The Toilette of the Graces

Mademoiselle Mimi, who was accustomed to sleep far into the day, woke up one morning at ten o'clock, and was greatly surprised not to find Rodolphe beside her, nor even in the room. The preceding night, before falling to sleep, she had, however, seen him at his desk, preparing to spend the night over a piece of literary work which had been ordered of him, and in the completion of which Mimi was especially interested. In fact, the poet had given his companion hopes that out of the fruit of his labors he would purchase a certain summer gown, that she had noticed one day at the "Deux Magots," a famous drapery establishment, to the window of which Mimi's coquetry used very frequently to pay its devotions. Hence, ever since the work in question had been begun, Mimi had been greatly interested in its progress. She would often come up to Rodolphe whilst he was writing, and leaning her head on his shoulder would say to him in serious tones --

"Well, is my dress getting on?"

"There is already enough for a sleeve, so be easy," replied Rodolphe.

One night having heard Rodolphe snap his fingers, which usually meant that he was satisfied with his work, Mimi suddenly sat up in bed and passing her head through the curtains said,

"Is my dress finished?"

"There," replied Rodolphe, showing her four large sheets of paper, covered with closely written lines. "I have just finished the body."

"How nice," said Mimi. "Then there is only the skirt now left to do. How many pages like that are wanted for the skirt?"

"That depends; but as you are not tall, with ten pages of fifty lines each, and eight words to the line, we can get a decent skirt."

"I am not very tall, it is true," said Mimi seriously, "but it must not look as if we had skimped the stuff. Dresses are worn full, and I should like nice large folds so that it may rustle as I walk."

"Very good," replied Rodolphe, seriously. "I will squeeze another word in each line and we shall manage the rustling." Mimi fell asleep again quite satisfied.

As she had been guilty of the imprudence of speaking of the nice dress that Rodolphe was engaged in making for her to Mademoiselles Musette and Phemie, these two young persons had not failed to inform Messieurs Marcel and Schaunard of their friend's generosity towards his mistress, and these confidences had been followed by unequivocal challenges to follow the example set by the poet.

"That is to say," added Mademoiselle Musette, pulling Marcel's moustache, "that if things go on like this a week longer I shall be obliged to borrow a pair of your trousers to go out in."

"I am owed eleven francs by a good house," replied Marcel. "If I get it in I will devote it to buying you a fashionable fig leaf."

"And I," said Phemie to Schaunard, "my gown is in ribbons."

Schaunard took three sous from his pocket and gave them to his mistress, saying,

"Here is enough to buy a needle and thread with. Mend your gown, that will instruct and amuse you at the same time, utile dulci."

Nevertheless, in a council kept very secret, Marcel and Schaunard agreed with Rodolphe that each of them should endeavor to satisfy the justifiable coquetry of their mistresses.

"These poor girls," said Rodolphe, "a trifle suffices to adorn them, but then they must have this trifle. Latterly fine arts and literature have been flourishing; we are earning almost as much as street porters."

"It is true that I ought not to complain," broke in Marcel. "The fine arts are in a most healthy condition, one might believe oneself under the sway of Leo the Tenth."

"In point of fact," said Rodolphe. "Musette tells me that for the last week you have started off every morning and do not get home till about eight in the evening. Have you really got something to do?"

"My dear fellow, a superb job that Medicis got me. I am painting at the Ave Maria barracks. Eight grenadiers have ordered their portraits at six francs a head taken all round, likenesses guaranteed for a year, like a watch. I hope to get the whole regiment. I had the idea, on my own part, of decking out Musette when Medicis pays me, for it is with him I do business and not my models."

"As to me," observed Schaunard carelessly, "although it may not look like it, I have two hundred francs lying idle."

"The deuce, let us stir them up," said Rodolphe.

"In two or three days I count on drawing them," replied Schaunard. "I do not conceal from you that on doing so I intend to give a free rein to some of my passions. There is, above all, at the second hand clothes shop close by a nankeen jacket and a hunting horn, that have for a long time caught my eye. I shall certainly present myself with them."

"But," added Marcel and Rodolphe together, "where do you hope to draw this amount of capital from?"

"Hearken gentlemen," said Schaunard, putting on a serious air, and sitting down between his two friends, "we must not hide from one another that before becoming members of the Institute and ratepayers, we have still a great deal of rye bread to eat, and that daily bread is hard to get. On the other hand, we are not alone; as heaven has created us sensitive to love, each of us has chosen to share his lot."

