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Europe Revised by Irvin S. Cobb

Part 3 out of 5

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A regular conspiracy was organized by M. Dauchis, it is alleged,
in order to secure the stag Prince Murat and Comte de Valon were
hunting in the forest of La Neuville-en-Hetz. Already, at the
outset of the hunt, M. Dauchis, according to Le Figaro, charged
at a huntsman with a little automobile in which he was driving and
threatened to fire. Then when the stag ran into the wood, near
the Trye River, one of his keepers shot it. In great haste the
animal was loaded on another automobile; and before either the
prince or Comte de Valon could interfere it was driven away.

While Comte de Valon spurred his horse in pursuit Prince Murat
disarmed the man who had shot the stag, for he was leveling his
gun at another huntsman; but before the gun was wrenched from his
hands he had struck Prince d'Essling, Prince Murat's uncle, across
the face with the butt.

Meantime Comte de Valon had overtaken the automobile and, though
threatened with revolvers by its occupants, would have recaptured
the stag if the men in charge of it had not taken it into the house
of M. Dauchis' father.

The only course left for Prince Murat and Comte de Valon was to
lodge a complaint with the police for assault and for killing the
stag, which M. Dauchis refused to give back.

From this you may see how very much more exciting stag hunting is
in France than in America. Comparing the two systems we find but
one point of resemblance--namely, the attempted shooting of a
huntsman. In the North Woods we do a good deal of that sort of
thing: however with us it is not yet customary to charge the
prospective victim in a little automobile--that may come in time.
Our best bags are made by the stalking or still-hunting method.
Our city-raised sportsman slips up on his guide and pots him from
a rest.

But consider the rest of the description so graphically set forth
by Le Figaro--the intriguing of the mayor; the opposing groups
rampaging round, some on horseback and some in automobile runabouts;
the intense disappointment of the highborn Prince Murat and his
uncle, the Prince d'Essling, and his friend, the Comte de Valon;
the implied grief of the stag at being stricken down by other than
noble hands; the action of the base-born commoner, who shot the
stag, in striking the Prince d'Essling across his pained and
aristocratic face with the butt--exact type of butt and name of
owner not being given. Only in its failure to clear up this
important point, and in omitting to give descriptions of the
costumes worn by the two princes and the comte, is Le Figaro's
story lacking. They must have been wearing the very latest creations

This last brings us back again to the subject of clothes and serves
to remind me that, contrary to a belief prevalent on this side of
the water, good clothes cost as much abroad as they cost here.
In England a man may buy gloves and certain substantial articles
of haberdashery in silk and linen and wool at a much lower figure
than in America; and in Italy he will find crocheted handbags and
bead necklaces are to be had cheaper than at home--provided, of
course, he cares for such things as crocheted handbags and bead
necklaces. Handmade laces and embroideries and sundry other
feminine fripperies, so women tell me, are moderately priced on
the Continent, if so be the tourist-purchaser steers clear of the
more fashionable shops and chases the elusive bargain down a back
street; but, quality considered, other things cost as much in
Europe as they cost here--and frequently they cost more. If you
buy at the shopkeeper's first price he has a secret contempt for
you; if you haggle him down to a reasonably fair valuation--say
about twice the amount a native would pay for the same thing--he
has a half-concealed contempt for you; if you refuse to trade at
any price he has an open contempt for you; and in any event he
dislikes you because you are an American. So there you are. No
matter how the transaction turns out you have his contempt; it is
the only thing he parts with at cost.

It is true that you may buy a suit of clothes for ten dollars in
London; so also may you buy a suit of clothes for ten dollars in
any American city, but the reasonably affluent American doesn't
buy ten-dollar suits at home. He saves himself up to indulge in
that form of idiocy abroad. In Paris or Rome you may get a
five-course dinner with wine for forty cents; so you may in certain
quarters of New York; but in either place the man who can afford
to pay more for his dinner will find it to his ultimate well-being
to do so. Simply because a boarding house in France or Italy is
known as a pension doesn't keep it from being a boarding house
--and a pretty average bad one, as I have been informed by misguided
Americans who tried living at a pension, and afterwards put in a
good deal of their spare time regretting it.

Altogether, looking back on my own experiences, I can at this time
of writing think of but two common commodities which, when grade
is taken into the equation, are found to be radically cheaper in
Europe than in America--these two things being taxicabs and counts.
For their cleanliness and smartness of aspect, and their reasonableness
of meter-fare, taxicabs all over Europe are a constant joy to the
traveling American. And, though in the United States counts are
so costly that only the marriageable daughters of the very wealthy
may afford to buy them--and even then, as the count calendars
attest, have the utmost difficulty in keeping them after they are
bought--in Continental Europe anywhere one may for a moderate price
hire a true-born count to do almost any small job, from guiding
one through an art gallery to waiting on one at the table. Counts
make indifferent guides, but are middling fair waiters.

Outside of the counts and the taxicabs, and the food in Germany,
I found in all Europe just one real overpowering bargain--and that
was in Naples, where, as a general thing, bargains are not what
they seem. For the exceedingly moderate outlay of one lira--Italian
--or twenty cents--American--I secured this combination, to wit, as

In the background old Vesuvius, like a wicked, fallen angel, wearing
his plumy, fumy halo of sulphurous hell-smoke; in the middle
distance the Bay of Naples, each larcenous wave-crest in it
triple-plated with silvern glory pilfered from a splendid moon;
on the left the riding lights of a visiting squadron of American
warships; on the right the myriad slanted sails of the coral-fishers'
boats, beating out toward Capri, with the curlew-calls of the
fishermen floating back in shrill snatches to meet a jangle of
bell and bugle from the fleet; in the immediate foreground a
competent and accomplished family troupe of six Neapolitan troubadours
--men, women and children--some of them playing guitars and all
six of them, with fine mellow voices and tremendous dramatic effect,
singing--the words being Italian but the air good American--John
Brown's Body Lies a-Moldering in the Grave!

I defy you to get more than that for twenty cents anywhere in the

Chapter XII

Night Life--with the Life Part Missing

In our consideration of this topic we come first to the night life
of the English. They have none.

Passing along to the next subject under the same heading, which
is the night life of Paris, we find here so much night life, of
such a delightfully transparent and counterfeit character; so much
made-to-measure deviltry; so many members of the Madcaps' Union
engaged on piece-work; so much delicious, hoydenish derring-do,
all carefully stage-managed and expertly timed for the benefit of
North and South American spenders, to the end that the deliriousness
shall abate automatically in exact proportion as the spenders quit
spending--in short, so much of what is typically Parisian that,
really Paris, on its merits, is entitled to a couple of chapters
of its own.

All of which naturally brings us to the two remaining great cities
of Mid-Europe--Berlin and Vienna--and leads us to the inevitable
conclusion that the Europeans, in common with all other peoples
on the earth, only succeed--when they try to be desperately wicked
--in being desperately dull; whereas when they seek their pleasures
in a natural manner they present racial slants and angles that are
very interesting to observe and very pleasant to have a hand in.

Take the Germans now: No less astute a world traveler than Samuel
G. Blythe is sponsor for the assertion that the Berliners follow
the night-life route because the Kaiser found his capital did not
attract the tourist types to the extent he had hoped, and so decreed
that his faithful and devoted subjects, leaving their cozy hearths
and inglenooks, should go forth at the hour when graveyards yawn
--and who could blame them?--to spend the dragging time until dawn
in being merry and bright. So saying His Majesty went to bed,
leaving them to work while he slept.

After viewing the situation at first hand the present writer is
of the opinion that Mr. Blythe was quite right in his statements.
Certainly nothing is more soothing to the eye of the onlooker,
nothing more restful to his soul, than to behold a group of Germans
enjoying themselves in a normal manner. And absolutely nothing
is quite so ghastly sad as the sight of those same well-flushed,
well-fleshed Germans cavorting about between the hours of two and
four-thirty A.M., trying, with all the pachydermic ponderosity of
Barnum's Elephant Quadrille, to be professionally gay and cutuppish.
The Prussians must love their Kaiser dearly. We sit up with our
friends when they are dead; they stay up for him until they are
ready to die themselves.

As is well known Berlin abounds in pleasure palaces, so called.
Enormous places these are, where under one widespreading roof are
three or four separate restaurants of augmented size, not to mention
winecellars and beer-caves below-stairs, and a dancehall or so and
a Turkish bath, and a bar, and a skating rink, and a concert hall
--and any number of private dining rooms. The German mind invariably
associates size with enjoyment.

To these establishments, after his regular dinner, the Berliner
repairs with his family, his friend or his guest. There is one
especially popular resort, a combination of restaurant and vaudeville
theater, at which one eats an excellent dinner excellently served,
and between courses witnesses the turns of a first-rate variety
bill, always with the inevitable team of American coon shouters,
either in fast colors or of the burnt-cork variety, sandwiched
into the program somewhere.

In the Friedrichstrasse there is another place, called the
Admiralspalast, which is even more attractive. Here, inclosing a
big, oval-shaped ice arena, balcony after balcony rises circling
to the roof. On one of these balconies you sit, and while you
dine and after you have dined you look down on a most marvelous
series of skating stunts. In rapid and bewildering succession
there are ballets on skates, solo skating numbers, skating carnivals
and skating races. Finally scenery is slid in on runners and the
whole company, in costumes grotesque and beautiful, go through a
burlesque that keeps you laughing when you are not applauding, and
admiring when you are doing neither; while alternating lightwaves
from overhead electric devices flood the picture with shifting,
shimmering tides of color. It is like seeing a Christmas pantomime
under an aurora borealis. In America we could not do these things
--at least we never have done them. Either the performance would
be poor or the provender would be highly expensive, or both. But
here the show is wonderful, and the victuals are good and not
extravagantly priced, and everybody has a bully time.

At eleven-thirty or thereabout the show at the ice palace is over
--concluding with a push-ball match between teams of husky maidens
who were apparently born on skates and raised on skates, and would
not feel natural unless they were curveting about on skates. Their
skates seem as much a part of them as tails to mermaids. It is
bedtime now for sane folks, but at this moment a certain madness
which does not at all fit in with the true German temperament
descends on the crowd. Some go upstairs to another part of the
building, where there is a dancehall called the Admiralskasino;
but, to the truly swagger, one should hasten to the Palais du Danse
on the second floor of the big Metropolpalast in the Behrenstrasse.
This place opens promptly at midnight and closes promptly at two
o'clock in the morning.

Inasmuch as the Palais du Danse is an institution borrowed outright
from the French they have adopted a typically French custom here.
As the visitor enters--if he be a stranger--a flunky in gorgeous
livery intercepts him and demands an entrance fee amounting to
about a dollar and a quarter in our money, as I recall. This
tariff the American or Englishman pays, but the practiced Berliner
merely suggests to the doorkeeper the expediency of his taking a
long running start and jumping off into space, and stalks defiantly
in without forking over a single pfennig to any person whatsoever.

The Palais du Danse is incomparably the most beautiful ballroom
in the world--so people who have been all over the world agree
--and it is spotlessly clean and free from brackish smells, which
is more than can be said of any French establishment of similar
character I have seen. At the Palais du Danse the patron sits at
a table--a table with something on it besides a cloth being an
essential adjunct to complete enjoyment of an evening of German
revelry; and as he sits and drinks he listens to the playing of a
splendid band and looks on at the dancing. Nothing is drunk except
wine--and by wine I mainly mean champagne of the most sweetish
and sickish brand obtainable. Elsewhere, for one-twentieth the
cost, the German could have the best and purest beer that is made;
but he is out now for the big night. Accordingly he saturates his
tissues with the sugary bubble-water of France. He does not join
in the dancing himself. The men dancers are nearly all paid
dancers, I think, and the beautifully clad women who dance are
either professionals, too, or else belong to a profession that is
older even than dancing is. They all dance with a profound German
gravity and precision. Here is music to set a wooden leg a-jigging;
but these couples circle and glide and dip with an incomprehensible
decorum and slowness.

