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NEWSREEL XXX 4 страница




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"Oh, I hope you didn't mind, Miss Hutchins, I hope
you don't mind this crowd and everything," apologized
Paul Johnson.

 

People spun around them dancing and shouting and she
had to kiss Paul Johnson too before they'd let them go.
He apologized solemnly again and said, "Isn't it wonder-
ful to be in Paris to see the armistice and everything, if
you don't mind the crowd and everything . . . but hon-
estly, Miss Hutchins, they're awful goodnatured. No fights
or nothin' . . . Say, Don's in this car."

 

Don was behind a little zinc bar in the entrance to the
café shaking up cocktails for a big crowd of Canadian and
Anzac officers all very drunk. "I can't get him out of
there," whispered Paul. "He's had more than he ought."
They got Don out from behind the bar. There seemed
to be nobody there to pay for the drinks. In the door he
pulled off his grey cap and cried, "Vive les quakers . . .
à bas la guerre," and everybody cheered. They roamed
around aimlessly for a while, now and then they'd be
stopped by a ring of people dancing around her and Don
would kiss her. He was noisy drunk and she didn't like
the way he acted as if she was his girl. She began to feel
tired by the time they got to the place de la Concorde
and suggested that they cross the river and try to get to
her apartment where she had some cold veal and salad.

 

Paul was embarrassedly saying perhaps he'd better not
come, when Don ran off after a group of Alsatian girls
who were hopping and skipping up the Champs Elysées.
"Now you've got to come," she said. "To keep me from
being kissed too much by strange men."

 

"But Miss Hutchins, you mustn't think Don meant any-
thing running off like that. He's very excitable, especially
when he drinks." She laughed and they walked on with-
out saying anything more.

 

When they got to her apartment the old concièrge
hobbled out from her box and shook hands with both of

 

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them. "Ah, madame, c'est la victoire," she said, "but it
won't make my dead son come back to life, will it?" For
some reason Eveline could not think of anything to do but
give her five francs and she went back muttering a sing-
song, "Merci, m'sieur, madame."



 

Up in Eveline's tiny rooms Paul seemed terribly em-
barrassed. They ate everything there was to the last crumb
of stale bread and talked a little vaguely. Paul sat on the
edge of his chair and told her about his travels back and
forth with despatches. He said how wonderful it had been
for him coming abroad and seeing the army and European
cities and meeting people like her and Don Stevens and
that he hoped she didn't mind his not knowing much about
all the things she and Don talked about. "If this really is
the beginning of peace I wonder what we'll all do, Miss
Hutchins." "Oh, do call me Eveline, Paul." "I really do
think it is the peace, Eveline, according to Wilson's Four-
teen Points. I think Wilson's a great man myself in spite
of all Don says, I know he's a darn sight cleverer than I
am, but still . . . maybe this is the last war there'll ever
be. Gosh, think of that . . ." She hoped he'd kiss her when
he left but all he did was shake hands awkwardly and say
all in a breath, "I hope you won't mind if I come to see
you next time I can get to Paris."



 

For the Peace Conference, J.W. had a suite at the
Crillon, with his blonde secretary Miss Williams at a desk
in a little anteroom, and Morton his English valet serving
tea in the late afternoon. Eveline liked dropping into the
Crillon late in the afternoon after walking up the arcades
of the rue de Rivoli from her office. The antiquated cor-
ridors of the hotel were crowded with Americans coming
and going. In J.W.'s big salon there'd be Morton stealthily
handing around tea, and people in uniform and in frock

 

-295-

 

coats and the cigarettesmoky air would be full of halftold
anecdotes. J.W. fascinated her, dressed in grey Scotch
tweeds that always had a crease on the trousers (he'd
given up wearing his Red Cross major's uniform), with
such an aloof agreeable m Anner, tempered by the pre-
occupied look of a very busy man always being called up
on the phone, receiving telegrams or notes from his secre-
tary, disappearing into the embrasure of one of the win-
dows that looked out on the place de la Concorde with
someone for a whispered conversation, or being asked to
step in to see Colonel House for a moment; and still
when he handed her a champagne cocktail just before they
all went out to dinner on nights he didn't have to go to
some official function, or asked if she wanted another cup
of tea, she'd feel for a second in her eyes the direct glance
of two boyish blue eyes with a funny candid partly hu-
morous look that teased her. She wanted to know him
better; Eleanor, she felt, watched them like a cat watching
a mouse. After all, Eveline kept saying to herself, she
hadn't any right. It wasn't as if there was anything really
between them.

