Read The Honeyed Peace Online

Authors: Martha Gellhorn

The Honeyed Peace

The Honeyed Peace is the collective title of this selection of Martha Gellhorn's stories, which concern the search for an escape from insecurity and unrest by a wide variety of people and for a condition of contentment which seems unattainable, yet of which glimpses are occasionally seen. It is also the title of a story about post-Occupation France where the hysteria and distrust ruin the life of a woman who only wants to enjoy the peace at last. The variety of people and places, so perfectly realized by Miss Gellhorn, ranges from the scholarly German exile who finds it hard to settle in the United States to the sad love affair of a young Englishwoman who tries to find the fulfilment of her personality in Rome, by way of the comfortable suburban life made for themselves by Polish ex-soldiers in Grimsby, the man who has a psychiatrist 'of his own', and many others - all people with conflict in their lives.

'It is hard to see how stories of this Sort could be done better. They are witty, alert, believable in situation, and firm with human detail.' - Chicago Tribune





stories by



Martha Gellhorn








Martha Gellhorn was born in St Louis and educated there at the John Burroughs School and then attended Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia. She left college after her third year with the desire to write. She had several newspaper jobs in New York, before going to Europe in 1930. She worked and spent time with some 'fierce French pacifists, of various political persuasions' and with some Brownshirts in Berlin in 1933, who made a 'profound bad impression'. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in the summer of 1936, Miss Gellhorn, convinced that it was 'badly misrepresented war', went there and remained in order to write an article. As a result of this article which was published in Collier's Magazine (U.S.A.), she became the first full-time woman war correspondent. During the next nine years, Miss Gellhorn reported on wars in Europe and Asia. She has written seven other books of fiction and numerous short stories in magazines.





















'Stop, Evangeline,' said the young man, laughing, 'tell one story at a time.'

'Oh yes,' Evangeline said, and turned her famous blue eyes on the other two. Nothing that had happened showed in her eyes; they were innocent as before, improbably large, shaded always in the same way with the same blue paste, the long lashes brushed with mascara, and the feather eyebrows rising above them like pennants.

'So there it was,' Evangeline went on, recalled to order and businesslike. 'And Nini was desperate and rushed around Paris in tears and then she went to Cocteau and said, "You've got to get Gregory out, you're the only one who can. The Germans wouldn't dare to touch you and I ask you this in the name of our huge friendship, and besides any man would do it." So Jean said, well, it really was hard and where was Gregory. But Nini only went on weeping and saying, "The
sales Boches
, imagine locking up Gregory as a spy. What
they do next? " '

The Englishwoman knew this story. She had flown over from London three days ago and was staying with Evangeline, and since they had not seen each other for six years Evangeline told stories steadily, day and night, all the stories mixed together as was her custom; but this one grew clearer now, with Lucien Malier to prompt Evangeline and keep her straight. The other woman, who was wearing an American Red Cross uniform, had arrived in the middle of the story, and though she was used to Evangeline she could not yet decipher it.

'Gregory?' she said.

'Oh, you know Gregory!' Evangeline cried. 'Darling, you must remember! That
monkey of Nini's.' There was the second while this information lodged in Anne Marsh's brain and then she shouted with laughter, saying, 'Was he brought to trial?'

'You don't believe me,' Evangeline said, hurt. 'It's
what happened. They had Gregory locked up at Fontainebleau with a lot of other suspects, it seems, and Nini went out with Jean, wearing a veil, and he climbed over an enormous wall and Gregory bit him when he was carrying him out and Nini had to escape Paris because anyhow there was some talk of her being a spy herself.'

C'est trop beau
,' Lucien said, 'ça me rend
nostalgique à pleurer

The Englishwoman, Lady Elizabeth Beech, looked at him and thought, poor Lucien. She said, 'Now tell us about Madame Goering and her clothes.'

'Oh yes,' said Evangeline, speaking to Anne Marsh, the late comer, who had to be caught up on all the news. 'You wouldn't believe how wicked the vendeuses were. But, darling, she was incredible, like a huge blond cream puff or a huge blond sausage and with ten bosoms all packed together, and the vendeuses made her such flatteries as have never been heard, not even when the rich Americans used to come, and then they sold her splendid horrors. The great night was at the Opéra. I can't remember what they were doing but it must have been Wagner, and you know all the stairs at the Opéra and what curious views one gets of people, and there she was, poor Madame Goering, in a poison-blue dress, very tight, with patterns of snakes and cows and butterflies all over her in sequins but principally on her
and all her bosoms and everyone made a big point of complimenting her on her taste and how she had clothes like nobody else,
si parisienne
. Oh my goodness, it was amusing. And she
, if she could swell, poor Madame Goering, because she was so proud of being

Lucien by now had lain down on the bed, and was laughing softly and weakly to himself.

'How I have missed you,' he said. Then, without turning his head, he remarked, 'I must tell you, Liz, that Evangeline's version of the Occupation is the only sensible one.'

