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Logan, who had always taken a strange obsession to France, England's most historic, stalwart enemy, lectured on and on about the sites we were passing and the figures who had once resided there. It was all quite fun, and I learned a lot. Not one collapsed monastery or Roman arch would pass by without an anecdote from my friend. I had asked him about his obsession many times, but the constant answer I received was "As a people, they are simply so resolute that I cannot help but be inspired."
For myself, I found my own curiosity and studies being drawn further south, towards Rome — the world's seat of power for millennia. Although I loathed their burdensome Latin, I was more than looking forward to traipsing among the catacombs and basilicas of that ancient city.
I'd been to London on several occasions, and the rushing citizens of our own capital were familiar to me. But as we watched the train roll into Paris, I realized that this new city was something else entirely. "Hectic" wasn't the right word for it, for the people there were not rushing to and fro. Instead, the people ambled together, arm in arm, laughing playfully in the French sun. But they conducted business too. I saw several men, lawyers by their attire, arguing over some point. But as we descended once more from the locomotive, I could simply sense something different about Paris: it was a city of life!
And of course, Logan and I took to the city manically.
After procuring fashionable lodgings and taking the time to stroll through the winding avenues of Paris, we established ourselves within the city. The majestic part of a Grand Tour is that schedules and timetables are superfluous. Logan and I were to be abroad for at least a year, perhaps longer. There was no school-master to regulate our learning, and no commitments to rush onwards to achieve. We simply lived. "C'est la vie" as it were. In that city of extensive wonders, time was easy to forget. We spent days practicing the language among the friendly, raucous venders along the Seine. Hours were lost upon simple pleasures, and untold minutes were devoted to navigating the den of byways that composed the fantastical labyrinth that was Paris.
And the sites! The Louvre, Notre Dame, the king's new Versailles . . . On and on I could list these. The majesty and overwhelming power of such a land continues to stagger my mind. The Louvre alone possessed nearly a thousand works of art! We stared for hours at the works of Renaissance masters and the intricate stone carvings of sculptors long dead.
"There's another one!" I called, noting a gargoyle staring down at us.
"Of course. They're all over the city. Did you know that Louis X decided—" Logan stopped talking then, and I looked over. He was staring as a man shuffled up to us.
The newcomer had a grimy patch over his eye, a decided limp, and a stench like putrid flesh. I hoped he would just walk by, but he angled right towards us.
"Please kind sirs, do you—"
"No we don't," said Logan cutting him off. "We don't have any extra money, our apologies."
"But my children are starving. Just a few coins would help. With the price of bread so high, we can barely eat."
I tried to talk, but couldn't come up with anything.
Logan pressed on. "No. I'm sorry. Good day." My friend steered us away from the beggar. As we rounded a corner in the street, he turned to me. "Probably would've spent it on wine anyway."
I didn't argue. We lost ourselves again in the winding boulevards.
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