Jean-Claude Beauvais, a story
37. Jardin de Tuileries
The cook came in with the sweet rolls.
“This is Mademoiselle Blundell,” Aunt Gizzie said. “She is our cook. She will be with us during the week. She will be off on weekends and holidays.”
“Mademoiselle Blundell, this is Dashiell.”
“Good morning, Mademoiselle Blundell. Nice to meet you.”
He sat down, and reached for a sweet roll.
“Mademoiselle Blundell, this is Jean-Claude Beauvais.” Again, she curtseyed.
“Good morning, Mademoiselle Blundell. Nice to meet you, too.”
I sat down, and looked at Aunt Gizzie.
“Will we have a housekeeper, too?”
“Yes. You will meet her in a little while. She’s shopping, right now. Her name is Madame Laroque.”
I turned to Mademoiselle Blundell.
“Delicious coffee. Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome, Monsieur Beauvais.”
“Please call me, Jean-Claude.”
I received a nudge under the table from Dashiell. I looked across the table at him. He was looking in the paper, with a smile.
Aunt Gizzie knew something was going on. “Behave yourselves, now, you, two.”
Her face grew stern.
“Be gentlemen… not ragamuffins.”
I was certain Mademoiselle Blundell had no idea what a ragamuffin was. Aunt Gizzie had a way of talking over people’s heads at times, when it was convenient.
I looked around the dining room. The windows outside were not as large as the living room windows, but did let in the morning Sun, which was nice, I guess, to take the chill off the morning air. The windows were open, and the breeze was a delight. Two hideous candelabras were on the table. They were so ugly.
There was a portable telephone on a cabinet with a long wire connected to it. The room was lined with wall lights which were on, giving a bright cheery charm to the room, overall. The dark red carpet covered the floor. The walls were in a pink, brown, and blue floral tapestry. The cabinets, table, and chairs were white, with very well cushioned seats.
I browsed the paper, and asked Dashiell what he had planned for the day.
“I have a piece on the easel right now. I could finish it, maybe. I might leave it alone for a while, until I get some inspiration to go on with it.”
“I have the music from last night to transpose. I am going to need an engraver, to print the music, but that is later, for sure.”
“How about you, Aunt Gizzie? What do you have planned for today?”
“I am going across the street and walk around the Tuileries. After that, well, we’ll see how much energy I have to do more.”
I asked her, “Did you talk to Monsieur Bodine, the super, about going out and about? He is a treasury of information. He will give you pointers on what to make sure you do and what to make sure you don’t do, while you’re out.”
“Oh. I didn’t know that.”
“Yes. He was most helpful, telling us how to get to the stationery store, what to make sure we saw and how to get straight home.”
Dashiell finished his sweet rolls.
“He told us the scenic route and the fast route. He also suggested a couple places to eat, and a few places, to not eat.”
“Was his advice good?”
“Not good. Excellent. We ought to get him a bottle of wine or something to let him know, his advice is appreciated.”
The phone rang. Aunt Gizzie got up from the head of the table, lifted the phone from the cabinet with one hand, and the handset from the phone with her other hand.
She said, “Hello.”
Without saying anything else, she simply handed the phone to Dashiell.
“Hello,” then he listened.
“Yes, Monsieur Malraux. That would be fine.”
He handed the phone to me.
“Good morning, Jean-Claude. We seem to have a problem with getting our people to the churches, today. Would you mind, just a few musicians there, to hear your work?”
“Of course not. I would be happy to play a descent organ, just for the joy of making music for the people who happen to be in the church at that particular time. I am not fussy at all.”
“Will your Aunt Gizzie be going with you? There is no parking and so this has to be planned. We are counting how many cars we’ll need.
“No. She is going to the Tuileries, today. After that, she is not sure what she’s doing.”
“Terrific. How about we pick you and Dashiell up, after breakfast?”
“We are just finishing breakfast now.”
“Then we’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Okay?”
“Let me check with Dashiell?”
I looked at Dashiell.
“Okay. I’m ready.”
“Dashiell says, ‘he is ready,’ so we will be looking for you.”
Aunt Gizzie said, “So you’re going church hopping, this morning?”
“Yes, and maybe this afternoon, too. We don’t know now, but we will see.”
I pushed my chair from the table. Dashiell did the same.
“Would you please write the phone number on a piece of paper, so we can call, if we need to?”
I tore the phone number from the piece of newspaper and tucked it in my wallet.
We hugged and kissed Aunt Gizzie and wished her a good time in the Tuileries.
We left the apartment and walked out on the street, as the line of cars pulled up to the front door. The driver popped out of the car and opened the door for us. Monsieur Arlenne and Monsieur Malraux were inside and eager to greet us. This might be a bigger deal than I thought it was last night. We’ll see.
The usual greetings passed, as the cars rolled along in the morning Paris traffic. The car stopped in front of this huge Greek temple with an iron fence around it.
