CHAPTER VII

THE DARK SIDE

THOUGH at first sight life in Montmartre seems to be almost entirely given up to gaiety and dissipation, there is a serious and even tragic side to it which the casual visitor who goes to la Butte only for purposes of amusement does not see. Though a number of  light-hearted damsels have found in its cafés and dancing halls a path to fortune, others whose days of fascination have passed creep up to its heights to die.

Anyone who really knows Paris must be struck by the very large number of girls and young women, who, if not exactly cocottes, lead irregular lives. In a minor degree this must assist the population of France for in the majority of cases the girls in question are well built and of good physique. A certain number of them of course do eventually marry, while a proportion have children whom the father may, or may not, recognize. As a rule such children are well cared for and carefully brought up, while if it is a girl the main idea of its mother is to prevent it from following her own example and going astray. The environment of a good-looking girl in Paris is, from an Anglo-Saxon point of view, highly dangerous, there being every temptation for a good-looking damsel to form an irregular union with one of the well-to-do admirers who dog her path, or even with a lad of her own class. Paris is a city which for generations has been steeped in an atmosphere of illicit love. Indeed, the spirits of a countless number of the fair and frail, from the days of Villon up to the present time, seem still to hover over certain portions of the city. Driving up the Champs Elysées on a summer's evening, one sees numerous couples openly embracing in taxis as their predecessors embraced in the slow old horse fiacres, which have now passed away.  At the present day, Montmartre may be called the headquarters of what the Parisian pressmen used to call "le bataillon de Cythere"
here votaries of Venus may be seen night after night frequenting certain cafés on their amorous quest. Though the methods of these ladies are somewhat different from those employed by their predecessors of a generation or so ago, they must still succeed in attracting a sufficient number of admirers, for otherwise they would be unable to live, which even the most unattractive of them seem able to do in a fairly comfortable manner. Their appearance, on the whole, is less flamboyant than that which distinguished the cocotte of the days before the Great War. In addition to the regular practitioners (if one may be allowed to use such a term) there has recently sprung up a class of women who, rather after the Anglo-Saxon model, lead only semi-disreputable lives — that is to say, while contriving to reside with their families or following some reputable profession, they are quite ready to get what they can out of men whom they may meet at the various "Dancings," which are now to be found all over Paris. I suppose, as I have before said, this is the result of Anglo-Saxon influence, for in the old days a French girl who had "thrown her bonnet over the mills" was frankly disreputable and made no bones about it. There is, however, always a supply to meet a demand, and the dislike of English and American visitors to Paris to realize that an attractive girl whom he may meet is not a paragon of virtue has produced this new type of pseudo-virtuous damsel with whom, of course, the Parisian, who in sexual matters does not tolerate humbug, will not have anything to do.

It is for this reason that one is inclined to discredit the old stories as to the virtues of the grisette who romantic writers have idolized when writing about Parisian life in the 'forties.' In matters of virtue, as in other things, it seems probable that she was content with a little. Nevertheless Albert Smith who professed to have known her well, had not a word to say against her morality. In the Mysteries of Paris, that once popular work of Eugene Sue, Rigolette, the grisette, and Germain, the Notary's clerk, whom she eventually marries, are nearly the only virtuous personages among the horde of male and female villains belonging to all ranks in society. But Albert Smith was writing for English magazine readers, and the Mysteries of Paris is a romance. Béranger must ever be held as the supreme authority touching the ethics of the grisette; and the moral character of Lisette, as painted by the illustrious chansonnier, from time to time, certainly leaves something to be desired. Still B
éranger is careful to draw a tangible distinction between his beloved Lisette and Fretillon, la bonne fille, to say nothing of ces cemoiselles who, in 1815, uttered the famous complaint:
                                                                                                                                            "Fause que Lor Vilainton ait tout pris;
                                                                                                                                            G'na d'argent dans c'gueux de Paris."

