I turned around in surprise.
81“Come along here, you,” roared the officer, and with the rest I filed back to the gendarmerie, the butt of the derisive grimaces of passing urchins.
At headquarters each of us was registered again, as we had been the night before, after which we were permitted to go our several ways. There was no means of changing my wealth into French coin until the banks opened, two hours later. Scorning to delay so long, I turned away breakfastless to the westward, convinced that some village banker would come to my assistance by the time France was wide awake. But at high noon I was still plodding on, dizzy with hunger and the fatigue of climbing a low, uninhabited spur of the Alps that stretches down to the Mediterranean west of Cannes, with that infernal Italian note still in my pocket. At four in the afternoon I reached the village of Fréjus. A merchant, whom I ran to earth after a long search, agreed to accept the likeness of Vittore Emanuele at a half-franc discount; and I sat down on the village green with an armful of bread and dried herring—my first meal in twenty-eight hours.
I paid, that night, for a flea-bitten lodging in Le Puget, but concluded next day that the three francs remaining could be better invested in food than in sleeping-quarters. When darkness again overtook me, therefore, I applied for accommodations at the gendarmerie of Cuers. The village was too small to boast an Asile de Nuit, but after long argument I induced the rustic in charge of the town hall to allow me to occupy the solitary cell which the hamlet reserved for the incarceration of its felons. It was a three-cornered hole under the stairway leading to the upper story, and I spent the night in durance vile; for the rustic, for some reason unknown, insisted on locking me in.
Next day I pressed steadily onward through a hungry Sunday of pouring rain, the mud of the highway oozing in through the expanding holes of my dilapidated shoes. From time to time a facetious innkeeper peered out through the downpour to shout: “Hé donc, toi! You don’t know it’s raining, perhaps?” But bent on reaching Marseilles before my last coppers had been scattered, I dared not linger to give answer.
Late Sunday evening is an inconvenient hour to look for the municipal officers of an unimportant French village. Back of the central place of Le Beausset I found the h?tel de ville, a decrepit, one-story building; but I knocked at the back door, the entrée des vagabonds, 82for some time in vain. A passing villager advised me to “go right in.” I opened the door accordingly and stepped inside, only to be driven out again by a series of feminine shrieks before I had an opportunity to make out, in a badly-lighted kitchen, the exact source of the uproar. I sat down in the rain outside the door that had been slammed and bolted behind me and waited.
When the last café had ceased its shouting, another villager, half in uniform, pushed past me and knocked for admittance. Certain that he was a gendarme, I followed him inside. At the back of the room, over a stove from which rose tantalizing odors, stood two women who, catching sight of me, deluged the officer with a flood of words.
“Here, mon vieux,” he snapped, whirling upon me, “what do you mean by marching into my house and frightening my women out of their wits?”
I excused my conduct on the ground of advice too hastily taken. The gendarme scowled over my papers, tucked them away in a greasy cupboard behind the stove, and turned with me out into 佛山桑拿论坛0757 the night. The Asile was not far distant, and it was unoccupied. The officer set a candle-end on a beam and, bidding me not to set the place on fire and to exchange the key for my papers in the morning, departed. I burrowed deep into the straw with which the shelf was covered and fell to sleep in my water-soaked garments.
Short rations and plank beds had left me in no condition to cover in a single day the thirty-five miles between Le Beausset and Marseilles. I found my legs giving way when darkness caught me some distance from the harbor and, having no hope of finding a better lodging, sat down against a tree on an outer boulevard. A bitter wind blew, for it was the last day of October and well north of Naples. In the far west of my own country, however, I had learned a trick of great value “on the road.” It is, that a coat 佛山桑拿部长电话 thrown over the head is far more protection while sleeping out of doors than when worn in the usual manner. I was, therefore, unmolested as long as the night lasted, no doubt because passers-by saw in my huddled form only a grain-sack dropped by the wayside.
