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To do a foolish or a graceless thing would have been to dethrone for her a poet. There was need of a spacious and becoming gesture. I opened her book at the fly-leaf, and reached across to the comptoir for a pen. She turned at that and stared, possibly fearful, poor creature, that it was the till that attracted me.

Festivity seemed to haunt the very air of the place, beaming from the trim white villas with their smart green jalousies, the tall hotels with crudely tinted flags flying from their roofs, the cheery little shops with their cheerier dames de comptoir smiling complacently on the tourists who unwarily bought their goods.

From a struggling firm they had within a year grown into one whose wealth seemed inexhaustible, and whose balances at the Credit Lyonnais, the Societe Generale, and the Comptoir d'Escompte were possibly the largest of any of the customers of those great corporations. The financial world of Europe had wondered.

At the end of a week, however, she re-appeared at her customary comptoir, as well as ever, with the exception of a slight paleness not altogether usual. It was given out by Monsieur Le Blanc and her mother, that she had merely been on a visit to some friend in the country; and the affair was speedily hushed up.

The northern and the southern shore each had a king, whose consent, after a careless fashion, was considered decorous. His Majesty of the South was Rapwensembo, known to the English as King William, to the French as Roi Denis. Matters being in this state, M. le Comte Bouet-Willaumez, then Capitaine de Vaisseau and Governor of Senegal, resolved, coute que coute, to have his fortified Comptoir.

She was anything but unobserving, this child of Soho, whose wits had been sharpened in the sophisticated atmosphere of a French restaurant; and more than once she had seen Victor's face duplicate the expression Papa Dupont's had so often assumed on his discovering that some patron of the café was taking too personal an interest in the pretty young dame du comptoir.

Before accompanying them thither, it is necessary to say a few words of this Madame Carson, who is about to play a very singular part in this little drama. She was a gay, well-looking, symmetrically-shaped young widow, who kept a confectioner's shop in the said Grande Rue, and officiated as her own dame du comptoir.

But do not imagine that because the sun is so important he is of greater influence than M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy, millionaire banker, director of the Comptoir Général de Crédit, administrator of several big companies, deputy and member of the General Counsel of the Eure, officer of the Legion of Honor, etc., etc.

Through the Harmatan-haze we failed to sight Cape Juby, opposite Fuerteventura; and at Santa Cruz I missed Mr. Mackenzie, the energetic flooder of the Sahara. He has, they say, given up this impossibility and opened a comptoir: its presence is very unpleasant to the French monopolists, who seem to 'monopole' more every year.

There is no rule of good manners or morals which makes it improper, at a cafe, to fix one's eyes upon the dame de comptoir; the lady is, in the nature of things, a part of your consommation. We were there- fore feee to admire without restriction the handsomest person I had ever seen give change for a five-franc piece.