When the bell rang, we all cleared out from the track, and I happened to get a position by the railing. I was looking over to the Pavilion, where I supposed the Emperor to be, when the man next to me cried, “Voila!” and, looking up, two horses brushed right by my face, of which I saw about two tails and one neck, and they were gone. Pretty soon they came round again, and one was ahead, as is apt to be the case; and somebody cried, “Bully for Therise!” or French to that effect, and it was all over. Then we rushed across to the Emperor’s Pavilion, except that I walked with all the dignity consistent with rapidity, and there, in the midst of his suite, sat the Man of December, a stout, broad, and heavy-faced man as you know, but a man who impresses one with a sense of force and purpose,—sat, as I say, and looked at us through his narrow, half-shut eyes, till he was satisfied that I had got his features through my glass, when he deliberately arose and went in.
All Paris was out that day,—it is always out, by the way, when the sun shines, and in whatever part of the city you happen to be; and it seemed to me there was a special throng clear down to the gate of the Tuileries, to see the Emperor and the rest of us come home. He went round by the Rue Rivoli, but I walked through the gardens. The soldiers from Africa sat by the gilded portals, as usual,—aliens, and yet always with the port of conquerors here in Paris. Their nonchalant indifference and soldierly bearing always remind me of the sort of force the Emperor has at hand to secure his throne. I think the blouses must look askance at these satraps of the desert. The single jet fountain in the basin was springing its highest,—a quivering pillar of water to match the stone shaft of Egypt which stands close by. The sun illuminated it, and threw a rainbow from it a hundred feet long, upon the white and green dome of chestnut-trees near. When I was farther down the avenue, I had the dancing column of water, the obelisk, and the Arch of Triumph all in line, and the rosy sunset beyond.
The Prince and Princess of Wales came up to Paris in the beginning of May, from Italy, Egypt, and alongshore, stayed at a hotel on the Place Vendome, where they can get beef that is not horse, and is rare, and beer brewed in the royal dominions, and have been entertained with cordiality by the Emperor. Among the spectacles which he has shown them is one calculated to give them an idea of his peaceful intentions,-a grand review of cavalry and artillery at the Bois de Boulogne. It always seems to me a curious comment upon the state of our modern civilization, when one prince visits another here in Europe, the first thing that the visited does, by way of hospitality is to get out his troops, and show his rival how easily he could “lick” him, if it came to that.
It is a little puerile. At any rate, it is an advance upon the old fashion of getting up a joust at arms, and inviting the guest to come out and have his head cracked in a friendly way.