 

When J.W. was busy they often went out with Edgar
Robbins who seemed to be a sort of assistant of J.W.'s.
Eleanor couldn't abide him, said there was something in-
sulting in his cynicism, but Eveline liked to hear him talk.
He said the peace was going to be ghastlier than the war,
said it was a good thing nobody ever asked his opinion
about anything because he'd certainly land in jail if he
gave it. Robbins' favorite hangout was Freddy's up back
of Montmartre. They'd sit there all evening in the small
smokycrowded rooms while Freddy, who had a big white
beard like Walt Whitman, would play on the guitar and
sing. Sometimes he'd get drunk and set the company up
to drinks on the house. Then his wife, a cross woman who
looked like a gypsy, would come out of the back room
and curse and scream at him. People at the tables would

 

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get up and recite long poems about La Grand' route, La
Misère, L'Assassinat or sing old French songs like Les
Filles de Nantes. If it went over everybody present would
clap hands in unison. They called that giving a bon.
Freddy got to know them and would make a great fuss
when they arrived, "Ah, les belles Amèricaines." Robbins
would sit there moodily drinking calvados after calvados,
now and then letting out a crack about the day's happen-
ings at the peace conference. He said that the place was a
fake that the calvados was wretched and that Freddy was
a dirty old bum, but for some reason he always wanted
to go back.

 

J.W. went there a couple of times, and occasionally
they'd take some delegate from the peace conference who'd
be mightily impressed by their knowledge of the inner
life of Paris. J.W. was enchanted by the old French songs,
but he said the place made him feel itchy and that he
thought there were fleas there. Eveline liked to watch him
when he was listening to a song with his eyes half closed
and his head thrown back. She felt that Robbins didn't
appreciate the rich potentialities of his nature and always
shut him up when he started to say something sarcastic
about the big cheese, as he called him. She thought it was
disagreeable of Eleanor to laugh at things like that, espe-
cially when J.W. seemed so devoted to her.

 

When Jerry Burnham came back from Armenia and
found that Eveline was going around with J. Ward
Moorehouse all the time he was terribly upset. He took
her out to lunch at the Medicis Grill on the left bank
and talked and talked about it.

 

"Why, Eveline, I thought of you as a person who
wouldn't be taken in by a big bluff like that. The guy's
nothing but a goddam megaphone. . . . Honestly, Eve-
line, it's not that I expect you to fall for me, I know very
well you don't give a damn about me and why should
you? . . . But Christ, a damn publicity agent."

 

-297-

 

"Now, Jerry," said Eveline with her mouth full of hors
d'oeuvres, "you know very well I'm fond of you . . . It's
just too tiresome of you to talk like that."

 

"You don't like me the way I'd like you to but
to hell with that . . . Have wine or beer?"

 

"You pick out a nice Burgundy, Jerry, to warm us up
a little. . . . But you wrote an article about J.W. your-
self . . . I saw it reprinted in that column in the Herald."

 

"Go ahead, rub it in . . . Christ, I swear, Eveline, I'm
going to get out of this lousy trade and . . . that was all
plain oldfashioned bushwa and I thought you'd have had
the sense to see it. Gee, this is good sole."

 

"Delicious . . . but, Jerry, you're the one ought to
have more sense."

 

"I dunno I thought you were different from other
upperclass women, made your own living and all that."

 

"Let's not wrangle, Jerry, let's have some fun, here
we are in Paris and the war's over and it's a fine wintry
day and everybody's here. . . ."

