Comedy: American Style

Comedy: American Style

Jessie Redmon Fauset
EDITED AND WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 316
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hj5x7
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  • Book Info
    Comedy: American Style
    Book Description:

    Comedy: American Style,Jessie Redmon Fauset's fourth and final novel, recounts the tragic tale of a family's destructionùthe story of a mother who denies her clan its heritage. Originally published in 1933, this intense narrative stands the test of time and continues to raise compelling, disturbing, and still contemporary themes of color prejudice and racial self-hatred. Several of today's bestselling novelists echo subject matter first visited in Fauset's commanding work, which overflows with rich, vivid, and complex characters who explore questions of color, passing, and black identity.

    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson's introduction places this literary classic in both the new modernist and transatlantic contexts and will be embraced by those interested in earlytwentieth-century women writers, novels about passing, the Harlem Renaissance, the black/white divide, and diaspora studies. Selected essays and poems penned by Fauset are also included, among them "Yarrow Revisited" and "Oriflamme," which help highlight the full canon of her extraordinary contribution to literature and provide contextual background to the novel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4832-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. XI-XIV)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. XV-XL)

    Jessie Fauset’s role as the most influential literary editor of the Harlem Renaissance has long overshadowed serious consideration of her fiction. Once categorized as the “midwife” who introduced the world to the poet Langston Hughes, Fauset was frequently relegated to the socalled rear guard of the New Negro movement.¹ Fortunately, black feminist scholars began to recast the writing of female authors that had been excluded from or marginalized within period-defining studies that privileged the work of male intellectuals and artists.² Thanks to their efforts authors like Zora Neale Hurston and Nella Larsen are now readily taught alongside Claude McKay and...

  6. A NOTE ON THE TEXT
    (pp. XLI-XLII)
  7. Comedy:: American Style
    • CONTENTS
      (pp. 3-4)
    • I. The Plot
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 7-12)

        ONCE, before Olivia had attained to that self-absorption and single-mindedness which were to stamp her later life, she had remarked a text in Sunday School which had given her considerable pause. It read: “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.”¹ She had gazed at it with unimaginative and wholly preoccupied concentration, struck for the moment with the solemnity and awfulness inhering in the words. After a few moments’ reflection she came to the conclusion—she was nine at the time—that “the little fire” was a match and “the great matter” of course was a great fire. The...

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 12-21)

        JANET BLANCHARD always traced her determination to marry a second time back to that conversation with her daughter. Her heart cried to her not to forget Lee…. “As though I could,” she murmured at night into her feverish pillow. But her head told her she could not forever endure this awful loneliness which her daughter’s presence rendered, paradoxically enough, so palpable. She had no friends and as she was of the type of colored people who look with scorn on what they call with special intention “Poor whites,” she made no attempt to mingle with the mill-hands about her. As...

      • CHAPTER 3
        (pp. 21-26)

        OLIVIA, exactly as her mother had prophesied, said nothing whatever about the marriage. When her mother and new father came home the day of their wedding, Ralph kissed her and said smiling: “Now, Olivia, you have a new dad. How do you like that?”

        And she answered serenely: “Very much, I am sure.” And extricating herself from his kindly arm she had gone on about her small and intensely secret affairs.

        Also she said very little when during Christmas week of the following year the twins, David and Janet, made their initial appearance. Without expressing any especial affection for the...

    • II. The Characters
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 29-36)

        MRS. OLIVIA BLANCHARD CARY glanced out of the window of her pleasant residence in West Philadelphia and saw her daughter Teresa, her books under her arm, strolling down the street, with two other little girls similarly laden. One of her companions, a very fair blonde with dark blue eyes and gay gilt hair, Mrs. Cary identified immediately as Phebe Grant. She was not so sure of the identity of the third youngster. Closer inspection revealed to her however the dark brown skin, the piquant features, the sparkling black eyes and the abundant, silky and intensely curly locks of Marise Davies....

