Every event, no matter how trifling, in this man’s pitiful career had been recorded in the American newspapers with an elaboration which, for my part, I found infuriatingly tiresome. I have lived in Paris so long that I am afraid to go home: I have too little to show for my years of pottering with paint and canvas, and I have grown timid about all the changes that have crept in at home. I do not know the “new men,” I do not know how they would use me, and fear they might make no place for me; and so I fit myself more closely into the little grooves I have worn for myself, and resign myself to stay. But I am no “expatriate.” I know there is a feeling at home against us who remain over here to do our work, but in most instances it is a prejudice which springs from a misunderstanding. I think the quality of patriotism in those of us who “didn’t go home in time” is almost pathetically deep and real, and, like many another oldish fellow in my position, I try to keep as close to things at home as I can. All of my old friends gradually ceased to write to me, but I still take three home newspapers, trying to follow the people I knew and the things that happen; and the ubiquity of so worthless a creature as Larrabee Harman in the columns I dredged for real news had long been a point of irritation to this present exile. Not only that: he had usurped space in the Continental papers, and of late my favourite Parisian journal had served him to me with my morning coffee, only hinting his name, but offering him with that gracious satire characteristic of the Gallic journalist writing of anything American. And so this grotesque wreck of a man was well known to the boulevard—one of its sights. That was to be perceived by the flutter he caused, by the turning of heads in his direction, and the low laughter of the people at the little tables. Three or four in the rear ranks had risen to their feet to get a better look at him and his companion.
Some one behind us chuckled aloud. “They say Mariana beats him.”
The dancer was aware of the flutter, and called Harman’s attention to it with a touch upon his arm and a laugh and a nod of her violent plumage.
At that he seemed to rouse himself somewhat: his head rolled heavily over upon his shoulder, the lids lifted a little from the red-shot eyes, showing a strange pride when his gaze fell upon the many staring faces.
Then, as the procession moved again and the white automobile with it, the sottish mouth widened in a smile of dull and cynical contempt: the look of a half-poisoned Augustan borne down through the crowds from the Palatine after supping with Caligula.
Ward pulled my sleeve.
“Come,” he said, “let us go over to the Luxembourg gardens where the air is cleaner.”
Ward is a portrait-painter, and in the matter of vogue there seem to be no pinnacles left for him to surmount. I think he has painted most of the very rich women of fashion who have come to Paris of late years, and he has become so prosperous, has such a polite celebrity, and his opinions upon art are so conclusively quoted, that the friendship of some of us who started with him has been dangerously strained.