The Honeyed Peace

An American novelist who has done much of her writing on the Continent, MARTHA GELLHORN wrote her first novel in Paris at the age of twenty-three. As a correspondent she covered the Civil War in Spain, Munich, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and the war in China before Pearl Harbor. During World War II, she reported from England, Italy, France, Holland, and Germany. Her new novel will be published by Scribner in October.

by MARTHA GELLHORN

STOP, Evangeline,” said the young man, laughing, “tell one story at a time.” “Oh yes,” Evangeline said, and turned her famous blue eyes on the other two. The eyes were the same, that was the strangest thing of all. Nothing that had happened had changed the eyes, wide-spaced, improbably large, shaded always in the same way with the same blue paste, the long lashes brushed with mascara, and the feather eyebrows rising above them, like two pennants.

“So there it was,” Evangeline went on, recalled to order and businesslike, “And Nini was desperate and rushed around Paris in tears and then she went to Jean and said you’ve got to get Gregory out, you’re the only one who can. The Germans wouldn’t dare to touch you and I ask you this in the name of our huge friendship and besides any man would do it. So Jean said well it really was hard and where was Gregory. But Nini only went on weeping and saying the sales Boches, imagine locking up Gregory as a spy. What will they do next?”

The Englishwoman knew this story. She had flown over from London three days ago and was staying with Evangeline and since they had not seen each other for six years Evangeline told stories steadily, day and night, all the stories mixed up together as was her custom; but this one grew clearer now, with Lucien Malier to prompt Evangeline and keep her straight.

The other woman, who was wearing an American Red Cross uniform, had arrived in the middle of the story and though she was used to Evangeline, she could not yet decipher it.

“Gregory?” she said. “Oh you know Gregory!” Evangeline cried. “Darling, you must remember! That awful monkey of Nini’s.”

There was the second while this information lodged in Anne Marsh’s brain and then she shouted with laughter, saying, “Was he brought to trial?”

“You don’t believe me,” Evangeline said, hurt. “It’s exactly what happened. They had Gregory locked up at Fontainebleau with a lot of other suspects it seems and Nini went out with Jean, wearing a veil, and he climbed over an enormous wall and Gregory bit him when he was carrying him out and Nini had to escape Paris because anyhow there was some talk of her being a spy herself.”

C’est trap beau,” Lucien said. “ Ca me rend nostalgique à pleurer.” The Englishwoman, Lady Elizabeth Beech, looked at him and thought, poor Lucien, that never changes either. She said, “Now tell us about Madame Göring and her clothes.”

“Oh yes,” said Evangeline, and turned to Anne Marsh, the latecomer, who had to be caught up on all the news.

“You wouldn’t believe how wicked the vendeuses were. But darling, she was incredible, like a huge blonde cream puff or a huge blonde sausage and with ten bosoms all packed together, and the vendeuses made her such flatteries as have never been heard, not even when the rich Americans used to come, and then they sold her wonderful horrors. The great night was at the Opéra, I can’t even remember what they were doing but it must have been Wagner, and you know all the stairs at the Opéra and what curious views one gets of people and there she was, poor Madame Göring, in a poison blue dress, very tight, with patterns of snakes and cows and butterflies all over her in sequins but principally on her derrière and all her bosoms and everyone made a big point of complimenting her on her taste and how she had clothes like nobody else, si parisienne. Oh my goodness, it was amusing. And she swelled, if she could swell, poor Madame Göring, because she was so proud of being parisienne.”

Lucien by now had lain down on the bed and was laughing softly and weakly to himself. “How I have missed you,” he said. Then, without turning his head, he remarked, “I must tell you, Liz, that Evangeline’s version of the Occupation is the only sensible one.”

Now Evangeline was launched on a story of how the poor Germans gave a fête champeêtre or what they trusted and believed would be a fête champêtre and everyone went pour rigoler, carrying scythes and wearing wooden shoes, and Gabrielle de Berville put straw in her hair and covered herself, but literally covered herself, with fertilizer, giving off the most ghastly odor and everyone said to the Germans the Comtesse de Berville is the greatest French authority on fêtes champêtres and that rare delicious perfume she is wearing is a secret in her family, only to be worn at fêtes champêtres. . . .

Anne Marsh was watching Lucien and remembering his voice when he told Elizabeth, or warned Elizabeth, to think well of Evangeline. Now why, she asked herself; why does he bother? Does he imagine we have grown so snobbish and righteous that we cannot understand Evangeline any more? It was true that at this point, in the first autumn of peace, Evangeline was suitable only for a limited audience of initiates who would not expect a war to make changes.

