(With the Occasional Collaboration of Richard and Johnny)
RICHARD, Johnny and I were born in Paris. I, Patience, was born in a hospital and so was Richard on the Boulevard de la Saussaye. Johnny the littlest was born in the Rue de Val de Grace in a Studio. Johnny has red hair, I have blond hair and Richard has brown hair. Our servant Antoinette carried me, Patience, on a pillow, to Monsieur le Curé so I could get my name, Patience.
Now the reason why I am called Patience is this. When Mamma was in the hospital waiting for me, and that was quite a while, her nurse told her she must have patience and so did the doctor. She tried her best, so when I did come Mamma looked in my basket and said to herself, ‘Well, there is my patience’ and so that is why I am called Patience. But Mamma told me that Monsieur le Curé said there was n’t any such name as Patience in France. It was a word.
Mamma took us to see the first house that I, Patience, ever lived in after I got born. Mamma called it a ‘hut.’ She brought me from the hospital wrapped up in a long red Italian shawl to this hut. It was all hidden behind a tall stone wall, and you had to walk up a long, long lane to it, and the walls were covered with vines and honeysuckle. Then you came suddenly to a door like in ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and this was the hut. You could n’t take a bath in that place when you had company because the bathtub was right at the head of the stairs which went up to the two bedrooms, and there was a dining salon and little kitchen which opened up right into a lovely garden and all hidden away. Papa got this hut from a Russian lady who escaped from the Revolution and next door lived a Baronne and Baron and they had all the pictures of the Czar’s family hanging up because the Baron had been an officer of the Czar. He was working in a bank and could speak every language, and she was saleslady at Patou’s. Her brother spent all his day teaching tennis and he was very unhappy because he could do better than this. They lived on their pearls and by now they must be all gone because when they were escaping from Russia the Baronne sold one pearl after another of her long string so they could get bread, and she lost all her three children from the pest, because sometimes in Turkey they had to work burying dead bodies that died of the pest. But they were very valiant.
Copyright 1936, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass All rights reserved.
Mamma’s femme de ménage used to clean up the house and cook the lunch and then when she was leaving she would collect all the snails on the garden wall for her own lunch. The Russian lady whom we got this hut from died and her little daughter was taken in by the Baronne. She was very pitiful.
Then Mamma showed me the second house I ever lived in and this was a little pavilion behind Madame Darzans’ house. This was also in a beautiful garden and flowers were all around. But Mamma said Madame Darzans said she thought Mamma was either a very cruel woman or else insane because Mamma used to leave me out in the garden all day long in my berceau. And when it rained then Mamma said she wrapped me up in the lovely Italian shawl and left me in the berceau only she put an umbrella over me. And Mamma said the nice wet air made my cheeks as red as the shawl, but Madame Darzans used to come and argue with Mamma when it rained even though Mamma said I loved the umbrella. But Mamma said I stayed out in the rain with my umbrella no matter what Madame Darzans said.
Mamma said I, Patience, was supposed to be born, because while I was waiting to be born, Mamma fainted and fell off a bus on the Champs-Elysées. When Mamma woke up a crowd was standing around her and arguing, and she could n’t understand one word they were saying. Then suddenly a voice said in an American accent, ‘My husband is a doctor and we live right around here.’ So this lady took Mamma to her husband, and he made Mamma walk up and down for twenty minutes, and I did n’t get born then, so this man said Mamma was all right.
This was the time Mamma did n’t have any place to live. She and Papa were living at the Hotel de la Grande Bretagne on the Rue Caumartin but one day the clerk cashed a check for 35 pounds for Papa into francs and when they collected they found that they had made a mistake in the exchange from pounds to francs and the hotel had given too many francs, and Papa did n’t have the money to make up the difference, because he and Mamma had spent the 35 pounds. So since it is a crime to make a Frenchman lose anything, they thought it was a crime about this, and locked Papa’s and Mamma’s luggage in their rooms, and Papa and Mamma were on the street without even a toothbrush and not one sou in their pockets. And it was Easter and all the English were on holiday in Paris and all the small hotels were full, and you could n’t go into a big hotel without any luggage without paying in advance. So Mamma and Papa were on the streets. So Papa finally got his lawyer and borrowed fifty francs, and they went to two hotels, one each night, but they were rented after that. Then Mamma fell off the bus. So this lady said, ‘I shall put you in a taxi. What is your address?’ Mamma didn’t want to go in the taxi because she did n’t have a sou. So Mamma said, ‘Oh, I live over there,’ but she could n’t think of the name of any hotel. So then Mamma said, ‘Well, send me to the Café de la Paix,’ and Mamma was sweating all the way for fear Papa would n’t be there to pay for the taxi, if he had the money. But luckily he was there watching the world go by and he rescued Mamma and then took Mamma down and bought her an ice-cream soda with the last three francs he had.
