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- The Reign Of Terror - 3/50 -
gangway to the shore. Here he was accosted by an officer.
"What does he say?" he asked the sailor.
"He asks for your passport."
Harry fumbled in his breast pocket for the document which his father had obtained for him from the foreign office, duly viseed by the French ambassador, notifying that Henry Sandwith, age sixteen, height five feet eight, hair brown, eyes gray, nose short, mouth large, was about to reside in France in the family of the Marquis de St. Caux. The officer glanced it over, and then returned it to Harry with a polite bow, which Harry in some confusion endeavoured to imitate.
"What does the fellow want to bow and scrape like that for?" he muttered to himself as he followed his guide. "An Englishman would just have nodded and said 'All right!' What can a fellow want more, I should like to know? Well I suppose I shall get accustomed to it, and shall take to bowing and scraping as a matter of course."
The Lion door was close at hand. In reply to the sailor's question the landlord said that M. du Tillet was within. The sailor put down the trunk, pocketed the coin Harry gave him, and with a "Good luck, young master!" went out, taking with him, as Harry felt, the last link to England. He turned and followed the landlord. The latter mounted a flight of stairs, knocked at a door, and opened it.
"A young gentleman desires to see M. du Tillet," he said, and Harry entered.
A tall, big man, whose proportions at once disappointed Harry's preconceived notions as to the smallness and leanness of Frenchmen, rose from the table at which he was writing.
"Monsieur-Sandwith?" he said interrogatively. "I am glad to see you.
Harry did not understand the latter portion of the remark, but he caught the sound of his name.
"That's all right," he said nodding. "How do you do, M. du Tillet?"
The French gentleman bowed; Harry bowed; and then they looked at each other. There was nothing more to say. A smile stole over Harry's face, and broke into a frank laugh. The Frenchman smiled, put his hand on Harry's shoulder, and said:
"Brave garcon!" and Harry felt they were friends.
M. du Tillet's face bore an expression of easy good temper. He wore a wig with long curls; he had a soldier's bearing, and a scar on his left cheek; his complexion was dark and red, his eyebrows black and bushy. After a pause he said:
"Are you hungry?" and then put imaginary food to his mouth.
"You mean will I eat anything?" Harry translated. "Yes, that I will if there's anything fit to eat. I begin to feel as hungry as a hunter, and no wonder, for I am as hollow as a drum!"
His nod was a sufficient answer. M. du Tillet took his hat, opened the door, and bowed for Harry to precede him.
Harry hesitated, but believing it would be the polite way to do as he was told, returned the bow and went out. The Frenchman put his hand on his shoulder, and they went down stairs together and took their seats in the salon, where his companion gave an order, and in two or three minutes a bowl of broth was placed before each of them.
It fully answered Harry's ideas as to the thinness of French soup, for it looked like dirty water with a few pieces of bread and some scraps of vegetables floating in it. He was astonished at the piece of bread, nearly a yard long, placed on the table. M. du Tillet cut a piece off and handed it to him. He broke a portion of it into his broth, and found, when he tasted it, that it was much nicer than it looked.
"It's not so bad after all," he thought to himself. "Anyhow bread seems plentiful, so there's no fear of my starving." He followed his companion's example and made his way steadily through a number of dishes all new and strange to him; neither his sight nor his taste gave him the slightest indication as to what meat he was eating.
"I suppose it's all right," he concluded; "but what people can want to make such messes of their food for I can't make out. A slice of good roast beef is worth the lot of it; but really it isn't nasty; some of the dishes are not bad at all if one only knew what they were made of." M. du Tillet offered him some wine, which he tasted but shook his head, for it seemed rough and sour; but he poured himself out some water. Presently a happy idea seized him; he touched the bread and said interrogatively, "Bread?" M. du Tillet at once replied "Pain," which Harry repeated after him.
The ice thus broken, conversation began, and Harry soon learned the French for knife, fork, spoon, plate, and various other articles, and felt that he was fairly on the way towards talking French. After the meal was over M. du Tillet rose and put on his hat, and signed to Harry to accompany him. They strolled through the town, went down to the quays and looked at the fishing-boats; Harry was feeling more at home now, and asked the French name for everything he saw, repeating the word over and over again to himself until he felt sure that he should remember it, and then asking the name of some fresh object.
