IT was very amusing! M. Denis, the American, had arranged for his friends another of his “freak” dinners. Le Matin had made some witty comments on the prospective entertainment. Fashionable Paris shrugged its shoulders. An “Apacheˮ dinner! Ces Américans! One could never tell what they would do next!
Altogether, the affair was as well aired as the multimillionaire host could have wished.
The dining-room of M. Denis’s house was to be changed to represent accurately a small, dingy restaurant, kept by one Anatole Vinque, in the Rue du Bac, a restaurant frequented by the worst element of Paris—the dangerous assassins, stranglers, robbers, they call “Apaches”; who make the streets of Paris in some sections as dangerous after dark as an African jungle. M. Denisʼs guests were to come masked to the dinner, attired à lʼapache, wearing underneath their disguise the full evening dress in which they would ﬁnish the evening.
After the invitations were out, the bidden guests busied themselves in “doing the slums” to get suggestions for accurate costumes and manners. They were extravagantly grateful to M. Denis for providing a distinctly new sensation.
Many a taxicab whirled its gay load through the squalid sections of Paris, where the houses leaned across the narrow streets like conspirators, with a sinister air of watching, waiting, for black deeds to hide their traces behind blank windows and doorways.
The wide hall that flanked the dining-room in M. Denis’s superb house, on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, was no longer a hall but a narrow street, with a crazy, old-time gas lamp-post that that flared yellow on the sign above the door, “Anatole Vinque, traiteur.” A merry crowd fluttered down the marble staircase and peered laughingly into the dim “street.”
The Russian dancer from the Opera Comique, who also had starred in apache dances in vaudeville, was enthusiastic in her praise of the accurate reproduction.” “C’est bien! Parfait!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands with pleasure as she passed down the “street” and entered the ‟tavern.”
M. Denis—as he liked to be called (though in America he was plain “Mr. Dennis,” with a family history which included—most unwillingly!—a New York policeman of an earlier day and a Tammany politician of the following generation)—M. Denis stood in the doorway, bowing and smiling and waving his guests to their seats at the small tables—looking the image of ‟M. Vinque,” with his velvet skull-
* This is the last in the series of short stories which have been appearing weekly in both English and Esperanto in THE CAVALIER. See foot of page 576.
The January 18th issue contained “The Lure of the Lavender Trees”; the January 25th issue, “The Fear of Life”; the February 1st issue “Marguerites”; the February 8th issue ‟The Spot Down Deep.ˮ Back numbers can be supplied by our Subscription Department at 10c a copy.—THE EDITOR.
cap and short jacket with its fancy buttons.
The chaperon for the occasion was Lady Examere, fat-no, plump!—dark, and verging—only verging, and that very deliberately—on forty. Rumor had whispered her name as a possible match for the ambitious M. Denis when the recent demise of the crabbed and eccentric Lord Examere should have become decently remote. M. Denis aided and abetted every shred of gossip that linked his plebeian name with one of the most anciently aristocratic in Burke’s peerage.
He had arranged that Lady Examere should preside over the high desk, with its grating, and take the “check” of the “patrons”—in short, be “madameˮ of the establishment in her very admirable disguise. This in a measure singled her out from the other guests, and provided a chance for a prolonged tête-à-tête, which he intended to improve to the utmost.
It was a merry party that filed into the dimly lighted “restaurant” and peered round delightedly at the novel scene. They went off into gales of laughter at the outlandish costumes, both of the men and women. One divorcée, a piquant blonde whose decree, with its attendant details, had bruited her name over half the world, had put a black wig, preposterously dressed, over her yellow locks, and had tucked up the gauzy draperies of her evening gown under a dress so exaggeratedly apache that the company shouted over it, and declared she would win the prize M. Denis had offered for the best disguise.
Of course, they knew her, in spite of her satin mask! The tiny black mole under her round, white chin, matched by another in a less obvious position, had borne its own part in the savory divorce proceedings. One tall apache crossed the room to point to it, and suggested in a stage whisper that she should have hidden it with white court-plaster. She made a saucy rejoinder, with a glance from eyes that looked black behind her mask—and the game of ‟who’s who?” went gaily on.
Youre Miss Knowlton,ˮ said a picturesque young fellow with a red silk handkerchief round his neck and a thin garroter’s cord in his hand.
The slim girl addressed searched her limited vocabulary for the appropriate rejoinder in French, and, ﬁnding none, shook her head emphatically in denial.
The young man was not to be put off.
“What do you think Miss Knowlton said to me last night?” he said, turning to the company at large..
“What?” they chorused.
Twinkling, he made up, on the spur of the moment, an absurdly incorrect remark in French.
“That’s what Miss Knowlton said to me last night!” he announced.
“I did not!” contradicted the mask flatly, and, in the laughter that bubbled out, saw her mistake too late.
