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- Patty in Paris - 13/31 -
function. Everybody was shaking hands and saying good-bye to everybody else, and after many good wishes and good-nights our two tired and sleepy girls went to their stateroom.
The next morning the girls spent in packing and getting ready to go ashore. "I'm sure I don't know where all these things came from," said Patty; "but I know I have just about twice as many earthly possessions as I had when I came aboard. I hate to pitch them out of the porthole, but I simply can't get them all in my trunks."
"Nor I," said Elise. "People have been giving us things ever since we started, and we must be greedies, because we haven't given anything away, and now what shall we do with them?"
"Let's give a lot away," said Patty. "We've pretty much read all we want to of this mountain of light literature. Let's give it all to the stewardess; and what do you think, Elise, about giving Yankee Doodle to the captain? He is a blessed old bear, and I hate to look forward to life without him, but I don't see how we can cart him to Paris, unless we carry him in our arms, and that's where I draw the line."
"So do I," declared Elise. "We might ask Lisette to carry him, but I know she wouldn't want to do it. Yes, let's give him to the captain as a souvenir of our trip."
This plan was carried out, and the captain was really delighted at the comical gift. He said he should always keep it as a remembrance of the donors, and he hoped that when they returned to America they would again travel on his ship.
The steamer stopped at Plymouth and then went straight on to Havre. Everybody was in a great state of excitement; passengers were getting off and mails getting on at Plymouth, and plenty of wonderful and interesting things to look at as they sailed along the channel.
Patty felt truly sorry to say good-bye to many of the friends she had made on board. But from others she would not be parted until they reached Paris. The Van Ness party, the old Ma'amselle, Florrie Nash, Bert Chester, and Mr. Pauvret were all going in the special train to Paris, as the Farringtons were.
Patty thought this meant they could all travel together, but to her surprise she found the French trains very different from those on American railroads.
The special boat-train which they were to take left directly from the steamer's dock and was an express direct to Paris without stop, landing them there in less than four hours.
The Farrington party had a whole compartment in this train, and as a compartment only holds six people, they comfortably filled it, using the extra seat for hand luggage and so forth.
Patty thought the appointments more luxurious than our own parlour-cars, for the seats were beautifully upholstered in a pearl-grey material, and everything was lavishly decorated, after the French fashion. All of these compartments opened on to a corridor which ran along the side of the car, and Patty soon discovered that thus she could visit her neighbours in the other compartments.
Both Patty and Elise were greatly excited and interested in watching the French landscapes, and trying to make out the names of the towns through which they rapidly flew. But with the exception of some of the larger towns they could not read the names, and so gave that up for the more interesting occupation of watching the villages and hamlets as they succeeded each other.
Bert Chester came in to visit them, and expressed a hope that he might see them in Paris.
He was to remain there only a week, and then he was to join some of his friends, some young Englishmen, and go for a short motor tour in southern France.
Mr. Farrington said that he expected to take his party motoring along the same route, but did not expect to go at present.
Young Chester was sorry that they could not go together, but said that perhaps when Mr. Farrington was ready he and his friends would come over again for another spin.
Bert Chester was a son of a wealthy English squire, and though distinctly British in his ways, was broad-minded enough to like Americans, and moreover was a young man of innate politeness and affable manners. The elder Farringtons liked him extremely, and cordially invited him to come to see them while in Paris.
"We sha'n't have a house of our own just at first," explained Elise; "we're going to a hotel while father and mother look around and select a house for the winter."
"I'm glad," said Patty, "to go to a hotel first. I've never stayed at a big hotel, and I'm sure it will be delightful for a time."
[Illustration with caption: "The next morning the girls spent in packing and getting ready to go ashore"]
"You'll like the one you're going to," said Chester. "The Ritz is really the old palace of the Castiglione, an ancient French family, and though it is, of course, somewhat rebuilt, much of the original remains, especially the beautiful old garden with its wonderful trees and fountain. I'll give you a day or two to 'find yourselves,' and then I shall come around to call, and shall expect you to be glad to see me."
