페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

not be bothered to take its seek life, she invites it to come cat along, but leaves it to be- to her. She doesn't need leisure come a houseless vagrant. Yet for amusement, since the amuseI wonder what Madame Ro- ment invades her working chelle herself would do in a hours ; she doesn't require to similar case. She is our street read, for the whole feminine wit and philosopher. In her street is her book. little dark shop, omnivendous, It was Madame Rochelle who gathers the court of women, gave us the kitten which bewhere moral dicta are delivered came Foot-foot. She is a disupon the goings-on of Suzanne penser of kittens. Ten to one or of Mimi la blonde.

you will not be three minutes "We sit here, monsieur,” in her little crowded shop besaid one of the frowziest of her fore you feel some claw'd and customers to me, “and we scrambling thing making its talk of love."

way up your trouser leg. Foot“With hate," commented foot was a long-nosed, ugly Madame Rochelle.

kitten, which has grown into Such trust Madame Rochelle a handsome animal, with a shows in humanity's honesty. queer gift of conversation, comShe spreads her things upon a municating vocally desires and stage-work in the street before disappointments, protests and her shop; she leaves her shop satisfactions with uncanny effecdoor open and claps a notice tiveness. It was Madame Roin her window, Call in the chelle who sent us to the furrier courtyard for Madame Ro- upon feline business. chelle.” Then she dives down into the cellar, where she de- The usual thing had hapcants wine. You could walk pened. A family had gone into her shop and could go off away deserting its cat to the with half its contents; you haphazard fortune of the roofs could take away her choicest and of what shelter it might pears or a full basket of mus- beg. It was a confiding cat, catel grapes from her étalage though ugly, and as you came without fear of detection or of through the courtyard it molestation. She has warned caressed your legs with its you that there is nobody about, back and tail, and stood with she has invited you to rob. upward gazing, appealing green Madame Rochelle's shop is the eyes as you operated your latchearliest to be opened in Seek key. It made one remember Midday Street, it is the last the story of the millionaire shut. On Sundays and holi- who, tormented by the harrowdays she is always there, seem- ing tale of misfortune spun him ing content with the four walls by an old village chum, at last and the cellar which make up rang the bell. “John,” said the total of her existence. Yes, he to the footman, "show this she enjoys herself. She doesn't gentleman out, he's breaking

.

.

a

my heart.” We all salved our covery. Jo, buying meat one consciences by giving it food day, was complimented upon till it was almost bursting with her French accent by him, a fatness. The little old sculptor tall lean man with an ascetic opposite brought his daily face. packet, the prix de Rome man “But," he added, “you do down the passage left offerings not quite get right the word on the doorstep, we begged l'autre. Un peu plus de sonoscraps from the

ex - priest- rité, madame. Un peu plus de butcher, the illustrator docked sonorité, āūtre ; so !” his dog's allowance, but the cat Still, if I could but speak wasn't satisfied. Food it had English as well. I read it, yes, a'plenty ; its soul was clam- perfectly. It is necessary to ouring for a home.

me. You see I travel consider“You can see clearly,” cried ably, on astronomical business. the vociferous femme de menage, ... I go to England and to

c'est une chatte d'appartement.” Belgium.'

And all of us, having already Little by little we learned our pets, were just reluctant more of him. He is no starto give that cat the shelter it gazer, but a calculating astrondemanded so heart-breakingly. omer; he has machine Besides, it was enceinte. We with which he measures out wanted to take on ourselves astronomical photographs ; he neither the responsibilities of theorises from the labour of the créche, nor the dastard others, though his work has its deed with the water-bucket. undoubted value. He measures Madame Rochelle proposed to off the deviations of a minorest us a way out of the difficulty planet as neatly as he chops

“There is a lady farther you off a biftek or an escaloppe. down the street who interests Butcher and astronomer; but herself in stray cats," she said. don't think he is the first of