Le Pont Neuf

The grisette, as a rule, had been born with anything but a silver spoon in her mouth, and in the romances written about her she was usually shown as an orphan or abandoned child who had never known father or mother, who had no kith or kin and, who, as a baby, had been flung into one of the "tours" of the Foundling Hospital, or had been picked up on the muddy pavement of the quays, destitute, abandoned, helpless, to be grudgingly brought up at the public expense in a prison-like asylum, to be turned out on the great world when she was sixteen years of age, with a few scores of francs, and a certain proficiency skill in needlework. The truth seems to have been that if the poor girl could keep body and soul together virtuously she did so
— if not she formed an intimacy with some young man or other and lived en ménage with him after the fashion so well described in Henri Murger's Scenes de la Vie de Bohême. Though the grisette as a special type has long disappeared from Parisian life, certain of her characteristics have been inherited by la Montmartroise of today, generally a good-hearted, hard-working girl — in any case before she has thrown her bonnet over the Moulin de la Galette.

Though a good many of the ladies to be seen in the night resorts of Montmartre are obviously not strait-laced the day of the great Parisian cocotte seems for the present at least to be over, the papers having ceased to chronicle the latest news from "le monde des ceintures qu'on dore," as was the case in the 'eighties' when the doings of ladies like Liane de Pougy and of Otero occupied a considerable space in the Gil Blas and other similar organs. Under the Second Empire, of course, even more attention was paid to the stars of the demi-monde, notably to Cora Pearl, the yellow-haired English Phryne, whose horses were the admiration of Paris. As renowned for her impudence as for her beauty she managed, during a revival of Orphée aux Enfers, in 1867, to get the part of Cupid, for some reason, allotted to her. The students of the Latin Quarter, very sensibly resenting her lack of histrionic talent came and hissed her, in reply to which she proceeded to do what is vulgarly known as "cocking a snook." In spite of her effrontery, however, she was soon obliged to give up the part. Like that of many of her sisterhood her last years were passed in poverty, though after the fall of the Empire, when growing old, she was lucky enough to gain the affection of the son of the founder of the famous Bouillon Duval, a young man who had inherited 8,000,000 francs. Cora Pearl soon spent this for him, she refused to receive him, with the result that he shot himself on her doorstep. This tragedy brought her ill lick for, after having had enormous sums through her hands, she ended her life with scarcely a penny.

The flamboyant type of demi-modaine, of which Cora Pearl was an example, has disappeared from Paris since the Great War, during which, I believe, many representatives of that particular class betook themselves to South America. No longer are smart cocottes to be seen lolling in carriages in the Bois, the modern Aspasias who have taken their place having different habits and being fond of motoring and golf during the daytime, and of going to "Dancings" at night. No one seems to mind being seen with these ladies now, a different state of affairs from that which prevailed when the night life of Paris was pretty well limited to certain cafés on and in the vicinity of the Boulevards. Revelers then generally finished up their evening by having supper in a Cabinet particular, in company with some of the nymphs who all night long sat in the large salons beneath, waiting to become the Juliet of some Romeo whom they might be lucky enough to attract. Not infrequently there were wild doings in these private rooms, glasses being thrown about and champagne bottles smashed. As, however, the ladies who frequented restaurants of this kind were all personally known to the management, one of the Maitres d'Hotel was usually able to smooth matters down, provided, of course, that such damage as had been done was paid for by the males of the rowdy party. The commoner class of cocottes of those days was apt to be very rapacious, and such ladies believed in making hay while the moon shone; in the small hours of the morning, indeed, they were not above making any remains of the supper, wings of chicken, patés de Foie Gras, and the like into a parcel, in order, they said, to take it home to their family, which, in sober truth, probably consisted of one dangerous individual who led a life of shameless idleness at their expense — Paris was full of bullies and souteneurs, as it possibly is today, though since the war these pests of society seem to have lost something of their dangerous and brutal ways.

The less fashionable members of the demi-monde have always found it good policy to keep in with all the various harpies who batten upon members of their unfortunate profession. With Maitres d'Hotel and waiters they are usually on the most familiar terms, asking after their families and taking great interest in their lives. When business is slack in the cafés, cocottes play cards with each other and the staff. Though often in collusion with various vendors such as flower sellers, to whom they return the blossoms and boxes of chocolate purchased by admirers, these poor girls are often of a very kindly disposition, charitable to poor people and supporting aged relatives ignorant or willfully blind as to the source from which the benefits they receive flow.