When we were there, they were dancing the tango or one of its
manifold variations. All Europe, like all America, was, for the
moment, tango mad. While we were in Paris, M. Jean Richepin
lectured before the Forty Immortals of the Five Academies assembled
in solemn conclave at the Institute of France. They are called
the Forty Immortals because nobody can remember the names of more
than five of them. He took for his subject the tango--his motto,
in short, being one borrowed from the conductors in the New York
subway--"Mind your step!"

While he spoke, which was for an hour or more, the bebadged and
beribboned bosoms of his illustrious compatriots heaved with
emotion; their faces--or such parts of their faces as were visible
above the whiskerline--flushed with enthusiasm, and most vociferously
they applauded his masterly phrasing and his tracing-out of the
evolution of the tango, all the way from its Genesis, as it were,
to its Revelation. I judge the revelation particularly appealed
to them--that part of it appeals to so many.

After that the tango seemed literally to trail us. We could not
escape it. While we were in Berlin the emperor saw fit officially
to forbid the dancing of the tango by officers of his navy and
army. We reached England just after the vogue for tango teas

Naturally we went to one of these affairs. It took place at a
theater. Such is the English way of interpreting the poetry of
motion--to hire some one else to do it for you, and--in order to
get the worth of your money--sit and swizzle tea while the paid
performer is doing it. At the tango tea we patronized the tea was
up to standard, but the dancing of the box-ankled professionals
was a disappointment. Beforehand I had been told that the scene
on the stage would be a veritable picture. And so it was--Rosa
Bonheur's Horse Fair.

As a matter of fact the best dancer I saw in Europe was a performing
trick pony in a winter circus in Berlin. I also remember with
distinctness of detail a chorusman who took part in a new Lehar
opera, there in Berlin. I do not remember him for his dancing,
because he was no clumsier of foot than his compatriots in the
chorus rank and file; or for his singing, since I could not pick
his voice out from the combined voices of the others. I remember
him because be wore spectacles--not a monocle nor yet a pair of
nose-glasses, but heavy-rimmed, double-lensed German spectacles
with gold bows extending up behind his ears like the roots of an
old-fashioned wisdom tooth.

Come to think about it, I know of no reason why a chorusman should
not wear spectacles if he needs them in his business or if he
thinks they will add to his native beauty; but the spectacle of
that bolster-built youth, dressed now as a Spanish cavalier and
now as a Venetian gondolier, prancing about, with his spectacles
goggling owlishly out at the audience, and once in a while, when
a gleam from the footlights caught on them, turning to two red-hot
disks set in the middle of his face, was a thing that is going to
linger in my memory when a lot of more important matters are
entirely forgotten.

Not even in Paris did the tango experts compare with the tango
experts one sees in America. At this juncture I pause a moment,
giving opportunity for some carping critic to rise and call my
attention to the fact that perhaps the most distinguished of the
early school of turkey-trotters bears a French name and came to
us from Paris. To which I reply that so he does and so he did;
but I add then the counter-argument that he came to us by way of
Paris, at the conclusion of a round trip that started in the old
Fourth Ward of the Borough of Manhattan, city of Greater New York;
for he was born and bred on the East Side--and, moreover, was born
bearing the name of a race of kings famous in the south of Ireland
and along the Bowery. And he learned his art--not only the rudiments
of it but the final finished polish of it--in the dancehalls of
Third Avenue, where the best slow-time dancers on earth come from.
It was after he had acquired a French accent and had Gallicized
his name, thereby causing a general turning-over of old settlers
in the graveyards of the County Clare, that he returned to us, a
conspicuous figure in the world of art and fashion, and was able
to get twenty-five dollars an hour for teaching the sons and
daughters of our richest families to trip the light tanfastic go.
At the same time, be it understood, I am not here to muckrake the
past of one so prominent and affluent in the most honored and
lucrative of modern professions; but facts are facts, and these
particular facts are quoted here to bind and buttress my claim
that the best dancers are the American dancers.

After this digression let us hurry right back to that loyal Berliner
whom we left seated in the Palais du Danse on the Behrenstrasse,
waiting for the hour of two in the morning to come. The hour of
two in the morning does come; the lights die down; the dancers
pick up their heavy feet--it takes an effort to pick up those
Continental feet--and quit the waxen floor; the Oberkellner comes
round with his gold chain of office dangling on his breast and
collects for the wine, and our German friend, politely inhaling
his yawns, gets up and goes elsewhere to finish his good time.
And, goldarn it, how he does dread it! Yet he goes, faithful soul
that he is.

He goes, let us say, to the Pavilion Mascotte--no dancing, but
plenty of drinking and music and food--which opens at two and stays
open until four, when it shuts up shop in order that another place
in the nature of a cabaret may open. And so, between five and six
o'clock in the morning of the new day, when the lady garbagemen
and the gentlemen chambermaids of the German capital are abroad
on their several duties, he journeys homeward, and so, as Mr. Pepys
says, to bed, with nothing disagreeable to look forward to except
repeating the same dose all over again the coming night. This
sort of thing would kill anybody except a Prussian--for, mark you,
between intervals of drinking he has been eating all night; but
then a Prussian has no digestion. He merely has gross tonnage in
the place where his digestive apparatus ought to be.

The time to see a German enjoying himself is when he is following
his own bent and not obeying the imperial edict of his gracious
sovereign. I had a most excellent opportunity of observing him
while engaged in his own private pursuits of pleasure when by
chance one evening, in the course of a solitary prowl, I bumped
into a sort of Berlinesque version of Coney Island, with the island
part missing. It was not out in the suburbs where one would
naturally expect to find such a resort. It was in the very middle
of the city, just round the corner from the cafe district, not
more than half a mile, as the Blutwurst flies, from Unter den
Linden. Even at this distance and after a considerable lapse of
time I can still appreciate that place, though I cannot pronounce
it; for it had a name consisting of one of those long German
compound words that run all the way round a fellow's face and lap
over at the back, like a clergyman's collar, and it had also a
subname that no living person could hope to utter unless he had a
thorough German education and throat trouble. You meet such nouns
frequently in Germany. They are not meant to be spoken; you gargle
them. To speak the full name of this park would require two
able-bodied persons--one to start it off and carry it along until
his larynx gave out, and the other to take it up at that point and
finish it.

But for all the nine-jointed impressiveness of its title this park
was a live, brisk little park full of sideshow tents sheltering
mildly amusing, faked-up attractions, with painted banners flapping
in the air and barkers spieling before the entrances and all the
ballyhoos going at full blast--altogether a creditable imitation
of a street fair as witnessed in any American town that has a good
live Elks' Lodge in it.

Plainly the place was popular. Germans of all conditions and all
ages and all sizes--but mainly the broader lasts--were winding
about in thick streams in the narrow, crooked alleys formed by the
various tents. They packed themselves in front of each booth where
a free exhibition was going on, and when the free part was over
and the regular performance began they struggled good-naturedly
to pay the admission fee and enter in at the door.

And, for a price, there were freaks to be seen who properly belonged
on our side of the water, it seemed to me. I had always supposed
them to be exclusively domestic articles until I encountered them
here. There was a regular Bosco--a genuine Herr He Alive Them
Eats--sitting in his canvas den entirely surrounded by a choice
and tasty selection of eating snakes. The orthodox tattooed man
was there, too, first standing up to display the text and accompanying
illustrations on his front cover, and then turning round so the
crowd might read what he said on the other side. And there was
many another familiar freak introduced to our fathers by Old Dan
Rice and to us, their children, through the good offices of Daniel's
long and noble line of successors.

A seasonable Sunday is a fine time; and the big Zoological Garden,
which is a favorite place for studying the Berlin populace at the
diversions they prefer when left to their own devices. At one
table will be a cluster of students, with their queer little
pill-box caps of all colors, their close-cropped heads and well-shaved
necks, and their saber-scarred faces. At the next table half a
dozen spectacled, long-coated men, who look as though they might
be university professors, are confabbing earnestly. And at the
next table and the next and the next--and so on, until the aggregate
runs into big figures--are family groups--grandsires, fathers,
mothers, aunts, uncles and children, on down to the babies in arms.
By the uncountable thousands they spend the afternoon here, munching
sausages and sipping lager, and enjoying the excellent music that
is invariably provided. At each plate there is a beer mug, for
everybody is forever drinking and nobody is ever drunk. You see
a lot of this sort of thing, not only in the parks and gardens so
numerous in and near any German city but anywhere on the Continent.
Seeing it helps an American to understand a main difference between
the American Sabbath and the European Sunday. We keep it and they
spend it.

I am given to understand that Vienna night life is the most alluring,
the most abandoned, the most wicked and the wildest of all night
life. Probably this is so--certainly it is the most cloistered
and the most inaccessible. The Viennese does not deliberately
exploit his night life to prove to all the world that he is a gay
dog and will not go home until morning though it kill him--as the
German does. Neither does he maintain it for the sake of the coin
to be extracted from the pockets of the tourist, as do the Parisians.
With him his night life is a thing he has created and which he
supports for his own enjoyment.

And so it goes on--not out in the open; not press-agented; not
advertised; but behind closed doors. He does not care for the
stranger's presence, nor does he suffer it either--unless the
stranger is properly vouched for. The best theaters in Vienna are
small, exclusive affairs, privately supported, and with seating
capacity for a few chosen patrons. Once he has quit the public
cafe with its fine music and its bad waiters the uninitiated
traveler has a pretty lonesome time of it in Vienna. Until all
hours he may roam the principal streets seeking that fillip of
wickedness which will give zest to life and provide him with
something to brag about when he gets back among the home folks
again. He does not find it. Charades would provide a much more
exciting means of spending the evening; and, in comparison with
the sights he witnesses, anagrams and acrostics are positively

He is tantalized by the knowledge that all about him there are big
doings, but, so far as he is concerned, he might just as well be
attending a Sunday-school cantata. Unless he be suitably introduced
he will have never a chance to shake a foot with anybody or buy a
drink for somebody in the inner circles of Viennese night life.
He is emphatically on the outside, denied even the poor satisfaction
of looking in. At that I have a suspicion, born of casual observation
among other races, that the Viennese really has a better time when
he is not trying than when he is trying.

Chapter XIII

Our Friend, the Assassin

No taste of the night life of Paris is regarded as complete without
a visit to an Apache resort at the fag-end of it. For orderly and
law-abiding people the disorderly and lawbreaking people always
have an immense fascination anyhow. The average person, though
inclined to blink at whatever prevalence of the criminal classes
may exist in his own community, desires above all things to know
at firsthand about the criminals of other communities. In these
matters charity begins at home.

Every New Yorker who journeys to the West wants to see a few
roadagents; conversely the Westerner sojourning in New York pesters
his New York friends to lead him to the haunts of the gangsters.
It makes no difference that in a Western town the prize hold-up
man is more apt than not to be a real-estate dealer; that in New
York the average run of citizens know no more of the gangs than
they know of the Metropolitan Museum of Art--which is to say,
nothing at all. Human nature comes to the surface just the same.

