The Luxembourg was a blaze of flowers.
He walked slowly through the long
avenues of trees, past mossy marbles and old-time columns, and threading
the grove by the bronze lion, came upon the tree-crowned terrace above
the fountain. Below lay the basin shining in the sunlight: Flowering almonds
encircled the terrace and in a greater spiral, groves of chestnuts wound
in and out and down among the moist thickets by the western palace wing.
At one end of the avenue of trees, the Observatory rose, its white domes
piled up like an eastern mosque; at the other end stood the heavy palace,
with every window-pane ablaze in the fierce sun of June.
Around the fountain, children and
white-capped nurses armed with bamboo poles, were pushing toy boats, whose
sails hung limp in the sunshine. A park policeman, wearing red epaulettes
and a dress sword, watched them for a while and then went away to remonstrate
with a young man who had unchained his dog. The dog was pleasantly occupied
in rubbing grass and dirt into his back while his legs waved in the air.
The policeman pointed at the dog.
He was speechless with indignation.
"Well, Captain," smiled the young
"Well, Monsieur Student," growled
"What do you come and complain to
"If you don't chain him I'll take
him," shouted the policeman.
"What's that to me, mon capitaine?"
"Wha--t! Isn't that bull-dog yours?"
"If it was, don't you suppose I'd
The officer glared for a moment
in silence, then deciding that as he was a student he was wicked, grabbed
at the dog who promptly dodged. Around and around the flower-beds they
raced, and when the officer came too near for comfort, the bull-dog cut
across a flower-bed which perhaps was not playing fair.
The young man was amused, and the
dog also seemed to enjoy the exercise.
The policeman noticed this and decided
to strike at the fountain-head of the evil. He stormed up to the student
and said, "As the owner of this public nuisance I arrest you!"
"But," objected the other, "I disclaim
That was a poser. It was useless
to attempt to catch the dog until three gardeners lent a hand, but then
the dog simply ran away and disappeared in the rue de Medici.
The policeman shambled off to find
consolation among the white-capped nurses, and the student, looking at
his watch, stood up yawning. Then catching sight of Hastings, he smiled
and bowed. Hastings walked over to the marble, laughing.
"Why, Clifford," he said, "I didn't
"It's my moustache," sighed the
other. "I sacrificed it to humor the whim of--of--a friend. What do you
think of my dog?"
"Then he is yours?" cried Hastings.
"Of course. It's a pleasant change
for him, this playing tag with policemen, but he is known now and I'll
have to stop it. He's gone home. He always does when the gardeners take
a hand. It's a pity; he's fond of rolling on lawns." Then they chatted
for a moment of Hastings' prospects, and Clifford politely offered to stand
his sponsor at the studio.
"You see, old tabby, I mean Dr.
Byram told me about you before I met you," explained Clifford, "and Elliott
and I will be glad to do anything we can." Then looking at his watch again
he muttered, "I have just ten minutes to catch the Versailles train; au
revoir," and started to go, but catching sight of a girl advancing by the
fountain took off his hat with a confused smile.
"Why are you not at Versailles?"
she said, with an almost imperceptible acknowledgment of Hastings' presence.
"I--I'm going," murmured Clifford.
For a moment they faced each other,
and then Clifford, very red, stammered, "With you permission I have the
honor of presenting to you my friend Monsieur Hastings."
Hastings bowed low. She smiled very
sweetly, but there was something of malice in the quiet inclination of
her small Parisienne head.
"I could have wished," she said,
"that Monsieur Clifford might spare me more time when he brings with him
so charming an American."
"Must--must I go, Valentine?" began
"Certainly," she replied.
Clifford took his leave with very
bad grace, wincing, when she added, "And give my dearest love to Cécile!"
As he disappeared in the rue d'Assas, the girl turned as if to go, but
then suddenly remembering Hastings, looked at him and shook her head.
"Monsieur Clifford is so perfectly
hair-brained," she smiled, "it is embarrassing sometimes. You have heard,
of course, all about his success at the Salon?"
He looked puzzled and she noticed
"You have been to the Salon of course?"
"Why no," he answered, "I only arrived
in Paris three days ago."
She seemed to pay little heed to
his explanation, but continued: "Nobody imagined he had the energy to do
anything good, but on varnishing day, the Salon was astonished by the entrance
of Monsieur Clifford, who strolled about as bland as you please with an
orchid in his buttonhole, and a beautiful picture on the line."
