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MR. LEDBURY'S ADVENTURES AT HOME AND ABROAD,
THE LAST O’ROURKE; BEING A PASSAGE FROM THE DIARY OF
THE MONK OF KNOCKDERMOT, . . . 572 LEAVES OF LEGENDARY LORE—THE LEGEND OF ROLAND,
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SLEEP, EDITED BY ALFRED CROWQUILL 622
RICHARD SAVAGE: A ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE, EDITED, WITH
OCCASIONAL NOTES, BY C. WHITEHEAD-CONCLUSION,
TUE KEEPER'S GRAVE,
MR. LEDBURY'S ADVENTURES AT HOME AND
BY ALBERT SMITH.
Of the Bois de Boulogne, and Mr. Ledbury's equestrian feats therein.
There is one very gratifying result attendant upon the exhilaration produced by a rather-more-than-usual indulgence in the various convivial beverages which pure French Cognac lends its aid to concoct. Its elevating effects go off with little systematic derangement, and it leaves none of those extra-uncomfortable reflections upon past folly, which the Acherontic rack-punch, the heavy bottled stout, or the coarse, fiery tavern brandy of England invariably induce.
Accordingly, although at the end of the last chapter we left Mr. Ledbury and Jack Johnson in that happy state which would have precluded them, for the moment, from casting up an intricate account; or undertaking any piece of work which required much cool reflection to perform, yet by eleven o'clock in the moroing they were, to use Jack's expressive phrase, signifying the peculiar amount of coin which he generally selected to express an orderly state of domestic economy, .as right as ninepence.' Aimée had been aroused from her slumbers, and now, like Kathleen Mavourneen, between sleeping and waking, (for the head of the little grisette was not quite so strong as those of her companions, and she was slightly drowsy), was making coffee for our two friends. However, everything was very comfortable, and the events of the previous night-ihe “after-party' which is always so'amusing to'discuss with people of slightly quizzical powersfurnished them with much diverting conversation. The gendarme had cleared himself off, to make what excuse he best might for his absence from the police office; and M. Mito had been carefully carried down stairs, and laid upon a pallet-bed, until returning consciousness should allow him to receive his wife's gentle upbraidings with proper feeling and effect.
Mr. Ledbury never correctly understood who Madame Mito was, for be seldom caught a perfect glimpse of her; but sometimes wheři he relurned home at night he remembered to have seen a strange, wild-looking female, with a red handkerchief tied round her head, it close conference with the porter's wife over some mysterious compound of bread, fat, and hot-water, which they had been manufacturing. Where on earth she got in the day-time no one could ever make out; but Mr. Ledbury had a suspicion that she had something to do at some of the hospitals, as he occasionally saw her fitting about the Parvis Notre Dame, dear the Hotel Dieu; but whether VOL. X.
she officiated as nurse, or sage femme, was never determined. Jack Johnson, who detested all old women in general, and landladies in particular, said that she blacked shoes and shaved cats on the Pont Neuf; but he evidently spoke with a prejudiced mind.
It was a bright, cheering morning, and the rays of the autumnal sun shone from the clear sky, unclouded by the blacks or smoke which the coal fires disgorge into the air of London. There was a transparency in the atmosphere unknown in our foggy climate, and attendant upon it an exhilaration of spirits,—a sort of indefinite wish to become a balloon, a bird, or a sky-rocket, and dart up joyously at once to the blue expanse above. Having despatched their breakfast, Aimée proceeded to wash the white crockery,—the plain white service of which we see so little in England, and which always reminds us so forcibly of the Continent. She had recovered from her languor, and was now singing, while she performed her task, as merrily as grisettes only can sing, and very joyous indeed withal over her occupation; for, next to dancing and hot galette, Aimée, in common with her class, was never so happy as when putting the mēna ge in order. Johnson and Ledbury were leaning out of window, and inspecting the contiguous chimney-pots,—the former gentleman also indulging the neighbours with a few vague attempts to blow the French horn, which Jules had left behind him for fear be should tumble over or into it on his way home. Ledbury was lost in a chain of surmises as to what made the French people so fond of keeping birds, as he looked down upon the various cages outside the windows; and, reflecting upon the penny hen-bullfinches he used to buy upon Tower Hill, which always died the next day, being mortally nipped in the neck by the vendor when he introduced his hand down the old stocking to pull them out of the cage.
