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A night journey is essentially a thing of possibilities. To those who count it as mere transit, mere linking of experiences, it is, of course, a commonplace; but to the imaginative, who by gift divine see a picture in every cloud, a story behind every shadow, it suggests romance--romance in the very making.
Paris in the dawn of a wet day is a sorry sight; the Gare du Nord in the hours of early morning is a place of infinite gloom. As the north express thundered into its recesses, waking strange and hollow echoes, the long sweep of the platform brought a shudder to more than one tired mind. A string of sleepy porters--gray silhouettes against a gray background--was the only sign of life. Colors there were none, lovers there were none, Parisian joy of living there was not one vestige.Paris! The murmur crept through the train, stirring the weariest to mechanical action. Paris! Heads were thrust through the windows, wraps and hand-bags passed out to the shadowy, mysterious porters who received them in a silence born of the godless hour and the penetrating, chilling dampness of the atmosphere.
Jean [the porter], breathing audibly, led the way, pausing at every landing to assure monsieur that the ascent was nothing--a mere nothing, and that before another thought could pass through monsieur's mind the fifth floor would be reached. The boy followed, climbing and ever climbing, until the meagre hand-rail appeared to lengthen into dream-like coils, and the threadbare, drab-hued carpet, with its vivid red border, to assume the proportions of some confusing scroll.