Gradually the justification of Monsieur Beauchamp’s policy became evident. Ladies of the Chorus brought their admirers there, and to the former Monsieur Beauchamp paid particular courtesy. Long study of feminine psychology had taught him that, whereas a woman may change her lover, she will not change her favourite cafe. Therefore, though the man may pay the bill, the woman is the one to please. Artists from Chelsea would come as well to the Cafe Rouge, celebrating the sale of a picture, and drinking plentifully to the confounding of all art critics. Also, the cabinets particuliers were the scene of some exceedingly expensive and recherche dinners—and almost no one added the bill. When any one did, Monsieur Beauchamp was mortified, and invariably dismissed the same waiter on the spot—thereby gaining for himself and France a reputation for sterling integrity.
‘Ma foi! London may be gray,’ thought Monsieur Beauchamp, ’but she pays well.’
One November evening Monsieur Anton Beauchamp’s critical eye noted the entrance of a dark-haired young man in well-fitting evening clothes, and with him a young lady whose deep-green cloak and white fur round the shoulders set off to perfection her radiant colouring and well-poised figure. Monsieur Beauchamp did not hesitate. After all, he was an artist, and subject to inspiration like other men of genius; so, hurrying downstairs, he waved the waiter aside, and greeted them with a bow which almost amounted to virtuosity.
‘Bon soir, monsieur et madame.’ He cast an anxious glance about the cafe, which was two-thirds filled. ’This tabil will do?—Ah, mais non! He grew indignant at the very thought. ’Pardon, monsieur, that one is very nice—par ici—Non, non! Ah—perhaps you would like a cabinet particulier?’
The sirenic tone of voice and the gesture of his hands indicated the seraphic pleasure to be obtained only in one of those secluded spots.
The American turned inquiringly to the girl.
‘When I was here before,’ she said, ’I was at a table just upstairs to the right. Have you one there, Monsieur Beauchamp?’
Nom d’une pipe! She knew him. And she was beautiful, this English lady. As he personally escorted them upstairs, with the importance of a Lord Chamberlain at a Court function, Monsieur Beauchamp speculated on the flirtatious potentialities of the young woman. If she were only clever enough to be fickle, what a source of profit she might be to the Cafe Rouge! And was she not in appearance much like Mademoiselle Valerie, for whom a member of the Chamber of Deputies had blown out the brains of Monsieur P—— de l’Academie Francaise?