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The Parisians

by Edward Bulwer-lytton

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It was a bright day in the early spring of 1869. All Paris seemed to have turned out to enjoy itself. The Tuileries, the Champs Elysees, the Bois de Boulogne, swarmed with idlers. A stranger might have wondered where Toil was at work, and in what nook Poverty lurked concealed. A millionaire from the London Exchange, as he looked round on the magasins, the equipages, the dresses of the women; as he inquired the prices in the shops and the rent of apartments, -- might have asked himself, in envious wonder, How on earth do those gay Parisians live? What is their fortune? Where does it come from? As the day declined, many of the scattered loungers crowded into the Boulevards; the cafes and restaurants began to light up. About this time a young man, who might be some five or six and twenty, was walking along the Boulevard des Italiens, heeding little the throng through which he glided his solitary way: there was that in his aspect and bearing which caught attention. He looked a somebody; but though unmistakably a Frenchman, not a Parisian. His dress was not in the prevailing mode: to a practiced eye it betrayed the taste and the cut of a provincial tailor. His gait was not that of the Parisian, -- less lounging, more stately; and, unlike the Parisian, he seemed indifferent to the gaze of others. Nevertheless there was about him that air of dignity or distinction which those who are reared from their cradle in the pride of birth acquire so unconsciously that it seems hereditary and inborn. . . .



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