Anne considered her neat blue uniform and the drab and almost shapeless black tailleur Liz was wearing, and she realized how horribly efficient their clothes were. But Evangeline, returning from exile to another harsher exile, looked as if time had stood still. She wore her dark red hair high on her head as she had these last ten years (did she start that fashion?) and her dress was what every woman wanted, the sleek, delicately and intricately cut, entirely simple black sheath. She had tied about her throat a choker of pearls and clear round emerald beads, and her nails were long and the same cherry pink as her mouth. Anne thought: I will never look like that again, I have lost it. But Evangeline had always looked like this. Anne thought, with brief resentment, I wish I hadn’t lost it. It is something a woman needs.

The room was the same, too. For some reason one always sat in this room though it was where Evangeline and Renaud slept, and before the war people were not so accustomed to meeting in bedrooms. The bed, large and entirely square, was covered by a gray short-napped and glistening fur spread. There were low tables and large low lamps, bookshelves, great chairs, and nothing that would make you think it was a bedroom except the bed which had become, with habit, a vast couch where people sprawled, laughed, argued, and gossiped. Anne had never been able to imagine Evangeline and Renaud in bed together, neither sleeping, talking, reading, nor making love. This was a public room.

It was much colder than before, with the central heating unfed throughout Paris and the one small electric heater burning weakly on the reduced current. The rest of the apartment, as satin and gloomy and gray as this, was dark and very cold. One felt that Evangeline would disappear into it, giving off a whimper of loneliness, now that Renaud was gone. It was Renaud who filled the other rooms, with his luncheons and dinners where so many people came and all paid homage to Renaud’s certainties, with the worshipful secretaries bustling in the office, the appalling politicians murmuring deals in the rigid salons. What does she do at night, Anne wondered; sit here and forget the other rooms which were Renaud’s territory? What did she do without Renaud, since she had made him her whole life for almost twenty years? Though personally, Anne thought, I would be so relieved to be free of Renaud for a bit that his being in jail would seem a gift.

2

I’M late,” Anne said suddenly. She was having dinner with one of the never ending captains; he happened to be a Pole. He would talk to her about women and love and Russia and his regiment, and be charming, and she would like him not for herself but because of what he had done in that other life, the war. She had heard more about women and love in the last three years, from the men of the Allied nations, than she could equably endure. And she was tired of talking about Russia and also about regiments.

“But you can’t go,” Evangeline said, “you haven’t told us anything. You arrive, very mysterious and military, and far the chicquest woman in Paris, and then you depart. What are you doing? Where did you come from? ”

“Berlin, darling. On leave. Going back to Berlin. And I do the same thing always: I dispense doughnuts and listen.”

“You see,” Evangeline said to the other two, “how she is. Always the same. Beautiful and disabused. Dear Anne. You are the last surviving glamour girl.”

“Crotte,” said Anne.

Lucien told Evangeline to leave Anne alone, no woman wearing a Mainbocher dress had the right to tease another, locked into a uniform, and furthermore he had to go too. “Until tomorrow,” he said and they left despite Evangeline’s protests. There was a flicker of panic in Evangeline’s eyes, for now everyone was going and the night would start.

“We will make ourselves a delectable boiled egg,” she was saying to Elizabeth Beech, as Anne Marsh and Lucien Malier went down the ill-lit, never very clean marble stairs. “And we will dress for it. You will wear my sumptuous Balenciaga with the bullfighter’s jacket. And I shall wear draperies, the purple ones, and float over the egg. . .

Lucien held to the banister and walked carefully down the stairs. Anne had noticed his limp when first she saw him in Paris a year ago at the beginning of the last long cold winter of the war. She had not asked him what this limp was, because one asked nothing in Paris in those days. There was a terrible discretion between friends, after the years of separation, and not knowing what the friends had thought or done, or where they had been. But Larrive, in whose studio she met Lucien, told her that Lucien’s right leg was useless as a result of one of the varied tortures practiced by the Gestapo. Lucien had been very chic during the war, and very important, and now he walked badly and, as total reward, ate little and ran that dank art gallery in the Rue Jacob.

Anne Marsh was long since accustomed to the fact that heroes rarely looked like heroes; and yet perhaps Lucien did suit the role with that thin and nervous face, the, to her, unattractive delicacy of his bones, his gray guarded eyes. She could imagine Lucien would keep secrets; she had not imagined he would be brave for he did not seem to have enough blood to feed bravery. They had spoken, that first time, of Evangeline. Lucien would rather speak of Evangeline than of anything else. Anne was glad to have Lucien safely ticketed in her mind. It had been very awkward, a year ago, being received so warmly by acquaintances who had been equally cordial in their reception of the Germans.

Now, standing in the street, Lucien said, “You have seen many courageous people these last years, Anne?”

It was too cold and too dark for that sort of talk, Anne thought; it was possible talk only when drunk and warm, if at all. It was not possible ever on this solemn tone.

“I suppose so. Can I give you a lift, Lucien?”

