« AnkstesnisTęsti »
"Oh, I'm so terrible when I'm frank," she said.
"Do I talk like that?"
She looked at him and looked away again.
"Good God! you think I do!"
"No, you don't talk like that often, but I think you feel that way a good deal."
"I don't want to," he answered. "I'm sixty-four, but I don't ever want to talk like Wilsey. Won't you stop me whenever I do?"
Mrs. Wayne sighed.
"It will make you angry. "And if it does?"
"I hate to make people angry.
distressed that evening on the pier."
He looked up, startled.
"Oh, very charming, very charming,' put in Wilsey, feeling, perhaps, that Mrs. Baxter had been severe; "but the poor lady's mind is evidently seething with a good many undigested ideas."
"You should have pointed out the flaws. in her reasoning, Wilsey," said his host.
"Argue with a woman, Lanley!" Mr. Wilsey held up his hand in protest. "No, no, I never argue with a woman. They take it so personally."
"I think we had an example of that this evening," said Mrs. Baxter.
"Yes, indeed," the lawyer went on. "See how the dear lady missed the point, and became so illogical and excited under our little discussion."
"Funny," said Lanley. "I got just the
"I suppose I talked like Wilsey that opposite impression." night?"
"You said you might be old-fashioned, but-"
"Don't, please, tell me what I said, Mrs. Wayne." He went on more seriously: "I've got to an age when I can't expect great happiness from life—just a continuance of fairly satisfactory outside conditions; but since I 've known you, I've felt a lightening, a brightening, an intensifying of my own inner life that I believe comes as near happiness as anything I've ever felt, and I don't want to lose it on account of a reactionary old couple like that on the sofa over there."
He dreaded being left alone with the reactionary old couple when presently Mrs. Wayne, very well pleased with her. evening, took her departure. He assisted her into her taxi, and as he came up-stairs with a buoyant step, he wished it were not ridiculous at his age to feel so lighthearted.
He saw that his absence had given his guests an instant of freer criticism, for they were tucking away smiles as he entered.
"A very unusual type, is she not, our friend, Mrs. Wayne?" said Wilsey.
"A little bit of a reformer, I 'm afraid," said Mrs. Baxter.
"Don't be too hard on her," answered Lanley.
"I thought it was you who missed the point, Wilsey."
He saw how deeply he had betrayed himself as the others exchanged a startled glance. It was Mrs. Baxter who thought of the correct reply.
"Were there any points?" she asked. Wilsey shook his finger.
"Ah, don't be cruel!" he said, and held out his hand to say good night; but Lanley was smoking, with his head tilted up and his eyes on the ceiling. What he was thinking was, "It is n't good for an old man to get as angry as I am."
"Good night, Lanley; a delightful evening."
Mr. Lanley's chin came down. "Oh, good night, Wilsey; glad you found it so."
When he was gone, Mrs. Baxter observed that he was a most agreeable companion.
"So witty, so amiable, and, for a leader at the bar, he has an extraordinarily light touch."
Mr. Lanley had resumed his position on the hearth-rug and his contemplation of the ceiling.
"Wilsey 's not a leader at the bar," he said, with open crossness.
He showed no disposition to sit and chat over the events of the evening.
(To be continued)
The Furloughs of Jean-Marie
By HERBERT ADAMS GIBBONS
Author of "The New Map of Europe," etc.
August 26, 1914.
Perhaps the police are simply trying to find out who the strangers are, a tremendous task at any time in this cosmopolitan city, and more complicated than ever just now, when refugees are beginning to pour in. Perhaps they are coöperating with the military authorities to see that every man who is mobilisable has answered the call to arms. For we cannot mistake the signs of a city-wide drawing of the drag-net. Gendarmes, policemen, plain-clothesmen, on café terraces, up and down the boulevards, at busy crossings, accost you, and ask to see your papers. Added to the tension caused by lack of news is the tension of this inquisition. Knowing that you are under constant inspection, you become wholly self-conscious.
When I went out to lunch to-day, a crowd was gathering on the Boul' Miche' just outside my gate. The pedestrians of a city street are like a river current. The slightest stop in the flow of life becomes an eddy. Zealous patriots had felt it their duty to question a country boy, whose height, flaxen hair, blue eyes, and age attracted attention and aroused suspicion. If the boy was really a Frenchman, should he not be in the army? As he was in civilian clothes, he was certainly a German. I saw right away that the boy's confusion had robbed him of the power of explanation. There was no policeman near by. Safety lay in retreat. I managed to catch him by the arm back into the yard and slammed the iron gate upon the crowd. We waited a few minutes. I said nothing to the boy, who looked more bewildered than frightened. He could not comprehend what the trouble was. When I was sure that the
ring was a summons of authority, I let in two policemen and an excited officer in uniform who had been found by the zealous patriots.