In Paris they order this thing differently; they exhibit the same
spirit of enterprise that in a lesser degree characterized certain
promoters of rubberneck tours who some years ago fitted up
make-believe opium dens in New York's Chinatown for the awed
delectation of out-of-town spectators. Knowing from experience
that every other American who lands in Paris will crave to observe
the Apache while the Apache is in the act of Apaching round, the
canny Parisians have provided a line of up-to-date Apache dens
within easy walking distance of Montmartre; and thither the guides
lead the round-eyed tourist and there introduce him to well-drilled,
carefully made-up Apaches and Apachesses engaged in their customary
sports and pastimes for as long as he is willing to pay out money
for the privilege.

Being forewarned of this I naturally desired to see the genuine
article. I took steps to achieve that end. Suitably chaperoned
by a trio of transplanted Americans who knew a good bit about the
Paris underworld I rode over miles of bumpy cobblestones until,
along about four o'clock in the morning, our taxicab turned into
a dim back street opening off one of the big public markets and
drew up in front of a grimy establishment rejoicing in the happy
and we1l-chosen name of the Cave of the Innocents.

Alighting we passed through a small boozing ken, where a frowzy
woman presided over a bar, serving drinks to smocked marketmen,
and at the rear descended a steep flight of stone steps. At the
foot of the stairs we came on two gendarmes who sat side by side
on a wooden bench, having apparently nothing else to do except to
caress their goatees and finger their swords. Whether the gendarmes
were stationed here to keep the Apaches from preying on the marketmen
or the marketmen from preying on the Apaches I know not; but having
subsequently purchased some fresh fruit in that selfsame market I
should say now that if anybody about the premises needed police
protection it was the Apaches. My money would be on the marketmen
every time.

Beyond the couchant gendarmes we traversed a low, winding passage
cut out of stone and so came at length to what seemingly had
originally been a winevault, hollowed out far down beneath the
foundations of the building. The ceiling was so low that a tall
man must stoop to avoid knocking his head off. The place was full
of smells that had crawled in a couple of hundred years before and
had died without benefit of clergy, and had remained there ever
since. For its chief item of furniture the cavern had a wicked
old piano, with its lid missing, so that its yellowed teeth showed
in a perpetual snarl. I judged some of its most important vital
organs were missing too--after I heard it played. On the walls
were inscribed such words as naughty little boys write on schoolhouse
fences in this country, and more examples of this pleasing brand
of literature were carved on the whittled oak benches and the
rickety wooden stools. So much for the physical furbishings.

By rights--by all the hallowed rules and precedents of the American
vaudeville stage!--the denizens of this cozy retreat in the bowels
of the earth should have been wearing high-waisted baggy velvet
trousers and drinking absinthe out of large flagons, and stabbing
one another between the shoulder blades, and ever and anon, in the
mystic mazes of the dance, playing crack-the-whip with the necks
and heels of their adoring lady friends; but such was not found
to be the case. In all these essential and traditional regards
the assembled Innocents were as poignantly disappointing as the
costers of London had proved themselves.

According to all the printed information on the subject the London
coster wears clothes covered up with pearl buttons and spends his
time swapping ready repartee with his Donah or his Dinah. The
costers I saw were barren of pearl buttons and silent of speech;
and almost invariably they had left their Donahs at home. Similarly
these gentlemen habitues of the Cave of the Innocents wore few or
no velvet pants, and guzzled little or none of the absinthe. Their
favorite tipple appeared to be beer; and their female companions
snuggled closely beside them.

We stayed among them fully twenty minutes, but not a single person
was stabbed while we were there. It must have been an off-night
for stabbings.

Still, I judged them to have been genuine exhibits because here,
for the first, last and only time in Paris, I found a shop where
a stranger ready to spend a little money was not welcomed with
vociferous enthusiasm. The paired-off cave-dwellers merely scowled
on us as we scrouged past them to a vacant bench in a far corner.
The waiter, though, bowed before us--a shockheaded personage in
the ruins of a dress suit--at the same time saying words which I
took to be complimentary until one of my friends explained that
he had called us something that might be freely translated as a
certain kind of female lobster. Circumscribed by our own inflexible
and unyielding language we in America must content ourselves with
calling a man a plain lobster; but the limber-tongued Gaul goes
further than that--he calls you a female lobster, which seems
somehow or other to make it more binding.

However, I do not really think the waiter meant to be deliberately
offensive; for presently, having first served us with beer which
for obvious reasons we did not drink, he stationed himself alongside
the infirm piano and rendered a little ballad to the effect that
all men were spiders and all women were snakes, and all the World
was a green poison; so, right off, I knew what his trouble was,
for I had seen many persons just as morbidly affected as himself
down in the malaria belt of the United States, where everybody has
liver for breakfast every morning. The waiter was bilious--that
was what ailed him.

For the sake of the conventions I tried to feel apprehensive of
grave peril. It was no use. I felt safe--not exactly comfortable,
but perfectly safe. I could not even muster up a spasm of the
spine when a member of our party leaned over and whispered in my
ear that any one of these gentry roundabout us would cheerfully
cut a man's throat for twenty-five cents. I was surprised, though,
at the moderation of the cost; this was the only cheap thing I had
struck in Paris. It was cheaper even than the same job is supposed
to be in the district round Chatham Square, on the East Side of
New York, where the credulous stranger so frequently is told that
he can have a plain murder done for five dollars--or a fancy
murder, with trimmings, for ten; rate card covering other jobs on
application. In America, however, it has been my misfortune that
I did not have the right amount handy; and here in Paris I was
handicapped by my inability to make change correctly. By now I
would not have trusted anyone in Paris to make change for me--not
even an Apache. I was sorry for this, for at a quarter a head I
should have been very glad to engage a troupe of Apaches to kill
me about two dollars' worth of cabdrivers and waiters. For one
of the waiters at our hotel I would have been willing to pay as
much as fifty cents, provided they killed him very slowly. Because
of the reasons named, however, I had to come away without making
any deal, and I have always regretted it.

At the outset of the chapter immediately preceding this one I said
the English had no night life. This was a slight but a pardonable
misstatement of the actual facts. The Englishman has not so much
night life as the Parisian, the Berliner, the Viennese or the
Budapest; but he has more night life in his town of London than
the Roman has in his town of Rome. In Rome night life for the
foreigner consists of going indoors at eventide and until bedtime
figuring up how much money he has been skinned out of during the
course of the day just done--and for the native in going indoors
and counting up how much money he has skinned the foreigner out
of during the day aforesaid. London has its night life, but it
ends early--in the very shank of the evening, so to speak.

This is due in a measure to the operation of the early-closing
law, which, however, does not apply if you are a bona-fide traveler
stopping at your own inn. There the ancient tavern law protects
you. You may sit at ease and, if so minded, may drink and eat
until daylight doth appear or doth not appear, as is generally the
case in the foggy season. There is another law, of newer origin,
to prohibit the taking of children under a certain age into a
public house. On the passage of this act there at once sprang up
a congenial and lucrative employment for those horrible old-women
drunkards who are so distressingly numerous in the poorer quarters
of the town. Regardless of the weather one of these bedrabbled
creatures stations herself just outside the door of a pub. Along
comes a mother with a thirst and a child. Surrendering her offspring
to the temporary care of the hag the mother goes within and has
her refreshment at the bar. When, wiping her mouth on the back
of her hand, she comes forth to reclaim the youngster she gives
the other woman a ha'penny for her trouble, and eventually the
other woman harvests enough ha'penny bits to buy a dram of gin
for herself. On a rainy day I have seen a draggled, Sairey-Gamp-looking
female caring for as many as four damp infants under the drippy
portico of an East End groggery.

It is to the cafes that the early-closing law chiefly applies.
The cafes are due to close for business within half an hour after
midnight. When the time for shutting up draws nigh the managers
do not put their lingering patrons out physically. The individual's
body is a sacred thing, personal liberty being most dear to an
Englishman. It will be made most dear to you too--in the law
courts--if you infringe on it by violence or otherwise. No; they
have a gentler system than that, one that is free from noise,
excitemnent and all mussy work. Along toward twelve-thirty o'clock
the waiters begin going about, turning out the lights. The average
London restaurant is none too brightly illuminated to start with,
being a dim and dingy ill-kept place compared with the glary, shiny
lobster palace that we know; so instantly you are made aware of a
thickening of the prevalent gloom. The waiters start in at the
far end of the room and turn out a few lights. Drawing nearer and
nearer to you they turn out more lights; and finally, by way of
strengthening the hint, they turn out the lights immediately above
your head, which leaves you in the stilly dark with no means of
seeing your food even; unless you have taken the precaution to
spread phosphorus on your sandwich instead of mustard--which,
however, is seldom done. A better method is to order a portion
of one of the more luminous varieties of imported cheese.

The best thing of all, however, is to take your hat and stick and
go away from there. And then, unless you belong to a regular club
or carry a card of admission to one of the chartered all-night
clubs that have sprung up so abundantly in London, and which are
uniformly stuffy, stupid places where the members take their
roistering seriously--or as a last resort, unless you care to sit
for a tiresome hour or two in the grill of your hotel--you might
as well be toddling away to bed; that is to say, you might as well
go to bed unless you find the scenes in the street as worth while
as I found them.

At this hour London's droning voice has abated to a deep, hoarse
snore; London has become a great, broody giant taking rest that
is troubled by snatches of wakefulness; London's grimy, lined face
shows new wrinkles of shadow; and new and unexpected clumping of
colors in monotone and halftone appear. From the massed-up bulk
of things small detached bits stand vividly out: a flower girl
whose flowers and whose girlhood are alike in the sere and yellow
leaf; a soldier swaggering by, his red coat lighting up the grayish
mass about him like a livecoal in an ashheap; a policeman escorting
a drunk to quarters for the night--not, mind you, escorting him
in a clanging, rushing patrol wagon, which would serve to attract
public attention to the distressing state of the overcome one, but
conveying him quietly, unostentatiously, surreptitiously almost,
in a small-wheeled vehicle partaking somewhat of the nature of a
baby carriage and somewhat of the nature of a pushcart.

The policeman shoves this along the road jailward and the drunk
lies at rest in it, stretched out full length, with a neat rubber
bedspread drawn up over his prostrate form to screen him from
drafts and save his face from the gaze of the vulgar. Drunkards
are treated with the tenderest consideration in London; for, as
you know, Britons never will be slaves--though some of them in the
presence of a title give such imitations of being slaves as might
fool even so experienced a judge as the late Simon Legree; and
--as perchance you may also have heard--an Englishman's souse is
his castle. So in due state they ride him and his turreted souse
to the station house in a perambulator.

From midnight to daylight the taxicabs by the countless swarm will
be charging about in every direction--charging, moreover, at the
rate of eight pence a mile. Think that over, ye taxitaxed wretches
of New York, and rend your garments, with lamentations loud! There
is this also to be said of the London taxi service--and to an
American it is one of the abiding marvels of the place--that, no
matter where you go, no matter how late the hour or how outlying
and obscure the district, there is always a trim taxicab just round
the next corner waiting to come instantly at your whistle, and
with it a beggar with a bleak, hopeless face, to open the cab door
for you and stand, hat in hand, for the penny you toss him.

