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stantly made a declaration that I would do any thing in my power.
As this did not amount to an absolute surrender of my bed-chamber, I still felt myself so much the proprietor, as to have a right to do the honours of it;-so I desired the lady to sit down, pressed her into the warmest seat, called for more wood, desired the hostess to enlarge the plan of the supper, and to favour us with the very best wine.
The lady had scarce warmed herself five minutes at the fire, before she began to turn her head back, and give a look at the beds; and the oftener she cast her eyes that way, the more they returned perplexed;-I felt for her-and for myself: for in a few minutes, what by her looks, and the case itself, I found myself as much embarrassed as it was possible the lady could
That the beds we were to lie in were in one and the same room, was enough simply by itself to have excited all this ;-but the position of them (for they stood parallel, and so very close to each other as only to allow space for a small wicker chair betwixt them) rendered the affair still more oppressive to us;-they were fixed up moreover near the fire; and the projection of the chimney on one side, and a large beam which crossed the room on the other, formed a kind of recess for them that was no way favourable to the nicety of our sensations:-if any thing could have added to it, it was that the two beds were both of
them so very small, as to cut us off from every idea of the lady and the maid lying together, which in either of them, could it have been feasible, my lying beside them, though a thing not to be wished, yet there was nothing in it so terrible which the imagination might not have passed over without torment.
As for the little room within, it offered little or no consolation to us: 'twas a damp, cold closet, with a half dismantled windowshutter, and with a window which had neither glass nor oil paper in it to keep out the tempest of the night. I did not endeavour to stifle my cough when the lady gave a peep into it; so it reduced the case in course to this alternative-That the lady should sacrifice her health to her feelings, and take up with the closet herself, and abandon the bed next mine to her maidor that the girl should take the closet, &c.
The lady was a Piedmontese of about thirty, with a glow of health in her cheeks, The maid was a Lyonoise of twenty, and as brisk and lively a French girl as ever moved. There were difficulties every way --and the obstacle of the stone in the road, which brought us into the distress, great as it appeared whilst the peasants were removing it, was but a pebble to what lay in our way now.-I have only to add, that it did not lessen the weight which hung upon our spirits, that we were both too delicate to communicate what we felt to each other upon the occasion.
We sat down to supper; and had we not
had more generous wine to it than a little inn in Savoy could have furnished, our tongues had been tied up, till necessity herself had set them at liberty;-but the lady having a few bottles of Burgundy in her voiture, sent down her fille de chambre for a couple of them; so that by the time supper was over, and we were left alone, we felt ourselves inspired with a strength of mind sufficient to talk, at least, without reserve upon our situation. We turned it every way, and debated and considered it in all kinds of lights in the course of a two hours' negotiation; at the end of which the articles were settled finally betwixt us, and stipulated for in form and manner of a treaty of peaceand I believe with as much religion and good faith on both sides, as in any treaty which has yet had the honour of being handed down to posterity.
They were as follow:
First, as the right of the bed-chamber is in Monsieur-and he thinking the bed next to the fire to be the warmest, he insists upon the concession on the lady's side of taking up with it.
Granted, on the part of Madame; with a proviso, That as the curtains of that bed are of a flimsy transparent cotton, and ap pear likewise too scanty to draw close, that the fille de chambre shall fasten up the opening, either by corking pins, or needle and thread, in such manner as shall be deemed a sufficient barrier on the side of Monsieur.
2dly. It is required on the part of Madame, that Monsieur shall lie the whole night through in his robe de chambre.
Rejected inasmuch as Monsieur is not worth a robe de chambre; he having nothing in his portmanteau but six shirts and a black silk pair of breeches.
The mentioning the silk pair of breeches made an entire change of the article-for the breeches were accepted as an equivalent for the robe de chambre; and so it was stipulated and agreed upon, that I should lie in my black silk breeches all night.
3dly. It was insisted upon and stipulated for by the lady, that after Monsieur was got to bed, and the candle and fire extinguished, that Monsieur should not speak one single word the whole night.
Granted, provided Monsieur's saying his prayers might not be deemed an infraction of the treaty.
There was but one point forgot in this treaty, and that was the manner in which the lady and myself should be obliged to undress and get to bed;-there was but one way of doing it, and that I leave to the reader to devise; protesting as I do it, that if it is not the most delicate in nature, 'tis the fault of his own imagination -against which this is not my first complaint.
Now when we were got to bed, whether it was the novelty of the situation, or what it was, I know not; but so it was, I could not shut my eyes; I tried this side, and
that, and turned and turned again, till a
-You have broke the treaty, Monsieur,
The lady would by no means give up her point, though she weakened her barrier by it; for in the warmth of the dispute, I could hear two or three corking pins fall out of the curtain to the ground.
Upon my word and honour, Madame, said I-stretching my arm out of bed by way of asseveration.
(I was going to have added, that I would not have trespassed against the remotest idea of decorum for the world)
But the fille de chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet; and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me:
So that when I stretched out my hand I caught hold of the fille de chambre's