Immediately I thought we must be in Athens. I looked at Dashiell. Talk about big eyes. He was totally riveted on the building. We went through the opening in the fence and started walking up the magnificent stone stairs into the temple.
Monsieur Arlenne came up beside me.
“This is Madeleine Church. When you play here, you will have had a couple good French boys work here before you. Monsieur Malraux can tell you who they were.”
Monsieur Malraux said, “Yes, there are so many, César Franck, Camille Saint-Saëns, Maurice Ravel, Gabriel Fauré, Charles Trénet, Marcel Dupré and lots more.”
“Gez,” I said, “I would have liked to have played for them. They wrote such good music. I would like to repay them with some pieces of mine, dedicated to each of them.”
I stopped, turned, and went to Dashiell.
“Isn’t this place awesome?”
Dashiell was busy recording the sights of the church.
Once inside, he wandered right to the altar. Eyes eating everything in sight.
Monsieur Arlenne asked me.
“What is Dashiell doing?”
“He is looking at everything. He makes a mental movie, recording everything in here, so he can recall it later, for a drawing or painting.”
He directed me to the stairs to the organ.
Past the staircase, I was in the usual choir loft. I looked up at a huge load of pipes overhead.
“Certainly looks impressive.”
“You may like the sound.”
Before me was the console. Two men came up the stairs with Monsieur Arlenne and me. They opened the console and turned it on. I sat down and looked at the stops and couples. I checked out the toe studs. Two swells and a crescendo. Universal presets. Manual presets. Chest levels. I was all set. I turned to the three of them and said, “Give a few minutes to listen to the stops and then I will perform a concert for you all. If you like, you can go down into the nave and listen from there. The organ usually sounds better from there.”
They looked at each other and back at me.
“It’s okay. I am quite at home, here. Sit up here, or down there. Whatever pleases you.”
I turned and directed my attention to the lower manual. As I played with the presets, I checked the mirror, and sure enough, there was Dashiell working the carvings.
There were actually tourists standing and watching him. I was so proud of my beloved brother.
I worked the next manual and the presets, and the next and the next.
I tried the universals, jumping from one manual to the next, up and down a few times, and working the pedal board.
I tapped the toe studs and worked the four manuals and pedals, from the first stud to the last.
I needed to know exactly what stops were on the opposite side of the building, or they would mess with the meter of the music.
At last, I was done. I had read the entire instrument.
I played La Marseillaise, first. That will never hurt, when you play to a French audience. After the first chorus, I stopped, so they would clap and get that out of their system.
Then I started the improvisations. I worked it for about a half hour.
They told me later, I did thirty-seven variations.
It never occurred to me to count. Then I played a couple pieces of Bach and Ravel, and Franck and Dupré. I changed the keys and did improvs on each piece. They seemed to really like the improvs, especially the marches, and quiet inprovs with lots of harmonic changes. I was starting to get hungry. At the end of the current piece, I slid off the bench, bent over the railing and yelled to the audience below.
“Please, could someone bring up a glass of water. I’m very thirsty.”
They stood up, down there and applauded. The two men came up and told me they wanted to take me to dinner.
“Thank you, for letting me play the organ here. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you ever need an organ player, just give me a call, a half hour before the service.”
They were most gracious. I arrived at the bottom of the staircase. Dashiell was there. He made a gesture, like feeding himself.
“Yes, we are going to eat, soon.”
As I came out from the partially hidden staircase, my fans stood and applauded. In order to see them, I backed up a stair of so, to look past the nearest crowd of adults. I bowed and gushed, thanking them, in French and English, for their applause.
I sensed Monsieur Arlenne extracted a reading, an understanding, of my reactions to the applause. I hoped so.
We left in the same cars and went to lunch at a street café, a few blocks from the church. Dashiell and I had the daily special: a plate, dessert, and wine. I washed down the last of my plate with the last of my wine. Dashiell ate most of my dessert. It was excellent, but far too much for me.
Monsieur Malraux came and sat at our table.
I wondered what he was going to say.
“Pierre-Gauthier might join us this afternoon. Would that be okay?”
“Of course. I would be delighted.”
“Excellent. By the way, you were astounding, this morning. Absolutely astounding.”
“Thank you, sir.”
He patted Dashiell and me on the shoulder and returned to his table with his buddies from the museum.
A little while later, Monsieur Arlenne arrived at our table.
Dashiell said, “Please do.”
He looked at Dashiell, then back at me.
“This afternoon, we are going to another famous church organ, here, in Paris. This one has just been updated and is lovely to look at and listen to. Again, you will be joining a long list of famous organists, when you sit on the bench, there.”
“I will be happy to play. I am delighted to please you all.”
“You certainly do. You have assuredly made my day better.”
“Here comes the waiter.”
“I’ll take that.”
He got up and took the tab from the waiter.