The end of the Parisian demi-mondaine after her attractions have waned is apt to be of a tragic kind. In November 1925, for instance, a woman who was discovered to have once been a famous dancer was found dead in her lodgings in one of the sordid quarters of Montmartre; though seventy years old, to the end she had continued to try and lead a gay life. According to the Parisian press, Antoinette Perraud had been one of the stars of the demi-monde during the early days of the Third Republic, great financiers and Russian Grand Dukes having vied with one another in showering presents upon her. For years the most courted of courtesans, she had presided over numberless supper parties, in the course of which she became noted for her partiality for executing dances upon tables. When, however, old age came upon her, she drifted from one café to another till she found a refuge in la Butte, more tolerant of broken down Bohemianism than other quarters of Paris. Her death was due to violence, for, she was found on her bed with two stabs in her face and her left hand pinned to the wood-work by a knife. Though theft appeared to have been the motive for this crime, the murderer had overlooked a considerable sum in notes. Antoinette Perraud indeed did not die destitute, for in addition to a fair amount of jewelry found in her room, a pass book showed a credit of over £100 in a well-known bank.

Women of the class to which Antoinette Perraud belonged are of necessity exposed to the danger of attacks from the souteneurs and bullies who are the curse of Paris, and they also incur the risk of falling a victim to the soul-destroying habit of drug taking to which her class is particularly prone. Unnaturally bright eyes and a highly excitable manner are two of the most striking symptoms of this modern vice originally, it is said, imported into France by sailors from Tonkin.

Though the authorities seem to have stamped out the drinking of absinthe, now prohibited in France, they have not been equally successful in stopping the sale of cocaine and other death-dealing drugs. At certain cafés these are said to be easily procurable: in any case the difficulties in the way of a drug fiend are nothing like those to be encountered in England. Not that the proprietors of the cafés are to blame, it being generally waiters and chasseurs who, tempted by the prospect of large gains, surreptitiously procure "coco" for members of the demi-monde and others anxious to taste the dangerous joys of an artificial paradise. Owing to this state of affairs sad tragedies are of comparatively frequent occurrence, one of the most sensational having been that connected with the film actress, poor Wanda Sylvano, who on Wednesday, April 7th 1926 was found dead in the bedroom of her house in the Avenue Victor Hugo, while close to her lay, at the point of death, one of her friends well known as a female lawyer and secretary to one of the Parisian Deputies.

Wanda, who had very Bohemian tastes, was in the habit of wandering about pleasure resorts till all hours of the night, so her mother, who lived in the same house, was not surprised to see nothing of her daughter till late in the morning. That day, however, the telephone bell rang about twelve, and going to Wanda's room the old lady asked if Wanda was ill. In a few seconds a feeble voice replied, "Wait a minute, I am ill." The key turned in the lock, and the female lawyer fell in a dead faint as the door opened. On the bed lay Wanda, whom the doctor, who was hastily summoned, pronounced to be dead; meanwhile, he did all he could to revive her friend, whom he found to be suffering from the effects of a drug which both women had taken.

When the room was searched, morphine, chlorohydrate of Heroin and packets of cocaine were found all over the place.

Later on the female lawyer, before the Commissaire, told the story of the fatal evening which had nearly killed her.

"Wanda and I," said she, "dined at a restaurant in the Champs Elysées, after which we visited some night resorts and drank champagne till two o'clock in the morning, when Wanda took me to her house in her motor. When we went into the bedroom both of us suddenly felt very ill — perhaps we had been poisoned, I don't know?
Anyhow, Wanda, opening a drawer, produced some white powder, sniffed some of it and gave me a pinch; we thought it would make us feel better. After that I remember nothing more."

The friendship between poor Wanda and the female lawyer, it may be added, had originated through the latter having been consulted about some house property, in which the actress had invested a considerable sum of money which she had saved. Some of her tenants having proved refractory, Wanda had been so pleased with the way that her legal adviser had dealt with them that the two, having become great friends, had passed many joyous evenings together.

