Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/35

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adorned all the balconies of the various stories with flowers and banners; others ascended to the roof and hoisted a great flag on a staff there. Now came some more chambermaids and retouched the sidewalk, and afterwards wiped the marble steps with damp cloths and finished by dusting them off with feather brushes.

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Now a broad black carpet was brought out and laid down the marble steps and out across the sidewalk to the curbstone. The portier cast his eye along it, and found it was not absolutely straight; he commanded it to be straightened; the servants made the effort,—made several efforts, in fact,—but the portier was not satisfied. He finally had it taken up, and then he put it down himself and got it right.

At this stage of the proceedings, a narrow bright red carpet was unrolled and stretched from the top of the marble steps to the curbstone, along the center of the black carpet. This red path cost the portier more trouble than even the black one had done. But he patiently fixed and re-fixed it until it was exactly right and lay precisely in the middle of the black carpet. In New York these performances would have gathered a mighty crowd of curious and intensely interested spectators; but here it only captured an audience of half-a-dozen little boys, who stood in a row across the pavement, some with their school knapsacks on their backs and their hands in their pockets, others with arms full of bundles, and all absorbed in the show. Occasionally