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A DAY'S RIDE: A LIFE'S ROMANCE

           CHAPTER XII.

I GREW impatient to leave Ostend: every
association connected with the place was unpleasant.
I hope I am not unjust in my estimate of it. I
sincerely desire to be neither unjust to men nor
cities, but I thought it vulgar and common-place.
I know it is hard for a watering-place to be otherwise;
there is something essentially low in the
green-baize and bathing-house existencein that
semi-nude sociality, begun on the sands and
carried out into deep water, which I cannot abide.
I abhor, besides, a lounging population in fancy
toilets, a procession of donkeys in scarlet
trappings, elderly gentlemen with pocket-telescopes,
and fierce old ladies with camp-stools. The
worn-out, debauchees come to recruit for another
season of turtle and whitebait; the half-faded
victims of twenty polkas per night, the tiresome
politician, pale from a long session, all fiercely
bent on fresh diet and sea-breezes, are perfect
antipathies to me, and I would rather seek
companionship in a Tyrol village than amidst these
wounded and missing of a London season.

With all this, I wanted to get away from the
vicinity of the Jopplynsthey were positively
odious to me. Is not the man who holds in his
keeping one scrap of your handwriting which
displays you in a light of absurdity, far more
your enemy than the holder of your protested
bill? I own I think so. Debt is a very human
weakness; like disease, it attacks the best and
the noblest amongst us. You may pity the
fellow that cannot meet that acceptance, you
may be sorry for the anxiety it occasions him,
the fruitless running here and there, the protestations,
promises, and even lies, he goes through,
but no sense of ludicrous scorn mingles with
your compassion, none of that contemptuous
laughter with which you read a copy of absurd
verses or a maudlin love-letter. Imagine the
difference of tone in him who says: "That's an
old bill of poor Potts's; he'll never pay it now,
and I'm sure I'll never ask him." Or, "Just
read those lines; would you believe that any
creature out of Hanwell could descend to such
miserable drivel as that? It was one Potts who
wrote it."

I wonder could I obtain my manuscript from
Jopplyn before I started? What pretext could I
adduce for the request? While I thus pondered,
I packed up my few wearables in my knapsack
and prepared for the road. They were, indeed,
a very scanty supply, and painfully suggested to
my mind the estimate that waiters and hotel
porters must form of their owner. "Cruel
world," muttered I, "whose maxim is, 'By their
outsides shall ye judge them.'" Had I arrived here
with a travelling-carriage and a 'fourgon,' what
respect and deference had awaited me! how
courteous the landlord, how obliging the head
waiter! Twenty attentions which could not be
charged for in the bill had been shown me, and
even had I, in superb dignity, declined to descend
from my carriage while the post-horses were
being harnessed, a levee of respectful flunkeys
would have awaited my orders. I have no
doubt but there must be something very
intoxicating in all this homage. The smoke of the
hecatombs must have affected Jove as a sort of
chloroform, or else he would never have sat there
sniffing them for centuries. Are you ever destined
to experience these sensations, Potts? Is
there a time coming when anxious ears will strain
to catch your words, and eyes watch eagerly for
your slightest gestures? If such an era should
ever come it will be a great one for the masses of
mankind, and an evil day for snobbery. Such a
lesson as I will read the world on humility in
high places, such an example will I give of one
elevated, but uncorrupted, by fortune.

"Let the carriage come to the door," said I,
closing my eyes, as I sank into my chair in
reverie. "Tell my people to prepare the entire
of the H├┤tel de Belle Vue for my arrival, and my
own cook to preside in the kitchen."

"Is this to go by the omnibus?" said the
waiter, suddenly, on entering my room in haste.
He pointed to my humble knapsack.

"Yes," said I, in deep confusion—"yes, that's
my luggageat least, all that I have here at this
moment. Where is the bill? Very moderate
indeed," muttered I, in a tone of approval. "I
will take care to recommend your house; attendance
prompt, and the wines excellent."

"Monsieur is complimentary," said the fellow,
with a grin; "he only experimented upon a
'small Beaune' at one-twenty the bottle."

I scowled at him, and he shrank again.

"And this 'objet' is also monsieur's," said he,
taking up a small white canvas bag which was
enclosed in my railroad wrapper.

"What is it?" cried I, taking it up. I
almost fell back as I saw that it was one of the