CHAPTER V A “BEACHCOMBER” IN MARSEILLES
It was well for my immediate peace of mind that no prophet accosted me on my way down to the harbor next morning, to foretell the hungry days that were to be my portion in Marseilles. One of the strikes that periodically tie up the seaport of southern France was at its height. Dozens of sailing vessels rode at anchor in the little “Old Harbor”; the rade behind the great V-shaped breakwater was crowded with shipping; at the wharves were moored long rows of ocean-liners, among which the white, clipper-built steamers of the Méssagéries 佛山桑拿会所按摩全套 Maritimes predominated, their cargoes rotting in their holds. In a season of customary activity it would have been easy to “sign on” some ship eastward bound. On this November morning, a blind man must have known, from the silence of the port, that there was small prospect even of finding work ashore.
Six sous rattled in my pocket. I squandered the half of them for a breakfast and set out on a tour of the warehouses on the wharves. But at every spot where twenty longshoremen were needed for the unloading of a mail steamer, there were hundreds surging around the timekeeper, clamoring for employment. I reached the front ranks of several of these groups by football tactics, only to be informed, when I shouted my name to the official on the top of a cask or bale, that he was hiring only those stevedores whom he knew personally, 佛山桑拿按摩休闲中心 and could not find places for a fourth of them. As darkness came on, I gave over the useless tramping up and down the roadstead, wolfed a “stevedore’s hand-out” in one of the open-air booths of the Place de la Joliette, and utterly penniless at last, turned away to the Asile de Nuit, as the only refuge left me.
The night asylum of Marseilles, situated beyond the Avenue de la République, just off the silent wharves, was no such one-room hovel as housed the wanderer in Cannes or Cuers. It covered what would have been a block in an American city and rose to a height of three stories; a plain, cold structure above the door of which the legend, “Asile de Nuit,” cut in stone, seemed to suggest how permanent and 84irremediable is poverty. Before the entrance were at least a hundred men of every age, from mere boys to wrinkled 佛山桑拿浴服务价格 greybeards, chattering in groups, leaning against the building, seated on the sidewalk with their feet in the gutter, or strolling anxiously up and down. Not all of them were vagabonds in outward appearance. Here and there were men in comparatively clean linen and otherwise as faultless in attire as well-to-do merchants. A half-dozen of them wore dress-suits. They did not sit with their feet in the gutter; most of them held aloof from their ragged companions and strutted back and forth with the pompous air of successful politicians. But their conversation was, like that of the others, of the “grafts” of the road throughout the continent of Europe.
The “dress-suit vagabond” was a type new to me then. He became a familiar figure long before my wanderings ended. Wherever I met him, he hailed from the Kaiser’s realm. The German is admitted by the vagabonds of every nationality to be the most successful beggar in “the profession.” It is this well-dressed tramp who awakens the blatant sympathy of English and American tourists—those infallible judges of human nature—the world over. “Poor fellow!” will cry the hysterical lady abroad, when approached by one of this suave-mannered gentry; “He is, indeed, making a struggle to keep up in the world! Let’s give him something worth while, Arthur, for, surely, he cannot be ranked with those lazy, ragged tramps over there.” As a matter of fact, “those ragged tramps over there” are, more often than not, unpresumptuous sailors reduced to tatters by the rascalities of shipping companies or their able assistants, the land sharks of great ports. They would jump at any chance of employment, while the “poor fellow,” who has begged the very clothes that give him this false appearance of respectability, has been approaching just such hysterical ladies for years, fully intends doing so to the end of his days, and would not accept the presidency of a railroad.
The Asile of Marseilles was not controlled, as those of other French cities, by the gendarmerie, but was the branch establishment of a neighboring monastery. By eight o’clock the crowd before the building had doubled, the doors were thrown open, and we filed into an office where three monks, in cowl and soutane, sat behind a wicket. In Europe, man’s fate often hangs on a few scraps of paper. The applicant for lodging in the Asile was irrevocably turned out into the night unless he could show two of these all-important documents, one to establish his identity and nationality, and another to 85prove that he had been at work at a not-too-distant date. To forge certificates of employment is no unsurmountable task to those who cannot come by them honestly, and the most laudatory ones presented were those of the “dress-suit tramps.” A grey-haired frère read my papers rapidly and asked me, in English, with hardly a trace of foreign accent, if I spoke French. Upon my affirmative reply he pushed the documents I had handed him to his younger colleague, who entered my name and biography in a huge book and gave me, with my papers, a check entitling me to a bed in the Asile for eight nights.
