Зображення сторінки
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

then possessed, and justly gloated over, a the time, and even now are so well known piano wholly decorated by Watteau's hand, that it is useless to go into detail. a treasure purchased for the sum of 1,200 But let us continue our promenade. francs ($240) which to-day could only be O n leaving the Hôtel de Lauzun it is rebought by a Rothschild.”

freshing to find one's self on the quay again, It was here that the circle of celebrated with a gentle breeze blowing through the men known as the Mangeurs d'haschish Italian poplar trees, whose silvery-leaved (hashish eaters), met and absorbed their branches rise far above the high stone paraoriental mixture. Their bewildering dreams pet that borders the street and hides their and strange hallucinations were the talk of trunks. I remember my surprise when, on

first looking over the wall to see if their things have changed, and the laundress of roots were in the water, my eye was arrested tradition no longer exists, for I was perby a strange-looking house-boat of abnor- mitted to go my way without receiving mal size. A second glance showed that splashes of any description. Certain it is, there was not one, but a whole line of them, however, that their conversation does not stretching between the Pont Louis-Phil- lack animation, and biting truths are relippe and the Pont Sully. A broad veranda vealed about absent members who, by the surrounded each construction, and bloom- way, are always in the wrong. ing geranium plants as well as climbing During my visit I saw several strangevines were placed most attractively in vari- looking beings circulating in the corridors, ous niches and along the walls. A kind of stopping now and then to chat with a launwooden gang-plank was stretched from the dress. Among others was an old sailor who narrow bank to the entrance and a sign over had contraband matches to sell; a travelthe door announced, Bateaux Lavoirs ling salesman with handkerchiefs, two for (Wash-boats).

three cents, and still another vender who ofIt is here, then, that the Parisian's wash- fered fur boas at forty-nine cents each, with ing is brought to be laundered, for as yet the muff to match for as much more. Hearthe installation of galvanized tubs in pri- ing the price, my curiosity got the better of vate houses and apartments is unknown. me and I examined the articles for sale.

Some of the boats are extremely old, if I How do they do it? I wondered. How can am to believe the sign borne by one of them it be possible to furnish the merchandise at which says: Bateau Lavoir du Pont St. that price? Where does it come from? By Paul, 1623”; but on hearing that most of what means is it obtained ? are questions I them have accepted modern improvements, have asked myself time and again, but have I was somewhat reassured and decided to never been able to resolve. pay them a visit. I was surprised to find Most of the men managed to find a custhe whole composed of several construc- tomer or two and departed, more or less entions, grouped together and attached to one chanted by their sales. another. Four parallel corridors divide the Silence reigned in the corridors for at boat into as many compartments, which in least three minutes, and then a heavy step turn are subdivided into individual cham- was heard at the entrance. All the women bers by rows of columns from which are looked up, their eager eyes betraying their suspended roller-curtains. It therefore fol- expectancy. Presently an old woman with lows that there are two aisles of wash rooms piercing eyes and a fantastic bonnet apthat look onto the river and two that are on peared and hobbled down the passage way. the interior. Those on the outside are pro- Each laundress loudly claimed her entire tected from the wind and rain by a window attention, and it was only when she took a pane placed horizontally above their open- deck of cards from her pocket and each one ing, while those within are sheltered by in turn drew from the pack, that I underthe common roof. Each separate compart- stood her vocation. She was a fortunement is supplied with a washboard which teller. is placed in the opening and a trifle above “A toi la rousse” she cried, and then the the water's edge. Here the laundress soaps, seance commenced. Each person in turn beats, and rubs her clothes. Then bending had her future predicted, either by the slightly forward, she is able to rinse them cards or by letters pricked with a pin, in the current.

and all seemed deeply impressed by the Each boat has a steam-motor of suffi- prophesies. cient force to turn a beating machine and a The old hag gave them their money's wringer, and at the same time it serves to worth, I assure you, and even at two sous pump out the water that often filters in le petit jeu and three le grand I am from below.

convinced she had tucked away many a There was a time when it would not have comfortable little sum. As I was leaving I been prudent to venture among these wash- heard her saving to a poor half-crippled women, whose language is almost as auda- creature, “Dear child, I see a dark-eyed cious as that of their sisters aux halles. handsome young man coming in vour diPerhaps my visit was ill-timed or else rection.” And the girl lifted toward her two

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

wonderful blue eyes wherein sparkled the establishment known as the “Chinese joy of so beautiful a dream.

