"So long, Chris. I'm beating it," said Andrews in a harsh voice, jumping to his feet.
"So long, Andy, ole man.... Ah'll pay for the drinks." Chrisfield was beckoning with his hand to the red-faced woman, who advanced slowly through the candlelight.
Andrews strode away from the door. A cold, needle-like rain was falling. He pulled up his coat collar and ran down the muddy village street towards his quarters.
In the opposite corner of the compartment Andrews could see Walters hunched up in an attitude of sleep, with his cap pulled down far over his eyes. His mouth was open, and his head wagged with the jolting of the train. The shade over the light plunged the compartment in dark-blue obscurity, which made the night sky outside the window and the shapes of trees and houses, evolving and pirouetting as they glided by, seem very near. Andrews felt no desire to sleep; he had sat a long time leaning his head against the frame of the window, looking out at the fleeing shadows and the occasional little red-green lights that darted by and the glow of the stations that flared for a moment and were lost in dark silhouettes of unlighted houses and skeleton trees and black hillsides. He was thinking how all the epochs in his life seemed to have been marked out by railway rides at night. The jolting rumble of the wheels made the blood go faster through his veins; made him feel acutely the clattering of the train along the gleaming rails, spurning fields and trees and houses, piling up miles and miles between the past and future. The gusts of cold night air when he opened the window and the faint whiffs of steam and coal gas that tingled in his nostrils excited him like a smile on a strange face seen for a moment in a crowded street. He did not think of what he had left behind. He was straining his eyes eagerly through the darkness towards the vivid life he was going to live. Boredom and abasement were over. He was free to work and hear music and make friends. He drew deep breaths; warm waves of vigor seemed flowing constantly from his lungs and throat to his finger tips and down through his body and the muscles of his legs. He looked at his watch: "One." In six hours he would be in Paris. For six hours he would sit there looking out at the fleeting shadows of the countryside, feeling in his blood the eager throb of the train, rejoicing in every mile the train carried him away from things past.
Walters still slept, half slipping off the seat, with his mouth open and his overcoat bundled round his head. Andrews looked out of the window, feeling in his nostrils the tingle of steam and coal gas. A phrase out of some translation of the Iliad came to his head: "Ambrosial night, Night ambrosial unending." But better than sitting round a camp fire drinking wine and water and listening to the boastful yarns of long-haired Achaeans, was this hustling through the countryside away from the monotonous whine of past unhappiness, towards joyousness and life.
Andrews began to think of the men he had left behind. They were asleep at this time of night, in barns and barracks, or else standing on guard with cold damp feet, and cold hands which the icy rifle barrel burned when they tended it. He might go far away out of sound of the tramp of marching, away from the smell of overcrowded barracks where men slept in rows like cattle, but he would still be one of them. He would not see an officer pass him without an unconscious movement of servility, he would not hear a bugle without feeling sick with hatred. If he could only express these thwarted lives, the miserable dullness of industrialized slaughter, it might have been almost worth while—for him; for the others, it would never be worth while. "But you're talking as if you were out of the woods; you're a soldier still, John Andrews." The words formed themselves in his mind as vividly as if he had spoken them. He smiled bitterly and settled himself again to watch silhouettes of trees and hedges and houses and hillsides fleeing against the dark sky.
When he awoke the sky was grey. The train was moving slowly, clattering loudly over switches, through a town of wet slate roofs that rose in fantastic patterns of shadow above the blue mist. Walters was smoking a cigarette.
"God! These French trains are rotten," he said when he noticed that Andrews was awake. "The most inefficient country I ever was in anyway."
"Inefficiency be damned," broke in Andrews, jumping up and stretching himself. He opened the window. "The heating's too damned efficient.... I think we're near Paris."
The cold air, with a flavor of mist in it, poured into the stuffy compartment. Every breath was joy. Andrews felt a crazy buoyancy bubbling up in him. The rumbling clatter of the train wheels sang in his ears. He threw himself on his back on the dusty blue seat and kicked his heels in the air like a colt.
"Liven up, for God's sake, man," he shouted. "We're getting near Paris."
"We are lucky bastards," said Walters, grinning, with the cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. "I'm going to see if I can find the rest of the gang."
Andrews, alone in the compartment, found himself singing at the top of his lungs.
As the day brightened the mist lifted off the flat linden-green fields intersected by rows of leafless poplars. Salmon-colored houses with blue roofs wore already a faintly citified air. They passed brick-kilns and clay-quarries, with reddish puddles of water in the bottom of them; crossed a jade-green river where a long file of canal boats with bright paint on their prows moved slowly. The engine whistled shrilly. They clattered through a small freight yard, and rows of suburban houses began to form, at first chaotically in broad patches of garden-land, and then in orderly ranks with streets between and shops at the corners. A dark-grey dripping wall rose up suddenly and blotted out the view. The train slowed down and went through several stations crowded with people on their way to work,—ordinary people in varied clothes with only here and there a blue or khaki uniform. Then there was more dark-grey wall, and the obscurity of wide bridges under which dusty oil lamps burned orange and red, making a gleam on the wet wall above them, and where the wheels clanged loudly. More freight yards and the train pulled slowly past other trains full of faces and silhouettes of people, to stop with a jerk in a station. And Andrews was standing on the grey cement platform, sniffing smells of lumber and merchandise and steam. His ungainly pack and blanket-roll he carried on his shoulder like a cross. He had left his rifle and cartridge belt carefully tucked out of sight under the seat.
Walters and five other men straggled along the platform towards him, carrying or dragging their packs.
There was a look of apprehension on Walters's face.
"Well, what do we do now?" he said.
"Do!" cried Andrews, and he burst out laughing.
Prostrate bodies in olive drab hid the patch of tender green grass by the roadside. The company was resting. Chrisfield sat on a stump morosely whittling at a stick with a pocket knife. Judkins was stretched out beside him.
"What the hell do they make us do this damn hikin' for, Corp?"
"Guess they're askeered we'll forgit how to walk."
"Well, ain't it better than loafin' around yer billets all day, thinkin' an' cursin' an' wishin' ye was home?" spoke up the man who sat the other side, pounding down the tobacco in his pipe with a thick forefinger.
"It makes me sick, trampin' round this way in ranks all day with the goddam frawgs starin' at us an'..."
"They're laughin' at us, I bet," broke in another voice.
"We'll be movin' soon to the Army o' Occupation," said Chrisfield cheerfully. "In Germany it'll be a reglar picnic."
"An' d'you know what that means?" burst out Judkins, sitting bolt upright. "D'you know how long the troops is goin' to stay in Germany? Fifteen years."
"Gawd, they couldn't keep us there that long, man."
"They can do anythin' they goddam please with us. We're the guys as is gettin' the raw end of this deal. It ain't the same with an' edicated guy like Andrews or Sergeant Coffin or them. They can suck around after 'Y' men, an' officers an' get on the inside track, an' all we can do is stand up an' salute an' say 'Yes, lootenant' an' 'No, lootenant' an' let 'em ride us all they goddam please. Ain't that gospel truth, corporal?"
"Ah guess you're right, Judkie; we gits the raw end of the stick."
"That damn yellar dawg Andrews goes to Paris an' gets schoolin' free an' all that."
"Hell, Andy waren't yellar, Judkins."
"Well, why did he go bellyachin' around all the time like he knew more'n the lootenant did?"
"Ah reckon he did," said Chrisfield.
"Anyway, you can't say that those guys who went to Paris did a goddam thing more'n any the rest of us did.... Gawd, I ain't even had a leave yet."
"Well, it ain't no use crabbin'."
"No, onct we git home an' folks know the way we've been treated, there'll be a great ole investigation. I can tell you that," said one of the new men.
"It makes you mad, though, to have something like that put over on ye.... Think of them guys in Paris, havin' a hell of a time with wine an' women, an' we stay out here an' clean our guns an' drill.... God, I'd like to get even with some of them guys."
The whistle blew. The patch of grass became unbroken green again as the men lined up along the side of the road.
"Fall in!" called the Sergeant.
"Front! God, you guys haven't got no snap in yer.... Stick yer belly in, you. You know better than to stand like that."
"Squads, right! March! Hep, hep, hep!"
The Company tramped off along the muddy road. Their steps were all the same length. Their arms swung in the same rhythm. Their faces were cowed into the same expression, their thoughts were the same. The tramp, tramp of their steps died away along the road.
Birds were singing among the budding trees. The young grass by the roadside kept the marks of the soldiers' bodies.
PART FIVE: THE WORLD OUTSIDE
Andrews, and six other men from his division, sat at a table outside the cafe opposite the Gare de l'Est. He leaned back in his chair with a cup of coffee lifted, looking across it at the stone houses with many balconies. Steam, scented of milk and coffee, rose from the cup as he sipped from it. His ears were full of a rumble of traffic and a clacking of heels as people walked briskly by along the damp pavements. For a while he did not hear what the men he was sitting with were saying. They talked and laughed, but he looked beyond their khaki uniforms and their boat-shaped caps unconsciously. He was taken up with the smell of the coffee and of the mist. A little rusty sunshine shone on the table of the cafe and on the thin varnish of wet mud that covered the asphalt pavement. Looking down the Avenue, away from the station, the houses, dark grey tending to greenish in the shadow and to violet in the sun, faded into a soft haze of distance. Dull gilt lettering glittered along black balconies. In the foreground were men and women walking briskly, their cheeks whipped a little into color by the rawness of the morning. The sky was a faintly roseate grey.
