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The Bohemian Girl


I WOKE up very gradually this morning, and it took me a little
while to bethink myself where I had slept—that it had not
been in my own room in the Cromwell Road. I lay a-bed, with
eyes half-closed, drowsily looking forward to the usual procession
of sober-hued London hours, and, for the moment, quite forgot
the journey of yesterday, and how it had left me in Paris, a guest
in the smart new house of my old friend, Nina Childe. Indeed,
it was not until somebody tapped on my door, and I roused
myself to call out, ” Come in,” that I noticed the strangeness of
the wall-paper, and then, after an instant of perplexity, suddenly
remembered. Oh, with a wonderful lightening of the spirit, I can
tell you.

A white-capped, brisk young woman, with a fresh-coloured,
wholesome peasant face, came in, bearing a tray—Jeanne, Nina’s

” Bonjour, monsieur,” she cried cheerily. ” I bring monsieur
his coffee.” And her announcement was followed by a fragrance
—the softly-sung response of the coffee-sprite. Her tray, with its
pretty freight of silver and linen, primrose butter, and gently-


                        By Henry Harland 13

browned pain-de-gruau, she set down on the table at my elbow ;
then she crossed the room and drew back the window-curtains,
making the rings tinkle crisply on the metal rods, and letting in a
gush of dazzling sunshine. From where I lay I could see the
house-fronts opposite glow pearly-grey in shadow, and the crest of
the slate roofs sharply print itself on the sky, like a black line on
a sheet of scintillant blue velvet. Yet, a few minutes ago, I had
been fancying myself in the Cromwell Road.

Jeanne, gathering up my scattered garments, to take them off
and brush them, inquired, by the way, if monsieur had passed a
comfortable night.

” As the chambermaid makes your bed, so must you lie in it,”
I answered. ” And you know whether my bed was smoothly made.”

Jeanne smiled indulgently. But her next remark—did it imply
that she found me rusty ? ” Here’s a long time that you haven’t
been in Paris.”

” Yes,” I admitted ; ” not since May, and now we’re in

” We have changed things a little, have we not? ” she de-
manded, with a gesture that left the room, and included the house,
the street, the quarter.

” In effect,” assented I.

” Monsieur desires his hot water? ” she asked, abruptly irre-

But I could be, or at least seem, abruptly irrelevant too.
” Mademoiselle—is she up ? ”

” Ah, yes, monsieur. Mademoiselle has been up since eight.
She awaits you in the salon. La voilà qui joue,” she added, point-
ing to the floor.

Nina had begun to play scales in the room below.

” Then you may bring me my hot water,” I said.


                        14 The Bohemian Girl

The scales continued while I was dressing, and many desultory
reminiscences of the player, and vague reflections upon the unlike-
lihood of her adventures, went flitting through my mind to their
rhythm. Here she was, scarcely turned thirty, beautiful, brilliant,
rich in her own right, as free in all respects to follow her own will
as any man could be, with Camille happily at her side, a well-
grown, rosy, merry miss of twelve,—here was Nina, thus, to-day ;
and yet, a mere little ten years ago, I remembered her …. ah,
in a very different plight indeed. True, she has got no more than
her deserts ; she has paid for her success, every pennyweight of it,
in hard work and self-denial. But one is so expectant, here below,
to see Fortune capricious, that, when for once in a way she
bestows her favours where they are merited, one can’t help feeling
rather dazed. One is so inured to seeing honest Effort turn
empty-handed from her door.

Ten little years ago—but no. I must begin further back. I
must tell you something about Nina’s father.


He was an Englishman who lived for the greater part of his life
in Paris. I would say he was a painter, if he had not been equally
a sculptor, a musician, an architect, a writer of verse, and a
university coach. A doer of so many things is inevitably suspect ;
you will imagine that he must have bungled them all. On the


                        By Henry Harland 15

contrary, whatever he did, he did with a considerable degree of
accomplishment. The landscapes he painted were very fresh and
pleasing, delicately coloured, with lots of air in them, and a
dreamy, suggestive sentiment. His brother sculptors declared
that his statuettes were modelled with exceeding dash and direct-
ness ; they were certainly fanciful and amusing. I remember one
that I used to like immensely—Titania driving to a tryst with
Bottom, her chariot a lily, daisies for wheels, and for steeds a pair
of mettlesome field-mice. I doubt if he ever got a commission
for a complete house ; but the staircases he designed, the fire-
places, and other bits of buildings, everybody thought original and
graceful. The tunes he wrote were lively and catching, the words
never stupid, sometimes even strikingly happy, epigrammatic ; and
he sang them delightfully, in a robust, hearty baritone. He
coached the youth of France, for their examinations, in Latin and
Greek, in history, mathematics, general literature—in goodness
knows what not ; and his pupils failed so rarely that, when one
did, the circumstance became a nine days’ wonder. The world
beyond the Students’ Quarter had never heard of him, but there
he was a celebrity and a favourite ; and, strangely enough for a
man with so many strings to his bow, he contrived to pick up a
sufficient living.

He was a splendid creature to look at, tall, stalwart, full-
blooded, with a ruddy open-air complexion ; a fine bold brow and
nose ; brown eyes, humorous, intelligent, kindly, that always
brightened flatteringly when they met you ; and a vast quantity
of bluish-grey hair and beard. In his dress he affected (very
wisely, for they became him excellently) velvet jackets, flannel
shirts, loosely-knotted ties, and wide-brimmed soft felt hats.
Marching down the Boulevard St. Michel, his broad shoulders
well thrown back, his head erect, chin high in air, his whole


                        16 The Bohemian Girl

person radiating health, power, contentment, and the pride of
them : he was a sight worth seeing, spirited, picturesque, pre-
possessing. You could not have passed him without noticing
him—without wondering who he was, confident he was somebody
—without admiring him, and feeling that there went a man it
would be interesting to know.