“Thank you, I have my bicyclette.” He stooped, and in the blue light of the street lamp she watched him buckling metal bracelets around his trouser legs. When he stood up, he said, “You will not have seen anyone with more courage than Evangeline.”

Here he was again, with his warnings. It made Anne impatient. Lucien had been uselessly in love with Evangeline for as long as Evangeline had been obsessedly in love with Renaud; on the other hand, that did not give him a monopoly in the understanding of Evangeline.

“I think she’s behaving very well,” Anne said in an objectionable voice.

“ You know it is better than that.”

“All right, Lucien! What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to help her.”

“That’s what I came to do, idiot. Only I couldn’t very well embarrass her in front of you and Liz by pulling out a checkbook. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

“It is not that. She can of course use money but she does not need it now. She needs support.”

“What do you mean?”

“She needs persons like you,” he said, with courteous malice, “persons of unimpeachable character who have always been on the right side. To give her category, and to plead her case.”

“Her case is okay. Renaud’s case.”

“Renaud’s case is hers, as you know.”

“I’m sorry, Lucien. I’ll do whatever Evangeline needs; but I’m damned if I’ll go around saying Renaud is the biggest patriot since Clemenceau.”

“You dislike Renaud?”

“Of course I dislike Renaud; so do you. We’ve been disliking Renaud for eighteen years. You can’t expect me to break my heart over Renaud.”

“It is Evangeline whose heart I am considering.”

“No one really does anything about collaborators. Unless you call indignité nationale something. And I feel Evangeline will survive that in case she happens to understand what it means.”

“You are very hard. Anne.”

“It’s the doughnuts.”

“Pardon?”

“The doughnuts. They have made me hard.”

“Bon soir,” he said coldly, and did not shake hands with her.

Oh hell, Anne thought, trying to start her Liberated Ford, and listening with anxiety to the dreary but unsuccessful turning-over of the motor. Now I’ve quarreled with Lucien when I love Evangeline too; but it is too much to ask me to go about abetting Renaud. She thought of Renaud: tall, dark, vulgarly handsome and knowing it, beloved of women, always healthy, permanently successful. Damn Renaud, damn his selfishness towards Evangeline, and his cushy war in Sweden serving le Maréchal, and damn him for coming home at this point and being put into jail. Why couldn’t he have stayed in Sweden, instead of returning with Evangeline, to get arrested and make Evangeline suffer and embarrass her friends? How dared a man like Renaud pose a question of conscience to anybody? I’m so late, Anne said to herself furiously, oh curse this bloody car. And then the motor started and she thought how lucky she was, in a world of feet and bicycles, to have gas-driven transport.

3

LADY ELIZABETH BEECH, looking from the rear like a woman who would turn and offer to sell you wilted violets from a basket, stood with her nose glued to the window of Van Cleef and Arpels in the Place Vendôme. It was a clear sunny day and Paris was too beautiful to see all at once, so she took it in careful doses. Now she was staring at a weird diamond and gold collar that would weigh heavily on some rich neck, and she was thinking that nothing made sense. For all the time Van Cleef and Arpels had been fabricating this unlikely necklace she had been fabricating airplane carburetors, and though clearly she was the better citizen, they had their necklace and she had nothing but grained hands and a sense of souldestroying shabbiness. Also she was tired and felt herself to be muted, unappealing, and numb. Who would have enough money, what kind of person still had enough money, to buy those aquamarine earrings which looked like carved chunks of iceberg? Who would have the money or the hope? Where did you go, wearing such things; what sort of people did you see; and who, in fact, were you?

An arm was linked through hers and Anne Marsh said, “Envious?”

“Yes.”

“So am I. Last year I was angry. But now I’m used to it. If it cheers you, I’ve seen that necklace on and off for a year; so no one can afford to buy it anyhow. That’s something.”

“Let’s have a drink.”

“The Ritz? For auld lang syne?”

“No.”

“Georges is back in the dear old bar. It makes me feel a hundred years old.”

“Let’s go anywhere,” Elizabeth Beech said and they started walking up the Rue de la Paix towards the Rue Daunou. They turned at Dunhill’s and headed for the Rue Royale. Elizabeth Beech had it vaguely in mind that Weber’s would be a good place to go, and sit in the sun, and stare at strangers.

“Everyone looks so loud,” Elizabeth Beech said, “not chic any more, just loud. Those revolting pompadours and those shoes for clubfeet and the short skirts and long coats. I hate the way they look. It’s such a disappointment to me. I was counting on being delighted.”

“They claim they started it to repel the Germans. I imagine they’re keeping it up to repel the British and Americans.”

“It’s very inconsiderate. If you haven’t seen anything pretty for six years, it does seem mean of them to look as loathsome as possible.”

