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10. CHAPTER X. (continued)
"Why, he told us which way to go to find the Grand Casino."
"Yes, but what did he say?"
"Oh, it don't matter what he said--we understood him. These are educated people--not like that absurd boatman."
"Well, I wish they were educated enough to tell a man a direction that goes some where--for we've been going around in a circle for an hour. I've passed this same old drugstore seven times."
We said it was a low, disreputable falsehood (but we knew it was not). It was plain that it would not do to pass that drugstore again, though-- we might go on asking directions, but we must cease from following finger-pointings if we hoped to check the suspicions of the disaffected member.
A long walk through smooth, asphaltum-paved streets bordered by blocks of vast new mercantile houses of cream-colored stone every house and every block precisely like all the other houses and all the other blocks for a mile, and all brilliantly lighted--brought us at last to the principal thoroughfare. On every hand were bright colors, flashing constellations of gas burners, gaily dressed men and women thronging the sidewalks-- hurry, life, activity, cheerfulness, conversation, and laughter everywhere! We found the Grand Hotel du Louvre et de la Paix, and wrote down who we were, where we were born, what our occupations were, the place we came from last, whether we were married or single, how we liked it, how old we were, where we were bound for and when we expected to get there, and a great deal of information of similar importance--all for the benefit of the landlord and the secret police. We hired a guide and began the business of sightseeing immediately. That first night on French soil was a stirring one. I cannot think of half the places we went to or what we particularly saw; we had no disposition to examine carefully into anything at all--we only wanted to glance and go--to move, keep moving! The spirit of the country was upon us. We sat down, finally, at a late hour, in the great Casino, and called for unstinted champagne. It is so easy to be bloated aristocrats where it costs nothing of consequence! There were about five hundred people in that dazzling place, I suppose, though the walls being papered entirely with mirrors, so to speak, one could not really tell but that there were a hundred thousand. Young, daintily dressed exquisites and young, stylishly dressed women, and also old gentlemen and old ladies, sat in couples and groups about innumerable marble-topped tables and ate fancy suppers, drank wine, and kept up a chattering din of conversation that was dazing to the senses. There was a stage at the far end and a large orchestra; and every now and then actors and actresses in preposterous comic dresses came out and sang the most extravagantly funny songs, to judge by their absurd actions; but that audience merely suspended its chatter, stared cynically, and never once smiled, never once applauded! I had always thought that Frenchmen were ready to laugh at any thing.
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