- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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He was small but splendidly compact, his legs were slender but well-muscled, the feet delicate, the chest deep, the eyes of a velvet brown with long, black lashes, the nostrils short but well open, and there were nobility, pride and panache in his carriage. In short, he had quality as a horse that most men lack as men.
She—but I'll tell you about her later.
By tradition, the famous tapestry makers held an exhibition on that day not only of their celebrated collection but of the products of the past year; the walls of the great courtyard were hung from top to bottom with the most sumptuous tapestries in the world. The exhibition was warmly recommended by The Guide to Paris for Foreign Tourists, though the author issued a warning: "I advise foreigners to be careful of their pockets, for, owing to the great crowd, one cannot tell next to whom one may be standing."
Mr. Coke, an English tourist, wearing the large wig of the period and a little round hat, was returning from the exhibition. He was not particularly knowledgeable about tapestries; indeed, he knew a great deal more about race horses. His arms swinging and his stomach making a comfortable curve of his waistcoat, Mr. Coke drifted with the crowd down the Rue Croulebarbe which, lined with market gardens, gave into the Faubourg Saint-Marcel. He gazed with appreciation at the pretty women in their striped dresses, which were still similar to those the late M. Watteau used to paint. Neither the noise nor the crowd surprised him; his guidebook had warned him about them:
"One should take proper care in the streets of Paris. Besides the jostling crowd on foot, a great number of coaches and carts fill the streets till late at night and they frequently travel at a great pace. One should look carefully about one. In trying to avoid a foot passenger in front, one may well be jostled by another bearing down on one from behind, for it is impossible to hear anything due to the noise of the traffic."
And, indeed, Mr. Coke was not keeping his eyes sufficiently about him, for he was suddenly sent sprawling in the dust by a violent blow on the shoulder. A crowd immediately gathered around, but he got to his feet without much harm done and saw the cart that had knocked him over. It was a heavy water cart. Its driver, an Auvergnat, as were most water sellers, jumped down and helped Mr. Coke dust off his clothes.
"I'm sorry, monsieur," said the water seller, "it's this brute of a horse. He gets the bit between his teeth and I can't hold him. One day he'll kill someone and get me jailed."
He pointed to the horse between the shafts of the water cart. It was filthy dirty and so thin its bones stood out. It was covered with galls, and the bit was too big and heavy for it and was evidently hurting it.
"I made a bad bargain when I bought this damned brute," said the Auvergnat, raising his whip to relieve his anger.