“Thank you sir.”
“You are most welcome, Jean-Claude. You, too, Dashiell.”
I looked at Dashiell.
“They never get the idea that we are together, do they?”
“No. They come to us for art, and talk to me, or they come to us for music and talk to you. The Cathedral Exhibition will make them think of us, together, though.”
“I wonder where we’re going, this afternoon?”
“I don’t know, but he said it will be something nice to see, so I’ll be busy, and… he said the organ was in good shape, so you’ll be busy.”
“We ought to let them know we have to be home by five o’clock, or Aunt Gizzie will worry.”
“Good idea, Dashiell. We both should mention it, so the message gets through. Sometimes late in the afternoon, it’s difficult to keep track of time.”
Dashiell and I sat back and watched pedestrians, while the adults enjoyed their after lunch smokes. Quite relaxing.
After a little scuffle, we all got back in the cars and headed to the next church. This was a church with two bell towers and a rose window between them. Gargoyles were everywhere. Three pairs of doors were beneath a row of statues across the entire front of the building. The doors were not as big as those at Saint John the Divine. When we went inside, I was expecting a big place, but it was smaller than Saint John the Divine, too. Nice rose window, though, right above the organ. I went up to the organ balcony, two men, different men, opened the console, and turned the organ on. They nodded to me, turned, and left. I started listening to the stops and a man came scurrying to me, from some hidden passage and demanded something of me, but I had no idea what. He was not speaking in English or French.
I decided to have a little fun at his expense and perhaps someone else’s expense.
I said, “Excuse me.”
The man went into a rage, yelling at me. I sat calm and docile, listening to him.
He finally paused.
“Are you finished?” I asked.
He made a shooing gesture, indicating he wanted me to leave.
I said, “No. Go away.”
I returned to the organ, and listening to the stops. He left.
By the time I was finished stop listening, I worked my way through the presets and mixtures combinations.
A lady came to the console with a tray on which was a carafe d’eau, napkin, and glass.
I thanked her. She smiled and left.
I opened the concert with a quiet piece, soloing a pair of the more interesting solo stops. I followed with a four-part fugue from Saint-Saëns and added an improve to it. After that, I slid off the bench, poured a glass of water, and drank half of it. I put it down and turned to address the console. I was greeted by three unhappy police officers. The man who wanted me to leave was grinning behind them. He demonstrated the hand slice across the neck. He was mentally reserving a moment for my neck adjustment at Madame Guillotine’s Chiropractic Centre.
The first policeman asked me in English, “You have to leave.”
I said, “Okay.”
The four of them took me outside and I was told to never do anything like that again or they would lock me up.
Dashiell came out of the church pointing at me and yelling, “There he is. There he is.”
Behind him, running as best they could were Monsieur Malraux, Monsieur Arlenne, and many of the musicians. Dashiell caught up with me, latched onto my arm, and pulled me away from the policemen.
“What is the matter with you? Monsieur Malraux demanded, flashing his official papers.
“Sir. This little tripe was upstairs where he didn’t belong. The caretaker came and got us, and we merely rousted the little devil from the church. We told him we’d arrest him if he ever did that again.”
He put his arm around me.
“He is Jean-Claude Beauvais.”
He wagged his finger at them.
“The next time you do something like this, be prepared to lose your pension.”
He took me from them and hugged me.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, Sir.” I said, in a frail, tiny voice, trying to appear vulnerable. Dashiell later told me that I was spectacular and that I even flapped my eyelashes a few times.
Monsieur Arlenne looked like he was going to do something terrible to them.
“I am so sorry, Jean-Claude,” Monsieur Arlenne said apologetically.
“There are times when the world has too many imbeciles, and that was one of those times.”
We went inside. The musicians, who were touring with Dashiell and me, came and expressed their sorrow at this mishap. I assured them that I understood that ‘things’ happen and that is just the way the world is. We went back up the stairs. The man was nowhere in sight. My tray with the water was gone. Monsieur Arlenne barked something about bring more water. Monsieur Arlenne was obviously more irritated than anyone else.
I stopped, looked at him to sharpen his attention.
“It’s okay. Things happen. There is no fault. It’s just the way the world works. When you least expect it, the bottom falls out and we are all in free-fall.”
“You are so young, so small, and so smart. You’re right, Jean-Claude.”
“I can go on, if someone will turn the console on, again. Don’t be angry at that man, he was just doing what he thought he was supposed to do. Let him sit with you and listen to the concert.”
I hugged him. He didn’t expect that. He eyes got big and… he held his breath for a second and then broke into a wide happy smile.
“Okay, Jean-Claude. Okay.”
He turned and went down the stairs. The two men turned on the console again and left.
I was alone with this lovely instrument again, ready to make music. My first piece would be an improvisation, on my recollection of the sounds in the square before the church, while I was being threatened with arrest. What no one knew, except Dashiell probably suspected it, was that I set up the situation. That man just came out of nowhere and made demands. That would never go over big with me. I would always toss some muck back from where the demand came and I did.
