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THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY

325

The fair fille de chambre came close up to the bureau, where I was looking for a card,—took up first the pen I had cast down, then offered to hold the ink; she offered it so sweetly I was going to accept it, but I durst not; I have nothing, my dear, said I, to write upon. ....Write it, said she, simply, upon anything.

-I was just going to cry out, then I will write it, fair girl, upon thy lips !

-If I do, said I, I shall perish; so I took her by the hand, and led her to the door, and begged, she would not forget the lesson I had given her.... She said, indeed she would not, and, as she uttered it with some earnestness, she turned about, and gave me both her hands, closed together, into mine; it was impossible not to compress them in that situation -I wished to let them go; and, all the time I held them, I kept arguing within myself against it,—and still I held them on. In two minutes I found I had all the battle to fight over again ;—and I felt my legs and every limb about me tremble at the idea.

The foot of the bed was within a yard and a half of the place where we were standing.- I had still hold of her hands—and how it happened I can give no account; but I neither asked her, nor drew her,

crown.

nor did I think of the bed ;—but so it did happen, we both sat down.

I'll just show you, said the fair fille de chambre, the little purse I have been making to-day to hold your

So she put her hand into her right pocket, which was next me, and felt for it some time, then into the left.-“She had lost it.”—I never bore expectation more quietly; it was in her right pocket at last; she pulled it out; it was of green taffeta, lined with a little bit of white quilted satin, and just big enough to hold the crown :-she put it into my hand; it was pretty; and I held it ten minutes, with the back of my hand resting upon her lap, looking sometimes at the purse, sometimes on one side of it.

A stitch or two had broken out in the gathers of my stock; the fair fille de chambre, without saying a word, took out her little hussive, threaded a small needle, and sewed it up. I foresaw it would hazard the glory of the day, and, as she passed her hand in silence across and across my neck in the manæuvre, I felt the laurels shake which fancy had wreathed about my head.

A strap had given way in her walk, and the buckle of her shoe was just falling off.... See, said the fille de chambre, holding up her foot, ---I could not, for

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"A strap had given way in her walk, and the buckle of her shoe was just falling off.

P. 326

THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY

329

my soul, but fasten the buckle in return; and, putting in the strap,—and, lifting up the other foot with it, when I had done, to see both were right, in doing it so suddenly, it unavoidably threw the fair fille de chambre off her centre,--and then

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