 

"War over, my eye," said Jerry rudely. Eveline thought
he was just too tiresome, and looked out the window at
the ruddy winter sunlight and the old Medici fountain and
the delicate violet lacework of the bare trees behind the
high iron fence of the Luxemburg Garden. Then she
looked at Jerry's red intense face with the turnedup nose
and the crisp boyishly curly hair that was beginning to turn
a little grey; she leaned over and gave the back of his
hand a couple of little pats.

 

"I understand, Jerry, you've seen things that I haven't
imagined . . . I guess it's the corrupting influence of the
Red Cross."

 

He smiled and poured her out some more wine and said
with a sigh:

 

"You're the most damnably attractive woman I ever
met, Eveline . . . but like all women what you worship
is power, when money's the main thing it's money, when

 

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it's fame it's fame, when it's art, you're a goddamned art-
lover . . . I guess I'm the same, only I kid myself more."

 

Eveline pressed her lips together and didn't say any-
thing. She suddenly felt cold and frightened and lonely
and couldn't think of anything to say. Jerry gulped down
a glass of wine and started talking about throwing up his
job and going to Spain to write a book. He said he didn't
pretend to have any selfrespect, but that being a news-
paper correspondent was too damn much nowadays. Eve-
line said she never wanted to go back to America, she felt
life would be just too tiresome there after the war.

 

When they'd had their coffee they walked through the
gardens. Near the senate chamber some old gentlemen
were playing croquet in the last purplish patch of after-
noon sunlight. "Oh, I think the French are wonderful,"
said Eveline. "Second childhood," growled Jerry. They
rambled aimlessly round the streets, reading palegreen
yellow and pink theatre notices on kiosks, looking into
windows of antiqueshops. "We ought both to be at our
offices," said Jerry. "I'm not going back," said Eveline,
"I'll call up and say I have a cold and have gone home to
bed . . . I think I'll do that anyway." "Don't do that,
let's play hookey and have a swell time." They went to
the café opposite St. Germain-des-Prés. When Eveline
came back from phoning, Jerry had bought her a bunch of
violets and ordered cognac and seltzer. "Eveline, let's
celebrate," he said, "I think I'll cable the sonsobitches and
tell 'em I've resigned.""Do you think you ought to do
that, Jerry? After all it's a wonderful opportunity to see
the peace conference and everything."

 

After a few minutes she left him and walked home.
She wouldn't let him come with her. As she passed the
window where they'd been sitting she looked in; he was
ordering another drink.

 

On the rue de Bussy the market was very jolly under the
gaslights. It all smelt of fresh greens, and butter and

 

-299-

 

cheese. She bought some rolls for breakfast and a'few little
cakes in case somebody came in to tea. It was cosy in her
little pink and white salon with the fire of brickettes going
in the grate. Eveline wrapped herself up in a steamerrug
and lay down on the couch.

 

She was asleep when her bell jingled. It was Eleanor
and J.W. come to inquire how she was. J.W. was free
tonight and wanted them to come to the opera with him
to see Castor and Pollux. Eveline said she was feeling
terrible but she thought she'd go just the same. She put
on some tea for them and ran into her bedroom to dress.
She felt so happy she couldn't help humming as she sat
at her dressingtable looking at herself in the glass. Her
skin looked very white and her face had a quiet mysterious
look she liked. She carefully put on very little lipstick and
drew her hair back to a knot behind; her hair worried her,
it wasn't curly and didn't have any particular color; for
a moment she thought she wouldn't go. Then Eleanor
came in with a cup of tea in her hand telling her to hurry
because they had to go down and wait while she dressed
herself and that the opera started early. Eveline didn't
have any real evening wrap so she had to wear an old
rabbitfur coat over her eveningdress. At Eleanor's they
found Robbins waiting; he wore a tuxedo that looked a
little the worse for wear. J.W. was in the uniform of a
Red Cross major. Eveline thought he must have been
exercising, because his jowl didn't curve out from the tight
high collar as much as it had formerly.