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 36-39)

        TERESA loved the atmosphere of Marise’s house. It was not at all like her own. Olivia saw to it that the walls were freshly “done over” every year. Sometimes a cherished piece of furniture which just suited the curves of your thin growing body would suddenly disappear to be replaced by another intensely new and different and uncomfortable. But in Marise’s house the decorations were rather dark and worn and indistinguishable; nobody cared if occasionally a small soiled finger traced over a scroll or a twisted design on wall or table cover. The furniture too was old and restful. And...

      • CHAPTER 3
        (pp. 40-42)

        THAT afternoon Nicholas walked home with Phebe as he had walked home many days. For their houses stood back to back with each other; his on the main street, hers on the small one with the inevitable Philadelphia alley between. They had as a matter of fact met in the alley, each from the vantage of a mother’s side as their respective parents bought “fresh Delaware porgies.”⁵

        The handsome little brown boy had stared at the amazing feminine apparition of snow and gilt. He had stared at her so intensely that he scowled and the apparition had retreated behind a...

      • CHAPTER 4
        (pp. 43-52)

        NOW they were all in the high school. Nicholas was almost ready to graduate. He was a year older than any of the girls. Later he would go to college and study medicine. He would do it all right there in the Old Quaker City…. Young Christopher Cary was to be shipped off to a preparatory school in New England. His mother’s doings; he was sure of that. She talked about his making contacts!… Tight-lipped but outwardly calm he talked about it to his father.

        “It doesn’t make any difference whom I meet, Dad. I know there are lots of...

    • III. Teresa’s Act
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 55-61)

        CHRISTIE’S ACADEMY, the prospectus said, catered to a small select group of girls; girls whose parents felt that the contact of young minds with superior and highly cultivated mentalities was more educative than the assimilation of the contents of many volumes.

        Not that learning from books was to be despised. It was simply, the prospectus hinted, that Christie’s was able to offer more than that. Thus while its college preparatory course was surpassed by no other school, parents, who did not intend to give their children more training after they had left these academic walls, would find their offspring still...

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 61-66)

        TERESA could have gone to Philadelphia for the Christmas vacation but she preferred the calmness and the cold of the New Hampshire village to the bleak uncertainties of home. The thought of her mother’s catechism brought back all her timidities and inhibitions…. It would be impossible, she knew from the tone of Olivia’s letters, to convince her that she had done little or nothing toward gaining a foot-hold in this world that meant so much to her mother….

        So she stayed at Christie’s along with Jennie Hastings and a half-dozen other girls. They skated, they hiked, they played like children...

      • CHAPTER 3
        (pp. 66-71)

        ALICIA wanted Teresa to spend the vacation with her. “Do come, Tess…. Chicago is hot but it’s wonderful and there’s the lake. We’ve got a big house with a swell porch…. And a little shack in a place not far off called ‘Idlewild.’⁸ Alex and Mother and I go up there weekends with a bunch. We have the best times! Swimming and dancing. And old Alex and Henry Bates—that’s that boy I used to go with—getting off such crazy remarks. They’re as funny as end-men in a show…. Colored people can be so funny, Teresa!… Come along, darling,...

      • CHAPTER 4
        (pp. 71-74)

        THE old aphorisms are basically sound. First impressionsarelasting. It would never have occurred to Teresa to fall in love with Nicholas, certainly not as long as Phebe was in the offing. Or Marise. A little wave of vicarious fear for Phebe swept across her whenever she thought of Marise and Nicky.

        As she had told Alicia when they spoke of love in the dormitory at Christie’s, she had never been in love. But Nick unconsciously (was he really so unconscious of his own power?) had stirred her … she had knownthatthe type for her. And here...

      • CHAPTER 5
        (pp. 75-79)

        HOME was strange but everything was delightful. It was even nice to be driving out dingy Market Street from the West Philadelphia station, recalling the torn-up streets with which the city seems eternally cursed.

