The Blue Man

Mary Hartwell Catherwood
The Blue Man, by Mary Hartwell

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Title: The Blue Man From "Mackinac And Lake Stories", 1899
Author: Mary Hartwell Catherwood
Release Date: October 30, 2007 [EBook #23249]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
MAN ***

Produced by David Widger

From "Mackinac And Lake Stories", 1899
By Mary Hartwell Catherwood

The lake was like a meadow full of running streams. Far off indeed it
seemed frozen with countless wind-paths traversing the ice, so level
and motionless was the surface under a gray sky. But summer rioted in
verdure over the cliffs to the very beaches. From the high greenery of
the island could be heard the tink-tank of a bell where some cow sighed
amid the delicious gloom.
East of the Giant's Stairway in a cove are two round rocks with young
cedars springing from them. It is easy to scramble to the flat top of the
first one and sit in open ambush undetected by passers. The world's
majority is unobservant. Children with their nurses, lovers, bicyclists
who have left their wheels behind, excursionists--fortunately headed
towards this spot in their one available hour--an endless procession,
tramp by on the rough, wave-lapped margin, never wearing it smooth.
Amused by the unconsciousness of the reviewed, I found myself
unexpectedly classed with the world's majority. For on the east round
rock, a few yards from my seat on the west round rock, behold a man
had arranged himself, his back against the cedars, without attracting
notice. While the gray weather lightened and wine-red streaks on the
lake began to alternate with translucent greens, and I was watching
mauve plumes spring from a distant steamer before her whistles could
be heard, this nimble stranger must have found his own amusement in
the blindness of people with eyes.
He was not quite a stranger. I had seen him the day before; and he was
a man to be remembered on account of a peculiar blueness of the skin,
in which, perhaps, some drug or chemical had left an unearthly haze
over the natural flush of blood. It might have appeared the effect of sky
lights and cliff shadows, if I had not seen the same blue face distinctly
in Madame Clementine's house. He was standing in the middle of a
room at the foot of the stairway as we passed his open door.
So unusual a personality was not out of place in a transplanted Parisian
tenement. Madame Clementine was a Parisian; and her house, set
around three sides of a quadrangle in which flowers overflowed their
beds, was a bit of artisan Paris. The ground-floor consisted of various
levels joined by steps and wide-jambed doors. The chambers, to which

a box staircase led, wanted nothing except canopies over the beds.
"Alors I give de convenable beds," said Madame Clementine, in mixed
French and English, as she poked her mattresses. "Des bons lits! T'ree
dollar one chambre, four dollar one chambre--" she suddenly spread her
hands to include both--"seven dollar de tout ensemble!"
It was delightful to go with any friend who might be forced by crowded
hotels to seek rooms in Madame Clementine's alley. The active, tiny,
Frenchwoman, who wore a black mob-cap every-where except to mass,
had reached present prosperity through past tribulation. Many years
before she had followed a runaway husband across the sea. As she
stepped upon the dock almost destitute the first person her eyes rested
on was her husband standing well forward in the crowd, with a ham
under his arm which he was carrying home to his family. He saw
Clementine and dropped the ham to run. The same hour he took his
new wife and disappeared from the island. The doubly deserted
French-speaking woman found employment and friends; and by her
thrift was now in the way of piling up what she considered a fortune.
The man on the rock near me was no doubt one of Madame
Clementine's permanent lodgers. Tourists ranting over the island in a
single day had not his repose. He met my discovering start with a dim
smile and a bend of his head, which was bare. His features were large,
and his mouth corners had the sweet, strong expression of a noble
patience. What first impressed me seemed to be his blueness, and the
blurredness of his eyes struggling to sight as Bartimeus' eyes might
have struggled the instant before the
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