Walters was speaking:
"The first thing I want to see is the Eiffel Tower."
"Why d'you want to see that?" said the small sergeant with a black mustache and rings round his eyes like a monkey.
"Why, man, don't you know that everything begins from the Eiffel Tower? If it weren't for the Eiffel Tower, there wouldn't be any sky-scrapers...."
"How about the Flatiron Building and Brooklyn Bridge? They were built before the Eiffel Tower, weren't they?" interrupted the man from New York.
"The Eiffel Tower's the first piece of complete girder construction in the whole world," reiterated Walters dogmatically.
"First thing I'm going to do's go to the Folies Berd-jairs; me for the w.w.'s."
"Better lay off the wild women, Bill," said Walters.
"I ain't goin' to look at a woman," said the sergeant with the black mustache. "I guess I seen enough women in my time, anyway.... The war's over, anyway."
"You just wait, kid, till you fasten your lamps on a real Parizianne," said a burly, unshaven man with a corporal's stripes on his arm, roaring with laughter.
Andrews lost track of the talk again, staring dreamily through half-closed eyes down the long straight street, where greens and violets and browns merged into a bluish grey monochrome at a little distance. He wanted to be alone, to wander at random through the city, to stare dreamily at people and things, to talk by chance to men and women, to sink his life into the misty sparkling life of the streets. The smell of the mist brought a memory to his mind. For a long while he groped for it, until suddenly he remembered his dinner with Henslowe and the faces of the boy and girl he had talked to on the Butte. He must find Henslowe at once. A second's fierce resentment went through him against all these people about him. Christ! He must get away from them all; his freedom had been hard enough won; he must enjoy it to the uttermost.
"Say, I'm going to stick to you, Andy." Walters's voice broke into his reverie. "I'm going to appoint you the corps of interpreters."
"D'you know the way to the School Headquarters?"
"The R. T. O. said take the subway."
"I'm going to walk," said Andrews.
"You'll get lost, won't you?"
"No danger, worse luck," said Andrews, getting to his feet. "I'll see you fellows at the School Headquarters, whatever those are.... So long."
"Say, Andy, I'll wait for you there," Walters called after him.
Andrews darted down a side street. He could hardly keep from shouting aloud when he found himself alone, free, with days and days ahead of him to work and think, gradually to rid his limbs of the stiff attitudes of the automaton. The smell of the streets, and the mist, indefinably poignant, rose like incense smoke in fantastic spirals through his brain, making him hungry and dazzled, making his arms and legs feel lithe and as ready for delight as a crouching cat for a spring. His heavy shoes beat out a dance as they clattered on the wet pavements under his springy steps. He was walking very fast, stopping suddenly now and then to look at the greens and oranges and crimsons of vegetables in a push cart, to catch a vista down intricate streets, to look into the rich brown obscurity of a small wine shop where workmen stood at the counter sipping white wine. Oval, delicate faces, bearded faces of men, slightly gaunt faces of young women, red cheeks of boys, wrinkled faces of old women, whose ugliness seemed to have hidden in it, stirringly, all the beauty of youth and the tragedy of lives that had been lived; the faces of the people he passed moved him like rhythms of an orchestra. After much walking, turning always down the street which looked pleasantest, he came to an oval with a statue of a pompous personage on a ramping horse. "Place des Victoires," he read the name, which gave him a faint tinge of amusement. He looked quizzically at the heroic features of the sun king and walked off laughing. "I suppose they did it better in those days, the grand manner," he muttered. And his delight redoubled in rubbing shoulders with the people whose effigies would never appear astride ramping-eared horses in squares built to commemorate victories. He came out on a broad straight avenue, where there were many American officers he had to salute, and M. P.'s and shops with wide plate-glass windows, full of objects that had a shiny, expensive look. "Another case of victories," he thought, as he went off into a side street, taking with him a glimpse of the bluish-grey pile of the Opera, with its pompous windows and its naked bronze ladies holding lamps.
He was in a narrow street full of hotels and fashionable barber shops, from which came an odor of cosmopolitan perfumery, of casinos and ballrooms and diplomatic receptions, when he noticed an American officer coming towards him, reeling a little,—a tall, elderly man with a red face and a bottle nose. He saluted.
The officer stopped still, swaying from side to side, and said in a whining voice:
"Shonny, d'you know where Henry'sh Bar is?"
"No, I don't, Major," said Andrews, who felt himself enveloped in an odor of cocktails.
"You'll help me to find it, shonny, won't you?... It's dreadful not to be able to find it.... I've got to meet Lootenant Trevors in Henry'sh Bar." The major steadied himself by putting a hand on Andrews' shoulder. A civilian passed them.
"Dee-donc," shouted the major after him, "Dee-donc, Monshier, ou ay Henry'sh Bar?"
The man walked on without answering.
"Now isn't that like a frog, not to understand his own language?" said the major.
"But there's Henry's Bar, right across the street," said Andrews suddenly.
"Bon, bon," said the major.
They crossed the street and went in. At the bar the major, still clinging to Andrews' shoulder, whispered in his ear: "I'm A. W. O. L., shee?... Shee?.... Whole damn Air Service is A. W. O. L. Have a drink with me.... You enlisted man? Nobody cares here.... Warsh over, Sonny.... Democracy is shafe for the world."
Andrews was just raising a champagne cocktail to his lips, looking with amusement at the crowd of American officers and civilians who crowded into the small mahogany barroom, when a voice behind him drawled out:
"I'll be damned!"
Andrews turned and saw Henslowe's brown face and small silky mustache. He abandoned his major to his fate.
"God, I'm glad to see you.... I was afraid you hadn't been able to work it."...Said Henslowe slowly, stuttering a little.
"I'm about crazy, Henny, with delight. I just got in a couple of hours ago...." Laughing, interrupting each other, they chattered in broken sentences.
"But how in the name of everything did you get here?"
"With the major?" said Andrews, laughing.
"What the devil?"
"Yes; that major," whispered Andrews in his friend's ear, "rather the worse for wear, asked me to lead him to Henry's Bar and just fed me a cocktail in the memory of Democracy, late defunct.... But what are you doing here? It's not exactly...exotic."
"I came to see a man who was going to tell me how I could get to Rumania with the Red Cross.... But that can wait.... Let's get out of here. God, I was afraid you hadn't made it."
"I had to crawl on my belly and lick people's boots to do it.... God, it was low!... But here I am."
They were out in the street again, walking and gesticulating.
"But 'Libertad, Libertad, allons, ma femme!' as Walt Whitman would have said," shouted Andrews.
"It's one grand and glorious feeling.... I've been here three days. My section's gone home; God bless them."
"But what do you have to do?"
"Do? Nothing," cried Henslowe. "Not a blooming bloody goddam thing! In fact, it's no use trying...the whole thing is such a mess you couldn't do anything if you wanted to."
"I want to go and talk to people at the Schola Cantorum."
"There'll be time for that. You'll never make anything out of music if you get serious-minded about it."
"Then, last but not least, I've got to get some money from somewhere."
"Now you're talking!" Henslowe pulled a burnt leather pocket book out of the inside of his tunic. "Monaco," he said, tapping the pocket book, which was engraved with a pattern of dull red flowers. He pursed up his lips and pulled out some hundred franc notes, which he pushed into Andrews's hand.
"Give me one of them," said Andrews.
"All or none.... They last about five minutes each."
"But it's so damn much to pay back."
"Pay it back—heavens!... Here take it and stop your talking. I probably won't have it again, so you'd better make hay this time. I warn you it'll be spent by the end of the week."
"All right. I'm dead with hunger."
"Let's sit down on the Boulevard and think about where we'll have lunch to celebrate Miss Libertad.... But let's not call her that, sounds like Liverpool, Andy, a horrid place."
"How about Freiheit?" said Andrews, as they sat down in basket chairs in the reddish yellow sunlight.
"Treasonable...off with your head."
"But think of it, man," said Andrews, "the butchery's over, and you and I and everybody else will soon be human beings again. Human; all too human!"
"No more than eighteen wars going," muttered Henslowe.
"I haven't seen any papers for an age.... How do you mean?"
"People are fighting to beat the cats everywhere except on the' western front," said Henslowe. "But that's where I come in. The Red Cross sends supply trains to keep them at it.... I'm going to Russia if I can work it."
"But what about the Sorbonne?"
"The Sorbonne can go to Ballyhack."
"But, Henny, I'm going to croak on your hands if you don't take me somewhere to get some food."
"Do you want a solemn place with red plush or with salmon pink brocade?"
"Why have a solemn place at all?"
"Because solemnity and good food go together. It's only a religious restaurant that has a proper devotion to the belly. O, I know, we'll go over to Brooklyn."
"To the Rive Gauche. I know a man who insists on calling it Brooklyn. Awfully funny man...never been sober in his life. You must meet him."
