I have found my voice again and the art of using it, and the right vocabulary for the occasion

face of a woman

What are you giving me? Another myself? There is no other myself.

“But,” I finally say to Salomon, “I don’t want to put six hundred francs in your fat purse. Ten percent, all said and done, is sheer murder.”

I have found my voice again and the art of using it, and the right vocabulary for the occasion. Salomon turns the color of his hair, brick-red; even his shirty eyes go bloodshot, but from his full, pleasant mouth pours a flood of almost amorous supplications.

“My darling, my pet, don’t start saying silly things. I’ve been working at your itinerary for a month now, a whole month. Ask Brague! For a month I’ve been wearing myself out to find first-class houses for you, absolutely first-class. And posters like… like Madame Otero, think of it! And that’s the way you thank me! Haven’t you got a heart? Ten percent? Why it’s twelve, not ten, have you ought to give me, d’you hear?”

“Yes, I hear. But I don’t want to put six hundred francs in your fat purse. You aren’t worth such a sum.”

by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954)
from The Vagabond (1910)
Chapter 5
image – lepiaf.geo

Vagabond? Maybe. Lady? You have to ask? And does it matter?

This photo was one of the results from a Flickr search for [strong woman.] She has that look. She could smile at our transgressions, or put us in our place – and which way she goes will be her choice. She will know what to do, not because she’s never questioned herself or made mistakes, but because she has, and then gone further. She knows what it is to fall on one’s tooshie and get a good laugh about the view from down there, and she’s pretty good about getting up again, too. As a hostess, her grace is our grace. As an adversary, her grace can become as much of a wall as needed. Eventually. To start with there is just life, just a woman making her way.

The Vagabond is the story of a woman in her 30’s, supporting herself after a bad marriage. Like Colette, the main character Renee is a dance-hall artist, craving the happiness of love, but loving her unfolding independence more. As “Renee” said to a man she once wanted to love, “What are you giving me? Another myself? There is no other myself.”

In honor of Colette’s birthday, I shared two excerpts from her work yesterday, and here’s a third. This will be the last Colette quote I’ll share with you for a while.

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