“There’s one good one,” Anne said. Across the street a tall slender woman, dressed in black, walked unhurriedly among the little hurried people. She was as conspicuous as if she had been dressed in flames. She moved better than the other women because she knew how to walk and also because she was wearing elegant sensible shoes, an improved version of Russian boots, done in black suede. All they could see, since she was turned away from them, was the loose, full, but tightly belted black coat, and a hood of dark cloth banded in mink, and a huge square black bag swinging from her shoulder. She looked as if she had stepped out of her sled (which would be made of teakwood with pale blue satin cushions) to stroll around Paris, in case Paris happened to be a ballet set of Czarist Moscow.

“Oh dear,” said Lady Elizabeth, “what a pleasure. That’s what I mean. Why can’t they all look like that, so beautiful and pointless? It isn’t much to ask.”

The tall woman turned into a doorway.

“Gone to buy herself a pair of underpants,” Anne said, “made of pure crepe de Chine and trimmed with Venetian lace, for $500 the pair.”

“It still makes you angry, doesn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“That’s because you’re American and Americans are moral.”

“Shall we just get across the street while the light is red and you spare me your observations on Americans?”

They were across the street and in the sun and Anne was saying, “If anything bores me, it’s Americans are moral, and Frenchmen lecherous, and Englishmen empirebuilders. . . .”

The tall woman came out of the shop. They could imagine the scent of the shop, which would come with her; they could imagine the gray-clad enameled salesgirl standing there in the scented gray room behind her, folding up the transparent and costly underwear. The tall woman had opened the door and walked out with ease and assurance and now she stopped in the sun, as if she were alone in the street or alone in a streetless world, and leaned against the wall out of sight of the shop, and put one black-gloved hand over her eyes. She stood this way for a moment and anyone passing might have thought the lady was suddenly ill, dizzy, feeling faint. Her shoulders, which were thin and stylishly square, lost their shape and she no longer seemed tall. Then she took her hand from her eyes, straightened herself, and turned, walking towards the Place de la Concorde. The ease and assurance were there but she had commanded her body and was walking as she intended to walk, by act of will.

They had seen it was Evangeline, at once, and started to join her when she covered her eyes. They stopped and pretended to be looking in a shopwindow and waited. They watched Evangeline walking through the crowds on the pavement, and did not move.

“Should I hurry and cross over by the Louvre and get home first?” Elizabeth Beech said. “Or let her go and come in a little later?”

“She’ll be going home?”

“Of course.”

“What do you suppose happened?”

“They refused to serve her, obviously. You can’t think how righteous these people are if their clientele was entirely black marketeers or collaborators or Germans. And if your husband is in jail, then you’re really fair game.”

“And then again,” Anne said, “maybe some of them lost their husbands in the war or their boy friends to the Gestapo. You never can tell.”

“Why don’t you go in and have a lovely time being righteous with them?”

“Oh Liz, for God’s sake, don’t let’s quarrel about this. What is the use?”

“I’ll give her time to get home. Come on, let’s have a gaseous at Weber’s. I’ll give her a quarter of an hour.”

4

THEY found a small sticky table at Weber’s and the waiter was hostile. There was no beer, they knew better than to order coffee, and the gazeux — which became their inevitable choice — was the color of blood and tasted of chemical cherries. Around them shabby pallid people read the newspapers with some sort of desperation, and no one laughed about anything at all. There was not even one couple holding hands. Anne remembered Weber’s with tenderness, but it was a ten-year-old memory. That was the time when one’s friends were just one’s friends and there were no problems that could not be solved and in the morning one came here, serene and smoothed, and ate breakfast with a man one loved and read only the parts of the paper which were funny.

After a while, Elizabeth Beech said, “Have you seen Lulu de Rémont?”

“No.”

“Or Agnès Farde or Bea de Branhaut or notre chère Germaine?”

“No.”

“They’re doing awfully well,” Lady Elizabeth said dreamily, “oh frightfully well. You can barely push your way into their salons, for the American officers. Or else they’re stuffing themselves at the Embassies. It seems they were all really magnificent during the war.”

“I’m not responsible for the poor half-witted American officers,” Anne said.

“And they’ve all cut Evangeline,” Elizabeth went on. “Cut is perhaps the wrong word, because to cut someone you must of course see them. Which they have not done.”

“ What did you expect them to do? ”

“I moved to Evangeline’s as a protest. It is very uncomfortable, I must say. But I wasn’t going to let those girls get away with that.”

“But Renaud still is a collaborator.”

“No more than a lot of other people, and certainly no more than those lovelies.”

“It’s probably my American morality, as you say. I cannot seem to forget that stinking war.”

“And Renaud couldn’t have done much harm, stuck off there in Sweden, not nearly as much as that little ordure Michel Varennes, who is walking around quite happy and free as air.”

