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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Chez Brébant

By Francis Alexander Durivage (1814–1881)

[Born in Boston, Mass., 1814. Died in New York, N. Y., 1881.]

THE VICOMTE is wearing a brow of gloom

As he mounts the stair to his favorite room.

“Breakfast for two!” the garçons say,

“Then the pretty young lady is coming to-day!”

But the patron mutters, à Dieu ne plaise!

I want no clients from Père la Chaise.

Silver and crystal—a splendid show!

And a damask cloth white as driven snow.

The vicomte sits down with a ghastly air—

His vis-à-vis is an empty chair.

But he calls to the garçon, “Antoine! Vite!

Place a stool for the lady’s feet.”

“The lady, monsieur?” (in a wavering tone).

“Yes—when have you known me to breakfast alone?

Fill up her glass! Versez! Versez!

You see how white are her cheeks to-day:

Sip it, my darling, ’twas ordered for thee.”

He raises his glass, “à toi, Mimi!”

The garçon shudders, for nothing is there

In the lady’s place but an empty chair.

But still, with an air of fierce unrest,

The vicomte addresses an unseen guest.

“Leave us, Antoine; we have much to say,

And time is precious to me to-day.”

When the garçon was gone he sprang up with a start:

“Mimi is dead of a broken heart.

Could I think, when she gave it with generous joy,

A woman’s heart such a fragile toy?

Her trim little figure no longer I see!

Would I were lying with thee, Mimi!

For what is life but a hell to me?

What splendor and wealth but misery?”

A jet of flame and a whirl of smoke!

A detonation the silence broke.

The landlord enters, and lying there

Is the dead vicomte, with a stony glare

Rigidly fixed on an empty chair.

“Il faut avertir le commissaire!

Ma foi! Chez Brébant ces choses sont rares!”