 

They ate in a hurry at Poccardi's and drank a lot of
badly made Martinis. Robbins and J.W. were in fine
feather, and kept them laughing all the time. Eveline
understood now why they worked together so well. At
the opera, where they arrived late, it was wonderful,
glittering with chandeliers and uniforms. Miss Williams,
J.W.'s secretary, was already in the box. Eveline thought
how nice he must be to work for, and for a moment bit-

 

-300-

 

terly envied Miss Williams, even to her peroxide hair and
her brisk chilly manner of talking. Miss Williams leaned
back and said they'd missed it, that President and Mrs.
Wilson had just come in and had been received with a
great ovation, and Marshal Foch was there and she thought
President Poincaré.

 

Between the acts they worked their way as best they
could into the crowded lobby. Eveline found herself
walking up and down with Robbins, every now and then
she'd catch sight of Eleanor with J.W. and feel a little
envious.

 

"They put on a better show out here than they do on
the stage," said Robbins.

 

"Don't you like the production. . . . I think it's a
magnificent production."

 

"Well, I suppose looked at from the professional point
of view. . . ."

 

Eveline was watching Eleanor, she was being introduced
to a French general in red pants; she looked handsome this
evening in her hard chilly way. Robbins tried to pilot
them in through the crowd to the little bar, but they gave
it up, there were too many people ahead of them. Robbins
started all at once to talk about Baku and the oil business.
"It's funny as a crutch," he kept saying, "while we sit
here wrangling under schoolmaster Wilson, John Bull's
putting his hands on all the world's future supplies of
oil . . . just to keep it from the bolos. They've got Persia
and the messpot and now I'll be damned if they don't
want Baku." Eveline was bored and thinking to herself
that Robbins had been in his cups too much again, when
the bell rang.

 

When they got back to their box a leanfaced man who
wasn't in evening clothes was sitting in the back talking to
J.W. in a low voice. Eleanor leaned over to Eveline and
whispered in her car, "That was General Gouraud." The
lights went out; Eveline found she was forgetting herself

 

-301-

 

in the deep stateliness of the music. At the next intermis-
sion she leaned over to J.W. and asked him how he liked
it. "Magnificent," he said, and she saw to her surprise
that he had tears in his eyes. She found herself talking
about the music with J.W. and the man without a dress
suit, whose name was Rasmussen.

 

It was hot and crowded in the tall overdecorated lobby.
Mr. Rasmussen managed to get a window open and they
went out on the balcony that opened on the serried lights
that dimmed down the avenue into a reddish glow of fog.

 

"That's the time I'd liked to have lived," said J.W.
dreamily. "The court of the sun king?" asked Mr. Ras-
mussen. "No, it must have been too chilly in the winter
months and I bet the plumbing was terrible." "Ah, it was
a glorious time," said J.W. as if he hadn't heard. Then he
turned to Eveline, "You're sure you're not catching cold
. . . you ought to have a wrap, you know."

 

"But as I was saying, Moorehouse," said Rasmussen in
a different tone of voice, "I have positive information that
they can't hold Baku without heavy reinforcements and
there's no one they can get them from except from us."
The bell rang again and they hurried to their box.

 

After the opera they went to the Café de la Paix to
drink a glass of champagne, except for Robbins who went
off to take Miss Williams back to her hotel. Eveline and
Eleanor sat on the cushioned bench on either side of J.W.
and Mr. Rasmussen sat on a chair opposite them. He did
most of the talking, taking nervous gulps of champagne
between sentences or else running his fingers through his
spiky black hair. He was an engineer with Standard Oil.
He kept talking about Baku and Mohommarah and Mosul,
how the Anglo-Persian and the Royal Dutch were getting
ahead of the U.S. in the Near East and trying to foist
off Armenia on us for a mandate, which the Turks had
pillaged to the last blade of grass, leaving nothing but a
lot of starving people to feed. "We'll probably have to

 