She smiled to herself at the reminiscence,
and looked at the fountain.
"Monsieur Bouguereau told me that
Monsieur Julian was so astonished that he only shook hands with Monsieur
Clifford in a dazed manner, and actually forgot to pat him on the back!
Fancy," she continued with much merriment, "fancy papa Julian forgetting
to pat one on the back."
Hastings, wondering at her acquaintance
with the great Bouguereau, looked at her with respect. "May I ask, he said
diffidently, "whether you are a pupil of Monsieur Bouguereau?"
"I," she said in some surprise.
Then she looked at him curiously. Was he permitting himself the liberty
of joking on such short acquaintance?
His pleasant serious face questioned
"Tiens," she thought, "what a droll
"You surely study art?" he said.
She leaned back on the crooked stick
of her parasol, and looked at him. "Why did you think so?"
"Because you speak as if you did."
"You are making fun of me," she
said, "and it is not good taste."
She stopped confused, as he colored
to the roots of his hair.
"How long have you been in Paris?"
she said at length.
"Three days," he replied gravely.
"But--but--surely you are not a
nouveau! You speak French too well!"
Then after a pause, "Really are
you a nouveau?"
"I am," he said.
She sat down on the marble bench
lately occupied by Clifford, and tilting her parasol over her small head
looked at him.
"I don't believe it."
He felt the compliment, and for
a moment hesitated to declare himself one of the despised. Then mustering
up his courage, he told her how new and green he was, and all with a frankness
which made her blue eyes open very wide and her lips part in the sweetest
"You have never seen a studio?"
"Nor a model?"
"How funny," she said solemnly.
Then they both laughed.
"And you," he said, "have seen studios?"
"And you know Bouguerear?"
"Yes, and Henner, and Constant and
Laurens, and Puvis de Chavannes and Dagan and Courtois and--and all the
rest of them!"
"And yet you say you are not an
"Pardon," she said gravely, "did
I say I was not?"
"Won't you tell me?" he hesitated.
At first she looked at him, shaking
her head and smiling, then of a sudden her eyes fell and she began tracing
figures with her parasol in the gravel at her feet. Hastings had taken
a place on the seat and now, with his elbows on his knees, sat watching
the spray drifting above the fountain jet. A small boy dressed as a sailor,
stood poking his yacht and crying, "I won't go home!" His nurse raised
her hands to Heaven.
"Just like a little American boy,"
thought Hastings, and a pang of homesickness shot through him.
Presently the nurse captured the
boat and the small boy stood at bay.
"Monsieur René, when you
decide to come here you may have your boat."
The boy backed away scowling.
"Give me my boat I say," he cried,
"and don't call me René, for my name's Randall and you know it!"
"Hello!" said Hastings,--"Randall?--that's
"I am American," announced the boy
in perfectly good English, turning to look at Hastings, "and she's such
a fool she calls me René because mamma calls me Ranny--"
Here he dodged the exasperated nurse
and took up a station behind Hastings, who laughed, and catching him around
the waist lifted him into his lap.
"One of my countrymen," he said
to the girl beside him. He smiled while he spoke, but there was a queer
feeling in his throat.
"Don't you see the stars and striped
on my yacht?" demanded Randall. Sure enough, the American colors hung limply
under the nurse's arm.
"Oh," cried the girl, "he is charming,"
and impulsively stooped to kiss him, but the infant Randall wriggled out
of Hastings' arms and his nurse pounced upon him with an angry glance at
She reddened and then bit her lips
as the nurse, with eyes still fixed on her, dragged the child away and
ostentatiously wiped his lips with her handkerchief.
Then she stole a look at Hastings
and bit her lip again.
"What an ill-tempered woman," he
said. "In America, most nurses are flattened with people kiss their children."
For an instant she tipped the parasol
to hide her face, then closed it with a snap and looked at him defiantly.
"Do you think it strange that she
"Why not?" he said in surprise.
Again she looked at him with quick
His eyes were clear and bright and
he smiled back, repeating, "Why not?"
"You are droll," she murmured bending
But she made no answer, and sat
silent, tracing curves and circles in the dust with her parasol. After
a while he said--"I am glad to see that young people have so much liberty
here. I understood that the French were not at all like us. You know in
America--or at least where I live in Millbrook, girls have every liberty,--to
out alone and receive their friends alone, and I was afraid I should miss
it here. But I see how it is now, and I am glad I was mistaken."