I played for a couple hours. I finished with an improv on La Marseillaise, starting with a solo stop and gentle accompaniment, working it into a three part toccata and fugue, in the style of JS Bach. I continued by bridging into a different key and pushed a bellicose pedal solo, topped with a sizzling fugue. I bridged again and finished with a romp’em-stomp’em military march, to bring down the house, so to speak.
I slid off the bench, turned and leaned over the rail and bowed to the applauding crowd below, raising my arms, acknowledging their pleasure.
The two men who turned on the organ, came upstairs, and applauded my music.
One of the two men, while passing me, asked, “Where did you learn to play like that, as such a young age?”
I stopped and asked him, “Do you want to the truth, or do you want me to tell you what you expect to hear?”
“Both,” he said.
“The absolute truth is I heard a piano one day, and since then ‘they’ say I am a musical prodigy. What you would like to hear is ‘After long years of hard work, I have achieved this level,’ which is pure ka-ka.”
He appeared a little bewildered, so I patted him on the shoulder.
“I didn’t plan it this way. It’s just the way it turned out.”
I continued down the stairs to meet Dashiell at the bottom of the stairs. I fell into his arms and he hugged me. Upon his release, Monsieur Malraux and Monsieur Arlenne directed us to the car.
“Could I ask a favor, please?”
“Certainly. What would you like?”
“May I walk to the other end of the church and just take a minute or two to enjoy the beauty of this place? I missed looking at the church we went to this morning. I don’t want to miss seeing this lovely place.”
“Of course, do you want us to come along with you and answer any questions?”
“No. I wouldn’t have any questions. I will take my brother with me, and we can enjoy it together. Okay?”
“Certainly. It will be nice to see you and him together, anyway. Go. Enjoy.”
All of them sat down and watched as Dashiell and I walked around the church and looked at the windows, statuary, and other churchy things. A few minutes later, I was sated and we walked back to the waiting group.
“Thank you, all for your patience,” I said, loudly enough for everyone to hear. There was a returned murmur of a collective ‘you’re welcome.”
We got in the cars and the motorcade brought us home.
Dashiell looked at his watch and said, “Four twenty.”
I said, “I forgot all about that.”
He replied, “I didn’t. I’ve been keeping an eye on the time, since three.”
Dashiell and I got out. We thanked our hosts for a lovely day on the town and went up to our apartment.
Aunt Gizzie was not home. Blundell was there, preparing to go home. Madame Laroque had already left.
Dashiell grabbed two glasses. I poured half a glass of red wine in both. He took them into the living room, put them on the table, and sat before his. He kicked off his shoes, exhaled loudly, and broke into an unrestrained belly laugh.
“You better not do that again or I will arrest you.”
“They thought I was a-, a-, a hooligan, up to something. I let them go, on and on, ranting. I knew you and the adults would be out to rescue me.”
My shoes slipped off. I felt relaxed, as I spread out, on the couch.
“As soon as you were outside, I knew it. I could feel it. You know, brotherly transmissions and all that stuff.”
“You brought the posse at the right time.”
“You put on quite a performance. You even fluttered your eyelashes, when you were trying to act vulnerable.”
“Hollywood might call.”
We sat in the living room in silence for a while, sipping on the wine. After a couple sips, the glasses were empty and we were both asleep.
Aunt Gizzie apparently came in while we were asleep. I woke up and heard her taking a shower, singing.
She came out of her bedroom, with a towel wrapped around her hair, and went along the hall into the living room.
“You boys should be waking up. We are going to dinner at six.”
She paused for a moment.
“You’ll need to clean up for dinner.”
Dashiell asked, “How shall we dress?”
“Casual is fine.”
She left and returned to her bedroom.
As she closed the door, Dashiell stretched on the couch. I turned to face him, resting my hand on his leg.
“We have to clean up for dinner.”
Dashiell laughed and said, “Let’s go.”
He got up, and reached to pull me up. Playfully, I tugged on his arm.
He pulled me up, saying, “Let’s go.” We went to our bedroom to clean up. Dashiell picked out the red plaid short-sleeved shirts and the brown trousers, for some summer fun, he selected white leather shoes and belts.
A while later, we were in front of the cheval, turning and looking.
Aunt Gizzie was waiting for us, when we returned to the living room.
“We have been invited to have dinner with a sorority sister of mine from Hunter. This is no big deal. We are just going over to their house for dinner. We have been pen pals since school but I haven’t seen her since graduation, and that was longer ago than I ever talk about. She now has three daughters.”
Dashiell asked, “No sons?”
“No. No sons.”
“What will we do all night?”
“It won’t hurt you to play with the girls, tonight.”
