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IDALIA

on the marble slab, and the long eyes of a Laure or Agläe to flash over the wines, while a pretty painted fan taps an impatient rataplan or gives a soft blow on the ear—may be found after midnight a choice but heterogeneous gathering. Secretaries of all the legations, Queens messengers, Charivari writers. Eastern travellers, great feuilletonists, great artists, princes if they have any wit beneath their purples, authors of any or all nations—all, in a word, that is raciest, wittiest, and, in their own sense, most select in Paris, are to be met with at the Café Minuit, if you be of the initiated. If you be not, you may enter the café of course, since it is open to all the world, and sup there off what you will, but you will still remain virtually outside it.

Erceldoune was well known here: it is in such republics only that a man is welcomed for what he is, and what he has done—not for what he is worth. He was as renowned in Paris because he was so utterly unlike the Parisians, as he was renowned in the East because he so closely resembled the Arabs; and he entered the Café Minuit for the few hours which lay between his arrrival at the Embassy and his departure for Turin.

None of his own special set had dropped in just then; indeed, there were but few of them in Paris.