"Oh, I want to.... It's a dog's age since I met anyone new, except you. I can't live without having a variegated crowd about, can you?"
"You've got that right on this boulevard. Serbs, French, English, Americans, Australians, Rumanians, Tcheco-Slovaks; God, is there any uniform that isn't here?... I tell you, Andy, the war's been a great thing for the people who knew how to take advantage of it. Just look at their puttees."
"I guess they'll know how to make a good thing of the Peace too."
"Oh, that's going to be the best yet.... Come along. Let's be little devils and take a taxi."
"This certainly is the main street of Cosmopolis."
They threaded their way through the crowd, full of uniforms and glitter and bright colors, that moved in two streams up and down the wide sidewalk between the cafes and the boles of the bare trees. They climbed into a taxi, and lurched fast through streets where, in the misty sunlight, grey-green and grey-violet mingled with blues and pale lights as the colors mingle in a pigeon's breast feathers. They passed the leafless gardens of the Tuileries on one side, and the great inner Courts of the Louvre, with their purple mansard roofs and their high chimneys on the other, and saw for a second the river, dull jade green, and the plane trees splotched with brown and cream color along the quais, before they were lost in the narrow brownish-grey streets of the old quarters.
"This is Paris; that was Cosmopolis," said Henslowe.
"I'm not particular, just at present," cried Andrews gaily.
The square in front of the Odeon was a splash of white and the collonade a blur of darkness as the cab swerved round the corner and along the edge of the Luxembourg, where, through the black iron fence, many brown and reddish colors in the intricate patterns of leafless twigs opened here and there on statues and balustrades and vistas of misty distances. The cab stopped with a jerk.
"This is the Place des Medicis," said Henslowe.
At the end of a slanting street looking very flat, through the haze, was the dome of the Pantheon. In the middle of the square between the yellow trams and the green low busses, was a quiet pool, where the shadow of horizontals of the house fronts was reflected.
They sat beside the window looking out at the square.
"Remember how sentimental history books used to talk about prisoners who were let out after years in dungeons, not being able to stand it, and going back to their cells?"
"D'you like sole meuniere?"
"Anything, or rather everything! But take it from me, that's all rubbish. Honestly I don't think I've ever been happier in my life.... D'you know, Henslowe, there's something in you that is afraid to be happy."
"Don't be morbid.... There's only one real evil in the world: being somewhere without being able to get away;... I ordered beer. This is the only place in Paris where it's fit to drink."
"And I'm going to every blooming concert...Colonne-Lamoureux on Sunday, I know that.... The only evil in the world is not to be able to hear music or to make it.... These oysters are fit for Lucullus."
"Why not say fit for John Andrews and Bob Henslowe, damn it?... Why the ghosts of poor old dead Romans should be dragged in every time a man eats an oyster, I don't see. We're as fine specimens as they were. I swear I shan't let any old turned-to- clay Lucullus outlive me, even if I've never eaten a lamprey."
"And why should you eat a lamp—chimney, Bob?" came a hoarse voice beside them.
Andrews looked up into a round, white face with large grey eyes hidden behind thick steel-rimmed spectacles. Except for the eyes, the face had a vaguely Chinese air.
"Hello, Heinz! Mr. Andrews, Mr. Heineman," said Henslowe.
"Glad to meet you," said Heineman in a jovially hoarse voice. "You guys seem to be overeating, to reckon by the way things are piled up on the table." Through the hoarseness Andrews could detect a faint Yankee tang in Heineman's voice.
"You'd better sit down and help us," said Henslowe.
"Sure....D'you know my name for this guy?" He turned to Andrews.... "Sinbad!"
"Sinbad was in bad in Tokio and Rome, In bad in Trinidad And twice as bad at home."
He sang the words loudly, waving a bread stick to keep time.
"Shut up, Heinz, or you'll get us run out of here the way you got us run out of the Olympia that night."
They both laughed.
"An' d'you remember Monsieur Le Guy with his coat?
"Do I? God!" They laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks. Heineman took off his glasses and wiped them. He turned to Andrews.
"Oh, Paris is the best yet. First absurdity: the Peace Conference and its nine hundred and ninety-nine branches. Second absurdity: spies. Third: American officers A.W.O.L. Fourth: The seven sisters sworn to slay." He broke out laughing again, his chunky body rolling about on the chair.
"What are they?"
"Three of them have sworn to slay Sinbad, and four of them have sworn to slay me.... But that's too complicated to tell at lunch time.... Eighth: there are the lady relievers, Sinbad's specialty. Ninth: there's Sinbad...."
"Shut up, Heinz, you're getting me maudlin," spluttered Henslowe.
"O Sinbad was in bad all around,"
chanted Heineman. "But no one's given me anything to drink," he said suddenly in a petulant voice. "Garcon, une bouteille de Macon, pour un Cadet de Gascogne.... What's the next? It ends with vergogne. You've seen the play, haven't you? Greatest play going.... Seen it twice sober and seven other times."
"Cyrano de Bergerac?"
"That's it. Nous sommes les Cadets de Gasgogne, rhymes with ivrogne and sans vergogne.... You see I work in the Red Cross.... You know Sinbad, old Peterson's a brick.... I'm supposed to be taking photographs of tubercular children at this minute.... The noblest of my professions is that of artistic photographer.... Borrowed the photographs from the rickets man. So I have nothing to do for three months and five hundred francs travelling expenses. Oh, children, my only prayer is 'give us this day our red worker's permit' and the Red Cross does the rest." Heineman laughed till the glasses rang on the table. He took off his glasses and wiped them with a rueful air.
"So now I call the Red Cross the Cadets!" cried Heineman, his voice a thin shriek from laughter.
Andrews was drinking his coffee in little sips, looking out of the window at the people that passed. An old woman with a stand of flowers sat on a small cane chair at the corner. The pink and yellow and blue-violet shades of the flowers seemed to intensify the misty straw color and azured grey of the wintry sun and shadow of the streets. A girl in a tight-fitting black dress and black hat stopped at the stand to buy a bunch of pale yellow daisies, and then walked slowly past the window of the restaurant in the direction of the gardens. Her ivory face and slender body and her very dark eyes sent a sudden flush through Andrews's whole frame as he looked at her. The black erect figure disappeared in the gate of the gardens.
Andrews got to his feet suddenly.
"I've got to go," he said in a strange voice.... "I just remember a man was waiting for me at the School Headquarters."
"Let him wait."
"Why, you haven't had a liqueur yet," cried Heineman.
"No...but where can I meet you people later?"
"Cafe de Rohan at five...opposite the Palais Royal."
"You'll never find it."
"Yes I will," said Andrews.
"Palais Royal metro station," they shouted after him as he dashed out of the door.
He hurried into the gardens. Many people sat on benches in the frail sunlight. Children in bright-colored clothes ran about chasing hoops. A woman paraded a bunch of toy balloons in carmine and green and purple, like a huge bunch of parti-colored grapes inverted above her head. Andrews walked up and down the alleys, scanning faces. The girl had disappeared. He leaned against a grey balustrade and looked down into the empty pond where traces of the explosion of a Bertha still subsisted. He was telling himself that he was a fool. That even if he had found her he could not have spoken to her; just because he was free for a day or two from the army he needn't think the age of gold had come back to earth. Smiling at the thought, he walked across the gardens, wandered through some streets of old houses in grey and white stucco with slate mansard roofs and fantastic complications of chimney-pots till he came out in front of a church with a new classic facade of huge columns that seemed toppling by their own weight.
He asked a woman selling newspapers what the church's name was. "Mais, Monsieur, c'est Saint Sulpice," said the woman in a surprised tone.
Saint Sulpice. Manon's songs came to his head, and the sentimental melancholy of eighteenth century Paris with its gambling houses in the Palais Royal where people dishonored themselves in the presence of their stern Catonian fathers, and its billets doux written at little gilt tables, and its coaches lumbering in covered with mud from the provinces through the Porte d'Orleans and the Porte de Versailles; the Paris of Diderot and Voltaire and Jean-Jacques, with its muddy streets and its ordinaries where one ate bisques and larded pullets and souffles; a Paris full of mouldy gilt magnificence, full of pompous ennui of the past and insane hope of the future.
He walked down a narrow, smoky street full of antique shops and old bookshops and came out unexpectedly on the river opposite the statue of Voltaire. The name on the corner was quai Malaquais. Andrews crossed and looked down for a long time at the river. Opposite, behind a lace-work of leafless trees, were the purplish roofs of the Louvre with their high peaks and their ranks and ranks of chimneys; behind him the old houses of the quai and the wing, topped by a balustrade with great grey stone urns of a domed building of which he did not know the name. Barges were coming upstream, the dense green water spuming under their blunt bows, towed by a little black tugboat with its chimney bent back to pass under the bridges. The tug gave a thin shrill whistle. Andrews started walking downstream. He crossed by the bridge at the corner of the Louvre, turned his back on the arch Napoleon built to receive the famous horses from St. Marc's,—a pinkish pastry-like affair—and walked through the Tuileries which were full of people strolling about or sitting in the sun, of doll-like children and nursemaids with elaborate white caps, of fluffy little dogs straining at the ends of leashes. Suddenly a peaceful sleepiness came over him. He sat down in the sun on a bench, watching, hardly seeing them, the people who passed to and fro casting long shadows. Voices and laughter came very softly to his ears above the distant stridency of traffic. From far away he heard for a few moments notes of a military band playing a march. The shadows of the trees were faint blue-grey in the ruddy yellow gravel. Shadows of people kept passing and repassing across them. He felt very languid and happy.