        “Look, dad, that same heap of dirt and cobble-stones was on that identical corner when I left last September.”

        She had arrived home in the middle of the afternoon. By dinner she had restored to dining- and living-rooms some semblance of their usual orderliness and attractiveness. The boys, and her father too, commented on the table with its flowers and fine linen, and the grand meal...

      • CHAPTER 6
        (pp. 80-85)

        THE long golden summer drew to its end. In spite of the happiness which it had brought her, Teresa was glad to see it go. The strain of living with her mother was almost intolerable. Not that Olivia was unkind or unpleasant. She had never been less unfriendly. But her mere presence, the knowledge of her desires and determination, plunged the young girl into a vortex of new deceptions, petty deceits which sometimes rendered her almost desperate.

        It was imperative that she keep her engagement to Henry a secret—for two years! The time which, even viewed with the eyes...

      • CHAPTER 7
        (pp. 85-89)

        MOST girls think of college as an objective. It is true that they hear many times that the four years which they plan to spend there are “in preparation for the realities of life.” But such is the stress and storm and strain of the years of high and preparatory schools before they arrive at this goal, that very few, save the clearest thinking, consider that bright and beautiful interval as anything other than a haven.

        In Teresa’s eyes it was neither preparation nor consummation…. It was merely an interim, to be spent by great good luck in pleasant and...

      • CHAPTER 8
        (pp. 89-93)

        HER adventure with Jarvis Seely was not so pleasant. She had met him on Saturday and Sunday over one of the February holidays. She had gone in Agatha Burton’s car to Newburyport and Jarvis had come up from Harvard with Phineas Burton to spend the same occasion. Phineas, in spite of his staid name, was without distinction or poise, a gawky, shy youth most unlike the much vaunted product of his famous school. Perhaps that was why he himself had formed such a violent attachment for Jarvis. Young Seely, rather short and square, gave from his very compactness an effect...

      • CHAPTER 9
        (pp. 94-99)

        SPRING of her second year in college … and for Teresa her last term. How glorious it all was! … She looked with love, minus the anguish of longing, at every dear familiar class-room, at her favorite seat in the library, at dear cherished walks and hideaways. She found herself performing acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, quite at variance with her habitude, for Teresa, while always courteous, was usually too completely absorbed in her own plans to mark too clearly the needs of others. Oliver, Henry, her father alone, struck in her a note of attention.

        But now, very much...

      • CHAPTER 10
        (pp. 100-106)

        TRUE to his promise David took his sister out for the evening to a performance of amateur theatricals given by the Radcliffe Dramatic Club. But the respite availed Teresa little. So nervous and distraught was she that Henry hardly recognized her. He was also considerably disturbed by the continuous entrances and prolonged stays of Janet, who seemed unable to remain away from the room in which the two were sitting for more than ten minutes at a time.

        “What’s the matter with her?” he finally demanded with lawful wrath. “I never knew her to act like this before.”

        With some...

      • CHAPTER 11
        (pp. 106-112)

        AFTERWARDS everything moved in a whirl. Her mother packed, bought tickets, cancelled one or two trifling engagements. In her fearful energy she was like a maenad. By morning they were in Philadelphia and Teresa was in her own room in her own bed….

        Instead of being in some New England hotel in Henry’s arms, as for two weary years they had planned, she was home … nowhere, with life broken off short, with years of emptiness stretching before her or with new plans, new hopes to devise again.

        Oliver, as heart-broken as she, came to comfort her. As young as...

      • CHAPTER 12
        (pp. 112-117)

        DURING all this time Olivia withheld her hand. Checkmated she was by her daughter’s illness, but thwarted, worsted, never. In this pursuit, indeed in any pursuit to which she might have set her hand, she never once thought of the word defeat…. It was simply not in her vocabulary…. Teresa had almost eluded her, but the fact remained that she had not. Just the fact was sufficient for Olivia. The nearness of failure; its touch and go quality never entered her mind. Out of the whole mass of happenings she realized only two things … first that Teresa was not...