The lady in question, Madame his type. He is surely a resurGeorges, keeps a furrier's shop; rection, history repeating ityou can't miss it."

self; he is a revival of those We went out reflecting. The old astrological augurs who combination of cat - collecting would tell you the future inwith furriery was at least omin- differently either from the ous ; cats transmute so well stars or from the guts of into some of the less expen- disembowelled ox. You sive imitations; and cat hunters might think this enough for prowl Paris by night to gather one man ; his history is more in any too confiding pets. But appropriate yet. He was at we heard once more of the first a priest, a profession furrier, this time from the which he deserted for the fleshbutcher's cashier. Frankly, we pots of butchery, for he colcan't expect you to believe in lected the wife and with her the butcher. He is Jo’s dis- the butchery business in a

a

single apostacy. But once a

Madame Georges is reJesuit always a Jesuit, as they nowned for her kindness to say. Our chops and steaks cats," said a smart customer astronomer has not the cheery who was trying on

a sable judgment of Madame Rochelle; stole. he cannot hit off human weak- I say to all my clients : nesses with a jeu-de-motor

a jeu-de-mot or you take this cat, try it. If with a paradox. It is a ques- you don't like it, I'll send to tion of labial corners, hers go fetch it back, only let me up, his down. He shakes his know. But for heaven's sake long face at the present genera- don't desert it. Isn't it awful tion, the corners of his mouth to think of the poor deserted descend, the priest in him creatures ! Well, madame, waves hell like an accusing flag. where shall I send for it ? ” He would not have told us of Jo elected to bring the cat the cat-collecting furrier. His herself, mind floats amongst comets We packed the cat into a and morals; it would not de- basket, and Jo carried it along scend to a thing so particular the Seek Midday Street to the

But his fat female little shop of Madame Georges. cashier, a buxom young woman, There, in spite of a horrified who knits interminably summer ejaculation from the proprietess, and winter in the chill open Jo opened the lid. The cat shop, added her testimony to lay quietly in the basket, gazing that of Madame Rochelle. And about it with tired eyes. The 80 at last, growing desperate basket was something approachfrom an apparent imminence ing a home. of kittens, we went to the shop “That cat is ill,” said Maindicated.

dame Georges decisively, “or "Stray cat," exclaimed Ma- it wouldn't be so indolent. dame Georges ;

stray cat, Eh bien ! madame. Iz must where. I'll send at once. Go- take it to see my vet. If you ing to have kittens. We'll will shut it up again and leave look after that immediately, it, I will send the basket back.” yes, immediately, madame." One by one the great cats

a bustling little in the shop sniffed the air, drew woman. Her shop filled with themselves up lazily, stretched, pendant furs was a paradise and crept over to examine the of cats.

Cats slept in the basket containing the newwindow, cats lay on the chairs, comer. As Jo turned out of cats stretched across the show. the shop she saw the basket cases, cats lurked in the corners ! transformed into a mere heap Paris cats, black, grey, tabby, of feline curiosity. Persian. .. "I'll find it a home,"

A few days later Foot-foot claimed Madame Georges, “I've made a journey in the same kept ten of them myself.” basket, though not with the

She was

same placidity. Some irrita- Auvergnats have a reputation tion of his skin made us take for dirtiness, and a Parisian him to the veterinary surgeon, proverb says, Where you'll who lives also in our all-pro- find an Auvergnat you'll find a viding Seek Midday Street, bug.” By a charming comthough at the farther end. pensation of trades the coal Foot-foot went with protests. boys clean up and become He is now a large cat, and has waiters in the out-o'-door resa large voice. The sudden taurants during the summer. transition from the quiet of From the coal-merchant's onour studio to a fearsome wicker wards Foot-foot created shame prison and to the tumult of for us all the way down Seek Seek Midday Street must have Midday Street. Shopkeepers been admittedly terrifying, but hurried to their doors, hoping we wished that he had been that some delectable drame struck dumb in the convention- tragique was to be performed ally romantic way.