Wanda Sylvano, though irresponsible and headstrong, was far more clever than most girls of her type. As an actress, indeed, she had had considerable success, having for a time been one of the minor stars of the Grand Guignol, as well as having figured as La Garçonne in a film of that name,  adapted from the much discussed novel of Victor Marguerite. Some indeed said that the latter had drawn his heroine partly from Wanda, whose highly unconventional ways were certainly very up-to-date. Be this as it may, Sarah Bernhardt declared that if the young woman would work a great future awaited her on the boards. The great actress liked Wanda, who took her a large bunch of lilac only a short time before the former died.

Wanda was given to acting on the impulse of the moment, and her moods changed with lightning rapidity. The chauffeur who drove her car was a good-looking young man, whom she alternately bullied and petted. When in a bad temper she would assail him with unlimited abuse, which he would at times resent, declaring that he would stop the car, leave it where it was, and go home. When this occurred, Wanda, lowering the front glass, would seize him in her arms, call him her "gros Loulou," and smother him with kisses, after which the car would again proceed on its way. Loulou took part in many of the pranks which Wanda loved to play, an example of which was the following:

One of Wanda's fancies was to go with a girl friend to some restaurant frequented by serious people and make fun of anyone whose ways, or appearance caught her fancy. Dining in a café of this sort one wet evening, she espied a very staid-looking old gentleman, decorated with the Legion of Honor
a highly respectable Senator, "for once," the Head-waiter said, having dinner without his wife.

"I'll have some fun with the old ape," Wanda told the pretty brunette who was her companion that evening, and forthwith set out to capture his fancy by indulging in all sorts of smiles and winks of a highly provocative kind.

Although at first merely puzzled by such overtures the Senator was eventually so fascinated that when Wanda and her friend had left the restaurant he followed them to their car, on the step of which he put his foot as if to join them.

Instantly Wanda thrust her arm through the window, and, calling the poor man "an old monkey," sent him rolling in the gutter. The Senator, bedraggled and furious, declared he would take care that she should pay dearly for the humiliation.

"This matter shall not end here. I insist," said he, "that it shall be thrashed before the Commissaire."

"Certainly," retorted Wanda, laughing in his face, "jump up beside my chauffeur, 'loulou,' and we'll drive you to him; the police station is not far away!"

A crowd had now gathered which cheered the angry old gentleman when he eventually took his seat on the box. Directly the party got to the Commissaire Wanda warmly denounced the Senator as having made proposals of an outrageous kind. She appealed to Loulou and also to her friend, the little brunette, both of whom declared that the Senator had behaved like an old Satyr.

The poor man, more furious than ever, instead of being able to air his grievances, now found himself obliged to devote his energies to defending himself.

"And what was the end of it all?" inquired someone, when, later on, the little brunette was telling the story.

"Virtue is triumphant," said she, with a roguish smile. "The Commissaire was a young man, and Wanda a pretty girl — so naturally the Senator got a good lecture, during which all of us, including the police standing by, roared with laughter."

It is curious that though little is heard in Paris concerning the improved status of women, female barristers play such a great part in cases before the courts. The lady who came so near meeting death with Wanda Sylvano had a good practice at the Paris Court of Appeal, and quite recently the clever pleading of a lady barrister secured the acquittal of two women who had killed their husbands. Incidentally it may be remarked that the Jury of the Seine is ridiculously lenient towards murderers and murderesses provided their crime is in some way connected with love. When, however, any question of property enters into the affair a more serious view is apt to be taken. The sentences, however, from an Anglo-Saxon point of view even under such circumstances do not err on the side of severity. Fear sometimes seems to play a part in securing a favorable verdict. The jury in the case of Germaine Berton who, having killed one of the staff of Leon Daudet's paper l'Action Francaise was awarded her freedom, was it is said, influenced by fears of Anarchist reprisals!

To return, however, to the cases mentioned above in which female lawyers were concerned.

