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THE MYSTERY

PARIS

If a man knows the heart, he will know it was impossible to go back instantly to my chamber ;-it was touching a cold key with a flat third to it, upon the close of a piece of music, which had called forth my affections; therefore, when I let go the hand of the fille de chambre, I remained at the gate of the hotel for some time, looking at every one who passed by, and forming conjectures upon them, till my atten

, tion got fixed upon a single object which confounded all kind of reasoning upon him.

It was a tall figure, of a philosophic, serious, adust look, which passed and repassed sedately along the street, making a turn of about sixty paces on each side of the gate of the hotel—the man was about fifty-two—had a small cane under his arm, was dressed in a dark, drab-coloured coat, waistcoat, and breeches, which seemed to have seen some years' service—they were still clean, and there was a little air of frugal propreté throughout him. By his pulling off his hat, and his attitude of accosting a good many in his way, I saw he was asking charity; so I got a sous or two out of my pocket ready to give him, as he took me in his turn—he passed by me without asking anything—and yet did not go five steps further before he asked charity of a little womanI was much more likely to have given of the two. He had scarce done with the woman, when he pulled off his hat to another who was coming the same way. An ancient gentleman came slowly, and, after him, a young smart one. He let them both pass; and asked nothing: I stood observing him half-an-hour; in which time he had made a dozen turns backwards and forwards, and found that he invariably pursued the same plan.

There were two things very singular in this, which set my brain to work, and to no purpose—the first was, why the man should only tell his story to the sex—and secondly, what kind of story it was, and what species of eloquence it could be, which softened the hearts of the women, which he knew 'twas to no purpose to practise upon the men.

There were two other circumstances which entangled this mystery-the one was, he told every

— woman what he had to say in her ear, and in a way

THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY

339

which had much more the air of a secret than a petition—the other was, it was always successfulhe never stopped a woman but she pulled out her purse, and immediately gave him something.

I could form no system to explain the phenomenon.

I had got a riddle to amuse me for the rest of the cvening; so I walked upstairs to my chamber.

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