Suddenly he started up; he had been dozing. He asked an old man with a beautifully pointed white beard the way to rue du Faubourg St. Honore.
After losing his way a couple of times, he walked listlessly up some marble steps where a great many men in khaki were talking. Leaning against the doorpost was Walters. As he drew near Andrews heard him saying to the man next to him:
"Why, the Eiffel tower was the first piece of complete girder construction ever built.... That's the first thing a feller who's wide awake ought to see."
"Tell me the Opery's the grandest thing to look at," said the man next it.
"If there's wine an' women there, me for it."
"An' don't forget the song."
"But that isn't interesting like the Eiffel tower is," persisted Walters.
"Say, Walters, I hope you haven't been waiting for me," stammered Andrews.
"No, I've been waiting in line to see the guy about courses.... I want to start this thing right."
"I guess I'll see them tomorrow," said Andrews.
"Say have you done anything about a room, Andy? Let's you and me be bunkies."
"All right.... But maybe you won't want to room where I do, Walters."
"Where's that? In the Latin Quarter?... You bet. I want to see some French life while I am about it."
"Well, it's too late to get a room to-day."
"I'm going to the 'Y' tonight anyway."
"I'll get a fellow I know to put me up.... Then tomorrow, we'll see. Well, so long," said Andrews, moving away.
"Wait. I'm coming with you.... We'll walk around town together."
"All right," said Andrews.
The rabbit was rather formless, very fluffy and had a glance of madness in its pink eye with a black center. It hopped like a sparrow along the pavement, emitting a rubber tube from its back, which went up to a bulb in a man's hand which the man pressed to make the rabbit hop. Yet the rabbit had an air of organic completeness. Andrews laughed inordinately when he first saw it. The vendor, who had a basket full of other such rabbits on his arm, saw Andrews laughing and drew timidly near to the table; he had a pink face with little, sensitive lips rather like a real rabbit's, and large frightened eyes of a wan brown.
"Do you make them yourself?" asked Andrews, smiling.
The man dropped his rabbit on the table with a negligent air.
"Oh, oui, Monsieur, d'apres la nature."
He made the rabbit turn a somersault by suddenly pressing the bulb hard. Andrews laughed and the rabbit man laughed.
"Think of a big strong man making his living that way," said Walters, disgusted.
"I do it all...de matiere premiere au profit de l'accapareur," said the rabbit man.
"Hello, Andy...late as hell.... I'm sorry," said Henslowe, dropping down into a chair beside them. Andrews introduced Walters, the rabbit man took off his hat, bowed to the company and went off, making the rabbit hop before him along the edge of the curbstone.
"What's happened to Heineman?"
"Here he comes now," said Henslowe.
An open cab had driven up to the curb in front of the cafe. In it sat Heineman with a broad grin on his face and beside him a woman in a salmon-colored dress, ermine furs and an emerald-green hat. The cab drove off and Heineman, still grinning, walked up to the table.
"Where's the lion cub?" asked Henslowe.
"They say it's got pneumonia."
"Mr. Heineman. Mr. Walters."
The grin left Heineman's face; he said: "How do you do?" curtly, cast a furious glance at Andrews and settled himself in a chair.
The sun had set. The sky was full of lilac and bright purple and carmine. Among the deep blue shadows lights were coming on, primrose-colored street lamps, violet arc lights, ruddy sheets of light poured out of shop windows.
"Let's go inside. I'm cold as hell," said Heineman crossly, and they filed in through the revolving door, followed by a waiter with their drinks.
"I've been in the Red Cross all afternoon, Andy.... I think I am going to work that Roumania business.... Want to come?" said Henslowe in Andrews' ear.
"If I can get hold of a piano and some lessons and the concerts keep up you won't be able to get me away from Paris with wild horses. No, sir, I want to see what Paris is like.... It's going to my head so it'll be weeks before I know what I think about it."
"Don't think about it.... Drink," growled Heineman, scowling savagely.
"That's two things I'm going to keep away from in Paris; drink and women.... And you can't have one without the other," said Walters.
"True enough.... You sure do need them both," said Heineman.
Andrews was not listening to their talk; twirling the stem of his glass of vermouth in his fingers, he was thinking of the Queen of Sheba slipping down from off the shoulders of her elephant, glistening fantastically with jewels in the light of crackling, resinous torches. Music was seeping up through his mind as the water seeps into a hole dug in the sand of the seashore. He could feel all through his body the tension of rhythms and phrases taking form, not quite to be seized as yet, still hovering on the borderland of consciousness. "From the girl at the cross-roads singing under her street-lamp to the patrician pulling roses to pieces from the height of her litter....All the imaginings of your desire...." He thought of the girl with skin like old ivory he had seen in the Place de Medicis. The Queen of Sheba's face was like that now in his imaginings, quiet and inscrutable. A sudden cymbal-clanging of joy made his heart thump hard. He was free now of the imaginings of his desire, to loll all day at cafe tables watching the tables move in changing patterns before him, to fill his mind and body with a reverberation of all the rhythms of men and women moving in the frieze of life before his eyes; no more like wooden automatons knowing only the motions of the drill manual, but supple and varied, full of force and tragedy.
"For Heaven's sake let's beat it from here.... Gives me a pain this place does." Heineman beat his fist on the table.
"All right," said Andrews, getting up with a yawn.
Henslowe and Andrews walked off, leaving Walters to follow them with Heineman.
"We're going to dine at Le Rat qui Danse," said Henslowe, "an awfully funny place.... We just have time to walk there comfortably with an appetite."
They followed the long dimly-lighted Rue de Richelieu to the Boulevards, where they drifted a little while with the crowd. The glaring lights seemed to powder the air with gold. Cafes and the tables outside were crowded. There was an odor of vermouth and coffee and perfume and cigarette smoke mixed with the fumes of burnt gasoline from taxicabs.
"Isn't this mad?" said Andrews.
"It's always carnival at seven on the Grands Boulevards."
They started climbing the steep streets to Montmartre. At a corner they passed a hard-faced girl with rouge-smeared lips and over- powdered cheeks, laughing on the arm of an American soldier, who had a sallow face and dull-green eyes that glittered in the slanting light of a street-lamp.
"Hello, Stein," said Andrews.
"A fellow from our division, got here with me this morning."
"He's got curious lips for a Jew," said Henslowe.
At the fork of two slanting streets, they went into a restaurant that had small windows pasted over with red paper, through which the light came dimly. Inside were crowded oak tables and oak wainscoting with a shelf round the top, on which were shell-cans, a couple of skulls, several cracked majolica plates and a number of stuffed rats. The only people there were a fat woman and a man with long grey hair and beard who sat talking earnestly over two small glasses in the center of the room. A husky-looking waitress with a Dutch cap and apron hovered near the inner door from which came a great smell of fish frying in olive oil.
"The cook here's from Marseilles," said Henslowe, as they settled themselves at a table for four.
"I wonder if the rest of them lost the way," said Andrews.
"More likely old Heinz stopped to have a drink," said Henslowe. "Let's have some hors d'oeuvre while we are waiting."
The waitress brought a collection of boat-shaped plates of red salads and yellow salads and green salads and two little wooden tubs with herrings and anchovies.
Henslowe stopped her as she was going, saying: "Rien de plus?"
The waitress contemplated the array with a tragic air, her arms folded over her ample bosom. "Que voulez-vous, Monsieur, c'est l'armistice."
"The greatest fake about all this war business is the peace. I tell you, not till the hors d'oeuvre has been restored to its proper abundance and variety will I admit that the war's over."
The waitress tittered.
"Things aren't what they used to be," she said, going back to the kitchen.
Heineman burst into the restaurant at that moment, slamming the door behind him so that the glass rang, and the fat woman and the hairy man started violently in their chairs. He tumbled into a place, grinning broadly.
"And what have you done to Walters?"
Heineman wiped his glasses meticulously.
"Oh, he died of drinking raspberry shrub," he said.... "Dee-dong peteet du ving de Bourgogne," he shouted towards the waitress in his nasal French. Then he added: "Le Guy is coming in a minute, I just met him."
The restaurant was gradually filling up with men and women of very various costumes, with a good sprinkling of Americans in uniform and out.
"God I hate people who don't drink," cried Heineman, pouring out wine. "A man who don't drink just cumbers the earth."
"How are you going to take it in America when they have prohibition?"
"Don't talk about it; here's le Guy. I wouldn't have him know I belong to a nation that prohibits good liquor.... Monsieur le Guy, Monsieur Henslowe et Monsieur Andrews," he continued getting up ceremoniously. A little man with twirled mustaches and a small vandyke beard sat down at the fourth place. He had a faintly red nose and little twinkling eyes.
