The Adventures of Philip on his way through the World, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter 3

Qu’on Est Bien a Vingt Ans.

In an old album, which we have at home, a friend has made various sketches of Philip, Charlotte, and all our family circle. To us oldsters the days we are describing seem but as yesterday; yet as I look at the drawings and recal my friend, and ourselves, and the habits in which we were dressed some twenty years since, I can’t but think what a commotion we should create were we to enter our own or our neighbour’s drawing-room in those garments which appeared perfectly becoming in the year 1840. What would be a woman without a crinoline petticoat, for example? an object ridiculous, hateful, I suppose hardly proper. What would you think of a hero who wore a large high black-satin stock cascading over a figured silk waistcoat; and a blue dress-coat, with brass buttons, mayhap? If a person so attired came up to ask you to dance, could you refrain from laughing? Time was, when young men so decorated found favour in the eyes of damsels who had never beheld hooped petticoats, except in their grandmothers’ portraits. Persons who flourished in the first part of the century never thought to see the hoops of our ancestors’ age rolled downwards to our contemporaries and children. Did we ever imagine that a period would arrive when our young men would part their hair down the middle, and wear a piece of tape for a neckcloth? As soon should we have thought of their dyeing their bodies with woad, and arraying themselves like ancient Britons. So the ages have their dress and undress; and the gentlemen and ladies of Victoria’s time are satisfied with their manner of raiment; as no doubt in Boadicea’s court they looked charming tattooed and painted blue.

The times of which we write, the times of Louis Philippe the king, are so altered from the present, that when Philip Firmin went to Paris it was absolutely a cheap place to live in; and he has often bragged in subsequent days of having lived well during a month for five pounds, and bought a neat waistcoat with a part of the money. “A capital bed-room, au premier, for a franc a day, sir,” he would call all persons to remark, “a bedroom as good as yours, my lord, at Meurice’s . Very good tea or coffee breakfast, twenty francs a month, with lots of bread and butter. Twenty francs a month for washing, and fifty for dinner and pocket-money — that’s about the figure. The dinner, I own, is shy, unless I come and dine with my friends; and then I make up for banyan days.” And so saying Philip would call out for more truffled partridges, or affably filled his goblet with my Lord Ringwood’s best Sillery. “At those shops,” he would observe, “where I dine, I have beer: I can’t stand the wine. And you see, I can’t go to the cheap English ordinaries, of which there are many, because English gentlemen’s servants are there, you know, and it’s not pleasant to sit with a fellow who waits on you the day after.”

“Oh! the English servants go to the cheap ordinaries, do they?” asks my lord, greatly amused, “and you drink bière de Mars at the shop where you dine?”

“And dine very badly, too, I can tell you. Always come away hungry. Give me some champagne — the dry, if you please. They mix very well together — sweet and dry. Did you ever dine at Flicoteau’s, Mr. Pecker?”

“I dine at one of your horrible two-franc houses?” cries Mr. Pecker, with a look of terror. “Do you know, my lord, there are actually houses where people dine for two francs?”

“Two francs! Seventeen sous!” bawls out Mr. Firmin. “The soup, the beef, the rôti, the salad, the dessert, and the whitey-brown bread at discretion. It’s not a good dinner, certainly — in fact, it is a dreadful bad one. But to dine so would do some fellows a great deal of good.”

“What do you say, Pecker? Flicoteau’s; seventeen sous. We’ll make a little party and try, and Firmin shall do the honours of his restaurant,” says my lord, with a grin.

“Mercy!” gasps Mr. Pecker.

“I had rather dine here, if you please, my lord,” says the young man. “This is cheaper, and certainly better.”

My lord’s doctor, and many of the guests at his table, my lord’s henchmen, flatterers, and led captains, looked aghast at the freedom of the young fellow in the shabby coat. If they dared to be familiar with their host, there came a scowl over that noble countenance which was awful to face. They drank his corked wine in meekness of spirit. They laughed at his jokes trembling. One after another, they were the objects of his satire; and each grinned piteously, as he took his turn of punishment. Some dinners are dear, though they cost nothing. At some great tables are not toads served along with the entrées? Yes, and many amateurs are exceedingly fond of the dish.

