The boldness of her conceptions is sublime. As a Creative Artist I place her first among women, living or dead. And if you ask me why she thus towers above her fellows, by the majesty of her work silencing every detractor, I will say it is because she listens to God, and not to man. She is true to self.
When I arrive in Paris I always go first to the Y.M.C.A. headquarters in the Rue de Treville–that fine building erected and presented to the Association by Banker Stokes of New York. There’s a good table-d’hote dinner there every day for a franc; then there tare bathrooms and writing-rooms and reading-rooms, and all are yours if you are a stranger. The polite Secretary does not look like a Christian: he has a very tight hair-cut, a Vandyke beard and lists of lodgings that can be had for twenty, fifteen or ten francs a week. Or, should you be an American Millionaire and be willing to pay thirty francs a week, the secretary knows a nice Protestant lady who will rent you her front parlor on the first floor and serve you coffee each morning without extra charge.
Not being a millionaire, I decided, the last time I was there, on a room at fifteen francs a week on the fourth floor. A bright young fellow was called up, duly introduced, and we started out to inspect the quarters.
The house we wanted was in a little side street that leads off the Boulevard Montmartre. It was a very narrow and plain little street, and I was somewhat disappointed. Yet it was not a shabby street, for there are none such in Paris; all was neat and clean, and as I caught sight of a birdcage hanging in one of the windows and a basket of ferns in another I was reassured and rang the bell.
The landlady wore a white cap, a winning smile and a big white apron. A bunch of keys dangling at her belt gave the necessary look of authority. She was delighted to see me–everybody is glad to see you in Paris–and she would feel especially honored if I would consent to remain under her roof. She only rented her rooms to those who were sent to her by her friends, and among her few dear friends none was so dear as Monsieur ze Secretaire of ze Young Men Christians.
And so I was shown the room–away up and up and up a dark winding stairway of stone steps with an iron balustrade. It was a room about the size of a large Jordan-Marsh drygoods-box.
The only thing that tempted me to stay was the fact that the one window was made up of little diamond panes set in a leaden sash, and that this window looked out on a little courtway where a dozen palms and as many ferns grew lush and green in green tubs and where in the center a fountain spurted. So a bargain was struck and the landlady went downstairs to find her husband to send him to the Gare Saint Lazare after my luggage.
What a relief it is to get settled in your own room! It is home and this is your castle. You can do as you please here; can I not take mine ease in mine inn?
I took off my coat and hung it on the corner of the high bedpost of the narrow, little bed and hung my collar and cuffs on the floor; and then leaned out of the window indulging in a drowsy dream of sweet content. ‘Twas a long, dusty ride from Dieppe, but who cares–I was now settled, with rent paid for a week!
All around the courtway were flower-boxes in the windows; down below, the fountain cheerfully bubbled and gurgled, and from clear off in the unseen rumbled the traffic of the great city. And coming from somewhere, as I sat there, was the shrill warble of a canary. I looked down and around, but could not see the feathered songster, as the novelists always call a bird. Then I followed the advice of the Epworth League and looked up, not down, out, not in, and there directly over my head hung the cage all tied up in chiffon (I think it was chiffon). I was surprised, for I felt sure it could not be possible there was a room higher than mine–when I had come up nine stairways! Then I was more surprised; for just as I looked up, a woman looked down and our eyes met. We both smiled a foolish smile of surprise; she dodged in her head and I gazed at the houses opposite with an interest quite unnecessary.