"Which is little," interrupted Marcel.

"But," continued Schaunard, "whilst living with the strictest economy, it is difficult when one has nothing to put anything on one side, above all if one's appetite is always larger than one's plate."

"What are you driving at?" asked Rodolphe.

"This," resumed Schaunard, "that in our present situation we should all be wrong to play the haughty when a chance offers itself, even outside our art, of putting a figure in front of the cypher that constitutes our capital."

"Well!" said Marcel, "which of us can you reproach with playing the haughty. Great painter as I shall be some day, have I not consented to devote my brush to the pictorial reproduction of French soldiers, who pay me out of their scanty pocket money? It seems to me that I am not afraid to descend the ladder of my future greatness."

"And I," said Rodolphe, "do not you know that for the past fortnight I have been writing a medico-chirurgical epic for a celebrated dentist, who has hired my inspiration at fifteen sous the dozen lines, about half the price of oysters? However, I do not blush; rather than let my muse remain idle, I would willingly put a railway guide into verse. When one has a lyre it is meant to be made use of. And then Mimi has a burning thirst for boots."

"Then," said Schaunard, "you will not be offended with me when you know the source of that Pactolus, the overflowing of which I am awaiting."

The following is the history of Schaunard's two hundred francs: --

About a fortnight before he had gone into the shop of a music publisher who had promised to procure him amongst his customers' pupils for pianoforte lessons or pianofortes to tune.

"By Jove!" said the publisher, on seeing him enter the shop, "you are just in time. A gentleman has been here who wants a pianist; he is an Englishman, and will probably pay well. Are you really a good one?"

Schaunard reflected that a modest air might injure him in the publisher's estimation. Indeed, a modest musician, and especially a modest pianist, is a rare creation. Accordingly, he replied boldly:

"I am a first rate one; if I only had a lung gone, long hair and a black coat, I should be famous as the sun in the heavens; and instead of asking me eight hundred francs to engrave my composition 'The Death of the Damsel,' you would come on your knees to offer me three thousand for it on a silver plate."

The person whose address Schaunard took was an Englishman, named Birne. The musician was first received by a servant in blue, who handed him over to a servant in green, who passed him on to a servant in black, who introduced him into a drawing room, where he found himself face to face with a Briton coiled up in an attitude which made him resemble Hamlet mediating on human nothingness. Schaunard was about to explain the reason of his presence, when a sudden volley of shrill cries cut short his speech. These horrid and ear piercing sounds proceeded from a parrot hung out on the balcony of the story below.

"Oh! That beast, that beast!" exclaimed the Englishman, with a bound on his arm chair, "it will kill me."

Thereupon the bird began to repeat its vocabulary, much more extensive than that of ordinary Pollies; and Schaunard stood stupefied when he heard the animal, prompted by a female voice, reciting the speech of Theramenes with all the professional intonations.

This parrot was the favorite of an actress who was then a great favorite herself, and very much the rage -- in her own boudoir. She was one of those women who, no one knows why, was quoted at fancy prices on the 'Change of dissipation, and whose names are inscribed on the bills of fare of young noblemen's suppers, where they form the living dessert. It gives a Christian standing now-a-days to be seen with one of these Pagans, who often have nothing of antiquity about them except their age. When they are handsome, there is no such great harm after all; the worst one risks is to sleep on straw in return for making them sleep on rosewood. But when their beauty is bought by the ounce at the perfumer's, and will not stand three drops of water on a rag; then their wit consists in a couplet of a farce, and their talent lies in the hand of the claqueur, it is hard indeed to understand how respectable men with good names, ordinary sense, and decent coats, can let themselves be carried away by a common place passion for these most mercenary creatures.

The actress in question was one of these belles of the day. She called herself Delores, and professed to be a Spaniard, although she was born in that Parisian Andalusia known as the Rue Coquenard. From there to the Rue de Provence is about ten minute's walk, but it had cost her seven years to make the transit. Her prosperity had begun with the decline of her personal charms. She had a horse the day when her first false tooth was inserted, and a pair the day of her second. Now she was living at a great rate, lodging in a palace, driving four horses on holidays, and giving balls to which all Paris came -- the "all Paris" of these ladies -- that is to say, that collection of lazy seekers after jokes and scandal; the "all Paris" that plays lansquenet; the sluggards of head and hand, who kill their own time and other other people's; the writers who turn literary men to get some use out of the feather which nature placed on their backs; the bullies of the revel, the clipped and sweated gentlemen, the chevaliers of doubtful orders, all the vagabonds of kid-golve-dom, that come from God knows where, and go back tither again some day; all the marked and remarked notorieties; all those daughters of Eve who retail what they once sold wholesale; all that race of beings, corrupt from their cradle to their coffin, whom one sees on first nights at the theater, with Golconda on foreheads and Thibet on their shoulders, and for whom, notwithstanding, bloom the first violets of spring and the first passions of youth -- all this world which the chronicles of gossip call "all Paris," was received by Delores who owned the parrot aforesaid.