Baths” had such a great success that TurMarchande d'illusions, marchande d'es- quin soon opened another on a larger scale, poir, I doubt if she would have found much where each person had a separate cabin and commerce among the many sturdy fisher- all plunged into a common pool. men who from every boat-landing, from It is such a building in the form of a holevery bridge, from every wall in the entire low square that appears every June and is quarter cast their lines, which are attached anchored at the foot of the Pont Louis-Philto long bamboo poles.

lippe. There it stays all during the summer What is it that fascinates them? From months, well patronized by men and boys my window I have watched for hours at a who for six sous obtain a cabin, a towel time, but never as yet have I seen a single and a lesson in swimming, if they care to fish drawn from the water. At first, I took take it. these placid creatures for philosophers who It is between the Bain du Terrain, as came to the river's bank to let their thoughts it is now called, and the opposite shore that drift along with their lines in the current. the water sports of Paris take place. SwimBut on closer examination I discovered mers and oarsmen from all over the world what was to me an unknown science (per- come there every season and delight the haps it is an art), in the measured move- amateurs of aquatic entertainment. On ments, attentive eyes, and rigid features of the days when the Joutes Lyonnaisesthese dauntless sportsmen, who watch for a (tilters from Lyons) are advertised, a bite much as a wild beast lies in wait for grand stand is raised on the shore, seats are his prey.

placed on the canal boats that are anchored One day, when pressed for time, I ac- so as to block the current, and a military costed one of them, asking if he were aware band is procured, not so much to amuse the how soon the next boat passed. From the public as to make a noise and prevent those way in which he turned toward me and ut- in the tilting match from hearing the untered “Ssh!” I understood what strange complimentary cries of the crowd, if things and boundless passion guides these tran- don't go to suit its taste. quil Parisian fishermen.

Toward the end of September a tug boat Wet or dry, when the frost is white on the comes and tows away the Bain du Terwindow panes, or when the asphalt melts rain to its winter quarters. Shortly after under foot, risking pneumonia and sun- its departure a black-looking canal boat strokes, I see them every day of my life, makes its appearance on the opposite shore. men and sometimes women, hanging over In a week's time four others have joined it, the walls or gathered along the banks. and this group forms what is known as the

Our old concierge, who, from her lodge Parisian apple market (Marché aux pomin our house, saw the Siege of Paris and the mes). Often, when crossing the bridge Commune in 1870, told me that when the early on frosty October mornings, I have Hôtel de Ville was aflame, and shot fell seen great wagons drive down to the water's thick and fast along the quays, four or five edge and there receive basket after basket of these intrepid anglers continued their oc- of ruddy winter apples. cupation, baiting their lines and patiently T he wholesale market takes place from waiting for the fish to bite, as though noth- six A.M. until noon, and after that one can ing were the matter.

see all the maids in the quarter hurrying in It was on the shores of the Seine, next to that direction so as to have first choice when our island, that the first cold baths were es- buying their daily supply. tablished and their origin is most curious. Sometimes, in passing, my desire to taste

In 1781 a certain Turquin had the idea of a lucious Pippin has been so strong as to placing in a boat several bath-tubs, held on lead me to descend the cobbled driveway a level with the river by means of a wooden that leads from the sidewalk to the landfloor. Pierced by tiny holes permitting the ing, and visit the marchands de pommes. current to enter and thus constantly change They all know me now, and every season the water, each tub was enclosed in a kind they have some new and amusing tale to of cabin and was sufficiently large to hold tell, some new variety to show me, or some as many as three persons at a time. This question to ask.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][graphic]
« НазадПродовжити »