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IN THE STREET.
It must needs be a hostile kind of a world, when the buyer (if it be but of a sorry post-chaise) cannot go forth with the seller thereof into the strect to determine the difference betwixt them, but he instantly falls into the same frame of mind, and views his conventionist with the same sort of eye, as if he was going along with him to Hyde Park Corner to fight a duel. For my own part, being but a poor swordsman, and no way a match for Mons. Dessein, I felt the rotation of all the movements within me to wbich the situation is incident; - I looked at Monsieur Dessein through and through, - eyed him as he walked along in profile, then en face; — thought he looked like a Jew,
; then a Turk, disliked his wig, cursed him by my gods, wished him at the Devil!
And is all this to be lighted up in the heart for a beggarly account of three or four Louisd'ors, which is the most I can be overreached in? Base passion! said I, turning myself about, as a man naturally does upon a sudden reverse of sentiment, base, ungentle passion! thy hand is against every man and every man's hand against thee. ... Heaven forbid! said she, raising her hand up to her forehead, for I had turned full in front upon the lady whom I had seen in con. ference with the monk: she had followed us unperceived. -- Heaven forbid, indeed! said I, offering her my own;
she had a black pair of silk gloves, open only at the thumb and two fore-fingers, so ac cepted it without reserve, and I led her up to the door of the remise.
Monsieur Dessein had diabled the key above fifty times, before he found out he had come with a wrong one in his hand: we were as impatient as himself to have it opened; and so attentive to the obstacle that I continued holding her hand almost without knowing it: so that Mons. Dessein left us together, with her hand in mine, and with our faces turned towards the door of the remise, and said he would be back in five minutes.
Now, a colloquy of five minutes, in such a situation, is worth one of as many ages,
faces turned towards the street. In the latter case, 'tis drawn from the objects and occurrences without; — when your eyes are fixed upon a dead blank you draw purely from yourselves. A silence of a single moment, upon Mons. Dessein's leaving us, had been fatal to the situation, — she had infallibly turned about; began the conversation instantly.
But what were the temptations (as I write not to apologize for the weaknesses of my heart in this tour, but to give an account of them) shall be described with the same simplicity with which I felt them.
THE REMISE DOOR.
When I told the reader that I did not care to get out of the desobligeant, because I saw the monk in close conference with the lady just arrived at the inn, I told him the truth; but I did not tell him the whole truth; for I was full as much restrained by the appearance and figure of the lady he was talking to. Suspicion crossed my brain, and said, he was telling
her what had passed: something jarred upon it within me,
I wished him at his convent. When the heart flies out before the understanding, it saves the judgment a world of pains. I was certain she was of a better order of beings: --- however, I thought no more of her, but went on and wrote my preface.
The impression returned upon my encounter with her in the street; a guarded frankness, with which she gave me her hand, shewed, I thought, her good education and her good sense; and, as I led her on, I felt a pleasurable ductility about her, which spread a calmness over all my spirits.
Good God! how a man might lead such a creature as this round the world with him!
I had not yet seen her face, 'twas not material; for the drawing was instantly set about, and, long before we had got to the door of the remise, Fancy had finish'd the whole head, and pleased herself as much with its fitting her goddess, as if she had dived into the Tiber for it; but thou art seduced, and a seducing slut; and albeit thou cheatest us seven times a day with thy pictures and images, yet with so many charms dost thou do it, and thou deckest out thy pictures in the shapes of so many angels of light, 'tis a shame to break with thee.
When we had got to the door of the remise, she withdrew her hand from across her forehead, and let me see the original: it was a face of about sixand-twenty, - of a clear transparent brown, simply set off without rouge or powder; it was not critically handsome, but there was that in it which, in the frame of mind I was in, attached me much more to it,
it was interesting; I fancied it wore the characters of a widow'd look, and in that state of its declension which had passed the two first paroxysms of sorrow, and was quietly beginning to reconcile itself to its loss;
but a thousand other distresses might have traced the same lines; I wish'd to know what they had been, and was ready to inquire (had the same bon ton of conversation permitted as in the days of Esdras) - “What aileth thee? and why art thou disquieted? and why is thy understanding troubled?” In a word, I felt benevolence for her, and resolved, some way or other, to throw in my mite of courtesy, if not of service.
Such were my temptations; and in this disposition to give way to them, was I left alone with the lady, with her hand in mine, and with our faces both turned closer to the door of the remise than was absolutely necessary.
THE REMISE DOOR.
This certainly, fair lady, said I, raising her hand up a little lightly as I began, must be one of Fortune's whimsical doings; to take two utter strangers by their hands, – of different sexes, and, perhaps, from different corners of the globe, and in one moment place them together in such a cordial situation as Friendship herself could scarce have achieved for them had she projected it for a month.
it shews how much, Monsieur, she has embarrassed you by the adventure.
When the situation is what we would wish, nothing is so ill timed as to hiņt at the circumstances which
make it so.
You thank Fortune, continued she; you had reason, the heart knew it, and was satisfied; and who but an English philosopher would have sent notice of it to the brain to reverse the judgment?
In saying this, she disengaged her hand, with a look which I thought a sufficient commentary upon the text.
It is a miserable picture which I am going to give of the weakness of my heart, by owning that it suffered a pain, which worthier occasions could not have inflicted. I was mortified with the loss of her hand; and the manner in which I had lost it carried neither oil nor wine to the wound. I never felt the pain of a peevish inferiority so miserably in my life.
The triumphs of a true feminine heart are short upon these discomfitures.
In a very few seconds she taid her hand upon the cuff of my coat, in order to finish her reply; some way or other, God knows how, I regained my situation.
-- She had nothing to add.
I forthwith began to model a different conversation for the lady, thinking, from the spirit as well as moral of this, that I had been mistaken in her character; but, upon turning her face towards me, the muscles relaxed, and I saw the same unprotected look of distress which first won me to her interest: — melancholy! to see such sprightliness the prey of sorrow,- I pitied her from my soul; and, though it may seem ridiculous enough to a torpid heart, I could have taken her into my arms, and cherished her, though it was in the open street, without blushing.
The pulsation of the arteries along my fingers