“Yes, I know,” Anne said, wearily. “But it doesn’t mean you have to be brothers with Michel.”

“And Evangeline of course never collaborated with anybody. All she seems to have done is make fun of the Germans, because she found them grotesque. I don’t know why Evangeline should be insulted by those dear old pals of hers who collaborated as hard as they could until they saw that the Germans were losing, and then maintained a discreet silence until liberated. Since when they talk as if they were all Joan of Arc, nipped from the stake at the last moment.”

“Have another gaseous?”

“I hated this war,” Elizabeth Beech said with passion. “ I hated every minute of it. I’m not going to let it destroy everything.”

“It’s done pretty well, if you ask me.”

“I’m not going to let it destroy the thing of being friends along with every other bloody thing.”

Anne drank some more of the sickening cherry mixture, and gave Elizabeth Beech time to hide inside herself again. Then she said casually, “I used to know Pierre Lanier.”

“Did you?”

“Yes. He was by way of being a beau of mine.”

“He was shot a few weeks ago, wasn’t he?”

“Yes. Do you think I should have rallied round?”

“It’s different, Anne. He worked for the Germans, he excused the concentration camps. Evangeline didn’t understand anything about them.”

“And Renaud?”

“How do I know about Renaud? I’m talking about Evangeline. She never knows anything except loving Renaud. She doesn’t concentrate on anything else. She may be a fool but she was never wicked. I must go now. She’ll be home and all pulled together.”

“I’ll come and see her late this afternoon.”

“She hasn’t given a sign of how she feels about Renaud but she doesn’t sleep and you can see in her eyes that she’s going mad. You know, that’s another thing about Evangeline: she has almost the best manners there are.”

Anne had paid for the chemical drinks and they stood in the street, with the driven anxious people breaking around them like water breaking against a bridge, and Anne said, “I wish I hadn’t come.”

“So do I. But there it is.”

“Will I see you again?”

“You will find me any morning, window-shopping in these streets. I don’t seem to have much money any more. Do you?”

“No. Not much.”

“Ah well,” said Elizabeth Beech, “we’ve still got our youth and beauty.”

They looked at each other and laughed. Then Elizabeth started walking fast towards the river and the gray cold apartment and Anne wandered up towards the Opéra. There was an hour to lose before lunch. She might go down to Notre Dame and look at the river and the two great square towers holding back the sky. She might do anything, if there was anything she wanted to do. And then she would have lunch with a British Major, and cocktails with an American Colonel, and dinner with another Captain who happened to be French. Giddy life, she thought, gay mad Paree.

“Evangeline,” Anne said softly. She was thinking rapidly of any doctors she knew, or she could call the Embassy and they would send someone.

5

NO ONE answered the doorbell though the concierge had said that Madame Vilray was home. Anne Marsh turned the unshined brass doorknob, for no reason, and found it opened and thought, Evangeline is too careless. She would have to remind Evangeline that, since one no longer had servants, one was supposed to lock one’s own door. She walked into the bedroom and Evangeline was there, sitting on a straight chair, before the small ineffectual electric heater. Her face looked like the face of the blind, being empty of expression, and with a terrible lineless death on it. She sat erect and did not hear the door open and did not move. “Evangeline,” Anne said softly. She

Evangeline turned and looked at Anne and did not speak.

“Evangeline! You’re ill. Come on, I’ll get you to bed. Darling, listen to me.”

“They have moved him,” Evangeline said, speaking very slowly. “He is not in his prison any more. I went to take his dinner, as I always do, and they said, ‘Madame, he is gone. We will notify you.’ So they have taken him somewhere and killed him.”

Anne was so relieved that she felt herself gasping out a shrill laugh of nerves. She checked this and said, “It means nothing of the sort. Do listen to me.”

“Then why would they not say where he has gone?”

“It’s sure to be a rule. There’s always a rule. Listen, Evangeline.” Evangeline’s face was again turned blindly towards the wall.

“You see, I’ve heard about this,” Anne went on. “There’s a period when they’re questioned in Paris, and then they get moved to one of the prisons on the outskirts, and they wait there for trial. It’s always the same. It’s a very good thing, believe me, because it means he’ll have his trial sooner and that way he’ll be home sooner. It’s nothing to be frantic about, Evangeline, really it isn’t, you must believe me.”

Anne had been talking so fast that her breath was gone and her mouth felt dry, and still Evangeline stayed inside her silence. The silence in the room now was like a lack of air and Anne moved to the window and opened it and the cold dark September evening flowed into the cold dark room. Then Anne, shivering, saw what she had done and closed the window. I’m going to cry, she thought, I can’t shake her out of this, I must get a doctor.

Anne went to the telephone and when Evangeline heard the number being dialed she said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to call a doctor for you.”