I passed into the common room, a sort of chapel, the long benches of which were already half-filled with grumbling tramps. In front was a plain pulpit, around the walls fifteen large crucifixes, and at the back a table where several men were writing letters with materials furnished by the establishment. The room was crowded when nine o’clock sounded from the great Asile bell. The outer door closed with a bang, the grey-haired monk marched in with a gigantic Bible in his arms, mounted the pulpit, and launched forth in a service worthy of note for the length of its prayers and a drowsy discourse on the life of some saint or other, to which the assembled vagabonds listened with stolid tolerance as something which must be endured as a punishment for being penniless. A gong rang out in the hall at the end of the sermon. We mounted the stairs and each, according to his check, entered one of several large rooms containing fifty beds apiece. Those who had registered at some previous date went at once to their cots. The newcomers filed by a frère in charge of a huge pile of bedding in the center of the room. As each one received two clean sheets and a pillow-case, he promptly sought out the cot assigned him, pulled off the soiled linen, carried it back to the monk, and returned to make up his bed. The cleanliness of the cots was truly monasterial. But they were so narrow that to turn over was a precarious operation, and so much harder than a plank bed as to suggest that they were filled with ground stone. In spite, however, of the chorus of snores which mocked the printed notices on the walls, commanding silence, I lay not long awake, for I had long since parted company with soft beds.
At five in the morning, long before daylight, we were awakened by a clanging bell and a trio of frères who marched up and down the room, shouting to us to be up and away. Woe betide the man who turned over for another nap, for one of the monks was upon him in an instant and, with an agility and a force that suggested that he 86had been a champion wrestler before taking orders, dumped him unceremoniously on the floor. When we had made up our beds and soused our faces at a hydrant in the outer courtyard, we were driven out into the dreary streets.
I had fallen in with a stranded English sailor at the Asile. Not even on shipboard can one strike up acquaintances as quickly as in a band of sans-sous. For an hour we wandered about
the city, shivering in the chill that precedes the dawn, and then made our way down to the harbor. A British merchantman was discharging a cargo at one of the wharves. We slunk on board and, keeping out of sight of the officers, dodged into the forecastle. The crew was struggling to do away with a plentiful breakfast.
“I sye, shipmites,” cried my companion, “any show for a bite?”
“Sure, lads!” shouted several of the sailors, with that hearty unselfishness of the English seamen the world over. “Eat up and give the old ship a good name!”
“English? Eh, lad?” asked the old tar who gave me his seat at the table.
“My mate is, but I’m an American,” I answered, a bit dubiously.
“Oh, hell,” rumbled the veteran salt, heaping his plate in front of me, “English or American! What’s the bloody difference? I mean you’re not a dago or
a Dutchman? How long have you been on the beach?”
We did full justice to the ship’s good name and left her with bread and meat enough in our pockets to stave off the hunger engendered by a day of tramping up and down the wharves. Next morning the only English vessel in harbor lay well out in mid-stream, and we subsisted on unroasted peanuts and broken cocoanut-meat imported for its oil, of which several vessels from the Orient were discharging whole shiploads.
Penniless sailors swarmed in the Place de la Joliette and the Place Victor Gélu, the rendezvous of seamen in Marseilles. As my acquaintance with these “beachcombers” increased, I picked up knowledge of the “grafts” of the port. On my fourth morning in the city I was aroused from a nap against the pedestal of the bronze Gélu by a Brazilian sailor, who had been long stranded in the city.
“Hóla! Yank,” he shouted, “are you coming for breakfas’?”
“Busted!” I answered, shortly.
“Con?o, me too,” he returned; “come along.”
