St. Ives (Stevenson and Quiller-Couch)/Chapter 35
IN PARIS—ALAIN PLAYS HIS LAST CARD
On the 10th of March at sunset the Shawmmut passed the Pointe de Grave fort and entered the month of the Gironde, and at eleven o'clock next morning dropped anchor a little below Blaye, under the guns of the Regulus, 74. We were just in time, a British fleet being daily expected there to co-operate with the Duc d'Angoulême and Count Lynch, who was then preparing to pull the tricolor from his shoulder and betray Bordeaux to Beresford, or, if you prefer it, to the Bourbon. News of his purpose had already travelled down to Blaye, and therefore no sooner were my feet once more on the soil of my beloved France, than I turned them towards Libourne, or rather, Fronsac, and the morning after my arrival there, started for the capital.
But so desperately were the joints of travel dislocated, (the war having deplenished the country alike of cattle and able-bodied drivers) and so frequent were the breakdowns by the way, that I might as expeditiously have trudged it. It cost me fifteen good days to reach Orleans, and at Étampes (which I reached on the morning of the 30th), the driver of the tottering diligence flatly declined to proceed. The Cossacks and Prussians were at the gates of Paris. "Last night we could see the fires of their bivouacs. If Monsieur listens he can hear the firing." The Empress had fled from the Tuileries. Whither? The driver, the aubergiste, the disinterested crowd, shrugged their shoulders. "To Rambouillet, probably." God knew what was happening or what would happen. The Emperor was at Troyes, or at Sens, or else as near as Fontainebleau, nobody knew for certain which. But the fugitives from Paris had been pouring in for days, and not a cart or four-footed beast was to be hired for love or money, though I hunted Étampes for hours.
At length, and at nightfall, I ran against a bow-kneed grey mare and a cabriolet de place, which by its label belonged to Paris; the pair wandering the street under what it would be flattery to call the guidance of an eminently drunken driver. I boarded him; he dissolved at once into maudlin tears and prolixity. It appeared that on the 29th he had brought over a bourgeois family from the capital and had spent the last three days in perambulating Étampes, and the past three nights in crapulous slumber within his vehicle. Here was my chance, and I demanded to know if for a price he would drive me back with him to Paris. He declared, still weeping, that he was fit for anything. "For my part, I am ready to die, and Monsieur knows that we shall never reach."
"Still anything is better than Étampes."
For some inscrutable reason this struck him as excessively comic. He assured me that I was a brave fellow, and bade me jump up at once. Within five minutes we were jolting towards Paris. Our progress was all but inappreciable, for the grey mare had come to the end of her powers, and her master's monologue kept pace with hers. His anecdotes were all of the past three days. The iron of Étampes apparently had entered his soul and effaced all memory of his antecedent career. Of the war, of any recent public events, he could tell me nothing.
I had half expected—supposing the Emperor to be near Fontainebleau—to happen on his vedettes, but we had the road to ourselves, and reached Longjumeau a little before daybreak without having encountered a living creature. Here we knocked up the proprietor of a cabaret, who assured us, between yawns, that we were going to our doom; and after baiting the grey and dosing ourselves with execrable brandy, pushed forward again. As the sky grew pale about us, I had my ears alert for the sound of artillery. But Paris kept silence. We passed Sceaux, and arrived at length at Montrouge and the barrier. It was open—abandoned—not a sentry, not a douanier visible.
"Where will Monsieur be pleased to descend?" my driver enquired, and added with an effort of memory, that he had a wife and two adorable children on a top floor in the Rue du Mont Parnasse, and stabled his mare handy by. I paid, and watched him from the deserted pavement as he drove away. A small child came running from a doorway behind me, and blundered against my legs. I caught him by the collar and demanded what had happened to Paris. "That I do not know," said the child, "but mamma is dressing herself to take me to the Review. Tenez, he pointed, and at the head of the long street I saw advancing the front rank of a blue-coated regiment of Prussians, marching across Paris to take up position on the Orleans road.
That was my answer. Paris had surrendered! And I had entered it from the south just in time, if I wished, to witness the entry of His Majesty the Emperor Alexander from the north. Soon I found myself one of a crowd converging towards the bridges, to scatter northward along the line of His Majesty's progress, from the Barrière de Pontin to the Champs Élysées, where the grand review was to be held. I chose this for my objective, and making my way along the Quays, found myself shortly before ten o'clock In the Place de la Concorde, where a singular little scene brought me to a halt.
