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"Did you know him?" I demanded. "I did very well indeed: I was clerk in the same room in the India House with him for ten years," was his reply.
I held hard and restrained myself, for I did not want to scare the man; but after twisting my neck around to get a look at him, and seeing that he was a person of an altogether respectable appearance, I managed, with considerable difficulty, to turn myself so as at the same time to face him, and, in a manner, fence him off from the rest of the company. Thence all the way to Paris I had him to myself.
It soon transpired that his name was Ogilvie. He did not, at first, open up very freely; but by and by, under my stimulation, his memory began to warm and flow, and I was soon devouring a feast that the din of the Chicago talk around us had no power to disturb..
I was not a little amused to see that to Mr. Ogilvie's mind, a proper estimate of Charles Lamb should prominently include his capacity and character as a clerk. The very first observation he made was with
These entertaining criticisms betrayed not the least particle of malice, for not only was it plain to see that the critic was a kindly soul, but his whole manner revealed an affectionateness toward Lamb's memory that quite won my heart.
All that he said about Lamb's personal appearance confirmed the received account; he never varied the style of his dress, but adhered fondly to bygone fashions, and used frequently to boast that his thin short legs had never worn trousers, or 66 crossed" a horse. Speaking of his dress, he related the following incident.
At the time George Dyer was fished out of New River in front of Lamb's house at Islington, after he was resuscitated, Mary brought him a suit of Charles's clothes to put on while his own were drying. Inasmuch as he was a giant of a man, and Lamb undersized; inasmuch, moreover, as Lamb's wardrobe afforded only knee breeches for the nether limbs (Dyer's were colossal), the spectacle he presented when the clothes were on—or as much on as they could be— was vastly ludicrous, and the total effect was immensely heightened by the circumstance that, owing to the quantity of strong drink
that had been administered to him, to which, being a teetotaler, he was unaccustomed, Dyer was in a state of wild inebriation.
The current portraits of Lamb, Mr. Ogilvie said, are all very unsatisfactory. The only one ever published that looked like him was prefixed to an early edition of one of his books. From the description he gave of it, I think, may be, it re-appears on the title-page of the late memoir by Barry Cornwall.
Upon the sweetness and happiness of Lamb's temper he dwelt at length. He was as full of mirth and play as a boy; his humor never flagged; he was always making fun of some sort. His stuttering helped his wit, and when he started to get off anything, the laugh would often begin before he had uttered a word. Jokes and jests, great and small, were his constant pastime, and every one around him came in for a share. "For instance," said Mr. Ogilvie, "when I first entered the India House and was introduced to him, he seized my hand, and exclaimed with an air, Ah, Lord Oglesby! Welcome, Lord Oglesby! Glad to see you! Proud of the honor!'-and he never called me anything else, and that got to be my name among the clerks, and is yet, when I meet any of the few that are left."
Other like quips were repeated, but none that I remember well enough to quote. They were generally founded on some personal peculiarity or foible, and though never harsh, might sometimes, I should judge, if coming from another source, have been a little trying.
Yet, in spite of his pleasantries of all sorts, his popularity with his fellow-clerks was unbounded. He allowed the same familiarity that he practiced, and they all called him "Charley."
As to his kindness and practical benevolence, Mr. Ogilvie declared that it could not be overstated. His sympathies were so easily won that he was often imposed upon, yet he never learned to be suspicious. He had been known to wear a coat six months longer, that he might spare a little money to some needy acquaintance. There was hardly ever a time when he did not have somebody living upon him. If he was freed from one client, another would soon arise to take his place. A poor literary aspirant, or vagabond, especially, he could not resist, and he regularly had one or more on his hands. He would even take them to his house, and let them stay there weeks and months together.
Everybody knew that it was for his sister's sake that he remained single; and it was commonly referred to as a sacrifice which would cost few men as much as it cost him, for he was, to a rare degree, by nature and disposition a man who would have liked to marry.
With Mary Lamb, Mr. Ogilvie had been quite well acquainted: he had often visited her and had been on several occasions, an evening guest at Colebrook Cottage in Islington.
