Paris: With Pen and Pencil eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Paris.
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—­a 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.”

[Illustration:  Omnibus.]


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.

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Paris: With Pen and Pencil from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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