He led the way round the vieux port and far out along the beach 87by a steep road. In that section of Marseilles known as les catalans, once the home of Dumas’ Monte Cristo, we joined a crowd before a granite building above the entrance of which was a sign reading, “Bouchée de Pain.” When the door opened we filed through an anteroom where a man handed each of us a wedge of bread, de deuxieme qualité, from several bushel baskets of similar wedges, and we passed silently on into an adjoining room. The two rough tables it contained were each garnished with a jar of water, which, as we ate our bread, passed from hand to hand. On the walls hung copies of the rules governing the Bouchée de Pain, and in various parts of the room stood officials who strove to enforce them to the letter. The important ones were as follows:
“1. No talking is allowed in the Bouchée de Pain.
“2. The bread must be eaten at the tables and not carried away.
“3. Anyone bringing other food into the Bouchée de Pain to eat with his bread will be summarily ejected.
“4. Bread will be served daily at ten and at three to those who do not forfeit their right to the kind charity of the city of Marseilles by disobeying these rules.”
But, as he who has come into contact with tramps and adventurers knows, it is difficult to suppress the inventive talents of the genus vagabundus by mere printed statutes, even with a cohort of officers to enforce them. The second of the rules, especially, was not strictly adhered to. The crowds that reported daily at the institution were so great as to fill the tables a third and even a fourth time. The wily ones about me, knowing that this was only the “first table,” nibbled their wedges ever so slowly, until the uninitiated had finished their portions and the officers cried “allez,” when they tucked what was left under their coats, and tumbled with the rest of us through a back door, there to trade the wedge for tobacco, or to eat it with what they had picked up about the city.
“Vámonos, hombre,” said the Brazilian; “now for the soup.”
A full two miles we walked over another steep hill to find, before a building styled “Cuillère de Soupe,” much the same crowd as had been at the Bouchée de Pain. The soup was more carefully doled out than the bread had been. An officer at the door called for our papers, set down our names in his register, and handed us tickets which entitled us to soup at eleven and four daily, but only for eight days.
88The fates preserve me from ever again tasting the concoction, misnamed soup, which was set before me when I had gained admittance. A bowl of water, grey in color, and of the temperature which the doctor calls for when he has by him neither a stomach-pump nor a feather with which to tickle the patient’s throat, contained one leaf—and that the very outside one—of a cabbage, half an inch of the top of a carrot with the leaves still on it, and three sprigs of what looked like grass. When I had made a complete inventory of my own dish, I turned to peer into that of the Brazilian. He had the selfsame portion of a carrot, a companion to my cabbage-leaf, and three quite similar blades of grass. Certainly, one could not accuse the soup officials of partiality, and if the cook was sparing of specimens from the vegetable kingdom he made up for it in ingredients from the world of minerals. There was salt enough in my mess to have preserved a side of beef, and pebbles of various sizes and shapes chased each other merrily around behind the spoon with which I stirred up the mixture. I know not who supplied the establishment with water, but the beach was not far distant.
Several times I returned to the Bouchée de Pain before I left Marseilles behind; the Cuillère de Soupe I struck off my calling list at once.
The city of Marseilles has established these two institutions in an attempt to reduce the begging class, and to provide an alternative for the indiscriminate asking of alms, which is strictly forbidden in the city. The buildings have purposely been placed in the most inconvenient sections of the municipality and far apart, in the hope that only those who are in dire want will visit them. As small an amount of food is given as will sustain life, because it is fancied that this arrangement will cause the penniless to redouble their efforts to become self-supporting. Yet the plan is not entirely a success, though the authorities may not know it. Many a man I have seen at these places whom I knew had money enough on his person to buy a dozen hotel dinners—money wheedled out of soft-hearted and soft-headed tourists, which he would have considered it a sin to pay out for food when cool, green absinthe could be bought with it. The “dress-suit tramps,” if they had no “bigger game on the string,” made this walk their daily exercise, and referred to it as their “constitutional.” Those who wished really to look for work found that the long tramp twice a day used up both their time and their strength, until they had little of either left to prosecute their search.