      • CHAPTER 13
        (pp. 117-119)

        BUCK and Dinty and their other friends of like cognomen were, it turned out, in earnest. After the spring vacation they came back straight as a die to Teresa, relying, rather pathetically and with no shadow of pretense, on the young girl’s ability…. They brought other young men with them. “She’ll get you through,” they told the newcomers, owlishly nodding and with great assurance.

        There were a dozen of them in all. She was surprised herself, not only that she could manage them but at the manner in which her mind began to devise scheme and method both to lighten...

      • CHAPTER 14
        (pp. 119-124)

        TERESA took the news of her mother’s going with more equanimity than anyone had expected. Suddenly let down from the excitement and novelty of her pupils she was tired, lonely and dispirited. Thoughts which she had deemed forever dismissed came crowding upon her…. It was June again…. This time last year, she and Henry had been in the midst of their buoyant planning….

        She reviewed once more the tragic and foolish dissolution of all for which she had so hoped…. Strange how completely he who once had so filled her life, had now left it…. After long weeks of silence...

      • CHAPTER 15
        (pp. 124-129)

        TOULOUSE appealed to her as strongly as Paris had offended her.24For the first time in her life she was satisfied with the town which afforded a background for the school which she was to attend. She liked the narrow twisting streets, the chattering, clattering groups in them; she found herself a little awed by the age of the University buildings, the old decaying cloisters.

        Some day she would stroll through them … and remember Henry; she would think and think deliberately of how his bright boyish slang and demeanor would embellish and enliven this old-worldness and she would weep,...

      • CHAPTER 16
        (pp. 129-131)

        THERE was no doubt in Olivia’s mind as to his ultimate intentions with regard to Teresa…. For herself she was more than satisfied…. Here there would be no complexities. Nothing to make Teresa feel that she was abandoning her own … her own were not here to be abandoned. And if she clung to her wild ideas of mingling with colored people, here in France they would certainly be acceptable.

        Her mind went on to her own plans…. Aristide, to be sure, was poor. Unless Dr. Cary came to the rescue Teresa would have to live very simply indeed. She...

      • CHAPTER 17
        (pp. 131-134)

        RATHER quickly they settled into an uneventful domesticity. She had not known exactly what she had expected; she knew that on her part there was no madness of feeling such as she had felt for Henry … which should make her every meeting with Aristide monumental. But she did anticipate some depth, some over-emphasis of the satisfaction of companionship arising from the mere intimacy of marriage….

        True Aristide remained whimsical and good-humored; but he was just as good-humored when he failed to please her, when he forgot some trifling request or engagement as he was when everything ran smoothly…. He...

    • IV. Oliver’s Act
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 137-142)

        OLIVER lived in a double world. But it was a long time before he realized this. If he had understood it earlier, and if, more especially, he had learned the relative merits of each, he might have been spared many a moment of pain, many an hour of bewilderment. It was a long time before it became clear to his childish mind where he belonged, and which was his actual habitat.

        Because of his mother’s indifference, he had known, before he was six years old, three widely different homes. In his childish way he had made contrasts and had long...

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 142-145)

        STILL most of the time he was happy … completely so if he were with his father, or Christopher or Teresa. It was only in the presence of his mother that he became suddenly discomfited, like an awkward boy who does not know what to do with ungainly hands or feet…. But there was nothing ungainly about Oliver. He was beautifully constructed, he knew it himself, for ever since his babyhood he had heard sung constantly the saga of his grace, his fine looks and his accomplishments. He had no conceit about these matters, accepting them quite casually as one...

      • CHAPTER 3
        (pp. 145-149)

        BUT of course there were those chilly spaces, those blank moments when his mother’s indifference, her almost obvious dislike, cast their shadows about him. There were moments, especially when he first came home to live, when half harboring in his mind the memory of the constant attention and tenderness of his two sets of grandparents he would rush home from school to seek his mother. She would perhaps be in her room. Sally would tell him and he would go thundering up the stairs.