About a score of young men—aristocrats by their dress and carriage—were gathered about the centre of the square. Each wore a white scarf and the Bourbon cockade in his hat; and their leader, a weedy youth with hay-coloured hair, had drawn a paper from his pocket, and was declaiming its contents at the top of a voice by several sizes too big for him:—
"For Paris is reserved the privilege, under circumstances now existing, to accelerate the dawn of Universal Peace. Her suffrage is awaited with the interest which so immense a result naturally inspires,"
et cetera. Later on, I possessed myself of a copy of the Prince of Schwarzenberg's proclamation, and identified the wooden rhetoric at once.
"Parisians! you have the example of Bordeaux before you" . . . Ay, by the Lord, they had—right under their eyes! The hay-coloured youth wound up his reading with a "Vive le roi!" and his band of walking-gentlemen took up the shout. The crowd looked on impassive; one or two edged away; and a grey-haired, soldierly horseman (whom I recognised for the Duc de Choiseul-Praslin) passing in full tenue of Colonel of the National Guard, reined up, and addressed the young men in a few words of grave rebuke. Two or three answered by snapping their fingers, and repeating their "Vive le roi" with a kind of embarrassed defiance. But their performance, before so chilling an audience, was falling sadly flat when a dozen or more of young royalist bloods came riding up to reanimate it—among them M. Louis de Chateaubriand, M. Talleyrand's brother, Archambaut de Périgord, the scoundrelly Marquis de Maubreuil—yes, and my cousin, the Vicomte de Saint Ives.
The indecency, the cynical and naked impudence of it took me like a buffet. There, in a group of strangers, my cheek reddened under it, and for the moment I had a mind to run. I had done better to run. By a chance his eye missed mine as he swaggered past at a canter, for all the world like a tenore robusto on horseback, with the rouge on his face, and his air of expansive Olympian blackguardism. He carried a lace white handkerchief at the end of his riding-switch, and this was bad enough. But as he wheeled his bay thoroughbred, I saw that he had followed the déclassé Maubreuil's example and decorated the brute's tail with a Cross of the Legion of Honour, That brought my teeth together, and I stood my ground.
"Vive le roi!" "Vivent les Bourbons!" "A bas le sabot corse!" Maubreuil had brought a basket full of white brassards and cockades, and the gallant horseman began to ride about and press them upon the unresponsive crowd. Alain held one of the badges at arm's length as he pushed into the little group about me, and our eyes met.
"Merci," said I, "retenez-le jusqu' à ce que nous nous rencontrons—Rue Grégoire de Tours!"
His arm with the riding-switch and laced handkerchief went up as though he had been stung. Before it could descend, I darted aside deep into the crowd which hustled around him, understanding nothing, but none the less sullenly hostile. "À bas les cocardes blanches!" cried one or two. "Who was the cur?" I heard Maubreuil's question as he pressed in to the rescue, and Alain's reply, "Pesto! A young relative of mine who is in a hurry to lose his head; whereas I prefer to chose the time for that."
I took this for a splutter of hatred, and even found it laughable as I made my escape good. At the same time, our encounter had put me out of humour for gaping at the review, and I turned back and recrossed the river, to seek the Rue du Fouarre and the Widow Jupille.
Now the Rue du Fouarre, though once a very famous thoroughfare, is to-day perhaps as squalid as any that drains its refuse by a single gutter into the Seine, and the widow had been no beauty even in the days when she followed the 106th of the line as vivandière and before she wedded Sergeant Jupille of that regiment. But she and I had struck up a friendship over a flesh wound which I received in an affair of outposts on the Algueda, and thenceforward I taught myself to soften the edge of her white wine by the remembered virtues of her ointment, so that when Sergeant Jupille was cut off by a grape-shot in front of Salamanca, and his Philomène retired to take charge of his mother's wine-shop in the Rue du Fouarre, she had enrolled my name high on the list of her prospective patrons. I felt myself, so to speak, a part in the goodwill of her house, and "Heaven knows," thought I, as I threaded the insalubrious street, "it is something for a soldier of the Empire to count even on this much in Paris to-day. Est aliquid, quocunque loco, quocunque sacello. . . ."
