The Master Key

Page 27

It was indeed a beautiful place, with many stately buildings lining the shady boulevards. So thronged were the streets that Rob well knew he would soon be the center of a curious crowd should he alight upon them. Already a few sky-gazers had noted the boy moving high in the air, above their heads, and one or two groups stood pointing their fingers at him.

Pausing at length above the imposing structure of the Hotel Anglais, Rob noticed at one of the upper floors an open window, before which was a small iron balcony. Alighting upon this he proceeded to enter, without hesitation, the open window. He heard a shriek and a cry of "AU VOLEUR!" and caught sight of a woman's figure as she dashed into an adjoining room, slamming and locking the door behind her.

"I don't know as I blame her," observed Rob, with a smile at the panic he had created. "I s'pose she takes me for a burglar, and thinks I've climbed up the lightning rod."

He soon found the door leading into the hallway and walked down several flights of stairs until he reached the office of the hotel.

"How much do you charge a day?" he inquired, addressing a fat and pompous-looking gentlemen behind the desk.

The man looked at him in a surprised way, for he had not heard the boy enter the room. But he said something in French to a waiter who was passing, and the latter came to Rob and made a low bow.

"I speak ze Eengliss ver' fine," he said. "What desire have you?"

"What are your rates by the day?" asked the boy.

"Ten francs, M'sieur."

"How many dollars is that?"

"Dollar Americaine?"

"Yes; United States money."

"Ah, OUI! Eet is ze two dollar, M'sieur."

"All right; I can stay about a day before I go bankrupt. Give me a room."

"CERTAINEMENT, M'sieur. Have you ze luggage?"

"No; but I'll pay in advance," said Rob, and began counting out his dimes and nickles and pennies, to the unbounded amazement of the waiter, who looked as if he had never seen such coins before.

He carried the money to the fat gentleman, who examined the pieces curiously, and there was a long conference between them before it was decided to accept them in payment for a room for a day. But at this season the hotel was almost empty, and when Rob protested that he had no other money the fat gentleman put the coins into his cash box with a resigned sigh and the waiter showed the boy to a little room at the very top of the building.

Rob washed and brushed the dust from his clothes, after which he sat down and amused himself by viewing the pictures that constantly formed upon the polished plate of the Record of Events.

12. How Rob Saved A Republic

While following the shifting scenes of the fascinating Record Rob noted an occurrence that caused him to give a low whistle of astonishment and devote several moments to serious thought.

"I believe it's about time I interfered with the politics of this Republic," he said, at last, as he closed the lid of the metal box and restored it to his pocket. "If I don't take a hand there probably won't be a Republic of France very long and, as a good American, I prefer a republic to a monarchy."

Then he walked down-stairs and found his English-speaking waiter.

"Where's President Loubet?" he asked.

"Ze President! Ah, he is wiz his mansion. To be at his residence, M'sieur."

"Where is his residence?"

The waiter began a series of voluble and explicit directions which so confused the boy that he exclaimed:

"Oh, much obliged!" and walked away in disgust.

Gaining the street he approached a gendarme and repeated his question, with no better result than before, for the fellow waved his arms wildly in all directions and roared a volley of incomprehensible French phrases that conveyed no meaning whatever.

"If ever I travel in foreign countries again," said Rob, "I'll learn their lingo in advance. Why doesn't the Demon get up a conversation machine that will speak all languages?"

By dint of much inquiry, however, and after walking several miles following ambiguous directions, he managed to reach the residence of President Loubet.

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