-302-

 

feed 'em anyway," said J.W. "But my gosh, man, some-
thing can be done about it, even if the president has so
far forgotten American interests to let himself be bull-
dozed by the British in everything, public opinion can be
aroused. We stand to lose our primacy in world oil pro-
duction." "Oh, well, the matter of mandates isn't settled
yet." "What's going to happen is that the British are going
to present a fait accompli to the Conference . . . findings
keepings . . . why it would be better for us for the French
to have Baku." "How about the Russians?" asked Eveline.
"According to selfdetermination the Russians have no right
to it. The population is mostly Turkish and Armenian,"
said Rasmussen. "But, by gorry, I'd rather have the reds
have it than the British, of course I don't suppose they'll
last long."

 

"No, I have reliable information that Lenine and
Trotsky have split and the monarchy will be restored in
Russia inside of three months." When they finished the
first bottle of champagne, Mr. Rasmussen ordered an-
other. By the time the café closed Eveline's ears were ring-
ing. "Let's make a night of it," Mr. Rasmussen was saying.

 

They went in a taxicab up to Montmartre to L'Abbaye
where there was dancing and singing and uniforms every-
where and everything was hung with the flags of the Allies.
J.W. asked Eveline to dance with him first and Eleanor
looked a little sour when she had to go off in the arms of
Mr. Rasmussen who danced very badly indeed. Eveline
and J.W. talked about the music of Rameau and J.W.
said again that he would have liked to have lived in the
times of the court at Versailles. But Eveline said what
could be more exciting than to be in Paris right now with
all the map of Europe being remade right under their
noses, and J.W. said perhaps she was right. They agreed
that the orchestra was too bad to dance to.

 

Next dance Eveline danced with Mr. Rasmussen who
told her how handsome she was and said he needed a good

 

-303-

 

woman in his life; that he'd spent all his life out in the
bush grubbing around for gold or testing specimens of shale
and that he was sick of it, and if Wilson now was going
to let the British bulldoze him into giving them the world's
future supply of oil when we'd won the war for them,
he was through. "But can't you do something about it,
can't you put your ideas before the public, Mr. Ras-
mussen?" said Eveline, leaning a little against him; Eve-
line had a crazy champagneglass spinning in her head.

 

"That's Moorehouse's job not mine, and there isn't any
public since the war. The public'll damn well do what it's
told, and besides like God Almighty it's far away . . .
what we've got to do is make a few key men understand
the situation. Moorehouse is the key to the key men."
"And who's the key to Moorehouse?" asked Eveline reck-
lessly. The music had stopped. "Wish to heaven I knew,"
said Rasmussen soberly in a low voice. "You're not, are
you?" Eveline shook her head with a tightlipped smile
like Eleanor's.

 

When they'd eaten onion soup and some cold meat
J.W. said, "Let's go up to the top of the hill and make
Freddy play us some songs." "I thought you didn't like
it up there," said Eleanor. "I don't, my dear," said J.W.,
"but I like those old French songs." Eleanor looked cross
and sleepy. Eveline wished she and Mr. Rasmussen would
go home; she felt if she could only talk to J.W. alone,
he'd be so interesting.

 

Freddy's was almost empty; it was chilly in there. They
didn't have any champagne and nobody drank the liqueurs
they ordered. Mr. Rasmussen said Freddy looked like an
old prospector he'd known out in the Sangre de Cristo
mountains and began to tell a long story about Death
Valley that nobody listened to. They were all chilly and
sleepy and silent, going back across Paris in the old
mouldysmelling twocylinder taxi. J.W. wanted a cup of

 

-304-

 

coffee, but there didn't seem to be anywhere open where
he could get it.

 

Next day Mr. Rasmussen called Eveline up at her.
office to ask her to eat lunch with him and she was hard
put to it to find an excuse not to go. After that Mr. Ras-
mussen seemed to be everywhere she went, sending her
flowers and theatre tickets, coming around with automobiles
to take her riding, sending her little blue pneumatiques
full of tender messages. Eleanor teased her about her new
Romeo.