Dashiell said what was on his mind with no misunderstanding, “This will be fun. They will sit and look at us. We will sit and look at them and we all will say stupid stuff. Yeah. We’ll have a good time.”
“Don’t you like girls, Dashiell?”
“Well, I really never thought about it.” He paused and added, “I remember years ago, when I was around boys and girls all the time, I don’t think I thought about them as whether I liked them or not. They were the kids I played with. I remember, most of the time, boys played games I liked more. I haven’t been around boys or girls in the last couple of years, so I am not comfortable around them as I used to be, and now, all the boys and girls are very different from the ones I knew. They are all too weird.”
“What about you, Jean-Claude? What do you think about girls?”
“Boys and girls? I haven’t been around them in years. I agree with Dashiell. They are weird to me, too. I try to avoid them.
I’m happiest with Dashiell and you.”
I paused and added, “Adults in general… they’re okay, but sometimes, they’re weird, too.”
“What about Pierre-Gauthier? Do you guys like him?”
“He’s okay,” Dashiell said, “but he’s not like he used to be. He’s changed.”
I added, “Yeah. That’s exactly how I felt about him. I didn’t actually think about it, but I knew something was different. It wasn’t like old times. He has changed.”
Aunt Gizzie sat across from us in the living room, across that big, round glass table.
“You don’t know what has happened, do you?”
Dashiell and I, in unison, said, “No.”
“You have grown older. No one is the same. Everyone changes. You change. I change. Someone famous said, ‘Nothing lasts except change.’ When we change, the way we see everything and everyone around us changes. We are together, all the time. We are always changing, but our changes are spread over time, so they don’t appear like a big change, just minor little changes all the time. Not hard to manage.”
I looked at Dashiell.
We nodded, agreeing.
Aunt Gizzie looked at me.
“You are fourteen.”
She looked at Dashiell.
“You are fifteen. I’m not about to try and change anything. You have each other and that is good. In a week or so, we will have a serious talk, just the three of us. We have to plan ahead, for your futures and my future. The three of us are tied together in a knot. When you two turn eighteen, the knot will be untied. We should plan ahead, so you and I are happy and never hurt.”
Dashiell and I agreed, nodding in unison.
“Now, let’s go to dinner.”
Dinner was okay. Two of the girls were gone, before we arrived. The third girl was about seven years old and she spent most of the evening, doing a puzzle. The adults talked and laughed. They had a piano, so I played, and Dashiell sat and half listened and half dozed, after dinner.
We came home, talked a while, got in bed, snuggled together under our comforter, and sleep washed over us.
Morning was late coming. I woke to a whirring sound, Madame Laroque in the hallway with the vacuum. I stirred. Dashiell said he had to go to the toilet. He returned a few minutes later. I went and returned to bed.
We had to get presentable to eat breakfast. Into the shower we went.
We dressed. Dashiell and I gave each other a quick shot of sickly, sweet scent. Dashiell called it, ‘The Smell from Hell.’
We checked the cheval. I slapped his butt, playfully.
He grinned at me.
“I was only playing. We have stuff we ought to get done.”
Mademoiselle Blundell poured our coffee, went in the kitchen, and returned with a plate of sweet rolls and two glasses of orange juice.
The paper was there, so we split the paper and passed sections between ourselves.
Madame Laroque came into the dining room.
She said, “You aunt went out and will be back this afternoon, before dinner.”
“Thank you, Madame Laroque,” I said.
Dashiell added, “Did she leave any instructions for us?”
“No. Just that she would be home about dinner time.”
“Thank you, Madame Laroque,” Dashiell replied.
After Madame Laroque left, we worked our way through the rest of the paper, sweet roll, and Mademoiselle Blundell’s marvelous coffee. In the living room, I went naturally to the window overlooking the Tuileries Garden. As I drank in the lush green, I remembered I had promised to deliver the “Two Boys” manuscript to Monsieur Arlenne.
I looked over the dividing half wall to Dashiell before his easel.
“Did you promise anyone anything? I promised the “Two Boys” manuscript to Monsieur Arlenne and I have to write it, get it out to an engraver, printed, and off to him at le Louvre.”
“No. I successfully didn’t promise anything to anyone, I hope…”
“Because if I did, I don’t remember what it was.”
“What do you say, we go for a plate for lunch, and take a long walk in the Tuileries. I’d love to see what’s across the street. Every time, I look out the window, I want to go, but something comes up.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“There’s a subway station across the
street,” I added.
“I’d like to see what that’s all about.”
“We should call Pierre-Gauthier,” Dashiell said, “and ask him to show us around.”
“Good idea. We ought to plan a couple days to get oriented.”
“Okay. You write the music and we’ll find an engraver. I’ll go, right now, and ask Monsieur Bodine about an engraver. I’ll be back in a few minutes.
I sat at my desk, working on the manuscript. He came along behind me, kissed me on the top on my head, and left.”
He was back in a flash.