He was, indeed, charming to know ; he was the hero, the idol,
of a little sect of worshippers, young fellows who loved nothing
better than to sit at his feet. On the Rive Gauche, to be sure,
we are, for the most part, birds of passage ; a student arrives,
tarries a little, then departs. So, with the exits and entrances of
seniors and nouveaux, the personnel of old Childe’s following varied
from season to season ; but numerically it remained pretty much
the same. He had a studio, with a few living-rooms attached,
somewhere up in the fastnesses of Montparnasse, though it was
seldom thither that one went to seek him. He received at his café,
the Café Bleu—the Café Bleu which has since blown into the
monster café of the Quarter, the noisiest, the rowdiest, the most
flamboyant. But I am writing (alas) of twelve, thirteen, fifteen
years ago ; in those days the Café Bleu consisted of a single
oblong room—with a sanded floor, a dozen tables, and two
waiters, Eugène and Hippolyte—where Madame Chanve, the
patronne, in lofty insulation behind her counter, reigned, if you
please, but where Childe, her principal client, governed. The
bottom of the shop, at any rate, was reserved exclusively to his
use. There he dined, wrote his letters, dispensed his hospitalities;
he had his own piano there, if you can believe me, his foils and
boxing-gloves ; from the absinthe hour till bed-time there was
his habitat, his den. And woe to the passing stranger who, mis-
taking the Café Bleu for an ordinary house of call, ventured,
during that consecrated period, to drop in. Nothing would be


                        By Henry Harland 17

said, nothing done ; we would not even trouble to stare at the
intruder. Yet he would seldom stop to finish his consommation,
or he would bolt it. He would feel something in the air ; he
would know he was out of place. He would fidget a little, frown
a little, and get up meekly, and slink into the street. Human
magnetism is such a subtle force. And Madame Chanve didn’t
mind in the least ; she preferred a bird in the hand to a brace in
the bush. From half a dozen to a score of us dined at her long
table every evening ; as many more drank her appetisers in the
afternoon, and came again at night for grog or coffee. You see,
it was a sort of club, a club of which Childe was at once the
chairman and the object. If we had had a written constitution,
it must have begun : ” The purpose of this association is the
enjoyment of the society of Alfred Childe.”

Ah, those afternoons, those dinners, those ambrosial nights !
If the weather was kind, of course, we would begin our session on
the terrasse, sipping our vermouth, puffing our cigarettes, laugh-
ing our laughs, tossing hither and thither our light ball of gossip,
vaguely conscious of the perpetual ebb and flow and murmur of
people in the Boulevard, while the setting sun turned Paris to a
marvellous water-colour, all pale lucent tints, amber and alabaster
and mother-of-pearl, with amethystine shadows. Then, one by
one, those of us who were dining elsewhere would slip away ;
and at a sign from Hippolyte the others would move indoors,
and take their places down either side of the long narrow table,
Childe at the head, his daughter Nina next him. And presently
with what a clatter of knives and forks, clinking of glasses, and
babble of human voices, the Café Bleu would echo. Madame
Chanve’s kitchen was not a thing to boast of, and her price, for
the Latin Quarter, was rather high—I think we paid three francs,
wine included, which would be for most of us distinctly a prix


                        18 The Bohemian Girl

de-luxe. But oh, it was such fun ; we were so young ; Childe
was so delightful. The fun was best, of course, when we were
few, and could all sit up near to him, and none need lose a word.
When we were many there would be something like a scramble
for good seats.

I ask myself whether, if I could hear him again to-day, I
should think his talk as wondrous as I thought it then. Then I
could thrill at the verse of Musset, and linger lovingly over the
prose of Théophile, I could laugh at the wit of Gustave Droz,
and weep at the pathos …. it costs me a pang to own it, but
yes, I m afraid …. I could weep at the pathos of Henry
Mürger ; and these have all suffered such a sad sea-change since.
So I could sit, hour after hour, in a sort of ecstasy, listening to
the talk of Nina’s father. It flowed from him like wine from a
full measure, easily, smoothly, abundantly. He had a ripe,
genial voice, and an enunciation that made crystals of his words ;
whilst his range of subjects was as wide as the earth and the sky.
He would talk to you of God and man, of metaphysics, ethics, the
last new play, murder, or change of ministry ; of books, of
pictures, specifically, or of the general principles of literature and
painting ; of people, of sunsets, of Italy, of the high seas, of the
Paris streets—of what, in fine, you pleased. Or he would spin
you yarns, sober, farcical, veridical, or invented. And, with
transitions infinitely rapid, he would be serious, jocose—solemn,
ribald—earnest, flippant—logical, whimsical, turn and turn about.
And in every sentence, in its form or in its substance, he would
wrap a surprise for you—it was the unexpected word, the un-
expected assertion, sentiment, conclusion, that constantly arrived.
Meanwhile it would enhance your enjoyment mightily to watch
his physiognomy, the movements of his great, grey, shaggy head,
the lightening and darkening of his eyes, his smile, his frown,


                        By Henry Harland 19

his occasional slight shrug or gesture. But the oddest thing was
this, that he could take as well as give ; he could listen—surely a
rare talent in a monologist. Indeed, I have never known a man
who could make you feel so interesting.

After dinner he would light an immense brown meerschaum
pipe, and smoke for a quarter-hour or so in silence ; then he
would play a game or two of chess with some one ; and by and by
he would open his piano, and sing to us till midnight.


I speak of him as old, and indeed we always called him Old
Childe among ourselves ; yet he was barely fifty. Nina, when I
first made their acquaintance, must have been a girl of sixteen or
seventeen ; though—tall, with an amply rounded, mature-seeming
figure—if one had judged from her appearance, one would have
fancied her three or four years older. For that matter, she looked
then very much as she looks now ; I can perceive scarcely any
alteration. She had the same dark hair, gathered up in a big
smooth knot behind, and breaking into a tumult of little ringlets
over her forehead ; the same clear, sensitive complexion ; the
same rather large, full-lipped mouth, tip-tilted nose, soft chin, and
merry, mischievous eyes. She moved in the same way, with the
same leisurely, almost lazy grace, that could, however, on
occasions, quicken to an alert, elastic vivacity ; she had the same
voice, a trifle deeper than most women’s, and of a quality never so
delicately nasal, which made it racy and characteristic ; the same
fresh, ready laughter. There was something arch, something a
little sceptical, a little quizzical, in her expression, as if, perhaps,


The Yellow Book—Vol. IV. B

                        20 The Bohemian Girl

she were disposed to take the world, more or less, with a grain of
salt ; at the same time there was something rich, warm-blooded,
luxurious, suggesting that she would know how to savour its
pleasantnesses with complete enjoyment. But if you felt that she
was by way of being the least bit satirical in her view of things,
you felt too that she was altogether good-natured, and even that,
at need, she could show herself spontaneously kind, generous,
devoted. And if you inferred that her temperament inclined
rather towards the sensuous than the ascetic, believe me, it did not
lessen her attractiveness.