The next morning they started in the post-waggon for Paris, and arrived there after thirty-six hours' travel. Harry was struck with the roads, which were far better tended and kept than those in England. The extreme flatness of the country surprised him, and, except in the quaintness of the villages and the variety of the church towers, he saw little to admire during the journey.
"If it is all like this," he thought to himself, "I don't see that they have any reason for calling it La belle France."
Of Paris he saw little. A blue-bloused porter carried his trunk what seemed to Harry a long distance from the place where the conveyance stopped. The streets here were quiet and almost deserted after the busy thoroughfares of the central city. The houses stood, for the most part, back from the street, with high walls and heavy gates.
"Here we are at last," his guide said, as he halted before a large and massive gateway, surmounted by a coat of arms with supporters carved in stone work. He rang at the bell, which was opened by a porter in livery, who bowed profoundly upon seeing M. du Tillet. Passing through the doorway, Harry found himself in a spacious hall, decorated with armour and arms. As he crossed the threshold M. du Tillet took his hand and shook it heartily, saying, "Welcome!" Harry understood the action, though not the words, and nodded, saying:
"I think I shall get on capitally if they are all as jolly as you are."
Then they both laughed, and Harry looked round wondering what was coming next.
"The marquis and his family are all away at their chateau near Dijon," his companion said, waving his hand. "We shall stay a day or two to rest ourselves after our journey, and then start to join them."
He led Harry into a great salon magnificently furnished, pointed to the chairs and looking-glasses and other articles of furniture, all swathed up in coverings; and the lad understood at once that the family were away. This was a relief to him; he was getting on capitally with M. du Tillet, but shrank from the prospect of meeting so many strange faces.
A meal was speedily served in a small and comfortably-furnished apartment; and Harry concluded that although he might not be able to decide on the nature of his food, it was really nice, and that there was no fear whatever of his falling away in flesh. M. du Tillet pressed him to try the wine again, and this he found to be a vast improvement upon the vintage he had tasted at Calais.
After breakfast next morning they started for a walk, and Harry was delighted with the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Palais Royal, and other public buildings, which he could not but acknowledge were vastly superior to anything he had seen in London. Then he was taken to a tailor's, the marquis having commissioned his guide to carry out Dr. Sandwith's request in this matter. M. du Tillet looked interrogatively at Harry as he entered the shop, as if to ask if he understood why he was taken there.
Harry nodded, for indeed he was glad to see that no time was to be lost, for he was already conscious that his dress differed considerably from that of French boys. Several street gamins had pointed at him and made jeering remarks, which, without understanding the words, Harry felt to be insulting, and would, had he heard them in the purlieus of Westminster, have considered as a challenge to battle. He had not, however, suffered altogether unavenged, for upon one occasion M. du Tillet turned sharply round and caught one offender so smartly with his cane that he ran howling away.
"They are awful guys!" Harry thought as he looked at the French boys he met. "But it's better to be a guy than to be chaffed by every boy one meets, especially if one is not to be allowed to fight." It was, therefore, with a feeling of satisfaction that he turned into the tailor's shop. The proprietor came up bowing, as Harry thought, in a most cringing sort of way to his companion. M. du Tillet gave some orders, and the tailor unrolled a variety of pieces of cloth and other materials for Harry's inspection.
The lad shook his head and turned to his guide, and, pointing to the goods, asked him to choose the things which were most suitable for him; M. du Tillet understood the appeal and ordered four suits. Two of these were for ordinary wear; another was, Harry concluded, for the evening; and the fourth for ceremonial occasions.
The coats were cut long, but very open in front, and were far too scanty to button; the waistcoats were long and embroidered; a white and ample handkerchief went round the throat and was tied loosely, with long ends edged with lace falling in front; knee-breeches, with white stockings, and shoes with buckles, completed the costume.
Harry looked on with a smile of amusement, and burst into a hearty laugh when the garments were fixed upon, for the idea of himself
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