• I say, Leddy,' exclaimed Sobnson, as he stopped in his performance to take breath, looking rather warm and a poplectic, like a Tri. ton with the scarlet fever, 'what shall we do to-day ?
'Anything you like until five,' replied Ledbury; and then, you know, we are going to dine in the Boulevards. .
. Well, let me think what is best to be done,' returned Johnson. sounding a few wild notes to assist reflection, and then suddenly adding, • What capital things for fun these French horns are, especially when you are close to them in the orchestra of a theatre.'
Mr. Ledbury did not see the great enjoyment derived from such proximity,--in fact he thought quite otherwise, and therefore ventured to ask his friend in what the diversion consisted.
· Filling them with peas,' answered Jack, 'when the musicians go. out between the plays. You should see what a shower the performer blows forth, when he comes back again and tries his first note! Are you much of an equestrian ?'
I have ridden donkeys at Hampstead and Blackheath,' returned Ledbury, half smiling at his vivacious friend's rapid shots from one subject to another.
• That 's very low,' said Johnson, unless you mounted without a saddle, and sat quite back in the true charity-boy style; then, of course, the perfect assumption of the habits of the common classes made the amusement aristocratic. Why didn't you have a pony ?
'Because the donkeys were half price,-ninepence an hour, including the boy 10 run behind, and the pins in the stick. But why do you ask?'
Not having much to do,' said Johnson, • I vote for a trip to the Bois de Boulogne. You have never been there, and I want to see how you look outside a horse. I should say, very stylish in those clothes.
Truth to tell, Mr. Ledbury had some misgivings on the subject; but the desire to distinguish himself overcame his scruples, and he consented to go. Aimée received a special invitation to accompany them, coupled with the promise of a donkey all to herself when ihey got there; and they likewise proposed to call upon Jules and Henri, and request the pleasure of their society.
Toilets are soon made in the Quartier Latin, and ten minutes after they had decided where to go the trio stood on the landing outside the chamber of the young artists at the Hôtel Nassau, in the Rue de la Harpe, principally guided to the door by various diverting sketches, and likenesses of the proprietor of the house, drawn with chalk and charcoal on the walls. When they rang at the bell Henri came to admit them, and they entered the suite of one room and a kitchen pertaining to their friends. The chamber was much in the style of their own, with the exception that it was rather more scantily furnished,—the literal ameublemens consisting of a table, two chairs, a wooden box, and the bellows. The sleeping-places were formed by two lockers artfully let into the wall, which, as they were not very broad, it was charitable to suppose were very deep, and that the occupant contrived by some ingenious process, acquired by great study, to penetrate their hidden recesses feet first, and then slumber as he best might with his head at the opening, like a human cannon appearing at an embrasure or port-hole in the wall of an apartment. They had apparently been discussing some poached eggs for breakfast, which, a culinary odour informed Jack Johnson, had been prepared by themselves over a handful of incandescent charcoal in a small fourneau ; and now Henri was drawing a soldier of the middle ages' on the ceiling, with a burnt cork tied to the end of an old fencing foil, and Jules, in an easy attitude, with his feet considerably higher than his head, and without cravat or shoes, was enjoying a morning pipe.
As the young artists did not feel much inclined for work that day, and were speculating upon what they should do with themselves, they agreed very readily to accompany Ledbury and his companions to the Bois de Boulogne. They were not longer arranging their dress than their predecessors, and in five minutes the party started in procession, Jack Johnson leading the way with Aimée on his arm, the admiration and envy of all the Quartier,--and then Jules and Henri, with Mr. Ledbury attached to them, who, being outside, was seldom on the pavement, sometimes in the mud, and very frequently indeed in the gutter. In this order they crossed the river to the Tuileries, where, the space being broader for their promenade, they all five walked abreast, Jules amusing himself by imitating the French horn, as he played the duet in Puritani, and making Ledbury unconsciously march in time, with a warlike bearing, at his side.
• That 's Cleopatra's needle,' said Johnson to Ledbury, as they passed through the garden gates to the Palace de la Concorde, and came near the Theban obelisk in the centre. They are going to bring over her thimble next year; and the Viceroy of Egypt has hopes of discovering the entire work-box.'