’s performance.

As the poet and I descended the Butte together, all Paris lay spread
out in the evening glow below us.

It lay like a vast gray sea sparkling and phosphorescent with tens of
thousands of lights. Far below, away in the twilight, jutted the spires
of Notre-Dame; to the right rose the Opéra, square and massive like a
tomb.

I thought of Marcelle’s paradise perched in the pure air above the reek
and filth that hung like a miasma about the base of the Butte, and what
it meant to her as a refuge from the smoke and stifling air of cabarets
and cafés-concert.

We kept on through the alleys of streets, zig-zagging our way down the
Butte, and turned the corner of the Cabaret des Assassins. A kerosene
lamp burned in the greasy kitchen, from the door of which a hag of a
woman appeared and screeched at us as we passed:

“_Bonsoir!_”


It was in midwinter one misty morning in January when I revisited the
primitive village upon the summit of Montmartre. This time I chose for
my trail a back street which led me up to the ancient Cabaret of the
Assassins, now known under the name of the Lapin Agil. The cabaret, a
squat, sordid two-story structure, stands upon a solitary corner of the
Butte, forming an angle with the rue Saint Vincent and the rue des
Saules. Overlooking Paris below, a back window glared in the light of
the chill morning from beneath an overhanging eave, like the eye of a
murderer in hiding. The place as I entered was silent and deserted
except for the individuals who kept it.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A MISTY MORNING IN THE RUE DES SAULES]

A girl of fifteen addressed me in a timid voice as I entered the
low-ceiled _buvette_ adjoining the cabaret. She wore a massive marriage
ring. She seemed somewhat frightened and suspicious, as tho I were a
government detective armed with a warrant.

We spoke of the weather.

She directed me to a bench in the deserted cabaret, stale with the odor
of the night before, and brought me a short glass with a thick bottom.
Into this she poured a draft of syrupy vermouth and apologized for the
absence of her mother, the _patronne_, who had not yet returned from
market.

Not many came by there in the morning, she ventured, but at night it
was gay, the cabaret was then crowded she informed me, and leaving me
with my _apéritif_ she disappeared through the door leading to the
_buvette_.

Upon the walls of the cabaret hung cartoons and crude sketches left in
later years by bohemian habitués who made the place their rendezvous.

In a corner stood a piano, its keys yellow with age like the teeth of a
horse.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE CABARET OF THE ASSASSINS]

Madame the _patronne_, a slatternly looking woman in a calico wrapper,
returns from marketing with two mackerel which she had bargained for
from a push-cart in the street below. She led me through a box of a
kitchen and showed me a small yard in the rear littered with debris.
This she informed me was used as a summer garden in season. She seemed
to pride herself upon its attractiveness. I passed an open door of a
back room and caught a glimpse of a man leaning over a table, drunk,
and unshaven for days. He looked up at me maliciously as I past; then I
heard him muttering and swearing in his _argot_ at the girl with the
rolled-gold ring.

From the _patronne_ I learned that the cabaret had gone through many
changes. It was evident, however, that the general atmosphere had
remained the same. It looked all that its title of the Assassins
implied. The muddy streets leading to it were unpaved and lighted still
by an oil lantern at the corner of the rue St. Vincent, a sinister
looking lane flanked by ancient buttressed walls, which kept from
sliding into the crooked roadbed old tangled gardens and scattered
derelicts of houses.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

INTERIOR OF THE CABARET OF THE ASSASSINS]

The rue Tholozé, snaking its way up from the rue Lepic to the ball of
the Moulin de la Galette, is purely a hill street. Its gutters are
flushed with clear water which flows in miniature torrents. Horses
never climb the rue Tholozé, and pedestrians going up to the ball pause
at the landing stages for breath. Those living along this mountain
highway must needs step out of their residences with their sea legs on,
for the declivity which slopes past their doorways resembles somewhat
the angle of a promenade deck in a gale. The hill begins to ascend in
earnest after you pass the dingy little bohemian restaurant of the
Vache Enragée on the rue Lepic, an _intime_ rendezvous of bohemians of
the Butte.

With the renovation and reorganization of the “Moulin de la Galette”
the famous ball held for so many generations in the granary under the
ancient windmill took a change for the better.

Prior to this the ball bore an unsavory reputation. It was the scene of
continual fights and the rendezvous for every villainous _rapin_ of
Montmartre and their equally vicious female companions, the
_gigolettes_ and _mômes_ of the Butte.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

EARLY MORNING—THE MOULIN DE LA GALETTE]

To-day the spacious ballroom is remodeled and redecorated with green
lattice and crystal chandeliers in the style of the ballroom of the old
_fête champêtre_. The orchestra is the best of its kind in Paris. The
floor is kept in perfect condition and all Montmartre goes to the
“Galette” to dance and be merry. Models, _grisettes_, _cocottes_,
shop-girls, students and clerks, painters and musicians, sculptors and
poets, meet and mingle. While its clientèle is drawn from all Paris,
the majority of it is _Montmartrois_.

Adjoining the ballroom is a quaint summer garden.

A flight of wooden steps leads from the garden to the table-like rock
above, crowned by the ancient windmill bearing the date 1256.

I entered the Galette one crisp morning by way of the lane in the rear
and through the door of the _buvette_. Sleepy waiters were scrubbing
and polishing after the ball of the night. The tiled floor of the
_buvette_ was as spotless as soap and water could make it. Some coffee
steamed cheerily on the stove, and the pots and pans hanging above it
shone invitingly. In the ballroom a garçon was rewaxing the floor;
through the skylight streamed the morning sun, shining prismatically
through the crystals of the chandeliers. I went out into the garden and
climbed the stairs leading to the old mill.

It stood gaunt and black against the sky, outstretching its skeleton
arms. Its body was warped and weather-beaten. It seemed to have died in
its shell like some mammoth scorpion.

[Illustration:

From a Poster

THE MOULIN ROUGE]

What a “_vie de Bohème_” it has seen in its lifetime!

It has been danced around by _grisettes_ and students in the moonlights
and daylights of ages past, and has served faithfully as a refuge and
fortress during the horrors of the siege of ’71. Beside it still glow
the lights of this famous old ball up to which climb nightly a merry
pilgrimage of the great-grandchildren of Bohemia.


Some months ago what is probably the most noted of bohemian resorts,
the Moulin Rouge, closed its doors—the famous Red Mill had come to an
end, and Paris mourned its death in caricature. For months its façade
was barricaded with scaffolds, and rumor was current that the old hall
was to be transformed into a music-hall.

At last after many delays the opening of the new Moulin Rouge was
announced. The public poured in to find one of the handsomest of modern
music-halls with a most excellent restaurant. A table d’hôte dinner is
served at little tables, glowing in fairy lamps, where one can dine and
watch the performance.

Back of this spacious theater for ballets and _revues_ there is a
_promenoir_ where all of the old attractions of the Moulin Rouge and
many new ones can be seen during the _entr’actes_, including the
quadrilles. So that after all the Moulin Rouge did not die—rather let
us say that it was born again, and is now all that many of us expected
to find it upon our first visit years ago and never did; for the Red
Mill was then a tawdry place at best—somewhat of a snare and a
delusion.


Montmartre is the kingdom of artistic Bohemia. The Butte is honeycombed
with the ateliers of painters and sculptors and the modest sanctums of
struggling poets and musicians. This is only one side. The other side,
like the degenerate half of some visages, is all that is vicious and
criminal. Back of every blaze of light in Montmartre there is a shadow,
and from out of many of these dark corners flutter to the lights of the
Boulevard de Clichy, like nocturnal moths, scores of gaudy women—too
frequently the spiders who dare not venture in the sun and whose claws
have been known to have been smeared with the blood of the helpless
more than once, crawl from these squalid holes beyond the light.

[Illustration: A FLOAT IN THE CORTÈGE DE VENUS AT THE MOULIN ROUGE]

Montmartre is ablaze after midnight, and the cafés along the Boulevard
de Clichy are swarming with women to whom to-morrow is much the same as
to-day—women who from one year’s end to the other seldom see the sun,
whose days begin at midnight and whose mind, body and soul have long
ago passed to the trusty keeping of the devil.

There is always one thought uppermost in the mind of the lady from the
rue Blanche: it is that somebody shall pay the waiter as much and as
continuously as possible between midnight and daylight.

There is little about human nature that this daughter of Montmartre
does not know. Her ears are trained to a marvelous sense of acuteness,
and her intuition and perception make the shrewdest mind-reader appear
as tame as a fortune-telling horse.

The lady from the rue Blanche not only knows precisely what you are
thinking about, but your past, present, and your disastrous future if
you continue her acquaintance. During this time she will relieve you
with the skill of a magician of your small change, and, if given time,
your entire fortune including your watch. She will lead you into the
worst traps a fertile brain can invent. Having robbed you of everything
else you possessed, including your senses, some fine day she will
either hand you over to the police or open fire on you in a jealous
rage if only for the satisfaction of peppering away at your useless
carcass.

[Illustration: A FLOAT IN THE CORTÈGE DE VENUS AT THE MOULIN ROUGE]

This may seem a fantasy, but it is precisely what has happened, and if
you don’t believe it ask the policeman.

These _petites femmes_ of the Butte glide by with the quickness of an
area cat. They are reckless, strong, and fearless, these _noctambules_.
The eyes of Fanchette burn brilliantly in their sockets. Her lips are
scarlet with a hasty dab of rouge. The rest of her visage is as pale as
Pierrot’s. When you look at her with your eyes half closed, you seem to
see her skull.

Claudine enters the “Abbaye de Thélème” at midnight, the pleats of her
white silk petticoat spread out with the pride of a fantail pigeon.

[Illustration:

Drawing by Galaniz

UP THE RUE BLANCHE]

She wears a scarlet jacket studded with polished brass buttons that
catch the light as she moves. The costume is a _nouveauté_ from the
Montmartre bazaar which has excited the envy of every other Mimi and
Cora along the Boulevard de Clichy since Wednesday, when Claudine
became the duchess of Montana. This title was bestowed upon her by a
broad-shouldered cow-puncher of our far West, who insisted upon the
title and dressed her according to his ideas of how a duchess “oughter
look.” A scarlet hat with a green feather flames upon her head, and her
feet are encased in new gray suede slippers whose high heels do good
service in elevating the lady to her suddenly exalted position. On her
thumb she wears a ruby ring, a gift from her cowboy admirer.

Lélise glides into the “Nouvelle Athénée,” a café whose clientèle is
made up of soberer habitués.

She is pretty, this Lélise, a nervous little blonde with the merriest
of blue eyes, and the pink of neatness, her clothes being fashioned in
the best of Parisian good taste.

“_Dis donc, mon vieux_,” she calls, clapping her hands to the garçon.

“_Un grog bien chaud, et de quoi écrire._”

“_Bien, madame_,” replies the garçon.

“_Un Américain, un!_” he calls, as he hurries for the portfolio and pen
and ink, which he lays before Lélise quite ceremoniously, while another
waiter brings to her the steaming “_grog Américain_.”

Lélise draws off her gloves with an air of importance and begins a
voluminous correspondence. Five letters in all, written in a rapid
angular hand like the autographs across the pictures of soubrettes.

Handwriting of this sort has evidently made its impression upon Lélise.
She writes with all the extravagant flourish of these souvenirs—she
even adds Ys and Ts of her own creation. This often leads to a reckless
use of capitals beginning words of importance. Furthermore, she
underscores these with savage-looking scratches meant to emphasize the
intensity of her feeling about whatever comes into her pretty head. The
solemn word, “_L’Amour_,” is often accented by two of these parallel
lines drawn with unhesitating decision. Again the tender word,
“_Toujours_,” is half ripped from the paper by two formidable
underlines, each of them started with a little dig that makes the pen
spatter.

“_Immédiatement_,” and words suggesting hate and jealousy are made to
glare out from the page like danger-signals.

But you must not think me guilty of overlooking the five letters of
Lélise—I can vouch only for the one I received. The aged garçon,
François, who brought it over to me hidden in the folds of a fresh
napkin, received it through mademoiselle’s gray muff while with the
other hand he helped her escort, a dashing young officer of the
hussars, on with his night-coat.

The young officer’s tip slid to the bottom of François’s pocket, where
it clinked against my own.

[Illustration: ALONG THE BOULEVARD CLICHY]

Lélise buttoned her gloves, adjusted her veil, picked up her skirt and
followed her escort to the door, that François held open, and the two
disappeared in the night.

Even in Montmartre there is some discretion.

And there is still another type of _Montmartroise_. The woman in this
case is often a model of rational living and rare devotion, sharing the
good and ill luck of her lover with the patience, pluck and fortitude
of a _bonne fille_ and a good comrade.

If her jealous mate growls in his cups during their dinner in some
favorite café, it is she who averts the row, pacifies the offended
gentleman at the next table, quiets her _amant_ with a kiss, calls for
the bill, sees that it is just, and continues by her alert brain and
her intuition to please her quarrelsome lover by distracting his
pugilistic mind towards a more peaceful mood.

When he wakes up he will be convinced more than ever that this Parisian
demoiselle is, after all, his best friend.

If you wish to see “Mademoiselle of the Butte” in all her war-paint, go
to the “Abbaye de Thélème” after midnight, where you will find her
ready to eat, drink and be merry upon the slightest provocation. Follow
her later to the Capitol among those who consume little suppers at big
prices during the hours when the _sergents de ville_, pacing their
beats outside, draw up the hoods of their night-cloaks to protect them
from the chill of the early morning.

Still later you will find this nocturnal demoiselle, the idol of the
generously drunk, picking up her skirts in a bacchanalian revel between
the hours of three and four in the restaurant of the Rat Mort. Her eyes
shine, her cheeks burn, the champagne and the lights seem to madden
her, a madness of sheer ecstasy. Life for the moment is _en rose_. She
feels herself a queen, defiant, seductive, dangerously beautiful. Four
dancers from the Casino de Paris arrive amid screams and applause.
Claudine is dancing on a table; an instant later she is being carried
on the shoulders of a howling mob around the room. The music is drowned
in the cries of “_bis, bis!_” One see through the whirl and glitter and
smoke, flashing gems, the shimmer of silk hose, and the glint of bare
arms.

Morning begins to pale. The streets are silent and deserted except for
an occasional party of roisterers issuing from some closing café.
Occasionally a woman passes coughing in the choking fog of the early
morning. The ragpickers begin to make their rounds.

There is still another refuge for this Mademoiselle “Sans Gène.” That
is the restaurant of the Tréteaux de Tabarin on the rue Pigalle.
Upstairs as in all the others there is a supper room. This one is
smaller than the rest and more _intime_.

The settees behind the tables are occupied with those to whom night
seems ever too short. A _chansonnier_ before the piano is singing the
waltz song “L’Amoureuse;” many at the tables have grown pensive under
the spell of the singer. A girl in a décolleté gown at one of the
tables is sobbing hysterically.

“It was the Bénédictine,” remonstrates her companion. “You were
_imbécile_ to drink so much, _ma chérie_.”

From the low ceiling glow electric lamps shaded with ground glass like
those in the cabin of a yacht.

Three women and an old beau are dancing an impromptu quadrille before
the tables.

Wisps of tobacco smoke curl lazily up from the little tables. Some of
the cigarettes smoulder between lips of décolleté women, others are
held shakily between the fingers of hands blue-veined, pallid and
weighted with jewels. The scent of a score of perfumes hangs in the
reek of smoke. Suddenly there is a scream and a crash of glass. A
gentleman in a damaged shirt-front has slipped, dragging with him a
table and upsetting the contents of an adjoining one.

He falls with a jar which set the lamp globes in the ceiling to
shivering. The wine sweeps over the table and puddles down on the
floor, soaking through the silk petticoat and lace stocking of a pretty
brunette. Two waiters hurry with napkins to soak up the wet. When this
bull in a china shop has sufficiently and substantially apologized,
fresh wine bubbles in the glasses for the victims of the flood.

At last the heavy curtains over the windows are flung open and a white
light from without floods the room, making the eyes sting. It is broad
daylight. Cabs clatter up, are filled, and rattle away.

“By Gad! Charley,” says a portly American at a corner table to his
friend, a short thick-set man whose mustache is curled in pomade, “We’d
better git along and git some sleep if we’re going to sell Jake any
goods before lunch. So long, Flossy,” he adds with a yawn, addressing
mademoiselle who had been supping with them.

