996 THE DRYAD
halls and arched passages ; all the streets and lanes of Paris were to be seen here, as in a dim mirror, the names could be read, every house above had its number here, its root, which struck down under the empty, macadamized footway, which ran along by a broad canal with a stream of rolling mud. Higher up, along the arches, was led the fresh running water, and above all hung, like a net, gas-pipes and telegraph wires. Lamps shone in the distance, like reflected images from the metropolis above. Now and then was heard a noisy rumbling overhead ; it was the heavy wagons which drove over the bridges above.
Where was the Dryad ?
You have heard of the catacombs; they are but the faintest of outlines compared to this new subterranean world, the wonder of the present day, the drains of Paris. Here stood the Dryad and not out in the world's exhibition on the Field of Mars. She heard exclamations of astonishment, admiration and appreciation.
1 From down here/ they said, ' health and years of life are growing for thousands and thousands up above ! Our time is the time of progress with all its blessings.'
That was the opinion and the talk of the people, but not of the creatures who lived and dwelt and had been born here, the rats ; they squeaked from the rifts in a piece of old wall, so clearly, distinctly and intelligibly to the Dryad.
A big old he-rat, with his tail bitten off, piercingly squeaked his feelings, his discomfort, and his honest opinion, and the family gave him support for every word.
' I am disgusted with this nonsense, this human nonsense, this ignorant talk ! Oh yes, it is very fine here now with gas and petroleum! I don't eat that kind of thing I It has become so fine and bright here that one is ashamed of oneself, and does not know why. If we only lived in the time of tallow-candles ! it isn't so far back either ! That was a romantic time, as they call it !'
• What is that you are talking about ?' said the Dryad. * I did not see you before. What are you talking about ? ?
' The good old days,' said the rat, ' the happy days of great-grandfather and great-grandmother rats ! In those days it was something to come down here. It was a rat's