A few words and the production of a livret militaire quite in order sufficed to set matters right. Three months ago Jean-Marie Simonet, after a year of military service, had been sent to his home in the Somme Valley north of Valenciennes. Astigmatism was written down as the cause of his temporary discharge. Last week gendarmes on bicycles had come through his region, ordering men of military age to leave their homes immediately and report at Lille. At Lille he was told to go to Amiens. At Amiens he was told to go to Paris. He knew no one in Paris except a cousin of his mother, a woman from his own pays, who was concierge somewhere on the Boulevard St. Michel. He had never been in Paris before and had no money. Since arriving at the Gare du Nord this morning, he had found his way to the Boul' Miche' and was walking up and down the boulevard, praying that he would see his mother's cousin in a doorway. No, he did not know the number. The excited officer, now quite calmed down, laughed, and gave Jean-Marie five francs. He cursed the folly of crowds. The matter-offact policemen explained to Jean-Marie that if he had gone to the Commissariat de police and given his aunt's name, he could have found her readily. But, first of all, he ought to know that the ajournés of his classe were called for revision. He must report immediately to the military authorities at the Invalides, who would give him full instructions. That was the first thing; then he could "very easily" find the mother's cousin.
I assured the policemen that when they chased the crowd away from the gate I would take Jean-Marie to lunch, and then put him in a cab, with the cocher headed for the Invalides.
I took Jean-Marie to Boulant's. He He was very shy, and much more afraid of waitress and table-cloth and napkin than he had been of the crowd. But food and wine reassured him, and he told me what could not be gleaned from the newspapers in these days-the reality of the German. invasion, the exodus from Lille, the confusion and uncertainty that reigned everywhere. He was much more excited about being in Paris than about the Germans and the war. "Until last year, when I went off for military service," he said, "I had never seen any city except Valenciennes. Then I went to Lille. But there was n't much time to go around and see things, and, besides, there is n't anything to see in Lille. I have read a lot about Paris. I hope the Germans don't come here right away, and that I won't be sent off somewhere else, as I was yesterday from Amiens. I wanted to see Amiens, and I ought to have gone to the cathedral before I went to the dépôt. They made me take the next train. Don't you think that here I'd better-"
"Jean-Marie," I interrupted, "don't get into trouble again. You want to be en règle before you try to go around Paris. I am going to do what I told the policemen I would do. After you have been to the Invalides, hunt up your concierge relative. Then come around to my studio, and I'll give you a little money to see Paris, or find you a job, if you are not taken right away for service."
I gave Jean-Marie my card, and told a cocher to take him to the Invalides with all speed.
When I went to the studio this morning, a tall soldier was standing under the porte-cochère. His head was swathed in bandages, and although his back was turned, I guessed immediately who it was from little tufts of bright-yellow hair that stuck out over his ears from under the lint. The youngster I had rescued on the Boul' Miche' in August was telling the concierge, with both arms, a story that made her laugh heartily. Jean-Marie was full of good spirits, and his bashfulness had
"Here I am," he cried when he saw me. "I did not lose your card. That afternoon they told me at the Invalides to wait a few days, but on the way back to see you I was held up twice. Why do I look like a Boche? I explained my case to a gendarme all over again, and showed him my livret militaire, with the fresh stamp. He told me I ought to become an engagé volontaire immediately. That was the way out, and my country was in danger. Do you know, I had n't thought of that. So I went back to the Invalides. That evening I was in uniform. They were making up a regiment, and we went right out. I was on the Marne, in General Manoury's army. My company went too fast. The Boches turned on us, and I got a crack on the head. I was brought in to the Val-de-Grâce. This morning they told me I could go out for the first time. When I showed them your card, and they said that the rue Campagne-Première was very near, I came right over."
Through two cigars Jean-Marie told me the story of his Marne campaign in smallest detail, with frequent reference to a little pocket diary. I had begun to look restlessly at the papers on my desk before he announced that he had to return to the hospital for morning inspection; but he would come back right after lunch, evidently expecting that I could show him. Paris. What was I to do? It was a pleasure to see Jean-Marie for an hour. With Val-de-Grâce so near, however, I was alarmed at his intention of making me his headquarters and his guide.
After he had left, a happy thought came to me. This very morning, in the "Echo de Paris," an article by a brilliant Academician set forth the important rôle the jeunes filles of France could play this winter, for now all the world recognizes that the war will last through the winter. The Academician proposes that every jeune fille become a marraine (godmother) with a filleul (godson) chosen from the regiments of the invaded regions. Just the thing for Jean-Marie! This fits him perfectly.
At breakfast this morning I had spoken of the Academician's article. For, since For, since the war began, I have disregarded Helen's (Mrs. Gibbons) dislike of newspapers with coffee, and have tried to mitigate her disapproval by sharing with her what I read. With the Germans preparing for a thrust at Calais and besieging Antwerp, it is too much to expect a man to give in altogether to his wife on this point. Christine, six years old, was greatly taken with the marraine idea. "I want a filleul," she had announced. Here was my chance to get out from under. Christine's nurse, a young and pretty English girl, knew at little French. I declared my plan at lunch. Helen agreed. This afternoon, when Jean-Marie returned to the studio, he found his marraines. I put them into a taxi, with instructions to the chauffeur, and returned to my work very much pleased with myself. The "Echo de Paris" is a good newspaper. It publishes articles full of common sense.