How do Parisians live at all? is a question which has often set me wondering. How do men, in public offices, with fifteen thousand francs, let us say, for a salary — and this, for a French official, is a high salary — live in handsome apartments; give genteel entertainments; clothe themselves and their families with much more sumptuous raiment than English people of the same station can afford; take their country holiday, a six weeks’ sojourn aux eaux; and appear cheerful and to want for nothing? Paterfamilias, with six hundred a year in London, knows what a straitened life his is, with rent high, and beef at a shilling a pound. Well, in Paris, rent is higher, and meat is dearer; and yet madame is richly dressed when you see her; monsieur has always a little money in his pocket for his club or his café; and something is pretty surely put away every year for the marriage portion of the young folks. “Sir,” Philip used to say, describing this period of his life, on which and on most subjects regarding himself, by the way, he was wont to be very eloquent, “when my income was raised to five thousand francs a year, I give you my word I was considered to be rich by my French acquaintance. I gave four sous to the waiter at our dining-place:— in that respect I was always ostentatious:— and I believe they called me Milor. I should have been poor in the Rue de la Paix: but I was wealthy in the Luxembourg quarter. Don’t tell me about poverty, sir! Poverty is a bully if you are afraid of her, or truckle to her. Poverty is good-natured enough if you meet her like a man. You saw how my poor old father was afraid of her, and thought the world would come to an end if Dr. Firmin did not keep his butler, and his footman, and his fine house, and fine chariot and horses? He was a poor man, if you please. He must have suffered agonies in his struggle to make both ends meet. Everything he bought must have cost him twice the honest price; and when I think of nights that must have been passed without sleep — of that proud man having to smirk and cringe before creditors — to coax butchers, by George, and wheedle tailors — I pity him: I can’t be angry any more. That man has suffered enough. As for me, haven’t you remarked that since I have not a guinea in the world, I swagger, and am a much greater swell than before?” And the truth is, that a Prince Royal could not have called for his gens with a more magnificent air than Mr. Philip when he summoned the waiter, and paid for his petit verre.

Talk of poverty, indeed! That period, Philip vows, was the happiest of his life. He liked to tell in after days of the choice acquaintance of Bohemians which he had formed. Their jug, he said, though it contained but small beer, was always full. Their tobacco, though it bore no higher rank than that of caporal, was plentiful and fragrant. He knew some admirable medical students; some artists who only wanted talent and industry to be at the height of their profession; and one or two of the magnates of his own calling, the newspaper correspondents, whose houses and tables were open to him. It was wonderful what secrets of politics he learned and transmitted to his own paper. He pursued French statesmen of those days with prodigious eloquence and vigour. At the expense of that old king he was wonderfully witty and sarcastical. He reviewed the affairs of Europe, settled the destinies of Russia, denounced the Spanish marriages, disposed of the Pope, and advocated the liberal cause in France, with an untiring eloquence. “Absinthe used to be my drink, sir,” so he was good enough to tell his friends. “It makes the ink run, and imparts a fine eloquence to the style. Mercy upon us, how I would belabour that poor King of the French under the influence of absinthe, in that café opposite the Bourse where I used to make my letter! Who knows, sir, perhaps the influence of those letters precipitated the fall of the Bourbon dynasty! Before I had an office, Gilligan, of the Century, and I used to do our letters at that café; we compared notes and pitched into each other amicably.

Gilligan of the Century, and Firmin of the Pall Mall Gazette, were, however, very minor personages amongst the London newspaper correspondents. Their seniors of the daily press had handsome apartments, gave sumptuous dinners, were closeted with ministers’ secretaries, and entertained members of the Chamber of Deputies. Philip, on perfectly easy terms with himself and the world, swaggering about the embassy balls — Philip, the friend and relative of Lord Ringwood — was viewed by his professional seniors and superiors with an eye of favour, which was not certainly turned on all gentlemen following his calling. Certainly poor Gilligan was never asked to those dinners, which some of the newspaper ambassadors gave, whereas Philip was received not inhospitably. Gilligan received but a cold shoulder at Mrs. Morning Messenger’s Thursdays; and as for being asked to dinner, “Bedad, that fellow Firmin has an air with him which will carry him through anywhere!” Phil’s brother correspondent owned. “He seems to patronize an ambassador when he goes up and speaks to him; and he says to a secretary, ‘My good fellow, tell your master that Mr. Firmin, of the Pall Mall Gazette, wants to see him, and will thank him to step over to the Café de la Bourse.’” I don’t think Philip for his part would have seen much matter of surprise in a minister stepping over to speak to him. To him all folk were alike, great and small: and it is recorded of him that when, on one occasion, Lord Ringwood paid him a visit at his lodgings in the Faubourg St. Germain, Philip affably offered his lordship a cornet of fried potatoes, with which, and plentiful tobacco of course, Philip and one or two of his friends were regaling themselves when Lord Ringwood chanced to call on his kinsman.

