with a thick ladle, looking much larger than it really
is, the contents of the bowl before her. These
contents are an enormous quantity of thick brown liquid,
in the midst of which swim numerous islands of vegetable
matter and a few pieces of meat. Meanwhile, a
damsel, hideously ugly—but whose ugliness
is in part concealed by a neat, trim cap—makes
the tour of the room with a box of tickets, grown
black by use, and numbered from one to whatever number
may be that of the company. Each of them gives
four sous to this Hebe of the place, accompanying
the action with an amorous look, which is both the
habit and the duty of every Frenchman when he has
anything to do with the opposite sex, and which is
not always a matter of course, for Marie has her admirers,
and has been the cause of more than one rixe
in the Rue des Anglais. The tickets distributed,
up rises number one—with a joke got ready
for the occasion, and a look of earnest anxiety, as
if he were going to throw for a kingdom—takes
the ladle, plunges it into the bowl, and transfers
whatever it brings up to his basin. It is contrary
to the rules for any man to hesitate when he has once
made his plunge, though he has a perfect right to take
his time in a previous survey of the ocean
privilege of which he always avails himself.
If he brings up one of the pieces of meat, the glisten
of his eye and the applauding murmur which goes round
the assembly give him a momentary exultation, which
it is difficult to conceive by those who have not
witnessed it. In this the spirit of successful
gambling is, beyond all doubt, the uppermost feeling;
it mixes itself up with everything done by that class
of society, and is the main reason of the popularity
of these places with their habitues
; for when
the customers have once acquired the habit, they rarely
go anywhere else.”
A WALK AND GOSSIP.
One of my first days in Paris I sauntered out to find
some American newspapers, that I might know something
of what had transpired in America for weeks previous.
I directed my steps to the office of Messrs. Livingston,
Wells & Co., where I had been informed a reading-room
was always kept open for the use of American strangers
in Paris. The morning was a delightful one, and
I could but contrast it with the usual weather of
London. During months of residence in the English
metropolis I had seen no atmosphere like this, and
my spirits, like the sky, were clear and bright.
On my way I saw a novel sight, and to me the first
intimation that the people of Paris, so widely famed
for their politeness, refinement, and civilization,
are yet addicted to certain practices for which the
wildest barbarian in the far west would blush.
I saw men in open day, in the open walk, which was
crowded with women as well as men, commit nuisances
of a kind I need not particularize but which seemed
to excite neither wonder nor disgust in the by-passers.
Indeed I saw they were quite accustomed to such sights,
and their nonchalance was only equaled by that of
the well-dressed gentlemen who were the guilty parties.
I very soon learned more of Paris, and found that
not in this matter alone were its citizens deficient
in refinement, but in still weightier matters.