Madame Jupille knew me at once, and we fell (figuratively speaking) upon each others neck. Her shop was empty, the whole quarter had trooped off to the review. After mingling our tears (again figuratively) over the fickleness of the capital, I enquired if she had any letters for me.
"Why, no, comrade."
"None?" I exclaimed with a very blank face.
"Not one"; Madame Jupille eyed me archly, and relented, "the reason being that Mademoiselle is too discreet."
"Ah!" I heaved a big sigh of relief. "You provoking woman, tell me what you mean by that?"
"Well, now, it may have been ten days ago that a stranger called in and asked if I had any news of the corporal who praised my white wine. 'Have I any news,' said I, 'of a needle in a bundle of hay. They all praise it.'" (O Madame Jupille!) "'The corporal I'm speaking of,' said he, 'is or was called Champdivers.' 'Was' I cried, 'You are not going to tell me that he's dead?' and I declare to you, comrade, the tears came into my eyes. 'No, he is not,' said the stranger, 'and the best proof is that he will be here inquiring for letters before long. You are to tell him that if he expects one from'—see, I took the name down on a scrap of paper, and stuck it in the wine-glass here—'from Miss Flora Gilchrist, he will do well to wait in Paris until a friend finds means to deliver it by hand. And if he asks more about me, say that I am from—tenez! I wrote the second name underneath—yes, that is it—'Mr. Romaine.'"
"Confound his caution," said I. "What sort of man was this messenger?"
"O, a staid-looking man, dark and civil spoken. You might call him an upper servant, or perhaps a notary's clerk; very plainly dressed, in black."
"He spoke French?"
"Parfaitement. What else?"
"And he has not called again?"
"To be sure, yes, and the day before yesterday, and seemed quite disappointed. 'Is there anything Monsieur would like to add to his message?' I asked. 'No,' said he, 'or stay, tell him that all goes well in the North, but he must not leave Paris until I see him.'"
You may guess how I cursed Mr. Romaine for this beating about the bush. If all went well in the North, what possible excuse of caution could the man have for holding back Flora's letter? And how, in any case, could it compromise me here in Paris. I had half a mind to take the bit in my teeth and post off at once for Calais. Still, there was the plain injunction, and the lawyer doubtless had a reason for it hidden somewhere behind his tiresome circumambulatory approaches. And his messenger might be back at any hour.
Therefore, though it went against the grain, I thought it prudent to take lodgings with Madame Jupille and possess my soul in patience. You will say that it should not have been difficult to kill time in Paris between the 31st of March and the 5th of April, 1814. The entry of the Allies, Marmont's great betrayal, the Emperor's abdication, the Cossacks in the streets, the newspaper offices at work like hives under their new editors, and buzzing contradictory news from morning to night; a new rumour at every café, a scuffle, or the makings of one, at every street corner, and hour by hour a steady stream of manifestoes, placards, handbills, caricatures, and broad sheets of opprobrious verse—the din of it all went by me like the vain noises of a dream as I trod the pavements, intent upon my own hopes and perplexities. I cannot think that this was mere selfishness; rather, a deep disgust was weaning me from my country. If this Paris, indeed, were the reality, then was I the phantasm, the revenant; then was France—the France for which I had fought and my parents gone to the scaffold—a land that had never been, and our patriotism the shadow of a shade. Judge me not too hardly if in the restless, aimless perambulations of those five days I crossed the bridge between the country that held neither kin nor friends for me, but only my ineffectual past, and the country wherein one human creature, if only one, had use for my devotion.
On the sixth day—that is, April 5th—my patience broke down. I took my resolution over lunch and a bottle of Beaujolais, and walked straight back from the restaurant to my lodgings, where I asked Madame Jupille for pen, ink, and paper, and sat down to advertise Mr. Romaine that, for good or ill, he might expect me in London within twenty-four hours of the receipt of this letter.
I had scarce composed the first sentence when there came a knock at the door, and Madame Jupille announced that two gentlemen desired to see me. "Show them up," said I, laying down my pen with a leaping heart; and in the doorway a moment later stood—my cousin Alain.
He was alone. He glanced with a grin of comprehension from me to the letter, advanced, set his hat on the table beside it, and his gloves (after blowing into them) beside his hat.
"My cousin," said he, "you show astonishing agility from time to time; but on the whole you are damned easy to hunt."