        “Say, Mother, I got a hundred in Algebra again today.”

        “Oliver, you are getting too big...

      • CHAPTER 4
        (pp. 149-155)

        TO HERSELF Olivia never acknowledged her inadequacy as a mother. It is doubtful if she was ever even aware of it. Strange as it may seem never once did she see Oliver’s side of the matter, never once was she aware of having withheld from her child his natural heritage. On the contrary she believed that Fate had perpetrated on her a very Cruel Hoax of which Oliver was the perpetual reminder. When he was away from her she was actually able to forget he was hers. But his presence in the house fretted and humiliated her.

        Just as years...

      • CHAPTER 5
        (pp. 156-158)

        NOW of a sudden it seemed to Oliver all the days of his life were flashing by in an ecstasy of pleasure and excitement…. First of all while there were no repetitions of the butler episode, he was established in a secret understanding with his mother. He did not of course understand the deeper significance of what she had done. He merely thought that he had performed for her, something which, in his eyes, was very important and which he had loyally kept from his father.

        Then there were the home-comings of Christopher and Teresa. And the confidence which his...

      • CHAPTER 6
        (pp. 158-164)

        AFTERWARDS events moved so swiftly…. As it happened Dr. Cary, in the anguished light of such knowledge as was vouchsafed him, did reconstruct them correctly. But it was months before he could accomplish this and meanwhile his hair silvered, his mien altered, his stature drooped. Something within him, up to this time incurably young, died completely; something optimistic never renewed its hope.

        In the late October afternoon Oliver, alone in his room and in the house, was playing. Often those days he worked on little themes, odd bits of composition, sketches of his musical thoughts … to be laid away,...

    • V. Phebe’s Act
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 167-170)

        ON THE corner of Thirteenth and Spruce Streets stood Llewellyn Nash. A tall, rather drooping, excessively slender young man of perhaps twenty-eight, he seemed to dominate the place. In his very white, aristocratic countenance his thin lips were twisted in a slightly sardonic smile of intense amusement, directed toward himself…. He was a great believer in class-distinctions; he was firmly convinced that certain people in the world were born to serve; others as definitely born to rule. Heir to what he considered a small but completely adequate fortune, he was stubbornly convinced that even if his money should vanish he...

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 170-174)

        ON A day like this she did not want to be in the subway. The Market Street car set her down at Fifty-second Street; she purchased some things for lunch in a Horn and Hardart Retail Shop.³ Then boarding another car, she sped to Parkside Avenue and George’s Hill. And Nicholas!

        He was sitting there, wearing the dark blue suit that she loved so well. His head on his slim firm neck rose sculptured, Apollo-like from his soft white collar…. She was so happy to be with him.

        “Nick, it’s grand to be alive!”

        He caught her hand, kissed her...

      • CHAPTER 3
        (pp. 175-183)

        UP IN her own room, she walked, as a girl does, automatically to her mirror, glanced unseeingly at her shining hair; at her face, which was shining too…. But as she sat down and composed herself to think the radiance faded.

        What was the matter with Nick? Not only today, but for many days past? She must think carefully about this matter … without sparing herself, without the soft illusion of her own desires…. Had he ever been truly ardent? Had she not rather read ardor, passion, fire into his face and bearing he had been endowed, through no wish...

      • CHAPTER 4
        (pp. 183-185)

        THE more he thought of it, the more his mind clung to the idea. It was one, he knew, which for many years had revolved dimly in the back of his head. More than once in Phebe’s company he had winced under the surprised or curious, gaping stares of white people in street-cars, or theaters, or parks. It was an ordeal which never failed to arouse within him a perfect fury of rage and exasperation.

        What group of people could there be, he often wondered, within the United States, who were totally unaware that the admixture of whites and blacks...