“Stop it.”

Anne put down the telephone and Evangeline said, “I need nothing. I need only to know where Renaud is.”

“Darling, he’s all right. I swear to you. This is routine. Let’s have a drink, let’s do something. We’ll go out to dinner.”

“I will wait here. Someone wall notify me.”

“Notify!” Anne said and was shocked to hear her voice almost hysterical against Evangeline’s slow and heavy words. “For God’s sake stop acting as if this was Germany and they sent you a box of ashes. This is France, Evangeline, and the war is over and there are trials and laws and a parliament and Embassies, and people are not notified.”

“Yes,” said Evangeline. There was a beginning of life in her voice.

“You’ve forgotten. You’re all mixed up. You’ve been alone here, thinking, and you’ve made it all crazy. There’s no question of people being shot on the road between prisons. That’s stopped, don’t you see?”

“Yes,” Evangeline said again, from a great distance.

“Oh darling!” Anne kneeled by the straight chair and took Evangeline’s beautiful hands, with the long fingers and the long cherry pink nails, and tried to warm them in her own. “Please go to bed. I’ll bring you dinner. Have you a boule?”

Evangeline moved, as in a dream, obeying this insistent voice which was kind, if too near, too loud. Anne found a hot-water bag and no hot water and went into the kitchen to boil a kettle. She looked for food and found a loaf of bread and a can of sardines and some bouillon cubes and thought, it will be enough because she can’t eat but I must try to make her swallow something hot. When she came back Evangeline was in bed, lying flat on the pillow, with the somnambulant look on her face.

“As you are American and of the Red Cross,”Evangeline said carefully, “they would tell you.”

“Yes darling.” Anne put the hot-water bag inside the bed. “Are you warmer?”

“I am all right.”

“I’ll bring you something to eat.”

“No, please. I must know where Renaud is.”

Where was Liz; where was Lucien? Why weren’t they here to help? She could not handle this alone, for she had never seen this kind of fear.

There was another silence, while Anne stood awkwardly beside the bed. Her hands seemed very large to her and very far out of her sleeves. Then Evangeline, without moving her fixed sleepwalker’s eyes, said, “Please find Renaud, Anne.”

“Yes darling.” I’m babbling, Anne thought.

Anne dialed the American Embassy number. Tommy Grainger, who was First Secretary now, would know something or at least be sane and practical. Tommy Grainger was not at the Embassy and not at the Crillon where he lived and as Anne made the telephone calls she could feel Evangeline, in the bed, turning to stone. The silence again became airless and choking. At last, helplessly, Anne telephoned the Ritz Bar and asked for Georges and heard that collected airy voice and was told, in the way of Georges’s repeated miracles, that Monsieur Grainger was here, one little moment, Mademoiselle. Then Tommy came and said, “Hello, beauty, I thought you were in Berlin.”

“I am usually; this is my leave. Tommy, I want to ask you something.”

“Ask.”

“You know Renaud Vilray, don’t you?”

“No. I know who he is, of course.”

“His wife is a great friend of mine. Renaud has been moved from his prison, you know that one in the Ministère. And they won’t tell Evangeline where he’s gone. Can you find out?”

“No, Anne, I can’t. When was he moved?”

“This evening.”

“They’ll telephone his lawyer in the morning and say where he is, and then the lawyer can see him and probably take his wife to visit. He might be at Fresnes or Drancy or anywhere. They only keep people in town for questioning.”

“That’s what I told Evangeline.”

“Well, that’s how it is. Tell her to have a drink and forget it; she’ll hear from the lawyer in the morning. How did you ever get mixed up in this rat race?”

Anne said quickly, “I’m here with Evangeline. She’s a very old friend of mine.”

“Terrible nuisance, isn’t it? One’s old friends. I wouldn’t go to Germany on a bet, I’m so afraid I’d run into all my old Nazi pals in case they’ve avoided being shot. They won’t shoot Vilray though. Too late in the game, and he’s only a second-class collaborator anyhow.”

“Thank you, Tommy,” Anne said nervously. “Go back to your drink.”

“HOW about meeting me tomorrow?”

“Yes, I’ll call you. Thank you, darling. Good night.”

She turned to Evangeline. “Tommy says exactly what I do; it is routine; Renaud’s lawyer will be informed in the morning, and you’ll go and see him with the lawyer. There’s absolutely nothing to get excited about. Tommy Grainger is our expert on all these things,” Anne said, lying earnestly. “He is the very top authority.”

“What did he say?”

“I’ve told you darling. Renaud may be at Drancy or Fresnes; in the morning his lawyer will be informed. Have you heard me?”

“Yes,” Evangeline said. Unaccountably, her voice sounded sleepy. Her face was better now; it had stopped dying and looked only haggard and sick.