At the time of which I am writing now, the sentiment that
reigned between Nina and Old Childe’s retinue of young men
was chiefly an esprit-de-corps. Later on we all fell in love with
her ; but for the present we were simply amiably fraternal. We
were united to her by a common enthusiasm ; we were fellow-
celebrants at her ancestral altar—or, rather, she was the high
priestess there, we were her acolytes. For, with her, filial piety
did in very truth partake of the nature of religion ; she really,
literally, idolised her father. One only needed to watch her for
three minutes, as she sat beside him, to understand the depth and
ardour of her emotion : how she adored him, how she admired
him and believed in him, how proud of him she was, how she
rejoiced in him. ” Oh, you think you know my father,” I
remember her saying to us once. ” Nobody knows him. No-
body is great enough to know him. If people knew him they
would fall down and kiss the ground he walks on.” It is certain
she deemed him the wisest, the noblest, the handsomest, the most
gifted, of human kind. That little gleam of mockery in her eye
died out instantly when she looked at him, when she spoke of him
or listened to him ; instead, there came a tender light of love and
her face grew pale with the fervour of her affection. Yet, when


                        By Henry Harland 21

he jested, no one laughed more promptly or more heartily than
she. In those days I was perpetually trying to write fiction ; and
Old Childe was my inveterate hero. I forget in how many
ineffectual manuscripts, under what various dread disguises, he
was afterwards reduced to ashes ; I am afraid, in one case, a
scandalous distortion of him got abroad in print. Publishers are
sometimes ill-advised ; and thus the indiscretions of our youth may
become the confusions of our age. The thing was in three
volumes, and called itself a novel ; and of course the fatuous
author had to make a bad business worse by presenting a copy to
his victim. I shall never forget the look Nina gave me when I
asked her if she had read it ; I grow hot even now as I recall it.
I had waited and waited, expecting her compliments ; and at last
I could wait no longer, and so asked her ; and she answered me
with a look ! It was weeks, I am not sure it wasn’t months,
before she took me back to her good graces. But Old Childe
was magnanimous ; he sent me a little pencil-drawing of his
head, inscribed in the corner, ” To Frankenstein from his


It was a queer life for a girl to live, that happy-go-lucky life of
the Latin Quarter, lawless and unpremeditated, with a café for her
school-room, and none but men for comrades ; but Nina liked it ;
and her father had a theory in his madness. He was a Bohemian,
not in practice only, but in principle ; he preached Bohemianism
as the most rational manner of existence, maintaining that it
developed what was intrinsic and authentic in one’s character,
saved one from the artificial, and brought one into immediate


                        22 The Bohemian Girl

contact with the realities of the world ; and he protested he could
see no reason why a human being should be ” cloistered and
contracted ” because of her sex. ” What would not hurt my son,
if I had one, will not hurt my daughter. It will make a man of
her—without making her the less a woman.” So he took her
with him to the Café Bleu, and talked in her presence quite as
freely as he might have talked had she been absent. As, in the
greater number of his theological, political, and social convictions,
he was exceedingly unorthodox, she heard a good deal, no doubt,
that most of us would scarcely consider edifying for our daughters’
ears ; but he had his system, he knew what he was about. ” The
question whether you can touch pitch and remain undefiled,” he
said, ” depends altogether upon the spirit in which you approach
it. The realities of the world, the realities of life, the real things
of God’s universe—what have we eyes for, if not to envisage
them ? Do so fearlessly, honestly, with a clean heart, and, man
or woman, you can only be the better for it.” Perhaps his
system was a shade too simple, a shade too obvious, for this
complicated planet ; but he held to it in all sincerity. It was in
pursuance of the same system, I daresay, that he taught Nina to
fence, and to read Latin and Greek, as well as to play the piano,
and turn an omelette. She could ply a foil against the best
of us.

And then, quite suddenly, he died.

I think it was in March, or April ; anyhow, it was a premature
spring-like day, and he had left off his overcoat. That evening
he went to the Odéon, and when, after the play, he joined us for
supper at the Bleu, he said he thought he had caught a cold, and
ordered hot grog. The next day he did not turn up at all ; so
several of us, after dinner, presented ourselves at his lodgings in
Montparnasse. We found him in bed, with Nina reading to him.


                        By Henry Harland 23

He was feverish, and Nina had insisted that he should stop at
home. He would be all right to-morrow. He scoffed at our
suggestion that he should see a doctor ; he was one of those men
who affect to despise the medical profession. But early on the
following morning a commissionnaire brought me a note from
Nina. ” My father is very much worse. Can you come at
once ? ” He was delirious. Poor Nina, white, with frightened
eyes, moved about like one distracted. We sent off for Dr.
Rénoult, we had in a Sister of Charity. Everything that could
be done was done. Till the very end, none of us for a moment
doubted he would recover. It was impossible to conceive that
that strong, affirmative life could be extinguished. And even
after the end had come, the end with its ugly suite of material
circumstances, I don’t think any of us realised what it meant. It
was as if we had been told that one of the forces of Nature had
become inoperative. And Nina, through it all, was like some
pale thing in marble, that breathed and moved : white, dazed,
helpless, with aching, incredulous eyes, suffering everything,
understanding nothing.

When it came to the worst of the dreadful necessary businesses
that followed, some of us, somehow, managed to draw her from
the death-chamber into another room, and to keep her there,
while others of us got it over. It was snowing that afternoon, I
remember, a melancholy, hesitating snowstorm, with large moist
flakes, that fluttered down irresolutely, and presently disintegrated
into rain ; but we had not far to go. Then we returned to Nina,
and for many days and nights we never dared to leave her. You
will guess whether the question of her future, especially of her
immediate future, weighed heavily upon our minds. In the end,
however, it appeared to have solved itself—though I can’t pretend
that the solution was exactly all we could have wished.


                        24 The Bohemian Girl

Her father had a half-brother (we learned this from his papers),
incumbent of rather an important living in the north of England.
We also learned that the brothers had scarcely seen each other
twice in a score of years, and had kept up only the most fitful
correspondence. Nevertheless, we wrote to the clergyman, de-
scribing the sad case of his niece ; and in reply we got a letter,
addressed to Nina herself, saying that of course she must come at
once to Yorkshire, and consider the rectory her home. I don’t
need to recount the difficulties we had in explaining to her, in
persuading her. I have known few more painful moments than
that when, at the Gare du Nord, half a dozen of us established
the poor, benumbed, bewildered child in her compartment, and
sent her, with our godspeed, alone upon her long journey— to her
strange kindred, and the strange conditions of life she would have
to encounter among them. From the Café Bleu to a Yorkshire
parsonage ! And Nina’s was not by any means a neutral
personality, nor her mind a blank sheet of paper. She had a will
of her own ; she had convictions, aspirations, traditions, prejudices,
which she would hold to with enthusiasm because they had been
her father’s, because her father had taught them to her ; and she
had manners, habits, tastes. She would be sure to horrify the
people she was going to ; she would be sure to resent their criti-
cism, their slightest attempt at interference. Oh, my heart was
full of misgivings ; yet—she had no money, she was eighteen
years old—what else could we advise her to do ? All the same,
her face, as it looked down upon us from the window of her rail-
way carriage, white, with big terrified eyes fixed in a gaze of
blank uncomprehending anguish, kept rising up to reproach me
for weeks afterwards. I had her on my conscience as if I had
personally wronged her.