“_Bonsoir, monsieur_,” replied the girl in a gentle voice looking at
him steadily as he sways and relights his cigar, pushing his silk hat
in a cooler position on the back of his head. It did not occur to him
to raise it.

“Cute gal,” says the portly man to his friend, his patent leather shoes
squeaking as he walks ponderously to the door.

“One of them swell _cocottes_, eh?” replied the friend, “she seemed to
take quite a shine to you, Bill.”

“Hell,” guffaws the portly one, importantly. “I never give ’em no
encouragement.” And the two stumble down the narrow stairs that lead to
the rue Pigalle. In the chilly street the portly one fumbles for his
cigar case.

“Smoke one of them light ones, Charley,” he says, as the two roll into
the cab and the fat one slams the door.

Happily there are other types of _Montmartrois_ than the _noctambules_
and _noceurs_ who frequent the Rat Mort and Tabarin.

Thousands of domestic honest bourgeois live on the Butte whose lives
are spent in stores and workshops and in caring for their wives and
children. There are many conservative old families besides these whose
children are well brought up and well educated, by a rigid economy on
the part of parents whose daily bread has been earned by a long and
patient fight.

Many of these parents are in the employ of the government; teachers in
the public schools and in the bureaus of the administration where they
work hard and are but poorly paid. Theirs are the houses which the
stranger rarely if ever sees. They remind one of the most domestic and
conservative homes of New England. They seem an anomaly in this Latin
civilization.

Paris is one of the easiest places in the world in which to empty one’s
pocket, and one of the most difficult in which to earn an honest penny.
It is the want of money among Parisians and the difficulty of earning
it which in late years has deadened much of the extravagant gaiety
which once existed. Parisians are content to adapt their pleasures to
their purses.

There are scores of men in Montmartre who began life talented beyond
the average in the arts, and who have sunk by idleness into poverty and
oblivion. Talent alone is not sufficient; one must improve it and drive
it, and many of these long-haired velvet-cloaked geniuses of the Butte
are too lazy by nature to do this. Instead, they adopt a _genre_ of
their own, and despise all other schools of art, never departing from
their methods in spite of the fact that their incomprehensible
creations seldom bring them a sou. So they wrap themselves up
self-satisfied in their cloaks, go through life without a hair-cut,
tell you all other art is rot—and starve.

This afternoon I followed one of these dream painters to his studio.
The way led up a crooked street, down a narrow alley, into a court full
of rubbish, up a flight of dingy stairs, down into another court (this
one as dark as the stairs), up another rickety flight, and so to his
door.

A feeble light struggled through the cobwebbed panes of the studio
skylight, and the room was in a state of dirt and disorder. Tumbled in
one corner were a lot of unfinished canvases, and dumped in another was
a pile of unwashed dishes. A dirty divan canopied after the fashion of
the Roman emperors served as a bed of state for the great man.

That he was once a genius was unquestionable from the evidence of some
of his early works. He had been a masterly draftsman and a painter of
virility and great richness of color. That is, when he painted, but
this he never did so long as he possessed a sou. Many of his subjects I
now found difficult to understand, even when he turned them right side
up for me.

Some of them seemed prehistoric. Wan wisps of maidens floated dimly
through heavy fogs, guided by symbols and illuminated by sacred fires.
Some of them had no eyes and trailed their feet along the ground.

This artist was only one of many who cursed the public for their
financial appreciation of popular modern art, which he termed “_des
petites cochonneries_!”

There is a large class of poets, painters, sculptors and musicians for
whom the wheel of fortune spins capriciously. Their idle hours are
spent among their comrades in the cabarets and the little _boîtes_
tucked away in odd corners of Montmartre, where they breakfast and
dine, accompanied by their sweethearts.

Of the latter they are a type unto themselves and wholly aloof from the
life and night types of the rue Blanche.

Gaston the painter is a disciple of Botticelli, and you find the
influence of dress and coiffure of that period asserting itself in the
style of clothes and arrangement of hair of his sweetheart, Mariette.
With her locks in _bandeaux_ she looks as saintly as a church picture.

Jacques the musician, a composer of sixteenth century pavans and
minuets, has dressed the fair Amélie in an old-fashioned frock, cut low
about the throat; her pretty face is framed in two curls, and there is
a rose in her hair.

Sing, dance and be merry, ye children of the Butte! Ye who have
inherited the Paradise of Bohemia, ye who know its every nook and
corner, its bright and its dark days, its poverty and its riches! The
love and the wealth of _camaraderie_ is yours. To you the rest of the
world counts for naught.

To you, Gaston, a health to Mariette. To you, Jacques, a toast to “la
Petite Amélie.”

[Illustration]



                              Chapter Six

                            IN THE CABARETS


With the passing away of that most famous of _Montmartrois_ cabarets,
the Chat Noir, artistic Bohemia of the Butte met with a serious loss.

The Chat Noir was founded by Salis on the boulevard Rochechouart in
1881. Its beginning was a modest one, and for some time the little
place existed in obscurity. Finally a club of bohemians called the
“Hydropathie” came over from the Quartier Latin and made the Chat Noir
their place of meeting.

They organized weekly reunions where each member of this jolly company
recited original verses or sang songs of his own composition.

These reunions soon became open to the public, and so the first singing
cabaret of its kind was created.

The small room was filled with a collection of bas-reliefs, busts and
drawings, contributed by its artist habitués. It offered nightly a
shelter to the budding genius of Bohemia and a place of free license
for patriotic and political songs, satires, and parodies upon the
current topics of the day.

And so the cabaret that Salis had started became an acknowledged
success.

Later Salis moved the Chat Noir to the rue Laval, where it became an
organized cabaret with a regular staff of poets, singers, and
satirists, who made their appearance no longer in public as amateurs
but as professionals.

Many of the lives of these _chansonniers_ have been varied and
checkered with vicissitudes. Few, if any, began either as singers or
entertainers. They have drifted into their profession through their
inherent love of a life steeped in the atmosphere of Bohemia, where
things original, beautiful, satirical, or pathetic, find ever the
keenest appreciation and the shrewdest criticism.

The various occupations to which Fate had so cruelly destined these
bohemians with the sacred fire of art burning unceasingly within their
breasts, could not long be borne with patience. Many had been doomed by
practical and unsympathetic parents to become bank clerks, merchants,
accountants in gas companies, engineers or architects. All of these
sordid careers were regarded as an unbearable present and an impossible
future by inspired bards whose lyres were tuned to a higher key than
the humdrum of business.

Within these singing poets the sacred fire of genius smoldered, but not
for long. Like a live coal in the ashes it burst into gentle flame when
breathed on by approbation. Soon the flicker became a blaze of glory;
the names of those who had left their distasteful situations in the
commercial world were heralded with praise by thousands.

These bards of the Butte thenceforth consecrated the remainder of their
lives to the Muses. Nightly they sang to the listening throng. All of
intellectual Paris came to applaud them, and their stuffy little
cabaret of the Chat Noir was jammed nightly to the doors.

Salis by the advice of Emile Goudeau published a paper called the “Chat
Noir,” in which appeared sketches and poems of authors like Armand
Masson, Rollinat, Haraucourt, and other members of the club,
illustrated by now celebrated artists, such as Steinlen, Caran d’Ache,
Henri Rivière, and Willette, with drawings and cartoons in an original
style hitherto unknown.

In 1885 Salis moved the Chat Noir to the rue Victor Massé. The cabaret
was redecorated with rare taste and became a popular rendezvous for the
_haut monde_. So great was the crush that the club was forced to place
a guardian before the door and permit only twenty persons to enter at a
time.

Henry Somm organized the first theatrical performance given at the Chat
Noir. Before this there had been only the performances of singers and
satirists.

Somm erected a Punch and Judy where he played a burlesque of his own,
entitled “Berline de l’Emigré.”

The performance was found to be much too short. To lengthen it, the
painter Henri Rivière stretched a napkin over the toy proscenium and
passed in defile a procession of policemen cut in cardboard and
silhouetted in shadow against the napkin. As the cardboard policemen
advanced in file, Jules Jouy sang his popular satire on the police
entitled, “Les Sergots.”

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

SOME OF THE CHANSONNIERS IN THE CABARET QUAT-Z’ARTS]

This was the beginning of the shadow shows which made for years the
Chat Noir famous. Here appeared the famous creations of Rivière and
Flagerolle, the March à l’Etoile and l’Enfant Prodigue.

Later an ingenious shadow stage with intricate mechanism was installed
and a series of shadow plays followed. Many of the puppets for these
exist to-day in the cabaret of the Quat-Z’Arts, some of which are the
work of Caran d’Ache.

Much of what once made the Chat Noir famous exists to-day in the best
known of all the _Montmartrois_ cabarets, the Quat-Z’Arts. Here sing
the best of the _chansonniers_, and there is seldom a night when the
back room of the cabaret in which this “smoker” occurs is not obliged
to close its doors because there is literally no place for one more
chair. The accompanist at the piano has hardly room for his elbows, and
the singer just enough space to stand in. The walls of the low-ceiled
room are hung with the inimitable caricatures by Léandre and with
sketches by celebrated artists.

The front room by which you enter and which is used as a café is a
picturesque interior filled with busts and bas-reliefs, and more of
Léandre’s clever drawings.

A rustic stairway leads to a rambling gallery above.

The whole resembles the interior of some quaint, half-timbered tavern
filled with artistic productions of men of genius. The interior of the
Quat-Z’Arts was not made to order; it grew, and it walls are hung with
souvenirs gathered from its clientèle of comrades whose work as
sculptors and draftsmen is known the world over.

The singers whose songs and satires have made the Quat-Z’Arts famous
are men of rare genius and fine intellect, and by no means the idle
bohemians you might expect to find.

Dominique Bonnaud is such a man. As a singing satirist, a polished
writer and the most subtle of humorists, he stands preeminent. Bonnaud
was at one time secretary to Prince Bonaparte, and in eleven years of
travel made several voyages around the world. His experiences at
foreign courts and among foreign potentates have supplied him with
themes for many of his satires. These deal with politics and current
topics, and hit at nobility in general and some noblemen in particular.

To the _chansonnier_ Jean Bataille is due an interesting revival of the
old songs of France. Songs like “Monsieur le Curé” and the “French
Grenadier” Bataille sings with rare charm. He is essentially an
entertainer, and outside of his nightly appearance at the Quat-Z’Arts
has made a success in several _revues_ of his own invention. In these
he has played at regular theaters, the Mathurins and the Capucines.
There is nothing of the type of a bohemian singer in the personality of
Monsieur Bataille. This polished man of the world passed through a
brilliant career as a member of the bar and was at one time secretary
to the Minister of Interior.

Georges Tiercy is not only a singer but the most inimitable of
comedians. His creations are unique. Sometimes he requires the
accompaniment of the piano, and sometimes he does not, but, whichever
way it is, he keeps his audience at the Quat-Z’Arts in roars of
laughter.

It is Tiercy who sings his “Banquet to Monsieur Loubet,” “The Humbert
Family,” and the “Train de Marchandises,” the latter ending with an
imitation of grand opera which I can assure you is quite as complete as
the grand opera itself and five times as amusing. “Come and see me,”
said Tiercy one day as we sat chatting in the Quat-Z’Arts. He opened
his wide gray eyes at me and passed his hand thoughtfully over his
short-cropped forehead. Then he added in a hoarse whisper:

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

CARICATURES OF CHANSONNIERS BY LÉANDRE]

“I live in a forest! It is at Bois Colombes. Ah! my friend, you shall
see a little house at the very edge of the real country. Come out and
have a _petit verre_ with me.” Then he frowned as he took out his watch
and hurriedly left me to catch his train.

A few days later I went out to Bois Colombes to see him. The place did
not look very woodsy as I got out of the train. There were no dark
fastnesses or wild ravines; in fact, Bois Colombes was, if anything,
sadly lacking in verdure. The town itself was quite a practical little
place built up with modern houses.

Finally I came to the villa of my friend, the last of a pretty group of
houses enclosed by a hedge. The author of the “Train de Marchandises”
came out to greet me. He seemed worried and preoccupied and explained
to me he was much fatigued, having just returned from a hard journey to
Brussels where he had sung the day before.

“And where is the forest?” I asked.

“Ah!” he replied, as if saving a surprise, “you shall see. Come into
the house and we will have a bottle of stout.”

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

GEORGES TIERCY IN HIS GARDEN AT BOIS-COLOMBES]

I found the home of this serious humorist filled with interesting
souvenirs of his life as a comedian and a _chansonnier_, and we sat
chatting until late. My friend with the mysterious air told me many
interesting incidents of his career which, in its early days, was one
of mingled failure and success. Having played for many years in
_revues_ and operettas, Tiercy founded in 1893 his cabaret, the
Carillon, where, with his creations, “The Clown Badaboum” and “Opéra
Maboul,” he achieved a triumph—“_a succés fou_!”

The Carillon failed after a short existence, for this man of humor,
this generous son of Bohemia, was unsuited to the ways of close-fisted
managers. Tiercy lost twenty thousand francs in the enterprise. He went
back to his profession and sang in the Sans-Souci. Since then he has
been a success as a mimic in nearly all the cabarets of Montmartre and
the Latin Quarter.

“And now,” said my host seriously, “a glimpse at my woodland.” He
opened the curtains of his sanctum. A spare group of trees hardly hid
the next villa from view.

“My friend,” I said, “it is as you say, a veritable _pays sauvage_.”

And I hurried for my train with Tiercy’s laugh ringing in my ears.

[Illustration: AT THE QUAT-Z’ARTS

_Drawing by_ CARDONA]

While the back room of the Quat-Z’Arts is crowded nightly, the front
room is filled with bohemian habitués; groups of painters, poets, and
musicians sit chatting at the tables, some of them writing, others
playing cards or dominoes.

In one corner Bonnaud, having finished his song, is engrossed in a
manuscript. At another table a poet singer is correcting the verses of
a new song with a fellow bard.

Next to these a girl, quite as _Montmartroise_ as Marcelle, is in
earnest conversation with a “type” in a black broad-brimmed hat and a
stock wound about his throat. Perhaps it is the beginning of a romance,
more likely the aftermath of an ended one. The girl had been crying.

“_Toujours l’amour!_” mutters an old bohemian in a rusty velvet coat,
as he glances from his corner at the pair. He trickles a little fresh
water into his absinthe and bends again over his writing.

The door opens and the singer, Gabriel Montoya, enters, hastily shaking
hands with those about him and rushing to the back room, where his
arrival is greeted with thunderous applause.

Monsieur Montoya’s poetic locks that crown his noble brow are mussed as
if he had just escaped from a panic. He is invariably introduced as
“Monsieur le Docteur” to his audience, his early life having been
devoted to the study of medicine. He is a man of wide experience,
having at one time made a tour around most of the world as a ship’s
surgeon.

In personality Montoya is a mixture of a Chesterfield and the generous,
open gallantry of a Don Quixote. Together with these qualities he
possesses a tenor voice of rare charm. Besides all this he is a _bon
garçon_ and one of the most popular _chansonniers_ of Montmartre.

At one time during his career his health broke down and he was ordered
south. Here he remained for some time away from Paris, and the report
was current of his death. He was eulogized in several lengthy
obituaries by leading journalists. These he had the rare opportunity of
reading. During his convalescence he wrote “The Posthumous Author” and
“The Verses of One who did not Die.” He took his degree of medicine in
Montpellier. Hardly twenty-four hours after passing his degree he came
across some of his old comrades from Montmartre in the street, who were
then making a concert tour in the south of France. Their joy at seeing
their old friend risen, as it were, from the grave, knew no bounds, and
they insisted upon his accompanying them. This he did, abandoning his
career of medicine to sing again.

[Illustration: A CABARET OF MONTMARTRE]

He made his début at the Chat Noir in 1890. It was there that an
incident occurred which illustrates Montoya’s remarkable memory.

“Phryné,” the shadow play by Maurice Donnay, was performing when its
author became involved in a duel with Catulle Mendes. Donnay was
wounded, and therefore he was unable to return to the Chat Noir to
recite the play. Salis in this extremity turned to Montoya for aid. The
latter in one afternoon learned the twelve hundred lines of “Phryné”
and recited them the same evening without a mistake.