"We'll be very glad to see you," said Patty cordially, for she had a sincere liking for the young Englishman.
Then Patty and Elise went with Bert to look in for a little chat with the Van Ness party. Although Patty liked the Van Ness girls in a way, she was rather relieved to find that they were not going to the same hotel.
Patty had an intuitive sense of the fitness of things, and she couldn't help thinking that the Van Ness sisters, though good-hearted and good- natured, were of a type apt to be a trifle too conspicuous in a large hotel. The Farringtons were quiet-mannered folk, and Patty had often noticed and admired the dignified yet pleasant manner which Mr. Farrington invariably showed to officials or to servants.
He never gave orders in a loud voice or dictatorial manner, yet his orders were always carried out obediently and willingly, and everybody showed him the greatest respect and deference. Mr. Van Ness on the other hand was imperious and ostentatious. He was prone to be critical, and often became annoyed at trifles. Patty was rapidly learning that the true character can be very easily discovered among one's travelling companions. There is something about the friction of travel that brings out all that is worst and best in one's disposition.
And so when Patty found that the Van Nesses were going to a different hotel from themselves she was really glad, though she hoped to see them occasionally during their stay in Paris.
The train reached the Gare du Nord at about six o'clock, and when our party went into the rather dimly lighted station Patty thought she had never before seen such pandemonium. Everybody seemed to be in trouble of some sort. Some were running hither and thither, exclaiming and expostulating, but apparently to no avail. Others sat hopelessly and helplessly on their own luggage, seeming to despair of ever getting any further.
The luggage room was an immense place, stone-floored and rather damp. There were several separate counters where passengers were supposed to attend to the checking of their baggage; but though there were plenty of officials and porters about, none of them seemed anxious or even willing to wait upon anybody. Patty saw many people appeal to one man after another in a vain hope of getting their wants attended to. But it seemed to be almost impossible. To those who could not speak French the situation was hopeless indeed. Patty watched one poor lady, who seemed to be travelling alone, and who continually inquired of the stolid and unobliging porters, "Do you speak English?" and invariably received the reply, "Non, madame; non, madame." The lonely little lady seemed to be in despair, and Patty wished she could help her, but she did not know herself what made the difficulty. At last she discovered that it was necessary to get a customs inspector and a porter and a railway official all together in one place and at one time. This done, the rest was easy, at least to the traveller who knew sufficient French to make his wants known.
This Mr. Farrington managed to accomplish after some delay. The official ceremonies then being soon over, and our travellers having repeatedly declared that they were transporting nothing eatable, they were allowed to drive away in cabs. The cabs in Paris are of the low, open pattern, like a victoria, and they looked very strange and informal to Patty, who had never seen any but closed cabs or hansoms. Mr. and Mrs. Farrington rode in the first cab, which was followed by another, containing Patty and Elise, with Lisette, who sat on the small, folding front seat.
Patty held her breath with excitement when she realised that she was in Paris at last.
They drove through the streets, which were not very well lighted, gazing eagerly at the strange sights everywhere about them.
Their hotel was in the Place Vendome, and the drive there from the station was not through the beautiful boulevards, but through some narrow and not particularly clean streets.
But when they rolled into the Rue de la Paix and drove toward the Place Vendome, the girls began to think that Paris was beautiful, after all.
It was rather more than dusk, but not dark, and the great square, with its circumference of colonnaded buildings, and the wonderful column in the centre, was exceedingly impressive, and filled Patty's soul with a rapturous awe.
"Oh, Elise," she cried, grasping her companion's hand; "I never supposed Paris would be like this! I thought it would be bright and gay and festive; but instead of that, it's grand and solemn and awe-inspiring."
"So it is, here," said Elise; "but there is plenty of brightness and gaiety in some parts of the city, I expect. Of course, this is historic ground, and I suppose it was pretty much as it is now in the days when
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