In the main centers, such as Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus
and Charing Cross, and along the Embankment, the Strand and Pall
Mall, they are as thick as fleas on the Missouri houn' dawg famous
in song and story--the taxis, I mean, though the beggars are
reasonably thick also--and they hop like fleas, bearing you swiftly
and surely and cheaply on your way. The meters are honest, openfaced
meters; and the drivers ask no more than their legal fares and are
satisfied with tips within reason. Here in America we have the
kindred arts of taxidermy and taxicabbery; one of these is the art
of skinning animals and the other is the art of skinning people.
The ruthless taxirobber of New York would not last half an hour
in London; for him the jail doors would yawn.

Oldtime Londoners deplored the coming of the taxicab and the
motorbus, for their coming meant the entire extinction of the
driver of the horse-drawn bus, who was an institution, and the
practical extinction of the hansom cabby, who was a type and very
frequently a humorist too. But an American finds no fault with
the present arrangement; he is amply satisfied with it.

Personally I can think of no more exciting phase of the night life
of the two greatest cities of Europe than the stunt of dodging
taxicabs. In London the peril that lurks for you at every turning
is not the result of carelessness on the part of the drivers; it
is due to the rules of the road. Afoot, an Englishman meeting you
on the sidewalk turns, as we do, to the right hand; but mounted
he turns to the left. The foot passenger's prerogative of turning
to the right was one of the priceless heritages wrested from King
John by the barons at Runnymede; but when William the Conqueror
rode into the Battle of Hastings he rode a left-handed horse--and
so, very naturally and very properly, everything on hoof or wheel
in England has consistently turned to the left ever since. I took
some pains to look up the original precedents for these facts and
to establish them historically.

The system suits the English mind, but it is highly confusing to
an American who gets into the swirl of traffic at a crossing--and
every London crossing is a swirl of traffic most of the time--and
looks left when he should look right, and looks right when he
should be looking left until the very best he can expect, if he
survive at all, is cross-eyes and nervous prostration.

I lost count of the number of close calls from utter and mussy
destruction I had while in London. Sometimes a policeman took
pity on me and saved me, and again, by quick and frenzied leaping,
I saved myself; but then the London cabmen were poor marksmen at
best. In front of the Savoy one night the same cabman in rapid
succession had two beautiful shots at me and each time missed the
bull's-eye by a disqualifying margin of inches. A New York chauffeur
who had failed to splatter me all over the vicinage at the first
chance would have been ashamed to go home afterward and look his
innocent little ones in the face.

Even now I cannot decide in my own mind which is the more fearsome
and perilous thing--to be afoot in Paris at the mercy of all the
maniacs who drive French motor cars or to be in one of the motor
cars at the mercy of one of the maniacs. Motoring in Paris is the
most dangerous sport known--just as dueling is the safest. There
are some arguments to be advanced in favor of dueling. It provides
copy for the papers and harmless excitement for the participants
--and it certainly gives them a chance to get a little fresh air
occasionally, but with motoring it is different. In Paris there
are no rules of the road except just these two--the pedestrian who
gets run over is liable to prosecution, and all motor cars must
travel at top speed.

If I live to be a million I shall never get over shuddering as I
think back to a taxicab ride I had in the rush hour one afternoon
over a route that extended from away down near the site of the
Bastille to a hotel away up near the Place Vendome. The driver
was a congenital madman, the same as all Parisian taxicab drivers
are; and in addition he was on this occasion acquiring special
merit by being quite drunk. This last, however, was a detail that
did not dawn on my perceptions until too late to cancel the contract.
Once he had got me safely fastened inside his rickety, creaky
devil-wagon he pulled all the stops all the way out and went tearing
up the crowded boulevard like a comet with a can tied to its tail.

I hammered on the glass and begged him to slow down--that is, I
hammered on the glass and tried to beg him to slow down. For just
such emergencies I had previously stocked up with two French
words--"Doucement!" and "Vite!" I knew that one of those words
meant speed and the other meant less speed, but in the turmoil of
the moment I may have confused them slightly. Anyhow, to be on
the safe side, I yelled "Vite!" a while and then "Doucement" a
while; and then "Doucement" and "Vite!" alternately, and mixed in
a few short, simple Anglo-Saxon cusswords and prayers for dressing.
But nothing I said seemed to have the least effect on that demoniac
scoundrel. Without turning his head he merely shouted back something
unintelligible and threw on more juice.

On and on we tore, slicing against the sidewalk,curving and jibbing,
clattering and careening--now going on two wheels and now on four
--while the lunatic shrieked curses of disappointment at the
pedestrians who scuttled away to safety from our charging onslaughts;
and I held both hands over my mouth to keep my heart from jumping
out into my lap.

I saw, with instantaneous but photographic distinctness, a lady,
with a dog tucked under her arm, who hesitated a moment in our
very path. She was one of the largest ladies I ever saw and the
dog under her arm was certainly the smallest dog I ever saw. You
might say the lady was practically out of dog. I thought we had
her and probably her dog too; but she fell back and was saved by
a matter of half an inch or so. I think, though, we got some of
the buttons off her shirtwaist and the back trimming of her hat.

Then there was a rending, tearing crash as we took a fender off a
machine just emerging from a cross street, but my lunatic never
checked up at all. He just flung a curling ribbon of profanity
over his shoulder at the other driver and bounded onward like a
bat out of the Bad Place. That was the hour when my hair began
to turn perceptibly grayer. And yet, when by a succession of
miracles we had landed intact at my destination, the fiend seemed
to think he had done a praiseworthy and creditable thing. I only
wish he had been able to understand the things I called him--that
is all I wish!

It is by a succession of miracles that the members of his maniacal
craft usually do dodge death and destruction. The providence that
watches over the mentally deficient has them in its care, I guess;
and the same beneficent influence frequently avails to save those
who ride behind them and, to a lesser extent, those who walk ahead.
Once in a while a Paris cabman does have a lucky stroke and garner
in a foot traveler. In an instant a vast and surging crowd convenes.
In another instant the road is impassably blocked. Up rushes a
gendarme and worms his way through the press to the center. He
has a notebook in his hand. In this book he enters the gloating
cabman's name, his age, his address, and his wife's maiden name,
if any; and gets his views on the Dreyfus case; and finds out what
he thinks about the separation of church and state; and tells him
that if he keeps on the way he is headed he will be getting the
cross of the Legion of Honor pretty soon. They shake hands and
embrace, and the cabman cuts another notch in his mudguard, and
gets back on the seat and drives on. Then if, by any chance, the
victim of the accident still breathes, the gendarme arrests him
for interfering with the traffic. It is a lovely system and sweetly

Under the general classification of thrilling moments in the night
life of Europe I should like to list a carriage trip through the
outskirts of Naples after dark. In the first place the carriage
driver is an Italian driver--which is a shorter way of saying he
is the worst driver living. His idea of getting service out of a
horse is, first to snatch him to a standstill by yanking on the
bit and then to force the poor brute into a gallop by lashing at
him with a whip having a particularly loud and vixenish cracker
on it; and at every occasion to whoop at the top of his voice.
In the second place the street is as narrow as a narrow alley,
feebly lighted, and has no sidewalks. And the rutty paving stones
which stretch from housefront to housefront are crawling with
people and goats and dogs and children. Finally, to add zest to
the affair,there are lots of loose cows mooning about--for at this
hour the cowherd brings his stock to the doors of his patrons.
In an Italian city the people get their milk from a cow, instead
of from a milkman as with us. The milk is delivered on the hoof,
so to speak.

The grown-ups refuse to make way for you to pass and the swarming
young ones repay you for not killing them by pelting pebbles and
less pleasant things into your face. Beggars in all degrees of
filth and deformity and repulsiveness run alongside the carriage
in imminent danger from the wheels, begging for alms. If you give
them something they curse you for not giving them more, and if you
give them nothing they spit at you for a base dog of a heretic.

But then, what could you naturally expect from a population that
thinks a fried cuttlefish is edible and a beefsteak is not?

Chapter XIV

That Gay Paresis

As you walk along the Rue de la Paix [Footnote: The X being one
of the few silent things in France.] and pay and pay, and keep on
paying, your eye is constantly engaged by two inscriptions that
occur and recur with the utmost frequency. One of these appears
in nearly every shopwindow and over nearly every shopdoor. It

English Spoken Here.

This, I may tell you, is one of the few absolutely truthful and
dependable statements encountered by the tourist in the French
capital. Invariably English is spoken here. It is spoken here
during all the hours of the day and until far Into the dusk of the
evening; spoken loudly, clearly, distinctly, hopefully, hopelessly,
stridently, hoarsely, despondently, despairingly and finally
profanely by Americans who are trying to make somebody round the
place understand what they are driving at.

The other inscription is carved, painted or printed on all public
buildings, on most monuments, and on many private establishments
as well. It is the motto of the French Republic, reading as follows:

Liberality! Economy! Frugality!
[Footnote: Free translation.]

The first word of this--the Liberality part--is applicable to the
foreigner and is aimed directly at him as a prayer, an injunction
and a command; while the rest of it--the Economy and the Frugality
--is competently attended to by the Parisians themselves. The
foreigner has only to be sufficiently liberal and he is assured
of a flattering reception wheresoever his straying footsteps may
carry him, whether in Paris or in the provinces; but wheresoever
those feet of his do carry him he will find a people distinguished
by a frugality and inspired by an economy of the frugalest and
most economical character conceivable. In the streets of the
metropolis he is expected, when going anywhere, to hail the
fast-flitting taxicab [Footnote: Stops on signal only--and sometimes
not then.], though the residents patronize the public bus. Indeed,
the distinction is made clear to his understanding from the moment
he passes the first outlying fortress at the national frontier
[Footnote: Flag station.]--since, for the looks of things if for
no better reason, he must travel first-class on the de-luxe trains
[Footnote: Diner taken off when you are about half through eating.],
whereas the Frenchmen pack themselves tightly but frugally into the
second-class and the third-class compartments.

Before I went to France I knew Saint Denis was the patron saint
of the French; but I did not know why until I heard the legend
connected with his death. When the executioner on the hill at
Montmartre cut off his head the good saint picked it up and strolled
across the fields with it tucked under his arm--so runs the tale.
His head, in that shape, was no longer of any particular value
to him, but your true Parisian is of a saving disposition. And
so the Paris population have worshiped Saint Denis ever since.
Both as a saint and as a citizen he filled the bill. He would not
throw anything away, whether he needed it or not.

Paris--not the Paris of the art lover, nor the Paris of the lover
of history, nor yet again the Paris of the worth-while Parisians
--but the Paris which the casual male visitor samples, is the most
overrated thing on earth, I reckon--except alligator-pear salad
--and the most costly. Its system of conduct is predicated, based,
organized and manipulated on the principle that a foreigner with
plenty of money and no soul will be along pretty soon. Hence by
day and by night the deadfall is rigged and the trap is set and
baited--baited with a spurious gayety and an imitation joyousness;
but the joyousness is as thin as one coat of sizing, and the brass
shines through the plating; and behind the painted, parted lips of
laughter the sharp teeth of greed show in a glittering double row.
Yet gallus Mr. Fly, from the U.S.A., walks debonairly in, and out
comes Monsieur Spider, ably seconded by Madame Spiderette; and
between them they despoil him with the utmost dispatch. When he
is not being mulcted for large sums he is being nicked for small
ones. It is tip, brother, tip, and keep right on tipping.