To Paul Delmet Paris owes many of her popular songs. This veteran
_chansonnier_ has composed volumes of exquisite ballads, parodies and
satires. His songs, such as “Stances à Manon,” “Brunette aux Yeux
Doux,” and his amusing “L’Escalier,” every Parisian knows. They are
sung everywhere.

The late _chansonnier_, Aristide Bruant, was as extravagant and
impractical as the great Balzac. He lived like a prince through good
and bad luck in his château outside of Paris, and, dressed in black
velvet, drove daily to and from his cabaret in Montmartre in a smart
turnout. De Bercy, his friend, tells the following anecdote of Bruant:

He came banging at De Bercy’s door early one morning. “I have just been
chosen as a candidate for election at Belleville Saint Fargeau,” cried
Bruant excitedly, waking up the sleepy De Bercy. “Get into your clothes
in a gallop; you will have to make my speech for me and we have just
time to catch the train. We will breakfast at Belleville. I have
accepted an invitation for both of us. We’ll breakfast first and you
will have time to write your speech afterwards.”

Bruant could sing all night, but speech-making was not in his line.

The two hurried to Belleville and breakfasted, and afterwards De Bercy
wrote madly for three hours and finished the address. Bruant knew that
if he would ingratiate himself in the hearts of the Bellevillians he
must do so by expressions indicating his sympathy with the current
wrongs of the community. He must touch upon the rights of the widows
and orphans, the wrongs of the working man, and other kindred topics.

It happened that Bruant had in his repertoire a lot of songs upon these
very topics, none of which the good people of Belleville had ever heard.

The hour arrived and before a large and enthusiastic audience De Bercy
launched into his speech. Each time he finished a portion of his
discourse upon the widows or orphans, Bruant would burst into a song
relative to the subject. He had one ready upon every question upon
which his confrère spoke. The Bellevillians cheered and Bruant was
elected by an overwhelming majority amid a furor of good-fellowship and
an outpouring of the red wine of Belleville Saint Fargeau!

The “Treteau de Tabarin,” familiarly known as the “Boîte à Fursy,” is a
unique mixture of cabaret and theater in the rue Pigalle. Its owner and
manager, Henri Fursy, is the author of the celebrated “Chansons
Rosses.” These rough and ready satires are sparkling with wit. To
invent a new type of songs is the achievement of an epoch, and this is
what Fursy has done. He tells me he is not a poet, that his rhymes are
often very poor.

“My style is not always good,” he said to me; “my songs are satires
written upon the spur of the moment, and precisely in this crude state
I present them to the public. If I worked over them they would lose
much of their freshness.”

There is nothing of the bohemian _chansonnier_ in Monsieur Fursy. He is
a dapper, smartly dressed, alert, courteous, clean-cut man of business.
By his wits, push and energy, he has made a success of his theater.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

HENRI FURSY IN THE FOYER OF HIS THEATER]

Perhaps he has seen too much of the Parisian method of transacting a
business deal. This consists in taking four weeks to think about the
proposition, several more of leisurely indecision, and a corresponding
length of time to settle the matter. The Frenchman is astonished if in
the meantime some other fellow with a little Anglo-Saxon hustle in him
has seized the opportunity and signed the contract.

The quaint, rambling, half-timbered interior of the foyer to the Boîte
à Fursy is exceedingly picturesque. Rare drawings and etchings line the
walls. The foyer has an ancient air about it of having been used as a
hostelry during the Middle Ages. The walls are done in rough plaster
and quartered beams. In one corner a primitive staircase leads to a
rambling gallery, and the audience passes into the quaint auditorium
through rough wooden doors running under a low rustic shed.

All of smart Paris goes to the Boîte à Fursy. It is the smallest and
one of the most expensive theaters in Paris, but the performance upon
the small stage is sparkling with wit from beginning to end. Here short
satirical _revues_ are given by Fursy and other famous _chansonniers_,
with Odette Dulac in the principal rôle.

[Illustration:

Caricature by Cappiello

ODETTE DULAC]

Mademoiselle Dulac is Parisian from the butterfly in her cadmium orange
hair to the points of her satin slippers. This inimitable artiste is
made up of two parts deviltry and one part champagne. She handles the
most risqué situations with a delicious delicacy, humor, and the tact
of a finished comedienne. She is the life of the _revue_ at the Boîte à
Fursy. If you have heard Odette Dulac sing “Je Suis Bête,” in long
years to come the memory of it will serve to lift you out of the blues.
You will recall the daintiness of this piquant and chic _divette_, her
silk stockings, her frou-frou skirt, the glitter of her bodice, and the
irresistible merriness of her eyes as she winked at you over the tip of
her impudent little nose.

But all this is the art of the comedienne. At her home I found
Mademoiselle Dulac a very gracious and charming woman, unspoiled by the
applause that nightly rings in her little ears.

It took the genius of Capiello to caricature Odette Dulac and to give
in a few clever lines all of this amusing artiste’s personality. When
Dulac laughs, her eyes close like tiny half-moons through which the
pupils sparkle—very small windows to a big merry soul.

There are some women who never seem to grow old and to whom youth seems
ever constant. To be merry yourself and to make others merry is surely
one secret of keeping young.

The homes of artists of the Parisian stage differ from the domiciles of
others in the artistic world. The tumbled rattle-trap of a dusty studio
does not appeal to great actors or divas. The homes of many of the
latter are models of luxury and cleanliness.

Much of the perfection of the Parisian actress’s _ménage_ is due to her
faithful bonne, who is companion, cook, waitress, lady’s maid, and who,
in a thousand ways, protects and watches over the interests of her
mistress.

Perhaps the most typical cabaret audience is that in the “Noctambules,”
in the rue Champollion. It is an unpretentious little place of the old
type, where nightly appear some of the best singers of Montmartre:
Tiercy and Montoya, Charles Fallot, Paul Delmet, Bréville, Marinier and
Madame Laurence Deschamps. The last is an artiste of rare charm, who
possesses a voice sweet, pure and flexible, and whose interpretation of
scores of exquisite _ballades_ and _berceuses_ have won for her the
truest of all criticism: sincere applause. But I must not forget the
veteran of them all, the bard of bards, Marcel Legay.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

MLLE. ODETTE DULAC AT HOME]

When you hear Legay you will have heard an artist whose stirring songs,
like his “Mon Cheval” and “Les Pieds Devant,” create a furor wherever
he sings them. Legay has a faculty of making you feel the roar of
battle. He sings with fire and virility, and his personality fills the
room.

In many of the cabarets it is the custom to give gala matinées and gala
evenings with more celebrities than usual on the program. A grand
tombola or lottery takes place at the close of the performance, the
receipts being given as a testimonial benefit to one of the singers. It
is needless to say the prizes offered by these good bohemians were
purchased for as little as possible: a two-franc bottle of champagne,
their own posters tied up with a ribbon, copies of their songs, etc.,
etc. Yet the rollicking spirit in which these things are praised by the
poet auctioneers, and the fact that the proceeds are doing good to one
of their number in need, amply repay the loss to one’s pocket.

Besides these gala matinées, classic evenings are given, classic poems
are read, and the ancient songs of Provence and ballads of the
sixteenth century are sung by the same _chansonniers_ who the night
before may have amused you with the “Voyage of Madame Humbert” and
other parodies.

[Illustration:

Pastel by Léandre

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE POET JEHAN RICTUS]

The poet Jehan Rictus has been known for years in the cabarets of the
Butte and in those of the _rive gauche_.

Pale, lean and stooping, as he rises to speak he resembles some sad,
nocturnal crane. He seems like one who nursed his melancholy and lived
during his waking hours in the moonlight.

As a young man he descended nightly from the heights of Montmartre,
where he lived, to join a circle of bohemians at the Cabaret de la
Bosse. Here he came into recognition by the recitations of his poems
and soliloquies.

The verses of Rictus dwell in misanthropic bitterness upon the misery
of poverty. They are filled with the soliloquies of a pessimist and a
misanthrope. The bitter misery of his earlier years through which he
was forced to struggle, has no doubt taken the sunlight out of his
heart, and yet beneath the varnish of a crude and bourgeois vocabulary
lies the timber of true genius. What if the grain is fantastically
distorted by a weird imagination! It is prized all the more by the
connoisseurs.

[Illustration:

Poster by Dillon

JEHAN RICTUS]

Another veteran of the cabarets is Louise France.

There is something suggestive of old Paris in this short, squat woman
with her puffy haggard face and her tangled hair.

In the days of the Terror just such a one might have headed a mob
gathered by her songs and her verses. It requires very little make-up
to transform Louise France into her rôle of Frochard in “The Two
Orphans” or into “Eva la Tomate” in “Mademoiselle Fifi.” Paris has not
yet forgotten her famous characterization of the _concierge_ in “La
Voix du Peuple.”

Louise France has played at the Théâtre Libre, at the Porte St. Martin,
and the Grand Guignol, the characters _she knew_, and she played them
to the life with wonderful skill.

Later she abandoned the stage to become editor of “La Fronde.” She has
written many parodies, this _gamine_, this _bonne femme_; many of her
verses are in the memory to-day of thousands.

Later in life she came as a _chansonnière_ and _récitateuse_ to the
cabarets. It was at Eugénie Buffet’s cabaret “La Purée” that I heard
her recite her verses.

[Illustration:

From an Etching

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

LOUISE FRANCE]

Many of these her brain had created years ago, before her gray hairs
came. Some were new and all of them were true. Within the heart of
Louise France lie tenderness and pity. Hear her recite “Les Grues,” and
you will realize how human she is and how much she knows of life and
forgives.

To-day she seems happy among her old comrades in Bohemia whom she has
been with so many years.

Dear old soul, would that the whole world had been as human and
understanding as you, and as free from meanness, pettiness, and the
haggling over that which in the end counts for naught! All through your
life your brain has been busy producing much that is beautiful and
pure. Come, then, give us “Les Petits Soldats,” we will listen quietly
to the very end. Some of us, I fear, will cry, and when your song is
ended, all of us will give you a _double-ban_ of applause and drink
your health.

To Pierre Trimouillat is due a whole volume of clever parodies and
satires. He is a modest little man with no enemies and a host of
friends who know that back of his satires lies kindly good-fellowship.
From year to year, ever since his success as a singing satirist was
assured among the founders of the “Chat Noir,” he has sung in a quiet
voice the words which his satirical wit has invented.

[Illustration:

Caricature by Léandre

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE CHANSONNIER PIERRE TRIMOUILLAT]

Many of Trimouillat’s satires and parodies have been interpreted by the
most talented men and women of the French stage.

In Trimouillat, Xavier Privas found a right-hand man for his new
cabaret La Veine.

Xavier Privas is not at all the type of poet one would expect to find
among the bards of the Butte. Tall, of powerful physique, with the
voice of a Falstaff and a genial hospitable manner, he looks much more
like a big, blustering, gallant cavalry officer, and this is precisely
what he once was.

It is Privas who wrote the delicate fantasy full of color, of
lightness, and of pathos, “Le Testament de Pierrot,” and it is he who
has written others upon a hundred themes on love and war under the
titles of “Chanson de Révolte” and “Chanson d’Aurore.”

His verse is musical and his song contains that which is finished and
beautiful.

Some of these bards are tall and thin, wearing their hair long as did
the troubadours and the minstrels of the Middle Ages; others are dapper
and business-like, wear sensible modern clothes, and get their hair cut
regularly.

[Illustration: THE CONCERT ROUGE]

The _chansonnier_ of to-day in Montmartre is not the velvet-coated,
long-haired poet that one could have seen two score of years ago,
muffled in his cloak, with his verses beneath his arm, wending his way
to some cozy corner of this Bohemia to join his fellow poets and recite
his couplets, returning to his garret singing at the break of dawn.
Those were the poet-singers of the time of Henri Murger.

To-day the cabarets of Montmartre are regarded for the most part as
purely business ventures, and it is the ambition of many of these
_chansonniers_ to own and direct their own cabaret, make their fortune,
and retire in comfort before old age. Many of them are married men with
families to support. There is every inducement for them to lead
domestic lives. Singing night after night in the smoke and often
vitiated air of the cabarets is fatiguing work.

Even the best _chansonniers_ are paid but little for their work. Ten
francs a night is the regular price, and many women sing for less.

The price charged for admission varies from one franc and a half up to
three francs, which sum includes your drink. The seating capacity of
these cabarets is limited, and the profits are in proportion. These low
salaries are not confined to the cabarets alone.

There are women whose names appear in startling big letters on the
bills of concert-halls who get nine francs a night for a turn of three
songs with encores and three matinées a week, not including extra
performances on fête days.

Out of this they are obliged to provide effective gowns, and these must
be replaced by fresher ones before they become too familiar to the
audience. Besides, the singers are obliged to pay their dresser, for
few can afford a maid, and the dressing-room attendant and the
hair-dresser attached to the establishment. They must even pay for the
orchestration of their songs, and for their own posters. Many of these
women are well supported, but there are many more to whom an honest
life is a hopeless struggle for existence.

Should they accept a position in the big cafés-concerts like those of
the Champs-Élysées, they will be paid more for their services, but the
expenses extorted from them will be increased in proportion.

“Did you walk again to-day, Mademoiselle D.?” asked a manager of a
leading open-air music-hall of one of his most attractive artistes.
“You know it does not look well for you to be seen arriving on foot.”

His manner was polite, but his tone suggested to this hard-working
little singer, “Forever after at least a _fiacre_!”

A few days later he continued:

“Don’t you think you had better put on a new gown, mademoiselle? The
public gets tired of seeing the same dresses.”

“But, monsieur, that is the third one I have had in six weeks and I can
not manage, with my salary, to have a new gown every week.”

“Well, then,” said the manager, “let me arrange matters for you. You
please the public and I am ready to make as fair a proposition to you
as I do to the others. I will give you an engagement for three seasons
on the condition that you shall dine at least three nights a week in
the restaurant upstairs.”

“Monsieur,” answered mademoiselle, indignantly, “when that becomes my
_métier_, I shall manage it myself.”

Among the _bons garçons_ and _braves filles_ of the _vie de Bohème_, on
the Butte, this good Parisienne would have been held in respect and
esteem.

[Illustration:

Drawing by Léandre

MLLE. DESCHAMPS]

There are few marriages among these bohemians of the Butte, but love
they hold sacred, and woman as the ideal of all creation. Among scores
of these _petits ménages_ exist peace, happiness and fidelity. Many are
the most domestic of homes. Sometimes these _bons garçons_ and _braves
filles_ do marry, just as they tell you Pierrot really did in the end,
beneath the trembling organ and the tolling bell; but these instances
are rare. When one does happen, the quarter speaks of it as of some
unusual incident in the lives of friends, such as a voyage to China.

Beneath an undulating haze of incense from a dozen gurgling pipes a
song floats through the cabaret. Listen!

                “_Viens! mon amour, la route est claire,
                Et tout en fleurs est le chemin;
                Et lon lon laire la route est claire,
                Pierrot!—Donne moi donc ta main._”

[Illustration]



                             Chapter Seven

                      CIRCUSES AND FÊTES FORAINES


Fifteen years ago all of idle Paris applauded “La Goulue,” a can-can
_danseuse_ whose beauty and abandon made her notorious. In every sense
of the term “La Goulue” was of the kind of quadrille dancers which were
to be found at the old Mabille when it was at the height of its blaze
and glory.

She had jewels in those days, and lingerie of Valenciennes lace. She
was the incarnation of all that was reckless and extravagant. She
elevated her toes where she pleased, tipping off the silk hats of the
well-fed old _roués_ who chanced to crowd too near the magic circle
while she danced.

She had a ready wit, too, and a vocabulary interlarded with the _argot_
of the _gamine_ and _gigolette_ of the _barrière_. All of leisure Paris
patted her approvingly upon her bare shoulders and threw her their
louis. But those were the days when La Goulue was younger. Now time has
flown away with youth, her fervor and her grace.

She became stout—almost portly. One blue Monday this famous _danseuse_
packed up her frills and her furbelows, folded carefully what was left
of her Valenciennes lace, and said good-by to her old-time _métier_. It
was a little sad—for La Goulue loved to dance.