So then Mamma and Papa went over to a hotel in the Rue de Seine, and Mamma looked up at the little window in the ceiling and said, ‘If I am dead when I wake up, all will be well.’ Then the lady at this hotel stopped Mamma and Papa in the morning, and Mamma and Papa had n’t had any dinner the night before, and this lady said, ‘You don’t look as though you are accustomed to coming to a hotel like this,’ and she gave Papa 100 francs, and Papa and Mamma went to the Deux Maggots and ate ten croissants apiece and four café au lait, and then after three days Papa paid this lady the 100 francs, and all this happened just before I was born.
But Papa had a good time before Johnny was born because he discovered how to stop all the traffic in Paris. He would take Mamma out in our Citroën and yell to the agents de police, ‘Femme enceinte,’ which means, ‘Woman with child,’ and the agent de police would stop all the trolley-cars and autos until Papa got by. Once Papa ran into a trolley-car and Mamma was on the trolley-car side and our Citroën went up, up in the air, but it did n’t tip over, and then Papa and Mamma and all the agents de police and all the people began arguing, and then Papa said, ‘Femme enceinte,’ and everybody stopped arguing and the agent de police raised his stick and made way for Papa and Mamma, and everybody was saying, ‘Pardon, pardon!’
Mamma and we the children could get on all the buses and trolley-cars first because she had children with her, no matter how long the people on line had to wait and no matter how first their numbers were. The conductor would push everybody aside to let ladies with children on first and no one ever argued about it. Because you can go to jail for hitting anyone in Paris, that is why the French people argued so. You can’t do anything to the French for arguing.
When Johnny was about to be born Lindbergh flew right over our studio at Val de Grace, so Mamma and Papa got into the Citroën with Aigner his secretary and they went racing out to Le Bourget to see Lindbergh land. And Papa said on the way a lot of other people in Paris had thought of the same thing so that the road was full of cars and no one could move an inch backwards or forwards. And all the French were arguing and talking. Then Mamma suddenly got some pains in her belly and Papa and Aigner got sweat on their heads because they could n’t get out of the car with Mamma, and even if Papa yelled ‘Femme enceinte’ it would n’t do any good, because all the cars were packed in like sardines. So while they waited to get somewhere they picked out the house they thought it would be nice to have Johnny born in on the side of the road, but Mamma then did n’t get Johnny that night, but she nearly did, Papa said. Then suddenly down the line of buses and cars the French began, ’ll a arrivé, Fantastique!’ etc. And everyone was talking very excited. Then, Papa said, suddenly they were all very quiet thinking about this nice little fellow who flew over the ocean like an eagle, then suddenly one man said to the crowd, ‘Well, Messieurs, how do you think he — ‘ And everybody laughed until they were hysterical. Of course, the French would think of a thing like that.
When Johnny came into the world Mamma had a new carriage because the one she had for Richard and me was like a gondola with big high wheels and the part you sat in was like a boat. But every time we moved in this carriage it tipped over, so Mamma said to save our skulls she had to buy a new carriage which had little tiny wheels and a big high box which you could n’t fall out of even when you stood up. But Mamma loved the gondola and we did too. Mémé, who was Mamma’s Mamma, pushed Richard and me all over Paris in that gondola.
