Madeleine, Young Wife

Madeleine, Young Wife

Madeleine, Young Wife

Madeleine, Young Wife

Excerpt

I had often wished to buy a house in France. It nearly happened at Christmas during a week's vacation at Monte Carlo. One morning. I had climbed up to La Turbie perched high above the principality and followed the road that is built in the flank of the mountain and leads to Mentone. Suddenly I came upon a house with a red roof and blue shutters clinging like a toy to the rock. But it was not the house that I noticed first. Tangerine-trees dipped their golden fruit over the side of the low white wall. I wanted that place the moment I saw it. I wanted it for the bird's-eye view over Monte Carlo and away over the deep blue Mediterranean that I would have at breakfast while drinking my coffee on the terrace under the multi-colored sunshade.

I was greeted by the barking of a dog and the smile of a woman in her early fifties, whose lips were scarlet and whose hair was dyed the color of golden corn. She must have been pretty in her youth, and from her conversation, studded with quotations from Racine, I guessed that she was an actress. She explained: "I'm obliged to sell this house, as well as my flat in Paris--family troubles, don't you know!" I visited the rooms and inspected the garden, built in twenty or more tiers against the flank of the mountain, each bordered with olive-and eucalyptus-trees and trellised vines, and at the end of each tier was a tap with a hose in order to water morning and night. I then owned $5000, and I was ready to spend all this money, the total savings of a young married woman, on this Paradise.

"How much?" I asked breathlessly.

"Didn't the estate agent tell you?" she queried. "I'm asking 100,000 francs. . . ."

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