Thoroughly worn out, as soon as I landed upon the quay I handed my keys to a commissaire, gave up my passport, and sought a bed, and was soon in my dreams tossing again upon the channel-waves. I was waked by the commissaire, who entered my room with the keys. He had passed my baggage, got a provisional passport for me, and now very politely advised me to get up and take the first train to Paris, for I had told him I wished to be in Paris as soon as possible. Giving him a good fee for his trouble, and hastily quitting the apartment and paying for it, I was very soon in the railway station. My trunks were weighed, and I bought baggage tickets to Paris—price one sou. The first class fare was twenty-seven francs, or about five dollars, the distance one hundred and seventy miles. This was cheaper than first class railway traveling in England, though somewhat dearer than American railway prices.
The first class cars were the finest I have seen in any country—very far superior to American cars, and in many respects superior to the English. They were fitted up for four persons in each compartment, and a door opened into each from the side. The seat and back were beautifully cushioned, and the arms were stuffed in like manner, so that at night the weary traveler could sleep in them with great comfort.
The price of a third class ticket from Boulogne to Paris was only three dollars, and the cars were much better than the second class in America, and I noticed that many very respectably dressed ladies and gentlemen were in them—probably for short distances. It is quite common, both in England and France, in the summer, for people of wealth to travel by rail for a short distance by the cheapest class of cars.
I entered the car an utter stranger—no one knew me, and I knew no one. The language was unintelligible, for I found that to read French in America, is not to talk French in France. I could understand no one, or at least but a word here and there.
But the journey was a very delightful one. The country we passed through was beautiful, and the little farms were in an excellent state of cultivation. Flowers bloomed everywhere. There was not quite that degree of cultivation which the traveler observes in the best parts of England, but the scenery was none the less beautiful for that. Then, too, I saw everything with a romantic enthusiasm. It was the France I had read of, dreamed of, since I was a school-boy.
A gentleman was in the apartment who could talk English, having resided long in Boulogne, which the English frequent as a watering place, and he pointed out the interesting places on our journey. At Amiens we changed cars and stopped five minutes for refreshments. I was hungry enough to draw double rations, but I felt a little fear that I should get cheated, or could not make myself understood; but as the old saw has it, “Necessity is the mother of invention,”