I had risen. "I take it you have passing business to speak of, since amid your latest political occupations you have been at pains to seek me out. If so, I will ask you to be brief."
"No pains at all," he corrected, affably. "I have known all the time that you were here. In fact, I expected you some while before you arrived, and sent my man, Paul, with a message."
"Certainly—touching a letter from la belle Flora. You received it? The message, I mean."
"Then it was not——"
"No, decidedly it was not Mr. Romaine, to whom"—with another glance at the letter—"I perceive you are only writing for explanations. And since you are preparing to ask how on earth I traced you to this rather unsavoury den, permit me to inform you that 'a b' spells 'ab,' and that Bow Street, when on the track of a criminal, does not neglect to open his correspondence."
I felt my hand tremble as it gripped the top rail of my chair, but I managed to command my voice to answer, coldly enough:
"One moment. Monsieur le Vicomte, before I do myself the pleasure of pitching you out of the window. You have detained me these five days in Paris, and have done so, you give me to understand, by the simple expedient of a lie. So far, so good. Will you do me the favor to complete the interesting self-exposure, and inform me of your reasons?"
"With all the pleasure in life. My plans were not ready—a little detail wanting, that is all. It is now supplied." He took a chair, seated himself at the table, and drew a folded paper from his breast-pocket. "It will be news to you, perhaps, that our uncle—our lamented uncle, if you choose—is dead these three weeks."
"Rest his soul!"
"Forgive me if I stop short of that pious hope." Alain hesitated, let his venom get the better of him, and spat out an obscure curse on his uncle's memory, which only betrayed the essential weakness of the man. Recovering himself, he went on: "I need not recall to you a certain scene (I confess too theatrical for my taste) arranged by the lawyer at his bedside; nor need I help you to an inkling of the contents of his last will. But possibly it may have slipped your memory that I gave Romaine fair warning, I promised him that I would raise the question of undue influence, and that I had my witnesses ready. I have added to them since, but I own to you that my case will be the stronger when you have obligingly signed the paper which I have the honour to submit to you." And he tossed it, unopened, across the table.
I picked it up and unfolded it : —
I, the Viscount Anne de Kéroual de Saint Yves, formerly serving under the name of Champdivers, in the Buonapartist army, and later under that name a prisoner of war, in the Castle of Edinburgh, hereby state that I had neither knowledge of my uncle the Count de Kéroual de Saint Yves, nor expectations from him, nor was owned, by him, until sought out by Mr. Daniel Romaine, in the Castle of Edinburgh, by him supplied with money to expedite my escape, and by him clandestinely smuggled at nightfall into Amersham Place; Further, that until that evening I had never set eyes on my Uncle, nor have set eyes on him since; that he was bedridden when I saw him, and apparently in the last stage of senile decay. And I have reason to believe that Mr. Romaine did not fully inform him of the circumstances of my escape, and particularly of my concern in the death of a fellow prisoner named Goguelat, formerly a marechal des logis in the 22nd regiment of the line.
Of the contents of this precious document let a sample suffice. From end to end it was a tissue of distorted statements implicated with dishonouring suggestions. I read it through, and let it drop on the table.
"I beg your pardon," said I, "but what do you wish me to do with it?"
"Sign it," said he.
I laughed. "Once more I beg your pardon, but though you have apparently dressed for it, this is not comic opera."
"Nevertheless, you will sign."
"O, you weary me." I seated myself, and flung a leg over the arm of my chair. "Shall we come to the alternative? For I assume you have one."
"The alternative?—to be sure," he answered cheerfully. "I have a companion below, one Clausel, and at the Tête d'Or, a little down the street, an escort of police."
Here was a pleasing predicament. But if Alain had started with a chance of daunting me (which I do not admit) he had spoilt it long since by working on the raw of my temper, I kept a steady eye on him, and considered; and the longer I considered the better assured was I that his game must have a disastrously weak point somewhere, which it was my business to find.
"You have reminded me of your warning to Mr. Romaine. The subject is an ugly one for two of our family to touch upon; but do you happen to recall Mr. Romaine's counter-threat?"
"Bluff! my young sir. It served his purpose for the moment, I grant you. I was unhinged—the indignity, the very monstrosity of it, the baselessness staggered reason."
"It was baseless, then?"
"The best proof is, that in spite of his threat, and my open contempt and disregard of it, Mr. Romaine has not stirred a hand."