“Are you Percy Hanbury?" drawled a tall, willowy girl looking with languid curiosity at the man who stood beside her.
“Pas d’Anglais,” he returned, with an outward gesture of the hands that made them all applaud.
“Bravo! That was French as French!” said the wicked betrayer of Miss Knowlton’s identity. “Say," he went on heartily, “that rig is immense. Where did you get it?”
The points of the black moustache touched the edge of the velvet mask in a smile.
“Pas d’Anglais!” he repeated with a shrug.
“That’s the way to play the game,ˮ commented M. Denis from the doorway. A fine touch of patois, too! Come, let us sit down and begin.”
They sat down with much unnecessary clatter, and the sumptuous dinner began in its strange, dimly lighted surroundings. Jests sped lightly from table to table like flames in a wind.
Lady Examere had been an actress before her marriage. She played her part in the present comedy to perfection. When Denis, in his role of maître
dʼhôtel, addressed her boldly as “Marie,” adding “si vous le permettez?ˮ she returned, with a coquettish gleam of dark, lustrous eyes‘ through her mask, “Pourquois ‘vous,ʼ Anatole?” and on that hint he “tu-toy”-ed her all through the dinner, feeling that he was getting along famously.
The little table near the door, which they ﬁnally occupied alone, commanded a full view of the room. M. Denis surveyed the scene with supreme satisfaction. The apache dinner was a success. They all threw themselves into it with amazing realism.
Every once in a while there would be a laugh over some touch of street French, some gaucherie, some sinister gesture supposedly apache. Lady Examere herself, after carrying on a one-sided ragamuffin conversation in French with M. Denis, suddenly branched off into broken English that sent every one into ﬁts of merriment, it imitated so exactly the speech of the real Mme. Marie Vinque as they had heard it at Anatole’s a few nights previous. She helped herself out with very French gestures. M. Denis, not to be outdone, added his share, till they looked like a couple of deaf-mutes in animated conversation.
He kept a watchful eye on the waiters ﬂitting about. They, too, were “made up” for the part. His butler seemed to have an attack of stage fright in these unusual surroundings.
Several times Denis had to speak sharply to him. He stood motionless when action was demanded of him; and his ashy face bespoke benumbing emotion of some kind. He was either ill or in the after-throes of an absinth drunk, thought Denis, watching him narrowly.
The high, French clock that stood in the corner chimed twelve slow, melodious strokes. As it ceased the Russian dancer leaped lightly to the middle of her table at a signal from the host and, with arms akimbo, danced the carmagnole—the measure that the slum-dwellers of a bygone day beat out on the paving-stones of Paris as they marched to the feast of a bloody revolution. As she danced she sang a ﬁerce little melody.
“Ça ira! Ça ira!” She snapped her ﬁngers exultingly. Her slim body swayed to the chant. The glasses tinkled on the table to the rhythm of her slender feet.
She ﬁnished amid rapturous applause. Lapghingly she caught her skirts about her and jumped off the table, like thistle-down blown by the wind.
“Unmask!” commanded M. Denis gaily. “The moment has arrived!”
Then in the dim room white shoulders began to gleam out, diamonds flashed, rich draperies swirled to the ﬂoor, and with light laughter masks were dropped from roguish eyes.
The willowy girl tapped her partner with a jeweled fan. She was slightly piqued. He had not let fall a word of anything but “pavement French” throughout the dinner, despite her drawling admonitions. He had paid her none of the polite attentions she had every right to expect from him, though his dark eyes had bent many a daringly passionate glance on her.
It had really been quite thrilling, she thought with a slow smile. She hadnʼt known it was in Percy Hanbury!
“Come! Unmask!” she drawled. ‟The game is at an end. Of course, I know you are Percy, though you have played your part so well.ˮ
He rose slowly to his feet. His eyes glowed through his mask. He stooped and deliberately unclasped the diamond necklace from her white neck. An insolent smile showed the edges of his white teeth.
She drew beck haughtily.
“What game is this?” she began.
A shrill cry sounded from across the room.
Miss Knowlton was pointing at the door, one hand clutching her throat. She swayed and fell back in a dead faint. The men turned in their chairs, half rose, then sat transfixed.
The doorway was crowded with a score of evil faces. A guttural voice said in French:
“Sit still! Do not move!”
Under the range of half a dozen revolvers, they obeyed.
M. Denis, with his back to the door, was so absorbed in Lady Examere that all this had passed unnoticed. At last the silence smote him like a blow. He looked up and met the stony gaze of his butler as he leaned against the wall, white and ghastly.
A wine-glass crashed to the ﬂoor! The tall apache straightened his lithe ﬁgure and pocketed the glittering necklace.
M. Denis leaped to his feet.
“What does this mean?” he shouted angrily.