We lived in lots of places in France besides Paris. We lived in Normandie, Cannes, Juan Les Pins, St. Cloud and Neuilly. Whenever we moved we moved in two taxicabs, and once when we were moving to Le Touquet we had four taxicabs and just as we were getting into the gare our pot-de-chambre fell out of our luggage and rolled all over the gare. Aunt Hope Williams who was J. D. Williams’ wife, and they were lovely people, came with us, and when we got into the train Aunt Hope said, ‘If we hadn’t caught this train after I got up at five this morning to help you get off, I would not have gone with you.’ And Mamma said, ‘Well, you don’t have to go even yet; the train is n’t going very fast yet,’ and Aunt Hope said, ‘That’s right, I did n’t have to come, but I ’ll see it through.’
When we lived at Val de Grace, Mahonri Young and Paul Manship lived in the court by us. This was a marvelous rich place. The best thing about it was that you could go in through three doors. You could go in through the kitchen, or a door into the dining-room. Then there was a winding staircase that went around and around made of iron, and on the second floor was Mémé’s rooms, then you went up the winding staircase to the third floor and there was the maid’s room and a bathroom and another room and a cabinet, then Mamma’s room which had blue carpet on the floor which your feet sank into. The walls were all yellow silk and the bed, which did n’t have any tops to it, had a yellow satin thick cover on it and there was a golden mirror behind the bed on the wall. And there was a fireplace. Then you opened the door of Mamma’s room and went down three steps into an entrée which the staircase of the studio came into and then there was the studio all glass with a balcony inside and out. And there was a large piano and a round table with benches which Harry Lachman found on the floor of a castle and made into this table and benches. It had designs on it. You did n’t have to go out the same door you went in at if you did n’t want to in that house, just like our house in St. Cloud. Harry Lachman was an artist who rented us the studio, and now he is a director in Hollywood.
M. Perrin one day got the Nobel prize and M. Clemenceau came in our garden and saw me, Patience, and said, ‘What is your name, little cauliflower?’ And I said, ‘Patience.’ And he said, ‘Tiens, tiens.’ And then he said, ‘How is your papa called?’ And I said, ‘Abbe.’ So he said, ‘What a family.’
Lélé and her husband lived next door. Her husband was a professor in the Sorbonne. Lélé was very nice and she and Mémé our grandma used to take us out in the Luxembourg gardens every day. Lélé could n’t speak English and Grandma could n’t speak French, so I, Patience, explained things to them.
We played with three children in that court and Jacqueline wrote a note to Lélé and said, ‘Paquit est très gentille quand elle dort. Richard est très gen til. Il est plus gentil que Paquit,’
Downstairs under our studio lived a sick lady whom no one knew what was the matter with. After she died Mahonri Young came to live there. But this sick lady looked like a queen and came from Tennessee. One day she came in to Mémé because she loved Mémé and said that Ambassador Herrick had come to see her that afternoon and she was mortified because our bonne had all the diapers out in our garden. But she was only imagining this because our diapers were hung in the drying-room and no Ambassador had come to see her. Gardens in France are to sit in and no one EVER hangs clothes in them.
This lady loved Mamma sometimes and sometimes did n’t. One night she screamed and broke all her windows and Mamma ran in to her, but she said, ‘I don’t want you. I want Mémé.’ So Meme went in and sat with her all night. And this lady lay in her bed all night and stared at the ceiling and said to Mémé, ‘If I could only die so that my husband would not have a scandal.’ This lady then went out on a stretcher one day, and she died and no one knew how she did it.
I had a birthday at Val de Grace, and Aunt Henriette Metcalf and Aunt Thelma Colman, Ronald Colman’s wife, brought us dishes and books. We liked Val de Grace. L’Hôpital Militaire was on the corner and there were lots of soldiers’ funerals. Once a soldier took out an avion and drove it right under the Tour Eiffel. He hit a telegraph wire and was killed. We saw the funeral.
One evening at Val de Grace Mamma was coming in and she saw a little old lady hunting in the garbage pail for food for her fifty cats. She lived on the Rue St. Jacques around the corner in an attic with another poor lady who was crazy. Her name was Anna. Mamma said to Anna, ‘If you will come to our kitchen every night we shall give you food so you won’t have to go in the garbage can.’ Anna was good to us and insisted upon washing our dishes for us instead of the femme de ménage. Mémé always saved our coffee for her and eggs. One day when we came back from Paris Plage Anna was dead. They found her sitting so quiet in her attic with her fifty cats crying, and because she was so good everybody all around went to her funeral.