      • CHAPTER 5
        (pp. 185-190)

        HE HAD rung the bell; he was in the house; she could hear him talking in his deep grave voice to her mother … he was always so nice to her mother, treating her with unfeigned deference and respect. From the lodger’s rooms on the third floor, where to Mrs. Nixon’s surprise she was granting all the requests preferred—new blankets and a rug—she could hear him asking: “Where’s Phebe?”

        “Down in just a moment,” her mother said.

        He must have gone across the room to the piano for presently she heard great music, heard his golden voice, heard...

      • CHAPTER 6
        (pp. 190-196)

        CHRISTOPHER CARY, Junior, stopped short at the corner nearest his house, wheeled and sped back in the direction whence he had come. It was dusk; he was through with his studies for the day. His dinner, he knew, would be ready; his mother, who particularly disliked anyone to be late for meals would be waiting for him in her room. His father would be in his office, intermittently reading his paper and also watching for him.

        But there were times, such as this evening when he could not bear to cross his father’s threshold. Two years now had elapsed since...

      • CHAPTER 7
        (pp. 196-203)

        SATURDAY afternoon which a mere six months ago was to Phebe another name for Rapture, now represented to her the lowest depth, the ultimate nadir of boredom. She had been known to spend the holiday in the dress-shop, tabulating the old models, inserting new ones, reviewing and recopying their simple accounts. Today, however, she had decided to leave the shop at one o’clock. She would walk out Chestnut Street, treat herself to the green hat and the white gloves which she had noticed at Shaftesbury’s, go to a movie, perhaps, then home.

        “And if I feel like it,” she said,...

      • CHAPTER 8
        (pp. 203-212)

        UNQUESTIONABLY Llewellyn Nash was interested and unquestionably Phebe enjoyed that interest. All through these hot summer months he was staying in town, that is to say, in Chestnut Hill. “Just to be near you, Phebe,” he would remind her reproachfully.

        “Nonsense,” she laughed, unrepentant. “It’s as cool in Chestnut Hill as it is anywhere in this weather.”

        She was having such a good time, she told herself. A little too giddy, a thought too feverish. She was thinner and sometimes there were shadows under her eyes; “But at least I’m forgetting,” she exulted to herself. There were whole days now...

      • CHAPTER 9
        (pp. 212-217)

        THIS last encounter with Nash left her delicate sensibilities sore and wounded. It actually reduced her to a state in which she was sunk in melancholy so deep, so thick … it was as though she could perceive it, nebulous yet clinging like a fog. Her old despair began to close in upon her; she felt helpless and weak; evidently for her, Phebe Grant, there was no anchorage under the sun.

        That week Mrs. Davies came to see her. Pleased, yet wondering, Phebe came down from her room feeling a strange foreboding. Her visitor came to the point immediately.

        “I...

      • CHAPTER 10
        (pp. 217-220)

        NERVE-RACKING as had been the nightmare of moving, Phebe found herself now a bewildered participant in a nightmare far worse, a nightmare which apparently might have no end.

        There were now five people in the house, her mother, her new parents-in-law, her husband and herself. Dr. Cary was practically a nervous wreck, needing, however, only a great deal of rest and composure, fresh air, good nourishing food. Phebe and Christopher were the wage earners. The keeping and management of the house devolved on the two older women….

        All might easily have gone well if it had not been for Olivia....

      • CHAPTER 11
        (pp. 220-223)

        AFTER this sordidness the shop was a haven. She began to read through her regular morning mail, welcoming even letters of complaint. The mood and the necessity for hard work were upon her. Before she could complete the little pile, she was interrupted…. But during her lunch hour she settled down to read the remaining letters…. The third one from the top was from Nicholas. She was in the midst of it before her wearied, laden brain took in its import.

        You can’t imagine,” the letter ran, “how long and hard I’ve fought against writing this…. It must be that...