"You mean that my uncle destroyed the evidence?"
"I mean nothing of the kind," he retorted hotly, "for I deny that any such evidence at any time existed."
I kept my eye on him. "Alain," I said quietly, "you are a liar."
A flush darkened his face beneath its cosmetics, and with an oath he dipped finger and thumb into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out a dog-whistle. "No more of that," said he, "or I whistle up the police this minute."
"Well, well, let us resume the discussion. You say this man Clausel has denounced me?"
"Soldiers of the Empire are cheap in Paris just now."
"So cheap that public opinion would be content if all the Messieurs Champdivers were to kill all the Messieurs Goguelat and be shot or guillotined for it. I forget which your case demands, and doubt if public opinion would inquire."
"And yet," I mused, "there must be preliminaries, some form of trial, for instance, with witnesses. It is even possible that I might be found innocent."
"I have allowed for that unlikely chance, and I look beyond it. To be frank, it does not strike me as probable that a British jury will hand over the estates of the Comte de Kéroual de Saint Yves to an escaped Buonapartist prisoner who has stood his trial for the murder of a comrade, and received the benefit of the doubt."
"Allow me," said I, "to open the window an inch or two. No, put back your whistle, I do not propose to fling you out—at least not just yet; nor will I try to escape. To tell you the truth, you suggest the need of a little fresh air. And now. Monsieur, you assure me you hold the knave in your hand. Well, then, play him. Before I tear your foolish paper up, let me have a look at your confederate." I stepped to the door and called down the stairs, "Madame Jupille, be so good as to ask my other visitor to ascend."
With that I turned to the window again and stood there looking out upon the foul gutter along which the refuse of some dye-works at the head of the street found its way down to the Seine. And standing so, I heard the expected footsteps mounting the stairs.
"I must ask your pardon. Monsieur, for this intrusion——"
"Hey!" If the words had been a charge of shot fired into my back, I could not have spun round on them more suddenly. "Mr. Romaine!"
For indeed it was he, and not Clausel, who stood in the doorway. And to this day I do not know if Alain or I stared at him with the blanker bewilderment, though I believe there was a significant difference in our complexions.
"M. the Viscount," said Romaine advancing, "recently effected an exchange. I have taken the liberty to effect another, and have left Mr. Clausel below listening to some arguments which are being addressed to him by Mr. Dudgeon, my confidential clerk. I think I may promise"—with a chuckle—"they will prove effectual. By your faces, gentlemen, I see that you regard my appearance as something in the nature of a miracle. Yet, M. le Viscount, at least, should be guessing by this time that it is the simplest, most natural affair in the world. I engaged my word, sir, to have you watched. Will it be set down to more than ordinary astuteness that, finding you in negotiations for the exchange of the prisoner Clausel—we kept an eye upon him also—that we followed him to Dover, and though unfortunate in missing the boat, reached Paris in time to watch the pair of you leave your lodgings this morning—nay, that, knowing whither you were bound, we reached the Rue du Fouarre in time to watch you making your dispositions? But I run on too fast, Mr. Anne; I am entrusted with a letter for you. When, with Mr. Alain'a permission, you have read it, we will resume our little conversation."
He handed me the letter and walked to the fireplace, where he took snuff copiously, while Alain eyed him like a mastiff about to spring. I broke open my letter and stooped to pick up a small enclosure which fell from it.
When your letter came and put life into me again, I sat down in my happiness and wrote you one that I shall never allow you to see; for it makes me wonder at myself. But when I took it to Mr. Robbie, he asked to see your letter, and when I showed him the wrapper, declared that it had been tampered with, and if I wrote and told you what we were doing for you it might only make your enemies the wiser. For we have done something, and this (which is purely a business letter) is to tell you that the credit does not all belong to Mr. Robbie, or to your Mr. Romaine (who, by Mr. Robbie's account, must be quite a tiresome old gentleman, though well-meaning, no doubt). But on the Tuesday after you left us I had a talk with Major Chevenix, and when I really felt quite sorry for him (though it was no use, and I told him so) he turned round in a way I could not but admire and said he wished me well, and would prove it. He said the charge against you was really one for the military authorities alone, that he had reasons for feeling sure that you had been drawn into this affair on a point of honour, which was quite a different thing from what they said; and that he could not only make an affidavit or something of the kind on his own account, but knew enough of that man Clausel to make him confess the truth. Which he did the very next day, and made Clausel sign it and Mr. Robbie has a copy of the man's statement which he is sending with this to Mr. Romaine in London; and that is the reason why Rowley (who is a dear) has come over, and is waiting in the kitchen while I write these hurried lines. He says, too, that Major Chevenix was only just in time, since Clausel's friends are managing an exchange for him, and he is going back to France. And so in haste I write myself,
Your sincere friend,
P.S.—My aunt is well; Ronald is expecting his commission.P.P.S.—You told me to write it, and so I must: "I love you, Anne."
