« ZurückWeiter »
a gift of consequence, and modestly declined.—The poor little fellow press'd it upon them with a nod of welcomeness. -Prenez en-prenez, said he, looking another way; so they each took a pinch.—Pity thy box should ever want one, said I to myself; so I put a couple of sous into it-taking a small pinch out of his box to enhance their value, as I did it.— He felt the weight of the second obligation more than that of the first—'t was doing him an honor—the other was only doing him a charity-and he made me a bow down to the ground for it.
-Here! said I to an old soldier with one hand, who had been campaign'd and worn out to death in the servicehere's a couple of sous for thee. Vive le Roi! said the old soldier.
I had then but three sous left: so I gave one, simply pour l'amour de Dieu, which was the footing on which it was begg'd.—The poor woman had a dislocated hip; so it could not be well upon any other motive.
Mon cher et très charitable Monsieur—There's no opposing this, said I.
My Lord Anglois—the very sound was worth the moneyso I gave my last sous for it. But in the eagerness of giving, I had overlooked a pauvre honteux, who had no one to ask a sou for him, and who, I believed, would have perish'd ere he could have ask'd one for himself; he stood by the chaise, a little without the circle, and wiped a tear from a face which I thought had seen better days.—Good God! said 1-and I have not one single sou left to give him.—But you have a thousand ! cried all the powers of nature, stirring within me
gave him—no matter what I am ashamed to say how much, now—and was ashamed to think how little, then: so if the reader can form any conjecture of my disposition, as these two fixed points are given him, he may judge within a livre or two what was the precise sum.
I could afford nothing for the rest, but Dieu vous bénisseEt le bon Dieu vous bénisse encore-said the old soldier, the dwarf. &c. The pauvre honteux could say nothing-he pulld out a little handkerchief, and wiped his face as he turned away—and I thought he thank'd me more than them all.
AVING settled all these little matters, I got into my
post-chaise with more ease than ever I got into a
post-chaise in my life; and La Fleur having got one large jack-boot on the far side of a little bidet,' and another on this (for I count nothing of his legs)—he canter'd away before me as happy and as perpendicular as a prince.
-But what is happinesss ! what is grandeur in this painted scene of life! A dead ass, before we had got a league, put a sudden stop to La Fleur's career-his bidet would not pass by it—a contention arose betwixt them, and the poor fellow was kick'd out of his jack-boots the very first kick.
La Fleur bore his fall like a French Christian, saying neither more or less upon it, than, Diable! so presently got up and came to the charge again astride his bidet, beating him up to it as he would have beat his drum.
The bidet flew from one side of the road to the other, then back again—then this way—then that way, and in short every way but by the dead ass. .-La Fleur insisted upon the thing -and the bidet threw him.
What's the matter, La Fleur, said I, with this bidet of thine?-Monsieur, said he, c'est un cheval le plus opiniâtre du monde.-Nay, if he is a conceited beast, he must go his own way, replied I—so La Fleur got off him, and giving him a good sound lash, the bidet took me at my word, and away he scamper'd back to Montriul.-Peste! said La Fleur.
It is not mal-à-propos to take notice here, that tho' La Fleur availed himself but of two different terms of exclamation in this encounter-namely, Diable! and Peste! that there are nevertheless three in the French language, like the positive, comparative, and superlative, one or the other of which serve for every unexpected throw of the dice in life.
Le Diable! which is the first, and positive degree, is generally used upon ordinary emotions of the mind, where small things only fall out contrary to your expectationssuch as—the throwing once doublets—La Fleur's being kick'd off his horse, and so forth-cuckoldom, for the same reason, is always-Le Diable !
But in cases where the cast has something provoking in it, as in that of the bidet's running away after, and leaving La Fleur aground in jack-boots—'t is the second degree.
'T is then Peste ! And for the third
-But here my heart is wrung with pity and fellow-feeling, when I reflect what miseries must have been their lot, and how bitterly so refined a people must have smarted, to have forced them upon the use of it.
Grant me, O ye powers which touch the tongue with eloquence in distress !-whatever is my cast, grant me but decent words to exclaim in, and I will give my nature way.
-But as these were not to be had in France, I resolved to take every evil just as it befell me, without any exclamation at all.
La Fleur, who had made no such covenant with himself, followed the bidet with his eyes till it was got out of sightand then, you may imagine, if you please, with what word he closed the whole affair.
As there was no hunting down a frighten'd horse in jackboots, there remained no alternative but taking La Fleur either behind the chaise, or into it.
I preferred the latter, and in half an hour we got to the post-house at Nampont.
THE DEAD Ass
ND this, said he, putting the remains of a crust into
his wallet-and this should have been thy portion,
said he, hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me. I thought by the accent, it had been an apostrophe to his child; but 't was to his ass, and to the very ass we had seen dead in the road, which had occasioned La Fleur's misadventure. The man seemed to lament it much; and it instantly brought into my mind Sancho's lamentation for his; but he did it with more true touches of nature.
The mourner was sitting upon a stone bench at the door, with the ass's pannel and its bridle on one side, which he took up from time to time—then laid them down-look'd at them and shook his head. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet again, as if to eat it; held it some time in his hand —then laid it upon the bit of his ass's bridle-looked wistfully at the little arrangement he had made—and then gave a sigh.
The simplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur amongst the rest, whilst the horses were getting ready; as I continued sitting in the post-chaise, I could see and hear over their heads.
-He said he had come last from Spain, where he had been from the furthest borders of Franconia; and had got so far on his return home, when his ass died. Every one seem'd desirous to know what business could have taken so old and poor a man so far a journey from his own home.
It had pleased Heaven, he said, to bless him with three sons, the finest lads in all Germany; but having in one week lost two of the eldest of them by the smallpox, and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper, he was afraid of being bereft of them all; and made a vow, if Heaven would not take him from him also, he would go in gratitude to St. Iago in Spain.
When the mourner got thus far on his story, he stopp'd to pay nature his tribute—and wept bitterly.
He said, Heaven had accepted the conditions, and that he had set out from his cottage with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey—that it had eat the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him as a friend.
Everybody who stood about, heard the poor fellow with concern.
n.-La Fleur offered him money.—The mourner said, he did not want it-it was not the value of the ass—but the loss of him.—The ass, he said, he was assured loved him and upon this told them a long story of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains, which had separated them from each other three days; during which time the ass had sought him as much as he had sought the ass, and that they had neither scarce eat or drank till they met.
Thou has one comfort, friend, said I, at least, in the loss of thy poor beast; I'm sure thou hast been a merciful master to him.-Alas! said the mourner, I thought so, when he was alive—but now that he is dead I think otherwise.-I fear the weight of myself and my afflictions together have been too much for him—they have shortened the poor creature's days, and I fear I have them to answer for.-Shame on the world! said I to myself-Did we love each other, as this poor soul but loved his ass—'t would be something.