Early in October 1926, Madame Crutcher, a young woman of some twenty-four years of age, was tried for having shot her husband, an extremely fine looking African who was in the orchestra at one of the smart dancing places of Montmartre. Her history before marriage had been rather a sad one, "j'ai eu des amis, mais je ne suis pas une fille," she told the Judge at her trial. Having wandered about all over France, she came to Paris and had been lucky enough to find a husband. After her marriage it was stated that she had taken to serious work which took the form of acting as a dancing instructress at a "Dancing" in the Rue Pigalle, also in Montmartre but not the same one as that in which Mr. Crutcher played. The prisoner, it may be added, laid great stress upon the respectability of this occupation, for which she said there was considerable competition. Her pay, however, was nothing like as big as that which her husband received not far away. His duties consisted in playing the piano, for which he received seventeen hundred francs a week in addition to tips and royalties, for he was also a composer of music. Altogether he earned quite a considerable sum. Commenting upon this at the trial, the Judge said, "a fine income indeed! By the way, what return did your husband send in to the tax collector?"

"Oh! None at all," was the reply.

"Charming!" said the Judge. "People like him play tunes, while we are made to dance!"

The tragedy which occupied the time of the court had taken place on February 26, 1926, when Madame Crutcher, coming home at five o'clock in the morning, found her husband still out. At three o'clock the next afternoon, however, he arrived in a very jovial mood humming a new tune. Asked where he had been, he boasted of a lucky love affair which he declared had kept him from coming home. "You have often deceived me," he said to his wife, "so I have only given you as good as you gave me — we are quits." Madame Crutcher then threatened to kill him, upon which he defied her to do her worst. Seizing a revolver, she fired one shot, which stretched the musician dead on the floor, shot through the lungs. The prisoner declared that the whole thing was an accident, she having no intention of killing her husband whom she really loved. "Nevertheless," said the Judge, "we have evidence that you were always quarreling and breaking the windows." Witnesses, some black, some white, testified between the couple. A black who had played in the same orchestra as Crutcher also gave evidence, as did a young lady who declared that she had also believed herself to be Cutcher's wife, being possessed of a document to that effect. When pressed, however, she admitted that she was not quite sure whether the document in question was a marriage contract or a policy of insurance, which announcement made the whole court laugh. Madame Crutcher was defended by women lawyers, who made eloquent speeches in her favor. These, together with a very mild speech from the prosecuting counsel, seem to have inclined the jury in the prisoner's favor, for they returned a verdict acquitting the murderess, who was at once given her freedom. "Well," remarked a cynic, "there's nothing strange in a nervous woman like that having been acquitted  
— her victim, after all, was only her husband!"

The acquittal of Madame Crutcher may have been in some degree assisted by her statement as to her husband never having paid taxes, the jury very likely thinking that the dead musician, who had cheated the Revenue as much as he had his wife, was not deserving of any particular sympathy.

As a matter of fact, there is a growing feeling of irritation in Paris at the immunity from taxation which the performers who minister to the night life of Montmartre seem to enjoy. Not only these, but a number of people who are engaged in what are known as luxury trades having little difficulty in avoiding making any contribution to the French revenue
. Here today and gone tomorrow, while constantly changing their addresses, such persons are very hard to catch when any question of paying taxes may arise. In connection with this subject a clever Parisian writer recently half-jokingly suggested that the smart cocotte 
la poule de luxe — as modern Paris calls her, who earns more than a Marshal of France, ought to be made to pay income tax as well as her more virtuous sisters. He admitted, however, that there would be considerable difficulty in getting the damsel in question to state the amount of her revenue, she being more accustomed to listening to declarations than to making them.

A few days after Madame Crutcher had been acquitted, another somewhat similar case came up before the Jury of the Seine, the difference being that a husband had killed his wife instead of a wife her husband. Auguste David, a railwayman, thirty-three years old, was accused of having on the ninth of May 1926, murdered Madame David with a file. Unlike the spouse of the unfortunate musician mentioned above, the accused man, who looked haggard and worn, was evidently overwhelmed with remorse. His only defense was the flagrant and open impropriety in which his victim had been wont to indulge. The Judge from the first was favorable to the prisoner, saying that the latter's statement was correct, and adding that in addition to much flighty behavior Madame David had once gone off for two months, besides indulging in various other escapades.