A crust and a carafon of small beer, a correspondence with a weekly paper, and a remuneration such as that we have mentioned — was Philip Firmin to look for no more than this pittance, and not to seek for more permanent and lucrative employment? Some of his friends at home were rather vexed at what Philip chose to consider his good fortune; namely, his connection with the newspaper and the small stipend it gave him. He might quarrel with his employer any day. Indeed no man was more likely to fling his bread and butter out of window than Mr. Philip. He was losing precious time at the bar; where he, as hundreds of other poor gentlemen had done before him, might make a career for himself. For what are colonies made? Why do bankruptcies occur? Why do people break the peace and quarrel with policemen, but that barristers may be employed as judges, commissioners, magistrates? A reporter to a newspaper remains all his life a newspaper reporter. Philip, if he would but help himself, had friends in the world who might aid effectually to advance him. So it was we pleaded with him, in the language of moderation, urging the dictates of common sense. As if moderation and common sense could be got to move that mule of a Philip Firmin; as if any persuasion of ours could induce him to do anything but what he liked to do best himself!

“That you should be worldly, my poor fellow” (so Philip wrote to his present biographer) — “that you should be thinking of money and the main chance, is no matter of surprise to me. You have suffered under that curse of manhood, that destroyer of generosity in the mind, that parent of selfishness — a little fortune. You have your wretched hundreds” (my candid correspondent stated the sum correctly enough; and I wish it were double or treble; but that is not here the point:) “paid quarterly. The miserable pittance numbs your whole existence. It prevents freedom of thought and action. It makes a screw of a man who is certainly not without generous impulses, as I know, my poor old Harpagon: for hast thou not offered to open thy purse to me? I tell you I am sick of the way in which people in London, especially good people, think about money. You live up to your income’s edge. You are miserably poor. You brag and flatter yourselves that you owe no man anything; but your estate has creditors upon it as insatiable as any usurer, and as hard as any bailiff. You call me reckless, and prodigal, and idle, and all sorts of names, because I live in a single room, do as little work as I can, and go about with holes in my boots: and you flatter yourself you are prudent, because you have a genteel house, a grave flunkey out of livery, and two greengrocers to wait when you give your half-dozen dreary dinner parties. Wretched man! You are a slave: not a man. You are a pauper, with a good house and good clothes. You are so miserably prudent, that all your money is spent for you, except the few wretched shillings which you allow yourself for pocket-money. You tremble at the expense of a cab. I believe you actually look at half-a-crown before you spend it. The landlord is your master. The livery-stablekeeper is your master. A train of ruthless, useless servants are your pitiless creditors, to whom you have to pay exorbitant dividends every day. I, with a hole in my elbow, who live upon a shilling dinner, and walk on cracked boot soles, am called extravagant, idle, reckless, I don’t know what; while you, forsooth, consider yourself prudent. Miserable delusion! You are flinging away heaps of money on useless flunkeys, on useless maid servants, on useless lodgings, on useless finery — and you say, ‘Poor Phil! what a sad idler he is! how he flings himself away! in what a wretched, disreputable manner he lives!’ Poor Phil is as rich as you are, for he has enough, and is content. Poor Phil can afford to be idle, and you can’t. You must work in order to keep that great hulking footman, that great rawboned cook, that army of babbling nursery-maids, and I don’t know what more. And if you choose to submit to the slavery and degradation inseparable from your condition; — the wretched inspection of candle-ends, which you call order; — the mean self-denials, which you must daily practise — I pity you, and don’t quarrel with you. But I wish you would not be so insufferably virtuous, and ready with your blame and pity for me. If I am happy, pray need you be disquieted? Suppose I prefer independence, and shabby boots? Are not these better than to be pinched by your abominable varnished conventionalism, and to be denied the liberty of free action? My poor fellow, I pity you from my heart; and it grieves me to think how hose fine honest children — honest, and hearty, and frank, and open as yet — are to lose their natural good qualities, and to be swathed and swaddled, and stifled out of health and honesty by that obstinate worldling their father. Don’t tell me about the world, I know it. People sacrifice the next world to it, and are all the while proud of their prudence. Look at my miserable relations, steeped in respectability. Look at my father. There is a chance for him, now he is down and in poverty. I have had a letter from him, containing more of that dreadful worldly advice which you Pharisees give. If it weren’t for Laura and the children, sir, I heartily wish you were ruined like your affectionate — P. F.