She raised her eyes to his and kept
He continued pleasantly-- "Since
I have sat here I have seen a lot of pretty girls walking alone on the
terrace there,--and then you are alone too. Tell me, for I do not know
French customs,--do you have the liberty of going to the theatre without
For a long time she studied his
face, and then with a trembling smile said, "Why do you ask me?"
"Because you must know, of course,"
he said gaily.
"Yes," she replied indifferently,
He waited for an answer, but getting
none, decided that perhaps she had misunderstood him.
"I hope you don't think I mean to
presume on our short acquaintance," he began,--"in fact it is very odd
but I don't know your name. When Mr. Clifford presented me he only mentioned
mine. Is that the custom in France?"
"It is the custom in the Latin Quarter,"
she said with a queer light in her eyes. Then suddenly she began talking
"You must know, Monsieur Hastings,
that we are all un peu sans gêe;ne here in the Latin Quarter.
We are very Bohemian and etiquette and ceremony are out of place. It was
for that Monsieur Clifford presented you to me with small ceremony, and
left us together with less,--only for that, I am his friend, and I have
many friends in the Latin Quarter, and we all know each other very well--and
I am not studying art but--but----"
"But what?" he said, bewildered.
"I shall not tell you,--it is a
secret," she said with an uncertain smile. On both cheeks a pink spot was
burning, and her eyes were very bright.
Then in a moment her face fell.
"Do you know Monsieur Clifford very intimately?"
After a while she turned to him,
grave and a little pale.
"My name is Valentine--Valentine
Tissot. Might--might I ask a service of you on such very short acquaintance?"
"Oh," he cried, "I should be honored."
"It is only this," she said gently,
"it is not much. Promise me not to speak to Monsieur Clifford about me.
Promise me that you will speak to no one about me."
"I promise," he said, greatly puzzled.
She laughed nervously. "I wish to
remain a mystery. It is a caprice."
"But," he began, "I had wished,
I had hoped that you might give Monsieur Clifford permission to bring me,
to present me at your house."
"My--my house!" she repeated.
"I mean, where you live, in fact,
to present me to you family."
The change in the girl's face shocked
"I beg your pardon," he cried, "I
have hurt you."
And as quick as a flash she understood
him because she was a woman.
"My parents are dead," she said.
Presently he began again, very gently.
"Would it displease you if I beg
you to receive me? Is it the custom?"
"I cannot," she answered. Then glancing
up at him, "I am sorry; I should like to; but believe me, I cannot."
He bowed seriously and looked vaguely
"It isn't because I don't wish to.
I--I like you; you are very kind to me."
"Kind?" he cried, surprised and
"I like you," she said slowly, "and
we will see each other sometimes if you will."
"At friends' houses?"
"No, not at friends' houses."
"Here," she said with defiant eyes.
"Why," he cried, "in Paris you are
much more liberal in your views than we are."
She looked at him curiously.
"Yes, we are very Bohemian."
"I think it is charming," he declared.
"You see, we shall be in the best
of society," she ventured timidly, with a pretty gesture toward the statues
of the dead queens, ranged in stately ranks above the terrace.
He looked at her, delighted, and
she brightened at the success of her innocent little pleasantry.
"Indeed," she smiled, "I shall be
well chaperoned, because you see we are under the protection of the gods
themselves; look, there are Apollo, and Juno, and Venus, on their pedestals,"
counting them on her small gloved fingers, "and Ceres, Hercules, and--but
I can't make out----"
Hastings turned to look up at the
winged god under whose shadows they were seated.
"Why, it's Love," he said.
"There is a nouveau here," drawled
Laffat, leaning around his easel and addressing his friend Bowles, "there
is a nouveau here who is so tender and green and appetizing that Heaven
help him if he should fall into a salad bowl."
"Hayseed?" inquired Bowled, plastering
in a background with a broken palette-knife and squinting at the effect
"Yes, Squeedunk or Oshkosh, and
how he ever grew up among the daisies and escaped the cows, Heaven alone
Bowles rubbed his thumb across the
outlines of his study to "throw in a little atmosphere," as he said, glared
at the model, pulled at his pipe and finding it out struck a match on his
neighbor's back to relight it.
