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THE ADVOCATE AND NiiWS.
10 MARCH S THAT CATACOMB STORY. BY MARTHA F1SHEL ICmwr right, 1909, lr Ak.l Two of the three journalists wore sharpening their pencils busily, while the tall one, she of the marvelous mem ory, looked on in pitying toleration as she adjusted a hairpin. She scorned notebooks, scorned pencilH, satisfied in the thought that upon the tablet of her brain her impressions would be recorded unerringly. The moist April breeze fluttered the curtains of our pretty salon in the Rue de Chaillot, No. 71, and an air of business excitement was upon us four damsels, who in trim tailor gowns and severe sailor hats awaited the coming of the Harvard man who had consented to be our pilot through the catacombs. The serene peace of our little Parisian menage had been rudely disturbed the day previous by the arrival of an Amer ican newspaper which announced a prize for the best article written on "The Catacombs of Paris." Upon inspecting the ngure ottered by the editor my three journalistic friends, the tall one, the colleen and the little chaperon, all de cided to compete. The tall one laid aside her fashion article and bundled some translation into a drawer. The lit tle chaperon put by ber weekly letter on the "Facts, Fads and Follies of French Life" and placed upon her desk a dozen sheets of virginal paper, selecting at the same time a fresh, favorite pen for the fray, while the colleen shelved two "penny dreadfuls" which she was writ ing at the same time and pigeonholed a great work also to join in the battle for red gold. Even the Harvard man, who lived at the pension over the way, de serted his realistic novel, which he fancied would give him the title of "The American Maupassant," and turned with covetous eyes toward that cata comb story. ' Z alone went merely as an onlooker r-I yes, a lotus eater, for I was going to write nothing. It was the chaperon, a charming mix ture of thrift and spendthrift, who said tome: "My, but you're silly to spend 5 francs if you don't make copy of it and at least try to get your money backl" Still I went Every heart knoweth its own bitterness, and, although I am re luctant to intrude my private griefs on the public, it was the moral lesson fol lowing this visit that has made me re gard the spending of that 0 francs as the greatest extravagance of my life. The Harvard man arrived serene and smiling. Having counted us, he made a swift, clever mathematical deduction that two cabs would be necessary, and so we started. Of what we saw in the catacombs that day there shall fall from my poor pen a silence so weighty that it could be cut, but or my dear, busy scribes-r-ah, that is another matter! We descended the interminable wind ing steps leading to that underground charnel house, and the tall girl, she of the marvelous memory and no notebook, dropped behind with me in that gloomy winding path and said in a sepulchral whisper (she is always consistent): "I'm going to refer to these lines of grinning skulls. You might drop a hint of this to the others lest they think of using it Will you!" "But." I ventured meekly, not be ing a scribe myself, "have you reflect ed that none of these skulls has teeth ? It is only those with teeth who grin. " She looked at me pityingly. "They shall grin," she said firmly, clinching her own molars vindictively. "A little thing like that doesn't bother me. And." she continued airily, "I'm fila going to speak of the littleness, the Ab solute pettiness, of life, its alms tad u forth, in the presence of the great ruin you know death. Veer the others off that if you hear they're going to use it And er look here, don't fancy for one little instant that I have not been ware of your ideal platonic friendship with him," jerking her head in the di rection of our male escort. "He's a nice boy, and I like him, in his place, but if you make your tender feeling any ex cuse for giving away my thought" "You're always so tactless, dear," I said viciously, turning away. At this moment our Harvard man approached, his torch trembling with excitement. "I've a fine idea," he breathed. "1 hope the others aren't on its track. These kinds of things are so beastly alike anyhow. Come here." He drew me over to a secluded spot. "My thought is on on But never mind that now. Do you know, I'm never able to see you a moment alone. You've a corporal's guard about yon the whole time" "You forget our French lessons and walks," I stammered furiously, realiz ing I was blushing. "Oh, they don't count 1 I mean real ly alone, like this, for instance, with out a soul about, though even here the others are only a few paces off." "Tell me your thought," I broke in. finding the conversation too pereonal. "The thought?" he repeated dazedly. "Oh, yes. It's on life's absolute little ness, its subjugation and and" But just then his torch caught my flimsy veil, and it went up in a gauzy whirl of smoke, while I sputtered and choked with fear. I fled from the Har vard man minus the thought and one veil and was met by the little chaperon, her cheeks very red and her eyes very bright. "She's bad a thought, too," I said to myself and tried to dodge her behind a column of bones, but in vain. "My dear, I want to tell you some thing. Now, you know the others will treat this subject