“N.B., P.S. — Oh, Pen! I am so happy! She is such a little darling! I bathe in her innocence, sir! I strengthen myself in her purity. I kneel before her sweet goodness and unconsciousness of guile. I walk from my room, and see her every morning before seven o’clock. I see her every afternoon. She loves you and Laura. And you love her, don’t you? And to think that six months ago I was going to marry a woman without a heart! Why, sir, blessings be on the poor old father for spending our money, and rescuing me from that horrible fate! I might have been like that fellow in the Arabian Nights who married Amina — the respectable woman, who dined upon grains of rice, but supped upon cold dead body. Was it not worth all the money I ever was heir to, to have escaped from that ghoul? Lord Ringwood says he thinks I was well out of that. He calls people by Anglo-Saxon names, and uses very expressive monosyllables; and of aunt Twysden, of uncle Twysden, of the girls, and their brother, he speaks in a way which makes me see he has come to just conclusions about them.

“P.S. No. 2. — Ah Pen! She is such a darling. I think I am the happiest man in the world.”

And this was what came of being ruined! A scapegrace, who, when he had plenty of money in his pocket, was ill-tempered, imperious, and discontented; now that he is not worth twopence, declares himself the happiest fellow in the world! Do you remember, my dear, how he used to grumble at our claret, and what wry faces he made, when there was only cold meat for dinner? The wretch is absolutely contented with bread and cheese and small-beer — even that bad beer which they have in Paris!

Now and again, at this time, and as our mutual avocations permitted, I saw Philip’s friend, the Little Sister. He wrote to her dutifully from time to time. He told her of his love affair with Miss Charlotte; and my wife and I could console Caroline, by assuring her that this time the young man’s heart was given to a worthy mistress. I say console, for the news, after all, was sad for her. In the little chamber which she always kept ready for him, he would lie awake, and think of some one dearer to him than a hundred poor Carolines. She would devise something that should be agreeable to the young lady. At Christmas time there came to Miss Baynes a wonderfully worked cambric pocket-handkerchief, with “Charlotte” most beautifully embroidered in the corner. It was this poor widow’s mite of love and tenderness which she meekly laid down in the place where she worshipped. “And I have six for him, too, ma’am” Mrs. Brandon told my wife. “Poor fellow! His shirts was in a dreadful way when he went away from here, and that you know, ma’am.” So you see this wayfarer, having fallen among undoubted thieves, yet found many kind souls to relieve him, and many a good Samaritan ready with his twopence, if need were.

The reason why Philip was the happiest man in the world of course you understand. French people are very early risers; and, at the little hotel where Mr. Philip lived, the whole crew of the house were up hours before lazy English masters and servants think of stirring. At ever so early an hour Phil had a fine bowl of coffee and milk and bread for his breakfast; and he was striding down to the Invalides, and across the bridge to the Champs Elysées, and the fumes of his pipe preceded him with a pleasant odour. And a short time after passing the Rond Point in the Elysian fields, where an active fountain was flinging up showers of diamonds to the sky, — after, I say, leaving the Rond Point on his right, and passing under umbrageous groves in the direction of the present Castle of Flowers, Mr. Philip would see a little person. Sometimes a young sister or brother came with the little person. Sometimes only a blush fluttered on her cheek, and a sweet smile beamed in her face as she came forward to greet him. For the angels were scarce purer than this young maid; and Una was no more afraid of the lion, than Charlotte of her companion with the loud voice and the tawny mane. I would not have envied that reprobate’s lot who should have dared to say a doubtful word to this Una: but the truth is, she never thought of danger, or met with any. The workmen were going to their labour; the dandies were asleep; and considering their age, and the relationship in which they stood to one another, I am not surprised at Philip for announcing that this was the happiest time of his life. In later days, when two gentlemen of mature age happened to be in Paris together, what must Mr. Philip Firmin do but insist upon walking me sentimentally to the Champs Elysés, and looking at an old house there, a rather shabby old house in a garden. “That was the place,” sighs he. “That was Madame de Smolensk’s . That was the window, the third one, with the green jalousie. By Jove, sir, how happy and how miserable I have been behind that green blind!” And my friend shakes his large fist at the somewhat dilapidated mansion, whence Madame de Smolensk and her boarders have long since departed.