Mamma took us to the Louvre in Paris when we were very little. I remember a picture of a Prince with a collar around his neck and a lady was painting him.
We went to the circus often in Paris. It was much better than the American circus because they show one show at a time and we sat in a circle and could see everything. We were frightened of the Fratellinis because they had their faces painted white. We liked Grock because he was quiet. The Fratellinis had sixteen children, but Papa said they did n’t own all of them. They took some in off the streets, and made clowns of them.
We liked the agents de police because they were kind to you. Once Mamma had to get an agent de police because Tina our cook was giving all her money to the boys in the bistrot. I remember she used to sit in the bistrot with the boys and let us play outside on the street. Mamma thought she had us in the park. We all cried when Tina went away with the agent de police because Tina used to read stories to us.
But once the agents de police took Papa to jail. Mamma did n’t like Michelle, the Italian who attended to our chauffage Central. So one day Michelle did n’t do right and Mamma hit him with a broom and beat him real hard, and Michelle ran out and got an agent de police. Then Mamma put her fist in Michelle’s face and Michelle jumped and then Michelle and the agent de police began to argue, then Mamma argued and it was a big argument. Then Papa came rushing down from the studio and there was a terrible argument. Then the agent de police took Papa and Michelle to jail, and Mamma said she was going to go around and fight all the agents de police and Michelle and everybody. Papa said, ‘You are acting like a fishwife.’ And Mamma said, ‘Well, I don’t care.’ And she wanted to go and hit Michelle again. But in Paris you go to jail if you hit anybody, so that is why the agent de police took Papa and Michelle to jail. And Mémé said, ‘Imagine acting like that to Mamma,’ and Antoinette looked very scared. But then Mamma kept saying, ‘I don’t care, I don’t care, I wanted to hit Michelle for two years, and now I have done it.’ And Michelle was very big and fat too, but he ran away from Mamma. Then Mamma ran up the studio stairs and pretty soon we heard her arguing in the studio and soon Aigner, Papa’s Hungarian secretary, came rushing down and said, ‘Madame is very angry.’ So then pretty soon we heard Mamma taking a bath and the shower going very hard. After awhile I, Patience, went up to her yellow silk room and there was Mamma sitting in bed putting pretty pink on her nails and in her black nightgown you could see through and the yellow satin cover over her. When she saw me she said, ‘Bon jour, Madame,’ and I said, ‘Bon jour, Madame, will you have your tea now?’ So Mamma said, ‘Please, Madame, tell Antoinette to send it up on a tray.’ Mamma always apologizes when she loses her temper with us, but she never did apologize to anyone for Michelle. Then Papa came back from the jail, but he nor anybody else bothered Mamma again all that day.
Mamma is very excitable. Once when Tina was dressing us in the morning Mamma came in and left her bedroom door open and Papa was naked taking his exercises and Papa slammed the door after Mamma, and Mamma opened the door and was mad, and Papa slammed the door, and then Mamma kicked the door and then went out to school with us instead of Tina, and would n’t have breakfast with Papa. Of course, I, Patience, would never live with a man who slammed a door in MY face.
Of course Mamma is always mad at Papa. And she always says she made a mistake to take up with a photographer. We asked her why, once, and she said, ‘Oh, photographers think you can live on air.’ Papa is a very poor business man, but he does no one any harm. He just does n’t understand about money. He is always spending a lot of money and when Mamma says, ‘Where is some money?’ he says, ‘ What money ? ’ Then he gives Mamma all the money and then after a while she saves it, then he says, ‘Mamma, have you any money?’ So then Mamma groans.
Of course when Mamma gets VERY mad Papa says, ‘Well, you still think you are a showgirl. You just won’t forget that. You did n’t get anywhere on the stage.’ Then Mamma says, ‘Is that so! Well, if I hadn’t had the MISFORTUNE to meet you and you had n’t run all over the place after me and I just could n’t shake you, maybe I’d have got somewhere. Besides, if you had n’t been in the way I might have married that Ambassador.’ And Papa laughs and says, ‘Poor Mamma!’
