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THE M ERCUREDEFRANCE : VALLETTE, RACHILDE, GOURMONT AND SCHWOB

In the early afternoon o f Friday, 24 August 1894, Paul happened to be walking by the Cafe Mahieu. Among the people sitting at tables outside he glimpsed a face that was familiar: the Mongolian mask, piggy eyes and wispy beard of Verlaine, a syphilitic hulk slouched over his absinthe. At a florist’s nearby he bought a bunch o f violets and sent an errand boy over to give them to Verlaine. Then he stood on the other side o f the street to see what happened. The poet raised the violets to his nose and smelt their scent. He looked in puzzlement to right and left, trying to discover who had paid him this unexpected tribute. Paul went on his way, delighted with his gesture.