I fear that baroness had engaged in her enterprise with insufficient capital, or conducted it with such liberality that her profits were eaten up by her boarders. I could tell dreadful stories impugning the baroness’s moral character. people said she had no right to the title of baroness at all, or to the noble foreign name of Smolensk. People are still alive who knew her under a different name. The baroness herself was what some amateurs call a fine woman, especially at dinner-time, when she appeared in black satin and with cheeks that blushed up as far as the eyelids. In her peignoir in the morning, she was perhaps the reverse of fine. Contours which were round at night, in the forenoon appeared lean and angular. Her roses only bloomed half-an-hour before dinner-time on a cheek which was quite yellow until five o’clock. I am sure it is very kind of elderly and ill-complexioned people to supply the ravages of time or jaundice, and present to our view a figure blooming and agreeable, in place of an object faded and withered. Do you quarrel with your opposite neighbour for painting his house front or putting roses in his balcony? You are rather thankful for the adornment. Madame de Smolensk’s front was so decorated of afternoons. Geraniums were set pleasantly under those first-floor windows, her eyes. Carcel lamps beamed from those windows: lamps which she had trimmed with her own scissors, and into which that poor widow poured the oil which she got somehow and anyhow. When the dingy breakfast papillotes were cast of an afternoon, what beautiful black curls appeared round her brow! The dingy papillotes were put away in the drawer: the peignoir retired to its hook behind the door: the satin raiment came forth, the shining, the ancient, the well-kept, the well-wadded: and at the same moment the worthy woman took that smile out of some cunning box on her scanty toilet-table — that smile which she wore all the evening along with the rest of her toilette, and took out of her mouth when she went to bed, and to think — to think how both ends were to be made to meet.

Philip said he respected and admired that woman: and worthy of respect she was in her way. She painted her face and grinned at poverty. She laughed and rattled with care gnawing at her side. She had to coax the milkman out of his human kindness: to pour oil — his own oil — upon the stormy épicier’s soul: to melt the butterman: to tap the wine-merchant: to mollify the butcher: to invent new pretexts for the landlord: to reconcile the lady boarders, Mrs. General Baynes, let us say, and the honourable Mrs. Boldero, who were always quarrelling: to see that the dinner, when procured, was cooked properly; that Françoise, to whom she owed ever so many months’ wages, was not too rebellious or intoxicated; that Auguste, also her creditor, had his glass clean and his lamps in order. And this work done and the hour of six o’clock arriving, she had to carve and be agreeable to her table; not to hear the growls of the discontented (and at what table-d’hôte are there not grumblers?); to have a word for everybody present; a smile and a laugh for Mrs. Bunch (with whom there had been very likely a dreadful row in the morning); a remark for the colonel; a polite phrase for the general’s lady; and even a good word and compliment for sulky Auguste, who just before dinner-time had unfolded the napkin of mutiny about his wages.

Was not this enough work for a woman to do? To conduct a great house without sufficient money, and make soup, fish, roasts, and half a dozen entrées out of wind as it were? to conjure up wine in piece and by the dozen? to laugh and joke without the least gaiety? to receive scorn, abuse, rebuffs, insolence, with gay good-humour? and then to go to bed wearied at night, and have to think about figures, and that dreadful, dreadful sum in arithmetic — given,5l. to pay 6l? Lady Macbeth is supposed to have been a resolute woman: and great, tall, loud, hectoring females are set to represent the character. I say No. She was a weak woman. She began to walk in her sleep, and blab after one disagreeable little incident had occurred in her house. She broke down, and got all the people away from her own table in the most abrupt and clumsy manner, because that drivelling, epileptic husband of hers fancied he saw a ghost. In Lady Smolensk’s place Madame de Macbeth would have broken down in a week: and Smolensk lasted for years. If twenty gibbering ghosts had come to the boarding-house dinner, madame would have gone on carving her dishes, and smiling and helping the live guests, the paying guests; leaving the dead guests to gibber away and help themselves. “My poor father had to keep up appearances,” Phil would say, recounting these things in after days: “but how? You know he always looked as if he was going to be hung.” Smolensk was the gayest of the gay always. That widow would have tripped up to her funeral pile and kissed her hands to her friends with a smiling ‘Bon jour!’”

“Pray, who was Monsieur de Smolensk?” asks a simple lady who may be listening to our friend’s narrative.