"How glad I am," he said, exposing his starched cuffs with a curious gesture, "to have some one to dine with! When one begins to get old loneliness is impossible. It is only youth that dares think.... Afterwards one has only one thing to think about: old age."
"There's always work," said Andrews.
"Slavery. Any work is slavery. What is the use of freeing your intellect if you sell yourself again to the first bidder?"
"Rot!" said Heineman, pouring out from a new bottle.
Andrews had begun to notice the girl who sat at the next table, in front of a pale young soldier in French-blue who resembled her extraordinarily. She had high cheek bones and a forehead in which the modelling of the skull showed through the transparent, faintly-olive skin. Her heavy chestnut hair was coiled carelessly at the back of her head. She spoke very quietly, and pressed her lips together when she smiled. She ate quickly and neatly, like a cat.
The restaurant had gradually filled up with people. The waitress and the patron, a fat man with a wide red sash coiled tightly round his waist, moved with difficulty among the crowded tables. A woman at a table in the corner, with dead white skin and drugged staring eyes, kept laughing hoarsely, leaning her head, in a hat with bedraggled white plumes, against the wall. There was a constant jingle of plates and glasses, and an oily fume of food and women's clothes and wine.
"D'you want to know what I really did with your friend?" said Heineman, leaning towards Andrews.
"I hope you didn't push him into the Seine."
"It was damn impolite.... But hell, it was damn impolite of him not to drink.... No use wasting time with a man who don't drink. I took him into a cafe and asked him to wait while I telephoned. I guess he's still waiting. One of the whoreiest cafes on the whole Boulevard Clichy." Heineman laughed uproariously and started ex- plaining it in nasal French to M. le Guy.
Andrews flushed with annoyance for a moment, but soon started laughing. Heineman had started singing again.
"O, Sinbad was in bad in Tokio and Rome, In bad in Trinidad And twice as bad at home, O, Sinbad was in bad all around!"
Everybody clapped. The white-faced woman in the corner cried "Bravo, Bravo," in a shrill nightmare voice.
Heineman bowed, his big grinning face bobbing up and down like the face of a Chinese figure in porcelain.
"Lui est Sinbad," he cried, pointing with a wide gesture towards Henslowe.
"Give 'em some more, Heinz. Give them some more," said Henslowe, laughing.
"Big brunettes with long stelets On the shores of Italee, Dutch girls with golden curls Beside the Zuyder Zee..."
Everybody cheered again; Andrews kept looking at the girl at the next table, whose face was red from laughter. She had a handkerchief pressed to her mouth, and kept saying in a low voice:
"O qu'il est drole, celui-la.... O qu'il est drole."
Heineman picked up a glass and waved it in the air before drinking it off. Several people got up and filled it up from their bottles with white wine and red. The French soldier at the next table pulled an army canteen from under his chair and hung it round Heineman's neck.
Heineman, his face crimson, bowed to all sides, more like a Chinese porcelain figure than ever, and started singing in all solemnity this time.
"Hulas and hulas would pucker up their lips, He fell for their ball-bearing hips For they were pips ..."
His chunky body swayed to the ragtime. The woman in the corner kept time with long white arms raised above her head.
"Bet she's a snake charmer," said Henslowe.
"O, wild woman loved that child He would drive ten women wild! O, Sinbad was in bad all around!"
Heineman waved his arms, pointed again to Henslowe, and sank into his chair saying in the tones of a Shakespearean actor:
"C'est lui Sinbad."
The girl hid her face on the tablecloth, shaken with laughter. Andrews could hear a convulsed little voice saying:
"O qu'il est rigolo...."
Heineman took off the canteen and handed it back to the French soldier.
"Merci, Camarade," he said solemnly.
"Eh bien, Jeanne, c'est temps de ficher le camp," said the French soldier to the girl. They got up. He shook hands with the Americans. Andrews caught the girl's eye and they both started laughing convulsively again. Andrews noticed how erect and supple she walked as his eyes followed her to the door.
Andrews's party followed soon after.
"We've got to hurry if we want to get to the Lapin Agile before closing...and I've got to have a drink," said Heineman, still talking in his stagey Shakespearean voice.
"Have you ever been on the stage?" asked Andrews.
"What stage, sir? I'm in the last stages now, sir.... I am an artistic photographer and none other.... Moki and I are going into the movies together when they decide to have peace."
"Moki Hadj is the lady in the salmon-colored dress," said Henslowe, in a loud stage whisper in Andrews's ear. "They have a lion cub named Bubu."
"Our first born," said Heineman with a wave of the hand.
The streets were deserted. A thin ray of moonlight, bursting now and then through the heavy clouds, lit up low houses and roughly- cobbled streets and the flights of steps with rare dim lamps bracketed in house walls that led up to the Butte.
There was a gendarme in front of the door of the Lapin Agile. The street was still full of groups that had just come out, American officers and Y.M.C.A, women with a sprinkling of the inhabitants of the region.
"Now look, we're late," groaned Heineman in a tearful voice.
"Never mind, Heinz," said Henslowe, "le Guy'll take us to see de Clocheville like he did last time, n'est pas, le Guy?" Then Andrews heard him add, talking to a man he had not seen before, "Come along Aubrey, I'll introduce you later."
They climbed further up the hill. There was a scent of wet gardens in the air, entirely silent except for the clatter of their feet on the cobbles. Heineman was dancing a sort of a jig at the head of the procession. They stopped before a tall cadaverous house and started climbing a rickety wooden stairway.
"Talk about inside dope.... I got this from a man who's actually in the room when the Peace Conference meets." Andrews heard Aubrey's voice with a Chicago burr in the r's behind him in the stairs.
"Fine, let's hear it," said Henslowe.
"Did you say the Peace Conference took dope?" shouted Heineman, whose puffing could be heard as he climbed the dark stairs ahead of them.
"Shut up, Heinz."
They stumbled over a raised doorstep into a large garret room with a tile floor, where a tall lean man in a monastic-looking dressing gown of some brown material received them. The only candle made all their shadows dance fantastically on the slanting white walls as they moved about. One side of the room had three big windows, with an occasional cracked pane mended with newspaper, stretching from floor to ceiling. In front of them were two couches with rugs piled on them. On the opposite wall was a confused mass of canvases piled one against the other, leaning helter skelter against the slanting wall of the room.
"C'est le bon vin, le bon vin, C'est la chanson du vin,"
chanted Heineman. Everybody settled themselves on couches. The lanky man in the brown dressing gown brought a table out of the shadow, put some black bottles and heavy glasses on it, and drew up a camp stool for himself.
"He lives that way.... They say he never goes out. Stays here and paints, and when friends come in, he feeds them wine and charges them double," said Henslowe. "That's how he lives."
The lanky man began taking bits of candle out of a drawer of the table and lighting them. Andrews saw that his feet and legs were bare below the frayed edge of the dressing gown. The candle light lit up the men's flushed faces and the crude banana yellows and arsenic greens of the canvases along the walls, against which jars full of paint brushes cast blurred shadows.
"I was going to tell you, Henny," said Aubrey, "the dope is that the President's going to leave the conference, going to call them all damn blackguards to their faces and walk out, with the band playing the 'Internationale.'"
"God, that's news," cried Andrews.
"If he does that he'll recognize the Soviets," said Henslowe. "Me for the first Red Cross Mission that goes to save starving Russia.... Gee, that's great. I'll write you a postal from Moscow, Andy, if they haven't been abolished as delusions of the bourgeoisie."
"Hell, no.... I've got five hundred dollars' worth of Russian bonds that girl Vera gave me.... But worth five million, ten million, fifty million if the Czar gets back.... I'm backing the little white father," cried Heineman. "Anyway Moki says he's alive; that Savaroffs got him locked up in a suite in the Ritz.... And Moki knows."
"Moki knows a damn lot, I'll admit that," said Henslowe.
"But just think of it," said Aubrey, "that means world revolution with the United States at the head of it. What do you think of that?"
"Moki doesn't think so," said Heineman. "And Moki knows."
"She just knows what a lot of reactionary warlords tell her," said Aubrey. "This man I was talking with at the Crillon—I wish I could tell you his name—heard it directly from...Well, you know who." He turned to Henslowe, who smiled knowingly. "There's a mission in Russia at this minute making peace with Lenin."
"A goddam outrage!" cried Heineman, knocking a bottle off the table. The lanky man picked up the pieces patiently, without comment.
"The new era is opening, men, I swear it is..." began Aubrey. "The old order is dissolving. It is going down under a weight of misery and crime.... This will be the first great gesture towards a newer and better world. There is no alternative. The chance will never come back. It is either for us to step courageously forward, or sink into unbelievable horrors of anarchy and civil war.... Peace or the dark ages again."
Andrews had felt for some time an uncontrollable sleepiness coming over him. He rolled himself on a rug and stretched out on the empty couch. The voices arguing, wrangling, enunciating emphatic phrases, dinned for a minute in his ears. He went to sleep.