I heard a story of an American who spent a month in Paris, taking
in the sights and being taken in by them, and another month motoring
through the country. At length he reached the port whence he was
to sail for home. He went aboard the steamer and saw to it that
his belongings were properly stored; and in the privacy of his
stateroom he sat down to take an inventory of his letter of credit,
now reduced to a wan and wasted specter of its once plethoric self.
In the midst of casting-up he heard the signal for departure; and
so he went topside of the ship and, stationing himself on the
promenade deck alongside the gang-plank, he raised his voice and
addressed the assembled multitude on the pier substantially as

"If"--these were his words--"if there is a single, solitary
individual in this fair land who has not touched me for something
of value--if there be in all France a man, woman or child who has
not been tipped by me--let him, her or it speak now or forever
after hold their peace; because, know ye all men by these presents,
I am about to go away from here and if I stay in my right mind I'm
not coming back!"

And several persons were badly hurt in the crush; but they were
believed afterward to have been repeaters.

I thought this story was overdrawn, but, after traveling over
somewhat the same route which this fellow countryman had taken, I
came to the conclusion that it was no exaggeration, but a true
bill in all particulars. On the night of our second day in Paris
we went to a theater to see one of the topical revues, in which
Paris is supposed to excel; and for sheer dreariness and blatant
vulgarity Paris revues do, indeed, excel anything of a similar
nature as done in either England or in America, which is saying
quite a mouthful.

In the French revue the members of the chorus reach their artistic
limit in costuming when they dance forth from the wings wearing
short and shabby undergarments over soiled pink fleshings and any
time the dramatic interest begins to run low and gurgle in the
pipes a male comedian pumps it up again by striking or kicking a
woman. But to kick her is regarded as much the more whimsical
conceit. This invariably sets the audience rocking with uncontrollable
merriment. Howsomever, I am not writing a critique of the merits
of the performance. If I were I shou1d say that to begin with the
title of the piece was wrong. It should have been called Lapsus
Lingerie--signifying as the Latins would say, "A Mere Slip." At
this moment I am concerned with what happened upon our entrance.

At the door a middle-aged female, who was raising a natty mustache,
handed us programs. I paid her for the programs and tipped her.
She turned us over to a stout brunette lady who was cultivating a
neat and flossy pair of muttonchops. This person escorted us down
the aisle to where our seats were; so I tipped her. Alongside our
seats stood a third member of the sisterhood, chiefly distinguished
from her confreres by the fact that she was turning out something
very fetching in the way of a brown vandyke; and after we were
seated she continued to stand there, holding forth her hand toward
me, palm up and fingers extended in the national gesture, and
saying something in her native tongue very rapidly. Incidentally
she was blocking the path of a number of people who had come down
the aisle immediately behind us.

I thought possibly she desired to see our coupons, so I hauled
them out and exhibited them. She shook her head at that and gabbled
faster than ever. It next occurred to me that perhaps she wanted
to furnish us with programs and was asking in advance for the money
with which to pay for them. I explained to her that I already
secured programs from her friend with the mustache. I did this
mainly in English, but partly in French--at least I employed the
correct French word for program, which is programme. To prove my
case I pulled the two programs from my pocket and showed them to
her. She continued to shake her head with great emphasis, babbling
on at an increased speed. The situation was beginning to verge
on the embarrassing when a light dawned on me. She wanted a tip,
that was it! She had not done anything to earn a tip that I could
see; and unless one had been reared in the barbering business she
was not particularly attractive to look on, and even then only in
a professional aspect; but I tipped her and bade her begone, and
straightway she bewent, satisfied and smiling. From that moment
on I knew my book. When in doubt I tipped one person--the person
nearest to me. When in deep doubt I tipped two or more persons.
And all was well.

On the next evening but one I had another lesson, which gave me
further insight into the habits and customs of these gay and
gladsome Parisians. We were completing a round of the all-night
cafes and cabarets. There were four of us. Briefly, we had seen
the Dead Rat, the Abbey, the Bal Tabarin the Red Mill, Maxim's,
and the rest of the lot to the total number of perhaps ten or
twelve. We had listened to bad singing, looked on bad dancing,
sipped gingerly at bad drinks, and nibbled daintily at bad food;
and the taste of it all was as grit and ashes in our mouths. We
had learned for ourselves that the much-vaunted gay life of Paris
was just as sad and sordid and sloppy and unsavory as the so-called
gay life of any other city with a lesser reputation for gay life
and gay livers. A scrap of the gristle end of the New York
Tenderloin; a suggestion of a certain part of New Orleans; a short
cross section of the Levee, in Chicago; a dab of the Barbary Coast
of San Francisco in its old, unexpurgated days; a touch of Piccadilly
Circus in London, after midnight, with a top dressing of Gehenna
the Unblest--it had seemed to us a compound of these ingredients,
with a distinctive savor of what was essentially Gallic permeating
through it like garlic through a stew. We had had enough. Even
though we had attended only as onlookers and seekers after local
color, we felt that we had a-plenty of onlooking and entirely too
much of local color; we felt that we should all go into retreat
for a season of self-purification to rid our persons of the one
and take a bath in formaldehyde to rinse our memories clean of the
other. But the ruling spirit of the expedition pointed out that
the evening would not be complete without a stop at a cafe that
had--so he said--an international reputation for its supposed
sauciness and its real Bohemian atmosphere, whatever that might
be. Overcome by his argument we piled into a cab and departed

This particular cafe was found, in its physical aspects, to be
typical of the breed and district. It was small, crowded, overheated,
underlighted, and stuffy to suffocation with the mingled aromas
of stale drink and cheap perfume. As we entered a wrangle was
going on among a group of young Frenchmen picturesquely attired
as art students--almost a sure sign that they were not art students.
An undersized girl dressed in a shabby black-and-yellow frock was
doing a Spanish dance on a cleared space in the middle of the floor.
We knew her instantly for a Spanish dancer, because she had a fan
in one hand and a pair of castanets in the other. Another girl,
dressed as a pierrot, was waiting to do her turn when the Spanish
dancer finished. Weariness showed through the lacquer of thick
cosmetic on her peaked little face. An orchestra of three pieces
sawed wood steadily; and at intervals, to prove that these were
gay and blithesome revels, somebody connected with the establishment
threw small, party-colored balls of celluloid about. But what
particularly caught our attention was the presence in a far corner
of two little darkies in miniature dress suits, both very wally
of eye, very brown of skin, and very shaved as to head, huddled
together there as though for the poor comfort of physical contact.
As soon as they saw us they left their place and sidled up, tickled
beyond measure to behold American faces and hear American voices.

They belonged, it seemed, to a troupe of jubilee singers who had
been imported from the States for the delectation of French
audiences. At night, after their work at a vaudeville theater was
done, the members of their company were paired off and sent about
to the cafes to earn their keep by singing ragtime songs and dancing
buck dances. These two were desperately, pathetically homesick.
One of them blinked back the tears when he told us, with the
plaintive African quaver in his voice, how long they had been away
from their own country and how happy they would be to get back to
it again.

"We suttin'ly is glad to heah somebody talkin' de reg'lar New
'Nited States talk, same as we does," he said. "We gits mighty
tired of all dis yere French jabberin'!"

"Yas, suh," put in his partner; "dey meks a mighty fuss over cullud
folks over yere; but 'tain't noways lak home. I comes from
Bummin'ham, Alabama, myse'f. Does you gen'lemen know anybody in

They were the first really wholesome creatures who had crossed our
paths that night. They crowded up close to us and there they
stayed until we left, as grateful as a pair of friendly puppies
for a word or a look. Presently, though, something happened that
made us forget these small dark compatriots of ours. We had had
sandwiches all round and a bottle of wine. When the waiter brought
the check it fell haply into the hands of the one person in our
party who knew French and--what was an even more valuable
accomplishment under the present circumstances--knew the intricate
French system of computing a bill. He ran a pencil down the figures.
Then he consulted the price list on the menu and examined the label
on the neck of the wine bottle, and then he gave a long whistle.
"What's the trouble?" asked one of us.

"Oh, not much!" he said. "We had a bottle of wine priced at
eighteen francs and they have merely charged us twenty-four francs
for it--six francs overcharge on that one item alone. The total
for the sandwiches should have been six francs, and it is put down
at ten francs. And here, away down at the bottom, I find a
mysterious entry of four francs, which seems to have no bearing
on the case at all--unless it be that they just simply need the
money. I expected to be skinned somewhat, but I object to being
peeled. I'm afraid, at the risk of appearing mercenary, that we'll
have to ask our friend for a recount."

He beckoned the waiter to him and fired a volley of rapid French
in the waiter's face. The waiter batted his eyes and shrugged his
shoulders; then reversing the operation he shrugged his eyelids
and batted his shoulderblades, meantime endeavoring volubly to
explain. Our friend shoved the check into his hands and waved him
away. He was back again in a minute with the account corrected.
That is, it was corrected to the extent that the wine item had
been reduced to twenty-one francs and the sandwiches to eight

By now our paymaster was as hot as a hornet. His gorge rose--his
freeborn, independent American gorge. It rose clear to the ceiling
and threw off sparks and red clinkers. He sent for the manager.
The manager came, all bows and graciousness and rumply shirtfront;
and when he heard what was to be said he became all apologies and
indignation. He regretted more than words could tell that the
American gentlemen who deigned to patronize his restaurant had
been put to annoyance. The garcon--here he turned and burned up
that individual with a fiery sideglance--was a debased idiot and
the misbegotten son of a yet greater and still more debased idiot.
The cashier was a green hand and an imbecile besides. It was
incredible, impossible, that the overcharging had been done
deliberately; that was inconceivable. But the honor of his
establishment was at stake. They should both, garcon and cashier,
be discharged on the spot. First, however, he would rectify all
mistakes. Would monsieur intrust the miserable addition to him
for a moment, for one short moment? Monsieur would and did.

This time the amount was made right and our friend handed over in
payment a fifty-franc note. With his own hands the manager brought
back the change. Counting it over, the payee found it five francs
short. Attention being directed to this error the manager became
more apologetic and more explanatory than ever, and supplied the
deficiency with a shiny new five-franc piece from his own pocket.
And then, when we had gone away from there and had traveled a
homeward mile or two, our friend found that the new shiny five-franc
piece was counterfeit--as false a thing as that manager's false
smile. We had bucked the unbeatable system, and we had lost.

Earlier that same evening we spent a gloom-laden quarter of an
hour in another cafe--one which owes its fame and most of its
American customs to the happy circumstance that in a certain famous
comic opera produced a few years ago a certain popular leading man
sang a song extolling its fascinations. The man who wrote the
song must have had a full-flowered and glamorous imagination, for
he could see beauty where beauty was not. To us there seemed
nothing particularly fanciful about the place except the prices
they charged for refreshments. However, something unusual did
happen there once. It was not premeditated though; the proprietor
had nothing to do with it. Had he known what was about to occur
undoubtedly he would have advertised it in advance and sold tickets
for it.

By reason of circumstances over which he had no control, but which
had mainly to do with a locked-up wardrobe, an American of convivial
mentality was in his room at his hotel one evening, fairly consumed
with loneliness. Above all things he desired to be abroad amid
the life and gayety of the French capital; but unfortunately he
had no clothes except boudoir clothes, and no way of getting any,
either, Which made the situation worse. He had already tried the
telephone in a vain effort to communicate with a ready-made clothing
establishment in the Rue St. Honore. Naturally he had failed, as
he knew he would before he tried. Among Europeans the telephone
is not the popular and handy adjunct of every-day life it is among
us. The English have small use for it because it is, to start with,
a wretched Yankee invention; besides, an Englishman in a hurry
takes a cab, as his father before him did--takes the same cab his
father took, if possible--and the Latin races dislike telephone
conversations because the gestures all go to absolute waste. The
French telephone resembles a dingus for curling the hair. You
wrap it round your head, with one end near your mouth and the other
end near your ear, and you yell in it a while and curse in it a
while; and then you slam it down and go and send a messenger. The
hero of the present tale, however, could not send a messenger--the
hotel people had their orders to the contrary from one who was not
to be disobeyed.

