A LADY’S COUNTRY-HOUSE
Mme. Millet ROBINET.
Orchard, kitchen-garden, stable, poultry-yard, bee-hive and hot-house, have no further mysteries for Madame Colette Willy. They say, she refused to divulge her secret for the destruction of mole-crickets to “a great statesman, who prayed her on his knees."
* * * * *
Madame Colette Willy is in no way different from the description I have just given of her. I am aware that certain folk, having met her in society, insist upon making her very complex. A little more, and they would have ascribed to her the tastes of the mustiest symbolists—and one knows how far from pleasing are those Muses’ robes, how odious the yellow bandeaux above faces expressionless as eggs. Robes and bandeaux are to-day relegated to drawers in the Capitol at Toulouse, from which they will never be taken more, except when occasion calls for the howling of official alexandrines in honor of M. Gaston Deschamps, Jaures, or Vercingetorix.
Madame Colette Willy rises to-day on the world of Letters as the poetess—at last!—who, with the tip of her slipper sends all the painted, laureled, cothurned, lyre-carrying Muses—that, from Monselet to Renan, have roused the aspirations of classes in Rhetoric—rolling, from the top to the bottom of Parnassus.
How charming she is thus—presenting her bull-dog and her cat with as much assurance as Diana would her hound, or a Bacchante her tiger.
See her apple-cheeks, her eyes like blue myosotis, her lips—poppy-petals, and her ivy-like grace! Tell me if this way of leaning against the green barrier of her garden-close, or of lying under the murmurous arbor of mid-Summer, is not worth the starched manner, that old magistrate de Vigny—with his neckcloth wound three times around, and rigid in his trousers’ straps—imposed upon his goddesses? Madame Colette Willy is a live woman, a real woman, who has dared to be natural and who resembles a little village bride far more than a perverse woman of letters.
* * * * *
Read her book and you shall see how accurate are my assertions. It has pleased Madame Colette Willy to embody in a couple of delightful animals, the aroma of gardens, the freshness of the field, the heat of state-roads,—the passions of men.... For through this girlish laughter ringing in the forest, I tell you, I hear the sobbing of a well-spring. One does not stoop to a poodle or tom-cat, without feeling the heart wrung with dumb anguish. One is sensible, in comparing ourselves to them, of all that separates and of all that unites us.
* * * * *
A dog’s eyes hold the sorrow of having, since the earliest days of creation, licked the whip of his incorrigible persecutor in vain. For nothing has mollified man—not the prey brought him by a famishing spaniel, nor the humble guilelessness of the shepherd-dog, guarding the peace of the shadowy flocks under the stars.