He said that while she was a most amiable, sweet-tempered, womanly woman, she had great force of will, and remarkable power of personal influence. No one had such control over Charles as she had. She sometimes even commanded him, and he obeyed her. And it was evident that the sentiment with which he regarded her combined the traits of both fraternal and filial respect.
CAFÉ DES EXILÉS.
THAT which in 1835-I think he said thirty-five-was a reality in the rue Burgundy—I think he said Burgundy-is now but a reminiscence. Yet so vividly was its story told me, that at this moment the old Café des Exilés appears before my eye, floating in the clouds of reverie, and I doubt not I see it just as it was in the old times.
An antiquated story-and-a-half Creole cottage sitting right down on the banquette, as do the Choctaw squaws who sell bay and sassafras and life-everlasting, with a high, close board fence shutting out of view the diminutive garden on the southern side. An ancient willow droops over the roof of round tiles and partly hides the discolored stucco, which keeps dropping off into the garden as though the old café was stripping for the plunge into oblivion-disrobing for its execution. I see, well up in the angle of the broad side gable, shaded by its rude awning of clap-boards, as the eyes of an old dame are shaded by her wrinkled hand, the window of Pauline. Oh, for the image of the maiden, were it but for one moment, leaning out of the casement to hang her mocking-bird and looking down into the garden,-where, above the barrier of old boards, I see the top of the fig-tree, the pale green clump of bananas, the tall palmetto with its jagged crown, Pauline's own two orange-trees holding up their hands toward the window, heavy with the promises of autumn; the broad, crimson mass of the many-stemmed oleander, and the crisp boughs of the pomegranate loaded with freckled apples, and with here and there a lingering scarlet blossom!
The Café des Exilés, to use a figure, flowered, bore fruit, and dropped it long ago or rather Time and Fate, like some uncursed Adam and Eve, came side by side and cut away its clusters, as we sever the golden burden of the banana from its stem; then, like a banana which has borne its fruit, it was razed to the ground and made way for a newer, brighter growth. I believe it would set every tooth on edge should I go by there now-now that I have heard the story, and see the old site covered by the "Shoo-fly Coffee-house." Pleasanter far to close my eyes and call to view the unpretentious portals of the old café, with her children-for such those exiles seem to
me-dragging their rocking-chairs out, and sitting in their wonted group under the long, outreaching eaves which shaded the banquette of the rue Burgundy.
It was in 1835 that the Café des Exilés was, as one might say, in full blossom. Old M. D'Hemecourt, father of Pauline and host of the café, himself a refugee from San Domingo, was the cause—at least the human cause of its opening. As its white-curtained, glazed doors expanded, emitting a little puff of his own cigarette smoke, it was like the bursting of catalpa blossoms, and the exiles came like bees, pushing into the tiny room to sip its rich variety of tropical syrups, its lemonades, its orangeades, its orgeats, its barley-waters and its outlandish wines, while they talked of dear home-that is to say, of Barbadoes, of Martinique, of San Domingo, and of Cuba.
There were Pedro and Benigro, and Fernandez and Francisco, and Benito. Benito was a tall, swarthy man, with immense gray moustachios, and hair as harsh as tropical grass and gray as ashes. When he could spare his cigarette from his lips, he would tell you in a cavernous voice, and with a wrinkled smile, that he was "a-t-thorty-seveng."
There was Martinez of San Domingo, yellow as a canary, always sitting with one leg curled under him, and holding the back of his head in his knitted fingers against the back of his rocking-chair. Father, mother, brother, sisters, all, had been massacred in the struggle of '21 and '22; he alone was left to tell the tale, and told it often, with that strange, infantile insensibility to the solemnity of his, bereavement so peculiar to Latin people.
But, besides these, and many who need no mention, there were two in particular, around whom all the story of the Café des Exilés, of old M. D'Hemecourt and of Pauline, turns as on a double center. First, Manuel Mazaro, whose small, restless eyes were as black and bright as those of a mouse; whose light talk became his dark girlish face, and whose redundant locks curled so prettily and so wonderfully black under the fine white brim of his jaunty Panama. He had the hands of a woman, save that the nails were stained with the smoke of cigarettes. He could play the guitar delightfully, and wore his knife down behind his coat collar.
