FEUILLE D'ALBUM (1917)
By Katherine Mansfield
HE really was an impossible person. Too shy altogether. With absolutely nothing to say
for himself. And such a weight. Once he was in your studio he never knew when to go,
but would sit on and on until you nearly screamed, and burned to throw something
enormous after him when he did finally blush his way out
something like the tortoise
stove. The strange thing was that at first sight he looked most interesting. Everybody
agreed about that. You would drift into the cafÃ© one evening and there you would see,
sitting in a corner, with a glass of coffee in front of him, a thin dark boy, wearing a blue
jersey with a little ...view middle of the document...
Someone else decided that he ought to fall in love. She summoned
summoned him to her side, called
him "boy," leaned over him so that he might smell the enchanting perfume of her hair,
took his arm, told him how marvellous life could be if one only had the courage, and
went round to his studio one evening and rang and rang.
rang. . . . Hopeless.
"What the poor boy really wants is thoroughly rousing," said a third. So off they went to
cafÃ©'s and cabarets, little dances, places where you drank something that tasted like tinned
apricot juice, but cost twenty
twenty-seven shillings a bottle
le and was called champagne, other
places, too thrilling for words, where you sat in the most awful gloom, and where
someone had always been shot the night before. But he did not turn a hair. Only once he
got very drunk, but instead of blossoming forth, th
ere he sat, stony, with two spots of red
on his cheeks, like, my dear, yes, the dead image of that rag
time thing they were playing,
like a "Broken Doll." But when she took him back to his studio he had quite recovered,
and said "good night" to her in the street below, as though they had walked home from
church together. . . . Hopeless.
After heaven knows how many more attempts
for the spirit of kindness dies very hard in
they gave him up. Of course, they were still perfectly charming, and asked him
to their shows, and spoke to him in the cafÃ© but that was all. When one is an artist one has
no time simply for people who won't respond. Has one?
"And besides I really think there must be something rather fishy somewhere . . . don't
you? It can't all be as innocent as it looks! Why come to Paris if you want to be a daisy in
the field? No, I'm not suspicious. But â€“"
He lived at the top of a tall mournful building overlooking the river. One of those
buildings that look so romantic on rainy nights and moonlight
moonlight nights, when the shutters
are shut, and the heavy door, and the sign advertising "a little apartment to let
immediately" gleams forlorn beyond words. One of those buildings that smell so
unromantic all the year round, and where the concierge lives in a glass cage on the
ground floor, wrapped up in a filthy shawl, stirring something in a saucepan and ladling
bits to the swollen old dog lolling on a bead cushion. . . . Perched up in the air the
studio had a wonderful view. The two big windows faced
faced the water; he could see the
boats and the barges swinging up and down, and the fringe of an island planted with
trees, like a round bouquet. The side window looked across to another house, shabbier
still and smaller, and down below there was a flower market.
market. You could see the tops of
huge umbrellas, with frills of bright flowers escaping from them, booths covered with
striped awning where they sold plants in boxes and...