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14 o Travel Impressions Cold Season, Icy Welcome—Love in Puritan Country— Boredom Worse than Winter    courteous when they travel. Yet there are many who, when they see a woman in a coach, flee, saying, ‘‘Let us go to another, we would not be able to smoke.’’ Two young men, about to enter the coach where I was, closed the door to go look for another one. After searching the train, they came back because they did not find any empty seats. I could see by the faces they made that they wished I would go to the devil. I could have reassured them since I smoked cigarettes, and cigars did not inconvenience me in the least. But I took pleasure in teasing them. One of them tried to soften me up by telling a racy story. I replied with sharp yeses and noes. He was put off and did not address me anymore. My companions spoke quietly to each other, then settled in to sleep in their corner. I was not sleepy and I wanted them to keep me company. This was just the moment I had reserved for a grand way to cheer them. ‘‘If you gentlemen wish to smoke,’’ I told them, ‘‘please do so. I like the aroma of tobacco.’’ All at once they rummaged through their pockets and did not thank me until they had broken off the small end of their cigars with their teeth. To show their appreciation, they went so far as to bring me sweet water and cookies back to the compartment I had not wanted to leave. At first they were intrigued about my identity.Then, once they recognized me from the Hippodrome, they became cheerierand less hesitant. My maid was snoring louder than the locomotive. She kept falling over on her neighbor, who finally wedged her with his cane and coat.   ,   It was bone-chilling cold. Like everyonewho has never traveled, I was all decked out, corset and all, as if I were going to a wedding, so that by morning I was dead tired. I went to the Hôtel de la Poste in Brussels. I slept for several hours. After lunch I walked around the city. I had imagined that Brussels would have a certain cachet. I came back to the hotel disillusioned, and then I took the wrong train to Antwerp. I arrived very disconcerted. I asked where I could find the steamboats that go to The Hague. I was addressing a tall puffy-cheeked man who let me repeat my question three times, then finally indicated that he did not understand. An employee came to tell me that the steamboats were not running because of the ice and that they would start up again in a couple of weeks. I took on airs of importance and said that I was expected for business that could not wait. ‘‘Lady! There are some carriages, but you will be very uncomfortable .’’ He pointed out the Hôtel du Cheval-Blanc. I was shown to a room with two beds for me and my dimwit maid, whom I had to wait on. A fat girl came in to light the stove. Imagine, a coal fire in the middle of a bedroom. The stovepipe was stopped up, and I spent the day with the window open, dancing the polka to keep warm. I ordered some food, and I was brought some beer. I had reserved two corner seats on a hackney. A man as tall as a small leaf came to join us. We had to switch conveyance ten times. We would leave one carriage to get into a skiff that would slide between ice breaks. We would get on another crate, then another small craft amid dangers and commotion. The small craft we got on was a sort of large raft with pointed edges in the front and steel-shod like an ice skate. We had just picked up another traveler. He was in a carriage made just like the vans that take money to the bank here. He got out of the front compartment, helped unharness the two horses, and had the carriage carefully loaded on the skiff. Hewas speaking Dutch with the sailors. We started to move. We could hear only the cracking of the ice. My maid was dead with fear and cold, and I was not very confident. ‘‘Come on, be brave!’’ I said. ‘‘You onlydie once.This vehicle reminds me of a...


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