It has been raining a good deal in the past weeks and misting, but it has not interfered with my walks. I walk every day now, much more than I ever did at home, and I enjoy it very much. In the excitement of strolling through the funny, narrow, winding streets, seeing the old, curious houses and historic places, I find I forget everything. Many times now I have left the hotel and walked to the river, past the Louvre, often stopping for coffee at a sidewalk café. Or I will walk along Blvd. des Capucines to the opera. Or I will take the taxi to the Champs Elysées. Last week I hired a car and driver and drove through rural France, where no new houses seemed to have been built in centuries, where gardening is a fine art, and where the farm buildings are awful—cows, chickens, and people evidently living together. I am quite pleased with the Hotel Crystal. The franc is worth only 3.65 cents! I am paying what amounts to 60 cents of Father’s American money a day for my two rooms. At first I was kept awake by the noise of rats in the walls and ceiling, but I have since made the acquaintance of a great black cat named Georges who is entrusted with the task of keeping the vermin at bay. After a long and energetic conversation with him, I can report that the rats have ceased their infernal racket. I am grateful that you have kept my whereabouts a secret from Brent. It is sad that one should be frightened of one’s husband, but as you know, I have just cause. In any case, I shall soon make my intentions known to him. In the meantime, please write. The days between your letters seem so long and I am so lonely.
Your loving sister,
August 1, 1933
I must write to keep from exploding with joy. I have found a friend! James Dahlin. Surely you must remember him. He is the handsome son of John Dahlin, who owns the Dahlin Construction Company, that odious man who often works with Brent …
I slapped my forehead. “That’s where I heard his name before,” I said. “It was on the plaque at the Public Safety Building, the building that Brent Messer designed. John Dahlin was also a player in the O’Connor System.”
Nina stared at me for a couple of beats. When she was sure I had nothing more to say, she resumed reading.
I was so lucky to encounter him. I had taken a taxi to the Eiffel Tower, where I was sure I saw Scott Fitzgerald. I tried to reach Scott through the crush of tourists but lost him. When I turned around, there was James. Oh, what joy to have a companion to speak with after these long weeks. We had a delicious alfresco lunch at the Café du la Cascade, and later we walked together and Jim bought flowers from an old lady on the street. He is such a wonderful guide. He speaks French so well that no one asks him to repeat things or stares at him with bewilderment as they do when I attempt the language. He says he wants to spend time in Europe before devoting his life to his job, whatever that might turn out to be. When he came home from Princeton, he worked for his father, but now he says he must do something else. He did not explain why, and I did not ask. I think he is running away from home, too.
Your loving sister,
August 16, 1933