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Rosa Bonheur
by [?]

Women under thirty seldom know much, unless Fate has been kind and cuffed them thoroughly, so the little peachblow Americaine did not interest me. The peachblow was all gone from White Pigeon’s cheek, but she was fairly wise and reasonably good–I’m certain of that. She called herself a student and spoke of her pictures as “studies,” but she had lived in Paris ten years. Peachblow was her pupil–sent over from Bradford, Pennsylvania, where her father was a “producer.” White Pigeon told me this after I had drunk five cups of tea and the Anglaise and the Soubrette were doing the dishes. Peachblow the while was petulantly taking the color out of a canvas that was a false alarm.

White Pigeon had copied a Correggio in the Louvre nine years before, and sold the canvas to a rich wagon-maker from South Bend. Then orders came from South Bend for six more Louvre masterpieces. It took a year to complete the order and brought White Pigeon a thousand dollars. She kept on copying and occasionally receiving orders from America; and when no orders came, potboilers were duly done and sent to worthy Hebrews in Saint Louis who hold annual Art Receptions and sell at auction paintings painted by distinguished artists with unpronounceable names, who send a little of their choice work to Saint Louis, because the people in Saint Louis appreciate really choice things.

“And the mural decorations–which one of you did those?” I remarked, as a long pause came stealing in.

“Did you hear what Mr. Littlejourneys asked?” called White Pigeon to the others.

“No; what was it?”

“He wants to know which one of us decorated the walls!”

“Mr. Littlejourneys meant illumined the walls,” jerked Peachblow, over her shoulder.

Then Anglaise gravely brought a battered box of crayon and told me I must make a picture somewhere on the wall or ceiling: all the pictures were made by visitors–no visitor was ever exempt.

I took the crayons and made a picture such as was never seen on land or sea. Having thus placed myself on record, I began to examine the other decorations. There were heads and faces, and architectural scraps, trees and animals, and bits of landscape and ships that pass in the night. Most of the work was decidedly sketchy, but some of the faces were very good.

Suddenly my eye spied the form of a sleeping dog, a great shaggy Saint Bernard with head outstretched on his paws, sound asleep. I stopped and whistled.

The girls laughed.

“It is only the picture of a dog,” said Soubrette.

“I know; but you should pay dog-tax on such a picture–did you draw it?” I asked White Pigeon.

“Did I! If I could draw like that, would I copy pictures in the Louvre?”

“Well, who drew it?”

“Can’t you guess?”

“Of course I can guess. I am a Yankee–I guess Rosa Bonheur.”

“Well, you have guessed right.”

“Stop joking and tell me who drew the Saint Bernard.”

“Madame Rosalie, or Rosa Bonheur, as you call her.”

“But she never came here!”

“Yes, she did–once. Soubrette is her great-grandniece, or something.”

“Yes, and Madame Bonheur pays my way and keeps me in the Ecole des Beaux Arts. I’m not ashamed for Monsieur Littlejourneys to know!” said Soubrette with a pretty pout; “I’m from Lyons, and my mother and Madame Rosalie used to know each other years ago.”

“Will Madame Rosalie, as you call her, ever come here again?”


“Then I’ll camp right here till she comes!”

“You might stay a year and then be disappointed.”

“Then can’t we go to see her?”

“Never; she does not see visitors.”

“We might go visit her home,” mused Soubrette, after a pause.

“Yes, if she is away,” said Anglaise.

“She’s away now,” said Soubrette; “she went to Rouen yesterday.”

“Well, when shall we go?”


* * * * *

And so Soubrette could not think of going when it looked so much like rain, and Anglaise could not think of going without Soubrette, and Peachblow was getting nervous about the coming examinations, and must study, as she knew she would just die if she failed to pass.