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hailstorms and cutting winds succeeded. But the hopes to which the month had given birth were bright as ever, and besides the bride and bridegroom, and the kind and good Marquise, many a face amongst those with whom they had recently been engaged in business affairs, was radiant with expectation on the morning of the 17th of April
. None, perhaps, experienced more tranquil satisfaction than Madame Fourbe, of the Hôtel d'Abd'-el-Kader, as she sat in the little room on the rez de chaussée in the court-yard, making up her accounts. The Marquise and her lovely niece, who had taken her apartments for a month, had very nearly completed the term, and in addition to the two thousand francs which she charged for them, there was a long list of items amounting to as much more, for dinners, and breakfasts, and baths, for postage and porterage and attendants, for the hire of fiacres, for small sums disbursed, for money lent to the femme-de-chambre, and last not least, for that formidable article in all hotel charges, wax lights ; and soit dit en passant, the price of bougies, enormous everywhere, was always augmented one hundred per cent. in the mémoires of Madame Fourbe, so that when a traveller examined his bill at leisure-after having paid it -- he was apt to think he had been participating in the expenses of a general illumination during the whole period of his sojourn at the hotel, or came, at least, to the conclusion that the difficult physical problem of burning the candle at both ends, had, in a literal sense, been completely solved. There was a quiet smile on the placid features of the worthy proprietress, which indicated not only a mind at peace but a sensation of heart-felt pleasure, which possibly arose as much from the prospect that she should that day be the recipient of a good round sum, as from the consciousness of having done her duty by these wealthy provincial guests, in the sense in which that act is understood by a Parisian hotel-keeper. But pleasure, as the moralists always say, is sadly evanescent, and although she laboured at her griffonage for a full hour, it was with a sigh that she proceeded to cast up the sum total. Like Alexander's tears, the sigh was because there was nothing more to be added to the large account.
The joy of Monsieur Petitbon on the morning of the same day, manifested itself in outward demonstrations of a stronger kind. His suite of apartments in the Marais (his house was No. 10, in the Rue Neuve St. Nicolas) seemed altogether too small for him, though we can assure the reader that it consisted of five separate pièces, not including a kitchen and a closet for wood. Up and down and through and through did he pace them with hasty steps, like some wild animal impatient of his cage ; now he would rub his hands and anon burst out into a chuckle of exultation at the thought-it must be confessed-of having done so remarkably well in his transaction with the Vicomte de Souillac, of having made so much money (in expectation), and of having got rid of a wretched, crazy old château, which, if the new occupants were lucky, might perhaps not fall down and bury them in its ruins on the first night of their sleeping in it ; but of its forbearance in this respect be entertained great doubts.
He was dressed in an entirely new suit of black, his chapeau Gibus had been sent home only the night before from the hatter, the ribbon in his buttonhole was a fresh one, and although the white kid gloves on his hands were new, and showed no symptoms of splitting at the thumbs, he carried an extra pair in his pocket in order to be provided against such an accident. In the same pocket he also carried a black morocco note-case, on which were inscribed in gold letters the magical words, “ Billets de Banque,
though at this moment the case was empty ; not long, however, according to M. Petitbon's calculation, to remain so, for the Vicomte had intimated to him, that he should have no more difficulty in taking up his bills on that day than on the one when they legally became due, and that, in point of fact, he should prefer coming to a final understanding at once in preference to deferring it until he was engrossed by the joys and duties of the nuptial state.
It was accordingly agreed between the parties that all was to be fully arranged in the brief hour between the performance of the marriage ceremony and the réunion for the wedding breakfast. So much delicacy and (as George Robins used to say)" tact,” accompanied every arrangement of the Vicomte, that the same hour was appointed, not for auditing (that trouble would have been too great), but for paying every tradesman's bill, including the not particularly mild one of "Madame Fourbe. All business was to be disposed of before a single wedding guest arrived, exception being of course made as to M. Petitbon, and then pleasure was to hold undisturbed sway. It had, moreover, been settled en petit comité, the night before the wedding, that the favoured few who were to be admitted to the Madeleine to witness the nuptial rites, should proceed thither in their own carriages, the shrinking modesty of Clotilde de Kerfilou, and the matronly feelings of the Marquise, prohibiting every token of publicity until the marriage ceremony was actually celebrated.
If we had the power of transporting our readers to two places at once, we should set them with one foot in the Rue de Rivoli and the other in the Marais, but as this cannot be, we shall briefly say of the former, that about the hour of half-past ten the Vicomte's travelling britska, admirably packed, was taken out of the courtyard of the Hôtel d'Abd-el-Kader to be conveyed by post-horses “to the railway-station," there to remain till the arrival of the Vicomte and Vicomtesse in the simple close carriage which would first be employed in taking Clotilde and the Marquise to church and bringing the happy pair back again. At the self-same hour a lutetienne drew up at the door of No. 10, Rue Neuve St. Nicolas, and almost before the driver had dismounted from his box to knock at the door, the portal opened, and out came an elderly gentleman in black, with brilliant white kid gloves on and a chapeau Gibus under his arm. That gentleman, the reader need scarcely be told, was M. Petitbon.
