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promoting till he goes to utter penury, broken-downedness,
and the workhouse; and let me
whisper it to you, among all the wild, impossible,
crazy "schames" to which the tufted
head of Corney O'Gripper has given birth,
there have been some not quite wanting in feasibility
and success. There are at this moment
companies with lofty-sounding nameswith
earls for chairmen; companies that spend
thousands a year in advertisements, and have
grand offices in Cannon Street and branch
offices in Waterloo Placethat were in the
origin promoted by this poor ragged creature,
who is not too proud to sit on the taproom
bench in the public-house under Capel Court;
who is only too happy to borrow ninepence,
and who sleeps no one knows where, and
feeds on fried fish, baked potatoes, saveloys,
penny ham sandwiches and meat pies, when
he is lucky enough even to be able to
procure those simple viands.

Thus wags the world in the place I do not
care to name. I wonder what should set
humphHadesrunning in my head this
evening, and move me to descant upon it,
for it is more than a year agone since I was
there. What have the pewter pots, the rank
tobacco, the shabby men, the fried beefsteaks
and onions, the rummers of spirits and the
sawdust of that old English Inferno in
common with the pier-glass and arabesque
decorated café, the marble table and crimson
velvet couches where I sit, the opal-like
scintillating glass of absinthe I am imbibing
on the great Paris Boulevard, hard by the
Café de I'Opéra. I have not been to the
Bourse to-day, though I know that great
screaming, tumbling, temple of Mammon
well, and of old: its hot, reeking atmosphere,
the snow storm of torn scraps of paper on its
pavement; the great inner and outer rings
where the bulls and bears offer, refuse,
scream, and gesticulate at each other like
madmen; the lofty galleries where crowds of
idlers, mostly in blouses, lounge with crossed
arms over the balustrades, lazily listening to
the prodigious clamour that rises to the
vaulted roofthe Kyrie Eleison of the
acolothites of Mammon; the deceptive
frescoes on the cornices that look so like
bas-reliefs; the ushers in uniform darting
about with the course of exchange; the
municipal guards and gendarmes; the
nursery maids and children that come en
promenade (where will not nursery maids and
children come?), the trebly serried ranks of
private carriages, fiacres and cabriolets in the
place outside. No, I have not been to the
Bourse. I sit quietly smoking a penny cigar
and imbibing eight sous worth of absinthe preparatory
to going to my friend Madame
Busque's to dinner. Whatever can put Hades
into my head this December evening I

This, your Excellency. The café where I
sit (I was all unconscious of it before) is
Hades; and in its pier-glassed precincts from
five to seven every evening, sometimes later,
the worshippers of the Golden Calf go through
their orisons (oh forgive me if I am free-tongued!)
like the very devil. For know you
that the Bourse being closed the gaping for
gain is by no means closed in the hearts of
men. They rush to this cafe, hard by the
Passage de l'Opéra and get up a little
Bourse of their ownan illegitimate Bourse
be it understood, and one, when its members
are detected in flagrante delicto, treated with
considerable severity by the government.
Before I have been in the place ten minutes
Sebastopol has been taken,—retakenthe
allies defeatedkings and emperors assassinated
twenty times over. Bank notes, Napoleons,
and five franc pieces are strewn on the
table amidst absinthe glasses, dominoes, decanters,
and cigar ends. Moustachiod men
lean over my shoulder and shake pencils at
their opposite neighbours fiercely. Seedy men
sit silent, in corners; prosperous speculators
pay with shining gold. Shrieks of vingt-cinq,
trente, quatre-vingt-cinq are bandied about
like insults. It is the old under Capel Court
Inferno with a few moustaches, some plate-glass,
and a ribbon or two of the Legion of
Honour; and as I finish my absinthe in the
din, I seem to see a Golden Calf on the
marble, plate covered-counter, very rampant


WHEN the railroad train from Paris to
Strasbourg stopped, for my convenience, at
the Meaux station, I was much impressed
with the majestic appearance of the town,
enclosed in high walls, and dominated by a
gigantic cathedral of stately architecture,
which rose as if out of the surrounding roofs
of houses, that looked like children's playthings
in comparison with its size. Intermixed
with these dolls' houses a whole grove
of trees threw a green drapery across the
view; a broad rugged field and a fine avenue
of limes alone divided me from the entrance
of the town, and masses of ancient masonry,
surmounted by modern walls covered with
thick ivy, pointed out to me the spot where
the once famous strong castlenow the
prisonstood. A few minutes' walk brought
me into the street, with my baggage preceding
on a truck; for nothing in the shape
of omnibus or cab was at the station for the
use of travellers, although a train has long
run on Sundays from Paris to Meaux exclusively.
Having heard of this fact, I expected
to see great bustle and much gaiety,
and was singularly surprised at the total
silence, except of birds, and the absence of
movement in the grass-grown streets. As I
had desired to be conducted to an hotel with
a garden, taking it for granted that such a
place existed at a town said to be frequented
by Parisians, it had been decided for me that
my haven of refuge should be La Sirène.

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