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I had not got ten paces from the door, before I found I had forgot every tittle of what she had said
-so looking back, and seeing her still standing in the door of the shop as if to look whether I went right or not- -I returned back, to ask her whether the first turn was to my right or left- for that I had absolutely forgot. Is it possible? said she, half laughing.—'Tis very possible, replied I, when a man is thinking more of a woman, than of her good advice.
As this was the real truth-she took it, as every woman takes a matter of right, with a slight courtesy.
Attendez, said she, laying her hand upon my arm to detain me, whilst she called a lad out of the back-shop to get ready a parcel of gloves. I am just going to send him, said she, with a packet into that quarter, and if you will have the complaisance to step in, it will be ready in a moment, and he shall attend you to the place. So I walk'd in with her to the far side of the shop, and taking up the ruffle in my hand which she laid upon the chair, as if I had a mind to sit, she sat down herself in her low chair, and I instantly sat myself down beside her.
-He will be ready, Monsieur, said she, in a moment-And in that moment, replied I, most
willingly would I say something very civil to you for all these courtesies. Any one may do a casual act of good-nature, but a continuation of them shews it is a part of the temperature; and certainly, added I, if it is the same blood which comes from the heart, which descends to the extremes (touching her wrist), I am sure you must have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world-Feel it, said she, holding out her arm. So laying down my hat, I took hold of her fingers in one hand, and applied the two forefingers of my other to the artery—
-Would to heaven! my dear Eugenius, thou hadst passed by, and beheld me sitting in my black coat, and in my lack-a-day-sical manner, counting the throbs of it, one by one, with as much true devotion as if I had been watching the critical ebb or flow of her fever- -How wouldst thou have laugh'd and moralized upon my new profession!
and thou shouldst have laugh'd and moralized on Trust me, my dear Eugenius, I should have said, "there are worse occupations in this world tban feeling a woman's pulse."—But a Grisset's! thou wouldst have said—and in an open shop!
-So much the better: for when my views are direct, Eugenius, I care not if all the world saw me feel it.
HAD counted twenty pulsations, and was going on fast towards the fortieth, when her husband coming unexpected from a back parlour into the shop, put me a little out of my reckoning.'Twas nobody but her husband, she said—so I began a fresh score-Monsieur is so good, quoth she, as he pass'd by us, as to give himself the trouble of feeling my pulse-The husband took off his hat, and making me a bow, said, I did him too much honour-and having said that, he put on his hat and walk'd out.
Good God! said I to myself, as he went out —and can this man be the husband of this woman! Let it not torment the few who know what must have been the grounds of this exclamation, if I explain it to those who do not.
In London a shopkeeper and a shopkeeper's wife seem to be one bone and one flesh: in the several endowments of mind and body, sometimes the one, sometimes the other has it, so as in general to be upon a par, and to tally with each other as nearly as a man and wife need to do.
In Paris, there are scarce two orders of beings
more different: for the legislative and executive powers of the shop not resting in the husband, he seldom comes there- -in some dark and dismal room behind, he sits commerceless in his thrum night-cap, the same rough son of Nature that Nature left him.
The genius of a people where nothing but the monarchy is salique, having ceded this department, with sundry others, totally to the women—by a continual higgling with customers of all ranks and sizes from morning to night, like so many rough pebbles shook long together in a bag, by amicable collisions, they have worn down their asperities and sharp angles, and not only become round and smooth, but will receive, some of them, a polish like a brilliant -Monsieur le Mari is little better than the stone under your foot
Surely—surely, man! it is not good for thee to sit alone-thou wast made for social intercourse and gentle greetings, and this improvement of our natures from it, I appeal to, as my evidence.
-And how does it beat, Monsieur ? said she. With all the benignity, said I, looking quietly in her eyes, that I expected-She was going to say something civil in return- -but the lad came into the shop with the gloves-A propos, said I, I want a couple of pair myself.