The Bey’s pleasure yacht was to await her at Genoa; and in anticipation, closing her eyes in the cab which was taking her to the station, she could see the white stone buildings of an Italian port embracing an iridescent sea where the sunshine was already Eastern, where everything sang, to the very swelling of the sails on the blue water. Paris, as it happened, was muddy that day, uniformly gray, flooded by one of those continuous rains of which it seems to have the special property, rains that seem to have risen in clouds from its river, from its smoke, from its monster’s breath, and to fall in torrents from its roofs, from its spouts, from the innumerable windows of its garrets. Felicia was impatient to get away from this gloomy Paris, and her feverish impatience found fault with the cabmen who made slow progress with the horses, two sorry creatures of the veritable cab-horse type, with an inexplicable block of carriages and omnibuses crowded together in the vicinity of the Pont de la Concorde.
“But go on, driver, go on, then.”
“I cannot, madame. It is the funeral procession.”
She put her head out of the window and drew it back again immediately, terrified. A line of soldiers marching with reversed arms, a confusion of caps and hats raised from the forehead at the passage of an endless cortege. It was Mora’s funeral procession defiling past.
“Don’t stop here. Go round,” she cried to the cabman.
The vehicle turned about with difficulty, dragging itself regretfully from the superb spectacle which Paris had been awaiting for four days; it remounted the avenues, took the Rue Montaigne, and, with its slow and surly little trot, came out at the Madeleine by the Boulevard Malesherbes. Here the crowd was greater, more compact.
In the misty rain, the illuminated stained-glass windows of the church, the dull echo of the funeral chants beneath the lavishly distributed black hangings under which the very outline of the Greek temple was lost, filled the whole square with a sense of the office in course of celebration, while the greater part of the immense procession was still squeezed up in the Rue Royale, and as far even as the bridges a long black line connecting the dead man with that gate of the Legislative Assembly through which he had so often passed. Beyond the Madeleine the highway of the boulevard stretched away empty, and looking bigger between two lines of soldiers with arms reversed, confining the curious to the pavements black with people, all the shops closed, and the balconies, in spite of the rain, overflowing with human beings all leaning forward in the direction of the church, as if to see a mid-Lent festival or the home-coming of victorious troops. Paris, hungry for the spectacular, constructs it indifferently out of anything, civil war as readily as the burial of a statesman.