She picked up the bottle on her desk and studied its label, frowning. “Run along downstairs, Julia. I’ll see if they won’t send you some hot tea.”
Donahue, hands clasped behind him, was walking off in his leisurely, light-footed way.
“Everything serene?” he called back over his big shoulder.
The neuralgic eye closed and opened, perhaps with another twinge.
“Everything’s serene!” said Sadie Corn.
THE GUIDING MISS GOWD
It has long been the canny custom of writers on travel bent to defray the expense of their journeyings by dashing off tales filled with foreign flavour. Dickens did it, and Dante. It has been tried all the way from Tasso to Twain; from Raskin to Roosevelt. A pleasing custom it is and thrifty withal, and one that has saved many a one but poorly prepared for the European robber in uniform the moist and unpleasant task of swimming home.
Your writer spends seven days, say, in Paris. Result? The Latin Quarter story. Oh, mes enfants! That Parisian student-life story! There is the beautiful young American girl—beautiful, but as earnest and good as she is beautiful, and as talented as she is earnest and good. And wedded, be it understood, to her art—preferably painting or singing. From New York! Her name must be something prim, yet winsome. Lois will do—Lois, la belle Americaine. Then the hero—American too. Madly in love with Lois. Tall he is and always clean-limbed—not handsome, but with one of those strong, rugged faces. His name, too, must be strong and plain, yet snappy. David is always good. The villain is French, fascinating, and wears a tiny black moustache to hide his mouth, which is cruel.
The rest is simple. A little French restaurant—Henri’s. Know you not Henri’s? Tiens! But Henri’s is not for the tourist. A dim little shop and shabby, modestly tucked away in the shadows of the Rue Brie. But the food! Ah, the—whadd’you-call’ems—in the savoury sauce, that is Henri’s secret! The tender, broiled poularde, done to a turn! The bottle of red wine! Mais oui; there one can dine under the watchful glare of Rosa, the plump, black-eyed wife of the concierge. With a snowy apron about her buxom waist, and a pot of red geraniums somewhere, and a sleek, lazy cat contentedly purring in the sunny window!
Then Lois starving in a garret. Temptation! Sacre bleu! Zut! Also nom d’un nom! Enter David. Bon! Oh, David, take me away! Take me back to dear old Schenectady. Love is more than all else, especially when no one will buy your pictures.
The Italian story recipe is even simpler. A pearl necklace; a low, clear whistle. Was it the call of a bird or a signal? His-s-s-st! Again! A black cape; the flash of steel in the moonlight; the sound of a splash in the water; a sickening gurgle; a stifled cry! Silence! His-st! Vendetta!