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pressing across her, told her what was passing within
She looked down: a silence of some moments followed.
I fear, in this interval, I must have made some slight efforts towards a closer compression of her hand, from a subtle sensation I felt in the palm my own,
not as if she was going to withdraw hers, but as if she thought about it; - and I had infallibly lost it a second time, had not instinct, more than reason, directed me to the last resource in these dangers, to hold it loosely, and in a manner as if I was every moment going to release it of myself: so she let it continue till Mons. Dessein returned with the key; and, in the meantime, I set myself to consider how I should undo the ill impressions which the poor monk's story, in case he had told it her, must have planted in her breast against me.
The good old monk was within six paces of us as the idea of him cross'd my mind; and was advancing towards us, a little out of the line, as if uncertain whether he should break in upon us
He stopped, however, as soon as he came up to us, with a world of frankness, and, having a horn snuff-box in his hand, he presented it open to me..... You shall taste mine, said I, pulling out my box (which was a small tortoise one), and putting it into his hand
'Tis most excellent, said the monk Then do me the favour, I replied, to accept of the box and all; when you take a pinch out of it, sometimes recollect
that it was the peace-offering of a man who once used you unkindly, but not from his heart.
The poor monk blush'd as red as scarlet: Mon Dieu! said he, pressing his hands together, you never used me unkindly I should think, said the lady, he is not likely . I blush'd in my turn; but from what movements, I leave to the few, who feel, to analyse. Excuse me, Madam, replied I, - I treated him most unkindly; and from no provocations. ... 'Tis impossible, said the lady .... My God! cried the monk, with a warmth of asseveration which seemed not to belong to him, the fault was in me, and in the indiscretion of my zeal. The lady opposed it; and I joined with her, — in maintaining that it was impossible that a spirit so regulated as his could give offence to any.
I knew not that contention could be rendered so sweet and pleasurable a thing to the nerves as I then felt it. We remained silent, without any sensation of that foolish pain which takes place when, in such a circle, you look for ten minutes in one another's faces without saying a word. Whilst this lasted, the monk
. rubbed his orn box upon the sleeve of his tunic; and as soon as it had acquired a little air of brightness by the friction, he made a low bow, and said, 'Twas too late to say whether it was the weakness or goodness of our tempers which had involved us in this contest; -- but, be as it would, — be begged we might exchange boxes. - In saying this, he presented his to me with one hand, as he took mine from me in the other; and having kissed it, — with a stream of goodnature in his eyes, he put it into his bosom, and took his leave.
I guard this box as I would the instrumental parts of my religion, to help my mind on to something better. In truth, I seldom go abroad without it; and oft and many a time have I called up by it the courteous spirit of its owner to regulate my own, in the justlings of the world: they had found full employment for his, as I learnt from his story, till about the fortyfifth year of his age, when, upon some military services ill requited, and meeting at the same time with a disappointment in the tenderest of passions, he abandoned the sword and the sex together, and took sanctuary, not so much in his convent as in himself.
I feel a damp upon my spirits as I am going to add that, in my last return through Calais, upon inquiring after Father Lorenzo, I heard he had been dead near three months; and was buried, not in his convent, but, according to his desire, in a little cemetery belonging to it, about two leagues off. I had a strong desire to see where they had laid him, when, upon pulling out his little horn box, as I sat by bis grave, and plucking up a nettle or two at the head of it, which had no business to grow there, they all struck together so forcibly upon my affections that I burst into a flood of tears;
but I am as weak as a woman; and I beg the world not to smile, but pity me.
THE REMISE DOOR.
I HAD never quitted the lady's hand all this time, and had held it so long that it would have been indecent to have let it go, without first pressing it to my
lips: the blood and spirits, which had suffered a revulsion from her, crowded back to her as I did it.
Now the two travellers, who had spoke to me in the coach-yard, bappened at that crisis to be passing by, and, observing our communications, naturally took
into their heads that we must be man and wife at least; so, stopping as soon as they came up to the door of the remise, the one of them, who was the Inquisitive Traveller, asked us if we set out for Paris the next morning?....I could only answer for myself, I said; -- and the lady added, she was for Amiens.
We dined there yesterday, said the Simple Traveller . . . . You go directly through the town, added the other, in your road to Paris. I was going to return a thousand thanks for the intelligence that Amiens was in the road to Paris; but, upon pulling out my poor monk's little horn box to take a pinch of snuff, I made them a quiet bow, and wished them a good passage to Dover. - They left us alone.
Now where would be the harm, said I to myself, if I was to beg of this distressed lady to accept of half of
chaise ? and what mighty mischief could ensue?
Every dirty passion and bad propensity in my nature took the alarm as I stated the proposition: It will oblige you to have a third horse, said Avarice, which will put twenty livres out of your pocket. You know not what she is, said Caution; or what scrapes the affair may draw you into, whisper'd Cowardice.
- Depend upon it, Yorick, said Discretion, 'twill be said you went off with a mistress; and came, by assignation, to Calais for that purpose.
You can never after, cried Flypocrisy, aloud, Sentimental Journey, etc.
shew your face in the world; nor rise, quotb Meanness, in the church; — nor be any thing in it, said Pride, but a lousy prebendary.
But 'tis a civil thing, said I; - and as I generally act from the first impulse, and therefore seldom listen to these cabals, which serve no purpose that I know of but to encompass the heart with adamant, I turn'd instantly about to the lady
But she had glided off unperceived, as the cause was pleading, and had made ten or a dozen paces down the street by the time I had made the determination; so I set off after her with a long stride, to make her the proposal with the best address I was master of; but observing she walk'd with her cheek half resting upon the palm of her hand, — with the slow, short-measur'd step of thoughtfulness, and with her eyes, as she went step by step, fixed upon the ground, it struck me she was trying the same cause herself. God help her! said I, she has some motherin-law, or tartufish aunt, or nonsensical old woman, to consult upon the occasion, as well as myself; so, not caring to interrupt the process, and deeming it more gallant to take her at discretion than surprise, I faced about, and took a short turn or two before the door of the remise, whilst she walk'd musing on one side.
IN THE STREET.
HAVING, on the first sight of the lady, settled the affair in my fancy that she was of the better order of beings; - and then laid it down as a second axiom,
; as indisputable as the first, that she was a widow, and