Cradle Song

Edouard Manet. Berthe Morisot Resting, 1873. 26x34 cm. Musee Marmottan, Paris.

On Tuesday night when Monsieur and Madame are gone, Julie is fussing so I walk the whole house with her and stop in the parlor in front of the small painting of Madame. "See, Julie?" I bounce her in front of it as I often do. "There's your maman." She quiets down.

In the painting Madame's eyes are large and dark and full of feeling. She is looking out with an open look. At whom? The person painting her? She is wearing a black bow around her neck, and her black dress has a low, lacy neckline. Men would like it. She is beautiful. She's almost lying on a sofa in an inviting way, but her face is calm. The painting has been cut off just below her waist so I can't be sure where her feet would have been. Until now I never noticed the writing at the top corner. I study it and go to the painting of the violets with the note and the fan, and then come back again. The letters are the same shapes.

Edouard, not Eugène, painted both of them.

A shock ripples through me.

She lay like this for him. That isn't one of the sofas in the house. She went somewhere else and lay like that. I shiver at the thought. How horrible for Monsieur Eugène to have that painting in his house. How can I look at him, knowing why she's gay and talkative when his brother comes to the house...