"In addition to nagging me," pleaded the prisoner, "she boxed my ears while I was listening to the wireless, the consequence being that I lost my head. As a matter of fact, I knew that she had formed the project of having me killed by one of her lovers, a man of gigantic frame." The brother-in-law of the accused then gave evidence, tending to prove that the latter had been greatly wronged, after which a neighbor was called who admitted that on hearing shrieks, he had not attempted to intervene. "And why not?" asked the Judge. "Madame David did not interest me," was the reply. The prosecuting Counsel, as seems to have become fashion in Parisian murder trials, made a very lukewarm speech, merely pointing out that the prisoner should be punished in the interests of society at large. Far more effect, however, seems to have been produced on the jury, by an impassioned address delivered by a female barrister, Madame Raymond-Hubert, who pleaded for David in such an eloquent manner, that the latter was at once acquitted! The fair sex across the channel seem indeed to exercise very real power over the juries, before whom they so frequently plead.

Though the smart resorts of Montmartre are safe enough, there are streets on la Butte in which it is dangerous to walk at night alone. A visitor obliged to traverse the lowest quarter on foot does well to keep in the middle of the road so as not to be exposed to a sudden attack at the corner of one of those dimly lit little thoroughfares in which certain parts of Paris abound, also he will be wise to keep far away from any perambulating siren whom he may encounter, for near by generally murks one of those bullies known as souteneurs who constitute one of the most dangerous elements of the Parisian underworld. Though a few years ago it became the fashion to cast a sort of halo round the doings of the Apache and his female companions, the type in question is a creature of the most repulsive kind — brutal, cruel and capable of any crime, while absolutely callous as to the unfortunate women upon whose earnings he lives, it can only be said that as a rule they are repulsive beyond belief.

Writing of the Apache of Montmartre, Monsieur Georges Montorgueil, an unrivaled observer of Parisian life, says, "The Souteneur is a distinct species, his mother on whom it is his practice to rely in evil times being often some good woman of Clichy or St. Ouen, over-indulgent to her son, who begins his evil courses coming out of the Moulin de la Galette in the shades of the Impasse Giardon. He is a young ruffian, full of words and up to many dodges. At the Place Maubert the criminal in question follows Italian methods and employs the knife; in Montmartre he is less violent, merely knocking you down. In the Avenue des Tilleuls, Pons, the fighter, openly keeps a tavern frequented by this class, his den being both an arena and a gymnasium, where professionals give instruction to all the young blackguards of la Butte, who aim at founding their empire on terror. The police once laid by the heels one of these bandits, lord of the territory of Clichy, who made a practice of levying tribute every night on every prostitute within his district. He carried a knife in his belt and any woman who resisted him received an ugly cut — never on the face, for in the opinion of such bullies it is a bad plan to spoil your own stock-in-trade. The tyranny of this man had lasted months, without any complaint from the unfortunate woman whom he had terrorized. The denunciation of a souteneur indeed exposes the poor creatures, as they well know, to certain punishment."


The existence of the souteneur, it may be added, seems to be accepted as an irremediable evil by the Parisian papers, which from time to time report their doings in a very matter of fact way.

The French press, of course, adopts a freer attitude towards life than does that of England or America, there being seldom, indeed, a trace of prudery in its columns. The late Monsieur Arthur Meyer, about the last of the Boulevardiers, who for so many years was editor of the Gaulois, adopted a novel policy with regard to the contents of his paper; on the front page of which he never allowed anything in the least savoring of impropriety to appear. The reason for this, he said, was that the Gaulois, being much read by respectable people, was habitually to be found on the table in sitting rooms which the children of the household were wont to frequent. As for the interior pages of the paper which were not likely to catch young people's eyes, what was printed in them did not, in his opinion, matter.