And Papa says, ‘You must n’t mind Mamma, children. She’s Irish.’ Then Mamma says, ‘And if it were not for the Irish, where would you be?‘ Then Papa says, ‘Well, look at my scrapbooks,’ and Mamma says, ‘Yes, look at them. But I don’t see any money in the bank. What I want is money in the bank. And the next trip you go on don’t think you are going to leave me holding any more bags.’ But then these fights don’t last only a little while and then everything is all right again, and we go on a trip. And Papa says, ‘I’d rather have this Mamma for your Mamma than any other one,’ and we think the same.
Once Papa went off on a trip to Mexico for Uncle Szafranski. So we moved to Hennequeville which is in Normandie. Our house was a very rich house and we had Denise and Antoinette and Emil and later a cook working for us. The people who owned this house were our laundry people. Her sister was Madame Thereau who lived next door. She had been a femme de chambre for thirty-four years to a marquise, so now she was rich and owned her house and some other houses around and was ‘bourgeoisie.’ She did n’t speak to everyone in the village. Only to special people. And when she went to church every Sunday she wore a black silk dress, ten petticoats, a hat that sat way up on her head, and black gloves. She used to come to our barrière and say, ‘Are you ready?’ and we would come out all dressed up very chic and march behind her up to the church and sit in her pew which was the richest in the church.
Madame Thereau was 74 years old and very tall and had a mustache. She had a big breast and always walked with her hands on her belly. She adored Johnny because Johnny was singing the whole day long. And she used to take the three of us into her kitchen and divide one apple in equal parts between us.
Monsieur Thereau was 74 years old and never had been twenty miles away from home in all his life. He could cook. So when Mamma did n’t have a cook, he bought Mamma’s lapin and chicken and roasts and cooked them for her, because he said to eat is an art and to cook a religion.
But finally we got a cook. She was a woman as old as Mémé and when Mémé got sick she was very good to Mémé because Mémé could n’t have salt in her food, so she used to set Mémé’s place with leaves and flowers and make it look nicer than it tasted.
We never ate at table with Mémé and Mamma and Papa. We had our own table, and we were very polite then. We are not so polite in America now.
Our cook was very strict and used to say to Mamma, ‘Madame, I do not care if lunch is at four o’clock, so long as the family is here to eat it at the hour you say they will be here.’ So Mamma had to worry all the time we were at the Deauville Plage to get us home in time for the cook. Because this cook made good food and considered it a sin not to be respected.
Our house in Hennequeville was called Le Clos Fleuri because we had lots of flowers in our garden. We had a donkey cart. Emil used to drive us in it to the marché at Deauville. The fishwives would say, ‘Eh, voilà, Madame. When you see the ear of the fish dripping purple and splendid then you know you do not offend God by eating the stale fish that the English eat.’ And she would pull up the ear of the fish and have Mamma look good and hard and then sell Mamma the fish. The butcher would say, ‘Eh, voilà, Madame. Do you need a lovely new fresh beautiful heart to-day? Renew your heart, Madame. Cannot you refresh yourself with a new set of brains? Delicious cooked in golden butter. I have also new kidneys to sell, and creamy, juicy magnificent tripe.’ This market was very gay.
We used to go to Deauville every morning at eleven and bathe, and there we saw Mistinguett and Von Dongen and all the people people know. Mistinguett took pictures of us for the cinema because Johnny would never wear his culotte on the beach. Gilda Gray and Gil Boag came to see us and took us up to Saint Simeon where we had tea, and played croquet on the lawn. Aunt Gilda became very angry at the English people because they played too much croquet during teatime, and we almost had a fight.
Once we met an artist, and so he invited us all up to his villa for tea. When we got there the next day his wife was Scotch and had eight children, six hers and two his. They had a pool in their garden and had lots of funny people from England ‘dropping in,’ and this Frenchman would say about some of them, ‘Such bounders. All puffed up and bragging about knowing Augustus Johns, the painter.’ ‘No real dignity in life.’ But he liked us, and his French children had a nurse who was very old because she had been their mother’s nurse too, and once this nurse went on holiday and she got sick and came running right back because she thought she might die away from her folks.