"His name," continued Laffat, hurling
a bit of bread at the hat-rack, "his name is Hastings. He is a berry. He
knows no more about the world,"--and here Mr. Laffat's face spoke volumes
for his own knowledge of that planet,--"than a maiden cat on its first
Bowles now having succeeded in lighting
his pipe, repeated the thumb touch on the other edge of the study and said
"Yes," continued his friend, "and
would you imagine it, he seems to think that everything here goes on as
it does in his d--d little backwoods ranch at home; talks about the pretty
girls who walk alone in the street; says how sensible it is; and how French
parents are misrepresented in America; says that for his part he finds
French girls,--and he confessed to only knowing one,--as jolly as American
girls. I tried to set him right, tried to give him a pointer as to what
sort of ladies walk about alone or with students, and he was either too
stupid or too innocent to catch on. Then I gave it to him straight, and
he said I was a vile-minded fool and marched off."
"Did you assist him with your shoe?"
inquired Bowles, languidly interested.
"He called you a vile-minded fool."
"He was correct," said Clifford
from his easel in front.
"What--what do you mean!" demanded
Laffat, turning red.
"That," replied Clifford.
"Who spoke to you? Is this your
business?" sneered Bowles, but nearly lost his balance as Clifford swung
about and eyed him.
"Yes," he said slowly, "it's my
No one spoke for some time.
Then Clifford sang out, "I say,
And when Hastings left his easel
and came around, he nodded toward the astonished Laffat.
"This man has been disagreeable
to you, and I want to tell you that any time you feel inclined to kick
him, why I will hold the other creature."
Hastings, embarrassed, said, "Why
no, I don't agree with his ideas, nothing more."
Clifford said "Naturally," and slipping
his arm through Hastings', strolled about with him, and introduced him
to several of his own friends, at which all the nouveaux opened their eyes
with envy, and the studio were given to understand that Hastings, although
prepared to do menial work as the latest nouveau, was already within the
charmed circle of the old, respected and feared, the truly great.
The rest finished, the model resumed
his place and work went on in a chorus of songs and yells and every ear-splitting
noise which the art student utters when studying the beautiful.
Five o'clock struck,--the model
yawned, stretched and climbed into his trousers, and the noisy contents
of six studios crowded through the hall and down into the street. Ten minutes
later, Hastings found himself on top of a Montrouge tram and shortly afterward
was joined by Clifford.
They climbed down at the rue Gay
"I always stop here," observed Clifford,
"I like the walk through the Luxembourg."
"By the way," said Hastings, "how
can I call on you when I don't know where you live?"
"Why, I live opposite you."
"What--the studio in the garden
where the almond trees are and the blackbirds----"
"Exactly," said Clifford. "I'm with
my friend Elliott."
Hastings thought of the description
of the two American artists which he had heard from Miss Susie Byng, and
Clifford continued, "Perhaps you
had better let me know when you think of coming so,--so that I will be
sure to--to be there," he ended rather lamely.
"I shouldn't care to meet any of
your model friends there," said Hastings smiling. "You know--my ideas are
rather straight laced,--I suppose you would say, Puritanical. I shouldn't
enjoy it and wouldn't know how to behave."
"Oh, I understand," said Clifford,
but added with great cordiality,--"I'm sure we'll be friends although you
may not approve of me and my set, but you will like Severn and Selby because--because,
well they are like yourself, old chap."
After a moment he continued, "There
is something I want to speak about. You see when I introduced you, last
week, in the Luxembourg, to Valentine----"
"Not a word!" cried Hastings, smiling,
"you must not tell me a word of her!"
"No--not a word!" he said gaily--"I
insist,--promise me upon your word of honor you will not speak of her until
I give you permission; promise!"
"I promise," said Clifford, amazed.
"She is a charming girl,--we had
such a delightful chat after you left, and I thank you for presenting me,
but not another word about her until I give you permission."
"Oh," murmured Clifford.
"Remember your promise," he smiled,
as he turned into his gateway.
Clifford strolled across the street
and traversing the ivy-covered alley, entered his garden.
He felt for his studio key, muttering,
"I wonder--I wonder,--but of course he doesn't!"
He entered the hallway, and fitting
the key into the door, stood staring at the two cards tacked over the panels.
RICHARD OSBORNE ELLIOTT
"Why the devil doesn't he want me
to speak of her?"
He opened the door, and, discouraging
the caresses of two brindle bull-dogs, sank down on the sofa.
Elliott sat smoking and sketching
with a piece of charcoal by the window.
"Hello," he said, without looking
Clifford gazed absently at the back
of his head, murmuring, "I'm afraid, I'm afraid that man is too innocent.
