" Quite five minutes more lagged by before I got my watch, and when I crossed the courtyard I had no expectation of seeing her again; but no sooner had I passed through the gate than I discovered her in trouble. She had been trying to carry the typewriter and an open umbrella, and now the umbrella had blown inside out, and she had put the typewriter on the pavement.
" In such a situation it was not difficult for me to speak.
" I picked the thing up for her. She thanked me, and made another ineffectual attempt to depart. I offered my help. She demurred. I insisted. We made for her tram together—and tram after tram was full. It had been raining for several hours and Paris was a lake of mud. In the end I trudged beside her through the swimming streets, carrying her typewriter all the way to the step of her lodging. So began my courtship.
" She was as solitary as I; her father's death had left her quite alone. He had been old, and very poor. Blind, too. But his work had been done up to the last, my little sweetheart guiding him to the houses—he had earned a living as a piano-tuner. In Sevres she had an aunt, his sister-in-law; but though the woman boasted a respectable business and was fairly well-to-do, she had come foward with nothing more substantial than advice, and the orphan had had only her typewriter to keep the wolf from the door. Her struggles in Paris with a typewriter! She had been forced to pawn it every time she lost a situation. But every time she saved enough to recapture it she felt prosperous again. Her own machine meant ' luxuries.' With her own machine she could afford a plant to put in her attic window, and a rosebud for her breast.
" She loved flowers, and she often wore them, tucked in her bodice, after the Magasins du Louvre closed—the lonely clerk used to hurry to meet the little typist on her way home. Yet she told me once that her love for them had come very late; for years the sight of all flowers had saddened her. She had been born on that melancholy boulevard that leads to the cemetery of Père La Chaise, that quarter of it where one sees, exposed for sale, nothing but floral tokens for the mourners—nothing to right and left but mountains of artificial wreaths, and drear chrysanthemums in stiff white paper cones. As a child she had thought that flowers were grown only for graves.
" I recall the courtship in all seasons, and always in the streets—when the trees were brown and the light faded while we walked; and when the trees had whitened and the lamps were gleaming; and when the trees grew green and we walked in sunshine. It was in the streets that we fell in love—in the streets that I asked her if she would marry me.
" We were on the quai des Orfèvres one Sunday afternoon in summer. I had meant to wait till we were in the Garden of the Tuileries, but we had stopped to look at the river, and- I can see it all now, the barge folk's washing hanging out to bleach, and a woman knitting among the geraniums on a deck. There was a little fishing-tackle shop, I remember, called ' Au Bon Pêcheur,' and a poodle and a Persian cat were basking together on the doorstep. Our hands just touched, because of the people passing ; and then we went on to the Tuileries, and talked. And before we seemed to have talked much, it was moonlight ; a concert had begun, and away in the distance a violinist was playing La Précieuse. ' Why,' i exclaimed, ' i've given you no dinner 1 ' She laughed ; she hadn't been hungry, either. No millionaires have ever dined at Armenonville more merrily than we, for a hundred sous, at a little table on a sidewalk.
"She said, ' When i am your wife, i shall typewrite all your plays for you, Maurice—perhaps that will bring you luck.' And by and by, when we came to the Magasins du Louvre, she pointed to the Comédie-Française : ' You haven't far to travel to reach it, dearest ! ' she smiled—' we'll cross the road together'.
" How sweet she looked in the wedding frock that she had stitched Î How proud i was of her ! Our ménage was two rooms on the left bank ; and in the evening, in our tiny salon on the sixth floor, her devoted hands clattered away on her machine, transcribing my manuscript, till i kissed and held them prisoners. Didn't she work hard enough all day for strangers, poor child?—my salary was too small to liberate her. ' You are jealous,' she would say gaily, ' because i write your dialogue so much faster than you.' And often i wished that i could create a scene as rapidly as she typewrote it. But we had our unpractical evenings, also, when we built castles-in-the-air, and chose the furniture for them. i had brought home, from the Magasins, one of the diaries that they issue annually. It contained plans of the theatres—it always does— and, perched on my knee, she pictured a play of mine at each of them in turn, and the house rocking with applause. And then we pencilled the private box we'd have ; and drove, in fancy and our automobile, to sit there grandly on the three-hundredth night.
" We spent many hours in selecting presents that I would have made to her if I could. One of the things she wanted was, of course, a theatre bag : ' the prettiest that you can pretend ! ' and I pretended a beauty for her in rose brocade—and inside I put the daintiest enamelled opera-glasses that the rue de la Paix could show, and a fan of Brussels point, and a Brussels-point handkerchief, and a quaint gold bonbonnière with sugared violets in it. I remember she threw her arms round my neck as ecstatically as if the things were really there. We were, at the time, supping on stale bread, with a stick of chocolate apiece".
The dramatist sat silent, his eyes grown wide. I think that for a moment he had forgotten his new, desirable home and the antiques on the mantelpiece—that he was back in a girl's arms in a room on a sixth floor. Under the window, his wife had ceased to play at horses, and was swinging their son, instead. The child's delight was boisterous.