Finally in stark desperation, maddened by the sounds of sidewalk
revelry that filtered up to him intermittently, he incased his
feet in bed-room slippers, slid a dressing gown over his pajamas,
and negotiated a successful escape from the hotel by means of a
rear way. Once in the open he climbed into a handy cab and was
driven to the cafe of his choice, it being the same cafe mentioned
a couple of paragraphs ago.

Through a side entrance he made a hasty and unhindered entrance
into this place--not that he would have been barred under any
circumstances, inasmuch as he had brought a roll with him. A
person with a cluster of currency on hand is always suitably dressed
in Paris, no matter if he has nothing else on; and this man had
brought much ready cash with him. He could have gone in fig-leaved
like Eve, or fig-leafless like September Morn, it being remembered
that as between these two, as popularly depicted, Morn wears even
less than Eve. So he whisked in handily, and when he had hidden
the lower part of himself under a table he felt quite at home and
proceeded to have a large and full evening.

Soon there entered another American, and by that mental telepathy
which inevitably attracts like-spirit to like-spirit he was drawn
to the spot where the first American sat. He introduced himself
as one feeling the need of congenial companionship, and they shook
hands and exchanged names, and the first man asked the second man
to be seated; so they sat together and had something together, and
then something more together; and as the winged moments flew they
grew momentarily more intimate. Finally the newcomer said:

"This seems a pretty lachrymose shop. Suppose we go elsewhere and
look for some real doings."

"Your proposition interests me strangely," said the first man;
"but there are two reasons--both good ones--why I may not fare
forth with you. Look under the table and you'll see 'em."

The second man looked and comprehended, for he was a married man
himself; and he grasped the other's hand in warm and comforting

"Old Man," he said--for they had already reached the Old Man
stage--"don't let that worry you. Why, I've got more pants than
any man with only one set of legs has any right to have. I've got
pants that've never been worn. You stay right here and don't move
until I come back. My hotel is just round the corner from here."

No sooner said than done. He went and in a surprisingly short
time was back, bearing spare trousers with him. Beneath the
shielding protection of the table draperies the succored one slipped
them on, and they were a perfect fit. Now he was ready to go where
adventure might await them. They tarried, though, to finish the
last bottle.

Over the rim of his glass the second man ventured an opinion on a
topic of the day. Instantly the first man challenged him. It
seemed to him inconceivable that a person with intelligence enough
to have amassed so many pairs of trousers should harbor such a
delusion. He begged of his new-found friend to withdraw the
statement, or at least to abate it. The other man was sorry, but
he simply could not do it. He stood ready to concede almost
anything else, but on this particular point he was adamant; in
fact, adamant was in comparison with him as pliable as chewing
taffy. Much as he regretted it, he could not modify his assertion
by so much as one brief jot or one small tittle without violating
the consistent principles of a consistent life. He felt that way
about it. All his family felt that way about it.

"Then, sir," said the first man with a rare dignity, "I regret to
wound your feelings; but my sensibilities are such that I cannot
accept, even temporarily, the use of a pair of trousers from the
loan collection of a person who entertains such false and erroneous
conceptions. I have the pleasure, sir, of wishing you good night."

With these words he shucked off the borrowed habiliments and slammed
them into the abashed bosom of the obstinate stranger and went
back to his captivity--pantless, 'tis true, but with his honor

Chapter XV

Symptoms of the Disease

The majority of these all-night places in Paris are singularly and
monotonously alike. In the early hours of the evening the musicians
rest from their labors; the regular habitues lay aside their air
of professional abandon; with true French frugality the lights
burn dim and low. But anon sounds the signal from the front of
the house. Strike up the band; here comes a sucker! Somebody
resembling ready money has arrived. The lights flash on, the
can-canners take the floor, the garcons flit hither and yon, and
all is excitement.

Enter the opulent American gentleman. Half a dozen functionaries
greet him rapturously, bowing before his triumphant progress.
Others relieve him of his hat and his coat, so that he cannot
escape prematurely. A whole reception committee escorts him to a
place of honor facing the dancing arena. The natives of the quarter
stand in rows in the background, drinking beer or nothing at all;
but the distinguished stranger sits at a front table and is served
with champagne, and champagne only. It is inferior champagne; but
because it is labeled American Brut--what ever that may denote--and
because there is a poster on the bottle showing the American flag
in the correct colors, he pays several times its proper value for
it. From far corners and remote recesses coryphees and court
jesters swarm forth to fawn on him, bask in his presence, glory
in his smile--and sell him something. The whole thing is as
mercenary as passing the hat. Cigarette girls, flower girls and
bonbon girls, postcard venders and confetti dispensers surround
him impenetrably, taking him front, rear, by the right flank and
the left; and they shove their wares in his face and will not take
No for an answer; but they will take anything else.

Two years ago at a hunting camp in North Carolina, I thought I had
met the creature with the most acute sense of hearing of any living
thing. I refer to Pearl, the mare. Pearl was an elderly mare,
white in color and therefore known as Pearl. She was most gentle
and kind. She was a reliable family animal too--had a colt every
year--but in her affiliations she was a pronounced reactionary.
She went through life listening for somebody to say Whoa! Her ears
were permanently slanted backward on that very account. She
belonged to the Whoa Lodge, which has a large membership among

Riding behind Pearl you uttered the talismanic word in the thinnest
thread of a whisper and instantly she stopped. You could spell
Whoa! on your fingers, and she would stop. You could take a pencil
and a piece of paperout of your pocket and write down Whoa!--and
she would stop; but, compared with a sample assortment of these
cabaret satellites, Pearl would have seemed deaf as a post. Clear
across a hundred-foot dance-hall they catch the sound of a restless
dollar turning over in the fob pocket of an American tourist.

And they come a-running and get it. Under the circumstances it
requires self-hypnotism of a high order, and plenty of it, to make
an American think he is enjoying himself. Still, he frequently
attains to that happy comsummation. To begin with, is he not in
Gay Paree?--as it is familiarly called in Rome Center and all
points West? He is! Has he not kicked over the traces and cut loose
with intent to be oh, so naughty for one naughty night of his life?
Such are the facts. Finally, and herein lies the proof conclusive,
he is spending a good deal of money and is getting very little in
return for it. Well, then, what better evidence is required? Any
time he is paying four or five prices for what he buys and does
not particularly need it--or want it after it is bought--the average
American can delude himself into the belief that he is having a
brilliant evening. This is a racial trait worthy of the scientific
consideration of Professor Hugo Munsterberg and other students of
our national psychology. So far the Munsterberg school has
overlooked it--but the canny Parisians have not. They long ago
studied out every quirk and wriggle of it, and capitalized it to
their own purpose. Liberality! Economy! Frugality!--there they
are, everywhere blazoned forth--Liberality for you, Economy and
Frugality for them. Could anything on earth be fairer than that?

Even so, the rapturous reception accorded to a North American pales
to a dim and flickery puniness alongside the perfect riot and
whirlwind of enthusiasm which marks the entry into an all-night
place of a South American. Time was when, to the French understanding,
exuberant prodigality and the United States were terms synonymous;
that time has passed. Of recent years our young kinsmen from the
sister republics nearer the Equator and the Horn have invaded Paris
in numbers, bringing their impulsive temperaments and their bankrolls
with them. Thanks to these young cattle kings, these callow silver
princes from Argentina and Brazil, from Peru and from Ecuador, a
new and more gorgeous standard for money wasting has been established.
You had thought, perchance, there was no rite and ceremonial quite
so impressive as a head waiter in a Fifth Avenue restaurant squeezing
the blood out of a semi-raw canvasback in a silver duck press for
a free spender from Butte or Pittsburgh. I, too, had thought that;
but wait, just wait, until you have seen a maitre d'hotel on the
Avenue de l'Opera, with the smile of the canary-fed cat on his
face, standing just behind a hide-and-tallow baron or a guano duke
from somewhere in Far Spiggottyland, watching this person as he
wades into the fresh fruit--checking off on his fingers each blushing
South African peach at two francs the bite, and each purple cluster
of hothouse grapes at one franc the grape. That spectacle, believe
me, is worth the money every time.

There is just one being whom the dwellers of the all-night quarter
love and revere more deeply than they love a downy, squabbling
scion of some rich South American family, and that is a large,
broad negro pugilist with a mouthful of gold teeth and a shirtfront
full of yellow diamonds. To an American--and especially to an
American who was reared below Mason and Dixon's justly popular
Line--it is indeed edifying to behold a black heavyweight fourthrater
from South Clark Street, Chicago, taking his ease in a smart cafe,
entirely surrounded by worshipful boulevardiers, both male and

Now, as I remarked at an earlier stage of these observations, there
is another Paris besides this--a Paris of history, of art, of
architecture, of literature, of refinement; a Paris inhabited by
a people with a pride in their past, a pluck in their present, and
a faith in their future; a Paris of kindly aristocrats, of thrifty,
pious plain people; a Paris of students and savants and scientists,
of great actors and great scientists and great dramatists. There
is one Paris that might well be burned to its unclean roots, and
another Paris that will be glorified in the minds of mankind forever.
And it would be as unfair to say that the Paris which comes flaunting
its tinsel of vice and pinchbeck villainy in the casual tourist's
face is the real Paris, as it would be for a man from the interior
of the United States to visit New York and, after interviewing one
Bowery bouncer, one Tenderloin cabman, and one Broadway ticket
speculator, go back home and say he had met fit representatives
of the predominant classes of New York society and had found them
unfit. Yes, it would be even more unfair. For the alleged gay
life of New York touches at some point of contact or other the
lives of most New Yorkers, whereas in Paris there are numbers of
sane and decent folks who seem to know nothing except by hearsay
of what goes on after dark in the Montmartre district. Besides,
no man in the course of a short and crowded stay may hope to get
under the skin of any community, great or small. He merely skims
its surface cuticle; he sees no deeper than the pores and the
hair-roots. The arteries, the frame, the real tissue-structure
remain hidden to him. Therefore the pity seems all the greater
that, to the world at large, the bad Paris should mean all Paris.
It is that other and more wholesome Paris which one sees--a
light-hearted, good-natured, polite and courteous Paris--when one,
biding his time and choosing the proper hour and proper place,
goes abroad to seek it out.

For the stranger who does at least a part of his sight-seeing after
a rational and orderly fashion, there are pictures that will live
in the memory always: the Madeleine, with the flower market just
alongside; the green and gold woods of the Bois de Boulogne; the
grandstand of the racecourse at Longchamp on a fair afternoon in
the autumn; the Opera at night; the promenade of the Champs-Elysees
on a Sunday morning after church; the Gardens of the Tuileries;
the wonderful circling plaza of the Place Vendome, where one may
spend a happy hour if the maniacal taxi-drivers deign to spare
one's life for so unaccountably long a period; the arcades of the
Rue de Rivoli, with their exquisite shops, where every other shop
is a jeweler's shop and every jeweler's shop is just like every
other jeweler's shop--which fact ceases to cause wonder when one
learns that, with a few notable exceptions, all these shops carry
their wares on commission from the stocks of the same manufacturing
jewelers; the old Ile de la Cite, with the second-hand bookstalls
stretching along the quay, and the Seine placidly meandering between
its man-made, man-ruled banks. Days spent here seem short days;
but that may be due in some part to the difference between our
time and theirs. In Paris, you know, the day ends five or six
hours earlier than it does in America.

