Chapter X. Leaving Paris.
On the 6th of August, after a stay of fifteen happy days in Paris, I began to make preparations to leave for Brussels. I had walked during that time according to my daily register, about 140 miles, making an average of over 9 miles per day, for I could not avail myself of the omnibuses and city cars, as I had done in London; because I could not make myself understood in French.
Paris had presented so much that was new or radically different from what I had seen elsewhere in the world, even London not excepted, that I felt justified in addressing the following conclusion to an American journalist: - In Paris, there is such a harmonious combination of civilizing and refining instrumentalities and influences, which, if I do not elsewhere find a nearer approach to than I have thus far, will not only throw sufficient light upon the question, "How does she lead the nations in thought and fashion," that the most thoughtless may be able to solve it, but which will even entitle her to be styled queen of cities and Capital of the social world.
As I had definitely decided to return from Egypt to America by way of Paris, in order that I might see the great city once more toward the end of my tour, and be the better qualified to estimate her true position in the world, I made a little bundle of the guide books and views, which I had already accumulated on my trip, and also dropped some of the superfluities of my wardrobe - these things I gave into the care of my chamberlain, and bade good-by to Paris for a season. My friend and tutor Prof. P.S., accompanied me to the station and bought me a ticket for Brussels, as we call it in our language, but the French and Belgians call it Bruixelle (pron. Broo-[)i]x-el). My friend informed me of this and gave me a drill on pronouncing the word correctly, for if I should have called it Brussels, no Frenchman would have understood what I meant. I was now about to leave the only acquaintance that could speak my language, and go to another people of the same strange language as the Parisians speak, with no right to expect that I should be so lucky again in meeting a suitable companion. I had ordered my mail to be forwarded to Cologne, Germany, until September 1st. At 11:15 p.m., August 6th, the train moved away with me toward Belgium.
I had forgotten to ask how often and where I must "change cars" from Paris to Brussels, and now, where no one understood either English or German, what could be done! Possibly, I need not make a change all night; and perhaps I should at the next station already! How readily my friend could have informed me, had I only asked him! But I managed to keep the right track, though at the expense of considerable anxiety and the sacrifice of some rest and sleep that I might otherwise have enjoyed during that night-journey. I learned a lesson, however, which aided me in avoiding such perplexities in the future. As soon is we reached the first station, I ran to a conductor and, holding up my ticket, cried out, "Broox-el?" He understood me and motioned me to keep my seat. Some accommodating Frenchman soon told me that he was traveling the same way for a considerable distance, (as his ticket also made clear to me), and offered kindly to inform me when I had to leave that train. My peace of mind being thus restored again, I made a pillow of my satchel and went to sleep.
The next forenoon (Saturday, August 7th) we reached Douane, where we had to pass muster under the Belgian custom-house officers. I was now with the wooden-shoed Belgians. A large company of the poor peasants passed muster with me. Each was provided with a pick or a hoe, or both, lying over his shoulder, and a large flaxen bag of other implements, &c., suspended from it. Nearly all wore caps, and the whole company looked very shabby, indeed. My clothes were in strange contrast with their tattered garments, for there was not another well-dressed passenger in the whole company; and I felt like one out of his element, because I did not also have a pick or hoe! A hundred Belgians with a hundred bundles crowded into several small apartments of the station, found little room for their, careers, which consisted of the irony ends of their picks and hoes, so that those occasionally hooked the prominent points of the faces of those immediately behind them! Strange to say, these collisions did not provoke any to insults or the use of vulgar adverbs, but gentle reproofs kept them all cool and steady till we entered the cars again. The reader will pardon me for saying that a similar crowd of persons in this country, placed under the same tempting and exasperating circumstances, would have created a row in five minutes, as would be the natural consequence if there were but a single ruffian in the whole lot. Nothing will strike the American tourist more when he comes to the Old World, than the good order which prevails everywhere. To meet two persons scolding and insulting each other, is an extremely rare occurrence. The orderly behavior of such a company of peasants will impress one more with the importance of teaching the young, lessons of patience, humility and obedience (which latter quality of character is the mother of a hundred virtues), than volumes of dry philosophy on social ethics will generally avail.
I saw an elderly lady kiss a middle-aged man alternately upon each cheek; an incident that is common in European social life, and that shows how the affections of the heart are cultivated and find expression. In Brussels I saw a son rest his hand affectionately upon his mother's shoulder, as they stood amongst the multitude in a public square.