She took another step in her career, perhaps the most daring and the
most dangerous of all. She became a lion tamer, bought from a stranded
menagerie some green “cat stock,” to use the vernacular of the circus
world, moved from her Parisian residence to a wagon on wheels, and so
became sole proprietor, manager and trainer of an animal show in a
_fête foraine_.

In the dull season I found La Goulue in February beyond the
fortifications of Paris, where in addition to her gipsy wagon on wheels
she kept in her back yard screened from the curious eyes of the town
children half a dozen cages—the cramped homes of four lions, one
laughing hyena, two slinking panthers and a sad-looking bear.

The roof of her salon on wheels was interesting. The ribs supporting
the ceiling were decorated with narrow fringe which had evidently
served at one time to trim some circus paraphernalia. A bunk spanned
one end of the barrack, and several trunks containing La Goulue’s
effects occupied most of the remaining floor space.

It was a sunny morning, and a black and white kitten lay on its back
upon the tumbled quilts of the bunk, playing with its tail, the tip of
which the sunbeams streaming through the little square window over the
bunk occasionally illumined.

Some cauliflower simmered on the stove for dinner.

[Illustration]

In another corner sat “Monsieur La Goulue,” the lion tamer. He is a man
about forty, tall, well-built, blond, with a determined jaw, and cool
and collected in his manner, as befits his profession. He wore a blue
flannel shirt, water-proof _sabots_, and four diamond rings.

La Goulue unearthed for me from the bottom of a trunk some of her past
glory: a set of photographs taken by a smart photographer during the
time of her favor, and a framed certificate of a first prize for
dancing bearing the date 1889, and the seal of the judges of the award.

She also brought to light a contract to dance for three thousand seven
hundred and fifty francs a week. The document bore the signature of a
notary and the stamp of the French government.

[Illustration]

Meanwhile the lions in the fourth cage roared, and the sad bear, made
happy with his morning ration of mush and milk, buried his nose in the
pail, muzzle and all, and forgave his mistress for changing her
_métier_.

Next to the panthers’ cage the week’s wash hung drying in the sun. Some
of it was coquettish.

Ah! my friend, if you complain of the responsibility of having a family
on your hands, remember it is not a patch to having a menagerie on your
hands, even without the cumbersome elephant.

“To show” inside the fortifications costs dearly—six hundred francs
rental for a place in any of the _fêtes foraines_. The law prohibits
single exhibitions which are not a part of the regular _fêtes
foraines_, and these take place only at stated intervals in the
different quarters of the city. They are the Foire aux Pain-d’Epices,
the Fête de Neuilly, the Fête des Invalides, the one surrounding the
bronze lion of Belfort, and other smaller ones along the Boulevards
Vaugirard, Pasteur, Garibaldi, Grenelle, and Rochechouart, and the Fête
of La Chapelle. The still smaller fêtes outside of Paris do not pay
well. Meanwhile the animals have to be fed, pay or no pay.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

BEHIND THE SCENES]

“There are those who have said hard things of me even in the old days,”
said La Goulue, “but they lied. I am a good girl with a good heart (_je
suis une bonne fille_),” she cried, looking me straight in the eye. “It
was the life that was bad, not I, monsieur.”

There is great risk to life and limb in training and showing these
animals; the lion Bob a while ago closed his jaws upon “M. La Goulue,”
crunching half through the shoulder. Yet it is the injury to others
that the Goulues fear the most.

One of the panthers tore the arm from a child during a performance in
Rouen. It was an expensive accident for La Goulue.

At the time I saw this small menagerie wintering in a corner of the
earth, La Goulue was waiting for an engagement in a coming _fête
foraine_. As yet the letter had not arrived, and I believe the bear
knew it.

“M. La Goulue” did not smile, and spoke but rarely. You felt his
absolute domination and fearlessness. He took the hyena by the throat,
then stroked its ears kindly. When he rolled Alice, the lioness, over
on her back, he did so with gentleness and firmness; when she rebelled
and struck at him viciously, he cuffed her ears and stood talking to
her as to a disobedient child.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

LA GOULUE’S ANIMAL SHOW WINTERING]

I felt that this man with the steel-gray eyes regarded the world in
general in the same manner—with ease and a cool head.

The Avenue de Neuilly in June is suddenly transformed into a glittering
bedlam. Shows line both sides of the broad avenue for nearly a mile.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

These exhibitions are of varied character. Many of them are
counterparts of those along the “Bowery” of our own Coney Island, but
many spectacles may be witnessed inside the enclosures of these
claptrap barracks of canvas and board that are wholly foreign to us.
Their ornamental façades are adorned with marvels of pictorial art
representing all manner of wonderful things not found in this or any
other clime.

[Illustration: A SUNDAY CROWD—FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

Side-showing is a science. Some fakirs have become rich with little
more than a dirty red curtain to screen from view the wonders promised
within, a good “barker” to heighten the desire and imagination of the
gaping crowd in front, and a tame ape tied outside to attract the
little ones. That there was after all nothing worth even two sous to
behold behind the mysterious portal, the spectators in front knew by
the sheepish smirk of those coming out, yet they paid their sous just
the same and filed in to see what had fooled the other fellows!

In the Fête de Neuilly I did not find these fake methods existing. It
is a dangerous thing to fool a French crowd, and so it is the custom to
parade upon an elevated platform at the entrance in plain view of the
passer-by the troupe advertised to show within.

There stand the girl in tights, the clown, the juggler and the strong
man, and the spectator may judge fairly for himself whether he thinks
it worth while to part with his sous to know them better. For one franc
he may study their talent from a kitchen chair, alluringly termed a
“_fauteuil d’orchestre_.” A bench seat generally within a foot of it
rents at half price, and a bleacher seat at five sous, with a reduction
to children and the military.

There are certain hours and special days when the generous manager
lowers even these prices—dinner hours when the passing throng thins
out, and rainy days when the clown appears in a mackintosh and the girl
in the pink cotton tights wraps a plush boa about her powdered neck and
wears the clown’s galoshes, while the monkey at the end of his chain
buries his head out of the drip and falls asleep.

[Illustration: AN ANIMAL SHOW, FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

One of the most popular shows of the _fêtes foraines_ is that of the
female wrestlers. Many of these combatively inclined ladies cultivate a
pose that would put to the blush Hercules leaning on his club. Some of
them gird their loins in imitation lion skins, others wear wristlets of
heavy leather “to protect them from the brutality of their
adversaries,” who, the manager assures the interested crowd, are drawn
from all corners. So you will see a burly looking bourgeois elbow his
way through the crowd and agree openly before the spectators to wrestle
Mademoiselle Blanche “La Tigresse” through three rounds,
catch-as-catch-can. He tells the manager he was trained by the great
Marseille himself and, giving his name and place of residence in case
of accident, enters the tent with his candy-haired opponent. All the
strong men in these _fêtes foraines_ seem to have been trained by
Marseille!

The two file into the amphitheater beyond the curtain, while the
manager roars outside exhorting the crowd to follow.

In the second round Mademoiselle Blanche has thrown her bourgeois
fairly, while six other lady wrestlers sit on the edge of the ring and
applaud. The crowd grows enthusiastic.

In the third round the bourgeois by a neck-hold slaps his adversary
down on the platform, squarely on her back. Both her shoulders touch.
The crowd cheers. The bourgeois has won.

The band in the corner pumps forth a mournful waltz, and another
wrestler prepares for the second bout.

When the show closes, the chance bourgeois and Mademoiselle Blanche
will return to their home in one of the sea of shanties beyond the
barrier, and the manager will turn up his coat collar, give a fresh rub
to his silk hat, deposit the contents of his tin cash-box in his
wallet, and hail a passing omnibus.

The Fête de Neuilly during the afternoon and evening is alive
throughout its length and breadth with a vast throng of pleasure
seekers of all classes and conditions. Along the route of attractions
mammoth carrousels, gorgeous in gilt and mirrors, swing round at a
giddy pace, filled with screaming, laughing women and their escorts.
Another form of carrousel is the “Montagnes Russes,” with undulating
circular tracks over which gilded chariots rush to the accompaniment of
powerful steam calliopes.

[Illustration: A SALON OF MYSTERIES—FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

Farther on are a row of swings. In one of these sky-scraping affairs a
chic little _blanchisseuse_, her blond hair flying beneath a soldier’s
cap jammed over her ears, is holding on tight and screaming with
laughter while her escort the soldier pulls the rope with renewed
effort, until they both come near bumping their heads on the upper
supports.

[Illustration: THE MONTAGNES RUSSES—FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

A few steps farther on, another merry-go-round is on the point of
starting. Astride of a wooden camel sits a young negro wearing a straw
hat with a pink satin band, and a suit known as “nobby.” Two girls
pass. They are evidently two little _couturières_ out for a holiday.
One of them, a little brunette, catches sight of the coal black youth
with the pink satin tie. The two girls hold a hurried conversation.
Suddenly the little brunette runs up to the surprised gentleman in the
nobby suit, throws her arms about his neck and kisses him.

[Illustration: A POPULAR MENAGERIE—FÊTE DE NEUILLY]

“_Voilà_,” she says as she runs on to join her companion, bubbling with
laughter over the joke.

“_Je pourrai dire que j’ai embrassé un nègre!_”

At night the Fête de Neuilly is ablaze with light. Carriages crawl
slowly through the crowd, some of them are smart private turnouts which
have driven to the fête after dinner at Armononville or elsewhere.

Parading side by side with these are others containing jolly parties
waving great paper chrysanthemums and sunflowers carried upon long
sticks. These pretty souvenirs are sold by the thousands in the fête,
and nearly every party of merrymakers brings them back to the boulevard
cafés.

Among other attractions are circuses and menageries where hourly
exhibitions of animals in training draw steady audiences. There is
little attempt to decorate the interior of these menageries—a few
kitchen chairs fronting a row of cages and standing room back of these
furnish the necessary accommodation for the audience. As a rule, the
animals in these small shows are well cared for and kept in unusually
good condition.

The name Pezon in France is traditionally suggestive of the best animal
show. Through three generations the Pezons have been animal trainers
and maintained menageries throughout France. There is not one of this
intrepid family who has not at some time been dragged bleeding from
beneath some infuriated beast. One of the sons who still risks his life
daily is minus an arm, having been mangled by a lion a few years ago.

[Illustration: AN OPEN AIR CHILDREN’S SHOW]

I saw one veteran trainer in the Pezon show turn pale as he realized
that an ugly lion he had forced into a corner had become unmanageable
and blind with rage. Keepers ran to his help, and most of the audience
rose in a panic and started to rush through the exit. The cage rocked
as the lion sprang from side to side and the ground seemed to tremble
beneath his snarling roar, but the man within the bars held his ground.
He was a short, thick-set fellow with blond hair. Step by step he
forced the lion back into its corner, and as firmly and slowly he
conquered him until the crouching beast who could have killed him with
a blow sprang panic-stricken out of his way. Then the little man turned
to the audience, bowed with the air of a dancing-master and sprang
through the safety door. Cheers of “Bravo!” rose from the audience who
had remained as if hypnotized; but the man who had been so near death
did not seem to notice them, for he shrugged his shoulders and smiled
as if the episode were of little importance. Lighting a cigarette, he
disappeared through a door in the rear.

[Illustration: A BALLOON ASCENSION]

I once knew an old French trainer and owner of a menagerie, Champeaux
by name, who came to grief in a different way. He was a jovial old
fellow and when he was not training lions, hyenas, panthers, or bears,
spent most of his time over the flowing bowl in some nearby café,
telling stories and spreading the sunshine of geniality among his old
cronies. He had been in the cages so much of his life and had such a
host of friends, in fact he was such a popular old fellow and so jolly
and genial withal, that I believe he grew to think that the animals he
trained loved him too.

At one time having installed his animal show in the _fête foraine_ at
the Place du Trone, he attended the wedding festivities of a friend. It
happened to be a bourgeois wedding, and the bride and groom and their
guests made merry with champagne and congratulations in one of those
Parisian restaurants where the second floor above the café is rented to
wedding parties and banquets. The festivities kept up until the hour
grew late. Champeaux was the most hilariously happy of the guests. He
embraced the bride and groom and toasted the happy pair in numerous
bumpers, and at last proudly zigzagged his way back to the menagerie.
“All his lions should hear what a good time he had had,” he said to
himself. As he reeled along, he imagined that he was twenty-one and a
bridegroom; then somehow he dreamed that most of his lions had grown
wings and had pink fur on their paws and that all his cages had turned
to solid gold.

[Illustration: AT A FÊTE FORAINE]

And so he lurched on towards his pets, singing a song of cheer. He
reached his menagerie before daylight. His keepers, snoring peacefully
in their bunks, did not hear him as he stumbled in through a hole in
the tent and proceeded to the row of cages. A lioness, wakened out of
her sleep, recognized him, and pacing to the end of her cage, peered
out at him. He must have presented a strange sight, for she roared
twice, half waking the other animals. Then my friend did a foolish
thing; he stumbled up the steps of the trained bear’s cage, apologized
to the steps for tripping over them, slipped the spring latch and
entered the den. Taking his hat off politely to the bear who, at his
unexpected entrance, rose on her hind legs, Champeaux fell into her
arms.

“Pepita,” he said, “I have had a good time, a good time, old girl,” and
he slapped her enthusiastically on her scrubby neck.

Pepita squealed, embraced him in turn, as if in sympathy, and looked at
him queerly with her small round eyes. Then Champeaux groaned—Pepita
had broken his ribs.

In America the roof of the three-ring circus holds a network of trap
apparatus upon which a dozen aerial performers exhibit at the same
time. In the first ring there is a bareback act, in the second a
juggling family upon an intermediate stage, and in the third ring a
herd of trained elephants. Over the surrounding race-track twenty
clowns play tag, setting small sections of the amphitheater into roars
of laughter as they pass.

All this is typical with us of the “greatest show on earth.”

Parisians delight in the circus as much as we do, but they are content
in seeing one thing at a time and enjoying it.

Here the _cirques_ are as cozy as theaters and one small ring suffices.
The Nouveau Cirque, whose façade on the rue St. Honoré resembles that
of a music-hall, is the most comfortable of all the Parisian circuses,
and, like the Cirque d’Hiver and the Cirque Médrano, is open the year
round. The patronage of the last two is more bourgeois than that of the
first one, for both are situated in thickly populated quarters.

The Médrano, on the boulevard Rochechouart in Montmartre, and the
Cirque d’Hiver, on the boulevard du Temple, are patronized for the most
part by the people of the rue du Temple and around la Place de la
Bastille.

All Paris pours to Longchamp the day of the Grand Prix. Seen from the
grandstand, the track stretches away in a velvety green ribbon. Every
square foot of the remainder of the vast enclosure is packed with
people. Part of this human sea, that which fills the grandstands and
broad promenade, is gay in the smartest of toilettes, silk parasols,
and shining top hats. The rest is made up of all sorts and conditions.

Indoor displays of horsemanship, where the incentive of betting is
lacking, have not been a success in Paris—at least when conducted upon
a large scale. The old Hippodrome, founded for track exhibitions, has
passed out of existence. It was too big to be popular, and the new
Hippo-Palace, a splendid structure forming a spacious angle with the
rue Calvalotti and the rue Caulincourt, after a short life proved an
absolute failure. Its exterior was vast and exceedingly attractive in
color. The whole was done in a scheme of gold and turquoise blue
velvet, with a huge stage for ballets at the end of the three-ringed
amphitheater. The performance was excellent, and for a while it looked
as if the Hippo-Palace might be a success. But the same criticism
caused its downfall. There were too many things to watch at once from
seats too far removed from the performers.

[Illustration: THE CROWD AT LONGCHAMP]

Parisians enjoy the intimacy of a small circus.

Between the acts the pretty stables behind the scenes are crowded with
people who enjoy looking at the horses in their neatly kept
stalls—indeed, many of these remain in the stables after the bell
announces the continuance of the performance, in order to view at
leisure the byplay of the performers before they go into the ring.

A pretty bareback rider comes tripping down the stairs from her
dressing-room. Her horse is brought out for her from its stall, and,
while an elderly gentleman with a ribbon in his buttonhole stands
chatting with her for a moment, her groom gives a final cinch to the
mare’s white kid girdle and rosins its broad back.

Applause announces the end of an act, and a trained bear, held in check
by his keeper, shuffles past you.

