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and as the blue was not violent, it suited with the coat and breeches very well: he had squeezed out of the money, moreover, a new bag and a solitaire; and had insisted with the fripier upon a gold pair of garters to his breeches' knees. He had purchased muslin ruffles bien brodées, with four livres of his own money;
and a pair of white silk stockings for five more; and, to top all, Nature had given him a handsome figure, without costing him a sous.
He entered the room thus set off, with his hair drest in the first style, and with a handsome bouquet in his breast. In a word, there was that look of festivity in every thing about him, which at once put me in mind it was Sunday – and, by combining both together, it instantly struck me that the favour he wished to ask of me, the night before, was to spend the day as every body in Paris spent it besides. I had scarce made the conjecture, when La Fleur, with infinite humility, but with a look of trust, as if I should not refuse him, begged I would grant him the day, pour faire le gallant vis-à-vis de sa maîtresse.
Now it was the very thing I intended to do myself vis-à-vis Madame de R****. I had retained the remise on purpose for it, and it would not have mortified my vanity to have had a servant so well dressed as La Fleur was, to have got up behind it: I never could have worse spared him.
But we must feel, not argue, in these embarrassments; the sons and daughters of Service part with liberty, but not with nature, in their contracts; they are flesh and blood, and have their little vanities and wishes in the midst of the house of bondage, as well as their task-masters; – no doubt, they have set their
self-denials at a price,
and their expectations are so unreasonable that I would often disappoint them, but that their condition puts it so much in my power to do it. Behold, Behold, I am the servant,
disarms me at once of the
of Master. Thou shalt go, La Fleur, said I.
And what Mistress, La Fleur, said I, canst thou have picked up in so little a time at Paris? La Fleur laid his hand upon his breast, and said, 'twas a petite demoiselle, at Monsieur le Count de B****'s. La Fleur had a heart made for society; and, to speak the truth of him, let as few occasions slip him as his master, so that, somehow or other,
but how, Heaven knows, — he had connected himself with the demoiselle, upon the landing of the staircase, during the time I was taken up with my passport; and, as there was time enough for me to win the Count to my interest, La Fleur had contrived to make it do to win the maid to his. The family, it seems, was to be at Paris that day, and he had made a party with her, and two or three more of the Count's household, upon the boulevards.
Happy people! that, once a week at least, are sure to lay down all your cares together, and dance and sing, and sport away the weights of grievance, which bow down the spirit of other nations to the earth.
LA Fleur had left me something to amuse myself with for the day more than I had bargained for, or could have entered either into his head or mine.
He had brought the little print of butter upon a currant-leaf; and, as the morning was warm, and he had a good step to bring it, he had begged a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant-leaf and his hand.
As that was plate sufficient, I bade him lay it upon the table as it was; and as I resolved to stay within all day, I ordered him to call upon the traiteur, to bespeak my dinner, and leave me to breakfast by
When I had finished the butter, I threw the currantleaf out of the window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper;
but, stopping to read a line first
, and that drawing me on to a second and third, I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and, drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.
It was in the old French of Rabelais' time; and, for aught I know, might have been wrote by him: it was, moreover, in a Gothic letter, and that so faded and gone off by damps and length of time it cost me infinite trouble to make any thing of it. I threw it down; and then wrote a letter to Eugenius, then I took it up again, and embroiled my patience with it afresh; and then, to cure that, I wrote a letter to Eliza. — Still it kept hold of me; and the difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.
I got my dinner; and, after I had enlightened my mind with a bottle of Burgundy, I at it again; and after two or three hours poring upon it, with almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spon did upon a nonsensical inscription, I thought I made sense of it; but, to make sure of it, the best way, I imagined, was to turn it into English, and see how it would look then; - so I went on leisurely as a trifling man does, sometimes writing a sentence, then taking a turn or two, and then looking how the world went, out of the window; so that it was nine o'clock at night before I had done it. I then began, and read it as follows:
- Now as the Notary's wife disputed the point with the Notary with too much heat, I wish said the Notary (throwing down the parchment,) that there was another Notary here, only to set down and attest all this.
And what would you do then, Monsieur? said she, rising hastily up. – The Notary's wife was a little fume of a woman, and the Notary thought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply. .... I would go, answered he, to bed. ... You may go to the Devil, answered the Notary's wife.
Now there happening to be but one bed in the house, the other two rooms being unfurnished, as is the custom at Paris, and the Notary not caring to lie in the same bed with a woman who had but that moment sent him pell-mell to the Devil, went forth with his hat, and cane, and short cloak, the night being very windy, and walked out ill at ease towards the Pont Neuf.
Of all the bridges which ever were built, the whole world who have passed over the Pont Neuf must own that it is the noblest, the finest, the grandest, the lightest, the longest,
the broadest that ever conjoined land and land together upon the face of the terraqueous globe. —
By this it seems as if the author of the Fragment
had not been a Frenchman. The worst fault which Divines and the Doctors of the Sorbonne can allege against it is that, if there is but a cap-full of wind in or about Paris, 'tis more blasphemously sacre Dieu'd there than in any other aperture of the whole city,
and with reason, good and cogent, Messieurs; for it comes against you without crying garde d'eau, and with such unpremeditable puffs that, of the few who cross it with their hats on, not one in fifty but hazards two livres and a half, which is its full worth.
The poor Notary, just as he was passing by the sentry, instinctively clapped his cane to the side of it; but, in raising it up, the point of his cane, catching hold of the loop of the sentinel's hat, hoisted it over the spikes of the ballustrade clear into the Seine.
'Tis an ill wind, said a boatman, who catched it, which blows nobody any good.
The sentry, being a Gascon, incontinently twirled up his whiskers and levelled his arquebuse.
Arquebuses in those days went off with matches; and an old woman's paper lantern at the end of the bridge happening to be blown out, she had borrowed