The two Palaces of Fine Arts are fine enough; and finer still, on
beyond them, is the great Pont Alexandre III; but, to my untutored
instincts, all three of these, with their clumpings of flag standards
and their grouping of marble allegories, which are so aching-white
to the eye in the sunlight, seemed overly suggestive of a World's
Fair as we know such things in America. Seeing them I knew where
the architects who designed the main approaches and the courts of
honor for all our big expositions got their notions for color
schemes and statuary effects. I liked better those two ancient
triumphal arches of St.-Martin and St.-Denis on the Boulevard
St.-Denis, and much better even than these the tremendous sweep
of the Place de la Concorde, which is one of the finest squares
in the world, and the one with the grimmest, bloodiest history, I

The Paris to which these things properly appertain is at its very
best and brightest on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the parks where
well-to-do people drive or ride, and their children play among the
trees under the eyes of nursemaids in the quaint costumes of
Normandy, though, for all I know, it may be Picardy. Elsewhere
in these parks the not-so-well-to-do gather in great numbers; some
drinking harmless sirupy drinks at the gay little refreshment
kiosks; some packing themselves about the man who has tamed the
tree sparrows until they come at his call and hive in chattering,
fluttering swarms on his head and his arms and shoulders; some
applauding a favorite game of the middle classes that is being
played in every wide and open space. I do not know its name
--could not find anybody who seemed to know its name--but this
game is a kind of glorified battledore and shuttlecock played with
a small, hard ball capable of being driven high and far by smartly
administered strokes of a hide-headed, rimmed device shaped like
a tambourine. It would seem also to be requisite to its proper
playing that each player shall have a red coat and a full spade
beard, and a tremendous amount of speed and skill. If the ball
gets lost in anybody's whiskers I think it counts ten for the
opposing side; but I do not know the other rules.

A certain indefinable, unmistakably Gallic flavor or piquancy
savors the life of the people; it disappears only when they cease
to be their own natural selves. A woman novelist, American by
birth, but a resident of several years in Paris, told me a story
illustrative of this. The incident she narrated was so typical
that it could never have happened except in Paris, I thought. She
said she was one of a party who went one night to dine at a little
cafe much frequented by artists and art students. The host was
himself an artist of reputation. As they dined there entered a
tall, gloomy figure of a man with a long, ugly face full of flexible
wrinkles; such a figure and such a face as instantly commanded
their attention. This man slid into a seat at a table near their
table and had a frugal meal. He had reached the stage of demitasse
and cigarette when he laid down cup and cigarette and, fetching a
bit of cardboard and a crayon out of his pocket, began putting
down lines and shadings; between strokes he covertly studied the
profile of the man who was giving the dinner party. Not to be
outdone the artist hauled out his drawing pad and pencil and made
a quick sketch of the long-faced man. Both finished their jobs
practically at the same moment; and, rising together with low bows,
they exchanged pictures--each had done a rattling good caricature
of the other--and then, without a word having been spoken or a
move made toward striking up an acquaintance, each man sat him
down again and finished his dinner.

The lone diner departed first. When the party at the other table
had had their coffee they went round the corner to a little circus
--one of the common type of French circuses, which are housed in
permanent wooden buildings instead of under tents. Just as they
entered, the premier clown, in spangles and peak cap, bounded into
the ring. Through the coating of powder on it they recognized his
wrinkly, mobile face: it was the sketch-making stranger whose
handiwork they had admired not half an hour before.

Hearing the tale we went to the same circus and saw the same clown.
His ears were painted bright red--the red ear is the inevitable
badge of the French clown--and he had as a foil for his funning a
comic countryman known on the program as Auguste, which is the
customary name of all comic countrymen in France; and, though I
knew only at second hand of his sketch-making abilities, I am
willing to concede that he was the drollest master of pantomime
I ever saw. On leaving the circus, very naturally we went to the
cafe--where the first part of the little dinner comedy had been
enacted. We encountered both artists, professional or amateur, of
blacklead and bristol board, but we met a waiter there who was
an artist--in his line. I ordered a cigar of him, specifying
that the cigar should be of a brand made in Havana and popular in
the States. He brought one cigar on a tray. In size and shape
and general aspect it seemed to answer the required specifications.
The little belly band about its dark-brown abdomen was certainly
orthodox and regular; but no sooner had I lit it and taken a couple
of puffs than I was seized with the conviction that something had
crawled up that cigar and died. So I examined it more closely and
I saw then that it was a bad French cigar, artfully adorned about
its middle with a second-hand band, which the waiter had picked
up after somebody else had plucked it off one of the genuine
articles and had treasured it, no doubt, against the coming of
some unsophisticated patron such as I. And I doubt whether that
could have happened anywhere except in Paris either. That is just
it, you see. Try as hard as you please to see the real Paris,
the Paris of petty larceny and small, mean graft intrudes on you
and takes a peck at your purse.

Go where you will, you cannot escape it. You journey, let us
assume, to the Tomb of Napoleon, under the great dome that rises
behind the wide-armed Hotel des Invalides. From a splendid rotunda
you look down to where, craftily touched by the softened lights
streaming in from high above, that great sarcophagus stands housing
the bones of Bonaparte; and above the entrance to the crypt you
read the words from the last will and testament of him who sleeps
here: "I desire that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine,
among the French people I have so well loved." And you reflect
that he so well loved them that, to glut his lusting after power
and yet more power, he led sundry hundreds of thousands of them
to massacre and mutilation and starvation; but that is the way of
world--conquerors the world over--and has absolutely nothing to do
with this tale. The point I am trying to get at is, if you can
gaze unmoved at this sepulcher you are a clod. And if you can get
away from its vicinity without being held up and gouged by small
grafters you are a wonder.

Not tombs nor temples nor sanctuaries are safe from the profane
and polluting feet of the buzzing plague of them. You journey
miles away from this spot to the great cemetery of Pere Lachaise.
You trudge past seemingly unending, constantly unfolding miles of
monuments and mausoleums; you view the storied urns and animated
busts that mark the final resting-places of France's illustrious
dead. And as you marvel that France should have had so many
illustrious dead, and that so many of them at this writing should
be so dead, out from behind De Musset's vault or Marshal Ney's
comes a snoopy, smirky wretch to pester you to the desperation
that is red-eyed and homicidal with his picture post cards and his
execrable wooden carvings.

You fight the persistent vermin off and flee for refuge to that
shrine of every American who knows his Mark Twain--the joint grave
[Footnote: Being French, and therefore economical, those two are,
as it were, splitting one tomb between them.] of Hell Loisy and
Abie Lard [Footnote: Popular tourist pronunciation.] and lo, in
the very shadow of it there lurks a blood brother to the first
pest! I defy you to get out of that cemetery without buying something
of no value from one or the other, or both of them. The Communists
made their last stand in Pere Lachaise. So did I. They went down
fighting. Same here. They were licked to a frazzle. Ditto, ditto.

Next, we will say, Notre Dame draws you. Within, you walk the
clattering flags of its dim, long aisles; without, you peer aloft
to view its gargoyled waterspouts, leering down like nightmares
caught in the very act of leering and congealed into stone. The
spirit of the place possesses you; you conjure up a vision of the
little maid Esmeralda and the squat hunchback who dwelt in the
tower above; and at the precise moment a foul vagabond pounces on
you and, with a wink that is in itself an insult and a smile that
should earn for him a kick for every inch of its breadth, he draws
from beneath his coat a set of nasty photographs--things which no
decent man could look at without gagging and would not carry about
with him on his person for a million dollars in cash. By threats
and hard words you drive him off; but seeing others of his kind
drawing nigh you run away, with no particular destination in mind
except to discover some spot, however obscure and remote, where
the wicked cease from troubling and the weary may be at rest for
a few minutes. You cross a bridge to the farther bank of the river
and presently you find yourself--at least I found myself there--in
one of the very few remaining quarters of old Paris, as yet untouched
by the scheme of improvement that is wiping out whatever is medieval
and therefore unsanitary, and making it all over, modern and slick
and shiny.

Losing yourself--and with yourself your sense of the reality of
things--you wander into a maze of tall, beetle-browed old houses
with tiny windows that lower at you from under their dormered lids
like hostile eyes. Above, on the attic ledges, are boxes of flowers
and coops where caged larks and linnets pipe cheery snatches of
song; and on beyond, between the eaves, which bend toward one
another like gossips who would swap whispered confidences, is a
strip of sky. Below are smells of age and dampness. And there
is a rich, nutritious garlicky smell too; and against a jog in
the wall a frowsy but picturesque rag-picker is asleep on a pile
of sacks, with a big sleek cat asleep on his breast. I do not
guarantee the rag-picker. He and his cat may have moved since I
was there and saw them, although they had the look about them both
of being permanent fixtures.

You pass a little church, lolling and lopped with the weight of
the years; and through its doors you catch a vista of old pillars
and soft half-lights, and twinkling candles set upon the high
altar. Not even the jimcrackery with which the Latin races dress
up their holy places and the graves of their dead can entirely
dispel its abiding, brooding air of peace and majesty. You linger
a moment outside just such a tavern as a certain ragged poet of
parts might have frequented the while he penned his versified
inquiry which after all these centuries is not yet satisfactorily
answered, touching on the approximate whereabouts of the snows
that fell yesteryear and the roses that bloomed yesterweek.

Midway of a winding alley you come to an ancient wall and an ancient
gate crowned with the half-effaced quarterings of an ancient house,
and you halt, almost expecting that the rusted hinges will creak
a warning and the wooden halves begrudgingly divide, and that from
under the slewed arch will issue a most gallant swashbuckler with
his buckles all buckled and his swash swashing; hence the name.

At this juncture you feel a touch on your shoulder. You spin on
your heel, feeling at your hip for an imaginary sword. But 'tis
not Master Francois Villon, in tattered doublet, with a sonnet.
Nor yet is it a jaunty blade, in silken cloak, with a challenge.
It is your friend of the obscene photograph collection. He has
followed you all the way from 1914 clear back into the Middle Ages,
biding his time and hoping you will change your mind about investing
in his nasty wares.

With your wife or your sister you visit the Louvre. You look on
the Winged Victory and admire her classic but somewhat bulky
proportions, meantime saying to yourself that it certainly must
have been a mighty hard battle the lady won, because she lost her
head and both arms in doing it. You tire of interminable portraits
of the Grand Monarch, showing him grouped with his wife, the
Old-fashioned Square Upright; and his son, the Baby Grand; and his
prime minister, the Lyre; and his brother, the Yellow Clarinet,
and the rest of the orchestra. You examine the space on the wall
where Mona Lisa is or is not smiling her inscrutable smile, depending
on whether the open season for Mona Lisas has come or has passed.
Wandering your weary way past acres of the works of Rubens, and
miles of Titians, and townships of Corots, and ranges of Michelangelos,
and quarter sections of Raphaels, and government reserves of Leonardo
da Vincis, you stray off finally into a side passage to see something
else, leaving your wife or your sister behind in one of the main
galleries. You are gone only a minute or two, but returning you
find her furiously, helplessly angry and embarrassed; and on inquiry
you learn she has been enduring the ordeal of being ogled by a
small, wormy-looking creature who has gone without shaving for two
or three years in a desperate endeavor to resemble a real man.