 

Then Paul Johnson turned up in Paris, having gotten
himself into the Sorbonne detachment, and used to come
around to her place on the rue de Bussy in the late after-
noons and sit watching her silently and lugubriously. He
and Mr. Rasmussen would sit there talking about wheat
and the stockyards, while Eveline dressed to go out with
somebody else, usually Eleanor and J.W. Eveline could
see that J.W. always liked to have her along as well as
Eleanor when they went out in the evenings; it was just
that welldressed American girls were rare in Paris at that
time, she told herself, and that J.W. liked to be seen with
them and to have them along when he took important
people out to dinner. She and Eleanor treated each other
with a stiff nervous sarcasm now, except occasionally when
they were alone together, they talked like in the old days,
laughing at people and happenings together. Eleanor
would never let a chance pass to poke fun at her Romeos.

 

Her brother George turned up at the office one day
with a captain's two silver bars on his shoulders. His whip-
cord uniform fitted like a glove, his puttees shone and he
wore spurs. He'd been in the intelligence service attached
to the British and had just come down from Germany
where he'd been an interpreter on General McAndrews'
staff. He was going to Cambridge for the spring term and
called everybody blighters or rotters and said the food at
the restaurant where Eveline took him for lunch was

 

-305-

 

simply ripping. After he'd left her, saying her ideas were
not cricket, she burst out crying. When she was leaving
the office that afternoon, thinking gloomily about how
George had grown up to be a horrid little prig of a brass-
hat, she met Mr. Rasmussen under the arcades of the
rue de Rivoli; he was carrying a mechanical canarybird.
It was a stuffed canary and you wound it up underneath
the cage. Then it fluttered its wings and sang. He made.
her stop on the corner while he made it sing. "I'm going
to send that back home to the kids," he said. "My wife
and I are separated but I'm fond of the kids; they live in
Pasadena . . . I've had a very unhappy life." Then he
invited Eveline to step into the Ritz bar and have a cock-
tail with him. Robbins was there with a redheaded news-
paper woman from San Francisco. They sat at a wicker
table together and drank Alexanders. The bar was
crowded. "What's the use of a league of nations if it's to
be dominated by Great Britain and her colonies?" said Mr.
Rasmussen sourly. "But don't you think any kind of a
league's better than nothing?" said Eveline. "It's not the
name you give things, it's who's getting theirs underneath
that counts," said Robbins.

 

"That's a very cynical remark," said the California
woman. "This isn't any time to be cynical."

 

"This is a time," said Robbins, "when if we weren't
cynical we'd shoot ourselves."

 

In March Eveline's two week leave came around.
Eleanor was going to make a trip to Rome to help wind
up the affairs of the office there, so they decided they'd go
down on the train together and spend a few days in Nice.
They needed to get the damp cold of Paris out of their
bones. Eveline felt as excited as a child the afternoon when
they were all packed and ready to go and had bought

 

-306-

 

wagon lit reservations and gotten their transport orders
signed.

 

Mr. Rasmussen insisted on seeing her off and ordered
up a big dinner in the restaurant at the Gare de Lyon that
Eveline was too excited to eat, what with the smell of
the coalsmoke and the thought of waking up where it
would be sunny and warm. Paul Johnson appeared when
they were about half through, saying he'd come to help
them with their bags. He'd lost one of the buttons off his
uniform and he looked gloomy and mussed up. He said
he wouldn't eat anything but nervously drank down sev-
eral glasses of wine. Both he and Mr. Rasmussen looked
like thunderclouds when Jerry Burnham appeared drunk
as a lord carrying a large bouquet of roses. "Won't that
be taking coals to Newcastle, Jerry?" said Eveline. "You
don't know Nice . . . you'll probably have skating down
there . . . beautiful figure eights on the ice." "Jerry,"
said Eleanor in her chilly little voice, "you're thinking of
St. Moritz." "You'll be thinking of it too," said Jerry,
"when you feel that cold wind."


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