                        By Henry Harland 25

It was characteristic of her that, during her absence, she hardly
wrote to us. She is of far too hasty and impetuous a nature to
take kindly to the task of letter-writing ; her moods are too incon-
stant ; her thoughts, her fancies, supersede one another too
rapidly. Anyhow, beyond the telegram we had made her promise
to send, announcing her safe arrival, the most favoured of us got
nothing more than an occasional scrappy note, if he got so much ;
while the greater number of the long epistles some of us felt in
duty bound to address to her, elicited not even the semblance of an
acknowledgment. Hence, about the particulars of her experience
we were quite in the dark, though of its general features we were
informed, succinctly, in a big, dashing, uncompromising hand,
that she ” hated ” them.


I am not sure whether it was late in April or early in May that
Nina left us. But one day towards the middle of October, coming
home from the restaurant where I had lunched, I found in my
letter-box in the concierge’s room two half-sheets of paper, folded,
with the corners turned down, and my name superscribed in pencil.
The handwriting startled me a little—and yet, no, it was im-
possible. Then I hastened to unfold and read, and of course it
was the impossible which had happened.

” Mon cher, I am sorry not to find you at home, but I’ll wait at
the café at the corner till half-past twelve. It is now midi juste.”


                        26 The Bohemian Girl

That was the first. The second ran : ” I have waited till a
quarter to one. Now I am going to the Bleu for luncheon. I
shall be there till three.” And each was signed with the initials,
N. C.

It was not yet two, so I had plenty of time. But you will
believe that I didn’t loiter on that account. I dashed out of the
loge—into the street—down the Boulevard St. Michel—into the
Bleu, breathlessly. At the far end Nina was seated before a marble
table, with Madame Chanve in smiles and tears beside her. I heard a
little cry ; I felt myself seized and enveloped for a moment by some-
thing like a whirlwind—oh, but a very pleasant whirlwind, warm and
fresh, and fragrant of violets ; I received two vigorous kisses, one on
either cheek ; and then I was held off at arm’s length, and examined
by a pair of laughing eyes.

And at last a voice—rather a deep voice for a woman’s, with just
a crisp edge to it, that might have been called slightly nasal, but
was agreeable and individual—a voice said : ” En voilà assez.
Come and sit down.”

She had finished her luncheon, and was taking coffee ; and if
the whole truth must be told, I’m afraid she was taking it with a
petit-verre and a cigarette. She wore an exceedingly simple black
frock, with a bunch of violets in her breast, and a hat with a
sweeping black feather and a daring brim. Her dark luxurious
hair broke into a riot of fluffy little curls about her forehead, and
thence waved richly away to where it was massed behind ; her
cheeks glowed with a lovely colour (thanks, doubtless, to Yorkshire
breezes ; sweet are the uses of adversity) ; her eyes sparkled ; her
lips curved in a perpetual play of smiles, letting her delicate little
teeth show themselves furtively ; and suddenly I realised that this
girl, whom I had never thought of save as one might think of
one’s younger sister, suddenly I realised that she was a woman,


                        By Henry Harland 27

and a radiantly, perhaps even a dangerously handsome woman. I
saw suddenly that she was not merely an attribute, an aspect of
another, not merely Alfred Childe’s daughter ; she was a person-
age in herself, a personage to be reckoned with.

This sufficiently obvious perception came upon me with such
force, and brought me such emotion, that I dare say for a little
while I sat vacantly staring at her, with an air of preoccupation.
Anyhow, all at once she laughed, and cried out, ” Well, when you
get back . . . ? ” and, ” Perhaps,” she questioned, ” perhaps you
think it polite to go off wool-gathering like that ? ” Whereupon
I recovered myself with a start, and laughed too.

” But say that you are surprised, say that you are glad, at least,”
she went on.

Surprised! glad! But what did it mean? What was it all
about ?

” I couldn’t stand it any longer, that’s all. I have come home.
Oh, que c’est bon, que c’est bon, que c’est bon ! ”

” And—England ?—Yorkshire ?—your people ? “

” Don’t speak of it. It was a bad dream. It is over. It
brings bad luck to speak of bad dreams. I have forgotten it. I am
here—in Paris—at home. Oh, que c’est bon ! ” And she smiled
blissfully through eyes filled with tears.

Don’t tell me that happiness is an illusion. It is her habit, if
you will, to flee before us and elude us ; but sometimes, sometimes
we catch up with her, and can hold her for long moments warm
against our hearts.

” Oh, mon père ! It is enough—to be here, where he lived,
where he worked, where he was happy,” Nina murmured afterwards.

She had arrived the night before ; she had taken a room in the
Hôtel d’Espagne, in the Rue de Médicis, opposite the Luxem-
bourg Garden. I was as yet the only member of the old set she


                        28 The Bohemian Girl

had looked up. Of course I knew where she had gone first
—but not to cry—to kiss it—to place flowers on it. She
could not cry—not now. She was too happy, happy, happy.
Oh, to be back in Paris, her home, where she had lived with
him, where every stick and stone was dear to her because of
him !

Then, glancing up at the clock, with an abrupt change of key,
” Mais allons donc, paresseux !—You must take me to see the
camarades. You must take me to see Chalks.”

And in the street she put her arm through mine, laughing and
saying, ” On nous croira fiancés.” She did not walk, she tripped,
she all but danced beside me, chattering joyously in alternate
French and English. ” I could stop and kiss them all—the men,
the women, the very pavement. Oh, Paris ! Oh, these good,
gay, kind Parisians ! Look at the sky ! look at the view—down
that impasse—the sunlight and shadows on the houses, the door-
ways, the people. Oh, the air! Oh, the smells! Oue c’est bon
—que je suis contente ! Et dire que j’ai passé cinq mois, mais
cinq grands mois, en Angleterre. Ah, veinard, you—you don’t
know how you’re blessed.” Presently we found ourselves labour-
ing knee-deep in a wave of black pinafores, and Nina had plucked
her bunch of violets from her breast, and was dropping them
amongst eager fingers and rosy cherubic smiles. And it was con-
stantly, ” Tiens, there’s Madame Chose in her kiosque. Bonjour,
madame. Vous allez toujours bien ? ” and ” Oh, look ! old
Perronet standing before his shop in his shirt-sleeves, exactly as he
has stood at this hour every day, winter or summer, these ten
years. Bonjour, M’sieu Perronet.” And you may be sure that
the kindly French Choses and Perronets returned her greetings
with beaming faces. ” Ah, mademoiselle, que c’est bon de vous
revoir ainsi. Que vous avez bonne mine!” ” It is so strange,”