The second was "Major" Galahad | all respect," but their respects they never Shaughnessy. I imagine I can see him, in his white duck, brass-buttoned roundabout, with his saberless belt peeping out beneath, all his boyishness in his sea-blue eyes, leaning lightly against the door-post of the Café des Exilés as a child leans against his mother, running his fingers over a basketful of fragrant limes, and watching his chance to strike some solemn Creole under the fifth rib with a good old Irish joke.
Old D'Hemecourt drew him close to his bosom. The Spanish Creoles were, as the old man termed it, both cold and hot, but never warm. Major Shaughnessy was warm, and it was no uncommon thing to find those two apart from the others, talking in an undertone, and playing at confidantes like two school girls. The kind old man was at this time drifting close up to his sixtieth year. There was much he could tell of San Domingo, whither he had been carried from Martinique in his childhood, whence he had become a refugee to Cuba, and thence to New Orleans in the flight of 1809.
It fell one day to Manuel Mazaro's lot to discover that to Galahad Shaughnessy only, of all the children of the Café des Exilés, the good host spoke long and confidentially concerning his daughter. The words, half heard and magnified like objects seen in a fog, meaning Manuel Mazaro knew not what, but made portentous by his suspicious nature, were but the old man's recital of the grinding he had got between the millstones of his poverty and his pride, in trying so long to sustain, for little Pauline's sake, that attitude before society which earns respect from a surface-viewing world. While he was telling this, Manuel Mazaro drew near; the old man paused in an embarrassed way; the major, sitting sidewise in his chair, lifted his cheek from its resting place on his elbow; and Mazaro, after standing an awkward moment, turned away with such an inward feeling as one may guess would arise in a heart full of Cuban blood, not unmixed with Indian.
As he moved off, M. D'Hemecourt resumed that in a last extremity he had opened, partly from dire want, partly for very love to homeless souls, the Café des Exilés. He had hoped that, as strong drink and high words were to be alike unknown to it, it might not prejudice sensible people; but it had. He had no doubt they said among themselves, "she is an excellent and beautiful girl and deserving
came to pay.
"A café is a café," said the old gentleman. "It is nod possib' to ezcape him, aldough de Café des Exilés is differen' from de rez."
"It's different from the Café des Réfugiés," suggested the Irishman.
"Differen' as possib'," replied M. D'Hemecourt. He looked about upon the walls. The shelves were luscious with ranks of cooling syrups which he alone knew how to make. The expression of his face changed from sadness to a gentle pride, which spoke without words, saying-and let our story pause a moment to hear it say:
"If any poor exile, from any island where guavas or mangoes or plantains grow, wants a draught which will make him see his home among the cocoa-palms, behold the Café des Exilés ready to take the poor child up and give him the breast! And if gold or silver he has them not, why Heaven and Santa Maria, and Saint Christopher bless him! It makes no difference. Here is a rocking-chair, here a cigarette, and here a light from the host's own tinder. He will pay when he can."
As this easily pardoned pride said, so it often occurred; and if the newly come exile said his father was a Spaniard-"Come!" old M. D'Hemecourt would cry; "another glass; it is an innocent drink; my mother was a Castilian." But, if the exile said his mother was a Frenchwoman, the glasses would be forthcoming all the same, for "My father," the old man would say, was a Frenchman of Martinique, with blood as pure as that wine and a heart as sweet as this honey; come, a glass of orgeat;" and he would bring it himself in a quart tumbler.
Now, there are jealousies and jealousies. There are people who rise up quickly and kill, and there are others who turn their hot thoughts over silently in their minds as a brooding bird turns her eggs in the nest. Thus did Manuel Mazaro, and took it ill that Galahad should see a vision in the temple while he and all the brethren tarried without. Pauline had been to the Café des Exilés in some degree what the image of the Virgin was to their churches at home; and for her father to whisper her name to one and not to another was, it seemed to Mazaro, as if the old man, were he a sacristan, should say to some single worshiper, "Here, you may have this madonna; I make it a present to you." Or, if such was not the handsome young Cuban's feeling, such, at
least, was the disguise his jealousy put on. If Pauline was to be handed down from her niche, why, then, farewell Café des Exilés. She was its preserving influence, she made the place holy; she was the burning candles on the altar. Surely the reader will pardon the pen that lingers in the mention of her.