Arms seized him roughly from behind--arms as strong as bands of steel. Struggling madly, he was gagged, bound, and thrown into the corner like a sack of potatoes, his head striking violently on a stone crachoir. He lapsed into unconsciousness.
It was past midnight when a reporter, having waited in a near-by cafe, approached the residence of M. Denis for the interview the butler had promised him—for a consideration. He ran lightly up the stone steps and rang the bell. No answer.
He pushed the button again, and danced a few energetic steps to warm himself. Still no answer. He eyed the great door expectantly. Why--it was ajar! What luck! He pushed it open and boldly entered the wide hall. The great electrolier was unlighted, leaving the place almost in darkness. He glanced about him curiously, wondering at the silence.
A flickering gleam came from somewhere. He followed it, and found himself in the street that led to the tavern. In the doorway he stumbled over something at once heavy and elastic. With a start of surprise he recovered himself.
‟Mon Dieu!ˮ he ejaculated. At his feet lay a man bound hand and foot, and gagged into the bargain. Thoroughly alarmed, he bent over him. In the dim light the manʼs eyes gleamed in his ghastly face, goggling with terror. The reporter felt for his pen-knife, and, after a few momentsʼ work, severed the cord that held the gag.
If the newspaperman had any hope of getting an explanation of the situation he was doomed to disappointment. Nothing but inarticulate babbling came from the man’s discolored lips. Hardly had the reporter severed the last cord that bound him when the terror-stricken man made a tremendous effort, and, stretching his cramped legs, staggered wildly down the hall, and was gone, leaving the door wide open behind him.
The reporter quickly followed him, but when he reached the open air the man had disappeared in the darkness with a diminuendo of footfalls that soon ceased altogether.
The reporter ran back into the house. The lights were out in the apache dining-room. The lamp-post without cast a faint ray and a deep shadow into the room. Dimly the young man discerned that the room was full of people. He lighted a match, then dropped it with an exclamation of horror.
Bound to their chairs and securely gagged were a dozen guests of the apache dinner. The women had fainted, or were in a stupor, drooping limply in their bonds, their heads sunk on their bosoms. One man had evidently struggled so hard to release himself that he had fallen backward, chair and all, and lay stunned, the blood streaming from a cut in the back of his head.
The young reporter looked about him, dazed with the responsibility of the situation. Should he go for help? No! A thousand times no! Here was a big “scoop” for his paper. Should he share it? Never! Evidently the assassins had departed. There was nothing more to fear from them. A thought struck him.
Other newspapermen might be
about! He ﬂew to the front door and closed it, locking it carefully; then groped his way back into the restaurant, and began frantically to cut loose the unfortunate survivors of the apache dinner.
They took their release strangely, as had the first man. One man ﬁercely attacked him and blackened his eye, supposing him to be one of the rufﬁans back again. Another let off the silent rage that had consumed him—bound, gagged, and helpless—in a string of curses that included everything in the known universe.
Another dissolved into copious tears, till the reporter, desiring assistance, and quite unmindful of his high social position, had kicked him half across the room and into sound sense again. The women took it differently. One clasped her arms round his neck and clung to him so tightly that, even in the dim light of the tallow candle that some one had snatched from a sconce in the wall, he could afterward see the red marks left by his coat buttons on her bare white bosom.
One went off into a hysterical attack, and laughed and cried till he was minded to gag her again. The tall, willowy girl sat up and asked him coolly what time it was; then fell to surveying her long, slim, ringless fingers with a curiously detached, reﬂective air.
The last victim was released. Shudderingly they left the apache restaurant. Repairing to the salon on the second ﬂoor, they sat there in a blaze of electric light and consulted together what was to be done. The phone wires had been cut. Some one would have to go and get help.
Meantime the guests’ automobiles began to arrive, furnishing their own solution of the matter. The servants were nowhere to be found. It was the butler who had run out into the streets; the rest had vanished more mysteriously. Two guests volunteered to stay down-stairs and answer the door-bell.
A young man, note-book in hand, pushed through the group of men at the entrance to the salon, asking questions as he came, in tolerably ﬂuent English. He looked about him a moment, then crossed the room and made his way to a small table where the hero of the rescue was busy with his story, oblivious to his surroundings.
“Youʼre in ahead of the rest of us, this time, ‘M. Le Matin,ʼ ” he said jocularly; “but I shall be number two at least—and there are more on the way, I do assure you!
“Messieurs,” he announced to the room at large, “Mme. Carmichael’s machine is awaiting her!”
Mrs. Carmichael? They looked around them in perplexity. Where was Mrs. Carmichael? Then it slowly dawned on them—several of the guests had disappeared!
They made careful search. In vain! Even the evening cloaks and invernesses were missing from their respective dressing-rooms. The men decided to send the feminine contingent home and then make a more thorough investigation.
White and disheveled, the women mounted the stairs to the dressing-room The men, scarcely less shaken, accompanied them to the head of the stairs for protection.