Owing, perhaps to the somewhat tolerant attitude of the Parisian newspapers no organized campaign has ever been set on foot to stamp out the Apache, while owing possibly to a fear of the electorate of certain rough districts no especial law has been brought forward towards that end. As a matter of fact, though from time to time organized police raids are made upon the souteneur class, the worst of vards, the police are not too active in repressing this form of crime, their efforts in such a direction being limited to intermittent raids. The majority of bad characters arrested are, however, usually released after a brief period of detention, the main idea actuating the authorities being, it would seem, to know exactly where to lay their hands upon such individuals, directly any serious crime may have been committed. This, of course, is rather locking the stable door after the horse has been stolen, but in view of the turbulent and rebellious spirit which animates a large portion of the districts of Belleville, and of La Villette, a stern and drastic policy, such as would be carried out in London under similar circumstances, might very likely provoke serious riots, the reason probably why the bullies and souteneurs of the outer Boulevards are more or less allowed to go their own way.

It is probably only owing to two great historical happenings that their number has not swollen to a dangerous figure. The repression of the Commune in 1971 entailed a great amount of shooting in Paris, and among the 30,000 who are said to have been killed, a considerable proportion probably belonged to the degraded class mentioned above. The extreme Radicals never forgave that beau sabreur and brilliant cavalry officer, General Gallifet, for the wholesale executions for which they held him responsible. "Assassin," cried a Deputy in the Chamber, shaking his fist in the old soldier's face during the period when the latter was Minister for War. General Gallifet, however, never flinched. "Yes, assassin if you like," retorted he, "but under the same circumstances I'd do it again."

The second event which undoubtedly very considerably thinned the ranks of the Parisian riff-raff was the Great War. In the course of this struggle several battalions were formed out of the worst characters to be found in the cities of France. All these battalions are said to have fought fairly well, but those which mainly consisted of Parisian Apaches on more than one occasion distinguished themselves by their gallantry and dash. They were, it may be added, given every opportunity of showing their mettle, being, whenever possible, given the place of honor in the forefront of the fight, with the result that when the Armistice came, comparatively few survived to return to the scene of their more peaceful, if less reputable activities in the outlying districts of the capital they had fought to save.

A good deal has been written concerning the low cafés and disreputable resorts frequented by the underworld of Paris, where beggars, bullies and prostitutes of the more degraded kind go for a meal or a night's lodging, both of which they used to be able to procure at a very small price. This phase of existence has always appealed to French literary men, and at the present day there has been a good deal written about the life of the poorest and most disreputable classes in the Quartier Latin and in Montmartre. The poet Verlaine seems positively to have delighted in living in such company, frequenting haunts popular with all the sweepings of Paris and leading much the same kind of life as the outcasts of that great city do. The police, I believe, were instructed never to arrest Verlaine in whatever company he might be found and as, curiously enough, the bullies, was his wont to associate knew who he was and admired his poetry, he was able to go wherever he liked without danger or being molested or hurt. Though everyone deplored the poet's manner of life no one seems to have made any serious effort to get him into better ways. There seems, indeed, to have been a sort of idea that a reformed Verlaine would lose his talent and his poetic gifts. This might possibly have been true, for Swinburne, after he had been made to live a highly respectable life by the late Mr. Watts-Dunton, certainly never produced any poetry so good as that which he wrote during the period which he had led an unconventional life in London.

Montmartre and the Latin Quarter have seen innumerable love quarrels in their time. A curious echo of one which occurred long ago was a paragraph of a strange and romantic kind which appeared in the personal column of the Morning Post on Thursday, November 12th 1925.

"An old man nearing life's end wishes to ask forgiveness from one known as 'Le Balafré,' a frequenter of the Latin Quarter fifty-six years ago. The lie told to Mathilde on November 12th 1869, has never ceased to haunt the mind of him which now confesses it. Balafr
é, pardon it, and give peace to a troubled spirit. S.0865, Morning Post, London, W.C. 2."

Did La Balafré (the man with the sword cut scar), I wonder, ever see this reminder of what seems to have been a rivalry for some damsel's affection of fifty-six years before, a rivalry, apparently, in which
La Balafré was worsted owing to Mathilde having been told lies about him, for which the individual who inserted the paragraph was evidently anxious to make amends?

In all probability, Mathilde and La Balafré had long since gone to a land where this love tragedy of the Latin Quarter at the end of the Second Europe would not interest them any more.



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