When Andrews woke up he found himself staring at the cracked plaster of an unfamiliar ceiling. For some moments he could not guess where he was. Henslowe was sleeping, wrapped in another rug, on the couch beside him. Except for Henslowe's breathing, there was complete silence. Floods of silvery-grey light poured in through the wide windows, behind which Andrews could see a sky full of bright dove-colored clouds. He sat up carefully. Some time in the night he must have taken off his tunic and boots and puttees, which were on the floor beside the couch. The tables with the bottles had gone and the lanky man was nowhere to be seen.
Andrews went to the window in his stockinged feet. Paris way a slate-grey and dove-color lay spread out like a Turkish carpet, with a silvery band of mist where the river was, out of which the Eiffel Tower stood up like a man wading. Here and there blue smoke and brown spiralled up to lose itself in the faint canopy of brown fog that hung high above the houses. Andrews stood a long while leaning against the window frame, until he heard Henslowe's voice behind him:
"Depuis le jour ou je me suis donnee."
"You look like 'Louise.'"
Andrews turned round.
Henslowe was sitting on the edge of the bed with his hair in disorder, combing his little silky mustache with a pocket comb.
"Gee, I have a head," he said. "My tongue feels like a nutmeg grater.... Doesn't yours?"
"No. I feel like a fighting cock."
"What do you say we go down to the Seine and have a bath in Benny Franklin's bathtub?"
"Where's that? It sounds grand."
"Then we'll have the biggest breakfast ever."
"That's the right spirit.... Where's everybody gone to?"
"Old Heinz has gone to his Moki, I guess, and Aubrey's gone to collect more dope at the Crillon. He says four in the morning when the drunks come home is the prime time for a newspaper man."
"And the Monkish man?"
The streets were full of men and girls hurrying to work. Everything sparkled, had an air of being just scrubbed. They passed bakeries from which came a rich smell of fresh-baked bread. From cafes came whiffs of roasting coffee. They crossed through the markets that were full of heavy carts lumbering to and fro, and women with net bags full of vegetables. There was a pungent scent of crushed cabbage leaves and carrots and wet clay. The mist was raw and biting along the quais, and made the blood come into their cheeks and their hands stiff with cold.
The bathhouse was a huge barge with a house built on it in a lozenge shape. They crossed to it by a little gangplank on which were a few geraniums in pots. The attendant gave them two rooms side by side on the lower deck, painted grey, with steamed over windows, through which Andrews caught glimpses of hurrying green water. He stripped his clothes off quickly. The tub was of copper varnished with some white metal inside. The water flowed in through two copper swans' necks. When Andrews stepped into the hot green water, a little window in the partition flew open and Henslowe shouted in to him:
"Talk about modern conveniences. You can converse while you bathe!"
Andrews scrubbed himself jauntily with a square piece of pink soap, splashing the water about like a small boy. He stood up and lathered himself all over and then let himself slide into the water, which splashed out over the floor.
"Do you think you're a performing seal?" shouted Henslowe.
"It's all so preposterous," cried Andrews, going off into convulsions of laughter. "She has a lion cub named Bubu and Nicolas Romanoff lives in the Ritz, and the Revolution is scheduled for day after tomorrow at twelve noon."
"I'd put it about the first of May," answered Henslowe, amid a sound of splashing. "Gee, it'd be great to be a people's Commissary.... You could go and revolute the grand Llama of Thibet."
"O, it's too deliciously preposterous," cried Andrews, letting himself slide a second time into the bathtub.
Two M.P.'s passed outside the window. Andrews watched the yellow pigskin revolver cases until they were out of sight. He felt joyfully secure from them. The waiter, standing by the door with a napkin on his arm, gave him a sense of security so intense it made him laugh. On the marble table before him were a small glass of beer, a notebook full of ruled sheets of paper and a couple of yellow pencils. The beer, the color of topaz in the clear grey light that streamed in through the window, threw a pale yellow glow with a bright center on the table. Outside was the boulevard with a few people walking hurriedly. An empty market wagon passed now and then, rumbling loud. On a bench a woman in a black knitted shawl, with a bundle of newspapers in her knees, was counting sous with loving concentration.
Andrews looked at his watch. He had an hour before going to the Schola Cantorum.
He got to his feet, paid the waiter and strolled down the center of the boulevard, thinking smilingly of pages he had written, of pages he was going to write, filled with a sense of leisurely well-being. It was a grey morning with a little yellowish fog in the air. The pavements were damp, reflected women's dresses and men's legs and the angular outlines of taxicabs. From a flower stand with violets and red and pink carnations irregular blotches of color ran down into the brownish grey of the pavement. Andrews caught a faint smell of violets in the smell of the fog as he passed the flower stand and remembered suddenly that spring was coming. He would not miss a moment of this spring, he told himself; he would follow it step by step, from the first violets. Oh, how fully he must live now to make up for all the years he had wasted in his life.
He kept on walking along the boulevard. He was remembering how he and the girl the soldier had called Jeanne had both kindled with uncontrollable laughter when their eyes had met that night in the restaurant. He wished he could go down the boulevard with a girl like that, laughing through the foggy morning.
He wondered vaguely what part of Paris he was getting to, but was too happy to care. How beautifully long the hours were in the early morning!
At a concert at the Salle Gaveau the day before he had heard Debussy's Nocturnes and Les Sirenes. Rhythms from them were the warp of all his thoughts. Against the background of the grey street and the brownish fog that hung a veil at the end of every vista he began to imagine rhythms of his own, modulations and phrases that grew brilliant and faded, that flapped for a while like gaudy banners above his head through the clatter of the street.
He noticed that he was passing a long building with blank rows of windows, at the central door of which stood groups of American soldiers smoking. Unconsciously he hastened his steps, for fear of meeting an officer he would have to salute. He passed the men without looking at them.
A voice detained him. "Say, Andrews."
When he turned he saw that a short man with curly hair, whose face, though familiar, he could not place, had left the group at the door and was coming towards him. "Hello, Andrews.... Your name's Andrews, ain't it?"
"Yes." Andrews shook his hand, trying to remember.
"I'm Fuselli.... Remember? Last time I saw you you was goin' up to the lines on a train with Chrisfield.... Chris we used to call him.... At Cosne, don't you remember?"
"Of course I do."
"Well, what's happened to Chris?"
"He's a corporal now," said Andrews.
"Gee he is.... I'll be goddamned.... They was goin' to make me a corporal once."
Fuselli wore stained olive-drab breeches and badly rolled puttees; his shirt was open at the neck. From his blue denim jacket came a smell of stale grease that Andrews recognised; the smell of army kitchens. He had a momentary recollection of standing in line cold dark mornings and of the sound the food made slopping into mess kits.
"Why didn't they make you a corporal, Fuselli?" Andrcws said, after a pause, in a constrained voice.
"Hell, I got in wrong, I suppose."
They were leaning against the dusty house wall. Andrews looked at his feet. The mud of the pavement, splashing up on the wall, made an even dado along the bottom, on which Andrews scraped the toe of his shoe up and down.
"Well, how's everything?" Andrews asked looking up suddenly.
"I've been in a labor battalion. That's how everything is."
"God, that's tough luck!"
Andrews wanted to go on. He had a sudden fear that he would be late. But he did not know how to break away.
"I got sick," said Fuselli grinning. "I guess I am yet, G. O. 42. It's a hell of a note the way they treat a feller...like he was lower than the dirt."
"Were you at Cosne all the time? That's damned rough luck, Fuselli."
"Cosne sure is a hell of a hole.... I guess you saw a lot of fighting. God! you must have been glad not to be in the goddam medics."
"I don't know that I'm glad I saw fighting.... Oh, yes, I suppose I am."
"You see, I had it a hell of a time before they found out. Court- martial was damn stiff...after the armistice too.... Oh, God! why can't they let a feller go home?"
A woman in a bright blue hat passed them. Andrews caught a glimpse of a white over-powdered face; her hips trembled like jelly under the blue skirt with each hard clack of her high heels on the pavement.
"Gee, that looks like Jenny.... I'm glad she didn't see me...." Fuselli laughed. "Ought to 'a seen her one night last week. We were so dead drunk we just couldn't move."
"Isn't that bad for what's the matter with you?"
"I don't give a damn now; what's the use?"
"But God; man!" Andrews stopped himself suddenly. Then he said in a different voice, "What outfit are you in now?"
"I'm on the permanent K.P. here," Fuselli jerked his thumb towards the door of the building. "Not a bad job, off two days a week; no drill, good eats.... At least you get all you want.... But it surely has been hell emptying ash cans and shovelling coal an' now all they've done is dry me up."
"But you'll be goin' home soon now, won't you? They can't discharge you till they cure you."
"Damned if I know.... Some guys say a guy never can be cured...."
"Don't you find K.P. work pretty damn dull?"
"No worse than anything else. What are you doin" in Paris?"
"Men who wanted to study in the university, who managed to work it."
"Gee, I'm glad I ain't goin' to school again."
"Well, so long, Fuselli."
"So long, Andrews."
Fuselli turned and slouched back to the group of men at the door. Andrews hurried away. As he turned the corner he had a glimpse of Fuselli with his hands in his pockets and his legs crossed leaning against the wall behind the door of the barracks.
