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Old 07-05-2016, 02:59 AM   #1
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Paine, Albert Bigelow: The Car That Went Abroad (illus). v1. 05 Jul 2016

The Car that Went Abroad By Albert Bigelow Paine (1861–1935)
Illustrations by Walter S. Hale (1869–1917)

First published in 1921. This book is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+70” or less, and in the USA.

Albert Bigelow Paine was an American author and biographer best known for his work with Mark Twain. He wrote in several genres, including fiction, humor, and verse, for children and adults. His most notable work was a three-volume biography of Mark Twain.

In 1913, in that Golden Age before World War I began, Paine, his wife, and two younger daughters went wandering by automobile through France and Switzerland for a year. This narration of their travels entertains and educates the reader, with descriptions of the towns and countryside, discussion of historical events, and tales of encounters with the local inhabitants.

The setting for this book is now a century in the past, so many small details have become dated, but this account is no less enjoyable for all of that.

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EXCERPT:
Spoiler:

We were at the outskirts, presently, and when we saw a military-looking gentleman standing before a little house marked “L’Octroi” we stopped. I had learned enough French to know that l’octroi means a local custom house, and it is not considered good form to pass one of them unnoticed. It hurts the l’octroi man’s feelings, and he is backed by the gendarmerie of France. He will let you pass, and then in his sorrow he will telephone to the police station, just ahead. There you will be stopped with a bayonet, or a club, or something, and brought back to the l’octroi, where you will pay an amend of six francs; also costs; also for the revenue stamp attached to your bill of particulars; also for any little thing which you may happen to have upon which duty may be levied; also for other things; and you will stand facing a half-open cell at the end of the corridor while your account is being made up – all of which things happened to a friend of mine who thought that because an octroi man looked sleepy he was partly dead. Being warned in this way, we said we would stop for an octroi man even if he were entirely dead; so we pulled up and nodded politely, and smiled, and said, “Bon joor, messoor,” and awaited his pleasure.

You never saw a politer man. He made a sweeping salute and said – well, it doesn’t matter just what he said – I took it to be complimentary and Narcissa thought it was something about vegetables. Whatever it was, we all smiled again, while he merely glanced in the car fore and aft, gave another fine salute and said, “Allay” whereupon we understood, and allayed, with counter-salutes and further smiles – all of which seemed pleasanter than to be brought back by a gendarme and stood up in front of a cell during the reckoning process.


EXCERPT Nbr. 2 (Paine in a sardonic mood):
Spoiler:
[discussing the arena at Arles, France]
… Down near the ringside was the pit, or podium, and that was the choice place. Some of the seats there were owned, and bore the owners’ names. The upper seats are wide stone steps, but comfortable enough, and solid enough to stand till judgment day. They have ranged wooden benches along some of them now, I do not see why, for they are very ugly and certainly not luxurious. They are for the entertainments – mainly bull fights – of the present; for strange, almost unbelievable as it seems, the old arena has become no mere landmark, a tradition, a monument of barbaric tastes and morals, but continues in active service today, its purpose the same, its morals not largely improved.

It was built about the end of the first century, and in the beginning stags and wild boars were chased and put to death there. But then Roman taste improved. These were tame affairs, after all. So the arena became a prize ring in which the combatants handled one another without gloves – that is to say, with short swords – and were hacked into a mince instead of mauled into a pulp in our more refined modern way. To vary the games lions and tigers were imported and matched against the gladiators, with pleasing effect. Public taste went on improving and demanding fresh novelties. Rome was engaged just then in exterminating Christians, and the happy thought occurred to make spectacles of them by having them fight the gladiators and the wild beasts, thus combining business and pleasure in a manner which would seem to have been highly satisfactory to the public who thronged the seats and applauded and laughed, and had refreshments served, and said what a great thing Christianity was and how they hoped its converts would increase. Sometimes, when the captures were numerous and the managers could afford it, Christians on crosses were planted around the entire arena, covered with straw and pitch and converted into torches. These were night exhibitions, when the torches would be more showy; and the canvas dome was taken away so that the smoke and shrieks could go climbing to the stars. Attractions like that would always jam an amphitheater. This one at Arles has held twenty-five thousand on one of those special occasions. Centuries later, when the Christians themselves came into power, they showed a spirit of liberality which shines by contrast. They burned their heretics in the public squares, free.

Only bulls and worn-out, cheap horses are tortured here today. It seems a pretty tame sport after those great circuses of the past. But art is long and taste is fleeting. Art will keep up with taste, and all that we know of the latter is that it will change. Because today we are satisfied with prize fights and bull fights is no sign that those who follow us will not demand sword fights and wild beasts and living torches. These old benches will last through the ages. They have always been familiar with the sport of torture of one sort or another. They await quite serenely for what the centuries may bring.

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Text and illustrations were obtained from archive.org. OCR errors were corrected; punctuation, italics and diacritics formatted; illustrations manually cleaned and enhanced. Chapter heads are cross-linked to Table of Contents.

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EDIT: Uploading azw3 file with re-formatted TOC, as I have been reminded nested TOC won't work in Kindle e-ink readers. Previous downloads: 6.
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Last edited by GrannyGrump; 07-06-2016 at 09:55 AM. Reason: upload corrected file
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Old 07-06-2016, 09:53 AM   #2
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Uploading azw3 file with re-formatted TOC, as I have been reminded nested TOC won't work in Kindle e-ink readers.
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