This bird, celebrated for its oratorical talents among all the neighbors, had gradually become the terror of the nearest. Hung out on the balcony, it made a pulpit of its perch and spouted interminable harangues from morning to night. It had learned certain parliamentary topics from some political friends of the mistress, and was very strong on the sugar question. It knew all the actress's repertory by heart, and declaimed it well enough to have been her substitute, in case of indisposition. Moreover, as she was rather polygot in her flirtations, and received visitors from all parts of the world, the parrot spoke all languages, and would sometimes let out a lingua Franca of oaths enough to shock the sailors to whom "Vert-Vert" owed his profitable education. The company of this bird, which might be instructive and amusing for ten minutes, became a positive torture when prolonged. The neighbors had often complained; the actress insolently disregarded their complaints. Two or three other tenants of the house, respectable fathers of families, indignant at the scandalous state of morals into which they were initiated by the indiscretions of the parrot, had given warning to the landlord. But the actress had got on his weak side; whoever might go, she stayed.

The Englishman whose sitting room Schaunard now entered, had suffered with patience for three months. One day he concealed his fury, which was ready to explode, under a full dress suit and sent in his card to Mademoiselle Dolores.

When she beheld him enter, arrayed almost as he would have been to present himself before Queen Victoria, she at first thought it must be Hoffmann, in his part of Lord Spleen; and wishing to be civil to a fellow artist, she offered him some breakfast.

The Englishman understood French. He had learned it in twenty five lessons from a Spanish refugee. Accordingly he replied:

"I accept your invitation on condition of our eating this disagreeable bird," and he pointed to the cage of the parrot, who, having smelled an Englishman, saluted him by whistling "God Save the King."

Dolores thought her neighbor was quizzing her, and was beginning to get angry, when Mr. Birne added:

"As I am very rich, I will buy the animal. Put your price on it."

Dolores answered that she valued the bird, and liked it, and would not wish to see it pass into the hands of another.

"Oh, it's not in my hands I want to put it," replied the Englishman, "But under my feet -- so --," and he pointed to the heels of his boots.

Dolores shuddered with indignation and would probably have broken out, when she perceived on the Englishman's finger a ring, the diamond of which represented an income of twenty five hundred francs. The discovery was like a shower bath to her rage. She reflected that it might be imprudent to quarrel with a man who carried fifty thousand francs on his little finger.

"Well, sir," she said, "as poor Coco annoys you, I will put him in a back room, where you cannot hear him."

The Englishman made a gesture of satisfaction.

"However," added he, pointing once more to his boots," "I should have preferred --."

"Don't be afraid. Where I mean to put him it will be impossible for him to trouble milord."

"Oh! I am not a lord; only an esquire."

With that, Mr. Birne was retiring, after a very low bow, when Delores, who never neglected her interests, took up a small pocket from a work table and said:

"Tonight sir, is my benefit at the theater. I am to play in three pieces. Will you allow me to offer you some box tickets? The price has been but very slightly raised." And she put a dozen boxes into the Briton's hand.

"After showing myself so prompt to oblige him," thought she, "he cannot refuse, if he is a gentleman, and if he sees me play in my pink costume, who knows? He is very ugly, to be sure, and very sad looking, but he might furnish me the means of going to England without being sea sick."

The Englishman having taken the tickets, had their purport explained to him a second time. He then asked the price.

"The boxes are sixty francs each, and there are ten there, but no hurry," said added, seeing the Englishman take out his pocketbook. "I hope that as we are neighbors, this is not the last time I shall have the honor of a visit from you."

"I do not like to run up bills," replied Mr. Birne and drawing from the pocketbook a thousand franc note, he laid it on the table and slid the tickets into his pockets.

"I will give you change," said Dolores, opening a little drawer.

"Never mind," said the Englishman, "the rest will do for a drink," and he went off leaving Dolores thunder struck at his last words.