                        By Henry Harland 29

she said, ” to find nothing changed. To think that everything
has gone on quietly in the usual way. As if I hadn’t spent an
eternity in exile ! ” And at the corner of one street, before a vast
flaunting ” bazaar,” with a prodigality of tawdry Oriental wares
exhibited on the pavement, and little black shopmen trailing like
beetles in and out amongst them, ” Oh,” she cried, ” the ‘ Mecque
du Quartier ‘ ! To think that I could weep for joy at seeing the
‘ Mecque du Quartier ‘ ! ”

By and by we plunged into a dark hallway, climbed a long,
unsavoury corkscrew staircase, and knocked at a door. A gruff
voice having answered, ” ‘Trez!” we entered Chalks’s bare,
bleak, paint-smelling studio. He was working (from a lay-figure)
with his back towards us ; and he went on working for a minute
or two after our arrival, without speaking. Then he demanded,
in a sort of grunt, ” Eh bien, qu’est ce que c’est ? ” always with-
out pausing in his work or looking round. Nina gave two little
ahems, tense with suppressed mirth ; and slowly, indifferently,
Chalks turned an absent-minded face in our direction. But, next
instant, there was a shout—a rush—a confusion of forms in the
middle of the floor—and I realised that I was not the only one to
be honoured by a kiss and an embrace. ” Oh, you’re covering
me with paint,” Nina protested suddenly ; and indeed he had
forgotten to drop his brush and palette, and great dabs of colour
were clinging to her cloak. While he was doing penance,
scrubbing the garment with rags soaked in turpentine, he kept
shaking his head, and murmuring, from time to time, as he
glanced up at her, ” Well, I ll be dumned.”

” It’s very nice and polite of you, Chalks,” she said, by and by,
” a very graceful concession to my sex. But, if you think it
would relieve you once for all, you have my full permission to
pronounce it —amned.”


                        30 The Bohemian Girl

Chalks did no more work that afternoon ; and that evening
quite twenty of us dined at Madame Chanve’s ; and it was almost
like old times.


” Oh, yes,” she explained to me afterwards, ” my uncle is a good
man. My aunt and cousins are very good women. But for me,
to live with them—pas possible, mon cher. Their thoughts were
not my thoughts, we could not speak the same language. They
disapproved of me unutterably. They suffered agonies, poor
things. Oh, they were very kind, very patient. But—! My
gods were their devils. My father—my great, grand, splendid
father— was ‘ poor Alfred,’ ‘ poor uncle Alfred.’ Que voulez-
vous ? And then—the life, the society ! The parishioners—the
people who came to tea—the houses where we sometimes dined !
Are you interested in crops ? In the preservation of game ? In
the diseases of cattle ? Olàlà ! (C’est bien le cas de s’en servir,
de cette expression-là.) Olàlà, làlà ! And then—have you ever
been homesick ? Oh, I longed, I pined, for Paris, as one
suffocating would long, would die, for air. Enfin, I could not
stand it any longer. They thought it wicked to smoke cigarettes.
My poor aunt—when she smelt cigarette-smoke in my bed-room !
Oh, her face ! I had to sneak away, behind the shrubbery at the
end of the garden, for stealthy whiffs. And it was impossible to
get French tobacco. At last I took the bull by the horns, and
fled. It will have been a terrible shock for them. But better
one good blow than endless little ones ; better a lump-sum, than
instalments with interest.”

But what was she going to do ? How was she going to live ?


                        By Henry Harland 31

For, after all, much as she loved Paris, she couldn’t subsist on its
air and sunshine.

” Oh, never fear! I’ll manage somehow. I’ll not die of
hunger,” she said confidently.


And, sure enough, she managed very well. She gave music
lessons to the children of the Quarter, and English lessons to
clerks and shop-girls ; she did a little translating ; she would pose
now and then for a painter friend—she was the original, for
instance, of Norton’s ” Woman Dancing,” which you know.
She even—thanks to the employment by Chalks of what he called
his ” inflooence “—she even contributed a weekly column of Paris
gossip to the Palladium, a newspaper published at Battle Creek,
Michigan, U.S.A., Chalks’s native town. ” Put in lots about
me, and talk as if there were only two important centres of
civilisation on earth, Battle Crick and Parus, and it’ll be a boom,”
Chalks said. We used to have great fun, concocting those
columns of Paris gossip. Nina, indeed, held the pen and cast a
deciding vote ; but we all collaborated. And we put in lots about
Chalks—perhaps rather more than he had bargained for. With
an irony (we trusted) too subtle to be suspected by the good
people of Battle Creek, we would introduce their illustrious fellow-
citizen, casually, between the Pope and the President of the
Republic ; we would sketch him as he strolled in the Boulevard
arm-in-arm with Monsieur Meissonier, as he dined with the Per-
petual Secretary of the French Academy, or drank his bock in the
afternoon with the Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour ;


                        32 The Bohemian Girl

we would compose solemn descriptive criticisms of his works,
which almost made us die of laughing ; we would interview him
—at length—about any subject ; we would give elaborate bulletins
of his health, and brilliant pen-pictures of his toilets. Sometimes
we would betroth him, marry him, divorce him ; sometimes,
when our muse impelled us to a particularly daring flight, we
would insinuate, darkly, sorrowfully, that perhaps the great man’s
morals—— But no ! We were persuaded that rumour accused him
falsely. The story that he had been seen dancing at Bullier’s
with the notorious Duchesse de Z—— was a baseless fabrication.
Unprincipled ? Oh, we were nothing if not unprincipled. And
our pleasure was so exquisite, and it worried our victim so. ” I
suppose you think it’s funny, don’t you ? ” he used to ask, with a
feint of superior scorn which put its fine flower to our hilarity.
” Look out, or you’ll bust,” he would warn us, the only uncon-
vulsed member present. ” By gum, you’re easily amused.” We
always wrote of him respectfully as Mr. Charles K. Smith ; we
never faintly hinted at his sobriquet. We would have rewarded
liberally, at that time, any one who could have told us what the K
stood for. We yearned to unite the cryptic word to his surname
by a hyphen ; the mere abstract notion of doing so filled us with
fearful joy. Chalks was right, I dare say ; we were easily amused.
And Nina, at these moments of literary frenzy—I can see her
now : her head bent over the manuscript, her hair in some dis-
array, a spiral of cigarette-smoke winding ceilingward from
between the fingers of her idle hand, her lips parted, her eyes
gleaming with mischievous inspirations, her face pale with the
intensity of her glee. I can see her as she would look up, eagerly,
to listen to somebody’s suggestion, or as she would motion to us
to be silent, crying, ” Attendez—I’ve got an idea.” Then her
pen would dash swiftly, noisily, over her paper for a little, whilst


                        By Henry Harland 33

we all waited expectantly ; and at last she would lean back,
drawing a long breath, and tossing the pen aside, to read her
paragraph out to us.

