The Illustrious Prince HTML version

17. A Gay Night In Paris
Mr. James B. Coulson was almost as much at home at the Grand Hotel, Paris, as he had
been at the Savoy in London. His headquarters were at the American Bar, where he
approved of the cocktails,patronized the highballs, and continually met fellow-
countrymen with whom he gossiped and visited various places of amusement. His
business during the daytime he kept to himself, but he certainly was possessed of a bagful
of documents and drawings relating to sundry patents connected with the manufacture of
woollen goods, the praises of which he was always ready to sing in a most enthusiastic
Mr. Coulson was not a man whose acquaintance it was difficult to make. From five to
seven every afternoon, scorning the attractions of the band outside and the generally
festive air which pervaded the great tea rooms, he sat at the corner of the bar upon an
article of furniture which resembled more than anything else an office stool, dividing his
attention between desultory conversation with any other gentleman who might be
indulging in a drink, and watching the billiards in which some of his compatriots were
usually competing. It was not, so far as one might judge, a strenuous life which Mr.
Coulson was leading. He had been known once or twice to yawn, and he had somewhat
the appearance of a man engaged in an earnest but at times not altogether successful
attempt to kill time. Perhaps for that reason he made acquaintances with a little more than
his customary freedom. There was a young Englishman, for instance, whose name, it
appeared, was Gaynsforth, with whom, after a drink or two at the bar, he speedily became
on almost intimate terms.
Mr. Gaynsforth was a young man, apparently of good breeding and some means. He was
well dressed, of cheerful disposition, knew something about the woollen trade, and
appeared to take a distinct liking to his new friend. The two men, after having talked
business together for some time, arranged to dine together and have what they called a
gay evening. They retired to their various apartments to change, Mr. Gaynsforth perfectly
well satisfied with his progress, Mr. James B. Coulson with a broad grin upon his face.
After a very excellent dinner, for which Mr. Gaynsforth insisted upon paying, they went
to the Folies Bergeres, where the Englishman developed a thirst which, considering the
coolness of the evening, was nothing short of amazing. Mr. Coulson, however, kept pace
with him steadily, and toward midnight their acquaintance had steadily progressed until
they were certainly on friendly if not affectionate terms. A round of the supper places,
proposed by the Englishman, was assented to by Mr. Coulson with enthusiasm. About
three o'clock in the morning Mr. Coulson had the appearance of a man for whom the
troubles of this world are over, and who was realizing the ecstatic bliss of a temporary
Nirvana. Mr. Gaynsforth, on the other hand, although half an hour ago he had been
boisterous and unsteady, seemed suddenly to have become once more the quiet, discreet-
looking young Englishman who had first bowed to Mr. Coulson in the bar of the Grand
Hotel and accepted with some diffidence his offer of a drink. To prevent his friend being
jostled by the somewhat mixed crowd in which they then were, Mr. Gaynsforth drew