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In the Quarter   By: (1865-1933)

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In the Quarter

by Robert W. Chambers

In the Quarter was first published in 1894 and the text is in the public domain. The transcription was done by William McClain, 2003.

A printed version of this book is available from Sattre Press http://itq.sattre


One evening in May, 1888, the Café des Écoles was even more crowded and more noisy than usual. The marble topped tables were wet with beer and the din was appalling. Someone shouted to make himself heard.

"Any more news from the Salon?"

"Yes," said Elliott, "Thaxton's in with a number three. Rhodes is out and takes it hard. Clifford's out too, and takes it "

A voice began to chant:

Je n'sais comment faire, Comment concillier Ma maitresse et mon père, Le Code et Bullier.

"Drop it! Oh, drop it!" growled Rhodes, and sent a handful of billiard chalk at the singer.

Mr Clifford returned a volley of the Café spoons, and continued:

Mais c'que je trouve de plus bête, C'est qu' i' faut financer Avec ma belle galette, J'aimerai mieux m'amuser.

Several other voices took up the refrain, lamenting the difficulty of reconciling their filial duties with balls at Bullier's, and protesting that they would rather amuse themselves than consider financial questions. Rhodes sipped his curaçoa sulkily.

"The longer I live in the Latin Quarter," he said to his neighbor, "the less certain I feel about a place of future punishment. It would be so tame after this." Then, reverting to his grievance, he added, "The slaughter this year at the Salon is awful."

Reginald Gethryn stirred nervously but did not speak.

"Have a game, Rex?" called Clifford, waving a cue.

Gethryn shook his head, and reaching for a soiled copy of the Figaro, glanced listlessly over its contents. He sighed and turned his paper impatiently. Rhodes echoed the sigh.

"What's at the theaters?"

"Same as last week, excepting at the Gaieté. They've put on `La Belle Hélène' there."

"Oh! Belle Hélène!" cried Clifford.

Tzing! la! la! Tzing! la! la! C'est avec ces dames qu' Oreste Fait danser l'argent de Papa!

Rhodes began to growl again.

"I shouldn't think you'd feel like gibbering that rot tonight."

Clifford smiled sweetly and patted him on the head. "Tzing! la! la! My shot, Elliott?"

"Tzing! la! la!" laughed Thaxton, "That's Clifford's biography in three words."

Clifford repeated the refrain and winked impudently at the pretty bookkeeper behind her railing. She, alas! returned it with a blush.

Gethryn rose restlessly and went over to another table where a man, young, but older than himself, sat, looking comfortable.

"Braith," he began, trying to speak indifferently, "any news of my fate?"

The other man finished his beer and then answered carelessly, "No." But catching sight of Gethryn's face he added, with a laugh:

"Look here, Rex, you've got to stop this moping."

"I'm not moping," said Rex, coloring up.

"What do you call it, then?" Braith spoke with some sharpness, but continued kindly, "You know I've been through it all. Ten years ago, when I sent in my first picture, I confess to you I suffered the torments of the damned until "


"Until they sent me my card. The color was green."

"But I thought a green card meant `not admitted."'

"It does. I received three in three years."

"Do you mean you were thrown out three years in succession?"

Braith knocked the ashes out of his pipe. "I gave up smoking for those three years."


Braith filled his pipe tenderly. "I was very poor," he said.

"If I had half your sand!" sighed Rex.

"You have, and something more that the rest of us have not. But you are very young yet."

This time Gethryn colored with surprise and pleasure. In all their long and close friendship Braith had never before given him any other encouragement than a cool, "Go ahead!"

He continued: "Your curse thus far has been want of steady application, and moreover you're too easily scared. No matter what happens this time, no knocking under!"

"Oh, I'm not going to knock under... Continue reading book >>

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