The enclosure was a note in a large and unformed hand, and ran:
Dear Mr, Anne, Respected Sir,
This comes hopeing to find you well as it leaves me at present, all is well as Miss Flora will tell you that double-died Clausel has confest. This is to tell you Mrs. MacR. is going on nicely, bar the religion which is only put on to anoy people and being a widow who blames her, not me. Miss Flora says she will put this in with hers, and there is something else but it is a dead secret, so no more at present from, sir;
Having read these letters through, I placed them in my breast-pocket, stepped to the table and handed Alain's document gravely back to him; then turned to Mr. Romaine, who shut his snuff-box with a snap.
"It only remains, I think," said the lawyer, "to discuss the terms which (merely as a matter of generosity, or, say, for the credit of your house) can be granted to your—to Mr. Alain."
"You forget Clausel, I think," snarled my cousin.
"True, I had forgotten Clausel." Mr. Roniaine stepped to the head of the stairs and called down, "Dudgeon!"
Mr. Dudgeon appeared, and endeavoured to throw into the stiffness of his salutation a denial that he had ever waltzed with me in the moonlight.
"Where is the man Clausel?"
"I hardly know, sir, if you would place the wineshop of the Tête d'Or at the top or the bottom of this street; I presume the top, since the sewer runs in the opposite direction. At all events, Mr. Clausel disappeared about two minutes ago in the same direction as the sewer."
Alain sprang up, whistle in hand.
"Put it down," said Mr. Romaine; "the man was cheating you. I can only hope," he added with a sour smile, "that you paid him on account with an I. O. U."
But Alain turned at bay. "One trivial point seems to have escaped you, Master Attorney, or your courage is more than I give you credit for. The English are none too popular in Paris as yet, and this is not the most scrupulous quarter. One blast of this whistle, a cry of "Espion anglais," and two Englishmen——"
"Say three," Mr. Romaine interrupted, and strode to the door. "Will Mr. Burchell Fenn be good enough to step upstairs."
And here let me cry "Halt!" There are things in this world—or that is my belief—too pitiful to be set down in writing, and of these Alain's collapse was one. It may be, too, that Mr. Romaine's British righteousness accorded rather ill with the weapon he used so unsparingly. Of Fenn I need only say chat the luscious rogue shouldered through the doorway as though he had a public duty to discharge and only the contrariness of circumstances had prevented his discharging it before. He cringed to Mr. Romaine, who held him and the whole nexus of his villainies in the hollow of his hand; he was even obsequiously eager to denounce his fellow traitor. Under a like compulsion, he would (I feel sure) have denounced his own mother. I saw the sturdy Dudgeon's mouth working like a bull terrier's over a shrew mouse. And between them, Alain had never a chance. Not for the first time in this history, I found myself all but taking sides with him in sheer repulsion against the barbarity of the attack. It seemed that it was through Fenn that Mr. Romaine had first happened on the scent; and the greater rogue had held back a part of the evidence and would trade it now—"having been led astray—to any gentleman that would let bygones be bygones." And it was I at length who interposed when my cousin was beaten to his knees, and having dismissed Mr. Burchell Fenn, restored the discussion to a business-like footing. The end of it was that Alain renounced all his claims, and accepted a yearly pension of six thousand francs. Mr. Romaine made it a condition that he should never set foot again in England; but seeing that he would certainly be arrested for debt within twenty-four hours of his landing at Dover, I thought this unnecessary.
"A good day's work," said the lawyer, as we stood together in the street outside.
But I was silent.
"And now, Mr. Anne, If I may have the honour of your company at dinner—shall we say Tortoni's?—we will on our way step round to my hotel, the Quatre Saisons, behind the Hôtel de Ville, and order a calèche and four to be in readiness."