October 10. When I went home to lunch I learned that Jean-Marie had come to say goodby. It seems that the médecin-major sent him off in a hurry to his dépôt at Dijon. The paper was stamped for twelve hours, and he had to take the noon train. He did not see his marraines, for Dorothy had taken Christine to school. The sudden departure of Jean-Marie does not excite a very deep feeling of regret. After two or three rides Christine had tired of her filleul. It had been the nurse's luck to see him only when she was chaperoned by a
small kid. I am afraid that, in Helen's eyes, Jean-Marie had become a nuisance.
He has left his address. He wants Christine to write to him and to send him packages!
Paris is going crazy over Christmas in the trenches. For two weeks newspapers have published daily warnings to the marraines. You must get your package in right away, or the army postal service will be swamped. Shop-window displays are everywhere reminders of what the filleuls need. Man does not live by bread alone. Canned chicken and lobster, chocolates and bonbons, tobacco and cigarette-holders, woolly knitted things, wrist-watches, compasses, folding-knives and forks, whistles, shoes, playing-cards-in a word, everything that every Paris merchant has to sell, we are told, ought to be sent to those who have to pass Christmas and the New Year facing the Germans.
We have been thinking uneasily of JeanMarie. Helen has more than she can look after, and I am told that Jean-Marie is my responsibility. Christine's class at school now have their class filleuls, and Dorothy is interested in English soldiers.
Since a good marraine sends letters and cards as well as packages to her filleul, surely Jean-Marie cannot be my responsibility. I am ashamed of his unanswered letters. A young sewing-woman said at the house this afternoon:
"Every one has a filleul, and I have none. I can't afford really to ask for one until after Christmas."
"Say, now, certainly you can," I protested, with great joy-"a handsome filleul, unmarried, from the North, about your own age." Into Félicie's hand I pressed twenty francs and Jean-Marie's last letter to Christine.
"You have no engagement for tonight?" Helen asked carelessly at breakfast. My equally careless negative was followed by, "You are sure nothing will turn up?"
A trap! I began to fence.
"Whom are you going to have tonight?"
"You remember Jean-Marie Simonet, Félicie's filleul. He has come on permission; arrived yesterday. You are not out of town, for Félicie is not primed, like your studio concierge. So I told Félicie that she should bring him here to dinner to-night."
"Very easy," I said. "She can entertain him here to her heart's content; but you surely remember that we are dining out, and that we are going to a show." "No, you don't," declared Helen, firmly. "Jean-Marie is your responsibility; Félicie is his marraine by your appointment. I saw she was worried this morning, and now she has confessed to me that in order to hold Jean-Marie, whose friends in the regiment all have marraines who are mondaine, or pretend to be, she has written him about dinners, etc., at our house. Do you understand? Félicie is one of our intimate friends!"
I whooped. Stand by Félicie? Certainly. The wives of an artillery captain and a famous littérateur, both of the same stamp as mine, were reached by telephone. They promised to appear with their husbands. Félicie was luckily of Helen's size, so there was no difficulty about her gown. Dinner passed off beautifully. Félicie rose to the occasion. Jean-Marie expanded. Marraines were no joke to him, and he made us take them seriously by telling us in his own simple way how communications had developed during the year between the front and the rear, and the importance and significance of the marraine-filleul relationship. Some in his company did not have marraines at first: others lost their marraines and their grip at the same time. With the war dragging along and nothing new happening, and the only news in the paper bad news about Russia, the "cafard," as the
soldiers call the "blues," became a worse enemy than the Germans, of whom they had seen little since the Battle of the Marne. Men who had no letters and no packages got sick; the cafard put many of them out of business altogether. Those who had no marraine to take an interest in them did not want to come to Paris en permission. But there was comedy as well as tragedy in Jean-Marie's story. Some of his copains (chums) had bad luck. with their marraines. Everything went well until the filleul asked for a photograph or announced that he was going to have a four days' permission in Paris. Then the marraine would stop writing or answer that she would be away at the time of the permission. That sort were old maids who had written as if they were jeunes filles, and could n't stand the test of face to face. Or they were willing enough to write an occasional letter and send an occasional package, but did not want to bother with the poilu when he
came to town.
"But I have luck. Mine is glad to see me, and she looks just like her photograph," said Jean-Marie. We raised our glasses to Félicie.
September 9. Helen took Félicie with her to the country this morning. She told me that Félicie ought to try on some of the children's clothes before finishing making them up. What she said, and what Félicie said, to Jean-Marie, I do not know. But although Félicie had a day off yesterday, with full pay and some more besides, she did not look very happy when she brought Jean-Marie in to tea. seemed that Jean-Marie had an engagement in the evening with a copain that did not include Félicie. I suspect him of having another marraine. He told us the other evening how some of the soldiers kept several marraines going at the same time, and how some of the filleuls found out they had the same marraine.
I went to the Gare de l'Est to-night to