A scream rang through the house! A panic-stricken girl rushed out to the corridor.
“In there!” she gasped, clutching the man nearest her, and pointing to the room she had just left.
They pushed past the terriﬁed group. Beyond, from a smaller room, came muffled moans. The foremost men leveled themselves at the locked door. It yielded with a crash of splintering wood. On the ﬂoor lay—the missing guests of the apaehe dinner! The nearest ﬁgure rolled feebly toward them, looking like a stout mummy in the cords that wrapped her from head to foot.
Quickly they unbound her. A young girl stole fearfully to the doorway and stood looking over the men’s shoulders as they stooped to the rescue.
“Lady Examere!ˮ she exclaimed in amazement.
“All Paris rang next day with the dénouement of M. Denis’s apache dinner! It seems that the publicity that attended the proposed affair had spread to the slums of Paris, and what with the taxicab expeditions to apache haunts and the accounts of the wealth of the invited guests, had proved too great a looting opportunity to be resisted.
The butler was himself a reformed criminal, and he knew only too well the folly of resistance with all the cruel resources of apachedom against him! He had been the unwilling and terriﬁed tool of the apaches from the start.
It had not been difficult for a gang trained to work together to decoy certain of the guests who were to be impersonated at the festivity into a far-off corridor to gag and bind them, and later to stow them away in a room back of the dressing-room, and to take their places at the feast. Their uncouth manners only added to the amusement as being excellent acting.
The unfortunate butler was easily traced and imprisoned. M. Vinque and his plump wife, however, fled to parts unknown, bearing much wealth with them, and a thousand and one things to talk over concerning their night in high society.
Poor Denis bore the heaviest burden of all. His friends, erstwhile so extravagantly grateful to him for providing a new sensation, were as indignant as if he had deliberately planned the harrowing outcome. Several beauties sued him for the loss of their jewels—one for that his apache dinner had been the occasion, if not the cause, of a serious nervous collapse.
But, worst of all, the goal of Denisʼs earthly ambitions had been closed to him!
Lady Examere had refused to have anything more to do with him, not—such is the inconsistency of the sex!—because she had suffered such discomfort at the hands of the rogues who bound her, but, forsooth, because M. Denis had been so obtuse as to ﬂirt an entire evening with a vulgar, ignorant woman of the slums who personated her charming self—and not to know the difference!
SOURCE: Hilton-Turvey, C. The “Apache” Dinner, with La Apaĉa Vespermanĝo, translated by D. O. S. Lowell, The Cavalier, vol. 25, no. 3, February 15, 1913, pp. 566-571, 571-576. With the editors Farewell to Esperanto, p. 576.
Note: Neither the original typography nor the original two-column formatting is preserved here.
This occasions the sixth (and last) appearance of an Esperanto translation in The Cavalier, and the fifth and last of a test series that generated five Esperanto translations.
Following the conclusion of the Esperanto version of this story, at the bottom of the page (576) appears the editor’s “Farewell to Esperanto,” reproduced here on a separate web page. The editor followed up in the February 22 issue with “Esperanto—A Closed Incident.”
Post la konkludo de la Esperanta traduko de ĉi tiu rakonto aperas malsupre sur la sama paĝo (576) “Farewell to Esperanto” [Adiaŭ al Esperanto] de la redaktoro, klarigante la kialon de la ĉeso de la eskperimentomalakcepto de Esperanto flanke de la plejmulto de la reaginta legantaro.
For links to all the English originals and Esperanto translations and more information, see: / Por pluaj informoj, aliru:
The Cavalier: Covers & Contents
J. U. Giesy (John Ulrich, 1877-1948) & His Collaborators
In 2112 (1912) by J. U. Giesy & J. B. Smith
2112 (1912) by J. U. Giesy & J. B. Smith,
translated into Esperanto by Elmer E. Haynes, M.D.
In 2112, by J. U. Giesy
& J. B. Smith,
translated from Esperanto by Forrest J. Ackerman
Esperanto in The Scrap Book, April - June 1907
(with 2 articles by D. O. S. Lowell)
“Esperanto—A Closed Incident”
by the Editor [Bob Davis],
with images of the entire letter column
“Heart to Heart Talks”
Elmer E. Haynes & John A. Morris on J. U. Giesy et al in the pulps (1915)
Esperanto in early science fiction to 1930 by Everet F. Bleiler
J. U. Giesy (John Ulrich, 1877-1948) & His Collaborators
Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko
Philosophical and Universal Languages, 1600-1800, and Related Themes: Selected Bibliography
& Utopia Literaturo en Esperanto /
Science Fiction & Utopian Literature in Esperanto:
Gvidilo / A Guide
Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress
J. U. Giesy @ Ĝirafo
La Verda Kakatuo de Arthur Schnitzler @ Ĝirafo
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