It is mademoiselle’s turn now, and the old gentleman with the
decoration lifts his opera hat as mademoiselle leaves him and runs into
the ring.

From the circular _promenoir_ behind the second tier of boxes you catch
glimpses of women in _chic_ toilets who nightly frequent the circuses.

Immortal are the names of the famous of French clowns—Boum-Boum,
Auguste and Chocolat. For years they have made Paris roar with
laughter, and the little French children kick their bare legs in glee.

Chocolat and Auguste, who appear together, are far more than ordinary
clowns. They are past masters in the art of nonsense. Every effect is
carefully planned and studied. Their performance is pantomime of the
first order. To keep the amused attention of an audience for half an
hour by a representation of Hamlet played with no costumes and no
scenery, and for the most part executed wholly in pantomime, requires
rare skill and subtle humor, and that rarest of qualities in comic men,
the time to know when to stop.

There is something especially attractive in the coziness of these
one-ring circuses of Paris. The buildings themselves are circular, like
those built for permanent panoramas. From the ring, with its red velvet
border, begin rows of orchestra seats, reaching to the balcony of
pretty boxes, behind which is a circular promenade.

[Illustration: MADEMOISELLE LA BOUFFONNE]

The stables themselves are models of well-ordered cleanliness, and each
stall that contains some beauty of the ring shines in polished brass.
The stall posts are bound with fresh sheaths of straw tied with gaily
colored ribbons.

An attractive feature of the Nouveau Cirque is the aquatic performance
which concludes the show. The big ring mattress is suspended between
two giant wheels and rolled away; the floor of the ring sinks slowly,
and water rushes in until a safe diving depth is attained. Calcium
lights are turned upon this improvised lake, and an aquatic burlesque
follows. This naturally concludes the program, for every one taking
part tumbles in as often as possible and retires dripping to his
dressing-room. One of these farce comedies ends in a wedding party
where the bride and groom are ferried across in the little boat. The
clown who acts as ferryman is invariably upset, and the wedding party
have to kick out and swim for shore, on which they climb or are hauled
minus most of their clothes.

The Thursday matinées are filled with happy French children. What a
never-to-be-forgotten ecstasy it must be to Jacqueline, François and
little Antoinette to be taken between the acts to the café of the
Cirque Médrano and be served with a huge _cérise à l’eau_ by the clown
himself. How delightful to hear his special jokes as he pours out for
them their _cérise_ and nearly spills a whole trayful of cakes over
their heads as he serves it!

[Illustration: STREET CLOWNS]

I spent the afternoon yesterday with a famous old clown at the Médrano.
At intervals during our chat my friend would leave me to run back into
the ring and play the fool. Yet he was a grave and a sad old man. His
heavily chalked face with its traditional black lines between his eyes
and his painted cheeks seemed strangely incongruous as he talked
seriously of his life.

Behind his mask of chalk his old eyes burned with a brave light in them
still, for his life had been one of trying struggle. He spoke of the
death of his only daughter, of the hardships of many touring adventures
in many lands.

“I went with my family to Constantinople to start a circus there, and
it took me five years to earn enough money to return, for we not only
lost all we had, but were forced into debt.

“We managed to get free at last and returned to Paris. Here we worked
hard, all of us, and at last we opened again a circus of our own. My
son-in-law was the trapeze performer, and my boy was a clown like
myself. We had with us a family of old friends, the Lorettis—you may
remember them? The opening night of that show brought with it the old
sensation of ruin staring us in the face. We opened the doors that
evening just thirty-five thousand francs in debt. Gradually by hard
work we managed to pull out of it, and,” he added, “to-day, thank God!
I am free from worry and anxiety. I know that I can make but a living
at the best. I get my money here; it is not much, but I get it
regularly, and here I shall stay. I am sixty years old and have been a
clown nearly forty years of my life.”

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A COUNTRY CIRCUS]

He excused himself for a moment and ran out into the ring, turned a
flipflap, and ran tripping over things in a fruitless endeavor to
assist the lady in pink tulle on her cantering white horse. A pantomime
followed in which a second clown, his son, having killed him in a comic
duel, doubled his father up, packed him neatly in a barrel, and
wheelbarrowed him out of the ring.

“You see,” continued the father seriously as he rejoined me, having
divested himself of the barrel and run the wheelbarrow out of the way
of an advancing herd of elephants, “it is different with your big
American shows. An artist there never gets credit for his work. With so
many acts going at once it is impossible for him to be fairly seen. He
can play only to a small section of the house, and, if he is doing high
trap work like my son-in-law, he no sooner gets a neat trick worked up
than the bell rings and down the rope he has to come.

“Well, sir, I must wash up and be getting along; we have dinner at home
at six and I have a little special marketing to do for we have some old
friends coming.”

[Illustration]



                             Chapter Eight

                     GREASE PAINT AND POWDER PUFFS


The stage of the Folies Bergère during a spectacular _revue_ is a busy
place. Sunday evening is always a crowded night at Parisian theaters
and a hard one upon players, since all the theaters on that day give
matinées as well.

There are few persons in an audience who realize the amount of hard
work required of every one behind the scenes in the staging and playing
of a spectacular _revue_.

It was nine o’clock Sunday evening and the _revue_ at the Folies
Bergère was about to begin, as my friend, a successful writer of many
Parisian _revues_, Monsieur René Louis, led me through the crowded
_promenoir_ of this thoroughly Parisian music-hall and through a small
iron door into another world. I say another world, for it was peopled
with fairies—_coryphées_ in pink tights whose eyes were stenciled and
lined with blue until they appeared as almond-shaped as an odalisque’s.
The stage was crowded with scene-shifters in black caps and long white
linen dusters, with ladies protected from stray drafts by warm woolen
dressing gowns, with hair-dressers in their shirt-sleeves, with firemen
in shining brass helmets, with ballet girls in white tulle and
fleshings, and pink satin slippers with padded toes.

We came upon all this suddenly, for, as we entered the iron door
leading to the _coulisses_, we found ourselves in a small _entresol_
and in the midst of a dozen _coryphées_ who were giving a final touch
to their make-up before an extra mirror.

The air was heavy with the odor of scores of different cheap perfumes.

Down a narrow winding stairway leading from the dressing-rooms above,
poured a stream of other _coryphées_, principals, ballet girls and
_figurantes_, a moving kaleidoscopic procession of pink tights,
glittering tinsel and bizarre head-dresses.

Groups of chorus girls gossiped in safe corners out of the way of
hurrying scene-shifters.

“_Attention! s’il vous plait_,” shouted two of the latter as they
dodged past with a section of a Venetian palace, while two others
followed with half of the Bridge of Sighs and eight feet of canvas
water.

[Illustration:

Drawing by Pezilla

AT THE FOLIES-BERGÈRE]

“_Dis donc, ma chérie_,” said a petite brunette costumed as a gray
pigeon to another pigeon whose dresser was attaching to her shoulders a
pair of white wings, “did you find the tailor whose address I gave you
yesterday? A hundred francs for a dress like my little brown one, and
_tu sais trés, trés chic_. Tell Amélie I am coming to see her to-morrow
_à trois heures, n’est-ce pas_?” and the gray pigeon hurried away to
her place in the wings.

High up above the busy stage hung the great drops suspended from a
network of ropes. Hoisted by the side of an Italian lake hung the back
flat of the palace of diamonds, and next to it a dark wood through
which at ten thirty-five, by the stage manager’s watch, fluttered
nightly a ballet of bats.

My friend led the way through a back corridor to the director’s office.
I found the director a serious man of affairs, who looked more like a
scientist than a man of the theater. His greeting was most cordial,
even hospitable, for, as he left me to attend to the performance, he
added, with charming courtesy: “_Monsieur, vous êtes ici chez vous_; go
where you will or, better still, let me present you to our stage
manager. It is he who is really captain of the ship in the storm, for
we have some rapid dark changes to make during the _revue_, when you
will be safer in a corner.”

From the wings behind the blaze of the footlights, the crowded house
lay like a flower-garden in the dusk. Here a patch of red flamed
brighter than the rest from some theater hat; there the white of a
shirt-front gleamed.

The prompter sat huddled under his wooden hood with his prompt-book in
readiness for the raising of the curtain.

Behind him, the leader of the orchestra wiped his eyeglasses, looked at
his watch, passed a word by the second violin to the oboe concerning a
late correction, and, tapping his baton, began the overture.

Bang! Bang! Bang! pounded thrice the stage manager with measured
precision, and, with a final glance at the people on the stage, gave
the signal to the head electrician who turned a switch. Up went the
curtain.

The night’s work had begun.

For the three hours that ensued during the _revue_, ballets succeeded
ballets. There were burlesques upon current topics and singing
choruses. All through this the stage management was perfect.

[Illustration: CHORUS GOSSIP]

When you consider the lack of room it was all the more remarkable.

“You see,” said the stage manager, during one of his free minutes, “we
are terribly cramped for room here upon this old stage. Our biggest
flats we set with this panorama arrangement”—and he pointed to two
giant rollers, one on either side of the stage. Then, leading the way
beneath the stage, he showed me the two great wheels and the dynamo
that moved them.

“Look out!” said he, as we returned to the stage, “that is the finale
of the _commère’s_ song and we are going to make a quick change. Stand
there!” he said, and instinctively I jumped for the spot he indicated.
At the same instant the two electricians pulled a combination of
switches and everything went black.

Scene-shifters hurried through the gloom with awkward sections of
scenery, all of which had to be taken back through a doorway and
replaced in order where they had come from. Others hurried on the stage
with properties and sections for the new set.

The stage was, fortunately, warm, otherwise many of the _petites
Parisiennes_ who were descending the winding stairs would have suffered
from even the slightest current of air, for most of their clothes had
been left in the dressing-rooms above.

I saw among this “big family,” that are together during a long season,
the best of _camaraderie_ and unusual deference and courtesy by every
man toward the women.

During the second act I found that exceedingly _chic_ and attractive
_comédienne_, Mademoiselle Léa Dorville, in her loge.

Every available corner of her small room did good service. Rows of pink
and Nile green silk petticoats, _frous-frous_ and things hung from
hooks under cretonned shelves.

Other hooks held mademoiselle’s stage hats, some of them as big as
circus hoops. Her duchesse table was a veritable museum of little
necessaries: hare’s-feet and powder puffs, mirrors, sticks of grease
paint, a pot of cold cream with a silver top, a box of _poudre de riz_,
rouge for her lips, for her nails, for the tips of her ears. It was all
artificial, but it was nevertheless one real side of life. Serious
gaiety if you will, since to survive the daily routine of the stage is
hard work.

Being Sunday, that day they had already gone through a matinée. There
is but little time to rest between the matinée and the evening
performance, and in Paris the theaters are not out until midnight.

All this activity behind the scenes of the Folies Bergère seemed in
strong contrast to the idle leisure of the audience in front, who
during the _entr’actes_ strolled among the _demi-mondaines_ in the
_promenoir_ or lounged comfortably in arm-chairs pulled up to the café
tables of the alcoves, and with a cooling drink listened to the band of
Neapolitans.

The curtain fell upon an apotheosis representing the palace of gems;
upon La Belle Otéro clothed in solitaires; upon the _commère_ and the
_compère_ bowing to an appreciative audience; and finally upon a
stageful of _figurantes_ and _coryphées_ who, as the final curtain
fell, made a rush for their dressing-rooms. Half an hour later they all
said _bonsoir_ to the doorkeeper and scattered among the highways and
byways of the city. Some who passed out wore sables; others, who half
an hour before stood flashing in gems, went away in modest clothes of
their own making. Some departed to meet their sweethearts, others to
their families or their children; some to supper at the Café de Paris,
to Pousset’s and to the Café Riche, others to little snuggeries where
the cheapest dish was the most popular, and where the _vieux monsieur_
with the purse of gold never came.

[Illustration:

Photo by Reutlinger, Paris

LA BELLE OTÉRO]

I found the stage of another big music-hall, the Olympia, differing
widely from the cramped and picturesque old stage of the Folies
Bergère. Here there was plenty of room and sufficient stage height for
scenic spectacles. Back of all this, wide corridors led to the offices
of administration and comfortable dressing-rooms. Here again I found a
safe corner behind the proscenium, out of the way of changing scenery
and the toes of the agile mademoiselles of the ballet.

One seldom sees a more beautiful woman than the present _commère_ of
the Olympia _revue_, Germaine Gallois. She is tall, lithe and queenly,
with clear-cut features and a wealth of golden hair. With Lucien Noël
and the statuesque Graziella the _revue_ is not lacking in talent. From
the shadows of the wings framed by the side of the proscenium in deep
shadow against the flood of orange calcium light, the glitter of the
scene upon the stage seemed even more brilliant than when viewed from
the house.

[Illustration: EMILIENNE D’ALONÇON AS A COMMÈRE]

Three fourths of the performers in Parisian vaudeville are Americans,
English or Austrians. These naturally can not be employed in the
_revue_ following the vaudeville, for they do not speak French.

It is the custom to print in English the billposters announcing these
artists. It seems more of a novelty to Parisians if the lady on the
high wire appears on the bills as “Miss Dorita Gayford, Queen of the
High Wire.” In London you will see this lady who is on such good terms
with the attraction of gravitation, billed as “Mademoiselle Céleste
Pirrizetti, Reine du Fil de Fer.” It is more interesting, just as a
“Chateaubriand aux pommes soufflées” is more attractive upon a bill of
fare than plain “steak and fried potatoes.”

To us Americans who are accustomed to our modern theaters fitted with
every appliance for safety and comfort, the old-fashioned playhouses of
Paris, seasoned by time and tradition, seem quite primitive in
construction. Many of them have remained for nearly a century
materially unchanged. The narrow semi-circular corridors leading to the
orchestra through little velveted doors have low ceilings.

That the most sought after seats are those in the first balcony is due
to the fact that in many of the theaters the first rows in the
orchestra are sunk so low below an unusually high stage that it is
impossible to see more than the upper half of the performers. Then,
too, the hood of the prompter’s box is invariably placed in the middle
of the stage. Add to this a lady in front with a theater hat of such
dimensions that it would serve much better as a sunshade, and the
spectator near the front row has left to his vision a little triangular
space bounded on the base by the footlights, on one side by the
prompt-box, and on the other by a bobbing ostrich plume. Across this
aperture, provided the ostrich feather keeps still, you may, by good
luck, from time to time see the villain pursue the heroine.

The French playhouse is a slave to traditional custom. The stone
stairways worn by the feet of generations of audiences have sunk badly
out of plumb. There are comfortable old foyers and _fumoirs_ to which
the audience pour during the _entr’actes_, but the approach to these is
painfully slow through narrow corridors and up winding flights of
stairs.

The boxes lined along beneath the first balcony and circling the
orchestra are narrow, and insufferably warm in summer. Besides the open
loges there are boxes screened by grilles of gilt lattice, where madame
and another madame’s monsieur may secrete themselves, discreet even in
their indiscretions—but why gossip of the happiness of others?—there
is enough misery in the world as it is.

Those gray-haired old ladies, the _ouvreuses_, are traditional, too;
they hang the coats and wraps along the wall of the narrow corridor
into which the audience goes out, with the result that at the end of
the performance the corridor is jammed with people in search of their
belongings.

There is no orchestra except in those theaters in which the performance
as in opéra bouffes and musical comedies requires one. During the
_entr’actes_ Frenchmen stand in their orchestra places and carefully
look over the audience who have remained in their seats, with their
opera-glasses, until the stage manager pounds his staff solemnly for
the rising of the curtain. It is the custom, too, to use hideous drop
curtains between the acts covered with advertisements of perfumery,
automobiles, and of winter and summer resorts.

But if there are many little discomforts within Parisians theaters, the
interiors themselves are rich in works of art. The foyers contain
superb busts and rare pictures. There are ceilings, mellowed in color
by time, which were painted by the best masters. If many of these
auditoriums are uncomfortable, they possess a charm and a dignity which
age alone can give.