“ A l'heure," was his first exclamation, as he reckoned on detaining the carriage some time, and was economically true to his profession, his second was to tell the driver to proceed to the Madeleine.
Being engaged by time, and not by distance, the progress of the lutetienne was not so rapid as the desires of the notary, but he arrived at his destination at last, and the only event that befel him on his way into the church was being mistaken for a bridegroom by a purblind old woman, who sold bouquets at the door ; we are afraid that M. Petitbon's white gloves were the cause of this error.
" Eh bien,” said he, half aloud, when he had given himself time to breathe, “ I am the first in the field, at all events. Attendons les fiancés.”
He was destined to wait longer than he expected, for a full half hour passed away and nobody made their appearance. The azure ceiling and gilded columns, even the finely sculptured image of the saint in whose honour the church was raised failed to attract his attention ; his eyes were riveted on the church doors which he every moment expected to see opened to give admission to the Vicomte and his bride. But he watched in vain ; except a few gaping strangers with red books in their hands-English, of course, armed with their Murrays—some of whom supposing him to be the sacristan occasionally addressed him in a language which they thought was French and he imagined to be high Dutch ; saving these, the sacred edifice (which by the way, is more like a Greek temple than a church) received no addition to the number within it ; not a priest was there for the ministry of any rite, not a single official personage attendant on any ceremony.
“C'est bien drôle,” said he, looking at his watch for the hundredth time, “ I can't have mistaken the hour. Eleven o'clock was certainly the time named, and it is now nearly twelve. There must have been some accident.”
And accordingly he resolved at once to do what he had been thinking of a thousand times during his state of feverish suspense, namely to go down to the Rue de Rivoli and ascertain the reason of the delay. He therefore left the church and hailed the driver of the lutetienne, who, as he mounted his box, made a very knowing grimace at two or three companions with whom he had been having a very comfortable petit verre, as much as to say, “Ce vieux-là est joliment flambé,” supposing, like the old flower-woman that he had gone to the Madeleine to get married. He then whipped off to the Rue de Rivoli, and throughout the drive the notary's head was thrust out of each window in succession in the hope of catching a glimpse of the bridal party approaching, but he saw nothing until he arrived at the Hôtel d'Abd'-el-Kader, where a crowd of waiters, a bevy of tradespeople, the porter and his wife, and even the gentle proprietress, were assembled, apparently in a state of great anxiety. The appearance of M. Petitbon was the signal for a partial movement, and two servants rushed at once to the door to let him out of the carriage.
“ Has any thing happened ?" was the mutual exclamation of the notary and Madame Fourbe, addressing each other.
“Mais, comment donc, monsieur !" said the lady.
And for two minutes they remained staring at each other, unable to say more. When they did find their voices again, it was to put fresh questions. “ Have they gone to the church?” asked one ;
“ Have they not left it?" inquired the other.
An explanation at length ensued. Madame Fourbe stated that precisely as the clock of the Tuileries struck eleven, the Marquise de Chenevis and the Comtesse de Malendroit descended from their apartments and entered the private carriage which was to take them to the Madeleine. They drove off, leaving strict orders that every thing should be ready on their return in half-an-hour; and, double that time having now elapsed, she was becoming uneasy at their absence-an uneasiness which, like the electric fluid on all in communication with it, had simultaneously communicated itself
, not only to the whole household, but to every fresh arrival of the many who came for payment of their various bills. But the previous state of mind of Madame Fourbe was as Elysium, when compared with the dire apprehension which tilled it, when M. Petitbon declared that he had been waiting a full hour at the Madeleine for their arrival. If such a thing were possible, we should almost say that she gave utterance to an oath! The confusion of her intellects could only be equalled by that of the notary and of the surrounding groups, unless, indeed, the physical confusion caused by the confectioners' and traiteurs' boys, who kept arriving every moment with trays full of ices and jellies and hors d'æuvres for immediate consommation, may be admitted as a parallel.
Daylight broke at last, and its first ray fell upon the mind of a little wizened-faced old man in the crowd, an optician from the Palais Royal, who had brought a bill for thirty-six francs.
“Ces dames sont venues chez moi hier, dans l'après midi, me demander des lunettes à verres bleus pour voyager. Elles m'ont laissé ce vieux binocle pour être raccommodé, qui n'est pas méme or. Je me figure qu'elles se sont sauvées par le chemin de fer !
“ The railroad! the railroad !" cried a hundred voices,—the notary's the loudest of all. But which railroad was the question. M. Petitbon entertained a feeble hope of the Orleans line, but the truly presaging fear of the rest sent them off scampering, some in cabriolets, some on foot, to the embarcadère in the Rue Pepinière.
“Pray, sir," said the breathless leader of the pack to the first official he met with at the station, " when did the last train start ?"