      • CHAPTER 12
        (pp. 223-224)

        IN THE morning she went to see her customer, Mrs. Meeropol. The lady had been a former client of hers in Philadelphia; she was unable, she said, to get used to the New York stores. Now that Miss Grant was here, she might just as well place her order for her whole summer outfit…. It was a profitable visit.

        “Now,” Phebe said to herself, her heart fluttering, her nerves tingling, “I’m to see Nicholas.”

        Leisurely she ate her lunch, more to get herself in control than because she was hungry. But at last she entered the cab. All during the...

      • CHAPTER 13
        (pp. 225-228)

        AT SIX o’clock she opened the gate of the little front yard on Haverford Avenue in Philadelphia and started up the narrow path. Her father-in-law was sitting on the porch … he looked curiously alert, alive, like the Dr. Cary she used to remember. Her husband was standing at the railing of the porch. Evidently he had been looking up the street for her. He came bounding down the shallow steps.

        “Phebe! My darling! My dear girl! I knew you must be coming…. Oh, Phebe, I’ve missed you so!” He was kissing her face, her lips, her hands…. Then Allegn...

    • VI. Curtain
      • CHAPTER 1
        (pp. 231-233)

        IN PARIS Olivia Blanchard Cary walked about fifty steps downla rue Vaneauand then turned about and retraced the same fifty steps to the corner ofla rue Sèvres. The American woman whom she had met in the tiny Beauty Parlor inla rue Romainoften passed here at this hour. If she happened to run into her perhaps she, Olivia, could induce her, casually, of course, to come around to her room and sit before the fire and talk. They could play bézique, or casino or even Black Jack.¹ She did not hold so much with Black Jack,...

      • CHAPTER 2
        (pp. 233-236)

        AFTER her departure Olivia sat ruminating.She had a daughter married to a professor at the University of Toulouse … a brilliant fellow and charming!She had a daughter married to a Frenchman who was indifferent, miserly and hardheaded with the cold pitiless logic of the French.

        She had gone to Teresa, so sure of a welcome from both her and Aristide, whom surely she had benefited. She found Teresa silent, pale, subdued, the ghost of her former self, still wearing dresses taken from the wardrobe which her mother had chosen and bought for her during her last year in...

  8. Selected Essays
    • YARROW REVISITED
      (pp. 239-243)

      THIS is not the Paris of my student days nor even the Paris of the second Pan-African Congress held three years ago. I seem to glimpse in the memories of those visits an enchanted city of gay streets, blue skies, of romantically historic monuments, a playground, a court of justice of the world. Every one was possessed of a fine courtesy; attendants were kind and generous, though even then a little too conscious, for an American, of the possibility of tips; there was a delicious sense oflaisser-aller

      Perhaps the difference lies in the season. I have never been here...

    • NOSTALGIA
      (pp. 244-251)

      ON those rare mornings when I have a moment to spare I go into the little fruit shop on Seventh Avenue and buy a hard, sweet, red apple and a small rusty orange. The foreign proprietor knows me now and greets me with as much eagerness as though I were about to buy out all his stock. There are bunches of ruddy grapes hanging up on a piece of twine; the precious life-juice is dying out of them and they are becoming shrunken purple masses. They fascinate me.

      “Will those grapes become raisins?” I asked him finally.

      “They would if...

    • THIS WAY TO THE FLEA MARKET
      (pp. 252-256)

      MY friend said: “I think you ought to visit the Flea Market.” I looked at her with amazement and some distaste for I was still smarting under the memory of my encounter with one of the pests during my first few days in Paris.

      Presently she explained. Just outside of one of the gates of Paris—for Paris being a fortified city has several gates—there is held every Sunday from nine until four, a vast bazaar called the “Marché aux Puces,” the “Flea Market,” where one may buy all sorts of articles at considerable advantage. Originally the name was...

  9. Selected Poems
  10. EXPLANATORY NOTES
    (pp. 263-270)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-272)