“He gave me the name and address of the engraver who does the wedding invitations and such, Haute Alps Gravures, 211 Rue Quatre-Septembre, in the second arrondissement.”
“I’m about half done and am going to take a break for a few minutes. Perhaps, Mademoiselle Blundell has something cool for us to drink.”
Dashiell turned and went toward the kitchen.
He returned, “She will be in, in a few minutes with something.”
I returned to working on the manuscript. Dashiell went to his studio. Like magic, Mademoiselle Blundell arrived with an iced pitcher, two glasses, and a pair of napkins. Apparently, Aunt Gizzie told her that I have a fit, if I don’t get a napkin. I broke away from my work, and sat at the glass table, as Mademoiselle Blundell poured the refreshment du jour.
Dashiell arrived to cool off, from his adventure with Monsieur Bodine.
“Thank you, Mademoiselle Blundell. Delicious.”
Dashiell told her, “We have to go to the engravers. We will be out for lunch.”
She thanked him, and left.
“I’m almost done. I’ll be finished in a little while. We can drop this off and have a plate for lunch.”
I took my glass of Mademoiselle Blundell’s cooler to my desk and finished my “Two Boys Playing at the Tuileries.” I played it from the manuscript. It was correct. I signed and dated it, and tucked it away in the red portfolio.
I sat with the portfolio on the glass table in the living room. “Where is the engraver’s shop?”
“He said toward La Louvre to Rue de Richelieu, go two blocks to Quatre-Septembre, take a left and it will be across the street in the first block. He made a joke. ‘Don’t take a right, or you’ll be right in Poland.’”
“I don’t understand that, but I’m sure we don’t want to go to Poland, do we?”
I added, “We need name cards, too. Perhaps the engraver will print some for us.”
“Let’s go. We’ll see… when we get there.”
Off we went on our adventure to Richelieu and then to Quatre-September.
We passed an ice cream shop, two blocks away on Rivoli. Otherwise, we passed zillions of restaurants, travel agencies, and a few banks and hotels.
We were evidently still in the tourist area of the city.
Dashiell remarked, “One thing that’s nice about living in the tourist section of the city is we get to see new faces all the time.”
“I guess so.”
We turned on to Quatre-Septembre and there was the engraver’s shop, Hautes Alps Gravurs.
We went inside to drop off the manuscript.
“Hello. Welcome to Hautes Alps Gravurs.”
“Hello,” I said. “I am Jean-Claude Beauvais. This is my brother, Dashiell.”
“Pleased to meet you, both.” We shook hands, formally.
“I need some engraving done.”
“You’re come to the right place.”
“I have a manuscript I need engraved.”
“Yes. A music manuscript.”
“Oh. I am so sorry. We don’t do that. You will have to go to Metro Gravurs. I will give you their card. It has directions.”
“We need two cards,” Dashiell added.
The lady returned with two cards. We thanked her for her help. We took a cab to Metro Gravurs.
The cab pulled to a stop. We got out in front of the Metro Gravurs. We went inside and looked around.. Everyone was quite busy. This was indeed the place we had hoped it was going to be. They printed cards and everything else. Dashiell grabbed a couple cards and put them in his pocket.
A tall man, in a cheap suit, approached us.
“Are you picking up a printing job?”
Before Dashiell could get a word out, I said, “Not really.” This man came across to me as a stuffy adult, who needed to be taken down a peg or two. Of course, I eagerly rose to the task.
“Then you will have to leave.” He said, opening his arms to encourage us, out the door.
I said, “But…” I gave him plenty of time to reassess the situation, but his mind did not kick in. He urged us out of the shop.
Dashiell looked at me for support as we were leaving.
I stopped, turned, and said again, “But…”
He didn’t want to hear anything.
“Out you go. Have a nice day.”
The door closed behind us.
“It’s okay, Dashiell,” I said. “He’ll regret that and will apologize to us in a few minutes.”
Dashiell always liked a game.
“Let me see one of the cards, you grabbed in there.”
He handed me a card. Three doors up the street was l’Hotel Somiteau. I went in there and asked to use the phone. Initially, the desk person was uncooperative, but a slight monetary payoff, proved that I could use the phone. I called the Metro Gravurs.
“Hello. Metro Gravurs. This is Mademoiselle Sarah. May I help you?”
“Yes, indeed, Mademoiselle Sarah. I need to talk to your manager.”
”Whom may I say is calling?”
“Monsieur Jean-Claude Beauvais, from New York. I need information on manuscript engraving.”
A brief pause, then I hear, “Hello, Monsieur Beauvais?”
“Yes. This is Jean-Claude Beauvais. I was in your store, about five minutes ago, and a gentleman, in a cheap suit, asked me, ‘Are you picking up a printing job?’ I told him, “Not exactly.” He tossed us out of your store. I have a manuscript that Monsieur Arlenne needs. I want it engraved and fifty copies printed, bound with a title page and cover. Can you take care of that for me?”