In a word, she managed very well, and by no means died of
hunger. She could scarcely afford Madame Chanve’s three-franc
table d’hôte, it is true ; but we could dine modestly at Leon’s,
over the way, and return the Bleu for coffee,—though, it must
be added, that establishment no longer enjoyed a monopoly of
our custom. We patronised it and the Vachette, the Source, the
Ecoles, the Souris, indifferently. Or we would sometimes spend
our evenings in Nina’s rooms. She lived in a tremendously
swagger house in the Avenue de l’Observatoire—on the sixth
floor, to be sure, but ” there was a carpet all the way up.” She
had a charming little salon, with her own furniture and piano
(the same that had formerly embellished our café), and no end
of books, pictures, draperies, and pretty things, inherited from
her father or presented by her friends.

By this time the inevitable had happened, and we were all in
love with her—hopelessly, resignedly so, and without internecine
rancour, for she treated us, indiscriminately, with a serene, im-
partial, tolerant derision ; but we were savagely, luridly, jealous
and suspicious of all new-comers and of all outsiders. If we could
not win her, no one else should ; and we formed ourselves round
her in a ring of fire. Oh, the maddening mock-sentimental,
mock-sympathetic face she would pull, when one of us ventured
to sigh to her of his passion ! The way she would lift her eye-
brows, and gaze at you with a travesty of pity, shaking her head
pensively, and murmuring, ” Mon pauvre ami ! Only fancy ! “
And then how the imp, lurking in the corners of her eyes, with
only the barest pretence of trying to conceal himself, would
suddenly leap forth in a peal of laughter ! She had lately read

                                                Mr. Howells’s

                        34 The Bohemian Girl

Mr. Howells’s ” Undiscovered Country,” and had adopted the
Shakers’ paraphrase for love : ” Feeling foolish.”—” Feeling pretty
foolish to-day, air ye, gentlemen ? ” she inquired, mimicking the
dialect of Chalks. ” Well, I guess you just ain’t feeling any
more foolish than you look ! “—If she would but have taken us
seriously ! And the worst of it was that we knew she was
anything but temperamentally cold. Chalks formulated the
potentialities we divined in her, when he remarked, regretfully,
wistfully, as he often did, ” She could love like Hell.” Once,
in a reckless moment, he even went so far as to tell her this point-
blank. ” Oh, naughty Chalks ! ” she remonstrated, shaking her
ringer at him. ” Do you think that’s a pretty word ? But—I
dare say I could.”

” All the same, Lord help the man you marry,” Chalks con-
tinued gloomily.

” Oh, I shall never marry,” Nina cried. ” Because, first, I
don’t approve of matrimony as an institution. And then—as you
say—Lord help my husband. I should be such an uncomfortable
wife. So capricious, and flighty, and tantalising, and unsettling,
and disobedient, and exacting, and everything. Oh, but a horrid
wife ! No, I shall never marry. Marriage is quite too out-of-date.
I shan’t marry ; but, if I ever meet a man and love him—ah ! “
She placed two fingers upon her lips, and kissed them, and waved
the kiss to the skies.

This fragment of conversation passed in the Luxembourg
Garden ; and the three or four of us by whom she was accom-
panied glared threateningly at our mental image of that not-
impossible upstart whom she might some day meet and love.
We were sure, of course, that he would be a beast ; we hated him
not merely because he would have cut us out with her, but
because he would be so distinctly our inferior, so hopelessly


                        By Henry Harland 35

unworthy of her, so helplessly incapable of appreciating her. I
think we conceived of him as tall, with drooping fair moustaches,
and contemptibly meticulous in his dress. He would probably
not be of the Quarter ; he would sneer at us.

” He’ll not understand her, he’ll not respect her. Take her
peculiar views. We know where she gets them. But he—he’ll
despise her for them, at the very time he’s profiting by ’em,”
some one said.

Her peculiar views of the institution of matrimony, the speaker
meant. She had got them from her father. ” The relations of
the sexes should be as free as friendship,” he had taught. ” If
a man and a woman love each other, it is nobody’s business but
their own. Neither the Law nor Society can, with any show
of justice, interfere. That they do interfere, is a survival of
feudalism, a survival of the system under which the individual,
the subject, had no liberty, no rights. If a man and a woman
love each other, they should be as free to determine for themselves
the character, extent, and duration of their intercourse, as two
friends should be. If they wish to live together under the same
roof, let them. If they wish to retain their separate domiciles, let
them. If they wish to cleave to each other till death severs them
—if they wish to part on the morrow of their union—let
them, by heaven. But the couple who go before a priest or a
magistrate, and bind themselves in ceremonial marriage, are
serving to perpetuate tyranny, are insulting the dignity of human
nature.” Such was the gospel which Nina had absorbed (don’t,
for goodness’ sake, imagine that I approve of it because I cite it),
and which she professed in entire good faith. We felt that the
coming man would misapprehend both it and her—though he
would not hesitate to make a convenience of it. Ugh, the
cynic !


The Yellow Book—Vol. IV. c

                        36 The Bohemian Girl

We formed ourselves round her in a ring of fire, hoping to
frighten the beast away. But we were miserably, fiercely
anxious, suspicious, jealous. We were jealous of everything in
the shape of a man that came into any sort of contact with her :
of the men who passed her in the street or rode with her in the
omnibus ; of the little employés de commerce to whom she gave
English lessons ; of everybody. I fancy we were always more or
less uneasy in our minds when she was out of our sight. Who could
tell what might be happening ? With those lips of hers, those
eyes of hers—oh, we knew how she could love : Chalks had said
it. Who could tell what might already have happened ? Who
could tell that the coming man had not already come ? She was
entirely capable of concealing him from us. Sometimes, in the
evening, she would seem absent, preoccupied. How could we be
sure that she wasn’t thinking of him ? Savouring anew the hours
she had passed with him that very day ? Or dreaming of those
she had promised him for to-morrow ? If she took leave of us—
might he not be waiting to join her round the corner ? If she
spent an evening away from us…..