And yet I know not how to describe the forbearing, unspoken tenderness with which all these exiles regarded the maiden. In the balmy afternoons, as I have said, they gathered about their mother's knee, that is to say, upon the banquette outside the door. There, lolling back in their rocking-chairs, they would pass the evening hours with oftrepeated tales of home; and the moon would come out and glide among the clouds like a silver barge among islands wrapped in mist, and they loved the silently gliding orb with a sort of worship, because from her soaring height she looked down at the same moment upon them and upon their homes in the far Antilles. It was somewhat thus that they looked upon Pauline as she seemed to them held up half way to heaven, they knew not how. Ah! those who have been pilgrims; who have wandered out beyond harbor and light; whom fate hath led in lonely paths strewn with thorns and briers not of their own sowing; who, homeless in a land of homes, see windows gleaming and doors ajar, but not for them,-it is they who well understand what the worship is that cries to any daughter of our dear mother Eve whose footsteps chance may draw across the path, the silent, beseeching cry, "Stay a little instant that I may look upon you. O, woman, beautifier of the earth! Stay till I recall the face of my sister; stay yet a moment while I look from afar, with helplesshanging hands, upon the softness of thy cheek, upon the folded coils of thy shining hair; and my spirit shall fall down and say those prayers which I may never again God knoweth-say at home."
She was seldom seen; but sometimes, when the lounging exiles would be sitting in their afternoon circle under the eaves, and some old man would tell his tale of fire and blood and capture and escape, and the heads would lean forward from the chairbacks and a great stillness would follow the ending of the story, o M. D'Hemecourt would all at once speak up and say, laying his hands upon the narrator's knee, "Comrade, your throat is dry, here are fresh limes; let my dear child herself come and mix you a lemonade." Then the neighbors, sitting about their doors, would by and by softly VOL. XI.-47.
say, "See, see! there is Pauline!" and all the exiles would rise from their rockingchairs, take off their hats and stand as men stand in church, while Pauline came out like the moon from a cloud, descended the three steps of the café door, and stood with waiter and glass, like Rebecca with her pitcher, before the swarthy wanderer.
What tales that would have been tearcompelling, nay, heart-rending, had they not been palpable inventions, the pretty, womanish Mazaro from time to time poured forth, in the ever ungratified hope that the goddess might come down with a draught of nectar for him, it profiteth not to recount; but I should fail to show a family feature of the Café des Exilés did I omit to say that these make-believe adventures were heard with every mark of respect and credence; while, on the other hand, they were never attempted in the presence of the Irishman. He would have moved an eyebrow, or made some barely audible sound, or dropped some seemingly innocent word, and the whole company, spite of themselves, would have smiled. Wherefore, it may be doubted whether at any time the curly-haired young Cuban had that playful affection for his Celtic comrade, which a habit of giving little velvet taps to Galahad's cheek made a show of.
Such was the Café des Exilés, such its inmates, such its guests, when certain apparently trivial events began to fall around it like germs of blight upon corn, and to bring about that end which cometh to all things.
The little seed of jealousy dropped into the heart of Manuel Mazaro we have already taken into account. Galahad Shaughnessy began to be specially active in organizing a society of Spanish Americans, the design of which, as set forth in its manuscript constitution, was to provide proper funeral honors to such of their membership as might be overtaken by death; and, whenever it was practicable, to send their ashes to their native land. Next to Galahad in this movement was an elegant old Mexican physician, Dr. -his name escapes me-whom the Café des Exilés sometimes took upon her lap-that is to say door-step-but whose favorite resort was the old Café des Réfugiés in the rue Royale (Royal street, as it was beginning to be called). Manuel Mazaro was made secretary.
It was for some reason thought judicious for the society to hold its meetings in various places, now here, now there; but the most frequent rendezvous was the Café des Exilés; it was quiet; those Spanish Creoles,