Take for example the old Palais Royal. This famous old playhouse has a
cozy old-fashioned auditorium and a foyer with a quaint gallery, and a
rich frieze which illustrates the history of the theater since the day
when Mademoiselle de Montansier in 1789 bought the Beaujolais, a little
playhouse constructed as a _théâtre des marionnettes_. From that year
the old theater existed under many names, until in 1848 it adopted the
title of the “Théâtre du Palais Royal,” a name which it still retains.
One feels within it that but for the modern costumes of the audience he
might be living in the time of the First Empire. The windows of the
foyer look out upon the dimly lighted courtyard of the palace of
Richelieu.

Like the ruddy back of some old violin, the interior of the Théâtre du
Palais Royal has become rich and polished by the hands of time. It has
become a Parisian institution, beloved by men and women of culture
because of its associations.

If you ask a Parisian at which theaters you can see the best plays, he
will invariably answer: The Théâtre Antoine and the Théâtre Français.
He adds the latter as a matter of habit, for the French have been
brought up for generations to regard the immortal house of the great
Molière as the best stage.

It is there he received his first impression of the theater when in his
childhood as a reward of merit he was taken to the Français to see
classical plays. He was told it was the best theater, and this
impression has remained with him since infancy. For French children are
taken as a matter of education to the Français and the Odéon.

True, the Comédie Française possesses finished actors; true, also, they
are trying to keep up traditions there more than anywhere else; true,
as well, the scenery and costumes are of the best. But it is also true
that many of the good actors of the Français have in late years
deserted the house of Molière for freer fields, that the managers have
refused scores of good plays in late years which have been subsequent
successes at other theaters, and that most of the present actors of the
Français, wishing to create a “_genre_,” or shall we call it a
mannerism, of their own, do so at the expense of the true character of
the rôle which they play. Many of them who have become celebrated
refuse to play small parts and, what is even more to be regretted,
disdain to learn the classical repertoire which is the _raison d’être_
of the house of Molière.

[Illustration: A DRESS REHEARSAL AT THE THÉÂTRE FRANÇAIS]

But if the Français does not choose to present new plays and encourage
modern authorship for which purposes the government gives it yearly a
large subvention, other theaters do, and the public have filled them.

But even these latter theaters are hampered by the system of stars and
the desire to attract the public by the well-known name of a successful
author on the bill.

Sometimes the play of the successful author, like the little girl with
the curl in the middle of her forehead, is very, very good, and
sometimes very, very bad, but it is always very, very expensive. On
account of these stars and successful authors, the seats have to be
sold at a high price. Once the expense of production of the play is
covered, the play is forced to a long run, thus limiting the chance of
a new one being given.

For these reasons and many others M. Antoine, a young man who was an
employee of the city gas company, conceived in 1887 an idea of an
entirely different theater where all old traditions would be put aside,
where a play would not be given more than two weeks, thus opening the
door to a great many authors, and where a company of thirty-six actors
would play impartially all rôles and each one would receive for his
services the same pay.

The plays given should be upon every-day life, therefore no expensive
costumes or elaborate scenery would be needed.

The actors were not to come from a dramatic school, but teach
themselves by experience.

Realism was to pervade everything: acting, costumes, scenery and
properties.

In March, 1887, M. Antoine organized the first representation of
“Jacques Damour,” which was such a success that it was taken
immediately by the Odéon. The performance was given in a cheap little
auditorium in Montmartre, hired at as low a figure as possible for the
occasion. None of the actors were professionals. In this first
representation of the “Puissance des Ténèbres,” the cast was:
Men—Monsieur Antoine, still employee of the gas company, an employee
of the Minister of Finances, a secretary at Police headquarters, an
architect, a chemist, a drummer and a _marchand de vin_. Women—a
dressmaker, a bookbinder, an employee at the Post-office, etc., etc.
All this cast rehearsed in the evening after long hours in office and
store.

In spite of keeping expenses as low as possible, Antoine was in debt
after the first representation and was obliged to wait two months
before he could give another performance.

Finally the company succeeded in giving seven or eight representations
in a little _salle_ of the rue Blanche, and from there went to the
Théâtre Montparnasse, and thence to the Menus Plaisirs, where the
Théâtre Libre exists at the present day under the name of the Théâtre
Antoine.

With this little company it was not always easy sailing. Had it not
been at the time for the generous help of the press and the kindness of
the director of the vaudeville who sub-rented his hall to the ambitious
troupe for next to nothing, it would have met with financial ruin. But
the plays they gave attracted attention. Nowhere had such daring
realism and freedom from old traditions been attempted.

From 1887 to 1890 the Théâtre Libre produced one hundred and
twenty-five new “acts,” and presented the plays of thirty dramatic
authors whose work had never been heard before. Besides these, they
produced the plays of fourteen authors whose work had been represented
in Paris only once.

They had upon their programs among others the plays of Zola, Tolstoy,
Turgéneff, and Ibsen, and introduced many plays which subsequently were
reproduced upon the best stages of Paris. The good that Antoine has
accomplished by his indomitable energy and the efforts of those who
have been with him through these experiments is sufficiently proven by
the fact that while the company produced one hundred and twenty-five
plays, the Français during that same period of time produced only
twenty-five new plays and received seven hundred and twenty thousand
francs from the government as subvention, a sum given towards the
expense of mounting new plays. The Odéon during this time produced
sixty-seven “acts” and received three hundred thousand francs from the
government!

Monsieur Antoine does not believe in considering that a room has only
three sides. That is why he maintains it is legitimate to turn one’s
back on an audience if by reason of stage position the situation calls
for it. Neither does he believe the room in which the drama occurs can
be surrounded by imaginary apartments of dingy canvas, so the doors
upon his stage have real locks and open upon other rooms as
realistically furnished as the one within whose walls the action takes
place.

In the matter of costumes he is equally realistic, and every detail of
the style is genuine.

If it is a question of a library, there are real books upon real
shelves. These important attentions to detail are carried out through
all his plays. He does not believe that, because an object is at the
back of the stage, it should be made of papier maché or, what is worse,
painted on the back flat.

When you have seen three of his late productions, “La Fille Eliza,” the
story of a girl condemned to death; “La Bonne Espérance,” a tragedy of
a Holland fishing town; and “L’Indiscret,” a modern society play; you
will realize the genius and capability of Monsieur Antoine and his rare
company who work conscientiously together for the ensemble of a
finished production rather than for individual applause.

Among the _haut monde_ of Paris the finesse of the most complex social
intrigue is understood to perfection. The Parisian society play deals
with a series of _risqué_ situations.

[Illustration: A STAR’S DRESSING-ROOM]

The noisy, cruel, villain of the society play as we know him is not
seen here. The three principal characters are the “Charming and
Beautiful Wife,” the “Distinguished Husband,” whom she does not love,
and the “Jolly Young Man,” whom she does. Her attractive salon seems to
be especially adapted to the furtherance of the amours of certain of
her women friends whose husbands, it is to be presumed, are having tea
and conversation elsewhere.

Matrimony is taken for granted as a calamity, an unfortunate episode to
be remedied as soon as possible.

In the second act the Charming Wife heavily veiled sweeps into the
Jolly Young Man’s modest apartment.

“_Enfin!_” he cries, and the lovers embrace as if in a dream.

This is quite an exciting part, for it is not long now before you will
hear the heavy foot of the deceived husband upon the stairs.

“_Ah! voilà!_ here he comes!” The Charming Wife emits a little stifled
scream as she recognizes his step, and the Jolly Young Man, failing to
hide her in his wardrobe, puts on as bold a front as possible and
awaits the opening of his door.

Enter the Husband!

Not in a frenzy, with cocked revolver as we are used to seeing him, not
a bit of it. He comes in pleasantly and bows formally to madame and to
the Jolly Young Man. Through all he preserves the dignity of a visiting
general with a flag of truce. He even begs the pardon of the Jolly
Young Man for his interruption.

“Will you have the goodness, monsieur, to leave madame and myself alone
for a moment; I have something which I wish to say in private?”

“_Parfaitement, monsieur_,” answers as ceremoniously the Jolly Young
Man, and goes out.

When the Jolly Young Man has gone, madame attempts the usual distracted
flood of explanations, then, realizing the artificiality of them all,
shrugs her shoulders.

It is at this juncture that the Husband, as if speaking to some
indiscreet comrade, addresses madame as “my friend.”

“_Mon amie_,” he begins, “you must know that I, too, love another.”

“You have a mistress, of course,” replies madame, accepting this
foregone conclusion as a preliminary to what may follow.

“Naturally, my friend, but it is not of Mademoiselle de Tréville that I
speak, it is of one of your best friends, _une femme sérieuse, exquise,
ravissante_!” and he clasps his hand and looks toward heaven.

“Louise?” asks madame.

“_Parfaitement, mon amie._”

“_Tiens!_ That is funny,” replies madame, with a little amused smile;
“but what of her husband?”

“It will be difficult, but I think it can be arranged,” replies
monsieur dramatically.

Upon the reentrance of the Jolly Young Man, all three begin a breezy
conversation touching as lightly as possible upon the painful episode
of the interrupted rendezvous.

“I leave for Nice to-morrow,” says the Husband, picking up his silk hat
and his yellow kid gloves. “_Bonsoir, mes amis_,” and he bows himself
out through the modest portal of the Jolly Young Man’s apartment as the
curtain falls.

[Illustration: MARDI GRAS ON THE BOULEVARD DES ITALIENS]


All Paris poured into the Grands Boulevards on Mardi Gras. From the
Madeleine to the Place de la Bastille, this broad thoroughfare was a
compact surging sea of human beings. Those who had space enough danced,
some as clowns, some as harlequins. There were women in doublets and
hose, in boys’ clothes, in every conceivable get-up that could be
dragged from the boxes of cheap costumers. This human sea laughed at
each other in the best of good nature and threw paper confetti tit for
tat all day and half the night. Paris seemed to have been visited by a
vari-colored blizzard that roared whirling by, a February wind, over
the heads of the sea of merry-makers. It piled itself in great
kaleidoscopic drifts in the gutters and got down thousands of people’s
necks. The air was filled with dust, and from the balconies shot long
streamers of paper ribbons, some caught in the trees below, others fell
entangling themselves round the _chapeaux_ of the passing crowd.

At certain points the busses crossed amid cheers, but otherwise no
vehicles were allowed on the boulevards. A rabbit would have had hard
work getting through in a hurry from the Madeleine to the Bastille, so
compact was the crowd. In all this fun and gaiety I did not see a fight
or a drunken man, and I observed the show as long as it lasted. It
began on Sunday, when a procession of students started from the
Sorbonne and marched across the Seine, a somewhat disappointing
cavalcade in length but which, nevertheless, half of Paris turned out
to see and applaud.

The carnival reached its height on Tuesday and in the early hours of
Wednesday morning.

There were _bal masqués_ galore, for nearly every one had dressed for
them in the morning.

At the Bullier, the Gay Tivoli, and the Moulin de la Galette, carnival
reigned supreme.

At the Bal Bullier one had to take more than a passing glance to tell
the boys from the girls, for the Mimis and Fantines had often tucked up
their hair and donned sailors’ clothes or a Tuxedo. Others went in
scantier attire and were more distinguishable. There were feminine
Méphistos, Spanish dancers, little brunettes as bullfighters, and
blondes as Oriental favorites of the harem. When the ball was over,
this motley crowd romped down to supper along the “Boul Mich” in their
fantastic clothes, and had _Marennes vertes_ and cold champagne and
beer and sandwiches in the hostelries of the Quartier Latin.

But all this was only a slice in the carnival pie, for Montmartre was a
bedlam, and the boulevards were still packed and as jolly as they had
been when I crossed that thoroughfare on the top of a bus and saw a
surging sea of color. Such screaming and cheering I have never seen
elsewhere.

Clowns were everywhere, acrobats did flip-flaps from the sand bins
along the route of the Metropolitan, street bands blared away from the
_terrasses_ of the cafés, sidewalk venders did a thriving trade in
confetti, sold in paper bags, which were warranted to hold a true kilo.
Later some of these confetti hawkers began replenishing their stock
from the sidewalk where it could literally be gathered by the shovelful.

All this happened a day ago; before noon Wednesday, Paris had been
swept as clean as a whistle.


Alas! the famous Bal Masqué de l’Opéra is no more in its splendor.

The _bal masqué_ to which once upon a time all of gay Paris went in
domino and mask is now filled by the daughters of _concierges_, by
barbers and jockeys and a general riff-raff, most of whom have entered
by billets of favor. Besides these there are a few dominoed ladies in
the boxes who may once have graced the ball in the old days, and now
and then a pretty woman in black silk tights passes through the foyer,
and is ogled by the remnant of the aged _roués_ who stroll about
comparing the present with the glitter and beauty of the Opéra ball
when it was one of the sights of the world, frequented by the most
celebrated and beautiful of women. All this has gone; the crowd is
motley, noisy and common. The leading feature at the Opéra ball this
year was the cake-walk, over which all Paris has suddenly gone mad.

It is an amusing sight to see the Parisian dance it; he forms his ideas
of the cake-walk mostly from some of the exaggerated illustrations
published in the London journals, and combines these with a touch of
plantation grace taken from the steel engravings out of a French
history of early Alabama.

I know a celebrated French ballet master who has had his hands full
training Parisians in the art of cake-walking. As a _maître de ballet_
there is none better to be found, but his ideas upon the innate grace
of “Syncopated Sandy” are somewhat vague.

[Illustration]



                              Chapter Nine

                           IN PARISIAN WATERS


Madame Thérèse Baudière’s brown eyes and the pink-and-white freshness
of her skin are in charming contrast to her gray hair, which she wears
in the coiffure of a certain marquise of a century ago. Sometimes on
fête days, madame encircles her white throat with a black velvet
ribbon. Upon these occasions, she mostly resembles the Watteau-like
marquise whose portrait hangs in the inn adjoining Madame Baudière’s
garden. A seasoned old hostelry is the inn, famous for its vintages and
its sauces, both of which go far toward cheering the stranger who comes
to Poissy.

This quaint town upon the bank of the Seine would be a drowsy little
hamlet indeed were it not so close to Paris that its cobbled streets
are filled on Sundays and holidays with _tuff-tuffs_ and formidable red
racers, which rattle and roar in their endeavor to stand still long
enough to deposit their dust-begrimed occupants at the door of Monsieur
Dalaison’s inn, the Esturgeon. For it is quite the thing for Parisians
to take their Sunday _déjeuner_ or _dîner_ at this hostelry.

When I first saw her, Madame Baudière was stepping out of the narrow
doorway of her bait shop and calling lustily to her garçon André, who
had reached the shore of a feathery green island just opposite, and who
upon hearing madame’s voice turned his boat about and bent his broad
back to his oars in haste to return.

“_Dépêchez-vous!_” cried madame, as he drew nearer. “Monsieur wishes
the big boat.”

“_Bien, madame, tout de suite_,” answered André, plunging the clumsy
blades into the glassy river which swings along past the island and
glides peacefully on its way down to Normandy and the sea.

[Illustration]

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE ESTURGEON]

Opposite the inn, shored up against the piers of an ancient stone
bridge, framed in a clump of towering poplars, stands a cardboard box
of a house, its sides painted in imitation of brick. It looks like a
toy from which one could lift the gabled roof and find chocolates and
marrons in layers within.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

ONE OF THE FEATHERY ISLANDS]

Near by this bonbonnière, in the shade of the overhanging trees, a
gouty old gentleman beneath a green cotton umbrella watches intently a
tiny red quill floating midway up his line, altho it has given no
signal of alarm for hours.

A gentle breeze shirrs the surface of the water. The old gentleman
pours a little _vin ordinaire_ into a glass, rebaits his hook, and
lights a fresh cigar. Masses of white clouds overhead float in the
clear blue sky.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A SLEEPY VILLAGE]

Just around the point of the island another boat is moored to two long
poles. In it a young man sits fishing; his sweetheart, who a night ago
had been dining at Maxime’s exquisitely gowned, is now by his side in a
calico wrapper and a straw garden-hat, the brim of which is pulled down
until all that remains visible of her face is the tip of her
_retroussé_ nose, her rosebud mouth and her adorable dimpled chin.

Shouts and shrieks of laughter come from other boats tied along this
quiet stretch of the river.

