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Robert Southey
by [?]

It was a beautiful sight–so full of quiet and peace and rest. I stood with hat in hand, the evening breeze fanning my face, enjoying the scene. Just then there was a little splash in the water, and looking down I saw a woman with back toward me sitting on a boulder, tossing pebbles into the lake. By the side of the woman were her hat and book. I was on the point of softly backing out through the bushes, when it came to me that I had seen that head with its big coil of brown hair somewhere else–but where, ah, where!

Why, in Paris, two years before. It was White Pigeon.

She had not seen me. I retraced my steps, and then came crashing through the juniper, straight over to the bankside, where I sat down about twenty feet from the good lady. I was whistling violently and throwing pebbles into the water, not even glancing toward her. She let me whistle for a full minute and then said gently: “Do not be absurd! I know you.” Then we both laughed, and I, of course, did the regulation thing, and asked, “When did you arrive, and where are you going, and how do you like it?”

“You see what I am doing here, and as for when I arrived and how long I’ll stay, and how I like it–what difference is it? There, you are surprised to see me, aren’t you? I thought you had gotten past being surprised at anything, long ago–only silly people are surprised–you once said it, yourself!”

Then White Pigeon ceased to speak and we simply gazed into each other’s eyes. White Pigeon has gray eyes that sometimes are blue and sometimes amber–it all depends upon her mood and the thoughts reflected there. The long, sober gaze stole off into a half-smile and she said, “You got things awfully mixed up in that Rosa Bonheur booklet–why not stick to truth?”

“Truth,” I replied, “is hideous, and facts are like some men, stubborn things. But what was the matter with the Bonheur Little Journey?”

“You will not be angry with me?”

“How could I be?”

“You promise?”


“Well, you said my cousin was a conductor on the Lake Shore–you knew perfectly well it was the Michigan Central!”

I apologized.

It had been two years since I had seen this woman, and not a letter had passed between us. I had sent her a book now and then, and she had sent me a sketch or two.

White Pigeon knows nothing about me, and never asked concerning my history, which is a blank, my lord! Does the lily inquire of the humming-bird, “Hast hummed and fluttered about other flowers?”

That is a charming friendship that asks nothing, makes no demands, needs no assurances, never falters, and is so frank that it disarms prudery and pretense.

I said as much.

White Pigeon made no answer, but flung a pebble into the lake.

And all I know of White Pigeon is that she was born in White Pigeon, Michigan, and had left there ten years before to study art for a short time in Paris. The short time extended to ten years.

White Pigeon does not call herself an artist–she only copies pictures in the Louvre and gives lessons. “Not being able to paint, I give lessons,” she once said to me. The first pictures she copied were sold to kind gentlemen who make many wagons at South Bend, Indiana; other pictures went to men who have interests at Ivorydale; and some have gone to the mill-owner at Ypsilanti, for the mill-owner is interested in art, as all patrons of the “Hum Journal” know.

White Pigeon lived at Paris because one must needs live somewhere, and rich Americans sometimes send her their daughters to “finish.” That was what took her over to the Lake District–she was traveling with two young women from Grand Rapids. And so these three women were doing Great Britain, and White Pigeon was acting as courier, chaperone and instructor.