“Yes. Sir. Please come back and we can do business.”
“Business, I am ready to do. Your bouncer I won’t do.”
“Don’t worry about Monsieur Gries. I’ll talk to him.”
“Thank you. We stopped in here, at the Hotel Somiteau to call, when we were thrown out of your shop. We’ll be there in a minute or so.”
“I will be at the front door to greet you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
We left the Hotel Somiteau and re-entered Metro Gravurs. The man on the phone was there to greet us. He and we shook hands. He saw my red portfolio.
“I am Marcel Tonnie. Nice to meet you.”
“I am Jean-Claude Beauvais. Nice to meet you, too. This is my brother, Dashiell, who will need to do business with you, too, but not at this time. He has a few questions to ask.” I looked at Dashiell. He nodded. We sat in Monsieur Tonnie’s office. I opened the manuscript and handed him the manuscript. He went through the pages, carefully looking at the notation. Then he got to the part where the timing was exotic, because the theme was played backwards. He stopped and asked, “What is this?”
“That,” I said, “is where the theme is played backwards, and for someone to play it properly from the paper, the timing gets very special.”
“Indeed,” he said as he continued to look at the music.
“Bravo. Bravo.” He said. “Can you play this?”
“Of course. I composed it.”
“Would you play it for me?”
He rose and opened a door to a staircase. We went upstairs to a living room. Apparently he lived above his store. In the front window was a baby grand. I sat, rolled a few arpeggios, to get a feel for the instrument.
I looked up at Monsieur Tonnie. He was trying to hand me the music.
I said, “Remember? I composed it. I don’t need the music. You follow the manuscript and I’ll play it. Here it is.”
I played “Two Boys…” and enjoyed it more than when I composed it.
As the final bar ended, Monsieur Tonnie clapped, exclaiming, “Bravo. Bravo.”
Dashiell was delighted, too. He knew the real “Two Boys.”
Monsieur Tonnie said, “I would not have believed you, unless you actually played it.”
“Thank you. I consider you one of my fans.”
We all laughed.
We went down the stairs again. This time, we talked business. We came up with his price, which was about what I would have expected in New York. I decided that it was a good honest price, especially when I thought about that other man, in the cheap suit, being zinged when we left. I explained that I wanted to have a proof before the pressing, to check for errors. Once it was error free, a pressing of 50 copies. I gave him half the price, up front, which delighted him. He was not used to that.
We need name cards. Very nicely engraved name cards. A box for me and two boxes for my brother. He is more famous in Paris than I am. Deliver the 50 pressings, please. If there is an extra charge for delivery, please add that to what I will pay. We live in the 1er arrondissement. 212 Rue de Rivoli, Number 9.”
Monsieur Tonnie eyebrows lifted when I gave him our address.
“No extra charge. We’ll call to make sure you’re home, when the proofs are ready.
Just put your initials on the proofs and call us. We’ll make the pickup and we’ll print them in the next press run.”
“Thank you, Monsieur Tonnie. Now my brother has a few questions for you. Okay?”
Dashiell said, “I am an artist and I need a professional photographer to photograph my work, so it can be printed. Can you suggest a photographer?”
“No. Sorry, but I don’t know any good photographers.”
“Thanks for being candid and telling me the truth.”
“No point to my making something up.”
We left and grabbed a taxi to go home.
“We want to cross the river on the Pont de Grenelle. Go slow on the bridge so we can see the Statue of Liberty, then take us home to 212 Rivoli, 1er Arrondissement.”
“No problem,” said the cab driver.
We sat back and enjoyed a tour of the other side of the city.
“We will have to come back over the river to see what is here. Just riding through, I see parks with gardens, statues, and fountains, everywhere.”
“Perhaps, we can hire a car to look around in the older parts of the city.”
The taxi stopped at a red light. We waited for the signal to change. The driver reached over his shoulder, passing a card to us, “Julie Cheney – Histoire – Université de Rennes 2 – Haute Bretagne.”
I took the card, looked at it quickly, and passed it to Dashiell.
“Julie is my sister. She can help you.”
“Can we hire her and a car for a day or so?”
“Just let her know a day before you want to go touring. I’ll put her phone number on the back of the card, when we stop at your apartment.”
“That would be great. Thanks a lot.”
I said, “We just became French citizens, and moved here. We want to learn about France and the French people.”
“You were not French, before you became French?”
“We were born in America of French parents.”
“So how did you become French citizens?”
Dashiell said, “The short version goes like this: I am an artist. Some of my work is in le Louvre. My brother, Jean-Claude, is a musician. He and I created something called The Cathedral Exhibit. I made fifty drawings from the inside of Saint John the Divine’s Cathedral, in New York City. Jean-Claude wrote music to augment the drawings. Together they are ‘The Cathedral Exhibit.” When Monsieur Malraux heard of it, he spoke to his museum friends in New York. He wanted us to come to Paris with the exhibit. We became French citizens, which made the paperwork easier, and so here we are. The exhibit will be here in a couple weeks, after it finishes showing at the MoMA, in New York. Now we are trying to learn something of our heritage. We know nothing of it, at this point.”