The darkness, where the rain fell through the vague halos of light round the street lamps, glittered with streaks of pale gold. Andrews's ears were full of the sound of racing gutters and spattering waterspouts, and of the hard unceasing beat of the rain on the pavements. It was after closing time. The corrugated shutters were drawn down, in front of cafe windows. Andrews's cap was wet; water trickled down his forehead and the sides of his nose, running into his eyes. His feet were soaked and he could feel the wet patches growing on his knees where they received the water running off his overcoat. The street stretched wide and dark ahead of him, with an occasional glimmer of greenish reflection from a lamp. As he walked, splashing with long strides through the rain, he noticed that he was keeping pace with a woman under an umbrella, a slender person who was hurrying with small resolute steps up the boulevard. When he saw her, a mad hope flamed suddenly through him. He remembered a vulgar little theatre and the crude light of a spot light. Through the paint and powder a girl's golden-brown skin had shone with a firm brilliance that made him think of wide sun-scorched uplands, and dancing figures on Greek vases. Since he had seen her two nights ago, he had thought of nothing else. He had feverishly found out her name. "Naya Selikoff!" A mad hope flared through him that this girl he was walking beside was the girl whose slender limbs moved in an endless frieze through his thoughts. He peered at her with eyes blurred with rain. What an ass he was! Of course it couldn't be; it was too early. She was on the stage at this minute. Other hungry eyes were staring at her slenderness, other hands were twitching to stroke her golden-brown skin. Walking under the steady downpour that stung his face and ears and sent a tiny cold trickle down his back, he felt a sudden dizziness of desire come over him. His hands, thrust to the bottom of his coat pockets, clutched convulsively. He felt that he would die, that his pounding blood vessels would burst. The bead curtains of rain rustled and tinkled about him, awakening his nerves, making his skin flash and tingle. In the gurgle of water in gutters and water spouts he could imagine he heard orchestras droning libidinous music. The feverish excitement of his senses began to create frenzied rhythms in his ears:
"O ce pauvre poilu! Qu'il doit etre mouille" said a small tremulous voice beside him.
The girl was offering him part of her umbrella.
"O c'est un Americain!" she said again, still speaking as if to herself.
"Mais ca ne vaut pas la peine."
"Mais oui, mais oui."
He stepped under the umbrella beside her.
"But you must let me hold it."
As he took the umbrella he caught her eye. He stopped still in his tracks.
"But you're the girl at the Rat qui Danse."
"And you were at the next table with the man who sang?"
"Et celui-la! O il etait rigolo...." She burst out laughing; her head, encased in a little round black hat, bobbed up and down under the umbrella. Andrews laughed too. Crossing the Boulevard St. Germain, a taxi nearly ran them down and splashed a great wave of mud over them. She clutched his arm and then stood roaring with laughter.
"O quelle horreur! Quelle horreur!" she kept exclaiming.
Andrews laughed and laughed.
"But hold the umbrella over us.... You're letting the rain in on my best hat," she said again.
"Your name is Jeanne," said Andrews.
"Impertinent! You heard my brother call me that.... He went back to the front that night, poor little chap.... He's only nineteen ...he's very clever.... O, how happy I am now that the war's over."
"You are older than he?"
"Two years.... I am the head of the family.... It is a dignified position."
"Have you always lived in Paris?"
"No, we are from Laon.... It's the war."
"Don't call us that.... We work."
"Are you going far?" she asked peering in his face.
"No, I live up here.... My name is the same as yours."
"Jean? How funny!"
"Where are you going?"
"Rue Descartes.... Behind St. Etienne."
"I live near you."
"But you mustn't come. The concierge is a tigress.... Etienne calls her Mme. Clemenceau."
"Who? The saint?"
"No, you silly—my brother. He is a socialist. He's a typesetter at l'Humanite."
"Really? I often read l'Humanite."
"Poor boy, he used to swear he'd never go in the army. He thought of going to America."
"That wouldn't do him any good now," said Andrews bitterly. "What do you do?"
"I?" a gruff bitterness came into her voice. "Why should I tell you? I work at a dressmaker's."
"You've heard Louise? Oh, how I cried."
"Why did it make you sad?"
"Oh, I don't know.... But I'm learning stenography.... But here we are!"
The great bulk of the Pantheon stood up dimly through the rain beside them. In front the tower of St. Etienne-du-Mont was just visible. The rain roared about them.
"Oh, how wet I am!" said Jeanne.
"Look, they are giving Louise day after tomorrow at the Opera Comique.... Won't you come; with me?"
"No, I should cry too much."
"I'll cry too."
"But it's not..."
"Cest l'armistice," interrupted Andrews.
They both laughed!
"All right! Meet me at the cafe at the end of the Boul' Mich' at a quarter past seven.... But you probably won't come."
"I swear I will," cried Andrews eagerly.
"We'll see!" She darted away down the street beside St. Etienne- du-Mont. Andrews was left alone amid the seethe of the rain and the tumultuous gurgle of water-spouts. He felt calm and tired.
When he got to his room, he found he had no matches in his pocket. No light came from the window through which he could hear the hissing clamor of the rain in the court. He stumbled over a chair.
"Are you drunk?" came Walters's voice swathed in bedclothes. "There are matches on the table."
"But where the hell's the table?"
At last his hand, groping over the table, closed on the matchbox.
The match's red and white flicker dazzled him. He blinked his eyes; the lashes were still full of raindrops. When he had lit a candle and set it amongst the music papers upon the table, he tore off his dripping clothes.
"I just met the most charming girl, Walters," Andrews stood naked beside the pile of his clothes, rubbing himself with a towel. "Gee! I was wet.... But she was the most charming person I've met since I've been in Paris."
"I thought you said you let the girls alone."
"Whores, I must have said."
"Well! Any girl you could pick up on the street...."
"I guess they are all that way in this damned country.... God, it will do me good to see a nice sweet wholesome American girl."
Andrews did not answer. He blew out the light and got into bed.
"But I've got a new job," Walters went on. "I'm working in the school detachment office."
"Why the hell do that? You came here to take courses in the Sorbonne, didn't you?"
"Sure. I go to most of them now. But in this army I like to be in the middle of things, see? Just so they can't put anything over on me."
"There's something in that."
"There's a damn lot in it, boy. The only way is to keep in right and not let the man higher up forget you.... Why, we may start fighting again. These damn Germans ain't showin' the right spirit at all...after all the President's done for them. I expect to get my sergeantcy out of it anyway."
"Well, I'm going to sleep," said Andrews sulkily.
John Andrews sat at a table outside the cafe de Rohan. The sun had just set on a ruddy afternoon, flooding everything with violet- blue light and cold greenish shadow. The sky was bright lilac color, streaked with a few amber clouds. The lights were on in all the windows of the Magazin du Louvre opposite, so that the windows seemed bits of polished glass in the afterglow. In the colonnade of the Palais Royal the shadows were deepening and growing colder. A steady stream of people poured in and out of the Metro. Green buses stuffed with people kept passing. The roar of the traffic and the clatter of footsteps and the grumble of voices swirled like dance music about Andrews's head. He noticed all at once that the rabbit man stood in front of him, a rabbit dangling forgotten at the end of its rubber tube.
"Et ca va bien? le commerce," said Andrews.
"Quietly, quietly," said the rabbit man, distractedly making the rabbit turn a somersault at his feet. Andrews watched the people going into the Metro.
"The gentleman amuses himself in Paris?" asked the rabbit man timidly.
"Oh, yes; and you?"
"Quietly," the rabbit man smiled. "Women are very beautiful at this hour of the evening," he said again in his very timid tone.
"There is nothing more beautiful than this moment of the evening...in Paris."
"Or Parisian women." The eyes of the rabbit man glittered. "Excuse me, sir," he went on. "I must try and sell some rabbits."
"Au revoir," said Andrews holding out his hand.
The rabbit man shook it with sudden vigor and went off, making a rabbit hop before him along the curbstone. He was hidden by the swiftly moving crowds.
In the square, flaring violet arclights were flickering on, lighting up their net-covered globes that hung like harsh moons above the pavement.
Henslowe sat down on a chair beside Andrews.
"Sinbad, old boy, is functioning.... Aren't yon frozen?"
"How do you mean, Henslowe?"
"Overheated, you chump, sitting out here in polar weather."
"No, but I mean.... How are you functioning?" said Andrews laughing.
"I'm going to Poland tomorrow."
"As guard on a Red Cross supply train. I think you might make it if you want to come, if we beat it right over to the Red Cross before Major Smithers goes. Or we might take him out to dinner."
"But, Henny, I'm staying."
"Why the hell stay in this hole?"
"I like it. I'm getting a better course in orchestration than I imagined existed, and I met a girl the other day, and I'm crazy over Paris."
"If you go and get entangled, I swear I'll beat your head in with a Polish shillaughly.... Of course you've met a girl—so have I— lots. We can meet some more in Poland and dance polonaises with them."
"No, but this girl's charming.... You've seen her. She's the girl who was with the poilu at the Rat qui Danse the first night I was in Paris. We went to Louise together."
"Must have been a grand sentimental party.... I swear.... I may run after a Jane now and again but I never let them interfere with the business of existence," muttered Henslowe crossly.
They were both silent.
"You'll be as bad as Heinz with his Moki and the lion cub named Bubu.... By the way, it's dead.... Well, where shall we have dinner?"