Tiny villas, their gardens gay in geraniums, skirt the edge of the
stream, where on little wharves sheltered by awnings other Parisians
spend the day a fishing. On one of these an old lady in a black silk
dress reclines in an armchair, her fishing-rod thrust in a convenient
rest, while she occupies herself with her fancy work, talking at
intervals to her husband, a dapper little man in a white waistcoat. The
family butler has just brought him a fresh pailful of bait, the first
supply having been exhausted in the capture of two diminutive
_goujons_, a delicate little fish playing an important part in every
_friture_ along the Seine. It is served like whitebait, crisp and
garnished with watercress and lemon. Opposite my own boat there is
another villa half hidden in the tangle of a pretty garden full of
roses.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE QUIET STRETCH]

Here a flat barge is moored to the bank, and in it three people are
fishing. In the bow sits a genial clean-shaven old gentleman, a
celebrated actor, whose red cravat is reflected in the water by a
wiggling scarlet spiral. In the middle of the barge is seated
Mademoiselle Yvette, of the Bouffes Parisiennes. Her cork has just
disappeared with the rush of a foolish _goujon_, and is straightway
pulled up, amid screams from the excited demoiselle, with a jerk
sufficient to land a whale. At her side a man of thirty-five,
sunburned, well-built and immaculate in white flannels, is extricating
the unfortunate _goujon_ from the tangled hook and line.

“_Oh! c’est beau! n’est-ce pas, Jacques?_” cries Yvette, clapping her
hands.

“_Oui, oui, ma petite_,” returns Jacques, happy over her delight.

“_Et toi, chéri_,” laughs Yvette, consolingly, “_tu n’as encore rien
attrappé, ça ne fait rien, je te donnerai le mien_.”

The old gentleman with the scarlet tie rises and bows majestically to
Yvette in recognition of her skill.

A short pantomime follows, in which these two _bons garçons_ present
her with a wreath of honor made of leaves gathered from the bank.

“_Ah! mes enfants_,” cries Yvette, “you are always so good to me!” and
she kisses the old gentleman in quite a fatherly way on both cheeks and
gives her beloved Jacques a little hug of delight. Then all three
return seriously to their fishing.

[Illustration: ENTHUSIASTS]

Now the shutters of an upper window of the villa open and the blond
head of Suzanne is thrust out in greeting.

“_Bonjour, mes enfants!_” she calls cheerily to the three.

“_Ah! ah! Oh! oh! tiens!_ it is really you at last!” cry the
industrious ones.

“Oh! you lazy girl,” shouts Jacques.

“_Bonjour_,” adds the old gentleman in mock sarcasm. “It is a pity you
are so confoundedly lazy that you can not give us the honor of your
gracious company! A fine fisherwoman you, who swore last night by
Psyche you would be up before the sun had crept over yonder hillock and
kissed the river with its rays!”

“_Tout à l’heure, mon vieux_,” returns Suzanne, with a rippling laugh.
“The day is yet young; _au revoir, mes enfants_.” And Suzanne,
extricating one dimpled elbow from her _peignoir_, blows the three
enthusiasts a kiss and closes the shutters.

“Ingrate!” cry all three.

“Eh! do you hear?” roars Jacques, “we have Chambertin for lunch—you
shall not have a drop.”

“_Dormeuse!_” shouts Yvette. “You shall not see Gaston when he comes,
or even the tail of my beautiful _goujon_!”

“Enough,” thunders the old gentleman, melodramatically, “you shall not
leave your boudoir, not even tho the populace cry ‘The Queen! the
Queen! let us see the Queen!’ Consider it henceforth as your dungeon. I
have given orders to the guards without.” The shutters open half way.

[Illustration: AN HABITUÉ]

“Has anyone caught anything!” ventures shyly the owner of the shower of
golden hair.

“One!” savagely reply the others.

“Who caught it?” comes excitedly from the window.

“Yvette!”

“Bravo!” applauds Suzanne. “I am coming down!” And she does, making her
way through the roses. Her exquisite hair is twisted in a hurried coil.
The voluminous sleeves of her _peignoir_ reveal her pretty bare arms as
she runs. The next instant Suzanne is in the barge fishing with the
rest.

Bees drone lazily over the flowers in the tiny garden; the river
flashes in the warm sun; a _carillon_ of bells from a breezy belfry on
the hillside strikes noon, and the four enthusiasts pull up their lines
and go to _déjeuner_.

A table in the garden is laid for eight. Marie, Suzanne’s bonne, is
drying the salad vigorously in its wire cage. In a cool corner the
cobwebbed bottles of Chambertin sleep in their baskets.

[Illustration: THE OLD BRIDGE]

The train has brought Gaston and his friend, a young officer. An
automobile growls and sputters up the villa with the leading villain of
a Parisian theater, a man full of kindly good humor, accompanied by a
graceful woman with jet-black hair, a _danseuse_. It is Tuesday, there
is no matinée and every one is happy.

And how gay they are! how full of spirit and rollicking camaraderie!
How many toasts are drank, how many clever songs are sung during the
whole of this bohemian breakfast! The officer and Jacques move the
short upright piano close to the table. Suzanne, now the pink of
neatness, with a little laugh mounts a chair, raises her glass through
which the light glints as golden as her hair, and sings the aria from
Charpentier’s “Louise.” The small company are silent in ecstasy under
the spell of her mellow voice. The lines of smoke rising from the
cigarettes seem like fires of incense burning in adoration of this
fascinating little goddess whose golden heart has made her a rare good
comrade.

And so with song and story the _déjeuner_ ends. There is no more
fishing. Yvette and Jacques go for a walk; the _danseuse_ and the
villain start in their _tuff-tuff_ back to Paris; the old gentleman
with the scarlet tie takes a nap; Suzanne and Gaston row down the
river, and the officer returns to his barracks. Only when the moon
floods the garden with its light do the lovers return. In the garden
the roses pale in the glow of candles from the windows of the villa,
nodding their heads sleepily in the night breeze. A bat zigzags over
the tops of the hollyhocks; two little birds high up in the tree peep
their last good-night. Dinner is at eight.

[Illustration: A PICNIC PARTY]

Past this rural paradise the silent river glides and tells no tales.

I pulled up my anchor and rowed back to the inn. The villa with its
happy day had fascinated me.

There must be hundreds of others like it along the Seine, I argued.
That night I made up my mind to take a trip in a rowboat down to Rouen.

I was warned, by my good landlord of the inn, that such a voyage would
be fraught with untold hardships and danger.

“And in what way?” I asked.

“Ah! monsieur, there are the locks, and, when the wind blows, the river
gets very rough. Monsieur should take a brave and strong _marin_ with
him to make such a journey.”

“Have you ever been down the Seine?”

“Only once, monsieur, on a canal-boat with my brother-in-law to Mantes,
where he became cook to a famous hostelry. It was he who came yesterday
and made the sauce to the sole you have just eaten.”

I bowed my compliments. If his seamanship was as good as his cooking,
the brother-in-law could have commanded a man-of-war.

In the matter of finding a suitable boat I experienced some difficulty.
There were many to be had, painted sky-blue or apple-green, and bearing
romantic names like Juliette or Gabrielle, but their sea-going
qualities were none of the best, and moreover most of them leaked
badly. They might have done for half-an-hour’s _belle promenade_ with
Marcelle or Céleste, but I doubted their worthiness for the perilous
adventure from which my friend the innkeeper had tried to dissuade me.

[Illustration: A SEINE TYPE]

I was told that at Bougival I would surely find what I desired. My time
was getting short and I took the train there to inquire. Visions of
light, perfectly appointed canoes filled my mind as I got off at the
station. I could almost see them lying by dozens snubbed to dapper
wharves ready to be rented. The river flashed in the warm sun and swung
under cool archways. The people whom I passed on my way through the
village looked nautical enough. I stopped the likeliest looking one as
I crossed the bridge, a bronzed, thick-set man wearing a sailor’s cap.

“Can I rent a rowboat here, monsieur?” I asked.

He looked at me in a dazed sort of way, then, shaking the ashes from
his stubby pipe, became lost in thought. Had you asked him for a
balloon he could not have been more puzzled.

“A rowboat,” I reiterated.

“_Ah! monsieur, un bateau à rames, ah!_ that is difficult. The miller
used to have one a year ago, but he sold it.”

I walked along down the river in the direction of Pont de Chatou,
through waving fields of wheat gay with scarlet poppies. Suddenly in
the distance I saw the lateen sail of a canoe showing above the bank.
Another half mile and I had reached the bridge. Here several rowboats
were drawn up to a float in front of the workshop of a _constructeur_.
The builder himself came out to greet me. He was a pleasant little man
and seemed much interested when I told him what I wanted. He motioned
me to follow him and, unlocking the door of a barnlike structure,
ushered me in. Suspended from the ceiling hung a score of racing boats
and shells, the property of a Parisian boat club. Tucked away in a
corner of the floor I saw my boat! A St. Lawrence canoe, clinker-built
and perfect in all its appointments.

“Where the devil did you get this?” I cried.

He shrugged his shoulders.

“It belongs to the gentleman whose château you passed on the river. He
brought it from America himself.”

My spirits fell.

“Will he rent it?” I asked.

“Ah! monsieur, I do not know, but you could ask him. He is the head of
a famous firm in Paris,” and he gave me his address.

The _concierge_ who ushered me the following day into the private
office of the head of the firm in question, informed me that monsieur
would see me in half an hour. Could I wait? At the end of this time
monsieur, an imposing looking man with a red ribbon in his buttonhole,
entered the room with all the ceremonious courtesy found among Parisian
men of affairs.

We both bowed low and he motioned me to a Louis XVI. chair.

“Now, monsieur, I am at your disposal.”

I explained to him that I had not come to transact affairs affecting
the credit of Russia or to merge anything of any kind.

“Then it is not in business that I have the honor of your visit,
monsieur?”

“Monsieur,” I said, “I simply want to rent your boat.”

“_Tiens_, have I a boat?”

“Yes,” I reminded him, “at the builder’s, below your country place at
Chatou.”

“Ah! yes,” and he laughed heartily. “Yes! yes! so I have, I had almost
forgotten it; it has been so long since I have been there. It was the
green one you liked?”

“No! no, the American canoe,” I explained.

“_Ah! parfaitement!_ But, monsieur, that is not mine; it belongs to my
brother. He left town yesterday, but you could write him here
explaining what you wish and I will leave it here on his desk.”

He touched an electric button over an escritoire, and left me with a
low bow. I began to write. I had just slipped the note in its envelope
when his brother entered unexpectedly—a placid gentleman with a
well-trimmed beard.

“Monsieur,” I began in my rapid French, “it is for the difficulty of
having to find a boat of oars that I have become desolate that has
inspired me to come to you to ask you to rent me yours which I find of
the type ravishing to my eyes as well as practical to the voyage.”

He smiled pleasantly as I talked on, putting his hand to his ear. At
last he spoke in a high-keyed, monotonous voice.

[Illustration: A PARISIAN SUNDAY ALONG THE SEINE]

“Monsieur, the lady whom you speak of I am not acquainted with.”

“It is not a lady!” I replied in my best megaphone French. “It is a
boat, your canoe, at Chatou; want to rent it?”

His face brightened at last, I thought.

“Ah! the little canoe Américain. But it is not mine, monsieur, it
belongs to my brother Achille. He is out of town.”

I thanked him, left the note and bowed myself out, saving my more
intricate vocabulary for the open air. Three days later I received the
following answer:

  “Monsieur,

  “I am truly desolate, I beg of you to believe me, not to be able to
  acquiesce to your amiable request, but it will be impossible for me
  to rent my St. Lawrence skiff. I hope sincerely you can find what
  you wish. Might I suggest hunting at Asnières? If I am not
  intruding, let me advise you, monsieur, to take for that delightful
  little voyage so Arcadian, a strong rope of thirty meters and a
  gaff which will prove useful in going through the locks.

  “Permit me to express to you again, sir, my very sincere regrets
  and the assurance of my distinguished sentiments.

                                                         “Yours, etc.”

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

THE BOAT BUILDERS AT ARGENTEUIL]

Finally, just outside of Paris, at Asnières, in the workshop of a
_constructeur de bateaux_, Monsieur Malo Lebreton, I discovered an
excellent boat, brand-new, but rather heavy and flat-bottomed. Both of
these seeming defects, however, proved advantages before the end of the
trip. A short portable mast carried a leg-of-mutton sail, which I
hoisted one sunny afternoon, and left Asnières, with a fair wind
driving me along under old bridges and past little islands in the
direction of Argenteuil.

Rounding the edge of a wooded island, a weird object came floating
toward me, silhouetted against the copperish red disk of the setting
sun. It was a strange craft, a short squat boat sunk deep in the water,
carrying a black lugger sail, and steered by an old man grizzled and
bent with age. A tawny, yellowish mass was loaded across the middle of
the boat. As it drew nearer, I saw the body of a lioness, her head
resting on her great paws. She was dead. Her long life of captivity had
ended in the menagerie of some _fête foraine_ down the river. Here was
a breath of the twilight air and the cool smell of the fresh woods and
freedom, but for her they were too late. Father Time was steering her
down the golden river to her grave. As she drifted close by, the old
man neither spoke nor raised his eyes. Slowly the boat of the dead
drifted by, and the bend of the river hid it from view.

The fair wind, which so far had driven me before it, suddenly changed,
and for hours the boat crept against a head wind that roused itself
into a stiff river gale and slapped the tops of running waves across
the bow. The breeze held its position so persistently for a succeeding
one hundred and fifty miles, that often it was a daily fight to keep
from shore.

So tortuous is the course of the Seine, so many twists and turns does
it take to reach a few kilometers nearer the sea, that the excellent
chart supplied by the nautical journal, “Le Yacht,” looks like the
track of a snake in a box.

I managed to reach Argenteuil that night.

Near the picturesque bridge there was the comfortable inn of Le
Drapeau—jolly, as I entered, with a bourgeois wedding supper. The
party had arrived from Paris in high two-wheeled carts filled with
chairs. These lumbering festival vehicles were stowed under the shed of
the courtyard, while, as a precaution against the upsetting of a
friendly glass of wine, many of the women present had hung their
overskirts in a barn adjoining. It was late when the guests departed,
and during the remainder of the night other high two-wheeled carts
rumbled by, loaded with vegetables for the Paris _halles_, and shaking
the very ground as they passed. When I awoke, two automobiles were
cooling under the shed, and a _partie carrée_ of smartly dressed
Parisians had ordered breakfast under one of the pretty kiosks in the
garden.

It was Sunday, and the waiters were hurrying about setting extra tables
for the expected guests. Soon smart traps and bourgeois carts began to
arrive, the horses being unharnessed and led from the shafts in front
of the little tables.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A TYPICAL SEINE HOTEL]

The landlord whose dual role of cook and proprietor kept him as busy as
the innkeeper in a comic opera, bustled among his guests or flew to his
kitchen, to look after his _poulets_ and his sauces.

Rich fields and stretches of woodland rolled back of the inn to the
river, still whipped white by the gale and dotted with scudding
sharpie-like canoes which had ventured out from a neighboring boat club.

The wind having abated the next day, I pushed down the river, past
barges and iron foundries and rows of steam tow-boats, of which there
are many plying between Paris and Rouen, moored to the shore.

These tow-boats were iron-clad and painted red. They were propelled by
an endless chain arrangement jutting from bow to stern, which rattled
as it cut the water. A little below this point, the character of the
river changes. Quiet backwaters sheltered flocks of ducks and wild
doves. By noon I reached the “Ile Jolie,” a cozy restaurant under shady
green trees. It had a ballroom whose walls had been decorated by a
clever caricature of a wedding procession, the payment, no doubt, for
some bohemian supper of long ago, when madame the proprietress was
young and the good comrade of idle painters.

Now its clientèle has changed, and the scow used as a ferry is shouted
for from the opposite bank by Parisians with a fondness for game and
champagne.

“It must be lonely here in the winter?” I venture.

“No, indeed, monsieur; on the contrary, it is quite gay.” And she added
with a twinkle of her eye, “They come in the winter to show their furs.”

[Illustration: HERE, AS EVERYWHERE, THERE ARE PEOPLE FISHING]

Below the “Ile Jolie” lie more long, quiet stretches, smooth backwaters
flowing past feathery green islands full of cooing wild pigeons. As I
round a point, a blue heron squawks and rises lazily, his long legs
dangling. Farther on, a pair of black ducks scurry out of a hidden cove.