“Well, Julie can teach you. That’s her profession, when she’s not goofing off or on vacation.”
“The Statue of Liberty will be on your side, after we take this turn on to the Pont de Grenelle, you won’t miss it.”
“It looks just like the other one.”
The taxi turned again, toward our apartment. A little while later we were at 212 Rue de Rivoli, with the telephone number on the back of Julie’s card.
We went to the apartment with Julie’s card, the engraver’s card and papers, and my red portfolio.
Mademoiselle Blundell had a pitcher of her iced cooler prepared, so we stopped and enjoyed her creation with her and Madame Laroque. After that, we left for our first major exploration journey.
Stepping outside on Rue de Rivoli, we turned to our left and walked a block to the street crossing light, going to the Tuileries M-1 Subway Station, next to the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries.
We went into the Jardin des Tuileries.
“This is so different from what I thought this was,” Dashiell said.
“I like no traffic and wide paths with lots of room to walk around. Which way do you want to go?”
“Straight ahead. That looks like a fountain, up ahead.”
We walked to the fountain.
“Statues everywhere,” I said, “No one steals them. Amazing.”
“I wonder why they don’t steal them.”
“Look at that.” I exclaimed. “So beautiful. It says, ‘Cassandra seeking the protection of Pallas by Aimé Millet (1819–1891).’
Her breasts are not covered up. In New York, they’d put us in jail for sneaking a peek at her breasts. Why are breasts bad in New York, but they aren’t bad here?”
I said, “I haven’t the slightest idea.”
Dashiell went on, still gazing intently at the statue, “I don’t know who they were, but they’re gorgeous, the sculpture is gorgeous.”
“Dashiell,” I called, “Look at this one.” Dashiell was spell-bound by Cassandra and Pallas. “This says, ‘Cain by Henri Vidal 1896.’”
Dashiell said, “Cain is one of Adam and Eve’s sons, from the Babylonian fratricide story. He killed his brother.”
“I would never kill you, no matter what,” I said.
“I would hope not, Jean-Claude,” Dashiell said, he leaned over and kissed me. I looked at him, to tell him to not get too touchy-feely out in public, when I noticed his eyes were really big.
“Look,” he said in English. “His penis is not covered up. Wow. We’d get put in jail in New York for looking at this, in a closet. Here, it’s out in the open and no one is standing around looking at it. This is like the breasts. Why are penises okay here, but bad in New York?”
“Beats the heck out of me. I have no idea.”
We walked to the other side of the fountain.
“This is the ‘Centaur raping a nymph by Laurent Marqueste 1892,’” I read the plaque for Dashiell, who was starry-eyed looking at the sculpture.
I literally had to drag him from one statue to the next, until he saw an Arch of Triumph further along the main promenade. He headed for the Arch, like a puppy pulling a leash.
“Wow. This is so cool. The Arch of Triumph.” He hugged it, in patriotic fashion.
“This isn’t ‘the’ Arch of Triumph that you’ve heard about. That one is over there. I pointed to the Arch, in the distance. That thing in the middle sticking up is an obelisk from Egypt in the Place de Concorde. The way between that arch and this arch is called the Axe historique. This arch is called the Carousel Arch.”
Dashiell looked about, “Carousel?”
“Yeah, step back and take a look over there.” I pointed to the carousel, turning in the distance.” His eyes got bigger, still. He ran to the carousel. This was the most excited I had ever seen him.
We sat next to the carousel for a long time. He didn’t say a word. I didn’t know if this was a happy time or a sad time. His face displayed no emotion.
He stood up, indicating our time beside the carousel was coming to an end. I stood beside him, and asked, “Was this a good time or a sad time?”
He astonished me when he answered, “I love the interplay of the shapes and colors. What a sight.”
He sees things differently than I do. I never seem to learn that little truth.
We walked back to the central promenade and found ourselves in a giant round promenade.
“Let’s eat.” We headed toward Rue de Rivoli, to eat at one of the restaurants, right outside the Jardin des Tuileries.
“Where’s the restaurants?” Dashiell asked.
“I have no idea.” I said. I looked around, pointed, and said, “There’s an opening in the street. Let’s go there and see if we can find a decent place for lunch that’s not full of tourists.”
“We’re tourists.” Dashiell said, “Isn’t it fitting that we eat in a tourist place?”
“No. We want regular French food, not tourist food.” I suggested, “Let’s take a taxi to The Rivoli, for lunch.”
Dashiell was excited. “Good. I like their plates.”
We came out of The Rivoli, walked past our apartment to the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries.