The greatest of my own had not saved me from the decoration of the past week, yet he was as much mine as he was Antonio Caravacioli’s; and Antonio, though impoverished, had his motor-car and dined well, since I happened to see, in my perusal of the journal, that he had been to dinner the evening before at the English Embassy with a great company. “Bravo, Antonio! Find a rich foreign wife if you can, since you cannot do well for yourself at home!” And I could say so honestly, without spite, for all his hatred of me,—because, until I had paid my addition, I was still the possessor of fifty francs!
Fifty francs will continue life in the body of a judicial person a long time in Paris, and combining that knowledge and the good goulasch, I sought diligently for “Mamies” and “Sadies” with a revived spirit. I found neither of those adorable names—in fact, only two such diminutives, which are more charming than our Italian ones: A Miss Jeanie Archibald Zip and a Miss Fannie Sooter. None of the names was harmonious with the grey pongee — in truth, most of them were no prettier (however less processional) than royal names. I could not please myself that I had come closer to the rare lady; I must be contented that the same sky covered us both, that the noise of the same city rang in her ears as mine.
Yet that was a satisfaction, and to know that it was true gave me mysterious breathlessness and made me hear fragments of old songs during my walk that night. I walked very far, under the trees of the Bois, where I stopped for a few moments to smoke a cigarette at one of the tables outside, at Armenonville.
None of the laughing women there could be the lady I sought; and as my refusing to command anything caused the waiter uneasiness, in spite of my prosperous appearance, I remained but a few moments, then trudged on, all the long way to the Cafe’ de Madrid, where also she was not.
How did I assure myself of this since I had not seen her face? I cannot tell you. Perhaps I should not have known her; but that night I was sure that I should.
Yes, as sure of that as I was sure that she was beautiful!
Early the whole of the next day, endeavoring to look preoccupied, I haunted the lobbies and vicinity of the most expensive hotels, unable to do any other thing, but ashamed of myself that I had not returned to my former task of seeking employment, although still reassured by possession of two louis and some silver, I dined well at a one-franc coachman’s restaurant, where my elegance created not the slightest surprise, and I felt that I might live in this way indefinitely.