Yes, the fog was cold, but white as snow mist; and, filling the air outside the glasses of the large brougham, it brightened with soft gleams the unfolded newspaper in the doctor’s hands. Over yonder, in the populous quarters, confined and gloomy, in the Paris of tradesman and mechanic, that charming morning haze which lingers in the great thoroughfares is not known. The bustle of awakening, the going and coming of the market-carts, of the omnibuses, of the heavy trucks rattling their old iron, have early and quickly cut it up, unravelled and scattered it. Every passer-by carries away a little of it in a threadbare overcoat, a muffler which shows the woof, and coarse gloves rubbed one against the other. It soaks through the thin blouses, and the mackintoshes thrown over the working skirts; it melts away at every breath that is drawn, warm from sleeplessness or alcohol; it is engulfed in the depths of empty stomachs, dispersed in the shops as they are opened, and the dark courts, or even to the fireless attics. That is the reason why there remains so little of it out of doors. But in that spacious and grandiose region of Paris, which was inhabited by Jenkins’s clients, on those wide boulevards planted with trees, and those deserted quays, the fog hovered without a stain, like so many sheets, with waverings and cotton wool-like flakes. The effect was of a place inclosed, secret, almost sumptuous, as the sun after his slothful rising began to diffuse softly crimsoned tints, which gave to the mist enshrouding the rows of houses to their summits the appearance of white muslin thrown over some scarlet material. One might have fancied it a great curtain beneath which nothing could be heard save the cautious closing of some court-yard gate, the tin measuring-cans of the milkmen, the little bells of a herd of she-asses passing at a quick trot followed by the short and panting breath of their shepherd, and the dull rumble of Jenkins’s brougham commencing its daily round.
First, to Mora House. This was a magnificent palace on the Quai d’Orsay, next door to the Spanish embassy, whose long terraces succeeded its own, having its principal entrance in the Rue de Lille, and a door upon the side next the river. Between two lofty walls overgrown with ivy, and united by imposing vaulted arches, the brougham shot in, announced by two strokes of a sonorous bell which roused Jenkins from the reverie into which the reading of his newspaper seemed to have plunged him. Then the noise of the wheels became deadened on the sand of a vast court-yard, and they drew up, after describing an elegant curve, before the steps of the mansion, which were surrounded by a large circular awning. In the obscurity of the fog, a dozen carriages could be seen ranged in line, and along an avenue of acacias, quite withered at that season and leafless in their bark, the profiles of English grooms leading out the saddle-horses of the duke for their exercise. Everything revealed a luxury thought-out, settled, grandiose, and assured.