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Au Bal Musette
by [?]

“Aupres de ma blonde

Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, bon, bon….”

Old French Song.

It has often been remarked by philosophers and philistines alike that the commonest facts of existence escape our attention until they are impressed upon it in some unusual way. For example I knew nothing of the sovereign powers of citronella as a mosquito dispatcher until a plague of the insects drove me to make enquiries of a chemist. For years I believed that knocking the necks off bottles, lacking an opener, was the only alternative. A friend who caught me in this predicament showed me the other use to which the handles of high-boy drawers could be put. It was long my habit to quickly dispose of trousers which had been disfigured by cigarette burns, but that was before I had heard of stoppage, a process by which the original weave is cleverly counterfeited. And, wishing to dance, in Paris, I have been guilty of visits to the great dance halls and to the small smart places where champagne is oppressively the only listed beverage. But that was before I discovered the bal musette.

One July night in Paris I had dinner with a certain lady at the Cou-Cou, followed by cognac at the Savoyarde. I find nothing strange in this program; it seems to me that I must have dined at the Cou-Cou with every one I have known in Paris from time to time, a range of acquaintanceship including Fernand, the apache, and the Comtesse de J—-, and cognac at the Savoyarde usually followed the dinner. This evening at the Cou-Cou then resembled any other evening. Do you know how to go there? You must take a taxi-cab to the foot of the hill of Montmartre and then be drawn up in the finiculaire to the top where the church of Sacre-Coeur squats proudly, for all the world like a mammoth Buddha (of course you may ride all the way up the mountain in your taxi if you like). From Sacre-Coeur one turns to the left around the board fence which, it would seem, will always hedge in this unfinished monument of pious Catholics; still turning to the left, through the Place du Tertre, in which one must not be stayed by the pleasant sight of the Montmartroises bourgeoises eating petite marmite in the open air, one arrives at the Place du Calvaire. The tables of the Restaurant Cou-Cou occupy nearly the whole of this tiny square, to which there are only two means of approach, one up the stairs from the city below, and the other from the Place du Tertre. An artist’s house disturbs the view on the side towards Paris; opposite is the restaurant, flanked on the right by a row of modest apartment houses, to which one gains entrance through a high wall by means of a small gate. Sundry visitors to these houses, some on bicycles, make occasional interruptions in the dinner…. From over this wall, too, comes the huge Cheshire cat (much bigger than Alice’s, a beautiful animal), which lounges about in the hope, frequently realized, that some one will give him a chicken bone…. Conterminous to the restaurant, on the right, is a tiny cottage, fronted by a still tinier garden, fenced in and gated. Many of the visitors to the Cou-Cou hang their hats and sticks on this fence and its gate. I have never seen the occupants of the cottage in any of my numerous visits to this open air restaurant, but once, towards eleven o’clock the crowd in the square becoming too noisy, the upper windows were suddenly thrown up and a pailful of water descended…. ” Per Baccho! ” quoth the inn-keeper for, it must be known, the Restaurant Cou-Cou is Italian by nature of its patron and its cooking.