"For a drink!" she exclaimed. "What a clown! I will send him back his money."

But her neighbor's rudeness had only irritated the epidermis of her vanity; reflection calmed her. She thought that a thousand francs made a very nice "pile," after all, and that she had already put up with impertinences at a cheaper rate.

"Bah!" she said to herself. "It won't do to be so proud. No one was by, and this is my washerwoman's mouth. And this Englishman speaks so badly, perhaps he only means to pay me a compliment."

So she pocketed her bank note joyfully.

But that night after the theater she returned home furious. Mr. Birne had made no use of the tickets, and the ten boxes had remained vacant.

Thus on appearing on the stage, the unfortunate beneficiaire read on the countenances of her lady friends, the delight they felt at seeing the house so badly filled. She even heard an actress of her acquaintance say to another, as she pointed to the empty boxes,

"Poor Dolores, she has only planted one stage box."

"True, the boxes are scarcely occupied," was the rejoinder.

"The stalls, too, are empty."

"Well, when they see her name on the bill, it acts on the house like an air pump."

"Hence, what an idea to put up the price of the seats!"

"A fine benefit. I will bet that the takings would not fill a money box or the foot of a stocking."

"Ah! There she is in her famous red velvet costume."

"She looks like a lobster."

"How much did you make out of your last benefit?" said another actress to her companion.

"The house was full, my dear, and it was a first night; chairs in the gangway were worth a louis. But I only got six francs; my milliner had all the rest. If I was not afraid of chilblains, I would go to Saint Petersburg."

"What, you are not yet thirty, and are already thinking of doing your Russia?"

"What would you have?" said the other, and she added, "and you, is your benefit soon coming on?"

"In a fortnight, I have already three thousand francs worth of tickets taken, without counting my young fellows from Saint Cyr."

"Hallo, the stalls are going out."

"It is because Dolores is singing."

In fact, Dolores, as red in the face as her costume, was warbling her verses with a vinegary voice. Just as she was getting though it with difficulty, two bouquets fell at her feet, thrown by two actresses, her dear friends, who advanced to the front of their box, exclaiming --:

"Bravo, Dolores!"

The fury of the latter may be readily imagined. Thus, on returning home, although it was the middle of the night, she opened the window and woke up Coco, who woke up the honest Mr. Birne, who had dropped off to sleep on the faith of her promise.

From that day war was declared between the actress and the Englishman; a war to the knife, without truce or repose, the parties engaged in which recoiled before no expense or trouble. The parrot took finishing lessons in English and abused his neighbor all day in it, and in his shrillest falsetto. It was something awful. Dolores suffered from it herself, but she hoped that one day or other Mr. Birne would give warning. It was on that she had set her heart. The Englishman, on his part, began by establishing a school of drummers in his drawing room, but the police interfered. He then set up a pistol gallery; his servants riddled fifty cards a day. Again the commissary of police interposed, showing him an article in the municipal code, which forbids the usage of firearms indoors. Mr. Birned stopped firing, but a week after, Dolores found it was raining in her room. The landlord went to visit Mr. Birne, and found him taking saltwater baths in his drawing room. This room, which was very large, had been lined all round with sheets of metal, and had had all the doors fastened up. Into this extempore pond some hundred pails of water were poured, and a few tons of salt were added to them. It was a small edition of the sea. Nothing was lacking, not even fishes. Mr. Birne bathed there everyday, descending into it by an opening made in the upper panel of the center door. Before long an ancient and fish-like smell pervaded the neighborhood, and Dolores had half an inch of water in her bedroom.

The landlord grew furious and threatened Mr. Birne with an action for damages done to his property.

"Have I not a right," asked the Englishman, "to bathe in my rooms?"

"Not in that way, sir."

"Very well, if I have no right to, I won't," said the Briton, full of respect for the laws of the country in which he lived. "It's a pity; I enjoyed it very much."

That very night he had his ocean drained off. It was full time: there was already an oyster bed forming on the floor.

However, Mr. Birne had not given up the contest. He was only seeking some legal means of continuing his singular warfare, which was "nuts" to all the Paris loungers, for the adventure had been blazed about in the lobbies of the theaters and other public places. Dolores felt equally bound to come triumphant out of the contest. Not a few bets were made upon it.