Some day somebody will take a squirt-gun and a pint of insect
powder and destroy these little, hairy caterpillars who infest all
parts of Paris and make it impossible for a respectable woman to
venture on the streets unaccompanied.

Let us, for the further adornment and final elaboration of the
illustration, say that you are sitting at one of the small round
tables which make mushroom beds under the awnings along the
boulevards. All about you are French people, enjoying themselves
in an easy and a rational and an inexpensive manner. As for
yourself, all you desire is a quiet half hour in which to read
your paper, sip your coffee, and watch the shifting panorama of
street life. That emphatically is all you ask; merely that and a
little privacy. Are you permitted to have it? You are not.

Beggars beseech you to look on their afflictions. Sidewalk venders
cluster about you. And if you are smoking the spark of your cigar
inevitably draws a full delegation of those moldy old whiskerados
who follow the profession of collecting butts and quids. They
hover about you, watchful as chicken hawks; and their bleary eyes
envy you for each puff you take, until you grow uneasy and
self-reproachful under their glare, and your smoke is spoiled for
you. Very few men smoke well before an audience, even an audience
of their own selection; so before your cigar is half finished you
toss it away, and while it is yet in the air the watchers leap
forward and squabble under your feet for the prize. Then the
winner emerges from the scramble and departs along the sidewalk
to seek his next victim, with the still-smoking trophy impaled
on his steel-pointed tool of trade.

In desperation you rise up from there and flee away to your hotel
and hide in your room, and lock and double-lock the doors, and
begin to study timetables with a view to quitting Paris on the
first train leaving for anywhere, the only drawback to a speedy
consummation of this happy prospect being that no living creature
can fathom the meaning of French timetables.

It is not so much the aggregate amount of which they have despoiled
you--it is the knowledge that every other person in Paris is seeking
and planning to nick you for some sum, great or small; it is the
realization that, by reason of your ignorance of the language and
the customs of the land, you are at their mercy, and they have no
mercy--that, as Walter Pater so succinctly phrases it, that is
what gets your goat--and gets it good!

So you shake the dust from your feet--your own dust, not Paris'
dust--and you depart per hired hack for the station and per train
from the station. And as the train draws away from the trainshed
you behold behind you two legends or inscriptions, repeated and
reiterated everywhere on the walls of the French capital.

One of them says: English Spoken Here!

And the other says: Liberality! Economy! Frugality!

Chapter XVI

As Done in London

London is essentially a he-town, just as Paris is indubitably a
she-town. That untranslatable, unmistakable something which is
not to be defined in the plain terms of speech, yet which sets its
mark on any long-settled community, has branded them both--the one
as being masculine, the other as being feminine. For Paris the
lily stands, the conventionalized, feminized lily; but London is
a lion, a shag-headed, heavy-pawed British lion.

One thinks of Paris as a woman, rather pretty, somewhat regardless
of morals and decidedly slovenly of person; craving admiration,
but too indolent to earn it by keeping herself presentable; covering
up the dirt on a piquant face with rice powder; wearing paste
jewels in her earlobes in an effort to distract criticism from the
fact that the ears themselves stand in need of soap and water.
London, viewed in retrospect, seems a great, clumsy, slow-moving
giant, with hair on his chest and soil under his nails; competent
in the larger affairs and careless about the smaller ones; amply
satisfied with himself and disdainful of the opinions of outsiders;
having all of a man's vices and a good share of his virtues; loving
sport for sport's sake and power for its own sake and despising
art for art's sake.

You do not have to spend a week or a month or a year in either
Paris or London to note these things. The distinction is wide
enough to be seen in a day; yes, or in an hour. It shows in all
the outer aspects. An overtowering majority of the smart shops
in Paris cater to women; a large majority of the smart shops in
London cater to men. It shows in their voices; for cities have
voices just as individuals have voices. New York is not yet old
enough to have found its own sex. It belongs still to the neuter
gender. New York is not even a noun--it's a verb transitive; but
its voice is a female voice, just as Paris' voice is. New York,
like Paris, is full of strident, shrieking sounds, shrill outcries,
hysterical babblings--a women's bridge-whist club at the hour of
casting up the score; but London now is different. London at all
hours speaks with a sustained, sullen, steady, grinding tone, never
entirely sinking into quietude, never rising to acute discords.
The sound of London rolls on like a river--a river that ebbs
sometimes, but rarely floods above its normal banks; it impresses
one as the necessary breathing of a grunting and burdened monster
who has a mighty job on his hands and is taking his own good time
about doing it.

In London, mind you, the newsboys do not shout their extras. They
bear in their hands placards with black-typed announcements of the
big news story of the day; and even these headings seem designed
to soothe rather than to excite--saying, for example, such things
as Special From Liner, in referring to a disaster at sea, and
Meeting in Ulster, when meaning that the northern part of Ireland
has gone on record as favoring civil war before home rule.

The street venders do not bray on noisy trumpets or ring with bells
or utter loud cries to advertise their wares. The policeman does
not shout his orders out; he holds aloft the stripe-sleeved arm
of authority and all London obeys. I think the reason why the
Londoners turned so viciously on the suffragettes was not because
of the things the suffragettes clamored for, but because they
clamored for them so loudly. They jarred the public peace--that
must have been it.

I can understand why an adult American might go to Paris and stay
in Paris and be satisfied with Paris, if he were a lover of art
and millinery in all their branches; or why he might go to Berlin
if he were studying music and municipal control; or to Amsterdam
if he cared for cleanliness and new cheese; or to Vienna if he
were concerned with surgery, light opera, and the effect on the
human lungs of doing without fresh air for long periods of time;
or to Rome if he were an antiquarian and interested in ancient
life; or to Naples if he were an entomologist and interested in
insect life; or to Venice if he liked ruins with water round them;
or to Padua if he liked ruins with no water anywhere near them.
No: I'm blessed if I can think of a single good reason why a sane
man should go to Padua if he could go anywhere else.

But I think I know, good and well, why a man might spend his whole
vacation in London and enjoy every minute of it. For this old
fogy, old foggy town of London is a man-sized town, and a man-run
town; and it has a fascination of its own that is as much a part
of it as London's grime is; or London's vastness and London's
pettiness; or London's wealth and its stark poverty; or its atrocious
suburbs; or its dirty, trade-fretted river; or its dismal back
streets; or its still more dismal slums--or anything that is London's.

To a man hailing from a land where everything is so new that quite
a good deal of it has not even happened yet, it is a joyful thing
to turn off a main-traveled road into one of the crooked byways
in which the older parts of London abound, and suddenly to come,
full face, on a house or a court or a pump which figured in epochal
history or epochal literature of the English-speaking race. It
is a still greater joy to find it--house or court or pump or what
not--looking now pretty much as it must have looked when good Queen
Bess, or little Dick Whittington, or Chaucer the scribe, or Shakspere
the player, came this way. It is fine to be riding through the
country and pass a peaceful green meadow and inquire its name of
your driver and be told, most offhandedly, that it is a place
called Runnymede. Each time this happened to me I felt the thrill
of a discoverer; as though I had been the first traveler to find
these spots.

I remember that through an open door I was marveling at the domestic
economies of an English barber shop. I use the word economies in
this connection advisedly; for, compared with the average
high-polished, sterilized and antiseptic barber shop of an American
city, this shop seemed a torture cave. In London, pubs are like
that, and some dentists' establishments and law offices--musty,
fusty dens very unlike their Yankee counterparts. In this particular
shop now the chairs were hard, wooden chairs; the looking-glass
--you could not rightly call it a mirror--was cracked and bleary;
and an apprentice boy went from one patron to another, lathering
each face; and then the master followed after him, razor in hand,
and shaved the waiting countenances in turn. Flies that looked
as though they properly belonged in a livery stable were buzzing
about; and there was a prevalent odor which made me think that all
the sick pomade in the world had come hither to spend its last
declining hours. I said to myself that this place would bear
further study; that some day, when I felt particularly hardy and
daring, I would come here and be shaved, and afterward would write
a piece about it and sell it for money. So, the better to fix its
location in my mind, I glanced up at the street sign and, behold!
I was hard by Drury Lane, where Sweet Nelly once on a time held
her court.

Another time I stopped in front of a fruiterer's, my eye having
been caught by the presence in his window of half a dozen
draggled-looking, wilted roasting ears decorated with a placard
reading as follows:


I was remarking to myself that these Britishers were surely a
strange race of beings--that if England produced so delectable a
thing as green corn we in America would import it by the shipload
and serve it on every table; whereas here it was so rare that they
needs must label it as belonging to the vegetable kingdom, lest
people should think it might be an animal--when I chanced to look
more closely at the building occupied by the fruiterer and saw
that it was an ancient house, half-timbered above the first floor,
with a queer low-browed roof. Inquiring afterward I learned that
this house dated straight back to Elizabethan days and still on
beyond for so many years that no man knew exactly how many; and I
began to understand in a dim sort of way how and why it was these
people held so fast to the things they had and cared so little for
the things they had not.

Better than by all the reading you have ever done you absorb a
sense and realization of the splendor of England's past when you
go to Westminster Abbey and stand--figuratively--with one foot on
Jonson and another on Dryden; and if, overcome by the presence of
so much dead-and-gone greatness, you fall in a fit you commit a
trespass on the last resting-place of Macaulay or Clive, or somebody
of equal consequence. More imposing even than Westminster is St.
Paul's. I am not thinking so much of the memorials or the tombs
or the statues there, but of the tattered battleflags bearing the
names of battles fought by the English in every crack and cranny
of the world, from Quebec to Ladysmith, and from Lucknow to Khartum.
Beholding them there, draped above the tombs, some faded but still
intact, some mere clotted wisps of ragged silk clinging to blackened
standards, gives one an uplifting conception of the spirit that
has sent the British soldier forth to girth the globe, never
faltering, never slackening pace, never giving back a step to-day
but that he took two steps forward to-morrow; never stopping--except
for tea.

The fool hath said in his heart that he would go to England and
come away and write something about his impressions, but never
write a single, solitary word about the Englishman's tea-drinking
habit, or the Englishman's cricket-playing habit, or the Englishman's
lack of a sense of humor. I was that fool. But it cannot be done.
Lacking these things England would not be England. It would be
Hamlet without Hamlet or the Ghost or the wicked Queen or mad
Ophelia or her tiresome old pa; for most English life and the bulk
of English conversation center about sporting topics, with the
topic of cricket predominating. And at a given hour of the day
the wheels of the empire stop, and everybody in the empire--from
the king in the counting house counting up his money, to the maid
in the garden hanging out the clothes--drops what he or she may
be doing and imbibes tea until further orders. And what oceans of
tea they do imbibe!

There was an old lady who sat near us in a teashop one afternoon.
As well as might be judged by one who saw her in a sitting posture
only, she was no deeper than any other old lady of average dimensions;
but in rapid succession she tilted five large cups of piping hot
tea into herself and was starting on the sixth when we withdrew,
stunned by the spectacle. She must have been fearfully long-waisted.
I had a mental vision of her interior decorations--all fumed-oak
wainscotings and buff-leather hangings. Still, I doubt whether
their four-o'clock-tea habit is any worse than our
five-o'clock cocktail habit. It all depends, I suppose, on whether
one prefers being tanned inside to being pickled. But we are
getting bravely over our cocktail habit, as attested by figures
and the visual evidences, while their tea habit is growing on
them--so the statisticians say.

As for the Englishman's sense of humor, or his lack of it, I judge
that we Americans are partly wrong in our diagnosis of that phase

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