At sundown I glide under the bridge at Pont de Chatou. Here, as
everywhere else along the Seine, there are people fishing. Often, all
that is visible are the spider-webs of lines which lead from the water
into the brush along the banks; but at the end of each thread buried in
the tangle is some itinerant disciple of the patient Izaak.

A little below all this I carry over a narrow bit of land to avoid the
lock at Bougival. Here the Seine resembles somewhat the Thames. Fine
estates with formal gardens run to the edge of the river. Cedar boats
gay in colored cushions and silk parasols are drawn under shady trees,
the nooks of idling house parties. From the walls of one country place
the butler is fishing in his spare half hour before dinner. The gateway
to this estate is protected by an iron grille bearing in gilt the crest
of the family. A smart coupé passes, driven by a cockaded coachman.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A PRETTY SPOT ON THE SEINE]

At dusk the forbidding settlement of Pecq came into view, a sordid
collection of gray houses harboring a wretched combination of a hotel
and tobacco-shop. Above Pecq towers the forest plateau of St. Germain,
with its palace and balustrades and terraces faced with long avenues of
trees strung out like the wings of an advancing army, and having an
effect which smacks of the fancies of an extravagant court.

Here from the Pavilion Henri IV., where _chic_ Paris drives to _dîner_,
one sees the Seine glistening far below—a vein of silver running
through a vast undulating ocean of trees.

I stop at Maison for _déjeuner_ the next day, and find the proprietress
of a river-side café washing in the public _lavoir_. However, she
leaves her suds and scrubbing-board with the best of humor, and hurries
to her kitchen, whence she emerges a few minutes later with a smoking
omelet, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of wine.

“Monsieur will excuse my larder, but we get ready for Parisians on
Sundays.”

“Then you have a big crowd on that day?”

“_Ah! monsieur, quel monde!_” and she went hurrying back to her
kitchen, with her honest face beaming.

The character of the people becomes more primitive. I row on past La
Frette, a red-and-white town snug against a hillside checkered with
vineyards. At evening I reach Herblay, and a quaint inn with a tiled
kitchen shining in polished copper. The town is very small, very
crooked and very old. Boat-loads of peasants, many of them in coats of
sheepskins, returned at evening from their work in the fields.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A RED-AND-WHITE TOWN]

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A SEINE LOCK]

It takes a week to reach Havre from Paris by tow. At the locks
tow-lines are slipped and the procession drifts into the big basins by
twos. Slowly the iron gates close, and the boats sink gradually to the
lower level. As slowly the gates open at the other end; tow-lines are
rehitched, and the procession goes on its way. By the side of the big
lock there is a narrower one for the passing through of smaller craft.
This, for a few sous, the lockman will grind open for you. But more
often you arrive in time to go through at the tail end of a tow and
without the slightest trouble. Evidently the dangers of the locks
existed only in the mind of my landlord at Poissy, which town now lay
just below.

It takes barely an hour to reach Poissy from Paris by train, but by the
twisting Seine it is a long way.

It seemed good to get to the Esturgeon again. The veranda overhanging
the river was already crowded with Parisians, and every automobile that
thundered over the bridge brought more.

_Chateaubriands_ smothered in mushrooms were being served by hurrying
waiters. Roast ducks and patés came from the busy kitchen. Champagne
frappéed itself in silver coolers, and older wines slumbered in cradles.

Beneath the veranda flowed the Seine, inky black in the night, and
framed by a mass of towering trees that would have graced a Corot. Now
and then a returning fishing-boat wrinkled the surface of the dark
water, while the boat-lantern was reflected in ribbons of light in the
depths of the stream.

The next morning I passed the tiny villa where the jolly breakfast had
occurred. It was closed; roses still bloomed in the tangled garden; a
sign over the porch read: “_À louer._”

The Bouffes-Parisiennes had opened.

[Illustration]

Twilight found me at the Mureaux at the opening of a pale blue-and-gold
hotel with a pretty, formal garden running to the river’s edge and a
banquet grove in the rear. I was informed by the _maître d’hôtel_ that
“_tout Paris_” would be present the next day. There was to be a grand
regatta and speeches by eminent Parisian sportsmen for whom sixty
covers were to be laid in the grove. Madame ran the hotel, continued
this important personage; he had nothing to do with that, he had charge
of the restaurant only, but that was enough. _Parbleu!_ He flew about,
pale and distracted, his shining bald pate in odd contrast to his black
side-whiskers, which I presumed were dyed, since he had easily passed
through sixty years, most of them in watching other people’s dinners.
The place was in a state of demoralization. The _maître d’hôtel_ swore:
waiters hired for the coming event pottered around, picking up this and
that and letting it drop—as useless as the clown in the circus who
gets in every one’s way. All the furniture in the hotel seemed to have
been unloaded at once and distributed by the delivery man. There were
Louis XVI. clocks in the bedrooms, ornaments placed in impossible
places, gorgeously carved canopied bedsteads for which the mattresses
had been forgotten. It grew dark; and there had been trouble with the
gas company—and there were no candles. A small printed sign on my door
read,

                   Touch the button:
                   Once for the lights;
                   Twice for the _femme de chambre_;
                   Thrice for the _garçon_.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A FAMOUS INN]

I tried the top line and waited; nothing happened. Then I pushed twice
for the _femme de chambre_, but no white-capped Marie came tripping
down the Brussels-carpeted hall to knock gently at my door. Then I
pushed vigorously three times for the _garçon_. He had refused the job,
I afterwards learned, and was at his home in Touraine. At the end of
twenty minutes a boy carrying a gilt tête-à-tête chair to the room
above heard my cries.

“Candles, you imbecile!” I shouted; “don’t you see it is dark here?”

He stared at me stupidly for a moment and exclaimed:

“_Ah! si, si! les bougies!_” and went clattering down the stairs.

In ten minutes he returned.

“Did you find any?” I roared.

“_Oui, oui! monsieur, parfaitement!_ Two, but the cook is using them.”

The morning dawned chill and gray; already some of the visitors had
arrived. Some were heavy, serious-looking gentlemen in Duc d’Orléans
beards and yachting clothes. Others wore a judicial air more in keeping
with their costume, which included top hats and frock coats. Flags and
pennants fluttered from the terraces. Bunting draped from the shield of
the République Française ornamented the judges’ stand from which the
prizes were to be given.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE JUDGES OF THE REGATTA]

Orders were shouted on the river through megaphones for the laying of
the course. The _maître d’hôtel_ looked haggard and careworn. He gave
orders which were never carried out.

“_Imbécile_, have you prepared your butter?” he cried to one of his
staff, a clean-shaven little man whose face bore the intelligence of a
ground mole. “Idiot,” he bawled at a third, “didn’t I tell you the
six-franc ducks were on the left side of the cold room back of the
two-franc _pâtés de foie gras_?”

Only the two chefs hired from Paris seemed placid. They stirred their
sauces, poked up their fires, and then leaned out of their kitchen
window as coolly as an engineer and fireman waiting for orders to go
ahead. It was noon. The crowd along the terrace was cheering. The
rowers had arrived—a score of spindle-legged youths with their
overcoats thrown over their shoulders to protect them from the chill
wind. Bleak clouds hung heavily in the northwest. Suddenly came a
blinding flash of lightning, the thunder boomed, and down came the rain.

It struck in sheets in the garden and drenched the beautiful
blue-and-gold hotel and the waiting crowd, and pattered the river into
a dull leaden gray.

It filled the wine-glasses and the soup-plates for the feast of sixty,
formed in little pools around the _hors d’oeuvres_, and soaked the
linen. It totally demoralized the head waiter, madame the proprietress,
and the regatta. But the two chefs leaning out of their window again,
smiled. They had been paid.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

AU GOUJON FOLICHON]

I made out my bill, had it approved by the now hysterical madame,
jumped into my boat and pulled away from the wreck. A mile below, a
team passed me rattling along in the direction of the railroad station.
On the front seat a bald-headed man with a newspaper bundle under his
arm was gesticulating wildly to the driver. It was the _maître d’hôtel_.

Below the Mureaux upon an island I came across a small cabin of a
restaurant in the middle of a garden patch. Seine nets were drying in
the door-yard, and under the eaves of the house ran a sign reading in
large letters AU GOUJON FOLICHON.

There was another excellent omelet to be had, and a _friture de Seine_
of fresh and foolish _goujons_ whose greediness early that very morning
had proved their ruin. Madame in charge of this fisherman’s rest showed
me her strawberry patch, still bearing fruit—quite a rarity for the
season.

She had a brother-in-law in Brooklyn, America, did I know him? She
insisted upon generously giving me all of her ripe strawberries. I must
tell her brother-in-law if I met him I had seen her.

When I pushed off down the river the chimney of the Goujon Folichon was
smoking with the frying of more ill-fated foolish goujons, and madame
was waving _bon voyage_ from the window.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A RIVERSIDE FARM]

There was a fête at Limay. The only hotel in this apology for a town
was shaken by the trampling feet of dancing swains when I arrived. They
informed me that the ball would continue all night and the next day.
Inside the ballroom the town band pumped away amid the discordant
shrieking of two cheap clarinets, the drone of a mournful baritone
horn, and the thump of a bass drum. The effort was anything but
conducive to sleep. I crossed the bridge and entered Mantes, a
splendidly built old city with a rare Gothic cathedral.

Later in the evening I returned to Limay. The fête was in full swing,
so was the ball. Festoons of lanterns were strung across the main
street. I followed the crowd up the cobble-stoned hill to a small
square back of a church. Here shooting galleries popped away and wheels
of fortune whizzed for prizes. A patient horse ground simultaneously
the organ and a merry-go-round. At the sound of a ta-ra-ta-ta of
trumpets in the distance, the excited crowd rushed back to the top of
the cobble-stoned hill and waited breathlessly with flushed cheeks and
dancing eyes. The great parade had started. Cherry branches bearing
lanterns flared in advance of the column. Nearer they came. I could see
the flashing of brass helmets. In a moment they had passed—eight
_pompiers_, the noble volunteer fire brigade of the town—amid cheers
and sighs of regret from the crowd that it was all over. Not for
another year would Limay blaze in glory.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

A TYPICAL BARN]

A fair wind the next day filled my sail as far as Vetheuil. The river
had accommodatingly taken a favorable turn, for the wind itself never
seemed to vary. It was a pleasant surprise after so much rowing.
Vetheuil seems to have been built upon the stepping-stones which lead
to its picturesque cathedral. At the original inn of the Cheval Blanc
there was a party of good bohemians: two painters from Montmartre and
their models. They returned for dinner after a day’s fishing, sunburned
and happy, and filled the dingy apartment that served for both billiard
and dining-room with their songs.

There was something imposing in the name of the inn at Bosnières—“The
Grand Hotel of the Two Hemispheres.” From my room over the stable I
could watch the life and bustle below in the tiny court. My modest
arrival seemed to throw this hostelry with the all-embracing name into
a state of confusion.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

LES ANDELYS]

Marie, the ruddy-cheeked maid of all work, went clattering down the
street in her _sabots_ after two eggs for my supper. The boy who was
milking the cow under my suite was pressed into service to secure a
cutlet from the neighboring butcher, while madame herself went after a
good bottle of wine at her cousin, the _marchand de vin_. At seven this
collation, or rather collection, was served.

Here was an excellent system by which to avoid heavy losses through
overstocking. The Grand Hotel of the Two Hemispheres controlled it to a
nicety.

Sixty kilometers still lay between Bosnières and Rouen. The wind which
had freshened in the night, was blowing its contrariest, and progress
down the river proved slow. A steam-tow came round a bend, the white
and green funnel of the tug belching a saffron smoke, which indicated
full speed. I got out my thirty meters of rope and waited. I could see
the fat red-faced pilot of the steam-tug shaking his head at me in the
negative.

“_Voulez-vouz me remorquer?_” I cried.

“_C’est défendu_,” he bawled, and warned me off with a gesture.

[Illustration:

Photo by F. Berkeley Smith

FEUDAL FORTRESS, LES ANDELYS]

But the captain of the last boat, a genial old salt with a blue eye and
a scrubby beard, gave me an encouraging wink. The next instant we were
abreast of each other. Swish! went the coiled line, and with a half
hitch he had it fast around a stanchion. The little boat reared out of
the water as the rope straightened taut and I jumped for the rudder.

We were off for Rouen.

As we danced past the town of Les Andelys the captain gathered a small
bouquet of mignonette from his cabin garden, crawled to the limit of
his great rudder, and with the aid of a boat-hook passed the bouquet to
me.

“For madame with my compliments,” he shouted; “_Vive les voyageurs!_”

[Illustration]



                                 ENVOI


From my window this morning the world goes by. The _vieux marcheur_ and
the young _cocotte_, a _patisserie_ boy with a truffled duck, and the
smart coupé of Elise.

Bright shines the sun, the asphalt steams, and the gutters flash in
ripples. The narrow street is blocked to the doors of expensive
_boutiques_, whose windows hold treasures of jewels, of lace and a
million things from the frailest _peignoir_ to the latest _chapeau_, at
ridiculous prices that open the eyes of the _vieux monsieur_, and half
close those of Cora—in a satisfied smile.

“Come, come, _mon cher_! how about my _chapeau_?”

“_Si tu veux_,” he consents, and the bargain is made.

At the bend of the byway an acre of roses in white paper jackets flame
in the sun, and gay _boutonnières_ of fragrant posies are tucked in
lapels of passing gallants.

A hearse crawls by—poor Ninette! you have gone. Can you still hear, I
wonder, the crash of the band, the swinging waltz in the whirling room?
It is François, dear, who has sent you the roses—the drooping roses
that cover your tomb.

It is noon and the bells are ringing.

“Why do they toll, monsieur?... For Ninette?”

“A marriage, you say? Ah! thank you.”

“I’ll wager some Count will espouse for a dot.

“Come, Marie and Gaston, Pierre and Paulette, let us go to the wedding.
Ten sous’ worth of wine. To the health of the bride!

“What say you, Harlequin, you who have known this Paris of Pleasure,
this Paris of Leisure, this Paris of Fun? Is it true, my surmise?”

“_Mon vieux_,” cries Marie, “stop and think. Don’t you know why they’re
ringing? Mimi La Belle is to marry the Duke!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



       _Charles Dana Gibson says_: “It is like a trip to Paris.”

                    THE REAL LATIN QUARTER OF PARIS

                          By F. Berkeley Smith


Racy sketches of the innermost life and characters of the famous
Bohemia of Paris—its grisettes, students, models, balls, studios,
cafes, etc.

_John W. Alexander_: “It is the real thing.”

_Frederick Remington_: “You have left nothing undone.”

_Ernest Thompson Seton_: “A true picture of the Latin Quarter as I knew
it.”

_Frederick Dielman_, President National Academy of Design: “Makes the
Latin Quarter very real and still invests it with interest and charm.”

_Evening Telegraph_, Philadelphia: “A captivating book.”

_Boston Times_: “A genuine treat.”

_The Argonaut_, San Francisco: “A charming volume. Mr. Smith does not
fail to get at the intimate secrets, the subtle charm of the real Latin
Quarter made famous by Henry Merger and Du Maurier.”

_The Mail and Express_, New York: “When you have read this book you
know the ‘Real Latin Quarter’ as well as you will ever come to know it
without living there yourself.”

_Boston Herald_: “It pictures the Latin Quarter in its true light.”

                             --------------

_Water-Color Frontispiece by F. Hopkinson Smith. About 100 original
  drawings and camera snap shots by the Author, and two caricatures in
  color by the celebrated French caricaturist Sancha, Ornamental
  Covers, 12mo. Cloth, Price, $1.20, net. Postage, 13 Cents._

                  ------------------------------------

                  FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY, PUBLISHERS,
                           NEW YORK & LONDON



                           Transcriber's Note


Some presumed printer's errors have been corrected, including
normalizing punctuation. This book contains many French words with
incorrect accents and/or ligatures. When at least one instance of a
word occurs in the book in which accents and/or ligatures are correctly
used, all incorrect versions of the same word have been corrected. When
the word was consistently spelled incorrectly or when it appeared only
once, no correction was made. Further corrections are listed below with
the printed text (top) and corrected text (bottom):

Bastile
Bastille (p. 56)

arcoss
across (p. 58)

Berkely
Berkeley (p. 193)





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