As we

beneath their very eyes ; hopturned the corner the full horroring, as tender humanity will, of his position became evident, that some lover was murdering and, opposite the coal mer- his lass, or that at least a dog chant's, he let out his first ear- had been run over by a taxisplitting yell. The coal mer- cab. chant was at his door chatting The veterinary surgeon lives to the cobbler, and he nearly over his wife's sweet-shop. A jumped out of his coal-begrimed narrow and echoing staircase skin as Foot-foot's first feline leads up to his rooms, and amid expostulation exploded unex- those echoes Foot-foot's catpectedly from somewhere near calls roused a pandemonium his buttocks.

which drew the vet. from his The coal-merchant is an Au- labours in sheer curiosity. We vergnat; he combines coal- needed no further announcing. dealing with a small wine-shop. The veterinary surgeon had He is the only local tradesman been at his easel. He comwho has penetrated to our bined business with pleasure, studio, and he shows a very and being an enthusiastic amanice discrimination in pictorial teur artist made of his patients matters. Each time he brings his subject-matter. Dogs with us a fresh sack of coal he asks bound limbs and cats with to see our recent productions, bandaged eyes covered the walls, names his preferences, and offers in the centre of which was his his congratulations. His lab- masterpiece, representing ourer is not so artistically mournful procession of repaired minded. The latter is exces- animals at the veterinary sursively grimy, seeming to grow geon's door. The business was more and more buried under soon finished, and with the layers of undisturbed coal dust prescription of a cooling medias the winter goes on. The cine, we made once more a

[ocr errors]

vociferous passage of Seek Mid- rently to her the mero sentiday Street.

ment of love is not fact enough ; On our way we turned into she must enjoy her love amidst the chemist's shop. Foot-foot the titans of the past. Howgreeted the silence with a fad- ever, she graciously supplied us ing yell. The chemist is a with a red flower-pot sprouting smiling little fellow, the Don young barley specially grown, Juan of the rue. After the she assured us, for “le petit cinema is over we sometimes chat d'appartement." turn into a certain

café on

Talking of literary preferour road home. Here ten to ences, the baker's wife reads one we will espy the chemist only travel books, and is dislurking at some corner table appointed with us because none with a girl. Our attention of our books has yet achieved would have hardly been aroused the honour of a translation ; the by this had it not been for the rag and bone merchant's lady, chemist's evident wish to avoid on the contrary, prefers to read recognition. After a variety plays. Molière is her favourite of such meetings we decided author. The rag-and-bone merthat the chemist's taste is wide- chant's lady is not only literary, embracing, blonde or brunette, but has some psychology. She golden or ginger, all came alike exhibits a small shelf of secondto him.

hand books, picked up in busiThe flirtatious chemist pored ness, at which I browse en over the prescription.

passant as I go to get our early “For the little cat,” he said, morning milk or rolls. She cocking his eye at the basket. has judged my taste so well

" Assurément," we answered. now that I can tell by her

“It's all very well,” said the arrangement if she thinks she chemist, “but what he really has a suitable volume. For a wants is a little pot of young few mornings I was distracted, barley. He needs his salad, and omitted my usual glance like a Christian. This is quite at her stall. At last she stopped good, but get him the barley Jo in the street. in a little pot . . . at the “I don't know what has florist's. That will keep him come over your husband for fit, ça purge.”

the recent few days,” she said ; We have but few dealings “I have displayed a book with the florist; our income especially for him, but he hasn't does not admit such luxuries. given it a glance.” A chance conversation at Ma- She held out a copy of dame Rochelle's revealed her Stendhal's Chartreuse de as a passionate lover of his Parme.' torical romances, of Dumas and of Victor Hugo. She will There is a café half-way read nothing, she says, that is along Seek Midday Street. not founded on fact, and appa- Sometimes we seat ourselves

« 이전계속 »