"I'm dining with Jeanne.... I'm going to meet her in half an hour.... I'm awfully sorry, Henny. We might all dine together."
"A fat chance! No, I'll have to go and find that ass Aubrey, and hear all about the Peace Conference.... Heinz can't leave Moki because she's having hysterics on account of Bubu. I'll probably be driven to going to see Berthe in the end.... You're a nice one."
"We'll have a grand seeing-off party for you tomorrow, Henny."
"Look! I forgot! You're to meet Aubrey at the Crillon at five tomorrow, and he's going to take you to see Genevieve Rod?"
"Who the hell's Genevieve Rod?"
"Darned if I know. But Aubrey said you'd got to come. She is an intellectual, so Aubrey says."
"That's the last thing I want to meet."
"Well, you can't help yourself. So long!"
Andrews sat a while more at the table outside the cafe. A cold wind was blowing. The sky was blue-black and the ashen white arc lamps cast a mortuary light over everything. In the Colonnade of the Palais Royal the shadows were harsh and inky. In the square the people were gradually thinning. The lights in the Magazin du Louvre had gone out. From the cafe behind him, a faint smell of fresh-cooked food began to saturate the cold air of the street.
Then he saw Jeanne advancing across the ash-grey pavement of the square, slim and black under the arc lights. He ran to meet her.
The cylindrical stove in the middle of the floor roared softly. In front of it the white cat was rolled into a fluffy ball in which ears and nose made tiny splashes of pink like those at the tips of the petals of certain white roses. One side of the stove at the table against the window, sat an old brown man with a bright red stain on each cheek bone, who wore formless corduroy clothes, the color of his skin. Holding the small spoon in a knotted hand he was stirring slowly and continuously a liquid that was yellow and steamed in a glass. Behind him was the window with sleet beating against it in the leaden light of a wintry afternoon. The other side of the stove was a zinc bar with yellow bottles and green bottles and a water spigot with a neck like a giraffe's that rose out of the bar beside a varnished wood pillar that made the decoration of the corner, with a terra cotta pot of ferns on top of it. From where Andrews sat on the padded bench at the back of the room the fern fronds made a black lacework against the left- hand side of the window, while against the other was the brown silhouette of the old man's head, and the slant of his cap. The stove hid the door and the white cat, round and symmetrical, formed the center of the visible universe. On the marble table beside Andrews were some pieces of crisp bread with butter on them, a saucer of damson jam and a bowl with coffee and hot milk from which the steam rose in a faint spiral. His tunic was unbuttoned and he rested his head on his two hands, staring through his fingers at a thick pile of ruled paper full of hastily drawn signs, some in ink and some in pencil, where now and then he made a mark with a pencil. At the other edge of the pile of papers were two books, one yellow and one white with coffee stains on it.
The fire roared and the cat slept and the old brown man stirred and stirred, rarely stopping for a moment to lift the glass to his lips. Occasionally the scratching of sleet upon the windows became audible, or there was a distant sound of dish pans through the door in the back.
The sallow-faced clock that hung above the mirror that backed the bar, jerked out one jingly strike, a half hour. Andrews did not look up. The cat still slept in front of the stove which roared with a gentle singsong. The old brown man still stirred the yellow liquid in his glass. The clock was ticking uphill towards the hour.
Andrews's hands were cold. There was a nervous flutter in his wrists and in his chest. Inside of him was a great rift of light, infinitely vast and infinitely distant. Through it sounds poured from somewhere, so that he trembled with them to his finger tips, sounds modulated into rhythms that washed back and forth and crossed each other like sea waves in a cove, sounds clotted into harmonies.
Behind everything the Queen of Sheba, out of Flaubert, held her fantastic hand with its long, gilded finger nails on his shoulder; and he was leaning forward over the brink of life. But the image was vague, like a shadow cast on the brilliance of his mind.
The clock struck four.
The white fluffy ball of the cat unrolled very slowly. Its eyes were very round and yellow. It put first one leg and then the other out before it on the tiled floor, spreading wide the pinkey- grey claws. Its tail rose up behind it straight as the mast of a ship. With slow processional steps the cat walked towards the door.
The old brown man drank down the yellow liquid and smacked his lips twice, loudly, meditatively.
Andrews raised his head, his blue eyes looking straight before him without seeing anything. Dropping the pencil, he leaned back against the wall and stretched his arms out. Taking the coffee bowl between his two hands, he drank s little. It was cold. He piled some jam on a piece of bread and ate it, licking a little off his fingers afterwards. Then he looked towards the old brown man and said:
"On est bien ici, n'est ce pas, Monsieur Morue?"
"Oui, on est bien ici," said the old brown man in a voice so gruff it seemed to rattle. Very slowly he got to his feet.
"Good. I am going to the barge," he said. Then he called, "Chipette!"
A little girl in a black apron with her hair in two tight pigtails that stood out behind her tiny bullet head as she ran, came through the door from the back part of the house.
"There, give that to your mother," said the old brown man, putting some coppers in her hand.
"You'd better stay here where it's warm," said Andrews yawning.
"I have to work. It's only soldiers don't have to work," rattled the old brown man.
When the door opened a gust of raw air circled about the wine shop, and a roar of wind and hiss of sleet came from the slush- covered quai outside. The cat took refuge beside the stove, with its back up and its tail waving. The door closed and the old brown man's silhouette, slanted against the wind, crossed the grey oblong of the window.
Andrews settled down to work again.
"But you work a lot a lot, don't you; M'sieu Jean?" said Chipette, putting her chin on the table beside the books and looking up into his eyes with little eyes like black beads.
"I wonder if I do."
"When I'm grown up I shan't work a bit. I'll drive round in a carriage."
Andrews laughed. Chipette looked at him for a minute and then went into the other room carrying away the empty coffee bowl.
In front of the stove the cat sat on its haunches, licking a paw rhythmically with a pink curling tongue like a rose petal.
Andrews whistled a few bars, staring at the cat.
"What d'you think of that, Minet? That's la reine de Saba...la reine de Saba."
The cat curled into a ball again with great deliberation and went to sleep.
Andrews began thinking of Jeanne and the thought gave him a sense of quiet well-being. Strolling with her in the evening through the streets full of men and women walking significantly together sent a languid calm through his jangling nerves which he had never known in his life before. It excited him to be with her, but very suavely, so that he forgot that his limbs were swathed stiffly in an uncomfortable uniform, so that his feverish desire seemed to fly out of him until with her body beside him, he seemed to drift effortlessly in the stream of the lives of all the people he passed, so languid, from the quiet loves that streamed up about him that the hard walls of his personality seemed to have melted entirely into the mistiness of twilight streets. And for a moment as he thought of it a scent of flowers, heavy with pollen, and sprouting grass and damp moss and swelling sap, seemed to tingle in his nostrils. Sometimes, swimming in the ocean on a rough day, he had felt that same reckless exhilaration when, towards the shore, a huge seething wave had caught him up and sped him forward on its crest. Sitting quietly in the empty wine shop that grey afternoon, he felt his blood grumble and swell in his veins as the new life was grumbling and swelling in the sticky buds of the trees, in the tender green quick under their rough bark, in the little furry animals of the woods and in the sweet-smelling cattle that tramped into mud the lush meadows. In the premonition of spring was a resistless wave of force that carried him and all of them with it tumultuously.
The clock struck five.
Andrews jumped to his feet and still struggling into his overcoat darted out of the door.
A raw wind blew on the square. The river was a muddy grey-green, swollen and rapid. A hoarse triumphant roaring came from it. The sleet had stopped; but the pavements were covered with slush and in the gutters were large puddles which the wind ruffled. Everything,—houses, bridges, river and sky,—was in shades of cold grey-green, broken by one jagged ochre-colored rift across the sky against which the bulk of Notre Dame and the slender spire of the crossing rose dark and purplish. Andrews walked with long strides, splashing through the puddles, until, opposite the low building of the Morgue, he caught a crowded green bus.
Outside the Hotel Crillon were many limousines, painted olive- drab, with numbers in white letters on the doors; the drivers, men with their olive-drab coat collars turned up round their red faces, stood in groups under the portico. Andrews passed the sentry and went through the revolving doors into the lobby, which was vividly familiar. It had the smell he remembered having smelt in the lobbies of New York hotels,—a smell of cigar smoke and furniture polish. On one side a door led to a big dining room where many men and women were having tea, from which came a smell of pastry and rich food. On the expanse of red carpet in front of him officers and civilians stood in groups talking in low voices. There was a sound of jingling spurs and jingling dishes from the restaurant, and near where Andrews stood shifting his weight from one foot to the other, sprawled in a leather chair a fat man with a black felt hat over his eyes and a large watch chain dangling limply over his bulbous paunch. He cleared his throat occasionally with a rasping noise and spat loudly into the spittoon beside him.
At last Andrews caught sight of Aubrey, who was dapper with white cheeks and tortoise shell glasses.
"Come along," he said, seizing Andrews by the arm.
"You are late." Then, he went on, whispering in Andrews's ear as they went out through the revolving doors: "Great things happened in the Conference today.... I can tell you that, old man."