in the ordinary jour nalistic way, but I will not. I am go ing to treat it seriously. J. am going to speak of this as Pluto's domain and say Poe's 'Raven' was inspired by a visit here. Switch the others off this, won't you, love? The colleen has just asked me how to spell Plutonian, and I'm a little suspicious of her. It would be a delicate matter for me, but a little finesse on your part will do it " And she bustled away. A nudge at my elbow, and I turned to find the colleen's pale face close to mine. "Listen!" she said. "They won't treat this subject as I shall Why, I have this notebook just closely written in shorthand with impressions! I've thought of two fine similes too. One is how similar the transit from life to death is to this visit Just as we had to come down here, each one alone, so We must die. Now, what was that oth erwhat was it ? Wait until I look. " "Was it on the littleness, the petti ness, of life its nothingness?" I asked in a still, small voice. "Yes-sl How did you guess it? So you thought of that tool Well, in that case it must be poor. Do you believe in thought currents? Ida No doubt you got that from me. So it's mine anyway. I suppose it ia foolish to even whisper these pearls aloud, but I tell you them so you'll keep the rest from poaching. " That night two pens raced over pa per as the tall one and the chaperoi put their seething thoughts into words The colleen, however, on her return from the catacombs had as a contrast to that visit dallied long amid the al lurements of the milliners shops on Rue de la Paix. On her arrival home she sadly inspected her letter of credit and followed it by a sum in subtrac tion. The result was disastrous, for the colleen fell by the wayside, and the prize article was untouched. In our little dining room that night the cuckoo clock had piped out 11 calls before pens were thrown down and the tall one and the chaperon sought us to read their stories. Just then the Har vard man's ring at our door was also heard as he, too, entered, a dozen sheets fluttering in his hand. "I tell you that catacomb story prize is mine, just as if I already had it" he whispered to me. Meekly and in a subdued Christian BUY GOODS III CHICAGO CTVNV SSSSKii!::-'!" tyi . ::irr.;Ki:.;;::;V' Have you Med the Catalogue system of buying EVERYTHING you use at Wholesale Prices? We can save you 1 5 to 40 por cenlon your purchases. We are now erecting and will own and occupy the highest building In America, employ 2,CC0 clerks Mini country orders exclusively, and will refund purchase price H goods don't suit you. Our General Catalogue 1,000 pages, 16,000 illustrations, 60,000 quotations costs us 72 Dents to print and mail. We will send it to you ipon receipt of IS cents, to show your good faith. DOnTGOOEQY U.'.OD & GO. MICHIGAN AVE. AND MADISON IT. CHICAGO. spirit I sat there yes, I eat and listen ed to every word. When all had finished, there was a si lence such as precedes a cyclone, and then I heard: "You took" began the chaperon. "My thought" continued the tall one. "About life and death," finished the Harvard man. But the colleen, whose article still reposed in her notebook impressions, cried out in husky tones: "Since each of your three sneaky ar ticles embodies every idea of mine there!" And the meaty notebook was hurled to the floor. The scribes were hardly on epeaking terms after this. The Harvard man passed No. 71 every day with a girl who was known to make a cross for her name. "I'm very tired of female writ ers," he was heard to Bay. In the pretty apartment in the Rue de Chaillot the frost, though slight, was none the less enduring, for, true to the inconsistency of the female mind, they all turned upon me and one morning addressed me thus: "I could have forgiven you any thing," all began in one breath, "but" "But what?" I asked, outwardly calm. "But giving away that great thought upon the littleness, the nothingness, of life," said the chaperon, bristling. "That certainly" began she tall one. "Was mine!" they cried in chorus. I no longer wore the Harvard man's fraternity pin, which in a tender mo ment he had loaned me. To and from my French lesson I walked alone, and in the pretty apartment. No. 71, the Harvard man's step and ring were heard no more. It was one month later. I walked briskly along the brilliant avenue, watching the beautiful horses, with their silken coats, and the chic Frenchwomen, clad in gowns to make a pun covetous. The sound of familiar voices made me turn my eyes toward the footpath, and with a start I saw ap proaching me my three companions and the Harvard man. They were en joying some huge joke immensely, while the tall one was pointing to something in a newspaper. When they saw me, they hurried over, and I could see the soulful glance my erstwhile Har vard friend cast upon me as he ap proached. "Have you seen it?" asked the chap eron. "Seen what?" "The catacomb prize has been award ed to an American, and and oh, you tell her!" to the tall one. "Well, it's just this it seems that oh, read it yourself 1" cried the col leeni "I'm fairly ashamed to own up having been so silly." They handed me the paper, and amid a dead silence I read every word of the article. As I did so many familiar friends greeted my eye namely, "the (Continued on page 12.) TM NEVER ABLE TO SEE TOU A MOMENT ALONE!"