I don’t know if you have ever seen yourself in this circumstance, but I assure you that being in the company of three great Rosicrucian masters and not being able to find the way out of a neighborhood makes you feel quite depressed. In the first place, you begin to doubt the wisdom of your companions. In moments like this you are reminded, for example, of the episode in which Papus transformed the members of Mme Verdurin’s salon into babies. And then it comes to your mind that right on the floor below Verdurin’s home, there was a babies’ nursery. And secondly, you start to doubt your own wisdom. (It’s not that I have a reputation as a great Rosicrucian master, but in certain Parisian circles I’m considered “a guy not as dumb as he looks”.) In short, in moments like this, you pose the great questions of human existence, such as… Well, nothing specific springs to my mind right now, but give me a reasonable time to reflect calmly (say a week), and I’ll mention a few. The worst of all was that even though we had been searching for him, we couldn’t find the guy who knew the way to Russia like the back of his hand. If he knew the way to Russia, it might be assumed that he knew the way out of that neighborhood. In any case, it also might be assumed that, after Papus had knocked him down with a smack, the man would not be so willing to help us this time. The ease with which Papus’ palm crashed against other people’s cheeks was beginning to annoy me. As well as the Marquis de Guaita’s rabbit costume. Not to mention the clod of earth that Péladan wore instead of a hat and that he had to water with regularity. All that seemed eccentricities to me. It’s true that it has always been said of the great sages that they are rather odd types. The Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, for example, had the head of a bird with an elongated beak, and the Athenian Diogenes lived in a barrel. Maybe eccentricity is a characteristic of wisdom, I thought. (In such a case, my cousin Philippe, with his habit of eating through his nose, must be at the wisests’ level.) The fact is that while I was immersed in these reflections, Péladan had come up with the brilliant idea of hiring two hansom cabs. Thanks to that stroke of genius, we finally managed to get out of that quagmire.