In the morning the train was near Paris, and after the American lady had come out of the washroom, looking very wholesome and middle-aged and American in spite of not having slept, and had taken the cloth off the bird-cage and hung the cage in the sun, she went back to the restaurant car for breakfast. When she came back to the lit salon compartment again, the beds had been pushed back into the wall and made into seats, the canary was shaking his feathers in the sunlight that came through the open window, and the train was much nearer Paris.
“He loves the sun,” the American lady said. “He’ll sing now in a little while.”
The canary shook his feathers and pecked in them. “I’ve always loved birds,” the American lady said. “I’m taking him home to my little girl. There—he’s singing now.”
The canary chirped and the feathers on his throat stood out, then he dropped his bill and pecked into his feathers again. The train crossed a river and passed through a very carefully tended forest. The train passed through many outside of Paris towns. There were train-cars in the towns and big advertisements for the Belle Jardiniére and Dubonnet and Pernod on the walls toward the train. All that the train passed through looked as though it were before breakfast. For several minutes I had not listened to the American lady, who was talking to my wife.
“Is your husband American too?” asked the lady.
“Yes,” said my wife. “We’re both Americans.”
“I thought you were English.”
“Perhaps that was because I wore braces,” I said. I had started to say suspenders and changed it to braces in the mouth, to keep my English character. The American lady did not hear. She was really quite deaf; she read lips, and I had not looked toward her. I had looked out of the window. She went on talking to my wife.
“I’m so glad you’re Americans. American men make the best husbands,” the American lady was saying. “That was why we left the Continent, you know. My daughter fell in love with a man in Vevey.” She stopped. “They were simply madly in love.” She stopped again. “I took her away, of course.”
“Did she get over it?” asked my wife.
“I don’t think so,” said the American lady. “She wouldn’t eat anything and she wouldn’t sleep at all. I’ve tried so very hard, but she doesn’t seem to take an interest in anything. She doesn’t care about things. I couldn’t have her marrying a foreigner.” She paused. “Someone, a very good friend, told me once, ‘No foreigner can make an American girl a good husband.’ ”
“No,” said my wife, “I suppose not.”
The American lady admired my wife’s traveling coat, and it turned out that the American lady had bought her own clothes for twenty years now from the same maison de couture in the Rue Saint Honoré. They had her measurements, and a vendeuse who knew her and her tastes picked the dresses out for her and they were sent to America. They came to the post office near where she lived up-town in New York, and the duty was never exorbitant because they opened the dresses there in the post office to appraise them and they were always very simple-looking and with no gold lace nor ornaments that would make the dresses look expensive. Before the present vendeuse, named Thérèse, there had been another vendeuse, named Amélie. Altogether there had only been these two in the twenty years. It had always been the same couturier. Prices, however, had gone up. The exchange, though, equalized that. They had her daughter’s measurements now too. She was grown up and there was not much chance of their changing now. The train was now coming into Paris. The fortifications were leveled but grass had not grown. There were many cars standing on tracks—brown wooden restaurant cars and brown wooden sleeping cars that would go to Italy at five o’clock that night, if that train still left at five; the cars were marked Paris-Rome, and cars, with seats on the roofs, that went back and forth to the suburbs with, at certain hours, people in all the seats and on the roofs, if that were the way it were still done, and passing were the white walls and many windows of houses. Nothing had eaten any breakfast.