Sylvia Chen came to see us in Hennequeville. We were rich then. We had twelve rooms in our house. Her father Eugene Chen came also but he did n’t live with us like Sylvia. He wore light silk suits and because he was Chinese wanted to live in peace in a hotel by himself.
Sylvia Chen went with Mamma to baccara. She wore a black Chinese pajama, very soft and silky and her hair was all black and hanging down and her eyes were black. But she said she was a Communist and would n’t stay in the baccara room even after paying 150 francs to get in because she said the air was polluted with Capitalism. These people in the baccara spend lots of money, so I suppose they were Capitalists. But Mamma said lots of them were there trying to be Capitalists. Then we went to the cinema at the Casino and saw our pictures on the plage and Mistinguett showed us the ones she took too. She just loved me, Patience, and said Richard looked like a Prince and Johnny was ‘droll’ because he walked up and down the plage without a stitch on, and no one could make him keep his culotte on.
Once Johnny caused some excitement at Hennequeville. The boy from the bistrot on the corner came running and said Johnnie was walking on the cliff down below our villa. Everybody in the two bistrots came running with Mamma, and we found Johnny walking along just as they said, so he came home with us, but after that we tied him up with a rope to a tree, and he did n’t walk on any more cliffs after that.
When we went to the Bal d’Enfant, Mamma put a smoking on Richard and dressed me in my baptism dress with real lace from Malta and it trailed on the ground. Then when we got to the Casino Mamma sent us marching across the dance hall, my arm in Richard’s and the orchestra played and everybody was having tea and said, ‘Regarde! Regarde!’ and right then Richard had to go and slip on the floor which was very slippery and fell on his derrière. But then we went in and walked up to the judges at the Bal d’Enfant, my hand in Richard’s arm. Then we danced and then suddenly they rang a bell, and the judges said, ‘Le Petit Marquis Abbe et son épouse, le premier prix,’ and we got a gold snake bracelet and a satin handkerchief case with perfume, which is still in Mamma’s trunk in Paris with her African blankets, Mexican blankets, sheets and everything and the hat that the Spanish Count took off his head and gave Mamma. Some day we shall get these things again.
Once Mamma and I, Patience, went on the little schooner over the channel to Le Havre. All the French were very seasick, but there was one man who was English and he sat himself down and put a robe over him, placed a vomiting pan under his chin and then began to read his paper. He was n’t a bit excited, but the French were groaning and saying, ‘Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!’ and they were all green. Mamma and I stayed well.
Madame Thereau always took us to church on Sundays. Monsieur l’Abbé had many funerals in his church and weddings. His church was two hundred and fifty years old and he never asked the people to come to church.
Emil made cider in our garage from apples. He had a machine, but he used to walk on the apples. The cider was very good. All the people in Normandie had rotten teeth from drinking cider and Mamma would n’t let us have any.
Monsieur and Madame Jeanne who were our laundry people were very careful like all the French and money was very good to them. So when they built this house we lived in they put rich furniture in it and had lovely curtains and a kitchen with a brick floor. But they forgot about being careful about the water pipes and so to save money built all the water pipes on the outside of the house and so saved a lot of money.
But one night it was very cold in the winter and all the French were groaning with the cold and the highway was all icy from the cold rain, and suddenly about two o’clock in the morning Mémé called out and said we were all drowning. We all had our own bedrooms and slept alone in them in our own beds. So Mamma came out in her slippers and dressing-gown and we all stood up in bed and our beds were floating in a river and the water was rushing down the stairs from the attic. So Mamma rushed out, Papa was in Mexico, and yelled up to Emil next door, and she yelled for twenty minutes or so and then threw stones up on the shutters. In France everyone shuts themselves in with shutters at night and shut their windows too and then pull down their curtains, so that is why it is hard for anyone to hear you on the outside. So then Emil put his head out the window and wanted to know what was the matter. And Mamma said, ‘Where is the robinet to shut off the water? We are drowning in Le Clos Fleuri!’ So finally after another fifteen or twenty minutes Emil came down all dressed and went into the garden by the barrière and dug up a big stone, then shoveled out some straw and then turned off the robinet, but by that time our house was drowned and Mémé could n’t get out of her bed and we could n’t get out of ours because if we had we would have drowned. So Mamma and Emil took brooms and swept the water down the stairs and it ran like a dam, and the Jeannes did n’t save any money at all by putting their pipes outside, because the house was ruined.
Mémé we loved and she loved us. One day Mamma said to Mémé, ‘We shall all go to the cinema at Trouville.’ So Mamma got a little carriage and took Mémé down to a cafe and gave her Eau gaseuse. Then we went to the cinema and all the time Mémé was very quiet. But when we wanted to go Mémé could not get up from her seat and three men carried her out into a taxicab and we were all crying and Mémé’s mouth was hanging down funny and she could n’t speak. Then Madame Thereau and Mamma helped Mémé to her room and our old doctor came up. He was 70 years old and very strict but good. He said, ‘Stroke.’ So that night Mamma took the car out, Papa was in Mexico. Mamma went down to Deauville and woke up the Pharmacy and got a bottle of leeches. Then Mamma tried to put these leeches on Mémé’s leg because we could n’t get a sister from the hospital. But the leeches crawled all over the floor. So Mamma got these leeches again into the bottle and one by one made them bite Mémé by holding them on Mémé’s leg with a piece of cotton. We were all crying because Mémé was maybe going to disappear soon.
But Méme’s mouth got better the next day and pretty soon she could walk, so she sat all day in the garden and was very sick and looked sad. Then Papa came home from Mexico because we could n’t go to Mexico because of Mémé’s heart and took Mémé to Paris and we went on the train. Then Mémé got all purple in our room at the Hotel Excelsior, and Madame Pages owned this hotel and loved Mémé and made Mémé lovely rice. Papa said, ‘Let me persuade Mémé to go to the American Hospital,’ because Mémé was afraid of hospitals. So then Mémé said, ‘Yes.’ So then Papa put Mémé in our car and we went to the door with her and Madame Pages and Mémé looked back and smiled so sad like as though she would never see us again, and she said, ‘Goodbye, little loves, goodbye.’ But the next day we went to the American Hospital in Neuilly and Mémé said, ‘I thought you were not coming.’ So we went every day to see Mémé and she was in a lovely white bed and she wanted all our pictures which she kept in a big bag for herself.
Then one day Mémé saw Richard whom she loved more than anyone else in the world and she called him Johnny. Mémé was out of her mind. We said, ‘This is little Johnny, Mémé. Here is Richard.’ And Mémé looked at Richard and said, ‘How are you, little Johnny my love? ’ And she always kept calling Richard Johnny.
Then one day Madame Guignard whom we called Lele because Richard could n’t pronounce her name and called her ‘lady’ and pronounced it ’lele’ was there and crying and Mémé got out of bed and sat on a chair and said, ‘It is beautiful, the sun.’ Then Mémé disappeared. But Mamma said she waited even though she was dead for Mamma to come once again to see her. After that she was really dead. But we saw Mémé in an avion riding on top of the sky and an angel was driving it. So we never saw Mémé again, and she was the only grandma we ever had. We did not know Mémé disappeared until after the funeral, and Mamma should have let us walk in the procession behind Mémé because she was our Mémé and no one else’s. And no one ever had a better Mémé than we had and we shall never forget her. But anyway Mémé is sitting on a golden chair with God in God’s house and has no pain and sees that we come to no harm and still loves us. It was only her body that went in the box.
So we did n’t go back to our house in Hennequeville. But we remembered how we could see the great ships that went to America from Le Havre from our windows. We could hear the sea from our villa and see it from all our windows. And the great ships would go BOOM, BOOM, BOOM and then go off and we would n’t see them any more. So then Madame Thereau must have heard us when finally we went to America because the Europa went also BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
We went to live in St. Cloud then and Richard and I went to school. We had to say our prayers every morning in that school. We all got a prize in that school. Everybody in the school, no matter whether you were good or bad. My prize was for recitation and reading. Richard’s was for ‘tranquillité.’
Our house was small and lovely and it had a garden. We had a garden party at St. Cloud and it was also a birthday party. Murray Anderson who had n’t seen Mamma since she’d been in his show brought Mamma twelve red roses with long, long stems and some beautiful candy. Marc Connelly came with his Mamma. Irene Franklin also came with her Papa. And there were lots of other people. Doc Hunt was also there. He was working in the Pasteur Institute and stayed with us a month. When he came our cook left and so he cooked our meals for us. Doc Hunt was very nice. He even found some bread on the top of the shelf in our kitchen which our cook had left there and he said it was the most beautiful mould he had ever seen in his life, and he never could have hoped to get anything like that in his life for the Pasteur Institute. Doc Hunt was a very tall man whose head reached up to the top of the door, and he was too thin because he drank cognac every twenty minutes for his health. He used to go around our house in St. Cloud and say, ‘This is stunning, simply stunning! The whole idea is stunning. These Abbes! ’
One day Dr. Poe who is professor in Boulder was at our house for tea with his people and Eugene Chen who is a Chinaman and nearly had his head cut off once and escaped on the Gobi Desert from a General who also is a Chinaman was also at our house for tea and Doc Hunt and us were having lunch in the dining-room while Mr. Chen and the Poes had tea in the salon. Doc Hunt kept still saying, ‘These Abbes are stunning. They have SUCH stunning ideas.’
Doc Hunt could make wonderful spaghetti and always bought the meat and if it smelled he said it was tender, and it tasted all right. He should have been with us in Russia. He would have known what to do with our Russian meat when it smelled. He knew about germs.
When we lived at St. Cloud Pavlova danced at the Thêatre des ChampsElysées. She saw me and liked me. Pavlova was a beautiful lady with beautiful thin legs and eyes that looked as though they had a lamp in them. She spoke to me also at the Thêatre de Deauville when we were in Normandie, and from that day on I have chosen to be a dancer, because Pavlova was like a flower and her legs danced so beautiful and so like music and she was a great lady, so I am going to be the second Pavlova. We all cried when she went to God’s house.
One day in our garden in St. Cloud Mamma found a dog. She was a police dog. She had St. Vitus dance, but Mamma got a dog specialist. He said, ‘If I were you I’d kill that dog.’ But Mamma said, ‘No.’
So he took the dog, which we had by now called ‘Waif’ and kept her for eight days and Waif came home then and had two sets of pups and not one of those pups had St. Vitus dance.
Jimmy Abbe stayed with us in St. Cloud. Jimmy Abbe is Papa’s son. One day we were on the beach at Mr. Frank Gould’s house at Cap d’Antibes. We decided we’d go up to have tea with them. After tea we went on his motorboat. Johnny was very afraid when the motorboat started. Johnny wanted to come, so he got on and we went off. Jimmy Abbe and Richard sat in the back. Mr. Gould was driving the boat. I was sitting in front with him all alone. Johnny and the steward sat in the second seat. Richard and Jimmy Abbe were very wet in the back seat because the water was splashing on them. Johnny fell asleep. All this time Mamma was in the hospital because that day they carried her out on a stretcher. We were all waiting outside, and when they carried Mamma out Richard said, ’Mamma’s dead,’ but she was n’t. She had a pain in her stomach. In our garden at Juan Les Pins there were many fig trees. We went to the house of Jean Gabriel Doumergue at Cannes and he had a marble table in his diningroom. He also had a Russian wolfhound, beige color.
Bedford was Papa’s valet. Papa found him on the road in England and brought him to St. Cloud. He was always trying to kiss our bonne, so she left because the English and French don’t get along. But that was all right because Doc Hunt came then. He said he was only going to stay the week-end, but he stayed a month.
Bedford went away one morning very early before we went downstairs because he said the house was haunted. He said he shut the cellar door and went to fix the garden and when he came back the cellar door was open. And this kept right on happening. And our house had a service entrance with a service gate and a master’s gate and a staircase ran right up the service entrance through our bedrooms and down the master entrance. Bedford said he heard a man in boots thumping up, over and down this staircase. Doc Hunt said he acted like that because everything was too stunning for him. So Bedford walked to Boulogne from Paris and is now safe in England.
When we left St. Cloud we have never been back to France since. We went in our car to Salzburg and left Mamma to finish the packing.
(To be concluded)