It was then that Mr. Birne thought of the piano as an instrument of warfare. It was not so bad an idea, the most disagreeable of instruments being well capable of contending against the most disagreeable of birds. As soon as this lucky thought occurred to him, he hastened to put it into execution, hired a piano, and inquired for a pianist. The pianist, it will be remembered, was our friend Schaunard. The Englishman recounted to him his sufferings from the parrot, and what he had already done to come to terms with the actress.

"But milord," said Schaunard, "there is a sure way to rid yourself of this creature -- parsley. The chemists are unanimous in declaring that this culinary plant is prussic acid to such birds. Chop up a little parsley, and shake it out of the window on Coco's cage, and the creature will die as certainly as if Pope Alexander VI had invited it to dinner."

"I thought of that myself," said the Englishman, "but the beast is taken good care of. The piano is surer."

Schaunard looked at the other without catching his meaning at once.

"See here," resumed the Englishman, "the actress and her animal always sleep till twelve. Follow my reasoning --"

"Go on. I am at the heels of it."

"I intend to disturb their sleep. The law of the country authorizes me to make music from morning to night. Do you understand?"

"But that will not be so disagreeable to her, if she hears me play the piano all day -- for nothing, too. I am a first-rate hand, if I only had a lung gone --."

"Exactly, but I don't want you to make good music. You must only strike on your instrument thus," trying a scale, "and always the same thing without pity, only one scale. I understand medicine a little; that drives people mad. They will both go mad; that is what I look for. Come, Mr. Musician, to work at once. You shall be well paid."

"And so," said Schaunard, who had recounted the above details to his friends, "this is what I have been doing for the last fortnight. One scale continually from seven in the morning till dark. It is not exactly serious art. But then the Englishman pays me two hundred francs a month for my noise; it would be cutting one's throat to refuse such a windfall. I accepted, and in two or three days I take my first month's money."

It was after those mutual confidences that the three friends agreed amongst themselves to profit by the general accession of wealth to give their mistresses the spring outfit that the coquetry of each of them had been wishing for so long. It was further agreed that whoever pocketed his money first should wait for the others, so that the purchases should be made at the same time, and that Mademoiselle Mimi, Musette, and Phemie should enjoy the pleasure of casting their old skins, as Schaunard put it, together.

Well, two or three days after this council Rodolphe came in first; his dental poem had been paid for; it weighed in eighty francs. The next day Marcel drew from Medicis the price of eighteen corporal's likenesses, at six francs each.

Marcel and Rodolphe had all the difficulty in the world to hide their good fortune.

"It seems to me that I sweat gold," said the poet.

"It is the same with me," said Marcel. "If Schaunard delays much longer, it would be impossible for me to continue to play the part of the anonymous Croesus."

But the very next morning saw Schaunard arrive, splendidly attired in a bright yellow nankeen jacket.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Phemie, dazzled on seeing her lover so elegantly got up, "where did you find that jacket?"

"I found it amongst my papers," replied the musician, making a sign to his two friends to follow him. "I have drawn the coin," said he, when they were alone. "Behold it," and he displayed a handful of gold.

"Well," exclaimed Marcel, "forward, let us sack the shops. How happy Musette will be."

"How pleased Mimi will be," added Rodolphe. "Come, are you coming Schaunard?"

"Allow me to reflect," replied the musician. "In decking out these ladies with the thousand caprices of fashion, we shall perhaps be guilty of a mistake. Think on it. Are you not afraid that when they resemble the engravings in 'The Scarf of Iris,' these splendors will exercise a deplorable influence upon their characters, and does it suit young fellows like us to behave towards women as if we were aged and wrinkled dotards? It is not that I hesitate about sacrificing fifteen or eighteen francs to dress Phemie; but I tremble. When she has a new bonnet she will not even recognize me, perhaps. She looks so well with only a flower in her hair. What do you think about it, philosopher?" broke off Schaunard, addressing Colline, who had come in within the last few minutes.

"Ingratitude is the offspring of kindness," observed the philosopher.

"On the other hand," continued Schaunard, "when your mistresses are well dressed, what sort of figure will you cut beside them in your dilapidated costumes? You will look like their waiting maids. I do not speak for myself," he broke off, drawing himself up in his nankeen jacket, "for thank heaven, I could go anywhere now."

However, despite the spirit of opposition shown by Schaunard, it was once more agreed that the next day all the shops of the neighborhood should be ransacked to the advantage of the ladies.

And, indeed, the next day, at the very moment that we have seen, at the beginning of this chapter, Mademoiselle Mimi wakes up very much astonished at Rodolphe's absence, the poet and his two friends were ascending the stairs, accompanied by a shopman from the Deux Magots and a milliner with specimens. Schaunard, who had bought the famous hunting horn, marched before them playing the overture to "The Caravan."

Musette and Phemie, summoned by Mimi, who was living on the lower floor, descended the stairs with the swiftness of avalanches on hearing the news that the bonnets and dresses had been brought for them. Seeing this poor wealth spread out before them, the three women went almost mad with joy. Mimi was seized with a fit of hysterical laughter, and skipped about like a kid, waving a barege scarf. Musette threw her arms around Marcel's neck, with a little green boot in each hand, which she smote together like cymbals. Phemie looked at Schaunard and sobbed. She could only say, "Oh Alexandre, Alexandre!"

"There is no danger of her refusing the presents of Artaxerxes," murmured Colline the philosopher.

After the first outbursts of joy were over, when the choices had been made and the bills settled, Rodolphe announced to the three girls that they would have to make arrangements to try on their new things the next morning.

"We will go into the country," said he.

"A fine thing to make a fuss of," exclaimed Mussette. "It is not the first time that I have bought, cut out, sewn together, and worn a dress the same day. Besides, we have the night before us, too. We shall be ready, shall we not, ladies?"

"Oh yes! We shall be ready," exclaimed Mimi and Phemie together.

They at once set to work, and for sixteen hours did not lay aside scissors or needle.

The next day was the first of May. The Easter bells had rung in the resurrection of spring a few days before, and she had come eager and joyful. She came, as the German ballad says, light-hearted as the young lover who is going to plant a maypole before the window of his betrothed. She painted the sky blue, the trees green, and all things in bright colors. She aroused the torpid sun, who was sleeping in his bed of mists, his head resting on the snow leaden clouds that served him as a pillow, and cried to him, "Hi! Hi! My friend, time is up, and I am here; quick to work. Put on your fine dress of fresh rays without further delay, and show yourself at once on your balcony to announce my arrival."

Upon which the sun had indeed set out, and was marching along as proud and haughty as some great lord of the court. The swallows, returned from their Eastern pilgrimage, filled the air with their flight, the may whitened the bushes, the violets scented the woods, in which the birds were leaving their nests each with a roll of music under its wings. It was spring indeed, the true spring of poets and lovers, and not the spring of the almanac maker -- an ugly spring with a red nose and frozen fingers, which still keeps poor folk shivering at the chimney corner when the last ashes of the last log have long since burnt out. The balmy breeze swept through the transparent atmosphere and scattered throughout the city the first scent of the surrounding country. The rays of the sun, bright and warm, tapped at the windows. To the invalid they cried, "open, we are health," and at the garret of the young girl bending towards her mirror, innocent first love of the most innocent, they said, "open darling, that we may light up your beauty. We are the messengers of fine weather. You can now put on your cotton frock and your straw hat, and lace your smart boots; the groves in which folk foot it are decked with bright new flowers, and the violins are tuning for the Sunday dance. Good morning, my dear!"

When the angelus rang out from the neighboring church, the three hard working coquettes, who had had scarcely time to sleep a few hours, were already before their looking glasses, giving their final glance at their new attire.

They were all three charming, dressed alike, and wearing on their faces the same glow of satisfaction imparted by the realization of a long cherished wish.

Musette was, above all, dazzlingly beautiful.

"I have never felt so happy," said she to Marcel. "It seems to me that God has put into this hour all the happiness of my life, and I am afraid that there will be no more left me. Ah bah! When there is no more left, there will still be some more. We have the receipt for making it," she added, gaily kissing him.

As to Phemie, one thing vexed her.

"I am very fond of green grass and the little birds," said she, "but in the country one never meets anyone, and there will be no one to see my pretty bonnet and my nice dress. Suppose we went into the country on the Boulevards?"

At eight in the morning the whole street was in commotion, due to the blasts from Schaunard's horn giving the signal to start. All the neighbors were at their windows to see the Bohemians go by. Colline, who was of the party, brought up the rear, carrying the ladies' parasols. An hour later the whole of the joyous band were scattered about the fields at Fontenay-aux-Roses.

When they returned home, very late at night, Colline, who during the day had discharged the duties of treasurer, stated they they had omitted to spend six francs, and placed this balance on the table.

"What shall we do with it?" asked Marcel.

"Suppose we invest it in Government stock," said Schaunard.

Go to Chapter XVIII, Francine's Muff

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