“Ah, my dear lady! there was a pretty disturbance in the house when that question came to be mooted, I promise you,” says our friend, laughing, as he recounts his adventures. And, after all, what does it matter to you and me and this story who Smolensk was? I am sure this poor lady had hardships enough in her life campaign, and that Ney himself could not have faced fortune with a constancy more heroical.

Well, when the Bayneses first came to her house, I tell you Smolensk and all round her smiled, and our friends thought they were landed in a real rosy Elysium in the Champs of that name. Madame had a Carrick à l’ Indienne prepared in compliment to her guests. She had had many Indians in her establishment. She adored Indians. N’ était ce la polygamie — they were most estimable people the Hindus. Surtout, she adored Indian shawls. That of Madame la Générale was ravishing. The company at Madame’s was pleasant. The Honourable Mrs. Boldero was a dashing woman of fashion and respectability, who had lived in the best world — it was easy to see that. The young ladies’ duets were very striking. The Honourable Mr. Boldero was away shooting in Scotland at his brother, Lord Strongitharm’s, and would take Gaberlunzie Castle and the duke’s on his way south. Mrs. Baynes did not know Lady Estridge, the ambassadress? When the Estridges returned from Chantilly, the Honourable Mrs. B. would be delighted to introduce her. “Your pretty girl’s name is Charlotte? So is Lady Estridge’s — and very nearly as tall; — fine girls the Estridges; fine long necks — large feet — but your girl — lady Baynes’ has beautiful feet. Lady Baynes, I said? Well, you must be Lady Baynes soon. The general must be a K. C. B. after his services. What, you know Lord Trim? He will, and must, do it for you. If not, my brother Strongitharm shall.” I have no doubt Mrs. Baynes was greatly elated by the attentions of Lord Strongitharm’s sister; and looked him out in the Peerage, where his lordship’s arms, pedigree, and residence of Gaberlunzie Castle are duly recorded. The Honourable Mrs. Boldero’s daughters, the Misses Minna and Brenda Boldero, played some rattling sonatas on a piano which was a good deal fatigued by their exertions, for the young ladies’ hands were very powerful. And madame said, “Thank you,” with her sweetest smile; and Auguste handed about on a silver tray — I say silver, so that the convenances may not be wounded — well, say silver that was blushing to find itself copper — handed up on a tray a white drink which made the Baynes boys cry out, “I say, mother, what’s this beastly thing?” On which madame, with the sweetest smile, appealed to the company, and said, “They love orgeat, these dear infants!” and resumed her picquet with old M. Bidois — that odd old gentleman in the long brown coat, with the red ribbon, who took so much snuff and blew his nose so often and so loudly. One, two, three rattling sonatas Minna and Brenda played; Mr. Clancy, of Trinity College, Dublin (M. de Clanci, madame called him), turning over the leaves, and presently being persuaded to sing some Irish melodies for the ladies. I don’t think Miss Charlotte Baynes listened to the music much. She was listening to another music, which she and Mr. Firmin were performing together. Oh, how pleasant that music used to be! There was a sameness in it, I dare say, but still it was pleasant to hear the air over again. The pretty little duet à quatre mains, where the hands cross over, and hop up and down the keys, and the heads get so close, so close. Oh, duets, oh, regrets! Psha! no more of this. Go downstairs, old dotard. Take your hat and umbrella and go walk by the sea-shore, and whistle a toothless old solo. “These are our quiet nights,” whispers M. de Clanci, to the Baynes ladies, when the evening draws to an end. “Madame’s Thursdays are, I promise ye, much more fully attended.” Good night, good night. A squeeze of a little hand, a hearty hand-shake from papa and mamma, and Philip is striding through the dark Elysian fields and over the Place of Concord to his lodgings in the Faubourg St. Germain. Or, stay! what is that glowworm beaming by the wall opposite Madame de Smolensk’s house? — a glowworm that wafts an aromatic incense and odour? I do believe it is Mr. Philip’s cigar. And he is watching, watching at a window by which a slim figure flits now and again. Then darkness falls on the little window. The sweet eyes are closed. Oh, blessings, blessings be upon them! The stars shine overhead. And homeward stalks Mr. Firmin, talking to himself, and brandishing a great stick.

I wish that poor Madame Smolensk could sleep as well as the people in her house. But care, with the cold feet, gets under the coverlid, and says, “Here I am; you know that bill is coming due to-morrow.” Ah, atra cura! can’t you leave the poor thing a little quiet? Hasn’t she had work enough all day?

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00