“I’m going to make you something to eat,” Anne said.

In the kitchen, she wondered where Liz could be, or Lucien, or how she could warn her French Captain that she would be late or not coming at all. She burned her hands on the toast and realized she was sweating with nerves and a sort of oppressive hurry.

But Evangeline had, by some secret and mysterious process of healing, gone farther in her cure: she was sitting up in bed and rouging her lips and erasing, with lipstick, part of the sickness from her face.

“You are a sweet little cabbage,” she said to Anne graciously, “and very competent and I admire you. You are so clever with telephones and always know exactly what to do. I have behaved very tiresomely and you must forgive me.”

“Eat your delicious handmade supper and shut up,” said Anne. Everything was going to be fine. For Evangeline had found her strange singing absurd voice again, which meant that she would return to her permanent role of being Evangeline, amusing and inconsequential and worldly, and safe as thistledown is safe.

“Such bouillon,” Evangeline said, “divine. What a lovely little wife you will make for a great strong American; you will wear a pinafore covered with rosebuds and cook him bouillon.”

“I will cook him doughnuts,” Anne said, “to keep him in his place.”

“What have you been doing in Paris, Anne? Tell me all your excitements.”

“Nothing. That’s what I came to do.”

“Oh,” said Evangeline, drawing out the word, “I just remembered. The most superb little event which happened to me this morning. I went to Auclair’s to buy a negligée, though really one should not waste millions of francs these days when things are so expensive and everything is of course very unsettled. But still, I thought one negligée is not ruin, and then I will be pretty for Renaud when he returns from his prison. So I went in, thinking of something else anyhow, and saw the vendeuses drawn up behind the counter like a female firing squad and all scowling ferociously through their mascara. The head vendeuse came out to me, with such a martial look like someone who is about to say ‘Fire,’ and smoke pouring from her nostrils and quivering with patriotism and fury and many other pleasurable emotions. So I said amiably, ‘I think that rose toile de soie would be pretty,’ pointing to something which was suspended on the counter, and she said, ‘Madame, we do not serve the enemies of France.’

I looked around quickly to see what enemies were in the room but as there were none it was clearly me she meant, so I said, still pleasant but with the most beautiful hauteur, ‘You will kindly put the rose toile de soie away, and when the judges have apologized to my husband, I shall come for it and you may apologize to me.’ Wasn’t it brilliant, darling? I did wish there was someone to hear, and I never made a speech before, and to make such a good one on the first try, really wasn’t it clever? And then I sailed out, as dignified as I do not know what, and when I got out of sight I stopped and did my laughing; but of course not where the firing squad could see me.”

Anne had turned away and was now apparently searching for an ash tray. She fumbled on the table, knocking against one of the low large lamps. She saw everything blurred, through sudden tears, and she forgot that she must laugh. Then she realized that Evangeline was waiting, and she could not laugh, so she said, “You will have to buy the negligée quite soon, won’t you?”

“Yes,” Evangeline said happily. “Perhaps now I have made such a lovely speech I could go back for it before the trial, to give them time to fit it.”

“That’s a sound idea.”

“But you did not tell me what you are doing. I interrupted you.”

“Nothing darling. Resting.”

“With dozens of handsome and spirited young men to help you?”

“Handsome and spirited young men are no rest. I see them by the hundreds every day.”

“I never understand. What is it you do, wearing that delightful blue costume?”

“I hand out coffee and doughnuts and smiles to handsome spirited young men.”

“No! Have you been doing that all through the war?”

“Yes.”

“But what a lovely way to spend one’s time!”

“Oh yes,” Anne said quietly. “It’s all been great fun.”

She saw that Evangeline had finished with her tray.

“Could you sleep now, darling?”

“Yes,” Evangeline said. “You are sweet to me. Yes,

I will. Because I must be up very early and make myself pretty to go visiting with the lawyer.”

“That’s right. Do you want anything else?”

“No, thank you. I must take many pull-overs to Renaud tomorrow because it’s getting quite cold, isn’t it? Good night darling.”

The French Captain was sitting on the banquette at the Relai Saint-Germain, looking anxious and angry, but when Anne came in the door his face cleared and his pleasure in seeing her distressed Anne for she felt it was dishonorable to eat up his money when she cared so little about him. She smiled readily when that seemed called for, or nodded serious agreement, and heard nothing. She was thinking of Evangeline.

She was not angered now that Evangeline had no time or Understanding for the life of the world; Evangeline was occupied to the point of madness. Surely there were few people with the strength and daring for such passion. It also did not matter that loving Renaud this way was against nature because he so little deserved it; Renaud was an accident or a joke of God’s. But Evangeline, whom Anne had seen for the first time, was no accident because, accidentally, one did not, no one did, no one could, support such love for eighteen uneasy years. There was nothing to feed the love except Evangeline’s own heart and will. It was not surprising that she had nothing left and that she hid behind her gay and stony mask of nonsense. For Evangeline could not waste herself on anything; she had this one tireless and fierce service to perform.