“ On which line, monsieur ?" asked the functionary, politely raising his hat.
“ Diable ! je ne sais pas," was the reply of the bewildered man.
“ Dans ce cas là, monsieur,” returned the man in office, "je ne pourrais pas vous dire.”
" Le convoi pour Bruxelles !" shouted the little optician, who had kept up with the best of them. “ Il est parti
, messieurs,” said the official, glancing upwards at the clock,-"à midi precis; il y a vingt-deux minutes."
A flood of information followed, from which it became clear to the meanest capacity amongst the wretched dupes, that the wedding-party had taken advantage of that mode of conveyance to leave the kingdom.
“They took their seats in their own britska in preference to the car. riages of the train,” observed the railroad functionary.
“ Their own britska !” growled an enraged coachmaker-he who had supplied the patent cric-à vis; “Say mine, till it is paid for.”
There was weeping and lamentation in Paris on the afternoon of the 17th of April, but no one howled louder than the little optician, not even the notary of the Marais !
Special trains are not the fashion on French railways ; the day was too foggy for the ordinary telegraph to work, and the electric telegraph was not laid down, so there were no means of arresting the fugitives, who are supposed to have passed a very pleasant summer at Baden-Baden, persons answering their description having been heard of there, who lived en prince at the Hotel de Russie, spent their money like Emperors, and played at rouge et noir till they were thoroughly cleaned out; and finally, for another daring piece of escroquerie, found their way into the Gefängniss, or common gaol.
It was subsequently ascertained that the Marquise de Chenevis had been an ouvreuse de loges, the Countess, her niece, an actress at the Porte Saint-Martin, and the Vicomte Hercule Gabriel Dieudonné de Souillac, a cheralier d'industrie of the first water.
Let no one suppose that this exuberance of credulity on the part of the Paris tradesmen is the mere coinage of the writer's brain ; the fact occurred in that capital last summer, almost in the manner above related, as any one may discover who chooses to refer to that excellent journal, Galignani's Messenger.
THE EULUS, OR PASITIGRIS.
BY W. FRANCIS AINSWORTH, ESQ.
Great System of Irrigation-We cross the Plain between the Hedyphion and the
Pasitigris - Ahwaz ancient Aginis — A once flourishing Sugar PlantationRevolt of the Prince of the Zanghis-Extaordinary Mistake of a TravellerThe Band of Ahwaz-Ascent of the Karun-Junction of Three Rivers—The Eulæus and the Pasitigris-Contention with the Arabs of Band-i-Kir-Retrace our Way to Ahwaz-Descent of the River to Mohammerah- The Estuary of the Karun.
On our departure from the marsh-environed capital of the Sheikh of the Cha'b Arabs, we exchanged the open boat for horses provided for us by Sheikh Thamar's attentions. A ride of about twenty minutes took us to the banks of the river Jerrahi, or Hedyphon, from whence a pumber of canals are derived, and a system of irrigation is originated, which rivals any thing we read of in ancient times, or that has been described with so many encomiums, as the system introduced into the kingdom of Valencia by the Moors. Layard enumerates twenty-eight of these canals by name.
At a distance of seven miles from Fellahiyah, we came to a spot where the canal that flows to the town is derived from the river Jerrahi, and it was with no small difficulty that the horses crossed the dyke of loose mud and reeds, into which they sometimes sunk up to their girths. The main branch of the river, Layard says, flows onwards under the name of Nahr Busi into that estuary of the Persian Gulf which is called the Khor Musah. The kashwah, or dam of the canal called Ommu-l-sakkar, which canal is unfordable even in the dry season, gave us similar trouble. On the approach of an enemy, the dams of the canals nearer to Fellahiyah, are broken down, and the country around is flooded, the numerous villages on the banks of the Jerrahi are, at the same time, deserted, and the inhabitants, at an hour's notice, transform their reed huts into rafts, and float with their property to gather round their sheikh.
At a distance of about twelve miles above Fellahiyah we passed the ruins of the old town of Dorak, after which the banks began to rise, and towards evening we arrived at the small village of Oraibah, or Kareibah, which being the spot from whence we were to start across the plain to the Pasitigris, we made arrangements to spend the night. As these consisted simply in strewing some dry reeds on the ground, and piling up a few bundles to the windward, they were soon accomplished; and we passed a night in the manner that is most enjoyable in these climates-the sky clear, the temperature genial—every thing pleasant to the feeling and charming to the eye. This, too, in the latter part of the month of November. We started early the ensuing morning, for we had a long ride before us, upwards of forty miles across the plain. At first there was some verdure with traces of a canal that once flowed from the Karun, above Ahwaz to the Jerrahi, and occasional mounds, the sites of olden villages. There were also some marshy spots, but gradually the plain began to rise and became sandy and gravelly, stretching eastwards and upwards to a low range of hills of stratified soft red sandstones, and westwards, and downwards to the great alluvial plain of Dorakstan. Being a bright warm