Now Evangeline was launched on a story of how the poor Germans gave a
fête champêtre
or what they trusted and believed would be a
fête champêtre
and everyone went
pour rigoler
, carrying scythes and wearing wooden shoes and Gabrielle de Berville put straw in her hair and covered herself, but literally covered herself, with fertilizer, giving off the most ghastly odour and everyone said to the Germans the Comtesse de Berville is the greatest French authority on
fêtes champêtres
and that rare delicious perfume she is wearing is a secret in her family, only to be used at
fêtes champêtres

Anne Marsh was watching Lucien and remembering his voice, when he told Elizabeth, or warned Elizabeth, to think well of Evangeline. Now why, she asked herself, why does he bother? Does he imagine we have grown so snobbish and righteous that we cannot understand Evangeline anymore? It was true that at this point, in the first autumn of peace, Evangeline was suitable only for a limited audience of initiates who would not expect a war to make changes.

Anne considered her neat blue uniform and the drab and almost shapeless black
Elizabeth was wearing (it was not even pure black; it had passed into that indefinite green-black which heralds the end), and she realized how horribly efficient their clothes were. But Evangeline, returning from exile to another harsher exile, looked as if time had stood still. She wore her dark red hair high on her head, as she had these last ten years (did she start that style?), and her dress was what every woman wanted, the sleek, delicately and intricately cut, entirely simple black sheath. Evangeline had tied about her throat three tight strands of pearls and clear round emerald beads, and her nails were long and the same cherry pink as her mouth. Anne thought: I will never look like that again, I have lost it. But Evangeline had always looked like this. However the fashion was, Evangeline slightly preceded and improved on it. Anne thought, with brief resentment, I wish I hadn't lost it. It is something a woman needs.

The room was the same, too. For some reason, one always sat in this room, though it was where Evangeline and Renaud slept, and before the war people were not so accustomed to meeting in bedrooms. The bed, large and entirely square, was covered by a grey short-napped fur spread. There were low tables and large low lamps, bookshelves, great chairs, and nothing that would make you think it was a bedroom, except the bed which had become, with habit, a vast couch, where people sprawled, laughed, argued, and gossiped. Anne had never been able to imagine Evangeline and Renaud in bed together, neither sleeping, talking, reading, nor making love. This was a public room.

It was much colder than before, with the central heating unfed throughout Paris, and the one small electric heater burning dimly on the reduced current. The rest of the apartment, as satin and gloomy and grey as this, was dark and freezing. One felt that Evangeline would disappear into it, giving off a whimper of loneliness, now that Renaud was gone. It was Renaud who filled the other rooms, with his lunches and dinners when so many people came and all paid homage to Renaud's certainties, with the worshipful secretaries bustling in the office, the appalling politicians murmuring deals in the rigid salons. What does she do at night, Anne wondered; sit here and forget the other rooms which were Renaud's territory? What did she do without Renaud, since she had made him her whole life for almost twenty years? Though personally, Anne thought, I would be so relieved to be free of Renaud for a bit that his being in gaol would seem a gift.

'I'm late,' Anne said suddenly. She was having dinner with one of the never-ending captains; he happened to be a Pole. He would talk to her about women and love and Russia and his regiment, and be charming, and she would like him not for herself but because of what he had done in that other life, the war. She had heard more about women and love in the last three years, from the men of the Allied nations, than she could equably endure. And she was tired of talking about Russia and also about regiments.

'But you can't go,' Evangeline said, 'you haven't told us anything. You arrive, very mysterious and military, and far the chic-est woman in Paris, and then you depart. What are you doing? Where did you come from?'

'Berlin, darling. On leave. Going back to Berlin. And I do the same thing always: I dispense doughnuts and listen.'

'You see,' Evangeline said to the other two, 'how she is. Always the same. Beautiful and disabused. Dear Anne. You are the only authentic glamour girl.'

,' said Anne.

Lucien told Evangeline to leave Anne alone, no woman wearing a Mainbocher dress had the right to tease another locked into a uniform, and furthermore he had to go too. 'Until tomorrow,' he said and they left despite Evangeline's protests. There was a flicker of panic in Evangeline's eyes, for now everyone was going and the night would start.

'We will make ourselves a delectable boiled egg,' she was saying to Elizabeth Beech, as Anne Marsh and Lucien Malier went down the ill-lit, never very clean marble stairs. 'And we will dress for it. You will wear my sumptuous Balenciaga with the bullfighter's jacket. That emerald lining will be too lovely, darling. And I shall wear draperies, many draperies, the purple ones, and float over the egg ...'

Lucien held on to the banister and walked carefully down the stairs. Anne had noticed his limp when first she saw him in Paris a year ago at the beginning of the last long cold winter of the war. She had not asked him what this new limp was, because one asked nothing in Paris in those days. There was a terrible discretion between friends, after the years of separation, and not knowing what the friends had thought or done, or where they had been. But Larrive, in whose studio she met Lucien, told her that Lucien's right leg was useless as a result of one of the various tortures practised by the Gestapo. Lucien had been very good during the war and very important, and now he walked badly and, as total reward, ate little and ran that dank art gallery in the rue Jacob.

Anne Marsh was long since accustomed to the fact that heroes rarely looked like heroes; and yet, perhaps Lucien did suit the role, with that thin and nervous face, the, to her, unattractive delicacy of his bones, his grey guarded eyes. She could imagine Lucien would keep secrets; she had not imagined he would be brave for he did not seem to have enough blood to feed bravery. They had spoken, that first time, of Evangeline. Lucien would rather speak of Evangeline than of anything else. Anne was glad to have Lucien safely ticketed in her mind. It had been very awkward, a year ago, to be received so warmly by acquaintances who had been equally cordial in their reception of the Germans.

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