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Cousin Pons
Honore de Balzac

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COUSIN PONS 

Towards three o'clock in the afternoon of one October day in the year
1844, a man of sixty or thereabouts, whom anybody might have credited
with more than his actual age, was walking along the Boulevard des
Italiens with his head bent down, as if he were tracking some one.
There was a smug expression about the mouth--he looked like a merchant
who has just done a good stroke of business, or a bachelor emerging
from a boudoir in the best of humors with himself; and in Paris this
is the highest degree of self-satisfaction ever registered by a human
countenance. 

As soon as the elderly person appeared in the distance, a smile broke
out over the faces of the frequenters of the boulevard, who daily,
from their chairs, watch the passers-by, and indulge in the agreeable
pastime of analyzing them.  That smile is peculiar to Parisians; it
says so many things--ironical, quizzical, pitying; but nothing save
the rarest of human curiosities can summon that look of interest to
the faces of Parisians, sated as they are with every possible sight.

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