Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/55

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

to leave him leisure or inclination to loiter lingeringly or dreamily upon its banks. Reflection was habitual to him, imagination was alien to him.

By midnight he reached Paris, and left his despatches at the English Embassy. There was no intense pressure of haste to get Turin-wards so long as he was in the far Eastern Principalities by the Friday, and he waited for the early mail train to the South, instead of taking a special one, as he would otherwise have done, to get across the Alps. If a few hours were left under his own control in a city, Erceldoune never slept them away; he slept in a railway carriage, a travelling carriage, on deck, in a desert, on a raft rushing down some broad river that made the only highway through Bulgarian or Roumelian forests—anywhere where novelty, discomfort, exposure, or danger would hare been likely to banish sleep from most men; but in a city he neglected it with an independence of that necessity of life which is characteristic of the present day. There is a cafê, whether in the Rue Lafitte, Rivoli, Castiglione, or La Paix, matters not; here, in the great gilded salon, with its innumerable mirrors and consoles and little oval tables, or in the little cabinets, with their rosewood and gilding, and green velvet and rose satin, if there be a bouquet to be tossed down