And she—she only laughed ; laughed at our jealousy, our fears,
our precautions, as she laughed at our hankering flame. Not
a laugh that reassured us, though ; an inscrutable, enigmatic
laugh, that might have covered a multitude of sins. She had
taken to calling us collectively Loulou ” Ah, le pauv’ Loulou—
so now he has the pretension to be jealous.” Then she would be
interrupted by a paroxysm of laughter ; after which, ” Oh, qu’il
est drôle,” she would gasp. ” Pourvu qu’il ne devienne pas
gênant ! ”

It was all very well to laugh ; but some of us, our personal
equation quite apart, could not help feeling that the joke was of a
precarious quality, that the situation held tragic possibilities. A


                        By Henry Harland 37

young and attractive girl, by no means constitutionally insus-
ceptible, and imbued with heterodox ideas of marriage—alone in
the Latin Quarter.


I have heard it maintained that the man has yet to be born, who,
in his heart of hearts, if he comes to think the matter over, won’t
find himself at something of a loss to conceive why any given
woman should experience the passion of love for any other man ;
that a woman’s choice, to all men save the chosen, is, by its very
nature, as incomprehensible as the postulates of Hegel. But, in
Nina’s case, even when I regard it from this distance of time, I
still feel, as we all felt then, that the mystery was more than
ordinarily obscure. We had fancied ourselves prepared for any-
thing ; the only thing we weren’t prepared for was the thing that
befell. We had expected ” him ” to be offensive, and he wasn’t.
He was, quite simply, insignificant. He was a South American,
a Brazilian, a member of the School of Mines : a poor, undersized,
pale, spiritless, apologetic creature, with rather a Teutonic-looking
name, Ernest Mayer. His father, or uncle, was Minister of
Agriculture, or Commerce, or something, in his native land ; and
he himself was attached in some nominal capacity to the Brazilian
Legation, in the Rue de Téhéran, whence, on State occasions, he
enjoyed the privilege of enveloping his meagre little person in a
very gorgeous diplomatic uniform. He was beardless, with vague
features, timid light-blue eyes, and a bluish anæmic skin. In
manner he was nervous, tremulous, deprecatory—perpetually
bowing, wriggling, stepping back to let you pass, waving his
hands, palms outward, as if to protest against giving you trouble.


                        38 The Bohemian Girl

And in speech—upon my word, I don’t think I ever heard him
compromise himself by any more dangerous assertion than that
the weather was fine, or he wished you good-day. For the most
part he listened mutely, with a flickering, perfunctory smile.
From time to time, with an air of casting fear behind him and
dashing into the imminent deadly breach, he would hazard an
” Ah, oui,” or a ” Pas mal.” For the rest, he played the piano
prettily enough, wrote colourless, correct French verse, and was
reputed to be an industrious if not a brilliant student—what we
called un sérieux.

It was hard to believe that beautiful, sumptuous Nina Childe,
with her wit, her humour, her imagination, loved this neutral little
fellow ; yet she made no secret of doing so. We tried to frame
a theory that would account for it. ” It’s the maternal instinct,”
suggested one. ” It’s her chivalry,” said another ; ” she’s the sort
of woman who could never be very violently interested by a man
of her own size. She would need one she could look up to, or
else one she could protect and pat on the head.” ” ‘God be
thanked, the meanest of His creatures boasts two soul-sides, one to
face the world with, one to show a woman when he loves her,'”
quoted a third. ” Perhaps Coco “—we had nicknamed him Coco
—” has luminous qualities that we don’t dream of, to which he
gives the rein when they’re à deux.”

Anyhow, if we were mortified that she should have preferred
such a one to us, we were relieved to think that she hadn’t fallen
into the clutches of a blackguard, as we had feared she would.
That Coco was a blackguard we never guessed. We made the
best of him, because we had to choose between doing that and
seeing less of Nina ; in time, I am afraid—such is the influence
of habit—we rather got to like him, as one gets to like any
innocuous, customary thing. And if we did not like the situation


                        By Henry Harland 39

—for none of us, whatever may have been our practice, shared
Nina’s hereditary theories anent the sexual conventions— we
recognised that we couldn’t alter it, and we shrugged our shoulders
resignedly, trusting it might be no worse.

And then, one day, she announced, ” Ernest and I are going to
be married.” And when we cried out why, she explained that—
despite her own conviction that marriage was a barbarous institu-
tion—she felt, in the present state of public opinion, people owed
legitimacy to their children. So Ernest, who, according to both
French and Brazilian law, could not, at his age, marry without
his parents’ consent, was going home to procure it. He would
sail next week ; he would be back before three months. Ernest
sailed from Lisbon ; and the post, a day or two after he was safe
at sea, brought Nina a letter from him. It was a wild, hysterical,
remorseful letter, in which he called himself every sort of name.
He said his parents would never dream of letting him marry her.
They were Catholics, they were very devout, they had prejudices,
they had old-fashioned notions. Besides, he had been as good as
affianced to a lady of their election ever since he was born. He
was going home to marry his second cousin.


Shortly after the birth of Camille I had to go to London, and
it was nearly a year before I came back to Paris. Nina was
looking better than when I had left, but still in nowise like her
old self—pale and worn and worried, with a smile that was the
ghost of her former one. She had been waiting for my return,
she said, to have a long talk with me. ” I have made a little plan.

                                                I want

                        40 The Bohemian Girl

I want you to advise me. Of course you must advise me to stick
to it.”

And when we had reached her lodgings, and were alone in the
salon, ” It is about Camille, it is about her bringing-up,” she
explained. ” The Latin Quarter ? It is all very well for you,
for me ; but for a growing child ? Oh, my case was different ;
I had my father. But Camille ? Restaurants, cafés, studios, the
Boul’ Miche, and this little garret—do they form a wholesome
environment ? Oh, no, no—I am not a renegade. I am a
Bohemian ; I shall always be ; it is bred in the bone. But my
daughter—ought she not to have the opportunity, at least, of being
different, of being like other girls ? You see, I had my father ;
she will have only me. And I distrust myself ; I have no
‘ system.’ Shall I not do better, then, to adopt the system of the
world ? To give her the conventional education, the conventional
‘ advantages ‘ ? A home, what they call home influences.
Then, when she has grown up, she can choose for herself.
Besides, there is the question of francs and centimes. I have
been able to earn a living for myself, it is true. But even that is
more difficult now ; I can give less time to work ; I am in debt.
And we are two ; and our expenses must naturally increase from
year to year. And I should like to be able to put something
aside. Hand-to-mouth is a bad principle when you have a growing

After a little pause she went on : “So my problem is, first, how
to earn our livelihood, and, secondly, how to make something like
a home for Camille, something better than this tobacco-smoky,
absinthe-scented atmosphere of the Latin Quarter. And I can
see only one way of accomplishing the two things. You will
smile—but I have considered it from every point of view. I have
examined myself, my own capabilities. I have weighed all the


                        By Henry Harland 41

chances. I wish to take a flat, in another quarter of the town,
near the Etoile or the Pare Monceau, and—open a pension. There
is my plan.”

