Americans in France – part 4
The Mademoiselle seemed to obey no set schedule. Sometimes she left very early and on occasion she and John were walking out the main door together at 7:30, whereupon she would offer a neighborly, “Bon jour,” and then head uptown on foot. Frequently she seemed to be home all day. Sometimes she had daytime callers and often she went out in the evening.
Once, when a heavy rainstorm was threatening to flood our apartment, I ran next door for some sort of help. I thought the Mademoiselle understood but she just shrugged as if to say, “It’s only water. Tomorrow it will be gone.” Really?!
But I confess, I was obsessed with her. And it became sort of a game to dream up backgrounds, whereabouts and occupations for her. At one point I KNEW she was an actress from a highborn French family, while John believed she must be in business — “maybe a stock brokerage” he said, noting her ever-present obviously expensive alligator briefcase.
Then one Saturday we drove across town for a visit with Gordon and Joyce, a GI couple from Seattle who had become closer than family. Sitting around their place drinking French coffee, Gordon started talking about their neighbors. He loved gossip.
“The three ladies upstairs are really something! Old maids, all past 80 and do their own housework, shopping, even cut their own firewood. And they’ve never driven a car, never been out of Orleans, but what words they have for the Germans who took over this whole house in the war!” At that he gestured to deep gouges in the clay floor tiles from the Nazi’s jackboots.
to be continued