I say, Elliott," he said, at last, "Hastings--you know the chap that old
Tabby Byram came around here to tell us about--the day you had to hide
Colette in the armoire----"
"Yes, what's up?"
"Oh, nothing. He's a brick."
"Yes," said Elliott, without enthusiasm.
"Don't you think so?" demanded Clifford.
"Why yes, but he is going to have
a tough time when some of his illusions are dispelled."
"More shame to those who dispel
"Yes,--wait until he comes to pay
his call on us, unexpectedly, of course--"
Clifford looked virtuous and lighted
"I was just going to say," he observed,
"that I have asked him not to come without letting us know, so I can postpone
any orgie you may have intended----"
"Ah!" cried Elliott indignantly,
"I suppose you put it to him in that way."
"Not exactly," grinned Clifford.
Then more seriously, "I don't want anything to occur here to bother him.
He's a brick and it's a pity we can't be more like him."
"I am," observed Elliott complacently,
"only living with you----"
"Listen!" cried the other, "I have
managed to put my foot in it in great style. Do you know what I've done?
Well--the first time I met him in the street,--or rather, it was in the
Luxembourg, I introduced him to Valentine."
"Did he object?"
"Believe me," said Clifford, solemnly,
"this rustic Hastings has no more idea that Valentine is--is--in fact is
Valentine, than he has that he himself is a beautiful example of moral
decency in a Quarter where morals are as rare as elephants. I heard enough
in a conversation between that blackguard Laffat and the little immoral
eruption, Bowles, to open my eyes. I tell you Hastings is a trump! He's
a healthy, clean minded young fellow, bred in a small country village,
brought up with the idea that saloons are way stations to hell--and as
"Well," demanded Elliott.
"Well," said Clifford, "his idea
of the dangerous woman is probably a painted Jezabel."
"Probably, replied the other.
"He's a trump!" said Clifford, "and
if he swears the world is as good and pure as his own heart, I'll swear
Elliott sat smoking and sketching
with a piece of charcoal and turned to his sketch saying, "he will never
hear any pessimism from Richard Osborne E."
"He's a lesson to me," said Clifford.
Then he unfolded a small perfumed note, written on rose-colored paper,
which had been lying on the table before him.
He read it, smiled, whistled a bar
or two from "Miss Helyett," and sat down to answer it on his best cream-laid
note-paper. When it was written and sealed, he picked up his stick and
marched up and down the studio two or three times, whistling.
"Going out?" inquired the other,
"Yes," he said, but lingered a moment
over Elliott's shoulder, watching him pick out the lights in his sketch
with a bit of bread.
"To-morrow is Sunday," he observed
after a moment's silence.
"Well?" inquired Elliott.
"Have you seen Colette?"
"No, I will to-night. She and Rowden
and Jacquette are coming to Boulant's. I suppose you and Cécile
will be there?"
"Well, no," replied Clifford. "Cécile
dines at home tonight, and I--I had an idea of going to Mignon's."
Elliott looked at him with disapproval.
"You can make all the arrangements
for La Roche without me," he continued, avoiding Elliott's eyes.
"What are you up to now?"
"Nothing," protested Clifford.
"Don't tell me," replied his chum,
with scorn, "fellows don't rush off to Mignon's when the set dine at Boulant's.
Who is it now?--but no, I won't ask that,--what's the use!" Then he lifted
up his voice in complaint and beat upon the table with his pipe. "What's
the use of ever trying to keep track of you? What will Cécile say,--oh,
yes, what will she say? It's a pity you can't be constant two months, yes,
by Jove! and the Quarter is indulgent, but you abuse its good-nature and
Presently, he arose, and jamming
his hat on his head, marched to the door.
"Heaven alone knows why any one
puts up with your antics, but they all do and so do I. If I was Cécile
or any of the other pretty fools after whom you have toddled and will,
in all human probabilities, continue to toddle, I say, if I were Cécile
I'd spank you! Now I'm going to Boulant's, and as usual I shall make excuses
for you and arrange the affair, and I don't care a continental where you
are going, but, by the skull of the studio skeleton! if you don't turn
up to-morrow with your sketching-kit under one arm and Cécile under
the other,--if you don't turn up on good shape, I'm done with you, and
the rest can think what they please. Good-night."
Clifford said good-night with as
pleasant a smile as he could muster, and then sat down with his eyes on
the door. He took out his watch and gave Elliott ten minutes to vanish,
then rang the concierge's call, murmuring, "Oh, dear, oh, dear, why the
devil do I do it?"
"Alfred," he said, as that gimlet-eyed
person answered the call, "make yourself clean and proper, Alfred, and
replace your sabots with a pair of shoes. Then put on your best hat and
take this letter to the big white house in the rue de Dragon. There is
no answer, mon petit Alfred."
The concierge departed with a snort
in which unwillingness for the errand and affection for M. Clifford were
blended. Then with great care the young fellow arrayed himself in all the
beauties of his and Elliott's wardrobe. He took his time about it, and
occasionally interrupted his toilet to play his banjo or make pleasing
diversion for the bull-dogs by gamboling about on all fours. "I've got
two hours before me," he thought, and borrowed a pair of Elliott's silken
foot-gear, with which he and the dogs played ball until he decided to put
them on. Then he lighted a cigarette and inspected his dress-coat. When
he had emptied it of four handkerchiefs, a fan, and a pair of crumpled
gloves as long as his arm, he decided it was not suited to add éclat
to his charms and cast about in his mind for a substitute. Elliott was
too thin, and, anyway, his coats were now under lock and key. Rowden probably
was as badly off as himself. Hastings! Hastings was the man! But when he
threw on a smoking-jacket and sauntered over to Hastings' house, he was
informed that he had been gone over an hour.
"Now, where in the name of all that's
reasonable could he have gone!" muttered Clifford, looking down the street.
The maid didn't know, so he bestowed
upon her a fascinating smile and lounged back to the studio.
Hastings was not far away. The Luxembourg
is within five minutes' walk of the rue Nôtre Dame des Camps, and
there he sat under the shadow of a winged god, and there he had sat for
an hour, poking holes in the dust and watching the steps which lead from
the northern terrace to the fountain. The sun hung, a purple globe, above
the misty hills of Meudon. Long streamers of clouds touched with rose swept
low on the western sky and the dome of the distant Invalides burned like
an opal through the haze. Behind the Palace the smoke from a high chimney
mounted straight into the air, purple until it crossed the sun where it
changed to a bar of smouldering fire. High above the darkening foliage
of the chestnuts the twin towers of St. Sulpice rose, an ever-deepening
A sleepy blackbird was carolling
in some near thicket and pigeons passed and repassed with the whisper of
soft winds in their wings. The light on ht ePalace windows had died away,
and the dome of the Pantheon swam aglow above the northern terrace, a fiery
Valhalla in the sky, while below in grim array along the terrace ranged,
the marble ranks of queens, looked out into the west.
From the end of the long walk by
the northern façade of the Palace came the noise of omnibuses and
the cries of the street. Hastings looked at the Palace clock. Six, and
as his own watch agreed with it, he fell to poking holes in the gravel
again. A constant stream of people passed between the Odeon and the fountain.
Priests in black, with silver-buckled shoes, line soldiers, slouchy and
rakish, neat girls without hats bearing milliner's boxes, students with
black portfolios and high hats, students with bérets and big canes,
nervous, quick-stepping officers, symphonies in turquoise and silver, ponderous
jangling cavalrymen all over dust, pastry cooks' boys skipping along with
utter disregard for the safety of the basket balanced in the impish head,
and then the lean outcast, the shambling Paris tramp, slouching with shoulders
bent and little eye furtively scanning the ground for smokers' refuse;--all
these moved in a steady stream across the fountain circle and out into
the city by the Odeon, whose long arcades were now beginning to flicker
with gas-jets. The melancholy bells of St. Sulpice struck the hour and
the clock-tower of the Palace lighted up. Then hurried steps sounded across
the gravel and Hastings raised his head.
"How late you are," he said, but
his voice was hoarse and only his flushed face told how long had seemed
She said, "I was kept--indeed, I
was so much annoyed--and--and I may only stay a moment."
She sat down beside him casting
a furtive glance over her shoulder at the god upon his pedestal.
"What a nuisance, that intruding
cupid still there?"
"Wings and arrows too," said Hastings,
unheeding her motion to be seated.
"Wings," she murmured, "oh, yes--to
fly away with when he's tired of his play. Of course it was a man who conceived
the idea of wings, otherwise Cupid would have been unsupportable."
"Do you think so?"
"Ma foi, it's what men think."
"Oh," she said, with a toss of her
small head, "I really forget what we were speaking of."
"We were speaking of love," said
"I was not," said the girl. "Then
looking up at the marble god, "I don't care for this one at all. I don't
believe he knows how to shoot his arrows--no indeed, he is a coward;--he
creeps up like an assassin in the twilight. I don't approve of cowardice,"
she announced, and turned her back on the statue.
"I think," said Hastings quietly,
"that he does shoot fairly--yes, and even gives one warning."
"Is it your experience, Monsieur
He looked straight into her eyes
and said, "He is warning me."
"Heed the warning then," she cried,
with a nervous laugh. As she spoke she stripped off her gloves, and then
carefully proceeded to draw them on again. When this was accomplished she
glanced at the Palace clock, saying, "Oh, dear, how late it is!" furled
her umbrella then unfurled it, and finally looked at him.
"No," he said, "I shall not heed
"Oh, dear," she sighed again, "still
talking about that tiresome statue!" Then stealing a glance at his face,
"I suppose--I suppose you are in love."
"I don't know," he muttered, "I
suppose I am."
She raised her head with a quick
gesture. "You seem delighted at this idea," she said, but bit her lip and
trembled as his eyes met hers. Then sudden fear came over her and she sprang
up, staring into the gathering shadows.
"Are you cold?" he said, but she
only answered, "Oh, dear, oh, dear, it is late--so late. I must go--good-night."
She gave him her gloved hand a moment
and then withdrew it with a start.
"What is it?" he insisted, "are
She looked at him strangely.
"No--no--not frightened,--you are
very good to me----"
"By Jove!" he burst out, "what do
you mean by saying I'm good to you! That's at least the third time, and
I don't understand!"
The sound of a drum from the guard-house
at the palace cut him short. "Listen," she whispered, "they are going to
close. It's late, oh, so late!"
The rolling of the drum came nearer
and nearer, and then the silhouette of the drummer cut the sky above the
eastern terrace. The fading light lingered a moment on his belt and bayonet,
then he passed into the shadows, drumming the echoes awake. The roll became
fainter along the eastern terrace, then grew and grew and rattled with
increasing sharpness when he passed the avenue by the bronze lion and turned
down the western terrace walk. Louder and louder the drum sounded and the
echoes struck back the notes from the gray palace wall; and now the drummer
loomed up before them--his red trousers a dull spot in the gathering gloom,
the brass of his drum and bayonet touched on his shoulders. He passed,
leaving the crash of the drum in their ears, and far into the alley of
trees they saw his little tin cup shining on his haversack. Then the sentinels
began the monotonous cry: "on ferme! on ferme!" and the bugle blew from
the barracks in the rue de Tournon.
"On ferme! on ferme!"
"Good-night," she whispered, "I
must return alone tonight."
He watched her until she reached
the northern terrace, and then sat down on the marble seat until a hand
on his shoulder and a glimmer of bayonets warned him away.
She passed on through the grove,
and turning into the rue de Medici, traversed it to the Boulevard. At the
corner she bought a bunch of violets and walked on along the Boulevard
to the rue des Ecoles. A cab was drawn up before Boulant's and a pretty
girl aided by Elliot jumped out.
"Valentine!" cried the girl, "come
"I can't," she said, stopping a
moment--"I have a rendezvous at Mignon's."
"Not Victor?" cried the girl laughing,
but she passed with a little shiver, nodding good-night, then turning into
the Boulevard St. Germain, she walked a little faster to escape a gay party
sitting before the Café Cluny who called to her to join them. At
the door of the Restaurant Mignon stood a coal-black negro in buttons.
He took off his peaked cap as she mounted the carpeted stairs.
"Send Eugene to me," she said at
the office, and passing through the hallway to the right of the dining-room
stopped before a row of panelled doors. A saiter passed and she repeated
her demand for Eugene, who presently appeared, noiselessly skipping, and
bowed murmuring, "Madame."
"Who is here?"
"No one in the cabinets, madame;
in the hall Madame Madelon and Monsieur Gay, Monsieur de Clamart, Monsieur
Clisson, Monsieur Marie and their set." Then he looked around and bowing
again murmured. "Monsieur awaits Madame since half an hour," and he knocked
at one of the panelled doors bearing the number six.
Clifford opened the door and the
The garçon bowed her in and
whispering, "will Monsieur have the goodness to ring," vanished.
He helped her off with her jacket
and took her hat and umbrella. When she was seated at the little table
with Clifford opposite, she smiled and leaned forward on both elbows looking
him in the face.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
"Waiting," he replied, in accents
For an instant she turned and examined
herself in the glass. The wide blue eyes, the curling hair, the straight
nose and short curled lip flashed in the mirror an instant only, and then,
its depths reflected her pretty neck and back. "Thus do I turn my back
on vanity," she said, and then leaning forward again, "what are you doing
"Waiting for you," repeated Clifford,
"Now don't, Valentine----"
"Do you know," she said calmly,
"I dislike your conduct?"
He was a little disconcerted, and
rang for Eugene to cover his confusion.
The soup was bisque, and the wine
Pommery, and the courses followed each other with the usual regularity
until Eugene brought coffee, and there was nothing left on the table but
a small silver lamp.
"Valentine," said Clifford, after
having obtained permission to smoke, "is it the Vaudeville or the Eldorado--or
both, or the Nouveau Cirque, or----"
"It is here," said Valentine.
"Well," he said, greatly flattered,
"I'm afraid I couldn't amuse you----"
"Oh, yes, you are funnier than the
"Now see here, don't guy me, Valentine.
You always do, and, and,--you know what they say,--a good laugh kills----"
"Er--er--love and all that."
She laughed until her eyes were
moist with tears. "Tiens," she cried, "he is dead, then!"
Clifford eyed her with growing alarm.
"Do you know why I came?" she said.
"No," he replied uneasily, "I don't."
"How long have you made love to
"Well," he admitted, somewhat startled,--
"I should say,--for about a year.
"It is a year, I think. Are you
He did not answer.
"Don't you know that I like you
too well to--to ever fall in love with you?" she said. "Don't you know
that we are too good comrades,--too old friends for that? And were we not,--do
you think that I do not know your history, Monsieur Clifford?"
"Don't be,--don't be so sarcastic,"
he urged, "don't be unkind, Valentine."
"I'm not. I'm kind. I'm very kind,--to
you and to Cécile."
"Cécile is tired of me."
"I hope she is," said the girl,
"for she deserves a better fate. Tiens, do you know your reputation in
the Quarter? Of the inconstant, the most inconstant,--utterly incorrigible
and no more serious than a goat on a summer night. Poor Cécile!"
Clifford looked so uncomfortable
that she spoke more kindly.
"I like you. You know that. Everybody
does. You are a spoiled child here. Everything is permitted you and every
one makes allowance, but every one cannot be a victim to caprice."
"Caprice!" he cried. "By Jove, if
the girls of the Latin Quarter are not capricious----"
"Never mind,--never mind about that!
You must not sit in judgment--you of all men. Why are you here to-night?
Oh," she cried, "I will tell you why! Monsieur receives a little note;
he sends a little answer; he dresses in his conquering raiment----"
"I don't," said Clifford, very red.
"You do, and it becomes you," she
retorted with a faint smile. Then again, very quietly, "I am in your power,
but I know I am in the power of a friend. I have come to acknowledge it
to you here,--and it is because of that that I am here to beg of you--a--a
Clifford opened his eyes, but said
"I am in--great distress of mind.
It is Monsieur Hastings."
"Well," said Clifford, in some astonishment.
"I want to ask you," she continued
in a low voice, "I want to ask you to--to--in case you should speak of
me before him,--not to say,--not to say----"
"I shall not speak of you to him,"
he said quietly.
"Can--can you prevent others?"
"I might if I was present. May I
"That is not fair," she murmured,
"you know how--how he considers me,--as he considers every woman. You know
how different he is from you and the rest. I have never seen a man,--such
a man as Monsieur Hastings."
He let his cigarette go out unnoticed.
"I am almost afraid of him--afraid
he should know what we all are in the Quarter. Oh, I do not wish him to
know! I do not wich him to--to turn from me--to cease from speaking to
me as he does! You--you and the rest cannot know what it has been to me.
I could not believe him,--I could not believe he was so good and--and noble.
I do not wish him to know,--so soon. He will find out--sooner or later,
he will find out for himself, and then he will turn away from me. Why!"
she cried passionately, "why should he turn from me and not from you?"
Clifford, much embarrassed, eyed
The girl rose, very white. "He is
your friend--you have a right to warn him."
"He is my friend," he said at length.
They looked at each other in silence.
Then she cried, "by all that I hold
to me most sacred, you need not warn him!"
"I shall trust your word," he said
End of Part Two... Go on
to Part Three...