I had a much simpler and pleasanter plan of my own, but of
that, as I knew, she would hear nothing. I did not smile at hers,
however ; though I confess it was not easy to imagine madcap
Nina in the rôle of a landlady, regulating the accounts and pre-
siding at the table of a boarding-house. I can’t pretend that I
believed there was the slightest likelihood of her filling it with
success. But I said nothing to discourage her ; and the fact that
she is rich to-day proves how little I divined the resources of her
character. For the boarding-house she kept was an exceedingly
good boarding-house ; she showed herself the most practical of
mistresses ; and she prospered amazingly. Jeanselme, whose
father had recently died, leaving him a fortune, lent her what
money she needed to begin with ; she took and furnished a flat in
the Avenue de l’Alma ; and I—I feel quite like an historical
personage when I remember that I was her first boarder. Others
soon followed me, though, for she had friends amongst all the
peoples of the earth—English and Americans, Russians, Italians,
Austrians, even Roumanians and Servians, as well as French ;
and each did what he could to help. At the end of a year she
overflowed into the flat above ; then into that below ; then she
acquired the lease of the entire house. She worked tremendously,
she was at it early and late, her eyes were everywhere ; she set an
excellent table ; she employed admirable servants ; and if her
prices were a bit stiff, she gave you your money’s worth, and
there were no ” surprises.” It was comfortable and quiet ; the
street was bright, the neighbourhood convenient. You could
dine in the common salle-à-manger if you liked, or in your
private sitting-room. And you never saw your landlady except


                        42 The Bohemian Girl

for purposes of business. She lived apart, in the entresol, alone
with Camille and her body-servant Jeanne. There was the
” home ” she had set out to make.

Meanwhile another sort of success was steadily thrusting itself
upon her—she certainly never went out of her way to seek it ; she
was much too busy to do that. Such of her old friends as remained
in Paris came frequently to see her, and new friends gathered
round her. She was beautiful, she was intelligent, responsive,
entertaining. In her salon, on a Friday evening, you would meet
half the lions that were at large in the town—authors, painters,
actors, actresses, deputies, even an occasional Cabinet minister.
Red ribbons and red rosettes shone from every corner of the
room. She had become one of the oligarchs of la haute Bohème, she
had become one of the celebrities of Paris. It would be tiresome
to count the novels, poems, songs, that were dedicated to her, the
portraits of her, painted or sculptured, that appeared at the
Mirlitons or the Palais de l’Industrie. Numberless were the
partis who asked her to marry them (I know one, at least, who
has returned to the charge again and again), but she only laughed,
and vowed she would never marry. I don’t say that she has
never had her fancies, her experiences ; but she has consistently
scoffed at marriage. At any rate, she has never affected the least
repentance for what some people would call her ” fault.” Her
ideas of right and wrong have undergone very little modification.
She was deceived in her estimate of the character of Ernest Mayer,
if you please ; but she would indignantly deny that there was
anything sinful, anything to be ashamed of, in her relations with
him. And if, by reason of them, she at one time suffered a good
deal of pain, I am sure she accounts Camille an exceeding great
compensation. That Camille is her child she would scorn to
make a secret. She has scorned to assume the conciliatory title


                        By Henry Harland 43

of Madame. As plain Mademoiselle, with a daughter, you must
take her or leave her. And, somehow, all this has not seemed to
make the faintest difference to her clientèle, not even to the
primmest of the English. I can’t think of one of them who
did not treat her with deference, like her, and recommend
her house.

But her house they need recommend no more, for she has sold it.
Last spring, when I was in Paris, she told me she was about to do
so. ” Ouf ! I have lived with my nose to the grindstone long
enough. I am going to ‘retire.'” What money she had saved from
season to season, she explained, she had entrusted to her friend
Baron C * * * * * for speculation. ” He is a wizard, and so
I am a rich woman. I shall have an income of something like
three thousand pounds, mon cher ! Oh, we will roll in it. I have
had ten bad years—ten hateful years. You don’t know how I
have hated it all, this business, this drudgery, this cut-and-dried,
methodical existence—moi, enfant de Bohème ! But, enfin, it was
obligatory. Now we will change all that. Nous reviendrons à
nos premières amours. I shall have ten good years—ten years of
barefaced pleasure. Then—I will range myself—perhaps. There
is the darlingest little house for sale, a sort of châlet, built of red
brick, with pointed windows and things, in the Rue de Lisbonne.
I shall buy it—furnish it—decorate it. Oh, you will see. I shall
have my carriage, I shall have toilets, I shall entertain, I shall
give dinners—olàlà ! No more boarders, no more bores, cares,
responsibilities. Only, my friends and—life! I feel like one
emerging from ten years in the galleys, ten years of penal
servitude. To the Pension Childe—bonsoir ! ”

” That’s all very well for you,” her listener complained sombrely.
” But for me ? Where shall I stop when I come to Paris ? ”

” With me. You shall be my guest. I will kill you if you


                        44 The Bohemian Girl

ever go elsewhere. You shall pass your old age in a big chair in
the best room, and Camille and I will nurse your gout and make
herb-tea for you.”

” And I shall sit and think of what might have been.”

” Yes, we’ll indulge all your little foibles. You shall sit and
‘ feel foolish ‘—from dawn to dewy eve.”


If you had chanced to be walking in the Bois-de-Boulogne this
afternoon, you might have seen a smart little basket-phaeton flash
past, drawn by two glossy bays, and driven by a woman—a
woman with sparkling eyes, a lovely colour, great quantities of
soft dark hair, and a figure—

    ” Hélas, mon père, la taille d’une déesse “—

a smiling woman, in a wonderful blue-grey toilet, grey driving-
gloves, and a bold-brimmed grey-felt hat with waving plumes.
And in the man beside her you would have recognised your
servant. You would have thought me in great luck, perhaps you
would have envied me. But—esse, quam videri !—I would I were
as enviable as I looked.

MLA citation:

Harland, Henry. “The Bohemian Girl.” The Yellow Book, vol. 4, January 1895, pp. 12-44. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.