I must see that she gets money, Anne thought, so she can buy fifty negligées and I must go there early in the morning to drive her and the lawyer to visit Renaud.

I will also have to take on Renaud and see what I can do. We will have to save him for Evangeline; since she has earned him.

“What do you think of collaborators?” Anne asked the French Captain, suddenly.

“They should be shot,” he said at once, “and all of them. And make this country clean again, for the clean people.”

Anne excused herself early, saying with truth that she was tired. The French Captain looked sad but she could not help that. She could not handle everyone’s troubles at the same time. Her bed was cold and she felt drearily wakeful. Something nagged in her brain, which she could not catch and give shape to. Finally, she knew what it was; it was a hurting, unanswerable question. If you did not love as Evangeline did, and never had, and surely never would, what had you lost?

6

THE telephone woke Anne, and she answered in the hoarse morning voice of the cigarette smoker.

“Anne?” said Elizabeth Beech. “Are you awake?”

“ Not exactly.”

“Anne, Renaud killed himself last night.

Then Anne thought, no I am not awake, this has not happened, and she held the silver-plated telephone horn away from her, staring at it.

“Did you hear me?”

“Yes,” Anne said.

In the silence, the telephone operator suddenly announced, “Vous avez terminé?” “Non! Non!” Anne shouted. “Ne coupez pas, Mademoiselle!”

Elizabeth Beech’s voice returned, not so much faint as gray.

“Cut off,” she said.

“Yes. Is it true what you said?”

“Of course.”

“The pig,” Anne said. “Oh the filthy pig!”

“I couldn’t agree more,” said the gray voice. “The last wretched trick to play on Evangeline.”

Mademoiselle,” said the telephone operator, “il y a une communication pour vous.”

“Ne coupez pas!” Anne shouted, wildly. “Leave us alone! Are you still there, Liz?”

“Yes.”

“Why did he? Why? He was going to be all right.”

“No one knows. He didn’t leave a message. Not even that,” Elizabeth Beech said and the gray voice brightened with hate.

“But why?”

“ Lucien says maybe he thought he was going to be shot. You know there is a place out there where they do shoot people. And Lucien says maybe he was afraid of standing up and being shot. Or Lucien says maybe he thought he was going to get a long term in jail and couldn’t face it. But I think he decided there wouldn’t be much future for him in France, and obviously no place else, and it discouraged him. . . .” Her voice trailed away.

“We must talk,” Anne said stupidly, “or that bitch will cut us off,”

“All right. Say something.”

“I don’t know,” Anne murmured. “I don’t know.” She would have to ask now and she did not want to hear. “Evangeline?” she said.

“Lucien came for her early this morning and took her to his mother. That place they have near Tours.”

“Did she want to go?”

“Evangeline? She didn’t say anything, she hasn’t said a word. She died really, at once; she just heard it and opened her eyes and died.”

“Don’t talk like that.”

“It’s true — why not talk like that? There isn’t any point to her without Renaud. She hasn’t anything to be or do.”

“It’s so hateful,” Anne said, “it’s so idiotic.”

“Like everything else,” Elizabeth remarked bleakly. “I’m flying to London this afternoon.”

“I thought you’d come over for weeks.”

“I had. But it’s no use, is it? I don’t fit in and there isn’t anything to fit into.”

“I won’t see you then. I have to get back to Berlin in a few days.”

“And dispense doughnuts?”

“Yes. It’s a nice trade when you get used to it.”

“Well, have fun.”

“Same to you.”

“Lucien’s address is La Faisanderie, Poireoux. That’s Seine et Loire, I think.”

“Thanks. Good-bye, Liz.”

The room was cold with all the unheated winters before and with the unheated winter to come. Beside her bed was a little box of push buttons and if she pressed the button that was marked by the figure of a waiter, no one would come. For there was no café au lait and no croissants with pale unsalted butter. If she got up there would be no hot water in the bathtub. She could lie here until the end of the week, if she liked.

She decided to go to the ATC Booking Office in the Place Vendôme and catch the next plane for Berlin. Berlin was a fine city, bombed flat and full of soldiers. And there was her canteen at the Tempelhof airdrome and hundreds of khaki men who came to it, every day. They were simple and rowdy or simple and sad, and she would be flirtatious or motherly according to need, but always friendly in her heart and they friendly to her. It was really a pleasant place, her canteen at the Tempelhof airdrome, and she was not psychopathic about the smell of doughnuts no matter what little luxuries of nerves she might allow herself.

Anne thought of the green and gentle Loire valley, and Evangeline, in it, waiting as if it were a desert.